Job is the name of a book in the Hebrew Bible and the name of the book's main character. Many scholars consider the Book of Job to be one of the finest works of literature ever written. It focuses on the question of why the innocent suffer.

Job, a wealthy man, blessed with a loving wife and family, is known for his goodness and devotion to the will of Yahweh, the Hebrew god. The Bible indicates that Job's prosperity and general good fortune are a reward for his goodness and belief in Yahweh. However, in a meeting between Yahweh and his heavenly advisers, Satan questions Job's faith, claiming that he is faithful because of the many blessings he enjoys. If Job were to suffer misfortune, suggests Satan, he would curse Yahweh as readily as he now praises him. Satan challenges Yahweh to test Job's faith, and Yahweh accepts the challenge.

Yahweh inflicts a number of terrible misfortunes on Job. He kills Job's children and causes him to lose all his wealth, but Job's belief in the goodness of Yahweh remains unshaken. This show of faith does not convince Satan, however, who says that physical pain and suffering would cause Job to abandon his belief. So Yahweh causes Job to be afflicted with painful boils all over his body, and still his faith remains firm.

Job's faith is tested by both Yahweh (God) and Satan. This stained glass window shows Satan torturing job.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

At this point three friends visit Job, supposedly to comfort him by explaining why Yahweh is causing him to suffer. They suggest that Job must be guilty of some sin, because Yahweh only punishes the wicked. Knowing that he is a righteous man, Job refuses to accept their arguments. Finally Job pleads with Yahweh to end his suffering and asks him to explain why he is tormenting a good man. Yahweh appears to Job in all his glory, overwhelming him with his magnificence. He proceeds to question Job about the mysteries of the universe. When Job cannot answer, Yahweh asks him how he could possibly hope to understand the will of the almighty if he cannot explain the workings of nature. Job accepts this answer and renews his faith in Yahweh, who rewards him by restoring his health and prosperity.

In the end, Yahweh offers no answer to the question of why the innocent must suffer. Instead, the Book of Job delivers the message that one must believe in the goodness of Yahweh, even in the face of seemingly unjust punishment.

User Contributions:

Krista Walker
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Nov 26, 2014 @ 7:07 am
Thanks for your interpretation. In having spiritual and contextual understanding of the scriptures, I would like to add my own. First of all you mentioned that this story is to answer the question of why the innocent suffer, but the story aims not to answer such question; that might be what you wanted to receive from it, which is perfectly fine. The revelatory moment was when God (or Yahweh-which was not His correct name, only what people used when they tried to vocalize the Tetragrammaton, which cannot be vocalized) questions Job after Job questions Him. This was not without purpose; it was to point out Job's self-righteousness. Although Job was good and righteous, he was self-righteous and that theme was repeated throughout the text: "How then can man be justified and righteous before God? Or how can he who is born of a woman be pure and clean? [Ps. 130:3; 143:2.] Behold, even the moon has no brightness [compared to God's glory] and the stars are not pure in His sight– How much less man, who is a maggot! And a son of man, who is a worm!" (‭Job‬ ‭25‬.4-6‬ AMP). God questioned Job to cause Job to question himself. God questioned Job to cause Job to think outside of the box and formula that he had placed God in. God cannot be comprehended. Job's friends thought that they had God figured out and assumed that the calamity the Job faced was a result of some sin that Job had done: "Do you not know from of old, since the time that man was placed on the earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless and defiled is but for a moment? [Ps. 37:35, 36.] Though his [proud] height mounts up to the heavens and his head reaches to the clouds, Yet he will perish forever like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, Where is he?" (‭Job‬ ‭20‬:‭4-7‬ AMP). But God refuted all of their arguments and their supposed knowledge of God did more harm than good. The questions about creation and nature were to show Job that there is no way that he could have the Creator reduced down to a formula if he doesn't even know how Creation works. Even if he knew how creation worked, God emphasized that Job was not there when it had all began; we mere mortals are limited to speculations (even speculations that are empirical and scientific ) (Job 38.1-35). We humans were not there at the beginning, so we can only theorize about what happened then. The moral of this story could POSSIBLY be this (how dare I try to offer my interpretation as complete fact): What Satan means for evil, God uses for good. Bad things do happen to good people, but God has a greater purpose in it all. There is something that He is intending to make better in us through negative circumstances. God doesn't cause the bad to happen (if you re-read the story, you will notice that God only gave Satan permission to carry out the evil against Job. Satan carried out the calamities). There was something that Job would have never realized about himself until the bad happened (self-righteousness), but as soon as the lesson was learned, God doubled all that Job had lost and Job lived better and happily ever after. The point of a myth is to teach the people a lesson, and through understanding hermeneutics, participating in contextual analysis, and knowing God (not just knowing OF Him) and His character, I would assert that my interpretation is closer to the intent of the writer than the one that you offered.

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