My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Job 1

Job loses everything

Job was a God-fearing man who was very wealthy. He made daily sacrifices for his many children in case they had sinned.

When the angels were coming to God, the accuser came to him. He had been going through the earth. God pointed to Job as a good example, but the accuser said that Job only followed God because his life was sweet.

God told the accuser that he could destroy all of Job's wealth, as long as Job himself was not touched himself.

Just then Job received three simultaneous reports that he had lost everything. All his land. All his livestock. All his children.

Job tore his clothes and shaved his head, and fell before God, saying that he came into this world with nothing, and he may leave with nothing. He did not curse God.

Key verse:
21. Naked I came from my mother's womb,

and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.

My thoughts:
Job is a very interesting book for many reasons.

Many scholars consider it to be the earliest book written in the Bible, and they contend that if Job existed he may have existed as far back as 1200BC, before Israel really existed. He was probably not a Jew, but just a God-fearing wealthy man.

Another interesting point is that all the references to cursing God use the Hebrew word barak for cursing. Now, the interesting thing about this is that barak means bless. So if you translated it exactly, then it would say (in Chapter 2) "Bless God and die.". What probably happened was that the scribes who transmitted the book would not have dared written the Hebrew word for curse in the context of God, so they used 'bless' though 'curse' was understood. Weird ay? There's lots of little strange literary tricks that the Hebrews did.

Now, who is this accuser? The NIV actually calls him Satan, which is perhaps a permature statement. It took a while for a agreed theology on Satan existed, and the earliest books have no solid indication of Satan. So his existence here is interesting. Notice how he come in with the other angels. If you dismiss any foreknowledge of Satan, then the most logical way to read this is that he is simply another angel who's job it is to search throughout the earth looking for way in which God can proove his glory, such as afflicted Job, but having Job continue to praise him.

However, much tradition contends him to be Satan - one who is trying to show God that people will curse him. In this case, it is interesting that Satan is in God's court, seemingly invited, and God pays respect to his wishes. God allows Satan to afflict Job (see my notes on 2 Samuel 24) supposedly to win the argument with him.

You actually have quite an advanced view of the spiritual realm here. It's almost Greek in nature, with a court, where the spiritual beings argue. It's very separate to the physical realm - an idea that did not really exist in early Judaism. This leads me to believe that the early parts of the Torah were written before this.


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