Then Job replied:
"Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me.
Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.
"Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient?
Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth.
When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body.
Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?
They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes.
Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them.
Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry.
They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about.
They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute.
They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.
Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.
Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'
But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
"Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger?
How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale?
[It is said, ] 'God stores up a man's punishment for his sons.' Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it!
Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
For what does he care about the family he leaves behind when his allotted months come to an end?
"Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?
One man dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease,
his body well nourished, his bones rich with marrow.
Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good.
Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both.
"I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me.
You say, 'Where now is the great man's house, the tents where wicked men lived?'
Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts--
that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity, that he is delivered from the day of wrath?
Who denounces his conduct to his face? Who repays him for what he has done?
He is carried to the grave, and watch is kept over his tomb.
The soil in the valley is sweet to him; all men follow after him, and a countless throng goes before him.
"So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!"
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
"Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit him?
What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
"Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you?
Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land-- an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless.
That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you,
why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you.
"Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars!
Yet you say, 'What does God know? Does he judge through such darkness?
Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.'
Will you keep to the old path that evil men have trod?
They were carried off before their time, their foundations washed away by a flood.
They said to God, 'Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?'
Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
"The righteous see their ruin and rejoice; the innocent mock them, saying,
'Surely our foes are destroyed, and fire devours their wealth.'
"Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent
and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.
When men are brought low and you say, 'Lift them up!' then he will save the downcast.
He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."
Then Job replied:
"Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say.
Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me.
There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.
"But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
"But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.
He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.
That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him.
God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.
Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.