1 October 2012
Extracted from the Book of Job, Chapter 1:6-22
One day the Sons of God came to attend on the Lord, and among them was Satan. So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth,’ he answered ‘roaming about.’ So the Lord asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Yes,’ Satan said ‘but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he? Have you not put a wall round him and his house and all his domain? You have blessed all he undertakes, and his flocks throng the countryside. But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his possessions: I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’ ‘Very well,’ the Lord said to Satan ‘all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person.’ So Satan left the presence of the Lord.
On the day when Job’s sons and daughters were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job. ‘Your oxen’ he said ‘were at the plough, with the donkeys grazing at their side, when the Sabaeans swept down on them and carried them off. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’
He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God’ he said ‘has fallen from the heavens and burnt up all your sheep, and your shepherds too: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The Chaldaeans,’ he said ‘three bands of them, have raided your camels and made off with them. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’
He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘Your sons and daughters’ he said ‘were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, when suddenly from the wilderness a gale sprang up, and it battered all four corners of the house which fell in on the young people. They are dead: I alone escaped to tell you.’
Job rose and tore his gown and shaved his head. Then falling to the ground he worshipped and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I shall return.
The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!’
In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.
Extracted from Accredited Church Commentary:
The Book of Job consists of (1) a prologue in prose (1-2), (2) a poetic, main division (3-42:6), and (3) an epilogue also in prose (42:7-17).
(1) The prologue narrates how, with the permission of God, a holy man Job is tried by Satan with severe afflictions, in order to test his virtue. In succession Job bears six great temptations with heroic patience, and without the slightest murmuring against God or wavering in loyalty to him. Then Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to console him. Their visit is to become the seventh and greatest trial.
(2) The poetical, main division of the book presents in a succession of speeches the course of this temptation. The three friends are fully convinced that trouble is always a result of wrongdoing. They consider Job, therefore, a great sinner and stigmatize his assertions of innocence as hypocrisy. Job is hurt by the suspicion of his friends. He protests that he is no evil-doer, that God punishes him against his deserts. In the course of his speech he fails in reverence towards God, Who appears to him not unrighteous, but more as a severe, hard, and somewhat inconsiderate ruler than as a kind Father.
Taking into consideration that the language is poetic, it is true that his expressions cannot be pushed too far, but the sharp reproofs of Elihu (xxxiv, 1-9, 36-37; xxxv, 16) and of Yahweh (Xxxviii, 2; xl, 3-9) leave no doubt of his sin. In answering his friends Job emphasizes that God indeed is accustomed to reward virtue and to punish wickedness (xxvii, 7-23; xxxi). He even threatens his friends with the judgment of God on account of their unfriendly suspicion (vi, 14; xiii, 7-12; xvii, 4; xix, 29). He rightly proves, however violently, that in this world the rule has many exceptions. Almost universally, he says, the wicked triumph and the innocent suffer (ix, 22-24, xxi, xxiv). Yet for all this Job, like his friends, regards all suffering as a punishment for personal sins, although he does not, as his friends, consider it a punishment of gross sin.
Job looks upon the sufferings of the righteous as an almost unjust severity of God, which he inflicts for the slightest mistakes, and which the most virtuous man cannot escape (vii, 21; ix 30-21; X, 6, 13-14). The expressions of depression and irreverence uttered by Job are, besides, only venial sins, which human beings can never fully avoid. Job himself says that his words are not to be taken too exactly, they are almost the involuntary expression of his pain (vi, 2-10, 26-27). Many of his utterances the character of temptations in thought which force themselves out almost against the will, rather than of voluntary irreverence towards God, although Job's error was greater than he was willing to acknowledge. Thus Job bore all the tests triumphantly, even those caused by his friends. No matter how terrible the persecutions of God might be, Job held fast to Him (vi, 8-10) and drew ever closer to Him (xvii, 9). In the midst of his sufferings he lauds God's power (xxvi, 5-14) and wisdom (xxviii).
Satan, who had boasted that he could lead Job into sin against God (i, 11; ii, 5), is discredited. The epilogue testifies expressly to Job's faithfulness (xlii, 7-9). After much discourse (iii-xxii) Job finally succeeds in silencing the three friends, although he is not able to convince them of his innocence. In a series of monologues (xxiii-xxxi), interrupted only by a short speech by Bildad (xxv), he once more renews his complaints (xxiii-xxiv), extols the greatness of God (xxvi-xxviii), and closes with a forcible appeal to the Almighty to, examine his case and to recognize his innocence (xxix-xxxi). At this juncture Elihu, a youth who was one of the company of listeners, is filled by God with the spirit of prophecy (xxxii, 18-22; xxxvi, 2-4). In a long discourse he solves the problem of suffering, which Job and his friends had failed to explain. He says that suffering, whether severe or light, is not always a result of sin; it is a means by which God tries and promotes virtue (xxxvi, 1-21), and is thus a proof of God's love for his friends. The sufferings of Job are also such a testing (xxxvi, 16-21). At the same time Elihu emphasizes the fact that the dispensations of God remain inexplicable and mysterious (xxxvi, 22; xxxvii, 24). Yahweh speaks at the end (xxxviii-xlii, 6). He confirms the statements of Elihu, carrying further Elihu's last thought of the inexplicability of the Divine decrees and works by a reference to the wonder of animate and inanimate nature. Job is severely rebuked on account of his irreverence; he confesses briefly his guilt and promises amendment in the future.
(3) In the epilogue Yahweh bears witness in a striking manner to the innocence of His servant, that is to Job's freedom from gross transgression. The three friends are commanded to obtain Job's intercession, otherwise they will be severely punished for their uncharitable complaints against the pious sufferer. Yahweh forgives the three at the entreaty of Job, who is restored to double his former prosperity.
Job was finally abundantly blessed by God in remaining good and faithful in the midst of his intense sufferings – Extracted from the book of Job, Chapter 42:
1 This was the answer Job gave to Yahweh:
2 I know that you are all-powerful: what you conceive, you can perform.
3 I was the man who misrepresented your intentions with my ignorant words. You have told me about great works that I cannot understand, about marvels which are beyond me, of which I know nothing.
4 (Listen, please, and let me speak: I am going to ask the questions, and you are to inform me.)
5 Before, I knew you only by hearsay but now, having seen you with my own eyes,
6 I retract what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.
7 When Yahweh had finished saying this to Job, he said to Eliphaz of Teman, 'I burn with anger against you and your two friends, for not having spoken correctly about me as my servant Job has done.
8 So now find seven bullocks and seven rams, and take them back with you to my servant Job and make a burnt offering for yourselves, while Job, my servant, offers prayers for you. I shall show him favour and shall not inflict my displeasure on you for not having spoken about me correctly, as my servant Job had done.'
9 Eliphaz of Teman, Bildad of Shuah and Zophar of Naamath went away to do as Yahweh had ordered, and Yahweh listened to Job with favour.
10 And Yahweh restored Job's condition, while Job was interceding for his friends. More than that, Yahweh gave him double what he had before.
11 And all his brothers and all his sisters and all his friends of former times came to see him. Over dinner in his house, they showed their sympathy and comforted him for all the evils Yahweh had inflicted on him. Each of them gave him a silver coin, and each a gold ring.
12 Yahweh blessed Job's latter condition even more than his former one. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-donkeys.
13 He had seven sons and three daughters;
14 his first daughter he called 'Turtledove', the second 'Cassia' and the third 'Mascara'.
15 Throughout the land there were no women as beautiful as the daughters of Job. And their father gave them inheritance rights like their brothers.
16 After this, Job lived for another one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and his children's children to the fourth generation.
17 Then, old and full of days, Job died.
1 October 2012