Zophar’s Second Speech. 1Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
2So now my thoughts provide an answer for me,
because of the feelings within me.
3A rebuke that puts me to shame I hear,
and from my understanding a spirit gives me a reply.
4Do you not know this: from of old,
since human beings were placed upon the earth,
5The triumph of the wicked is short
and the joy of the impious but for a moment?a
6Though his pride mount up to the heavens
and his head reach to the clouds,
7Yet he perishes forever like the dung he uses for fuel,
and onlookers say, “Where is he?”b
8Like a dream he takes flight and cannot be found;
he fades away like a vision of the night.
9The eye which saw him does so no more;
nor shall his dwelling again behold him.
10His sons will restore to the poor,
and his hands will yield up his riches.c
11Though his bones are full of youthful vigor,
it shall lie with him in the dust.
12Though wickedness is sweet in his mouth,
and he hides it under his tongue,
13Though he retains it and will not let it go
but keeps it still within his mouth,
14Yet in his stomach the food shall turn;
it shall be venom of asps inside him.
15The riches he swallowed he shall vomit up;
God shall make his belly disgorge them.
16The poison of asps he shall drink in;
the viper’s fangs shall slay him.
17He shall see no streams of oil,*
no torrents of honey or milk.
18He shall give back his gains, never used;
like his profit from trade, never enjoyed.
19Because he has oppressed and neglected the poor,
and stolen a house he did not build;
20For he has known no quiet in his greed,
in his treasure he cannot save himself.d
21None of his survivors will consume it,
therefore his prosperity shall not endure.
22e When he has more than enough, distress shall be his,
every sort of trouble shall come upon him.
23When he has filled his belly,
God shall send against him the fury of his wrath
and rain down his missiles upon him.
24Should he escape an iron weapon,
a bronze bow shall pierce him through;
25The dart shall come out of his back,
a shining point out of his gall-bladder:
terrors fall upon him.
26Complete darkness is in store for his treasured ones;
a fire unfanned shall consume him;f
any survivor in his tent shall be destroyed.
27The heavens shall reveal his guilt,
and the earth rise up against him.
28The flood shall sweep away his house,
torrents in the day of God’s anger.
29This is the portion of the wicked,
the heritage appointed him by God.* g
* [20:17] Oil: olive oil, one of the main agricultural products of ancient Palestine, a land proverbially rich in honey and milk; see Ex 3:8; etc.
* [20:29] Zophar ends his lecture in the style of Bildad (cf. 18:19) with a summary appraisal of what he has been saying about the fate of the wicked.
a. [20:5] Jb 21:13; Ps 37:35–36.
b. [20:7] Jb 14:10; Ps 37:10, 36.
d. [20:20] Eccl 5:9; Lk 12:20.