1Man born of woman
is short-lived and full of trouble,* a
2Like a flower that springs up and fades,b
swift as a shadow that does not abide.
3Upon such a one will you set your eyes,
bringing me into judgment before you?
4Can anyone make the unclean clean?c
No one can.
5Since his days are determined—
you know the number of his months;
you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass—
6Look away from him and let him be,
while, like a hireling, he completes his day.
7For a tree there is hope;
if it is cut down, it will sprout again,
its tender shoots will not cease.
8Even though its root grow old in the earth
and its stump die in the dust,
9Yet at the first whiff of water it sprouts
and puts forth branches like a young plant.
10But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him;d
when a mortal expires, where then is he?
11As when the waters of a lake fail,
or a stream shrivels and dries up,
12So mortals lie down, never to rise.
Until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake,
nor be roused out of their sleep.e
13Oh, that you would hide me in Sheol,
shelter me till your wrath is past,
fix a time to remember me!
14If a man were to die, and live again,
all the days of my drudgery I would waitf
for my relief to come.
15You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
16Surely then you would count my steps,g
and not keep watch for sin in me.
17My misdeeds would be sealed up in a pouch,*
and you would cover over my guilt.
18Mountains fall and crumble,
rocks move from their place,
19And water wears away stone,
and floods wash away the soil of the land—
so you destroy the hope of mortals!
20You prevail once for all against them and they pass on;
you dismiss them with changed appearance.
21If their children are honored, they are not aware of it;
or if disgraced, they do not know about them.
22Only for themselves, their pain;
only for themselves, their mourning.
* [14:1] The sorrowful lament of Job is that God should relent in view of the limited life of human beings. When compared to plant life, which dies but can revive, the death of human beings is final. Job’s wild and “unthinkable” wish in vv. 13–17 is a bold stroke of imagination and desire: if only in Sheol he were protected till God would remember him! Were he to live again (v. 14), things would be different, but alas, God destroys “the hope of mortals” (v. 19).
* [14:17] Sealed up in a pouch: hidden away and forgotten.
a. [14:1] Jb 10:20; 15:14; Ps 39:5–6; 89:46; Wis 2:1.
b. [14:2] Jb 8:9; Ps 90:6; 102:12; 103:15; 109:23; 144:4; Is 40:6–7; Jas 1:10.