A painting of Job and his comforters by Luca Giordano.

The Third Controversy: Job Finishes His Speech

Job 29-31

Highlights from this Passage

  • Job recalls his prosperity from the past.
  • Job complains that the most contemptible find him contemptible because of his affliction.
  • Job recites the innocence of his living and his virtues.


Job again took up his parable, and said,

“Oh that I were as in the months of old,
    as in the days when God watched over me;
when his lamp shone on my head,
    and by his light I walked through darkness,
as I was in my prime,
    when the friendship of God was in my tent,
when the Almighty was yet with me,
    and my children were around me,
when my steps were washed with butter,
    and the rock poured out streams of oil for me,
when I went out to the city gate,
    when I prepared my seat in the street.
The young men saw me and hid themselves.
    The aged rose up and stood.
The princes refrained from talking,
    and laid their hand on their mouth.
The voice of the nobles was hushed,
    and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth.
For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me;
    and when the eye saw me, it commended me:
Because I delivered the poor who cried,
    and the fatherless also, who had no one to help him,
the blessing of him who was ready to perish came on me,
    and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.
    My justice was as a robe and a diadem.
I was eyes to the blind,
    and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy.
    I researched the cause of him whom I didn’t know.
I broke the jaws of the unrighteous
    and plucked the prey out of his teeth.
Then I said, ‘I will die in my own house,
    I will count my days as the sand.
My root is spread out to the waters.
    The dew lies all night on my branch.
My glory is fresh in me.
    My bow is renewed in my hand.’

“Men listened to me, waited,
    and kept silence for my counsel.
After my words they didn’t speak again.
    My speech fell on them.
They waited for me as for the rain.
    Their mouths drank as with the spring rain.
I smiled on them when they had no confidence.
    They didn’t reject the light of my face.
I chose out their way, and sat as chief.
    I lived as a king in the army,
    as one who comforts the mourners.

“But now those who are younger than I have me in derision,
    whose fathers I considered unworthy to put with my sheep dogs.
Of what use is the strength of their hands to me,
    men in whom ripe age has perished?
They are gaunt from lack and famine.
    They gnaw the dry ground, in the gloom of waste and desolation.
They pluck salt herbs by the bushes.
    The roots of the broom tree are their food.
They are driven out from among men.
    They cry after them as after a thief;
So that they dwell in frightful valleys,
    and in holes of the earth and of the rocks.
They bray among the bushes.
    They are gathered together under the nettles.
They are children of fools, yes, children of wicked men.
    They were flogged out of the land.

“Now I have become their song.
    Yes, I am a byword to them.
They abhor me, they stand aloof from me,
    and don’t hesitate to spit in my face.
For he has untied his cord, and afflicted me;
    and they have thrown off restraint before me.
On my right hand rise the rabble.
    They thrust aside my feet,
    They cast up against me their ways of destruction.
They mar my path.
    They promote my destruction
    without anyone’s help.
As through a wide breach they come.
    They roll themselves in amid the ruin.
Terrors have turned on me.
    They chase my honor as the wind.
    My welfare has passed away as a cloud.

“Now my soul is poured out within me.
    Days of affliction have taken hold of me.
In the night season my bones are pierced in me,
    and the pains that gnaw me take no rest.
My garment is disfigured by great force.
    It binds me about as the collar of my tunic.
He has cast me into the mire.
    I have become like dust and ashes.
I cry to you, and you do not answer me.
    I stand up, and you gaze at me.
You have turned to be cruel to me.
    With the might of your hand you persecute me.
You lift me up to the wind, and drive me with it.
    You dissolve me in the storm.
For I know that you will bring me to death,
    to the house appointed for all living.

“However doesn’t one stretch out a hand in his fall?
    Or in his calamity therefore cry for help?
Didn’t I weep for him who was in trouble?
    Wasn’t my soul grieved for the needy?
When I looked for good, then evil came.
    When I waited for light, darkness came.
My heart is troubled, and doesn’t rest.
    Days of affliction have come on me.
I go mourning without the sun.
    I stand up in the assembly, and cry for help.
I am a brother to jackals,
    and a companion to ostriches.
My skin grows black and peels from me.
    My bones are burned with heat.
Therefore my harp has turned to mourning,
    and my pipe into the voice of those who weep.

“I made a covenant with my eyes,
    how then should I look lustfully at a young woman?
For what is the portion from God above,
    and the heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not calamity to the unrighteous,
    and disaster to the workers of iniquity?
Doesn’t he see my ways,
    and count all my steps?

“If I have walked with falsehood,
    and my foot has hurried to deceit
(let me be weighed in an even balance,
    that God may know my integrity);
if my step has turned out of the way,
    if my heart walked after my eyes,
    if any defilement has stuck to my hands,
then let me sow, and let another eat.
    Yes, let the produce of my field be rooted out.

“If my heart has been enticed to a woman,
    and I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door,
then let my wife grind for another,
    and let others sleep with her.
For that would be a heinous crime.
    Yes, it would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;
for it is a fire that consumes to destruction,
    and would root out all my increase.
“If I have despised the cause of my male servant
    or of my female servant,
    when they contended with me,
what then will I do when God rises up?
    When he visits, what will I answer him?
Didn’t he who made me in the womb make him?
    Didn’t one fashion us in the womb?
“If I have withheld the poor from their desire,
    or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
or have eaten my morsel alone,
    and the fatherless has not eaten of it
(no, from my youth he grew up with me as with a father,
    I have guided her from my mother’s womb);
if I have seen any perish for want of clothing,
    or that the needy had no covering;
if his heart hasn’t blessed me,
    if he hasn’t been warmed with my sheep’s fleece;
if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless,
    because I saw my help in the gate,
then let my shoulder fall from the shoulder blade,
    and my arm be broken from the bone.
For calamity from God is a terror to me.
    Because of his majesty, I can do nothing.
“If I have made gold my hope,
    and have said to the fine gold, ‘You are my confidence;’
If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great,
    and because my hand had gotten much;
if I have seen the sun when it shined,
    or the moon moving in splendor,
and my heart has been secretly enticed,
    and my hand threw a kiss from my mouth,
this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges;
    for I should have denied the God who is above.
“If I have rejoiced at the destruction of him who hated me,
    or lifted up myself when evil found him
(yes, I have not allowed my mouth to sin
    by asking his life with a curse);
if the men of my tent have not said,
    ‘Who can find one who has not been filled with his meat?’
(the foreigner has not camped in the street,
    but I have opened my doors to the traveler);
if like Adam I have covered my transgressions,
    by hiding my iniquity in my heart,
because I feared the great multitude,
    and the contempt of families terrified me,
    so that I kept silence, and didn’t go out of the door—
oh that I had one to hear me!
    Behold, here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!
    Let the accuser write my indictment!
Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;
    and I would bind it to me as a crown.
I would declare to him the number of my steps.
    I would go near to him like a prince.
If my land cries out against me,
    and its furrows weep together;
if I have eaten its fruits without money,
    or have caused its owners to lose their life,
let briers grow instead of wheat,
    and stinkweed instead of barley.”

The words of Job are ended.

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