The Book Of Job Essay, Research Paper
The Book of Job
Job was a righteous man who lived in Uz. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen, five hundred donkeys and many slaves.
Each year, he held a banquet where Job would have each of his children purified. He did this for fear that they might have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.
On the day that the angels came to attest before God, God pointed out to the accusing angel (Satan) Job’s character. He pointed out how righteous and respectful he was toward Him. Satan claims that Job’s character originates with evil and self-serving motives. He claims that Job is so righteous and respectful because he has no reason to act otherwise, but if God were to give him hardship, he would curse Him to his face. Satan then challenges God to test Job. Reluctantly, God accepts the challenge.
On Earth, Job is stricken with misfortune. All of his animals are either stolen or struck by lightning. All his children died of one tragedy or another. Yet, Job did not curse God. He figured that the same way God gave to him, He took away.
Again, God took pride in Job. He bragged to Satan about how faithful and righteous his servant, Job was. Still, Satan doubted him. He claimed that Job was still faithful and righteous because he had not been affected directly by God’s test. He persuades God to test Job once more.
This time, Job’s health is destroyed in a most horrifying form. Job is covered in boils from head to toe so badly, that he uses a piece of broken pottery to scratch himself with.
At this point, Job’s integrity is tested by his wife. She wonders why he is still so faithful to God. She thinks that it is about time that he begins cursing God for what He has done to him. Still, Job rebukes his wife and refuses to sin.
Job had three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Namathite. These three friends heard of what happened to Job and came to offer their sympathy and grief.
After about a week of prayers, Job finally broke down. He curses the day he was born. He figures that if he had died at birth, he would now be at rest. He wonders why life should be given to a person who desires only death, who has ceased to find any value in life, who has lost all hope of escape from continuous terror and torment. His friends answer him in a series of three rounds, the first being the most significant of the three.
Eliphaz answers first by saying that in the past, Job helped others with encouraging words but now that things are not going his way, he impatiently gives up. The righteous living that he had in the past should sustain him through his trials now.
Still, it is not the innocent who suffer, but rather those who deserve it. No man is capable of a totally righteous relationship with God. Job’s resentment of discipline is very unwise.
God will not change your circumstances and a stubborn refusal to learn from them will result in death. A person living foolishly is prosperous for a while, then he is suddenly destroyed. The source of the problem is not man’s circumstances, but his heart.
Eliphaz says that Job should look to God for deliverance. He does astonishing things. He helps those who are hurt and oppressed but destroys the corrupt. He tells Job to accept God’s discipline. He should learn from it and then God will bless him in many ways.
Job replied by saying that his complaint is justified. If only Eliphaz would comprehend his anguish, then he would understand. If he would only see what God had done to him. That was the reason that he complained. Job does not accept Eliphaz’s view that he must have sinned and feels that his speech was inappropriate for the circumstances.
Job wishes God would give him death. That way, he could die with the consolation that he had remained faithful to God all the way to the end. What other hope does he have? Why should he wait quietly for something to happen, when all his resources have been destroyed?
Job also feels that Eliphaz has failed in his obligations toward him. He ought to be loyal to him even if he were to give up expecting help from God. Yet, Eliphaz has proven to be undependable. The implication of Job’s situation terrifies him, causing him to abandon his devotion to Job. This is all not too much to ask.
Job pleads to Eliphaz to show him his errors even if it hurts. He asks him to look at his sincerity and not to accuse him without giving good reason for doing so. Men’s lives are full of burdens, with limited joy, but he has a burden from which there is no relief. His days are nearly over, with nothing good remaining.
Then, to God, he says, that soon he will be gone, never to return no matter how much He desires it. So he asks why God treats him like an enemy. He will not even let sleep ease his pain. He pleads with God to give him a break.
Job asks why God is focusing so much attention on him. Even if he did sin, it would not have hurt Him. So why not, in that case, show mercy and forgive him? Once he dies, it would be too late to do so.
Bildad’s answers to these comments by saying that God does not distort what is right. Job’s children died because of sin. If Job repents, God will not give him death but blessings beyond imagination. All the wisdom of past generations has said this. The godless quickly perish. What they depend on is untrustworthy and frail. Job will be blessed, whereas evildoers will be shamed.
Job agrees that God does not pervert justice but does not understand how he can demonstrate his righteousness to Him. He is too wise and powerful to answer. Job speaks of God’s power in creation and how he works in catastrophic events. His works are beyond comprehension. These events are all merely the effects of His presence. In all, God does as he pleases. No enemy can oppose Him or even question Him. Because of His greatness, Job is helpless to defend himself and if he tried, he would probably be destroyed. In His sight, Job could not even utter a word without sounding guilty.
Nonetheless, Job feels that he is blameless and wants to die. God, for some reason, lets the blameless people suffer just like the wicked. If it is not God doing it, then who is it? Job’s days are ending and unrealistic thinking cannot change reality. If he tried to change reality, he would still end up suffering and being treated as guilty. Anything that he might do to prove himself innocent would be of no value. He cannot approach God in a court as he would do a man. It would take some type of arbitrator to restrain God’s actions against him. Only then could Job defend himself.
Then, Job says to God that he hates his life. He is going to protest to Him to stop condemning him until He has shown him his sin. He asks if somehow, God gets enjoyment from attacking him while at the same time favoring the wicked. He knows that Job is innocent and that he is helpless against Him. It appears that He has evil motives toward Job. God would be eager to find even the most minuscule sin that Job might commit so that He could punish him. If that were the case, why did He let Job be born and instead continuously attack him?
The next person to speak to Job is Zophar. He asks Job if it is possible that such a wordy person could be in the right. Could such an impious speech reduce others to silence so that he appears to have won the argument?
Zophar wishes that God Himself would show him how wrong Job was. If he were wise, he would gratefully realize the other side of his case. He asks Job to repent and turn back to God and forsake his sins. Only then will the past be totally forgotten.
Job replies by saying that what Zophar has just said, anyone can know. God destroys man’s hopes and then he dies. What happens to those left behind is meaningless to man. The only thing on his mind is what is happening to himself.
Job then goes into a long monologue. He says that he longs for the past and for the days in which he had an intimate companionship with God. Then, he was continuously blessed by Him. He was held in honor and respect above all other men because he helped the helpless, was righteous, just and opposed the wicked. Job expected prosperity and blessing all the days of his life.
At one point, he was the most respected of all men and now he is mocked by all. All he has left is a few remaining days of pain. God has surrounded him in His attack so that he was left helpless.
Job begs for mercy but God ruthlessly attacks him with the intent of totally destroying him. Surely it is unreasonable to destroy a person who is already beat and broken. He went to others when they were hurt, yet no one come to his aid. Though he begs for health, all he receives is misery and horror.
Job then goes into an oath of innocence. He never looked lustfully at a woman, was never deceitful, never committed a sexual sin. He had never been unjust to his servants, never turned those away who were in need, never loved money or any other form of idolatry. He had never failed to demonstrate love and compassion.
Job challenges God to prove him wrong. If ever he had committed any sin, then may he be utterly cursed to the highest degree.
Now, God replies to this through a voice in a whirlwind. He asks who it is that speaks these words that lack knowledge. He tells Job to prepare himself to answer Him. He asks Job what he knows about the formations of the earth’s foundations or how he formed and controls the oceans. He asks if he ever caused the morning to arrive or controlled the stars and clouds. Surely he must have lived zillions of years in order to speak with such great knowledge and power, says God.
God asks whether he provided for the lion or the raven and kept watch over the mountain goat and deer when they give birth to their offspring. Did he give the donkey his freedom to roam the barren lands? Does he know why the ostrich is such a strange and unusual animal? Does he control the actions of the hawk and the eagle?
God asks Job if the thinks that he knows so much that he is able to instruct Him. Job is humbled and silenced by the greatness of God, yet does not renounce his former position.
God tells Job that if he is going to question the way He does things, he had better have the wisdom and might to do better than He can. Since he is not God’s equal, he had no right to speak in such a manner.
Job now realizes that it was not a good idea to challenge God. The only legitimate option was to submit to Him and trust Him to do what is right. Now, Job is ready to withdraw his challenge and repents.
God lets Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar know that he is very angry for having spoken falsely of Him. He is upset that they had filled Job’s mind with false thoughts, making him resent God. The fact that they were all speaking as if they knew exactly what God was doing might have also upset him. Therefore, to rectify having spoken of God in this manner, they each must take a certain amount of sacrifices to Job, and Job would offer their sacrifices to God and pray for them.
In the end, Job was made twice as prosperous as before. His wealth doubled, he had ten more children, and lived 140 more years of his life.
The basic theme of this reading is to establish an understanding of the relationship between God and His people. God’s wisdom and power are visible everywhere in creation. A willingness to look and accept what is obvious results in awe for the Creator. Even if we do not accept it, it still reveals His glory. Elevating yourself over God makes no sense for the fact that he is immeasurably more powerful and fully able to accomplish what He knows is most wise.
The Book of Job. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1987.