Job’s Third Reply. 1* Then Job answered and said:
2No doubt you are the people
with whom wisdom shall die!
3But I have intelligence as well as you;a
I do not fall short of you;
for who does not know such things as these?
4I have become the sport of my neighbors:*
“The one whom God answers when he calls upon him,
The just, the perfect man,” is a laughingstock;b
5The undisturbed esteem my downfall a disgrace
such as awaits unsteady feet;
6Yet the tents of robbers are prosperous,
and those who provoke God are secure,
whom God has in his power.*
7But now ask the beasts to teach you,
the birds of the air to tell you;
8Or speak to the earth to instruct you,
and the fish of the sea to inform you.
9Which of all these does not know
that the hand of God has done this?
10In his hand is the soul of every living thing,c
and the life breath of all mortal flesh.
11Does not the ear judge words
as the mouth tastes food?d
12So with old age is wisdom,e
and with length of days understanding.
13With him are wisdom and might;
his are counsel and understanding.
14If he knocks a thing down, there is no rebuilding;f
if he imprisons, there is no release.
15He holds back the waters and there is drought;g
he sends them forth and they overwhelm the land.
16With him are strength and prudence;
the misled and the misleaders are his.
17He sends counselors away barefoot,
makes fools of judges.
18He loosens the belt of kings,
ties a waistcloth on their loins.*
19He sends priests away barefoot,
leads the powerful astray.
20He silences the trusted adviser,
takes discretion from the elders.
21He pours shame on nobles,h
the waistband of the strong he loosens.
22He uncovers deep things from the darkness,
brings the gloom into the light.
23He makes nations great and destroys them,
spreads peoples abroad and abandons them.
24He takes understanding from the leaders of the land,
makes them wander in a pathless desert.
25They grope in the darkness without light;
he makes them wander like drunkards.
* [12:1] Job begins his third and longest speech to the friends with sarcasm, and eventually he accuses them of falsehood (13:4–11). The dialogue between them becomes increasingly sharp. With the appeal to learning from beasts and birds (12:7), Job launches into what seems to be a bitter parody of the power of God.
* [12:4–5] The Hebrew is somewhat obscure, but the general sense is that the wicked mock the pious when the latter appear to be abandoned by God; cf. Ps 22:7–9; Mt 27:39–43.
* [12:6] Whom God has in his power: the Hebrew is obscure. The line may be a scribal error; some of the phrases occur in vv. 9, 10.
* [12:18] He reduces kings to the condition of slaves, who wear only a cloth wrapped about the waist.
c. [12:10] Acts 17:28.