1Why are times not set by the Almighty,
and why do his friends not see his days?*
2People remove landmarks;
they steal herds and pasture them.
3The donkeys of orphans they drive away;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
4They force the needy off the road;
all the poor of the land are driven into hiding.
5Like wild donkeys in the wilderness,
they go forth to their task of seeking prey;
the steppe provides food for their young;
6They harvest fodder in the field,
and glean in the vineyard of the wicked.
7They pass the night naked, without clothing;
they have no covering against the cold;
8They are drenched with rain from the mountains,
and for want of shelter they cling to the rock.
9Orphans are snatched from the breast,
infants of the needy are taken in pledge.*
10They go about naked, without clothing,
and famished, they carry the sheaves.*
11Between the rows they press out the oil;
they tread the wine presses, yet are thirsty.
12In the city the dying groan,
and the souls of the wounded cry out.
Yet God does not treat it as a disgrace!
13They are rebels against the light:a
they do not recognize its ways;
they do not stay in its paths.
14When there is no light the murderer rises,
to kill the poor and needy;
in the night he acts like a thief.
15The eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight;b
he says, “No eye will see me.”
He puts a mask over his face;
16in the dark he breaks into houses;
By day they shut themselves in;
they do not know the light.
17Indeed, for all of them morning is deep darkness;
then they recognize the terrors of deep darkness.
18He is swift on the surface of the water:*
their portion in the land is accursed,
they do not turn aside by way of the vineyards.
19Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters,
Sheol, those who have sinned.
20May the womb forget him,
may the worm find him sweet,
may he no longer be remembered;
And may wickedness be broken like a tree.
21May his companion be barren, unable to give birth,
may his widow not prosper!
22He* sustains the mighty by his strength,
to him who rises without assurance of his life
23he gives safety and support,
and his eyes are on their ways.
24They are exalted for a while, and then are no more;
laid low, like everyone else they are gathered up;
like ears of grain they shrivel.
25If this be not so, who can make me a liar,
and reduce my words to nothing?
* [24:1] After his failure to find God, Job takes up the question: Why does God not favor his friends by the speedy punishment of his enemies?
* [24:9] This verse continues the description of the plight of the poor in vv. 2–4, and may belong there.
* [24:10] This verse is a variant of v. 7, and may be an erroneous scribal repetition.
* [24:18–24] These verses are inconsistent with Job’s views elsewhere. Moreover, they are in general poorly preserved, and in some cases obscure.
* [24:22] He: God.