1The LORD then answered Job and said:
2Will one who argues with the Almighty be corrected?
Let him who would instruct God give answer!a
3Then Job answered the LORD and said:
4* Look, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5I have spoken once, I will not reply;
twice, but I will do so no more.
6Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm and said:
7Gird up your loins now, like a man.
I will question you, and you tell me the answers!
8* Would you refuse to acknowledge my right?
Would you condemn me that you may be justified?
9Have you an arm like that of God,
or can you thunder with a voice like his?
10Adorn yourself with grandeur and majesty,
and clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
11Let loose the fury of your wrath;
look at everyone who is proud and bring them down.
12Look at everyone who is proud, and humble them.
Tear down the wicked in their place,
13bury them in the dust together;
in the hidden world imprison them.
14Then will I too praise you,
for your own right hand can save you.
15Look at Behemoth,* whom I made along with you,
who feeds on grass like an ox.
16See the strength in his loins,
the power in the sinews of his belly.
17He carries his tail like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are like cables.
18His bones are like tubes of bronze;
his limbs are like iron rods.
19He is the first of God’s ways,
only his maker can approach him with a sword.
20For the mountains bring him produce,
and all wild animals make sport there.
21Under lotus trees he lies,
in coverts of the reedy swamp.
22The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
all about him are the poplars in the wadi.
23If the river grows violent, he is not disturbed;
he is tranquil though the Jordan surges about his mouth.
24Who can capture him by his eyes,
or pierce his nose* with a trap?
25Can you lead Leviathan* about with a hook,
or tie down his tongue with a rope?
26Can you put a ring into his nose,
or pierce through his cheek with a gaff?
27Will he then plead with you, time after time,
or address you with tender words?
28Will he make a covenant with you
that you may have him as a slave forever?
29Can you play with him, as with a bird?
Can you tie him up for your little girls?
30Will the traders bargain for him?
Will the merchants* divide him up?
31Can you fill his hide with barbs,
or his head with fish spears?
32Once you but lay a hand upon him,
no need to recall any other conflict!
* [40:4–5] Job’s first reaction is humble, but also seemingly cautious.
* [40:8–14] The issue is joined in these verses, and the Lord seems to challenge Job to play God and to bring down the proud and wicked.
* [40:15] Behemoth: a primeval monster of chaos; identified by some scholars as the hippopotamus, on which the description of Behemoth is partially based. The point of the Behemoth-Leviathan passages is that only the Lord, not Job, can control the cosmic evil which these forces symbolize.
* [40:24] Eyes…nose: the only exposed parts of the submerged beast.
* [40:25] Leviathan: although identified by some scholars as the crocodile, it is more likely another chaos monster; see note on 3:8.
* [40:30] Merchants: lit., “Canaanites,” whose reputation for trading was so widespread that their name came to be used for merchants; cf. Prv 31:24.