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Traditional belief

20 Zophar from Naamah said:

Therefore, my troubled thoughts make me turn back—
    because of my inner turmoil.
I hear teaching that insults me,
    but I am forced to answer based on my own understanding.[a]
Do you know this from long ago—
        from when humans were placed on earth—
    that the rejoicing of the wicked is short,
        the joy of the godless, brief?
Though their height reaches heaven
    and their heads touch the clouds,
    they will perish forever like their dung;
    those who saw them will say, “Where are they?”
They will disappear like a dream,
        and none will find them,
    carried away like a nighttime vision.
The eye that saw them will do so no more;
    they won’t be seen again at home.
10 Their children will repay the poor;
    their hands will give back their wealth.
11 Vigor filled their bones
    and now sleeps with them in the dust.
12 Though wickedness is sweet in their mouths,
    they hide it under their tongues;
13     they like it, won’t let it go;
    they hold it in their cheeks.
14 Food turns their stomachs,
    becoming a cobra’s poison inside.
15 They swallow wealth and vomit it;
    God dislodges it from their belly.
16 They suck cobra’s poison;
    a viper’s tongue kills them.
17 They won’t experience streams,
    rivers of honey, and brooks of cream.
18 They won’t receive the reward for their labor;
    they won’t enjoy the wealth from their business.
19 They crushed and abandoned the poor;
    stole a house they didn’t build;
20     didn’t know contentment in their belly;
    couldn’t escape with their treasure.
21 Nothing remained of their food,
    so their riches will not endure.
22 Even in their plenty, they are hard-pressed;
    all sorts of trouble come on them.
23 Let God[b] fill their belly,
    unleash his burning anger on them,
    rain punishing blows on them.
24 If they flee an iron weapon,
    a bronze bow pierces them.
25 They pull it out, but it sticks out from their backs;
    its shaft in their liver brings terror.
26 Complete darkness waits for their treasured possessions;
    fire that no one stoked consumes them;
        what’s left in their tent is ruined.
27 Heaven exposes their guilt;
    earth opposes them.
28 Their household wealth will be carried off
    by rushing streams on the day of his anger.
29 This is a wicked person’s lot from God,
    their heritage decreed by God.


  1. Job 20:3 Heb uncertain
  2. Job 20:23 Or him


20 Then Zophar the Naamathite(A) replied:

“My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
    because I am greatly disturbed.(B)
I hear a rebuke(C) that dishonors me,
    and my understanding inspires me to reply.

“Surely you know how it has been from of old,(D)
    ever since mankind[a] was placed on the earth,
that the mirth of the wicked(E) is brief,
    the joy of the godless(F) lasts but a moment.(G)
Though the pride(H) of the godless person reaches to the heavens(I)
    and his head touches the clouds,(J)
he will perish forever,(K) like his own dung;
    those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’(L)
Like a dream(M) he flies away,(N) no more to be found,
    banished(O) like a vision of the night.(P)
The eye that saw him will not see him again;
    his place will look on him no more.(Q)
10 His children(R) must make amends to the poor;
    his own hands must give back his wealth.(S)
11 The youthful vigor(T) that fills his bones(U)
    will lie with him in the dust.(V)

12 “Though evil(W) is sweet in his mouth
    and he hides it under his tongue,(X)
13 though he cannot bear to let it go
    and lets it linger in his mouth,(Y)
14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;(Z)
    it will become the venom of serpents(AA) within him.
15 He will spit out the riches(AB) he swallowed;
    God will make his stomach vomit(AC) them up.
16 He will suck the poison(AD) of serpents;
    the fangs of an adder will kill him.(AE)
17 He will not enjoy the streams,
    the rivers(AF) flowing with honey(AG) and cream.(AH)
18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;(AI)
    he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.(AJ)
19 For he has oppressed the poor(AK) and left them destitute;(AL)
    he has seized houses(AM) he did not build.

20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;(AN)
    he cannot save himself by his treasure.(AO)
21 Nothing is left for him to devour;
    his prosperity will not endure.(AP)
22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;(AQ)
    the full force of misery will come upon him.(AR)
23 When he has filled his belly,(AS)
    God will vent his burning anger(AT) against him
    and rain down his blows on him.(AU)
24 Though he flees(AV) from an iron weapon,
    a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.(AW)
25 He pulls it out of his back,
    the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors(AX) will come over him;(AY)
26     total darkness(AZ) lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire(BA) unfanned will consume him(BB)
    and devour what is left in his tent.(BC)
27 The heavens will expose his guilt;
    the earth will rise up against him.(BD)
28 A flood will carry off his house,(BE)
    rushing waters[b] on the day of God’s wrath.(BF)
29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
    the heritage appointed for them by God.”(BG)


  1. Job 20:4 Or Adam
  2. Job 20:28 Or The possessions in his house will be carried off, / washed away

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