Job 3

First Cycle of Speeches

Job Curses the Day He Was Born

Chapter 3

Perish the Day on Which I Was Born. 1 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said:

3 “Perish the day on which I was born
and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born.’
4 May that day turn to darkness;[a]
may God not take note of it from above,
and may light not shine upon it.
5 May gloom and heavy darkness claim it;
let clouds spread over it
and blackness eclipse its light.
6 May thick darkness overpower it;
let it not be numbered among the days of the year
or reckoned in the cycle of the months.
7 “May that night be barren;
let no cry of joy be heard during it.
8 Let those curse it who curse the sea
and are prepared to rouse Leviathan.[b]
9 May the stars of its twilight be darkened;
let it wait in vain for daylight
and never behold the first rays of dawn,
10 because it refused to shut the doors
of the womb of my mother who bore me
and shield my eyes from sorrow.

Why Go On Living?[c]

11 “Why did I not die at birth,
perishing as I came forth from the womb?
12 Why were there knees to receive me
or breasts for me to feed on?
13 “For now I would be lying in tranquility,
asleep and resting peacefully
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who built palaces for themselves that now lie in ruins,
15 or with princes who possessed gold in abundance
and filled their homes with silver.
16 Or why was I not laid in a grave like a stillborn child,
like an infant that had never seen the light?
17 “In death[d] the wicked are free from worldly troubles
and the weary find rest.
18 There the captives enjoy the solace of peace
without having to cringe at the voice of their masters.
19 The small and the great are there as equals,
and servants are free from their masters.

What Good Is Life?[e]

20 “Why is light given to those in misery
and life to those whose hearts are bitter,
21 who long for death that never comes
and seek for it more than for hidden treasure,
22 who would rejoice to see the grave
and exult on reaching the tomb,
23 who are unable to find their way
and whom God has hemmed in on every side?[f]
24 “Sighs are for me my only food,
and my groans pour forth like water.
25 Everything that I fear has afflicted me,
and whatever I dread befalls me.
26 I am unable to find peace of mind or tranquility;
troubles assail me, and I find no rest.”

Footnotes

  1. Job 3:4 May that day turn to darkness: in the beginning God had said: “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). Now Job so to speak says: “Let there be darkness,” negating God’s creative act.
  2. Job 3:8 This is an allusion to those sorcerers who claimed to be able to make days unlucky and to upset the order of the world. The sea: another possible translation is: “days.” Leviathan: here it symbolizes the dark forces in the primitive chaos that God conquered and relegated to the depths of the ocean (see Pss 74:14; 104:26; Isa 27:1; 51:9; Am 9:3). Other creatures have also been put forth for the Leviathan, e.g., a killer whale.
  3. Job 3:11 In his suffering, Job regrets that he ever lived and longs for the hereafter: a kind of sleep in which there is no longer any place for suffering or for the unjust inequalities of the human condition. This hereafter is not the grave but the netherworld, which is a great pit within the earth in which the dead, now only shadows of themselves, are gathered together.
  4. Job 3:17 In death: literally, “there.”
  5. Job 3:20 The author expands the debate and raises the fundamental question: Does life still have value for someone whom Providence has left without children?
  6. Job 3:23 Earlier in the Book, Job is said to have been in God’s safekeeping (Job 1:10). Now Job feels that God has hemmed him in on every side, leaving him in turmoil (see v. 26).

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