JOB AND THE PATRIARCHS
Job, the most pious Gentile that ever lived, one of the few to bear the title of
honor "the servant of God," was of double kin to Jacob. He was a grandson of
Jacob's brother Esau, and at the same time the son-in-law of Jacob himself, for lie had
married Dinah as his second wife. He was entirely worthy of being a member of the
Patriarch's family, for he was perfectly upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
Had he not wavered in his resignation to the Divine will during the great trial to which
he was subjected, and murmured against God, the distinction would have been conferred upon
him of having his name joined to the Name of God in prayer, and men would have called upon
the God of Job as they now call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But he was not
found steadfast like the three Fathers, and he forfeited the honor God had intended for
The Lord remonstrated with him for his lack of patience, saying: "Why didst thou
murmur when suffering came upon thee? Dost thou think thyself of greater worth than Adam,
the creation of Mine own hands, upon whom together with his descendants I decreed death on
account of a single transgression? And yet Adam murmured not. Thou art surely not more
worthy than Abraham, whom I tempted with many trials, and when he asked, 'Whereby shall I
know that I shall inherit the land?' and I replied, 'Know of a surety that thy seed will
be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict
them four hundred years,' he yet murmured not. Thou dost not esteem thyself more worthy
than Moses, dost thou? Him I would not grant the favor of entering the promised land,
because he spake the words, 'Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of
this rock?' And yet he murmured not. Art thou more worthy than Aaron, unto whom I showed
greater honor than unto any created being, for I sent the angels themselves out of the
Holy of Holies when he entered the place? Yet when his two sons died, he murmured
The contrast between Job and the Patriarchs appears from words spoken by him and words
spoken by Abraham. Addressing God, Abraham said, "That be far from Thee to do after
this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the
wicked," and Job exclaimed against God, "It is all one; therefore I say, He
destroyeth the perfect and the wicked." They both received their due recompense,
Abraham was rewarded and Job was punished.
Convinced that his suffering was undeserved and unjust, Job had the audacity to say to
God: "O Lord of the world, Thou didst create the ox with cloven feet and the ass with
unparted hoof, Thou hast created Paradise and hell, Thou createst the righteous and also
the wicked. There is none to hinder, Thou canst do as seemeth good in Thy sight." The
friends of Job replied: "It is true, God hath created the evil inclination, but He
hath also given man the Torah as a remedy against it. Therefore the wicked cannot roll
their guilt from off their shoulders and put it upon God."
The reason Job did not shrink from such extravagant utterances was because he denied
the resurrection of the dead. He judged of the prosperity of the wicked and the woes of
the pious only by their earthly fortunes. Proceeding from this false premise, he held it
to be possible that the punishment falling to his share was not at all intended for him.
God had slipped into an error, He imposed the suffering upon him that had been appointed
unto a sinner. But God spake to him, saying: "Many hairs have I created upon the head
of man, yet each hair hath its own sac, for were two hairs to draw their nourishment from
the same sac, man would lose the sight of his eyes. It hath never happened that a sac hath
been misplaced. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another? I let many drops of rain
descend from the heavens, and for each drop there is a mould in the clouds, for were two
drops to issue from the same mould, the ground would be made so miry that it could not
bring forth any growth. It hath never happened that a mould hath been misplaced. Should I,
then, have mistaken Job for another? Many thunderbolts I hurl from the skies, but each one
comes from its own path, for were two to proceed from the same path, they would destroy
the whole world. It hath never happened that a path hath been misplaced. Should I, then,
have mistaken Job for another? The gazelle gives birth to her young on the topmost point
of a rock, and it would fall into the abyss and be crushed to death, if I did not send an
eagle thither to catch it up and carry it to its mother. Were the eagle to appear a minute
earlier or later than the appointed time, the little gazelle would perish. It hath never
happened that the proper minute of time was missed. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for
another? The hind has a contracted womb, and would not be able to bring forth her young,
if I did not send a dragon to her at the right second, to nibble at her womb and soften
it, for then she can bear. Were the dragon to come a second before or after the right
time, the hind would perish. It hath never happened that I missed the right second. Should
I, then, have mistaken Job for another?"
Notwithstanding Job's unpardonable words, God was displeased with his friends for
passing harsh judgment upon him. "A man may not be held responsible for what he does
in his anguish," and Job's agony was great, indeed
JOB'S WEALTH AND BENEFACTIONS
Job was asked once what he considered the severest affliction that could strike him,
and he replied, "My enemies' joy in my misfortune, and when God demanded to know
of him, after the accusations made by Satan, what he preferred, poverty or physical
suffering, he chose pain, saying, "O Lord of the whole world, chastise my body with
suffering of all kinds, only preserve me from poverty." Poverty seemed the greater
scourge, because before his trials he had occupied a brilliant position on account of his
vast wealth. God graciously granted him this foretaste of the Messianic time. The harvest
followed close upon the ploughing of his field; no sooner were the seeds strewn in the
furrows, than they sprouted and grew and ripened produce. He was equally successful with
his cattle. His sheep killed wolves, but were themselves never harmed by wild beasts.
Of sheep he had no less than one hundred and thirty thousand, and he required eight
hundred dogs to keep guard over them, not to mention the two hundred dogs needed to secure
the safety of his house. Besides, his herds consisted of three hundred and forty thousand
asses and thirty-five hundred pairs of oxen. All these possessions were not used for self-
indulgent pleasures, but for the good of the poor and the needy, whom he clothed, and fed,
and provided with all things necessary. To do all this, he even had to employ ships that
carried supplies to all the cities and the dwelling- places of the destitute. His house
was furnished with doors on all its four sides, that the poor and the wayfarer might
enter, no matter from what direction they approached. At all times there were thirty
tables laden with viands ready in his house, and twelve besides for widows only, so that
all who came found what they desired. Job's consideration for the poor was so delicate
that he kept servants to wait upon them constantly. His guests, enraptured by his
charitableness, frequently offered themselves as attendants to minister to the poor in his
house, but Job always insisted upon paying them for their services. If he was asked for a
loan of money, to be used for business purposes, and the borrower promised to give a part
of his profits to the poor, he would demand no security beyond a mere signature. And if it
happened that by some mischance or other the debtor was not able to discharge his
obligation, Job would return the note to him, or tear it into bits in his presence.
He did not rest satisfied at supplying the material needs of those who applied to him.
He strove also to convey the knowledge of God to them. After a meal he was in the habit of
having music played upon instruments, and then he would invite those present to join him
in songs of praise to God. On such occasions he did not consider himself above playing the
cithern while the musicians rested.
Most particularly Job concerned himself about the weal and woe of widows and orphans.
He was wont to pay visits to the sick, both rich and poor, and when it was necessary, he
would bring a physician along with him. If the case turned out to be hopeless, he would
sustain the stricken family with advice and consolation. When the wife of the incurably
sick man began to grieve and weep, he would encourage her with such words as these:
"Trust always in the grace and lovingkindness of God. He hath not abandoned thee
until now, and He will not forsake thee henceforth. Thy husband will be restored to
health, and will be able to provide for his family as heretofore. But if--which may God
forefend--thy husband should die, I call Heaven to witness that I shall provide sustenance
for thee and thy children." Having spoken thus, he would send for a notary, and have
him draw up a document, which he signed in the presence of witnesses, binding himself to
care for the family, should it be bereaved of its head. Thus he earned for himself the
blessing of the sick man and the gratitude of the sorrowing wife.
Sometimes, in case of necessity, Job could be severe, too, especially when it was a
question of helping a poor man obtain his due. If one of the parties to a suit cited
before his tribunal was known to be a man of violence, he would surround himself with his
army and inspire him with fear, so that the culprit could not but show himself amenable to
He endeavored to inculcate his benevolent ways upon his children, by accustoming them
to wait upon the poor. On the morrow after a feast he would sacrifice bountifully to God,
and together with the pieces upon the altar his offerings would be divided among the
needy. He would say: "Take and help yourselves, and pray for my children. It may be
that they have sinned, and renounced God, saying in the presumption of their hearts: 'We
are the children of this rich man. All these things are our possessions. Why should we be
servants to the poor?' "
SATAN AND JOB
The happy, God-pleasing life led by Job for many years excited the hatred of Satan, who
had an old grudge against him. Near Job's house there was an idol worshipped by the
people. Suddenly doubts assailed the heart of Job, and he asked himself: "Is this
idol really the creator of heaven and earth? How can I find out the truth about it?"
In the following night he perceived a voice calling: "Jobab! Jobab! Arise, and I will
tell thee who he is whom thou desirest to know. This one to whom the people offer
sacrifices is not God, he is the handiwork of the tempter, wherewith he deceives
men." When he heard the voice, Job threw himself on the ground, and said: "O
Lord, if this idol is the handiwork of the tempter, then grant that I may destroy it. None
can hinder me, for I am the king of this land."
Job, or, as he is sometimes called, Jobab, was, indeed, king of Edom, the land wherein
wicked plans are concocted against God, wherefore it is called also Uz,
The voice continued to speak. It made itself known as that of an archangel of God, and
revealed to Job that he would bring down the enmity of Satan upon himself by the
destruction of the idol, and much suffering with it. However, if he remained steadfast
under them, God would change his troubles into joys, his name would become celebrated
throughout the generations of mankind, and he would have a share in the resurrection to
eternal life. Job replied to the voice: "Out of love of God I am ready to endure all
things unto the day of my death. I will shrink back from naught." Now Job arose, and
accompanied by fifty men he repaired to the idol, and destroyed it.
Knowing that Satan would try to approach him, he ordered his guard not to give access
to any one, and then he withdrew to his chamber. He had guessed aright. Satan appeared at
once, in the guise of a beggar, and demanded speech with Job. The guard executed his
orders, and forbade his entering. Then the mendicant asked him to intercede for him with
Job for a piece of bread. Job knew it was Satan, and he sent word to him as follows,
"Do not expect to eat of my bread, for it is prohibited unto thee," at the same
time putting a piece of burnt bread into the hand of the guard for Satan. The servant was
ashamed to give a beggar burnt bread, and he substituted a good piece for it. Satan,
however, knowing that the servant had not executed his master's errand, told him so to his
face, and he fetched the burnt bread and handed it to him, repeating the words of Job.
Thereupon Satan returned this answer, "As the bread is burnt, so I will disfigure thy
body." Job replied: "Do as thou desirest, and execute thy plan. As for me, I am
ready to suffer whatever thou bringest down upon me."
Now Satan betook himself to God, and prayed Him to put Job into his power, saying:
"I went to and fro in the earth, and walked up and down in it, and I saw no man as
pious as Abraham. Thou didst promise him the whole land of Palestine, and yet he did not
take it in ill part that he had not so much as a burial-place for Sarah. As for Job,
it is true, I found none that loveth Thee as he does, but if Thou wilt put him into my
hand, I shall succeed in turning his heart away from Thee." But God spake,
"Satan, Satan, what hast thou a mind to do with my servant Job, like whom there is
none in the earth?" Satan persisted in his request touching Job, and God granted it,
He gave him full power over Job's possessions.
This day of Job's accusation was the New Year's Day, whereon the good and the evil
deeds of man are brought before God.
Equipped with unlimited power, Satan endeavored to deprive Job of all he owned. He
burnt part of his cattle, and the other part was carried off by enemies. What pained Job
more than this was that recipients of his bounty turned against him, and took of his
Among the adversaries that assailed him was Lilith, the queen of Sheba. She lived
at a great distance from his residence, it took her and her army three years to travel
from her home to his. She fell upon his oxen and his asses, and took possession of them,
after slaying the men to whose care Job had entrusted them. One man escaped alone. Wounded
and bruised, he had only enough life in him to tell Job the tale of his losses, and then
he fell down dead. The sheep, which had been left unmolested by the queen of Sheba, were
taken away by the Chaldeans. Job's first intention was to go to war against these
marauders, but when he was told that some of his property had been consumed by fire from
heaven, he desisted, and said, "If the heavens turn against me, I can do
Dissatisfied with the result, Satan disguised himself as the king of Persia, besieged
the city of Job's residence, took it, and spoke to the inhabitants, saying: "This man
Job hath appropriated all the goods in the world, leaving naught for others, and he hath
also torn down the temple of our god, and now I will pay him back for his wicked deeds.
Come with me and let us pillage his house." At first the people refused to hearken to
the words of Satan. They feared that the sons and daughters of Job might rise up against
them later, and avenge their father's wrongs. But after Satan had pulled down the house
wherein the children of Job were assembled, and they lay dead in the ruins, the people did
as he bade them, and sacked the house of Job.
Seeing that neither the loss of all he had nor the death of his children could change
his pious heart, Satan appeared before God a second time, and requested that Job himself,
his very person, be put into his hand. God granted Satan's plea, but he limited his power
to Job's body, his soul he could not touch. In a sense Satan was worse off than Job.
He was in the position of the slave that has been ordered by his master to break the
pitcher and not spill the wine.
Satan now caused a terrific storm to burst over the house of Job. He was cast from his
throne by the reverberations, and he lay upon the floor for three hours. Then Satan smote
his body with leprosy from the sole of his foot unto his crown. This plague forced Job to
leave the city, and sit down outside upon an ash-heap, for his lower limbs were
covered with oozing boils, and the issue flowed out upon the ashes. The upper part of his
body was encrusted with dry boils, and to ease the itching they caused him, he used his
nails, until they dropped off together with his fingertips, and he took him a potsherd to
scrape himself withal. His body swarmed with vermin, but if one of the little
creatures attempted to crawl away from him, he forced it back, saying, "Remain on the
place whither thou wast sent, until God assigns another unto thee." His wife,
fearful that he would not bear his horrible suffering with steadfastness, advised him to
pray to God for death, that lie might be sure of going hence an upright man. But he
rejected her counsel, saying, "If in the days of good fortune, which usually tempts
men to deny God, I stood firm, and did not rebel against Him, surely I shall be able to
remain steadfast under misfortune, which compels men to be obedient to God." And
Job stuck to his resolve in spite of all suffering, while his wife was not strong enough
to bear her fate with resignation to the will of God.
Her lot was bitter, indeed, for she had had to take service as a water-carrier with a
common churl, and when her master learnt that she shared her bread with Job, he dismissed
her. To keep her husband from starving, she cut off her hair, and purchased bread with it.
It was all she had to pay the price charged by the bread merchant, none other than Satan
himself, who wanted to put her to the test. He said to her, "Hadst thou not deserved
this great misery of thine, it had not come upon thee." This speech was more than the
poor woman could bear. Then it was that she came to her husband, and amid tears and groans
urged him to renounce God and die. Job, however, was not perturbed by her words, because
he divined at once that Satan stood behind his wife, and seduced her to speak thus.
Turning to the tempter, he said: "Why dost thou not meet me frankly? Give up thy
underhand ways, thou wretch." Thereupon Satan appeared before Job, admitted that he
had been vanquished, and went away abashed.
THE FOUR FRIENDS
The friends of Job lived in different places, at intervals of three hundred miles one
from the other. Nevertheless they all were informed of their friend's misfortune at the
same time, in this way: Each one had the pictures of the others set in his crown, and as
soon as any one of them met with reverses, it showed itself in his picture. Thus the
friends of Job learnt simultaneously of his misfortune, and they hastened to his
The four friends were related to one another, and each one was related to Job. Eliphaz,
king of Teman, was a son of Esau; Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu were cousins, their
fathers, Shuah, Naamat, and Barachel, were the sons of Buz, who was a brother of Job and a
nephew of Abraham.
When the four friends arrived in the city in which Job lived, the inhabitants took them
outside the gates, and pointing to a figure reclining upon an ash-heap at some distance
off, they said, "Yonder is Job." At first the friends would not give them
credence, and they decided to look more closely at the man, to make sure of his identity.
But the foul smell emanating from Job was so strong that they could not come near to him.
They ordered their armies to scatter perfumes and aromatic substances all around. Only
after this had been done for hours, they could approach the outcast close enough to
Eliphaz was the first to address Job, "Art thou indeed Job, a king equal in rank
with ourselves?" And when Job said Aye, they broke out into lamentations and bitter
tears, and all together they sang an elegy, the armies of the three kings, Eliphaz,
Bildad, and Zophar, joining in the choir. Again Eliphaz began to speak, and he bemoaned
Job's sad fortune, and depicted his friend's former glory, adding the refrain to each
sentence, "Whither hath departed the splendor of thy throne?"
After listening long to the wailing and lamenting of Eliphaz and his companions, Job
spake, saying: "Silence, and I will show you my throne and the splendor of its glory.
Kings will perish, rulers disappear, their pride and lustre will pass like a shadow across
a mirror, but my kingdom will persist forever and ever, for glory and magnificence are in
the chariot of my Father."
These words aroused the wrath of Eliphaz, and he called upon his associates to abandon
Job to his fate and go their way. But Bildad appeased his anger, reminding him that some
allowance ought to be made for one so sorely tried as Job. Bildad put a number of
questions to the sufferer in order to establish his sanity. He wanted to elicit from Job
how it came about that God, upon whom he continued to set his hopes, could inflict such
dire suffering. Not even a king of flesh and blood would allow a guardsman of his that had
served him loyally to come to grief. Bildad desired to have information from Job also
concerning the movements of the heavenly bodies.
Job had but one answer to make to these questions: man cannot comprehend Divine wisdom,
whether it reveal itself in inanimate and brute nature or in relation to human beings.
"But," continued Job, "to prove to you that I am in my right mind, listen
to the question I shall put to you. Solid food and liquids combine inside of man, and they
separate again when they leave his body. Who effects the separation?" And when Bildad
conceded that he could not answer the question, Job said, "If thou canst not
comprehend the changes in thy body, how canst thou hope to comprehend the movements of the
Zophar, after Job had spoken thus to Bildad, was convinced that his suffering had had
no effect upon his mind, and he asked him whether he would permit himself to be treated by
the physicians of the three kings, his friends. But Job rejected the offer, saying,
"My healing and my restoration come from God, the Creator of all physicians."
While the three kings were conversing thus with Job, his wife Zitidos made her
appearance clad in rags, and she threw herself at the feet of her husband's friends, and
amid tears she spoke, saying: "O Eliphaz, and ye other friends of Job, remember what
I was in other days, and how I am now changed, coming before you in rags and
tatters." The sight of the unhappy woman touched them so deeply that they could only
weep, and not a word could they force out of their mouths. Eliphaz, however, took his
royal mantle of purple, and laid it about the shoulders of the poor woman. Zitidos asked
only one favor, that the three kings should order their soldiers to clear away the ruins
of the building under which her children lay entombed, that she might give their remains
decent burial. The command was issued to the soldiers accordingly, but Job said, "Do
not put yourselves to trouble for naught. My children will not be found, for they are
safely bestowed with their Lord and Creator." Again his friends were sure that Job
was bereft of his senses. He arose, however, prayed to God, and at the end of his
devotions, he bade his friends look eastward, and when they did his bidding, they beheld
his children next to the Ruler of heaven, with crowns of glory upon their heads. Zitidos
prostrated herself, and said, "Now I know that my memorial resides with the
Lord." And she returned to the house of her master, whence she had absented herself
for some time against his will. He had forbidden her to leave it, because he had feared
that the three kings would take her with them.
In the evening she lay down to sleep next to the manger for the cattle, but she never
rose again, she died there of exhaustion. The people of the city made a great mourning for
her, and the elegy composed in her honor was set down in writing and recorded.
More and more the friends of Job came to the conclusion that he had incurred Divine
punishment on account of his sins, and as he asseverated his innocence again and again,
they prepared angrily to leave him to his fate. Especially Elihu was animated by Satan to
speak scurrilous words against Job, upbraiding him for his unshakable confidence in God.
Then the Lord appeared to them, first unto Job, and revealed to him that Elihu was in the
wrong, and his words were inspired by Satan. Next he appeared unto Eliphaz, and to him He
spake thus: "Thou and thy friends Bildad and Zophar have committed a sin, for ye did
not speak the truth concerning my servant Job. Rise up and let him bring a sin offering
for you. Only for his sake do I refrain from destroying you."
The sacrifice offered by Job in behalf of his friends was accepted graciously by God,
and Eliphaz broke out into a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for having pardoned the
transgression of himself and his two friends. At the same time he announced the damnation
of Elihu, the instrument of Satan.
God appeared to Job once more, and gave him a girdle composed of three ribands, and he
bade him tie it around his waist. Hardly had he put it on when all his pain disappeared,
his very recollection of it vanished, and, more than this, God made him to see all that
ever was and all that shall ever be.
After suffering sevenfold pain for seven years Job was restored to strength. With
his three friends he returned to the city, and the inhabitants made a festival in his
honor and unto the glory of God. All his former friends joined him again, and he resumed
his old occupation, the care of the poor, for which he obtained the means from the people
around. He said to them, "Give me, each one of you, a sheep for the clothing of the
poor, and four silver or gold drachmas for their other needs." The Lord blessed Job,
and in a few days his wealth had increased to double the substance he had owned before
misfortune overtook him. Zitidos having died during the years of his trials, he married a
second wife, Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and she bore him seven sons and three
daughters. He had never had more than one wife at a time, for he was wont to say,
"If it had been intended that Adam should have ten wives, God would have given them
to him. Only one wife was bestowed upon him, whereby God indicated that he was to have but
one, and therefore one wife suffices for me, too."
When Job, after a long and happy life, felt his end approaching, he gathered his ten
children around him, and told them the tale of his days. Having finished the narrative, he
admonished them in these words: "See, I am about to die, and you will stand in my
place. Forsake not the Lord, be generous toward the poor, treat the feeble with
consideration, and do not marry with the women of the Gentiles."
Thereupon he divided his possessions among his sons, and to his daughters he gave what
is more precious than all earthly goods, to each of them one riband of the celestial
girdle he had received from God. The magic virtue of these ribands was such that no sooner
did their possessors tie them around their waists than they were transformed into higher
beings, and with seraphic voices they broke out into hymns after the manner of the angels.
For three days Job lay upon his bed, sick though not suffering, for the celestial
girdle made him proof against pain. On the fourth day he saw the angels descend to fetch
his soul. He arose from his bed, handed a cithern to his oldest daughter Jemimah,
"Day," a censer to the second one, Keziah, "Perfume," and a cymbal to
the third, Amaltheas, "Horn," and bade them welcome the angels with the sound of
music. They played and sang and praised the Lord in the holy tongue. Then he appeared that
sits in the great chariot, kissed Job, and rode away bearing his soul with him eastward.
None saw them depart except the three daughters of Job.
The grief of the people, especially the poor, the widows, and the orphans, was
exceeding great. For three days they left the corpse unburied, because they could not
entertain the thought of separating themselves from it.
As the name of Job will remain imperishable unto all time, by reason of the man's
piety, so his three friends were recompensed by God for their sympathy with him in his
distress. Their names were preserved, the punishment of hell was remitted unto them, and,
best of all, God poured out the holy spirit over them. But Satan, the cause of Job's
anguish, the Lord cast down from heaven, for he had been vanquished by Job, who amid his
agony had thanked and praised God for all He had done unto him.
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