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Job 3 – Job Curses the Day of His Birth


Breaking his image of acceptance and stoicism, Job bursts forth with a terrible lament.


The patient Job of chapters 1-2 is the one that is most commonly remembered. Even people who know little about Job have heard the expression "the patience of Job" and have some idea that he was a man who had a lot of trouble but took it "like a man," without whining or complaining. But already in chapter 3 and throughout all the dialogues, another picture of Job emerges. He does not like what has happened to him and he is not hesitant to talk about it. Though the Bible has many such laments, they tend to be suppressed by some Christians in favor of the happier thanksgiving and praise psalms and prayers. For various reasons, the legitimacy of lament for true believers has been questioned.

In this chapter, Job wishes he had never been born. Since it is too late to prevent that, he wishes God would kill him and remove him from his painful existence. Like old, sick people who long for God to take them, he is more attracted to the idea of death than the continuation of the life he is now living.

Job 3

Job Curses the Day He Was Born

3After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2Job said:
3 ‘Let the day perish on which I was born,
   and the night that said,
   “A man-child is conceived.”
4 Let that day be darkness!
   May God above not seek it,
   or light shine on it.
5 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
   Let clouds settle upon it;
   let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6 That night—let thick darkness seize it!
   let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
   let it not come into the number of the months.
7 Yes, let that night be barren;
   let no joyful cry be heard* in it.
8 Let those curse it who curse the Sea,*
   those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
9 Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
   let it hope for light, but have none;
   may it not see the eyelids of the morning—
10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
   and hide trouble from my eyes.

11 ‘Why did I not die at birth,
   come forth from the womb and expire?
12 Why were there knees to receive me,
   or breasts for me to suck?
13 Now I would be lying down and quiet;
   I would be asleep; then I would be at rest
14 with kings and counsellors of the earth
   who rebuild ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who have gold,
   who fill their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child,
   like an infant that never sees the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
   and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
   they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
   and the slaves are free from their masters.

20 ‘Why is light given to one in misery,
   and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it does not come,
   and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
22 who rejoice exceedingly,
   and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,
   whom God has fenced in?
24 For my sighing comes like* my bread,
   and my groanings are poured out like water.
25 Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
   and what I dread befalls me.
26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
   I have no rest; but trouble comes.’

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