, Research Paper
Job is a “man…blameless and upright…one who feared God, and turned away from evil” (1.1). He is pious, rich, and the head of a large family. Then on a day “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord” (1.6), God asks his adversary (Satan) what he thinks of Job’s righteousness. Satan proposes that Job would curse God if he were to lose all his wealth; so God and Satan agree to test Job. Satan proceeds to take away Job’s possessions, his sons, and finally inflicts Job with a hideous skin desease. Job refuses to curse God. Three of his friends, having heard of his misery, now arrive to comfort him, but are shocked at their first sight of Job.
After Job complains of this terrible outcome, the story consists of speeches from his three friends. The gist of the speeches of the three friends is that Job’s misfortunes and suffering must result from some form of wickedness on the part of Job and therefore he is justly served. Job’s friends can only offer and spout dogma and fail to offer any type of empathy to his personal experience. Job (the sufferer) is to his three friends (who observe and judge) as personal experience is to religious dogma. Job claims that he is innocent, and becomes angry and impatient with his friends and God. As a result Job seeks explanation for his sufferings: “Oh that I had one to hear me! Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me” (31.35).
Elihu, a fourth friend, enters the sory and proposes that Job had added “rebellion to his sin” (34.37) by questioning God’s judgment. Elihu believes the “Almighty…is great in power and justice” (37.23).
In the next section, God speaks from out of a whirlwind and puts a stop to Job and his friends argument. God seems to ignore Job’s desire for an explanation or justification of his suffering; instead, he quiets Job by challenging him to explain how the universe was created and how it is ordered. Apparently, Job’s mistake is that God’s ways and power are humanly comprehensible. Job’s fault is speaking out of ignorance, saying he knows now what God knows. God commends Job, however for speaking form experience, rather than for reciting empty dogma, as his friends had done. Job is right in admitting he doesn’t understand the universe, and God takes Job’s personal experinece seriously in a way that Job’s so called friends could not. The moral of this story may be the fact that there is no solution to the notion of suffering, and if there is it is completely incomprehensible to human beings, because the world and universe are so vast and chaotic.