Who is Job in the Bible?
Job is a rich guy who lives in Uz with his huge family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” and he is constantly mindful not to commit ill (Job 1:1). Job is referred to as a Gentile prophet in Jewish literature. Job is also regarded as a prophet in Islam. Job is portrayed as a nice and successful family man who is suddenly tormented by horrible tragedies that take away everything he cherishes—a situation designed to put Job’s trust in God to the test. Job, who is struggling to grasp this circumstance, focuses on his misery while remaining religious.
The Story of Job in the Bible
In the land of Uz, a remote and distant land, they existed a man named Job, according to the scripture. Job was described as being a blameless and innocent man who was god-fearing and turned away from all forms of evil.
He was blessed with seven healthy sons, three healthy daughters, and a wife, whom he loved greatly. He was also fortunate enough to have 7,000 oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a great many servants. He was a most prosperous man, but success never went to his head and unlike other figures in the Bible, he remembers to thank God every day for his blessings and would send many offerings to his Lord.
Satan Approaches God
One day though, God was approached by Satan, to which God asked, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan replied that had been to and from Earth and so, God thought that Satan must have seen his most loyal devotee, Job, who worshipped him daily and paid him great respect.
You might say that God bragged about Job’s loyalty as he goes on to explain that Job is so good, he resists all evil. But Satan scoffs at this and tells God that the only reason Job is subservient to God at all is because he has granted Job a great life with a loving family and a large number of animals.
In Job 1:10, Satan says
‘“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.”
Satan argued that if God took all that he had given Job, then Job would no longer praise him and instead would curse him. So, God sought to prove the devil wrong.
Disasters Befell the Righteous Man Job
Over the next few days, Job would receive a flurry of bad news. Messengers came to his home and informed him that his animals were killed in a mysterious attack, and his servants were slain as well.
Another messenger explained that the fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep.
Before he could even finish, another messenger appeared and explained that his sons and daughters who were enjoying a feast were crushed inside of that had a collapsed-on top of them because of a gust of heavy wind.
In grief, Job tore off his robe and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshipped God despite the tragedies that had befallen him. Job declared that the Lord gave, and the Lord took away, and then he still blessed the name of God.
Despite everything that happened, Satan was wrong, for Job did not show anger or disdain towards God—at least, not yet anyway.
Job Faces Even More Gruesome Plague
Again, Satan went back to God, and again, God boasted that despite taking away Job’s possessions, his livestock, and even his children, Job still praised him. It showed that God was right about Job and that the devil was wrong.
So, Satan altered the terms and said this time, he will affect Job physically and this time he would curse God. So, God told Satan to do his worse, but that he must not play Job with a fatal wound.
So, Satan descended upon earth and cursed Job with a painful sore upon his body.
Curse God and Die!
In Job 2:9, Job’s wife acknowledges her husband’s condition and questions his integrity and his faith. She encourages him to curse the name of God and even encourages him to die. But Job declared to his wife that she was foolish, in that if he had received all the good things from God, then it was only natural they received the bad things too. In all this Job did not curse God.
Job and his Three Friends — Logical Thinking!
Job would receive a visit from three of his close friends after they’d heard of his plight. They attended to him intending to bring comfort and support, but when they saw the grief-stricken blemished man, they barely recognized him.
They sat with him for seven days and seven nights, but none of them could utter a word to him. In very long Hebrew poetry, which makes up most of the book of Job, Job described his pain and went on to curse, not God but the day he was born.
His three friends—who should be noted were not aware of the wager between God and Satan—would try to use logic to decipher why this was happening to Job.
His friends whose names were Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, would represent the highest level of thinking of the time regarding God, the universe and everything in between.
The main chunk of the book of Job is made up of the debate that takes place between Job and his friends in Hebrew poetry and the four characters discussion mainly focuses on the question, ‘Is God Just?’ as well as whether he governs the universe on the principle of justice.
The answer to these questions is explored in these debates between Job and his friends as they tried to provide an explanation using this logic to the determined Job suffering.
They concluded that Job must have done something terrible to earn this fate, and now, he was paying for it. They were certainly not the most compassionate bunch as they spoke in ignorance believing that Job had sinned to earn such calamity, as this was in accordance with their belief about God’s justice.
To put it simply, they believed that if one sinned, then one would be punished, and seen as Job had been punished so severely, he, therefore, must have sinned quite badly.
For the most part, the three friends merely tell Job to keep repenting and by fully devoting himself to God, even though he was already doing this, he would be forgiven and would one day be granted to resume his normal life, free from the burden.
But Job would disagree with his friends when they took the stance that he deserved his fate because he questioned God. When Job rebukes, he challenges their views calling them ‘physicians of no value.’ He does not find his friends to be of any use and that presence has been most unhelpful.
Job Accuses God of All his Sufferings
Job then calls out God directly, demanding an explanation for his suffering. However, it’s important to know that by this point, he was not necessarily sound of mind. He was still grief-stricken at his losses and worse yet, his whole belief system was not as sturdy as it once was, for Job could not reconcile with God since he could not see how his punishment could be justified.
Therefore, he begins to lash out at God, implying that his Lord is plotting against him. In Job 27:2, he states, ‘Why has God denied me and made my life bitter?’
It also shows how weakened his faith has become as he now believes God has turned against him. He accuses God as being a tormentor, wherein job 16:9 he states, ‘God attacks me, tears me up in anger, and gnashes his teeth at me.’
By this, he reveals what he believes God thinks of him and assumes that because God has taken everything away from him, God hated him.
In Job 9:22-23, Job explains that ‘(God) destroys the blameless and the wicked. And (He) mocks the despair of the innocent.’
It’s very clear by this point how Job feels towards God that he blames him for his suffering and takes on the accusatory tone that makes God seem more like a dysfunctional bully than a kind and just being.
Elihu, A wise Friend
Before God has a chance to rebuke though, another friend of job’s named Elihu, shows up to provide some wisdom. He shares some ideas with Job, including that God is just but that he allows good people like Job to suffer and go around the rough side of the mountain, not to break the person or hurt them, but to redesign them to enhance their character and to make them even better people.
Elihu who also shares the idea is that God may cause good people to suffer to warn them of sin, almost to serve as a reminder to keep on being good and moral, less one incurs suffering worse than which they have gained.
God Responds to Job!
At this point, God makes his grand entrance and confronts Job about all the things he’d been saying about him being unjust and hurtful. He takes hold of Job and takes him on a journey through the cosmos, where he schools Job on the creation of the universe.
In Job 38:4, God intends to show Job how wrong he is about everything and how with his level of mortal wisdom, he cannot possibly comprehend the plan God has in store. God states, ‘Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundations?’—implying that Job has no right to badmouth God because God was so much more powerful in him.
He shows Job how he controls the sunrise, manipulates the elements to make weather, and how he formed the constellations and means to show Job how little he understands about the world. And so, if Job is ignorant about the physical universe, then he’s also likely to have been ignorant about the metaphysics within which God operates.
God is trying to highlight to Job that what he thought may have been injustice could have been God working within one’s best intentions—the phrase ‘A blessing in disguise’ comes to mind, where there could be a case where we feel like we’ve been let down only for that situation to suddenly turn out for the better.
God’s role in this part of the story isn’t to undermine Job for his lack of understanding, but to show him that one should not curse or judge someone, especially not God himself, because one may not be privy to all the information that makes a story.
God then tells drew about two creatures—the Behemoth and the Leviathan. These two creatures created by God are so magnificent in spectacular to comprehend that Job begins to realize that being outraged at God may have been misplaced.
Job’s question of God’s ability to run the world justly is suddenly shrouded with doubt because Job begins to realize how complex one in the world is if there are two creatures like the Behemoth and the Leviathan living inside of it.
Once more, God shows Job how much of a gap there is in his knowledge, and they are unfair for Job to go about accusing God of anything when he does not understand how God works.
Job realizes the error in his ways and repents, to which God is pleased. However, he’s not pleased with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, for their poor advice but Job asks God not to punish them for their ignorance of the way the world works, for which God obliges and forgives them.
The Restoration of Job to Greatness
In the short epilogue, we see Job have his lands, prophets, and animals restored to him, though not necessarily as a reward for anything but as a gesture from God for having finally placed his trust back into him and for learning his lesson that he cannot understand how God works.
Job’s health is also restored upon him, and he has granted twice as much property as before, as well as brand-new children and an extremely long and fruitful life.
The book of Job is certainly one of the most celebrated stories from the Bible. Not just because of its hero receiving a happy ending after all of his struggles, but because it dares to reflect the same profound questions that many religious people have today, ‘Is God Just? Is he as powerful as he says he is? And if he is, why does he allow suffering? Why does he allow suffering to those who have not sinned?
I found myself asking these questions, which made me research for the answer! After deep research, I found an excellent answer to these questions, and here is where you can too. It answered my question, I’m sure it will answer yours too! Learn more here: Why Does God Permit Suffering? Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering? Why So Much Suffering?
In Conclusion to the Story of Job in the Bible
The poetic dialogue between Job and his friends is reflective of that which we may have today, where one who is doubting their faith may feel like Job, and he or she may feel dissatisfied not just with God but with the answers they are receiving from their friends.
If anything, I would dare to say that Job is possibly one of the most relatable characters in the Bible. While he’s made out to be this perfect humble man, in the beginning, we see that like us he’s quite flawed when pushed to his limits, in that his faith wavers in his questioning of God.
Job dares to challenge God when he demands answers for his suffering, and in this, he serves as an example that one should not assault God upon his misery, but first consider how we cannot conceive God’s plan and so cursing him is nonsensical and futile.
But some do not see the value in the book of Job, and they view Job as a mere pawn of God—the pawn he uses to prove a point to Satan.
There exist arguments that show the biblical God in a negative light, that his responding to Satan at all is immature and he uses the life and livelihood of one of his creations to rebuke Satan, is diabolical.
The argument brings home the point that God could have easily just brushed Satan to one side when Satan challenged God, but God demonstrates pride himself and purposely hurts Job just to tell Satan, ‘I told you so!’
Not only this, but he also allows the devil to physically harm Job, all for the point of what is said to be a petty argument.
Other arguments suggest that God in this instance is a manipulative creator, that he picks on Job wrongfully. These arguments go on to say that even if this is all a part of God’s plan, his explanation to Job in the last part of the text is lazy. It’s like a parent telling their child, ‘I’ll explain when you’re older.’
God gives a similar explanation to Job telling him that he cannot comprehend his fate because he is just a mortal.
These arguments go on to say that God, being all-powerful, could have easily broken down his process until Job understood it, or he could easily have given job the intelligence needed to understand why he had been punished.
But instead, God just tells him that he is essentially not smart enough and therefore, he should just go along with what has happened to him. But in this, these arguments point out that God is lying because his plan isn’t so complex that Job wouldn’t understand it but quite simple—God wanted to beat Satan in their wager and was relentless enough to use Job to do this.
But it’s interesting to know that God never actually tells Job about this wager.
But what do you think about the book of Job? Would you have done the same as him if everything had been taken away from you? Would you be able to hold your temper if he found out that God had taken away everything you loved just so he could win a bet against Satan? Furthermore, do you think that this biblical God is just based on his actions in the book of Job?
Arts Credit: JW.ORG.