Job 42

 

וַיַּעַן אִיּוֹב אֶת־יְהוָה וַיֹּאמַר׃   42:1

Job 42:1   Then Job answered the Lord, and he said,

יָדַעְתָּ) [יָדַעְתִּי] כִּי־כֹל תּוּכָל וְלֹא־יִבָּצֵר מִמְּךָ מְזִמָּה׃   42:2

Job 42:2   “I know that You must have power over everything,

                             and no purpose can be withheld from You.”

As spelled, the word before the left parenthesis is translated as You know, but it should rightly be I know, as shown.  The addition of the yad suffix in the brackets corrects this error.

מִי זֶה מַעְלִים עֵצָה בְּלִי דָעַת לָכֵן הִגַּדְתִּי וְלֹא אָבִין נִפְלָאוֹת מִמֶּנִּי וְלֹא אֵדָע׃   42:3

Job 42:3   “Who is this concealing counsel without knowledge?”

                             “Thus I have declared of what I could not understand,

                     things too extraordinary for me that I cannot know.”

In the first line of this verse Job is apparently echoing God’s question to him in Job 38:2.  By doing so, he seems to be admitting his culpability and ignorance, his wrong doing in questioning God’s big plan.

שְׁמַע־נָא וְאָנֹכִי אֲדַבֵּר אֶשְׁאָלְךָ וְהוֹדִיעֵנִי׃   42:4

Job 42:4   “Please listen, that I might speak.

                             Let me ask of You, and may You declare to me.”

שְׁמַע־נָא וְאָנֹכִי אֲדַבֵּר אֶשְׁאָלְךָ וְהוֹדִיעֵנִי׃   42:5

Job 42:5   “I have heard of You by the hearing of ear,

                             but now my eyes see You.”

Job sees the Lord?  Does he mean he sees the whirlwind?

עַל־כֵּן אֶמְאַס וְנִחַמְתִּי עַל־עָפָר וָאֵפֶר׃   42:6

Job 42:6   “Therefore I must despise, yet console myself,

                             as befits dust and ashes.”

וַיְהִי אַחַר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל־אִיּוֹב וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־אֱלִיפַז הַתֵּימָנִי חָרָה אַפִּי בְךָ   42:7

וּבִשְׁנֵי רֵעֶיךָ כִּי לֹא דִבַּרְתֶּם אֵלַי נְכוֹנָה כְּעַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב׃

Job 42:7   And it was after the Lord had spoken these words to Job that the Lord said to Eliphaz,

the Temanite, “My ‘anger’ has been kindled toward you and toward your two friends, for nothing

you had spoken concerning Me was correct, as had My servant, Job.”

It seems to me that something may have been left out after v. 6 and before this verse.  Or maybe the author felt that enough had been said and it was time to end the narrative of this book.  I would feel better if this verse had followed the last verse of the preceding chapter and these first six verses of this chapter had been omitted; they seem so out of place, given the abrupt change in this verse.  I would be more satisfied if this chapter has started with “And it was after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, ....”  As it is written, the story seems to have taken an awkward turn somehow, as if the author was overly anxious to finish the book and became careless.  The three errors (one of an indicated four is not an error) in these seventeen verses would attest to this realization.  On another point, which I consider important, the Lord is here stating something crucial to me.  He says that Eliphaz and his two companions (what of Elihu?  He seems to have been totally ignored) have been wrong in their assessment of the world and their view of God.  That Job is more right than they are.

וְעַתָּה קְחוּ־לָכֶם שִׁבְעָה־פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים וּלְכוּ אֶל־עַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב וְהַעֲלִיתֶם עוֹלָה בַּעַדְכֶם וְאִיּוֹבָ   42:8

 עַבְדִּי יִתְפַּלֵּל עֲלֵיכֶם כִּי אִם־פָּנָיו אֶשָּׂא לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת עִמָּכֶם נְבָלָה כִּי לֹא דִבַּרְתֶּם אֵלַי נְכוֹנָה

 כְּעַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב׃

Job 42:8   “So now take for yourselves seven bullocks and seven rams and come to My servant, Job, and you shall offer a burnt offering for yourselves, and Job, My servant, will pray for you, for given his expression, I will endure without doing anything disgraceful against you that nothing you had spoken concerning Me was correct, as had My servant, Job.”

Hear this!  The three are to offer up burnt offerings before Job, not in the Temple, which would be hundreds of miles distant if it even existed at the time of this book..  In other words, I’m concluding that Job is being set in a place of great honor by God.  And the three “friends” have been set in an inferior position relative to Job.  I have more to say about this and about v. 7  in my concluding remarks below.

וַיֵּלְכוּ אֱלִיפַז הַתֵּימָנִי וּבִלְדַּד הַשּׁוּחִי צֹפַר הַנַּעֲמָתִי וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶם יְהוָה וַיִּשָּׂא יְהוָה   42:9

אֶת־פְּנֵי אִיּוֹב׃

Job 42:9   So Eliphaz, the Temanite, and Bildad, the Shuhite, Zophar, the Naamathite, went and did as the Lord had spoken to them, and the Lord lifted up the presence of Job.

וַיהוָה שָׁב אֶת־(שְׁבִית) [שְׁבוּת] אִיֹּוב בְּהִתְפַּלְלֹו בְּעַד רֵעֵהוּ וַיֹּסֶף יְהוָה אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר לְאִיֹּוב   42:10

לְמִשְׁנֶה׃

Job 42:10   And the Lord reversed the exile of Job with his praying on behalf of his companions, and the Lord increased all that had been Job's to twice as much.

The word in the parentheses in this verse is not misspelled.  The yad it contains should be there, and the corrected vav in the brackets is inappropriate.

וַיָּבֹאוּ אֵלָיו כָּל־אֶחָיו וְכָל־(אַחְיֹתָיו) [אַחְיֹותָיו] וְכָל־יֹדְעָיו לְפָנִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ עִמֹּו לֶחֶם בְּבֵיתֹו וַיָּנֻדוּ לֹו   42:11

 וַיְנַחֲמוּ אֹתֹו עַל כָּל־הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר־הֵבִיא יְהוָה עָלָיו וַיִּתְּנוּ־לֹו אִישׁ קְשִׂיטָה אֶחָת וְאִישׁ נֶזֶם זָהָב אֶחָד׃

Job 42:11   Then all his brothers and all his sisters came to him, and all his previous acquaintances, and they ate bread with him in his house.  And they expressed sympathy to him and consoled him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.  And they gave him, each, one piece of money and each, one gold ring.

In a strict sense, the word in the parentheses is incorrectly spelled; a vav is missing in the fourth position of the word.  The correction appears in the brackets.  Once more, the author appears to have been in a hurry to finish and became careless.

וַיהוָה בֵּרַךְ אֶת־אַחֲרִית אִיּוֹב מֵרֵאשִׁתוֹ וַיְהִי־לוֹ אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר אֶלֶף צֹאן וְשֵׁשֶׁת אֲלָפִים גְּמַלִּים   42:12

 וְאֶלֶף־צֶמֶד בָּקָר וְאֶלֶף אֲתוֹנוֹת׃

Job 42:12   Thus the Lord blessed the latter time of Job more than his beginning, and fourteen

thousand sheep became his, and six thousand camels and a thousand paired oxen and a

thousand female asses.

וַיְהִי־לוֹ שִׁבְעָנָה בָנִים וְשָׁלוֹשׁ בָּנוֹת׃   42:13

Job 42:13   And he had seven sons and three daughters,

וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם־הָאַחַת יְמִימָה וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִית קְצִיעָה וְשֵׁם הַשְּׁלִישִׁית קֶרֶן הַפּוּךְ׃   42:14

Job 42:14   and he called the name of the first Jemimah, and the name of the second, Keziah, and

the name of the third, Keren-happuch.

These are the names of Job’s three new daughters.  Notice that none of his sons or previous daughters had been named before this, and Job’s new sons are not named.  Now this should normally be of great significance.  Every other time in the bible that a female is named, she has an important role to play.  However, Job’s most recent daughters are never mentioned again.  So what can we conclude from this?  Well, I for one believe they do play an important role, not mentioned, only implied.  Notice that in the next verse they are given an inheritance along with their brothers.  Thus they are in a position of equality with them.  This is unheard of.  Therefore, I believe the number of children, ten, is being given a special significance that I will address again below.

וְלֹא נִמְצָא נָשִׁים יָפוֹת כִּבְנוֹת אִיּוֹב בְּכָל־הָאָרֶץ וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם נַחֲלָה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵיהֶם׃   42:15

Job 42:15   And none was found of beautiful women like the daughters of Job in all the land, and

their father gave them an inheritance together with their brothers.

וַיְחִי אִיֹּוב אַחֲרֵי־זֹאת מֵאָה וְאַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה (וַיַּרְא) [וַיִּרְאֶה] אֶת־בָּנָיו וְאֶת־בְּנֵי בָנָיו אַרְבָּעָה דֹּרוֹת׃   42:16

Job 42:16   And Job lived after this a hundred and forty years, and he saw his children and four

generations of the children of his children.

The word in the parentheses should be spelled with a vav as shown in the brackets.

וַיָּמָת אִיּוֹב זָקֵן וּשְׂבַע יָמִים׃   42:17

Job 42:17   And Job died, old and satisfied of days.

Now that we are finished with Job, I have much to say about the book.  As you may know, it is included among the bible books of wisdom.  Few consider it an allegory as I do, most believe it wrestles directly with the vital questions of justice and suffering.  I actually believe it may be both, but wisdom maybe only superficially.  But then what is it an allegory about (if not justice and suffering)?  Well, to admit a deep secret, I believe it is really prophetic -- addressing the future of Israel, the Jews, and the world.  I have guessed that Job is the personification of Judaism, and the three friends are the competing religions Christianity, Islam, and an as-yet unknown future religion.  Elihu may personify yet another future religion as well, one that comes, makes a relatively short appearance, and then fades.   but I’m a bit leery about Elihu.  He may be just an aberration.

Why do I believe Job represents Judaism?  First, he has ten offspring (two times to emphasize the fact) -- tribes, I would assume.  Actually, it may be that the second time means the ten tribes are resurrected in the future (DNA testing perhaps?).  So the second set of children is also prophetic.  That three of them are female is not crucial to my interpretation, as they would be considered equal in rank to their brothers,  But having made them women, the author may be conveying a hidden message, one that I can’t fathom.  Next, after an initially prosperous beginning (the patriarchs and matriarchs, the reigns of David and Solomon), Job sinks into trouble and abject suffering (loss of the two Temples and a prolonged exile in the Diaspora, along with continual unfounded but vengeful hatred and anti-Semitism).  Next, notice the things Eliphaz believes about Job:  Job speaks empty meaningless words, he is abominable and corrupt.  Bildad, on the other hand, is certain that Job and/or his children are sinners, witness their suffering and death; evil-doers suffer and the righteous prosper, and he curses Job incessantly.  And Zophar:  Job’s questioning God is mocking Him, and no one can know of God, the evil-doer will suffer.  Zophar’s advice is to repent, and the Lord will respond.  Does this not sound like Job and the others represent history (and the present and future)?

Why do I believe the friends represent competing religions?  There are several reasons.  For one, the three friends try to persuade Job to adopt their self-assured points of view (evangelism).  For another, they curse and insult Job without just cause, relying only on their own unfounded prejudices.  For yet another, Eliphaz professes to have received visions from God, informing him of the truths of which he speaks.  More:  Job is accused of not being “pure” enough to hear from God, he must be guilty of sins the three do not commit, and he is an insult to God.  Evil does not spring up from the dust (but from the devil), and humans are born evil.

I know there is at least one competing argument to all this, that Job is probably younger than at least one of the three “friends,” but the story requires that to an extent -- he had to live long enough after his release from his ordeal so he would have the opportunity to make up (two-fold) for his suffering.  I must presume that in the end he lives longer than the other four.

So as I imagine this story’s message, Judaism persists till the end, and the other world religions then in existence will be “corrected” and absorbed into it.  Now remember, if you are inspired to argue against this point of view, my opinion is all this is.  I do not put nor advocate any importance or significance other than my own on my beliefs.

Next I want to offer my personal views on this book.  Although I deeply admire the breathtakingly marvelous poetry it comprises, I have two points I want to stress, both being negative criticisms.  First there is my view of the story line.  Second is my belief about God and how this book conflicts with it.  As part of this discussion, I will investigate God’s stunningly human attributes as revealed in this book.

As to the first point, I see this story, especially the first two chapters, as obviously (painfully so) and deliberately contrived in order to justify Job’s dire predicament.  As such, it immediately falls flat as wisdom literature.  But my complaint goes beyond the artificiality of the book’s beginning.  It falls even flatter as a wisdom book for the rest of the chapters as well.  Incidentally, why is it counted among the books of wisdom?  Does it offer advice about good living as Proverbs does?  No.  Does it provide sage insight into the meaning of life as Ecclesiastes does?  No.  Does it reveal an approach to the pious life as Psalms does?  No.  Then what does it offer in the way of wisdom?  I see little to qualify it as a wisdom book.  It deals with evil and human integrity, I admit, and the reason for human suffering.  But what does it say about them?  My answer?  Little meaningful at best.  The only “wisdom” in the book, if there is any, is in Job’s objections to his condition.  The soliloquies of the “friends,” of Elihu -- or even of God’s -- offer us little more than beliefs that are commonly accepted, mostly unfounded and untested opinions  I come away from this book with no new bits of wisdom or knowledge, only the same confusion I had when I started.  I suspect Job might have been included among the wisdom books only because it fit no where else.

Next, I move on to the book’s depiction of God.  As some of you may already know, that is, those of you who have visited my other web site, my perception of God is as an omniscient, omnipotent, everlasting, loving, benevolent, caring, forgiving Being Who is close to each of us, in our thoughts, our dreams, and our visions.  And on that web site I bring evidence from the bible to that effect.  I believe that God is unfathomable.  In some respects He is depicted as such in parts of the chapters of His soliloquy in this book, but this conclusion is implied rather than openly stated.  There is no evidence for the latter belief but I expect that the orderliness and complexity of the universe attests to it. What does seem to come through rather clearly in God’s speeches is that humanity is not in a partnership with God. But in a very important sense this “fact” presents us with a dilemma.  The Torah states that we are indeed in such a partnership.  It is represented by the covenant.

Finally, I believe that God doesn’t possess human instincts or attributes and he exhibits no human behavioral traits.  We may delineate and speak of His divine traits, but they are only ant-like approximations of His reality.  Yet as described in this book, God is boastful, accepts dares, exhibits pride, is not omniscient or omnipotent, becomes angry, cares little for his servants, even his most faithful, and indulges His whims.  The divine Being Who created the universe, Who brought about the incredible conditions of the Big Bang!  Could a Being with such power, wisdom, capability, and majesty be anything like a human?  I claim He couldn’t be.  I have no proof, of course; I can offer no infallible argument.  I have little more than an instinctual (and fallible) knowledge.  As I construe the bible, God sees all of time “simultaneously.”  In His “eyes” all potential future possibilities brought about by human (and other intelligent?) free will exist.  And God can “see” which outcomes are “good.”  And He acts accordingly when necessary to further His plan for the universe and His servants, whom He loves passionately with infinite “patience” and benevolent fatherly guidance.  Remember, in my opinion, patience is really only one of our imperfect human perceptions about God.  Seeing all time, He appears patient to us, but the term is meaningless for such a Being.  Moreover, I believe that God does not exhibit anger.  Seeing all, He is never surprised as we are.  It is surprise, disappointment, and/or a sense of betrayal that make one angry, and God would experience none of these.  Does He boast or “feel” pride?  Only someone who believes he has competition from his/her peers and feels the need to respond in kind would boast and feel pride.  And God has no competition.  Now why would God have to or even entertain accepting a dare?  As far as I am concerned, for the same reasons He would not be proud or boastful.  And why would He show such callous disregard for the suffering of one of His most trusted servants?  Because He knows He will eventually undo all the damage He allowed Satan to do?  Seems unlikely to me.  More like a child’s story to justify otherwise unexplainable events.  Finally, to have allowed Satan to wreak such havoc with Job’s loved ones and him must be viewed as a whim.  It is an unpredictable and arbitrary decision based on feelings that I believe God does not possess in the way that we know them.

So I am left only with my own (silly?) ideas about God, the universe, and Job at the end of this book.  Make of them what you will.

 

[Return to Job Chapters]   [Prev.:  Job 41]   [Next:  Song 1]