Job 31

Chapter 31

Let God Weigh Me on Honest Scales[a]

1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with desire upon a virgin.
2 For what is man’s lot prescribed by God above,
his inheritance from the Almighty on high?
3 Is it not destruction for the wicked
and disaster for wrongdoers?
4 Does not God see my ways
and number all my steps?
5 “If I have walked in falsehood
or hastened my steps toward deceit,
6 let God weigh me on honest scales;
then he will know that I am blameless.

If My Steps Have Wandered . . .[b]

7 “If my steps have wandered from the path of righteousness,
or if my eyes have led my heart astray,
or if any stain has besmirched my hands,
8 then let someone else eat what I sow,
and let my crops be uprooted.
9 “If my heart has been enticed by a woman
and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,
10 then let my wife grind grain[c] for another
and let other men enjoy her.
11 For that would be a heinous crime
and judged as a criminal offense.
12 It would be a fire that leads to Destruction[d]
until it consumes all my possessions completely.
13 “If I have ever rejected the pleas of my male or female slaves
when they lodged a complaint against me,
14 what will I do when God confronts me?
What will I answer if he calls me to account?
15 Did not he who formed me in the womb also make them?
Did not the one God create all human beings?[e]
16 “Have I ignored the needs of the poor
or caused the eyes of widows to overflow with tears?
17 Did I ever eat my bread alone
without sharing it with an orphan,
18 I whom God has reared like a father
and guided ever since I left my mother’s womb?
19 “Have I ever seen a stranger in need of clothing,
or a poor wretch with nothing to cover him,
20 whose body has not blessed me
after being warmed with the fleece of my sheep?
21 Have I ever raised my hand against the innocent,
knowing that my friends would support me?
22 “If I have done any of these things,
then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder
and let my arm be torn from its socket.
23 For then the fear of God would overcome me
and I would be unable to stand in his presence.
24 “Have I placed my faith in gold
and regarded it as my security?
25 Have I rejoiced in my great wealth
and the abundance of riches in my possession?
26 [f]Have I beheld the sun when it shone
and the moon moving in its splendor
27 and ever found my heart to be secretly enticed
so that I blew them a kiss in homage?
28 Any of these would be a serious offense,
for I would have been unfaithful to God above.
29 [g]“Have I ever rejoiced at the ruin of my enemy
or exulted when evil overtook him—
30 I who would not allow my tongue to sin
by laying his life under a curse?
31 Have not those of my household said,
‘Who has not eaten his meat and been sated?’
32 No stranger has ever had to spend the night in the street;
my door has always been open to the traveler.
33 “Have I ever concealed my transgressions as others do,
keeping my guilt buried within my breast,
34 because I feared the gossip that would ensue,
and I was terrified at the scorn of the multitude?
If so, then I would have remained silent
and not ventured out of doors.

May God Respond[h]

35 [i]“Oh, if only I had someone to hear my defense
and my accuser would write out his indictment!
36 I would wear it on my shoulder
and place it on my head as a crown.
37 I would give him an account of my entire life,
and like a prince I would present myself before him.

Concluding Oath[j]

38 “If my land has cried out against me
and its furrows have joined in the weeping,
39 if I have eaten its produce without payment
and caused the death of its owners,
40 then let thistles grow instead of wheat
and noxious weeds instead of barley.”

The words of Job are ended.

Footnotes

  1. Job 31:1 If God recompenses everyone according to one’s deserts, he must render justice to Job.
  2. Job 31:7 Using the traditional formula for cursing (Num 5:20-22), Job examines his life in all the fundamental areas of religion and the law. In his actions, intentions, and most secret feelings, he is without fault.
  3. Job 31:10 Grind grain: slaves were used for grinding grain.
  4. Job 31:12 Destruction: literally, “Abaddon”; see note on Job 26:6.
  5. Job 31:15 Some scholars believe that verses 38-40 of this chapter should be placed after this verse instead of in their accustomed spot.
  6. Job 31:26 Job knows that to worship the sun or the moon is a sin (see Deut 4:19; 17:3; Ezek 8:16f), and he was careful not to do so. Blew them a kiss: a sign of respect that implied recognition of a divinity (the Latin word adorare [“adore”] came from ad os meaning “put the hand to the mouth”). Therefore, to blow a kiss to the stars meant to practice idolatry.
  7. Job 31:29 Job has never succumbed to gloating over enemies, which had been condemned by Moses (Ex 23:4f) and would later also be ruled out by Christ (Mt 5:43-47).
  8. Job 31:35 Job is ready to appear before God and certain to be able to refute every accusation in his presence.
  9. Job 31:35 The written indictment took the form of a lengthy papyrus scroll that Job would like to wear like a turban.
  10. Job 31:38 Job now offers a concluding oath to complete an earlier theme. He calls for a curse on his land if he has neglected social justice (see vv. 13-15). Some scholars place verses 38-40 after verse 15 in this chapter.

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