Job’s Fourth Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2I have heard this sort of thing many times.a
Troublesome comforters, all of you!
3Is there no end to windy words?
What sickness makes you rattle on?
4I also could talk as you do,
were you in my place.
I could declaim over you,
or wag my head at you;
5I could strengthen you with talk,
with mere chatter give relief.
6If I speak, my pain is not relieved;
if I stop speaking, nothing changes.
7But now he has exhausted me;
you have stunned all my companions.
8You* have shriveled me up; it is a witness,
my gauntness rises up to testify against me;
9His wrath tears and assails me,
he gnashes his teeth against me;
My enemy looks daggers at me.
10They gape at me with their mouths;
They strike me on the cheek with insults;
they are all enlisted against me.
11God has given me over to the impious;
into the hands of the wicked he has cast me.
12I was in peace, but he dislodged me,
seized me by the neck, dashed me to pieces.
He has set me up for a target;
13his arrows strike me from all directions.
He pierces my sides without mercy,
pours out my gall upon the ground.
14He pierces me, thrust upon thrust,
rushes at me like a warrior.
15I have sewn sackcloth on my skin,
laid my horn low in the dust.
16My face is inflamed with weeping,
darkness covers my eyes,
17Although my hands are free from violence,
and my prayer sincere.
18O earth, do not cover my blood,
nor let my outcry come to rest!*
19Even now my witness* is in heaven,
my advocate is on high.
20My friends it is who wrong me;
before God my eyes shed tears,
21That justice may be done for a mortal with God:
as for a man with his neighbor.
22For my years are numbered,
and I go the road of no return.
* [16:8] You: God. Job then describes in vv. 9–17 the savage treatment that he has received from God.
* [16:18] As the exposed blood of those who were unjustly slain cries to heaven for vengeance (Gn 4:10; Ez 24:6–9), so Job’s sufferings demand redress.
* [16:19] Witness: refers perhaps to God (is Job appealing to God against God?), or to a mediator (cf. 9:33), or to a personification of Job’s prayer.