The Book of Job as Hip-Hop Poetry

Set to the tune of Brok Bundelz’s “Instrumental Element 1“, originally downloaded from here.

I wrote this in October 2006 for a course titled “The Bible as Literature.”

Preface

Below is what I consider the core of the debate in the book of Job written as condensed hip-hop poetry. In writing it, I thought of performance poets I’ve listened to and several more intelligent hip-hop artists I like.

The benefit of writing in this style is that much of the repetition can be removed from the original, getting to the crux of the debate quickly. Some arguments by the speakers have been deliberately omitted, and some speakers’ passages have been deemed too repetitious of their other arguments in the book.

The audio used to manage the rhythm of the piece is “Instrumental Element 1” by Brok Bundlez, and can be found at http://irrsinn.net/music/BROK_BUNDELZ-Instrumental_Element_1.mp3.

Job:

Thinking about the day back when I was born
Was there something there worthy of this level of scorn?
Please, Lord, please examine your lengthy birth record–
And erase me out completely, cuz I’m far outscored.

My friends: do you hear my tired lamentations?
Lay some wisdom on me in a strong proclamation
Help me find the reason for all my frustration

Eliphaz:

I’m not wise and I hope not to offend
But this “remove my birth” mess I just can’t defend
You were always a good Jew, helpin’ others ascend;
Be afraid of God and let this be how you mend.

You and I know Yahweh don’t get it twisted
The evil and the sinners don’t get assisted
We could never be as pure as the one who preexisted

Job:

Eliphaz, I wish it could be so simple and easy
I don’t know what makes my Yahweh so uneasy
I wish he would kill me with a swipe of his hand, breezy
Your reply, fearing friend, is skeezy and sleazy.

I don’t want your wealth and I don’t want your power
I want you to teach me why his love’s gone sour
I’m not evil or hateful, so don’t sit there and cower

Bildad:

Job, take care and stop blowing hot air
Tell when the great one has ever been unfair
Be pure and honest–lay down in loyal prayer
Yahweh will respond; he’ll treat you with good care.

Look to your elders to learn the way to live
They know those who forget can’t hope or outlive.
I’m sure God will do so if you ask him to forgive.

Job:

But Eliphaz said we can’t be cool as God
His creationary deeds outrank ours by a lot.
Even if I ain’t done anything wrong, I can’t do snot
I’m as like to get heard as to be point-blank shot.

Is there anyone who could try to protect me?
Then Yahweh’s dislike and hate wouldn’t bug me.
As it is, I’m stuck just trying to flee.

Zophar:

Quit trying to come off so perfectly clean and pure
I wish God’d respond, since your reasoning’s so unsure
When Yahweh sees evil, you know he don’t demure
Like Bil’ said: reach for him, he’ll be your cure.

Be clean and you won’t have any of this shame
You won’t bemoan your fate or look like a maim
All ya gotta do is stand up and proclaim.

Job:

Listen to this mess: “I must’ve committed a sin”
In my friends, all th’ world’s wisdom must be within
Your super-great reasoning to me runs too thin
I see all sorts of evil men with no chagrin!

See, now, I have learned a good understanding
An audience with great God is what I’m demanding
None of my friends seem at all outstanding

Elihu:

Here we have the old and wise being way dumb
Each with pride so big they can’t help but be glum.
Job, you can’t near comprehend until you succumb
Let in the Almighty and be more than your sum.

God speaks in ways you can’t even comprehend
Ignore your pain, for a true angel will descend
Be nice to him, and your flesh will transcend.

Job, you don’t see: our God just can’t be wicked
Look at all he can do without no assistance
There’s no deed any of us did that ain’t listed
You may be an example to all, since you’ve resisted.

You know, they say that pride always goes before a fall
But none of you are seeing the scrawl on the wall
Scoff at him; the price won’t be small.

God:

Shut up ignorant people! Stand up and be some men.
If I list my miracles, can I get a good “amen”?
Yes? Then let me tell you about my Leviathan.
I keep it on a leash and let it nibble on hens.

I ask you men: what feats of yours can you list?
My wrongness in all this you continue to insist.
I won’t tell you what’ll happen if you want to persist.

Job:

Hey, what did I know? I had it all wrong.
I’d heard only of you from the mouth of the throng.
I had trouble imagining you to be so strong.
Upright in your eyes, I mos def don’t belong.

See, I’ll now repent, covered in dust and ashes.
Hopefully, time will heal all of our clashes.
Look, my skin’s already forgotten its rashes!

taking joy in human unreason