Job 20

Zophar’s Second Speech[a]

Chapter 20

The Joy of a Sinner Lasts Only for a Moment.

1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “The words you have spoken have caused me great distress,
and as a result, I am forced to reply.
3 I have been outraged by your censure,
but now a spirit beyond my understanding
provides me with the answers to rebuke you.
4 “Surely you must know that since time began
and man was first placed on the earth,
5 the triumph of the wicked has always been short-lived,
and the joy of the sinner lasts only for a moment.
6 Even though in his pride he towers to the sky
and his head touches the clouds,
7 he is destined to perish forever like his own dung,[b]
and those who used to see him will ask:
‘Where is he?’
8 He will fade away like a dream and never be found again;
he will vanish like a vision of the night.
9 The eyes that saw him will see him no more,
and his dwelling will not behold him any longer.

He Wolfs Down Riches and Then Vomits Them Up

10 “His children will seek the favor of the poor,
and his hands will be forced to return his wealth.
11 The youthful vigor that once filled his body
will be stagnant with him in the earth.
12 “Though wickedness is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
13 though he continues to keep it in his mouth
and is loath to let it go,
14 yet such food will turn sour in his stomach,
working inside him like the venom of asps.
15 He wolfs down riches and then vomits them up;
God forces him to disgorge them from his stomach.
16 “Such a person will suck the venom of asps;
the tongue of a viper will slay him.
17 He will see no streams of oil
or rivers flowing with honey and cream.[c]
18 He will be forced to restore his gains without enjoying them;
even though his wealth increased, he will derive no enjoyment.
19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute,
seizing houses that he did not build.
20 “Since his avarice could never be satisfied,
no amount of hoarding will save him.
21 Since his greed was insatiable,
his prosperity will not endure.
22 When he possesses everything he desires,
his troubles will begin,
and the full force of misery will strike him down.
23 “God will unleash the fury of his wrath against him
and rain down upon him a hail of arrows.
24 If he escapes a weapon of iron,
a bow of bronze will pierce him through.
25 The tip of the arrow will protrude from his body
and the glittering point will emerge from his bladder;
terrors will descend upon him.
26 “Unrelieved darkness is what awaits him;
a fire[d] that does not need to be fanned will devour him,
and anything left in his tent will be consumed.
27 The heavens will lay bare his iniquity,
and the earth will rise up against him.
28 Flood waters will sweep away his house
like the torrents on the day of God’s wrath.
29 This is the lot that God reserves for the wicked,
the heritage assigned to him by God.”


  1. Job 20:1 Job’s anguished appeal does not move his friend Zophar. Zophar once more paints a picture of Job as a proud and wicked man on whom the wrath of God will soon descend.
  2. Job 20:7 Dung: a symbol of everything that is ephemeral and without value (see 1 Ki 14:10).
  3. Job 20:17 Oil . . . honey and cream: these were staple products of Palestine.
  4. Job 20:26 Fire: i.e., lightning.

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