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Columbia Workshop


Aug 24 1941












ANNOUNCER: From Hollywood tonight, Columbia is privileged to present the eminent actor Charles Laughton and the music of Deems Taylor in a performance of the biblical Book of Job, adapted and directed by Norman Corwin. Leith Stevens conducts the orchestra. Charles Laughton in "Job."


NARRATOR: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance was also seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all men of the east.


NARRATOR: And his sons went and feasted in their houses; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And when the days of their feasting were gone about, Job sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. Thus Job did continually.


NARRATOR: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said to Satan--

LORD: Whence comest thou?

SATAN: From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

LORD: Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?

SATAN: Does Job fear God for nought? Have you not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You've blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.


LORD: Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself put not forth your hand. 


NARRATOR: And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house. And there came a messenger unto Job, and said--

MESSENGER: (EXCITEDLY) The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them! And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away! Yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped to tell you!


NARRATOR: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said--

2ND MESSENGER: (EXCITEDLY, IN TERROR) Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house! And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and it smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they're dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee!


NARRATOR: Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.

JOB: (SOLEMNLY) Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.


NARRATOR: Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself. And the Lord said to Satan--

LORD: From whence cometh thou?

SATAN: From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

LORD: Have you considered my servant Job, that still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.

SATAN: Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath he will give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

LORD: Behold, he is in your hand; but -- save his life.


NARRATOR: So went Satan forth, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.


NARRATOR: Now when Job's three friends heard all this, they came, every one from his own place; Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.


NARRATOR: After this, opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.

JOB: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, "There is a man child conceived." Let that day be darkness; let it not be joined unto the days of the year. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Why died I not from the womb? For now, should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. The small and the great are there; and the servant is free from his master. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul? Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? The thing that I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.


NARRATOR: Then Zophar answered, and said--

ZOPHAR: If we assay to commune with you, will you be grieved? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upholden him that was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees. But now it touches you, and you are troubled. Remember, I pray you, who ever

perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off? They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. Happy is the man whom God corrects: therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty: He shall deliver you in six troubles: yea, in seven! 

JOB: How forcible are right words! But what does your arguing reprove? Am I a sea, or a whale, that you set a watch over me? I would not live alway: let me alone! What is man, that you should magnify him? And that you should visit him every morning, and try him every moment? How long will you not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? I have sinned! What shall I do unto you, O you preserver of men? Why have you set me as a mark against you, so that I am a burden to myself? And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? 

BILDAD: How long shall the words of your mouth be like a strong wind? Does God pervert judgment? If you were pure and upright; surely now he would make the habitation of your righteousness prosperous. Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers.

JOB: I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If man contends with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. Who has hardened himself against God, and prospered? He removes mountains, and they know not. He overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. He commands the sun, and it rises not; he seals up the stars. He does great things past finding out; and wonders without number. Behold, he takes away, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, "What doest thou?" If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers stoop under him. How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him? 

I will speak in the bitterness of my soul! I will say unto God, "Do not condemn me; show me wherefore you contend with me. Is it good unto you that you should despise the work of your hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Have you eyes of flesh? Or do you see as man sees? Are your years as man's days, that you enquire after my iniquity, and search after my sin? You know that I am not wicked; and your hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet you destroy me. Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death."

ZOPHAR: (OFFENDED) When you mock, shall no man make you ashamed? Oh, that God would speak out, and open his lips against you! He would show you the secrets of wisdom! Know that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves! (IMPLORES) If iniquity be in your hand, put it far away. For then you shall lift up your face without spot. You shalt forget your misery; your age shall be clearer than the noonday, and you shall shine forth, and you shall be as the morning.

JOB: (SNAPPISH AT FIRST, THEN INCREASINGLY THOUGHTFUL) No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you! Yea, who knows not such things as these? Who knows not in all these that the hand of the Lord has wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Behold! God breaks down, and it cannot be built again: he shuts up a man, and there can be no opening. He leads counsellors away spoiled, and overthrows the mighty. He increases the nations, and destroys them: he enlarges the nations, and straitens them again. He takes away the hearts of the chief people of the earth, and causes them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. They grope in the dark without light, and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.

Lo, my eye has seen all this; my ear has heard and understood it. What you know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior to you.

(DEFIANT) Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God! But you are forgers of lies, you are all physicians of no value! How many are my iniquities and sins?! Make me to know my transgression and my sin! Wherefore do you hide your face, and hold me for your enemy? Will you break a leaf driven to and fro? For you write bitter things against me, and make me to possess the iniquities of my youth. You put my feet also in the stocks, and look narrowly unto all my paths; you set a print upon the heels of my feet.

ELIPHAZ: (ANGRY) Should a wise man fill his belly with the east wind? Should he reason with unprofitable talk? What is man, that he should be that righteous? Behold, God putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? I will show you, you hear me.

The wicked man travails with pain all his days. A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him. He wanders abroad for bread, saying, "Where is it?" He knows that the day of darkness is ready. He dwells in desolate cities, and in houses, which are ready to become heaps. Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.

JOB: (TIRED) I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. God has made me weary. You have made desolate all my company. My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.

But as for you, I cannot find one wise man among you. My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.

I have said to corruption, you are my father: to the worm, you are my mother, and my sister. They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

BILDAD: (SNIDE) How long before you make an end of words? Mark, and afterward we will speak. Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?  

JOB: (BELLOWS) How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?! Know now that God has overthrown me, and has compassed me with his net! He has destroyed me on every side! My acquaintances are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me! They that dwell in my house count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight! Yea, young children despise me. All my inward friends abhor me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaves to my skin, to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

Have pity on me, have pity on me, O my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.

Why do you persecute me as God, and aren't satisfied with my flesh? Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

ZOPHAR: (MOCKING) Know you not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his hand reach up to the clouds; Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung! This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.

JOB: Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on!

Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear. Their bulls gender, and fail not; their cow calves, and casts not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. They cause the naked to lodge without clothing. They pluck the fatherless from the breast. They take away the sheaf from the hungry, who tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst.

(QUIETLY) As God lives, who has taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who has vexed my soul; as long as my breath is in me, my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Till I die I will not remove my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.

If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot has hasted to deceit, let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know my integrity. If my step has turned out of the way, and my heart walked after my eyes, and if any blot has cleaved to my hands, then let me sow, and let another eat. If my heart has been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door, then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her, for this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless have not eaten thereof; If I have seen any perish for want of clothing. If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, then let my arm fall from the bone!

If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; If I rejoice because my wealth was great, and because my hands had gotten much; If my mouth kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judges: for I should have denied the God that is above.

If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom: If my land cry against me, or that the furrows thereof likewise complain, let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley!

The words of Job are ended.

NARRATOR: (BEAT) Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind.


LORD: (STERNLY) Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me.

Have you commanded the morning; and caused the dayspring to know his place?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea? 

Have the gates of death been opened unto you? 

Have you perceived the breadth of the earth? 

Declare if you know it all.

Where is the way where light dwells? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof? By what way is the light parted, which scatters the east wind upon the earth?

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

Can you bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?  

Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?

Or can you guide Arcturus with his sons?

Can you send lightnings, that they may go and say unto you, "Here we are"?

Who can number the clouds in wisdom? 

Or who can stay the bottles of heaven?

Gave you the goodly wings on the peacock? Or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? Have you given the horse strength? Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make her nest on high?  

Shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct him? 

He that reproveth God, let him answer it.

JOB: (WITH GREAT HUMILITY) Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

LORD: Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of you, and declare you unto me. Will you also disannul my judgment? Will you condemn me? Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like him? (MORE LIGHTLY) Deck yourself now with majesty and excellency; and array yourself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of your wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I confess to you that your own right hand can save you.

Can you draw out leviathan with a hook? Or his tongue with a cord which you let down? Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak soft words unto you? Will you take him for a servant? Will you play with him as with a bird? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? Shall they part him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? None is so fierce that dare stir him up! Who then is able to stand before me?  

JOB: (APOLOGETIC) I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from you. Therefore have I uttered that which I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.


NARRATOR: So the Lord accepted Job, and turned his captivity, and blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job.

After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.

So Job died, being old and full of days.


ANNOUNCER: You have been listening to Charles Laughton and the music of Deems Taylor in Norman Corwin's literal adaptation of the biblical Book of Job. Our thanks to RKO for the appearance of Ray Collins and to Universal Pictures for Roland Bohnen and the star of the sixteenth program in the cycle "Twenty-Six by Corwin," Mr. Charles Laughton. Leith Stevens conducted the orchestra.

This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.