A Life of Exhausting Service[a]
1 “Is not man’s life on earth an exhausting one,
and are not his days like those of a hired laborer?
2 Like a slave who sighs for the evening shade
and like a laborer who is bent upon his wages,
3 so have I been forced to endure months of futility,
and nights of grief have been inflicted on me.
4 “When I lie in bed, I wonder,
‘When will the daylight come so that I may rise?’
But the night drags on,
and I toss restlessly until the dawn.
5 My body is infected with worms and scabs;
my skin is cracked and festering.
My Life Is But a Breath[b]
6 “My days pass more swiftly than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without a glimmer of hope.
7 “Remember that my life is but a breath of wind;
my eyes will never again see happiness.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no more;
I will vanish before your very eyes.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is no more,
so the one who descends to the netherworld[c] will never come up again.
10 He will never again return to his home,
nor will he be remembered anymore.
11 “Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth.
I will speak out in my anguish of spirit,
and I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I a monster of the deep, or a sea serpent,
that you place me under guard?[d]
13 When I say, ‘I will find comfort in my bed,
and my couch will soothe my complaints,’
14 you then frighten me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would prefer to be strangled
and to endure death rather than my sufferings.
16 My life is ebbing away; I cannot live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath.
A Continual Testing[e]
17 “What is man, that you make so much of him
or pay him any mind?
18 You examine him every morning
and test him every moment of the day.
19 “Will you never take your eyes from me,
or let me alone long enough to swallow my saliva?
20 If I have sinned, what harm have I done to you,
O watcher of humanity?
Why have you designated me to be your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?[f]
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my iniquity?
For soon I will lie down in the dust;
you will search for me, but I will be no more.”
- Job 7:1 The lot of the sick seems to be one of exhausting service comprising interminable days and nights of suffering.
- Job 7:6 Regret for the happiness that has vanished too soon and fear of the netherworld haunt the sick man. He feels that he is, so to speak, hunted by God.
- Job 7:9 Netherworld: this is the first explicit allusion to the great subterranean pit where the dead are gathered together. Job speaks of it according to the opinion in his day. It is no longer the sojourn of repose (Job 3:13-19), but a place from which one “will never again return,” or where one is separated from his home, his family, and even his God.
- Job 7:12 This is a very poetic and Semitic way of representing the dominion of God over the forces of the universe.
- Job 7:17 Unlike the psalmist (Pss 8:5; 139:13-14, 23-24), Job cannot rejoice at the special attention God pays to human beings. This divine scrutiny shakes his conviction of innocence.
- Job 7:20 Burden to you: many Hebrew manuscripts have: “burden to myself.”