The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 38


1 Then the LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said:


Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?


2 Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers!


Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.


Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it?


Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone,


3 While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God shouted for joy?


And who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb;


When I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?


When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door,


And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!


Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place


For taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from its surface?


The earth is changed as is clay by the seal, and dyed as though it were a garment;


But from the wicked the light is withheld, and the arm of pride is shattered.


Have you entered into the sources of the sea, or walked about in the depths of the abyss?


Have the gates of death been shown to you, or have you seen the gates of darkness?


Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell me, if you know all:


Which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness,


That you may take them to their boundaries and set them on their homeward paths?


4 You know, because you were born before them, and the number of your years is great!


5 Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, and seen the treasury of the hail


Which I have reserved for times of stress, for the days of war and of battle?


Which way to the parting of the winds, whence the east wind spreads over the earth?


Who has laid out a channel for the downpour and for the thunderstorm a path


To bring rain to no man's land, the unpeopled wilderness;


To enrich the waste and desolate ground till the desert blooms with verdure?


Has the rain a father; or who has begotten the drops of dew?


Out of whose womb comes the ice, and who gives the hoarfrost its birth in the skies,


When the waters lie covered as though with stone that holds captive the surface of the deep?


6 Have you fitted a curb to the Pleiades, or loosened the bonds of Orion?


Can you bring forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or guide the Bear with its train?


Do you know the ordinances of the heavens; can you put into effect their plan on the earth?


7 Can you raise your voice among the clouds, or veil yourself in the waters of the storm?


8 Can you send forth the lightnings on their way, or will they say to you, "Here we are"?


Who counts the clouds in his wisdom? Or who tilts the water jars of heaven


So that the dust of earth is fused into a mass and its clods made solid?


Do you hunt the prey for the lioness or appease the hunger of her cubs,


While they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in the thicket?


9 Who puts wisdom in the heart, and gives the cock its understanding?


Who provides nourishment for the ravens when their young ones cry out to God, and they rove abroad without food?


1 [1] Now the LORD enters the debate and addresses two discourses (Job 38-39 and Job 40-41) to Job, in which he speaks of his wisdom and power, which are altogether beyond the capacity of Job, who therefore should never dare to demand a reason for the divine actions. Out of the storm: frequently the background of the appearances of the LORD in the Old Testament; cf Psalm 18; 50; Nahum 1:3; Hebrews 3.

2 [3] Gird up your loins: prepare for combat - figuratively, be ready to defend yourself in debate.

3 [7] Sons of God: angels; cf Job 1:6.

4 [21] Divine irony.

5 [22-23] Hail . . . of war: thus God used a hailstorm to rout Joshua's foes in the battle of Gibeon; cf Joshua 10:11; Sirach 46:5.

6 [31-32] Pleiades . . . Orion . . . Bear: cf Job 9:9. Mazzaroth: It is uncertain what astronomical group is meant by this Hebrew word; perhaps a southern constellation (cf Job 9:9).

7 [34] Veil yourself . . . storm: wrap yourself in a cloud, as God comes in a theophany; cf Psalm 18:12.

8 [35] Here we are: at your service.

9 [36] Understanding: the reflection of divine Wisdom discernible in the created animal instincts of the cock.

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