Job 34

Elihu’s Second Speech[a]

Chapter 34

Let Us Explore What Is Right.[b] 1 Then Elihu continued and said:

2 “Listen to my words, you wise men;
you men of learning, hear what I have to say.
3 For the ear tests the value of words
as the palate does with food.
4 “Let us consider together what is right;
let us determine among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job has said, ‘I am innocent,
but God has denied me justice;
6 I am in desperate straits
despite the fact that I have done no wrong.’
7 “Was there ever a man like Job
with his thirst for blasphemous charges,
8 who keeps company with evildoers
and travels with wicked men?
9 Did he not state that no one derives any benefit
by being pleasing to God?

God Does Not Pervert Justice

10 “Therefore, listen to me like intelligent men.
Far be it from God to do evil;[c]
far be it from the Almighty to be unjust.
11 He requites everyone according to his deeds,
ensuring that he will receive what his conduct deserves.
12 There can be no doubt that God will never do wrong;
the Almighty will not pervert justice.
13 “Did someone else entrust the world to his keeping?
Who but he established the whole world?
14 If he were to take back his Spirit to himself
and withdraw back into himself his breath,
15 all flesh would perish instantaneously
and mankind would turn again to dust.
16 “If you have any semblance of intelligence, O Job,
pay attention to what I am saying.
17 How could an enemy of justice ever govern?
Would you dare to condemn the Righteous One, the Almighty,
18 who says to a king, ‘You are a scoundrel,’
and to nobles, ‘You are wicked men’?
19 “He shows no special respect to princes,
nor does he make any distinction between rich and poor,
for they are all the work of his hands.
20 They die suddenly, without warning,
in the middle of the night;
at his touch the rich are no more,
and he removes the mighty without lifting a finger.

God’s Eyes Observe the Ways of Humans

21 “For his eyes observe the ways of humans,
and he watches every step they take.
22 Nowhere is there darkness or gloom so dense
where evildoers may conceal themselves.
23 He forewarns no one when his time will come
to appear before God for judgment.
24 Without holding a trial he shatters the mighty
and establishes others in their place.
25 Knowing the sinful deeds they do,
he overthrows them at night and they are crushed.
26 “He strikes them down for their crimes
while others look on,
27 because they have turned away from following him
and paid no heed to any of his ways.
28 But they caused the cries of the poor to reach him,
so that he heard the anguished appeal of the afflicted.
29 “But if he remains silent and no one can condemn him,
and if he hides his face so that no one can behold him,
it is because he rules over nations and individuals
30 to prevent a godless man from ruling
and to set some wrongdoer free from affliction.

Job Is a Rebel to God[d]

31 “Suppose someone were to say to God,
‘I was wrong, but I will not offend anymore;
32 instruct me how to avoid sin
so that I will not do it again.’
33 In your opinion, should God then punish such a person
because he rejected his laws?
For it is up to you to decide, not me;
therefore, please enlighten us.
34 “Men of intelligence will say to me,
and any wise listener will assert:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;[e]
what he says lacks any intelligence.’
36 Would that Job be tried to the limit,
since his answers are those of the wicked.
37 For he is adding rebellion to his sin
by making an end of justice among us
and insulting God with abusive words.”

Footnotes

  1. Job 34:1 Elihu’s thoughts become more spirited. He reaches the heart of the dispute: human suffering in the face of God’s justice.
  2. Job 34:1 The entire problem lies herein. Elihu mounts a fiery defense of God.
  3. Job 34:10 Far be it from God to do evil: Elihu is answering a charge that God does evil, which Job in his frustration has intimated; for he has insisted that God is punishing him wrongfully and allowing evildoers to flourish (Job 24:1-12).
  4. Job 34:31 Exacerbated by his torment, Job has forgotten mercy and, in the view of Elihu, he speaks like a sinner who is entrenched in his rebellion.
  5. Job 34:35 Job speaks without knowledge: this theme is found also in God’s first response (Job 38:2) and Job’s final response (Job 42:3).

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