Job 5:17, The Advice of Job’s Friends

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

//Yesterday, I pointed out that the richest, holiest man on earth was not an Israelite but a hated Edomite. His name was Job.

But what about Job’s friends? They arrive to comfort Job in his suffering.

So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. –Job 2:13

When they feel it’s appropriate to speak, they tell Job that if he will only recognize his sin and repent of it, God will surely forgive him. Round and round they go for many long chapters as they explore Job’s apparent sin as the reason for his misfortune, while Job insists he has done nothing wrong.

The friends are, in John Dominic Crossan’s words, “Deuteronomic fundamentalists.”* Their certainty about Job’s sin comes direct from the Torah, the law of God:

But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God … Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks … The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. –Excerpts from Deuteronomy 28

The friends are by-the-book Deuteronomists who believe that God rewards virtue and punishes evil. Job must have sinned; that is why God killed Job’s cattle, his family, his servants.

Of course, we know differently from the story. It turns out the friends are wrong, Deuteronomy is wrong, and though Job is never told the reason for his suffering, everything is restored. Job, the anti-Jew, is in the right.

What is this book doing in our Bible??

[*] see The Power of Parable, by John Dominic Crossan

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2 Comments

  1. The book is in the bible as a reference for you and me to understand that Job had no book to read like we do, which would have told him that everything would eventually be restored. Since we have the book of Job, we too can see that our black and white thinker friends, are of no comfort to us when going through a Job experience. Nor is our own misunderstanding of our Lord helpful, as we try and second guess our circumstances while beating ourselves up for everything gone wrong in life which seems to have failed. In the end, it’s an overcoming story meant to inspire.

  2. Yes, though it doesn’t inspire me, which is why I’ve never embraced it. Measuring God’s kindness by how many earthly riches are bestowed conflicts with Christian teachings. The book appears to be penned before any ideas of an afterlife evolved, so when the author killed of all of Job’s children, then gave Job new ones, it hardly offers any comfort for the loss of the ones he had. Even as a believer in heaven, Logan, would you like God to kill of your kids and give you better ones? Ha.

    I would like it better if he had left the killing of kids out of the story.

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