The Holy See
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2002 11 11
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Chapter 14


Man born of woman is short-lived and full of trouble,


Like a flower that springs up and fades, swift as a shadow that does not abide.


Upon such a one will you cast your eyes so as to bring him into judgment before you,


Can a man be found who is clean of defilement? There is none,


however short his days. You know the number of his months; you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass.


Look away from him and let him be, while, like a hireling, he completes his day.


For a tree there is hope, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again and that its tender shoots will not cease.


Even though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the dust,


Yet at the first whiff of water it may flourish again and put forth branches like a young plant.


But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him; when man expires, where then is he?


As when the waters of a lake fail, or a stream grows dry and parches,


So men lie down and rise not again. Till the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be roused out of their sleep.


Oh, that you would hide me in the nether world and keep me sheltered till your wrath is past; would fix a time for me, and then remember me!


When a man has died, were he to live again, all the days of my drudgery I would wait, until my relief should come.


You would call, and I would answer you; you would esteem the work of your hands.


Surely then you would count my steps, and not keep watch for sin in me.


1 My misdeeds would be sealed up in a pouch, and you would cover over my guilt.


But as a mountain falls at last and its rock is moved from its place,


As waters wear away the stones and floods wash away the soil of the land, so you destroy the hope of man.


You prevail once for all against him and he passes on; with changed appearance you send him away.


If his sons are honored, he is not aware of it; if they are in disgrace, he does not know about them.


Only his own flesh pains him, and his soul grieves for him.



1 [17] Sealed up in a pouch: hidden away and forgotten.

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