"Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned,
for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?
Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water?
While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass.
Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web.
He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold.
He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden;
it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones.
But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, 'I never saw you.'
Surely its life withers away, and from the soil other plants grow.
"Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more."
Then Job replied:
"Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God?
Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.
He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars.
He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.
If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?'
God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
"How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him?
Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing.
He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason.
He would not let me regain my breath but would overwhelm me with misery.
If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who will summon him ?
Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
"Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life.
It is all the same; that is why I say, 'He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.'
When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent.
When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?
"My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey.
If I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,'
I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent.
Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain?
Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with washing soda,
you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me.
"He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both,
someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.
"I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?
Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?
Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a man,
that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin--
though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?
"Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me?
Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?
Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese,
clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?
You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.
"But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind:
If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished.