Job 9

Job’s Second Response[a]

Chapter 9

The Irresistible Power of God.[b] 1 Job then answered with these words:

2 “Indeed, I realize that this is true,
but how can anyone claim to be righteous before God?
3 If someone wished to debate with him,
he could not answer him once in a thousand.
4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
who then has resisted him and remained unscathed?
5 “He moves mountains without their realizing it
and overturns them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth out of its place,
and makes its pillars tremble.
7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise;
he seals up the light of the stars.
8 He alone stretches out the heavens
and tramples upon the waves of the sea.
9 He made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades[c] and the constellations of the South.
10 “God performs deeds that are beyond understanding
and marvels that cannot be numbered.
11 If he passes near me, I do not see him;
he moves on, imperceptible to me.
12 If he snatches something away, who can stop him?
Who will dare to ask him, ‘What are you doing?’
13 God will not relent in his wrath;
the servants of Rahab lie prostrate at his feet.

Even If I Am Innocent, How Can I Answer God?[d]

14 “How then can I possibly reply to him
or devise arguments to counter him?
15 Even if I am innocent, how can I answer him?
I can only plead that he have mercy on me.
16 “Even if I summoned him and he responded,
I do not believe that he would listen to what I said.
17 He might crush me in a tempest
and multiply my wounds without cause.
18 He might leave me no opportunity to regain my breath
and fill me with bitterness.
19 “If it is a contest of strength,
I cannot compete with him.
If it is a matter of judgment,
who can summon him to present his evidence?
20 Even though I am innocent,
my own mouth might condemn me.
Even though I am blameless,
he might prove me guilty.
21 But am I without blame?
I am no longer certain.
Life itself I despise.
22 “It is all the same; that is why I say,
‘He destroys both the innocent and the wicked.’
23 When a deadly scourge suddenly appears,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
24 When the earth is given into the hands of the wicked,
he blindfolds the eyes of its judges.[e]
If it is not he who does so,
then who else is responsible?

There Is No Arbiter To Judge between God and Me

25 “My days pass more swiftly than a runner;
they fly away without any experience of happiness.
26 They skim past like boats of papyrus,
like an eagle swooping upon its prey.
27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaints,
I will put on a cheerful face instead of a sad countenance,’
28 I will still dread my sufferings,
for I know that you will not hold me innocent.
29 “If I am to be condemned as guilty,
why then should I struggle in vain?
30 If I should wash myself with snow
and cleanse my hands with lye,
31 you would plunge me into a dung-filled ditch
so that even my clothes would abhor me.
32 “For God is not a man like me,
someone before whom I can plead my case
or whom I can confront in a court.
33 There is no arbiter to judge between us
with the power to render a verdict,
34 someone who could remove God’s rod from me
so that I would not shrink from him in terror.
35 Then I would speak out without fear of him,
for I know I am not what I am thought to be.

Footnotes

  1. Job 9:1 Far from denying the justice of God, Job proclaims it in his turn, but he will focus attention on the mystery of this justice by emphasizing the fearful power of the Creator and his seeming hostility to the human beings who have come from his own hands.
  2. Job 9:1 This first hymn to God the Creator emphasizes the nothingness of human beings. The Book of Job shows a liking for these grandiose visions in which we find the ancient cosmology reflected: earth is like a building set on pillars that reach down into the abyss (v. 6); in the firmament God has set constellations that cannot all be identified with certainty (v. 9).
  3. Job 9:9 Bear . . . Orion . . . Pleiades: three constellations, whose creation by God was evidence of his overwhelming might. They reappear in Job 38:31-32, and the last two are found in Am 5:8.
  4. Job 9:14 Hounded by the desire to obtain justice, Job would like to come before God. But the heavy burden of the trial leads him to have doubts both about his own virtue and about the justice of God.
  5. Job 9:24 Blindfolds the eyes of [the earth’s] judges: in our day, we portray Lady Justice as wearing a blindfold, meaning that she will be an impartial judge. Job accused God of blindfolding the judges of his time so that they would be oblivious to both crimes and innocence.

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