Job’s Fifth Reply. 1* Then Job answered and said:
2How long will you afflict my spirit,
grind me down with words?
3These ten times you have humiliated me,
have assailed me without shame!
4Even if it were true that I am at fault,
my fault would remain with me;
5If truly you exalt yourselves at my expense,
and use my shame as an argument against me,
6Know then that it is God who has dealt unfairly with me,
and compassed me round with his net.
7If I cry out “Violence!” I am not answered.a
I shout for help, but there is no justice.
8He has barred my way and I cannot pass;
veiled my path in darkness;
9He has stripped me of my glory,
taken the diadem from my brow.
10He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone;
he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
11He has kindled his wrath against me;
he counts me one of his enemies.b
12His troops advance as one;
they build up their road to attack me,
encamp around my tent.
13My family has withdrawn from me,c
my friends are wholly estranged.
14My relatives and companions neglect me,
my guests have forgotten me.
15Even my maidservants consider me a stranger;
I am a foreigner in their sight.
16I call my servant, but he gives no answer,
though I plead aloud with him.
17My breath is abhorrent to my wife;d
I am loathsome to my very children.
18Even young children despise me;
when I appear, they speak against me.
19All my intimate friends hold me in horror;
those whom I loved have turned against me!e
20My bones cling to my skin,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.*
21Pity me, pity me, you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
22Why do you pursue me like God,
and prey insatiably upon me?
23Oh, would that my words were written down!f
Would that they were inscribed in a record:*
24That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
25As for me, I know that my vindicator lives,*
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust.g
26This will happen when my skin has been stripped off,
and from my flesh I will see God:
27I will see for myself,
my own eyes, not another’s, will behold him:
my inmost being is consumed with longing.
28But you who say, “How shall we persecute him,
seeing that the root of the matter is found in him?”
29Be afraid of the sword for yourselves,
for your anger is a crime deserving the sword;
that you may know that there is a judgment.
* [19:20] Skin of my teeth: although the metaphor is not clear, this has become a proverbial expression for a narrow escape. It does not fit Job’s situation here.
* [19:25–27] The meaning of this passage is obscure because the original text has been poorly preserved and the ancient versions do not agree among themselves. Job asserts three times that he shall see a future vindicator (Hebrew goel), but he leaves the time and manner of this vindication undefined. The Vulgate translation has Job indicating a belief in resurrection after death, but the Hebrew and the other ancient versions are less specific.