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The Job debate; Job's appeal to the jury

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posted on Nov, 24 2017 @ 05:04 PM
On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.

The troubles of Job were described in the first two chapters.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of them, which has developed into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.
Since God was not offering an immediate response, the “comforters” who are sitting with Job were putting forward their own counter-arguments, and Job is now ready to give his final answer.

“Oh that I were as in the months of old” (ch29 v1).
Job’s final speech to the jury, as it were, re-states the grounds of his original grievance.
It rests on the contrast between his present state and the life he enjoyed in the past.

God watched over him. The friendship of God was upon his tent.
His children were about him.
He had wealth- “my steps were washed with milk, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil”.
But more than that, he had received respect.
“When I went out to the gate of the city [i.e., the public place of business]…
The young men saw me and withdrew, and the aged arose and stood;
The princes refrained from talking, and laid their hand on their mouth” (vv7-10).
Everybody respected his judgment, because they knew how he treated people.
He delivered the poor and the fatherless.
He caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
He was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
My justice was like a robe and a turban” (v14).
Consequently “men listened to me, and waited, and kept silence for my counsel…
They waited for me as for the rain…
I smiled on them when they had no confidence;
And the light of my countenance they did not cast down.
I chose their way and sat as a chief… like one who comforts mourners” (vv21-25).

“But now they make sport of me, men who are younger than I” (ch30 v1).
The irony is that those who despise him belong to families which have no esteem themselves;
“They are driven out from among men; they shout after them as after a thief” (v5)
Yet these are the people who are now in a position to mock him because of his misfortunes.
“And now I am become their song, I am a by-word to them…
Because God has loosed my cord and humbled me” (vv9-11).
The “rabble” has arisen and driven him out, and nobody tries to restrain them.
“My honour is pursued as by the wind, and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud” (v15).

So the life is draining out of him.
He has days of affliction, and nights that rack his bones.
God has cast him into the mire, and ignores his appeals;
“I cry to thee and thou dost not answer me;
I stand and thou dost not heed me” (v20).
God has tossed him about in the storm, and will ultimately bring him down to the house of death.
When Job was in prosperity, he was always ready to help the less fortunate; “Did I not weep for him whose day was hard?” But he receives no reward for this when he needs help himself (vv25-26).
He is left isolated and in a state of mourning.

Then he presents a long list of things he could have done (but did not) which would have disqualified him from righteousness.
Since Job has made a covenant with his eyes, “How could I look upon a virgin?
What would be my portion from God above…
Does he not see all my ways and number my steps?” (ch31 vv1-4)

“If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hastened to deceit…
Then let me sow and another eat” (vv3-8).

“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbour’s door;
Then let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down upon her” (vv-9-10).
For that would be a heinous crime, “a fire which burns to Abaddon”.

“If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant, when they brought a complaint against me;
What then shall I do when God rises up?” (vv13-14)
For the same God made both the servants and himself.

“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired…
Seen anyone perish for lack of clothing…
If I have raised my hand against the fatherless…
Then let my arm be broken from its socket” (vv16-23)
For then he would have found himself unable to face his God.

“If I have eaten the yield of the land without payment…
Let thorns grow instead of wheat” (vv38-40)

If he had made gold his trust, or “kissed his hand” to the sun or the moon, he would have been false to the true God (vv24-28).

He has not even rejoiced in the ruin of one who hated him, let alone sinned by uttering a curse against his life.
He has not allowed sojourners to lodge in the street, but has opened his doors to the wayfarer.
Nor has he made any transgressions which needed to be concealed from public knowledge.

Since he has done none of these things (though other people have done so, and got away with it), he challenges God to a full settling of accounts.
“Let the Almighty answer me!
Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary…
I would give him an account of all my steps;
Like a prince I would approach him” (vv35-37).

So, in conclusion, he places his confidence once again in his knowledge of his own blamelessness.

posted on Nov, 24 2017 @ 05:07 PM
I have suggested, previously, that Job also represents the defeated nation of Israel, taken into exile by the Babylonians.
As discussed above, Job describes the respect which he was receiving before his downfall (ch29), and then compares that with his present experience of contempt (ch30).
To the extent that he does represent God’s people, he’s offering an idealised version of their condition before the catastrophe, standing out in the world because of their righteousness.
Now they are despised and an object of contempt for other societies.
Therefore ch31 makes the claim that they have not earned this change in their condition.
They were not breaking the commandments against falsehood and adultery.
They did not mistreat or neglect their brethren among the fatherless, the servants and the poor.
They did not worship other gods, or “eat the yield of the land without payment”. Without offering first-fruits and tithes, that is.
Though the histories and the prophets will dispute those claims.

posted on Nov, 24 2017 @ 05:07 PM
How successfully has Job been presenting his case?

Job’s complaint

Ch3) I curse the day I was born.
Because it did not cut my life short and so protect me from the troubles of life.
Why did I not die at birth? (vv10-11)
Why is life given (or why does life continue to be given) to the man in misery who longs for death? (vv20-21)

Eliphaz (1)

Ch4) His understanding of Job’s complaint;
While Job was able to encourage others when they were in trouble, he fails to apply his own advice when the troubles fall upon himself. He has become impatient.
Job believes that his fear of God and his integrity should be enough to protect him from trouble. (vv5-6)

Based on observation;
Those who work with iniquity and cause trouble perish at the hands of God.
Those who are innocent and upright are safe. (vv7-8)
Based on direct vision from God;
NO man can be righteous before God, who finds nothing free from fault. (v17)

Ch5) Observation confirms this.
We see that people reject God and therefore suffer. (v3)
So trouble is natural to our lives (vv6-7).
The answer is to trust in God entirely (v8).
The result of this trust will be protection and security (v26).


Ch6) Restates the heaviness of his vexations.
The terrors of God are arrayed against him (vv1-4).
Restates that in the circumstances he would prefer death (vv8-10).

Eliphaz and the others have been unsympathetic.
He challenges them to specify what was wrong with his remarks.
He will tell them the truth, because his vindication is at stake (v29).
Ch7) His case is the case of men in general (v1).

The reason why he has no fear about addressing God directly;
His life is short, and once he reaches Sheol he will never return (vv7-10).
Therefore he has nothing to lose from speaking his mind.

The root of the problem is that God is paying him too much attention.
As a result, his transgressions are always being noticed, and consequently getting punished (v17).
Why should God not break this chain simply by pardoning his transgressions? (vv20-21)

Bildad (1)

Ch8) God does not pervert justice.
So Job’s children must have been penalised for their own sin (v4)
Job himself should make supplication to God.
If he is pure and upright, God will rouse himself to take action on Job’s behalf (vv5-7)

For this is the wisdom which has been handed down from bygone ages;
On the one hand, the hope of the godless shall perish (v13).
On the other hand, God will not reject a blameless man (v20).


Ch9) He knows that “it is so” (v1);
(That is, God will not, in principle, reject a blameless man.
So if a blameless man like Job finds himself rejected anyway, that needs to be put right.)

But how can a man establish himself as just before God?
The problem is that the overwhelming power of God sets him beyond contradiction (vv2-3).
How can Job, as an innocent man, plead his cause under those conditions? (vv15-17)
What power can compel God to give an account of what he does? (v19)

Even though Job is blameless, he would be forced to condemn himself out of his own mouth (v20).
But he loathes his life, so he is not afraid to say;
1. He himself is blameless
2. God destroys both the blameless and the wicked
However, these issues cannot be discussed fairly, because God will not meet him on equal terms, laying aside his dread power (vv32-35).

Ch10) Again he asks, why should God pursue his transgressions quite so diligently? (v17)
Again he asks; why was he allowed to enter the world, to experience these troubles? (v18)
But if he must live, why cannot be allowed to live his short life in peace?

Zophar (1)

Ch11) Job says that he is blameless.
But God’s wisdom is higher than ours, so his judgement of righteousness and unrighteousness must be better than ours.
In fact in Job’s case he must be exacting less of a penalty than his guilt requires (vv5-6).
So Job should repent and seek God, after which his life will be restored (vv13-15).


Ch12) Restates his basic case;
On the one hand, he himself, a just and blameless man, has now been made a laughing-stock because of his misfortunes.
On the other hand, robbers and idolaters are left free to live in peace and security (vv4-6).
He is not ignorant of the great wisdom of God as ruler of the world.
Indeed his point is that God does everything, and so must be responsible for everything (vv13-14).

Ch13) He intends to argue his case with God directly (v3).
He challenges God to meet him in debate, asking only;
That God should allow him to speak, holding back his own power.
And that God should promise to reply (vv19-22).
He demands a full account of the iniquities for which he is being punished (v23).
Ch14) Since man have been given such a short life, why punish his iniquities anyway? (vv1-3)
Why not just look away from them? (v6)
He wishes he could be allowed to hide in Sheol during the time of judgement, coming out again once it was over, and starting a fresh life free from the scrutiny of his transgressions (vv13-17)

Eliphaz (2)

Ch15) On the authority of wisdom handed down from ancient times;
Repeats, it is not possible for men to be wholly righteous (vv15-16).
Repeats, God brings destruction on the wicked (vv23-25).


Ch16) They do not know his experiences.
He has been “under attack” from God, though he has not earned it by attacking others (vv12-13).
So he wants to make a legal appeal as a victim of “Violence”, naming God himself as the defendant (v18), also citing God as his own chief witness (v19), and calling upon God to be an impartial judge in the case (vv20-21).

Ch17) Returns to the theme of his despair.
Asks whether his hope will go down with him to Sheol and keep him company there (vv13-16).

Bildad (2)

Ch18) The destruction of the wicked.


Ch19) The friends are treating Job’s troubles as proof of his iniquities.
But in fact he is “in the wrong” only because God has put him there (vv5-6).
God has made no response to his appeal for justice (v7), and has left him isolated even from his friends and family.
Job wants a permanent record of his case for the sake of a future appeal (v23).
For he knows there is a “Kinsman” somewhere, who will “redeem” him from his troubles (v25).
Even if he has to wait until he has already reached Sheol (vv26-7).

Zophar (2)

Ch20) The destruction of the wicked.


Ch21) His grievance is not the wickedness of men, but the fact that God allows the wickedness of men (vv1-6)
How often does “the destruction of the wicked” happen in reality?
The truth is, they live and die prosperous and happy.

Eliphaz (3)

Ch22) If Job had feared God, God would not given judgement against him.
He must have been acting unjustly towards others. (vv4-5)
He should humble himself towards God, and would then be allowed to live in peace.


Ch23) Wants to lay his case before God, reasoning the matter out in direct debate (vv3-5)
Then he would be acquitted, because he has been upright (v7).
But God’s will is inexorable (v13) and overwhelms him with fear.

Ch24) Why does not God give judgement against those who are unjust to others? (v1)
For no-one can deny that in practice he prolongs their lives.

Bildad (3)

Ch25) No man can be righteous before God.


Ch26) Describes the great power of God. And that is the same God who has taken away his righteousness.

Ch31) Complete denial that he has acted unrighteously in any way.

edit on 24-11-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 24 2017 @ 06:54 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I'm going to post and be honest. I am not religious, nor am I even a believer in the Bible, but I enjoy reading your threads because you have such a passion for these subjects that you make them interesting.

posted on Nov, 24 2017 @ 07:00 PM
a reply to: mymymy
Thank you, I'm glad to hear that.
They meet their purpose if they can be understood. (Whether people are convinced by them is out of my hands)

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