Job’s First Reply. 1Then Job answered and said:
2Ah, could my anguish but be measured
and my calamity laid with it in the scales,
3They would now outweigh the sands of the sea!
Because of this I speak without restraint.
4For the arrows of the Almighty are in me,a
and my spirit drinks in their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
5Does the wild donkey bray when it has grass?*
Does the ox low over its fodder?
6Can anything insipid be eaten without salt?
Is there flavor in the white of an egg?
7I refuse to touch them;
they are like loathsome food to me.
8Oh, that I might have my request,
and that God would grant what I long for:
9Even that God would decide to crush me,
that he would put forth his hand and cut me off!
10Then I should still have consolation
and could exult through unremitting pain,
because I have not transgressed the commands of the Holy One.
11What strength have I that I should endure,
and what is my limit that I should be patient?
12Have I the strength of stones,
or is my flesh of bronze?
13Have I no helper,b
and has my good sense deserted me?
14A friend owes kindness to one in despair,
though he has forsaken the fear of the Almighty.
15My companions are undependable as a wadi,
as watercourses that run dry in the wadies;
16Though they may be black with ice,
and with snow heaped upon them,
17Yet once they flow, they cease to be;
in the heat, they disappear from their place.
18Caravans wander from their routes;
they go into the wasteland and perish.
19The caravans of Tema* search,
the companies of Sheba have hopes;
20They are disappointed, though they were confident;
they come there and are frustrated.
21It is thus that you have now become for me;*
you see a terrifying thing and are afraid.
22Have I said, “Give me something,
make a bribe on my behalf from your possessions”?
23Or “Deliver me from the hand of the enemy,
redeem me from oppressors”?
24Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have erred.
25How painful honest words can be;
yet how unconvincing is your argument!
26Do you consider your words as proof,
but the sayings of a desperate man as wind?
27You would even cast lots for the orphan,
and would barter over your friend!
28Come, now, give me your attention;
surely I will not lie to your face.
29Think it over; let there be no injustice.
Think it over; I still am right.
30Is there insincerity on my tongue,
or cannot my taste discern falsehood?
* [6:5–6] Job would not complain if his life were as pleasant to him as fodder to a hungry animal; but his life is as disagreeable as insipid food. White of an egg: thus the obscure Hebrew has been understood in Jewish tradition; some render it “mallow juice.”
* [6:19] Tema: in northwest Arabia. Sheba: home of the Sabeans; see note on 1:15.
* [6:21] It is only at this point that the previous lines (vv. 1–20) are clearly directed to the three friends. The style of replying in these chapters (3–31) is often indirect. Job and the friends become mouthpieces through which the author presents current views on divine retribution in dramatic fashion. In chap. 7, Job will not even speak directly to the friends.