This is part two of our three part conversation on Job. If God is just, does that mean that the universe ought to always be run by the principle of strict just compensation? The book of Job is a perfect thought experiment to explore this question. Job has done nothing to deserve the suffering that is inflicted on him, and God acknowledges there was no reason. But even though Job doesn’t deserve it, he is still human, and he reacts to the suffering in a myriad of ways. Sometimes trusting and praising God, sometimes accusing God of being cruel and untrustworthy.
In this episode, Tim and Jon continue their discussion on Job. How exactly does Job fit in with the other wisdom book of the Bible? It’s kind of a weird book. Job takes place in Uz, a non-Israelite town, and it features non-Israelite people. It seems out of place, but it’s also a book that other biblical authors refer to throughout Scripture. We have to wonder about the differences between Job and the other books of the Bible. Is Job a literal account, or is it a wisdom parable that is intentionally fiction? In the first part of the episode (02:14-09:42), the guys talk about the first two chapters of Job. In this section, God’s justice is questioned, but the story is not trying to teach about the origins of human suffering. The guys try to get at what this first part may be trying to teach us.
In the second part of the episode (09:57-22:50), Tim and Jon talk about the heavenly scene in Job and discuss why the author chose to include it. The point of the heavenly scene isn’t to tell us how God makes decisions. It asks the question of whether or not it is a good policy for God to always reward the righteous.
In the next part of the episode (23:09-26:57), the guys break down the structure of the book, specifically chapters three through twenty-seven. These chapters are the poetic core of the book called “the cycles.”
In the final part of this episode (27:12-41:30), the guys spend some time discussing Job’s friends. His friends are working within a human framework that says that God rewards the righteous and brings wrath upon sinners, yet Job continues to defend his innocence throughout the book. What is really going on here?
Video: This episode is designed to accompany our video on the book of Job. You can view it on our youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswSg2ohqmA
Scripture References: Job, Ezekiel 14, Numbers 22
Show Music: Defender Instrumental by Rosasharn Music; Blue Skies by Unwritten Stories; Flooded Meadows by Unwritten Stories
Podcast Date: August 29, 2016
Speakers in the audio file:
Jon: This is the second of a three-part conversation on the book of Job between myself,
Jon Collins and Tim Mackie. We are co-founders of The Bible Project, and we're
putting together a short animation on the book of Job. And this is our conversation
leading up to that script.
If you haven't listened to part one, it'd be helpful to do that. In part one, we talked
about the main question that the book of Job is trying to answer.
Tim: Question in the book of Job is, if God is just, does that mean that the universe ought
always to be run according to the principle of strict, just compensation?
Jon: In this way, the book of Job is a perfect thought experiment for exploring this
question. Job has done nothing to deserve the suffering that's being inflicted on
Tim: "He's maintained his integrity, even though you incited me against him to ruin him
for now reason."
Jon: But even though Job doesn't deserve this, he's still human, and he reacts to the
suffering in a myriad of different ways. Sometimes trusting and praising God, other
times accusing God of being cruel, and untrustworthy, reckless, unfair, and corrupt.
Tim: He's just on an emotional roller coaster. It's a beautiful portrayal of the emotional
intensity of hardship and suffering.
Jon: We're going to dive deeper into the book of Job. We're going to talk about the
strange heavenly scene that opens up the book, where God is in heaven making
decisions with angels, and it's kind of confusing. We'll talk about how Job responds,
and then the long intervention that his friends have with Job, and what we need to
learn from all of this. Here's part two of our conversation. Here we go.
Jon: Job, does that name have a meaning in Hebrew?
Tim: Good up. I don't think it does because I'm actually pretty sure it's not a Hebrew
name. Job, in Hebrew you say 'Iyobh.
Tim: 'Iyobh. 'Iyobh. It's traditional route derivation. In Jewish interpretation is from the
Hebrew word "'Iyyov," which is enemy or attacker.
Where on Earth is "Uz"?
Tim: But the Hebrew, Aramaic, Lexicon of Old Testaments [unintelligible 00:02:57] old
Babylonian, there's ayavum [SP], which means "where is the father." So we don't
Jon: We don't know.
Tim: But that does raise an interesting feature of the book of Job. As it introduces him, it
tells us he lives in the land of Uz, which is essentially a Hebrew way of saying
Jon: Really? Wasn't is a real place well? Timbuktu is a real place.
Tim: Yeah, totally. Uz was a—
Jon: Was just some far out of the way place.
Tim: Far out of the way place. The whole point is in a land far, far away. That's the effect
that the opening line have. In a land far, far away is a non-Israelite named 'Iyobh.
Jon: Was there any strategic reason that it wasn't non-Israelite?
Tim: Yeah. I think it universalizes the conversation. It's also I think the author's way of
showing that this work is contributed to international conversation. The author is
speaking from an Israelite God of Israel covenant Yahweh point of view, but he's
making from that point of view a contribution to the wider conversation about
divine justice and how the world works, and so on.
So none of the three friends are Israelites either. So yeah, it's the only book in the
Bible that's quite like this - long ago, in a land far, far away. So that's significant. It
also raises some questions about the literary genre intended by the author — like,
what did the author expect the reader to think about what type of book this is.
Job is mentioned one other time in the Old Testament by the prophet Ezekiel.
Ezekiel tries to imagine the three most righteous people he can, and if they were
living in Jerusalem, it still wouldn't survive. And he names Noah, Job, and then a
figure with the Hebrew letters Dnl [Sp]. Most translations translate it as Daniel. But
that character doesn't quite fit what Ezekiel is doing, because the whole point is
ancient people from the past who were unquestionably righteous and good.
Noah fits the bill, obviously — righteousness. Generation Job fits the bill. Daniel is a
contemporary of Ezekiel in Babylon, and he's a really good guy. He's known for his
wisdom more than necessarily his righteousness.
Where on Earth is "Uz"?
So, some people think — and to be honest, I have about 50 — that Ezekiel is
alluding to a character we know of in ancient Canaanite literature named Dnl, who
was the ancient Kang who was super wise and super righteous. So he would more fit
the bill of Noah, Dnl and Job because all three of them are non-Israelites, all three of
them are from the distant past, and all three of them were super righteous.
Jon: Yeah, Noah was a non-Israelite.
Tim: Correct. But that's the only time in the Old Testament that Job is mentioned. Then
James, or actually Jacob, but James in the New Testament mentions Job patience in
his suffering. So the question is, did this actually happen? Or is it something like an
ancient historical righteous figure was picked by the author of Job and placed in a
parable or wisdom parable type setting It's intentionally fictional, and the author
intends you to know that this is like a thought experiment.
Jon: It kind of feels like a thought experiment.
Tim: It does. It does very strongly. There are some people feel that it's really important to
defend the idea that the author thinks it was a historical event. Some people think
that being mentioned in the New Testament by James means that you should take
Jon: Because James seems to be treating him like a real dude.
Tim: Well, but that's the thing. All James says is, "Take Job as an example of suffering with
patience." James doesn't tell you what you should think about the literary genre of
Tim: Notice James claims to have some independent historical knowledge about the
person of Job. It's clear that he knows the book of Job just like you and I do. I think
they're strong arguments to be made that the book is a look like a wisdom thought
experiment. And that fits with the books opening in a land far away long, long ago. I
think we can be neutral on it, because whatever you think about that question, the
message of the book is still the same.
Jon: It must be a thought experiment because, how could he have never done anything
Tim: But the book doesn't say that he never did anything wrong. It says that he was a
righteous man, blameless. It's just set up the narrative as—
Where on Earth is "Uz"?
Jon: How could be blameless? At one point he must have had a bad thought about
someone or he must have like—
Tim: Sure. The point is, is he was blameless...
Jon: He cheated in cards once.
Tim: ...and righteous and didn't merit this particular—
Jon: He lied about the size of the fish he caught.
Tim: Sure, sure. And he acknowledges that in the book. But the point is, is he didn't do
anything wrong to merit this particular suffering. As a thought experiment, it makes
perfect sense to just portray the most righteous man.
Jon: The most upright man.
Tim: Correct. People who do take the book as referring to historical figure, and that that's
important, usually have a theological problem then with the claim of total innocent,
and with God saying he…God says He—
Tim: Yeah, exactly. So the argument goes, "Well, of course, he was sinful in general sense,
he just was exceptionally righteous." So I think that's imposing a theological grid
onto the book. The book is just trying to say, "This guy doesn't deserve what he
got." God even says it.
Jon: Which makes it feel much more home to say this is a thought experiment. It's a
literary thought experiment. There's no such thing as a guy this rad. I don't know.
Maybe there's rad people.
Tim: Some great out there.
Jon: There are some great people. But it's like everyone has had their moment.
Tim: But everyone's a mixed bag. That's exactly right.
Jon: Everyone's a mixed bag. There's no one that's gone through their whole and just
Tim: Job is being portrayed as the most righteous individually you could ever possibly
imagine. That also has implications for how you interpret the heavenly scene to
Where on Earth is "Uz"?
Tim: So the opening scene that gets repeated twice, once in chapter one and again in
chapter two, is of God presiding over the sons of God in His divine court. Some
English translations say "the angels came before the Lord. Literally, in Hebrew, it's
the sons of God, which is the phrase it can refer to the king of Israel, the Son of God.
Son of God can refer to the nation of Israel in Exodus 4, but the sons of God can also
refer to angelic or divine beings who are God's messengers and emissaries. It's an
image of God's decision-making room that's used elsewhere in the Old Testament.
Jon: And this is supposed to come from...
Tim: The divine council.
Jon: ...from courtroom stuff the kings use.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. It's creating an analogy between a king's court with his cabinet
and council and God.
Jon: "What are we going to do with this invading army? How are we going to handle
this? We're all going to tell them what they think."
Tim: Correct? So, you have in a story in 1 Kings 22, where God is making decisions about
what to do with King Ahab, and so one of the prophets, Micaiah is privileged to
overhear what's going on in the decision room. You have something similar in the
book of Zachariah where Zachariah sees these patrollers that God has sent out to go
survey what's going on among the nations. And then they come back and give a
report to God. That's in Zachariah 1.
Then, in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah has that scene of God enthroned, and God says,
"Who shall we send? Who will go for us?" So Isaiah is being brought into the divine
Council and commissioned. That's the scene here.
So then we're told God's holding court, taking the State of the Union or something.
And then we're told that the Satan was there with him. No English translations
translate to word "the" which is there in Hebrew. And I'm reading the NIT here, it has
a capital S Satan.
Jon: Satan with capital S. Is there any other name of someone where it's "the" some
Tim: Actually, that's the interpretive issue here is that Satan is not a name. It's not proper
name anywhere in the Old Testament, but it's become translated as one.
Jon: As a proper name. This character is never referred to as having a name?
Tim: No. To get into New Testament, yeah, though there's some relevant stuff happening
there. Actually, almost all the times that this word appears in the New Testament it
all always occurs with the word "the" as well, which also never gets translated in
English. So it's still "the Satan" appearing in the New Testament.
Here's the deal. Satan is a normal Hebrew word that means in a poser or a
challenger. Someone who's opposed to you. And humans can be a Satan. There's a
story in 1 Kings 11 where God raises up satans against Solomon when he starts
Jon: The way that you're pronouncing just threw me off.
Jon: Satan. It makes me imagine like a Satan baton - is all I see when you say, "Satan."
Tim: Boy, sorry, man. I'm not sure what to say. It's the Hebrew word "Satan."
Jon: Got it. It's that how it's pronounced in modern Hebrew?
Jon: We're just going to make it a little more fierce. It's got to be more fierce moments.
Tim: Satan. The word "the" is just putting "ha" in front of word. So, ha-Satan, is actually
what this figure is called.
Jon: Ha-Satan. That's better. Let's go with that.
Tim: Ha-Satan, the Satan.
Tim: So here's the deal. Satan is a Hebrew noun that is used of humans who oppose
other humans. Solomon has a number of political enemies, other kings that attack
him in 1 Kings 11, and they are described with the noun "Satan." The angel of the
Lord is a Satan.
Jon: The angel of the Lord being?
Tim: An angel or the angel of the Lord, which is a key way that God Himself appears to
people in the Old Testament, He appears as a Satan. In the story about Balaam
riding his donkey to go curses Israel, "And the angel of the Lord stands as a Satan
against Balaam." So there, very clear it means as one who is opposed or challenged.
Jon: How is it translated in that passage?
Tim: It's good. Let me look it up.
Jon: While you're looking that up, when we did the Messiah video, it begins with the
snake crusher. So we introduce the snake, and we don't say, "The snake is Satan."
We just introduced it. It's a snake.
Tim: The serpent.
Jon: The serpent.
Tim: And the story in Genesis doesn't introduce the snake as the Satan.
Jon: But I noticed a lot of comments. A lot of people are like, they want to fill in the gaps,
they want to help other people understand well. Here's the snake, he's Satan.
Usually, there's really well thought out understanding of Satan's origin that comes
from - is it Ezekiel?
Tim: From Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 are important passages in the history of the
development of the idea of Satan. There's a strong desire to create a biography ha-
Satan. I think it's much more complicated than we realize, and that we should be
way more humble and assume that we really don't know very much at all.
So when the angel of Lord appears to Balaam, in Hebrew, it says, "As a Satan." In the
New International Version it gets translated, "The angel of the Lord stood in the road
to oppose him, or as one opposed to him." That's a good translation. An opposer.
So, if you have "ha," "the" Satan in the heavenly courtroom of God, it's the one
Jon: So, it didn't have to be some creature that crawled out of hell and was like, "Hey,
God. It's just one of the sons of God who's opposing God?"
Tim: That's right.
Jon: He's saying, "I have a different opinion than you, God."
Tim: Yeah, that's right. So the Satan, the opposer is there.
Jon: Oh, interesting.
Jon: It gives me totally different picture. You have this courtroom and someone's like,
"Well, I'm going to take an opposing view here."
Tim: That's exactly right.
Jon: And he's the Satan.
Tim: He's the Satan. It's signing his role in the courtroom, in the divine court where the
role that he plays because he's going to oppose God's judgment...
Jon: And when you're in a courtroom and you're opposing, generally you're doing that
for the benefit of the king. You're on the same team here. You're on the same
country civilization. So I'm just like, "I don't think you're doing this right, I'm going to
oppose you." But you're doing that not because you want to take down the
kingdom. It's because you want to make sure the kingdom is strong.
Tim: One of the challenges here is the Jewish and Christian readers have tended to
import later theology about spiritual evil into the story. I think it actually ends up
distorting our understanding of what's happening in the heavenly scene because
there's no indication that ha-Satan here is the embodiment of evil and injustice.
There's no indication that he hates Job or hates God. There's no indication that he
Jon: Punishing people?
Tim: No. What happens is God points out, "Have you seen Job? He's righteous and
blameless and upright," just the way that the narrator introduced him. Fears God and
And so, the opposer's role and what the opposer does is simply say, "You know,
that's bad policy for you to reward Job." What he says is, "Does Job fear God for
nothing? Haven't you put a hedge around him and his household and everything he
has? You've blessed the work of his hands."
So the whole point is, "Do you really know that he's righteous? You don't know that
he's righteous truly because he's only good because you bless him and protect him.
So, what he's exposing here isn't that he hates Job or that he hates God. He's saying,
"What about this policy that you reward the righteous for serving you? Does that
show truly what human beings are and what they're about?"
Whereas I have it here in the notes, the Satan challenges God's policy of rewarding
the righteous by suggesting that it corrupts their motives proving them to be
unrighteous. So the accusation gives the book an interesting twist because we're
inclined to spend our time asking why righteous people suffer. But the Satan turns
the question upside down and asks why righteous people should even prosper.
In this way. The book gives us an answer that we need, rather than answer that we
thought we wanted from the book.
Jon: Maybe this whole deal with rewarding righteous people is actually backfiring on us.
Tim: I mean, that's bad policy because it corrupts their motives. It doesn't actually allow
them to be truly righteous. That's what the Satan is saying.
Jon: He's making a really good point.
Tim: Yeah. Yes.
Jon: Does he actually love you or is he just using you to get what he wants? Is that kind
of what he says?
Tim: That's what the Satan is saying.
Jon: "And how could you know, unless...
Tim: Unless you take away your blessing?
Jon: And see what he does."
Tim: God says, "Very well then, everything he has is in your power but don't lay a finger
on Job himself." What follows from here is Job's family, children are destroyed.
Jon: That's rough. That kind of makes him feel like an evil dude. I mean, he could have
just maybe killed some of his livestock or something.
Tim: But look at how it goes. Some raiders come and take away as animals, then lightning
strikes his sheep and the servants, then the Chaldeans come and carry away his
camels, and then a wind comes and causes the house to collapse on his children.
Jon: That's rough.
Tim: And Job gets up, cuts off all his hair, says, "Naked I came into this world; naked all
depart. The Lord gave me all this; the Lord's taken away. May the name of the Lord
Jon: So he wins. He did.
Tim: The conclusion of the narrative is Job did not sin by charging God with any
wrongdoing. That's round one.
Jon: So if the story ended there, what we've learned is that Job actually was righteous. He
wasn't just doing it to get hooked up.
Tim: And the opposer's accusations are groundless.
Jon: And the story could have ended, but it doesn't.
Tim: On another day, the sons of God are there, God holds court again and the opposer
comes, and God says, "Hey look at Job. Nobody like him, blameless integrity. He's
maintained his integrity even though you incited me against him to ruin him for no
It's very important because God acknowledges that there was no just reason. He
maintained his integrity. The point is point proven. "You questioned his integrity and
my policy, the point's proven to you."
Then what the Satan answers is, "All right but what about his body? A man will give
all he has for his own life. Strike his body and surely he'll curse you." Once again,
God agrees to the proposition. So then the opposer went out and afflicted Job with
painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Job's wife comes and says, "Are you still holding on to your integrity, curse God and
die." And Job responds, "You're talking like a fool, shall we accept only good from
God, and not also trouble." In this, the narrative said Job did not sin.
So the story ends right there, and you're like, "Oh, all right, it's the same repetition.
The stakes went higher. So you think, "Job's cool, then. This is all going to brush
over, and he's going to move on." But then the story gets even more interesting
because Job's three friends, non-Israelite friends, come and they hardly recognize
them. They come and sit next to him for seven days saying nothing because they see
how horrible his suffering is.
Then Job in his mouth. It's one of the most artfully designed poems in the Hebrew
Bible, chapter 3, and it's one long, elaborate curse on the day he was born. Then, you
realize, "Oh, there's a lot more going on inside this guy than you thought." It's so
Jon: Jon: He's bummed.
Tim: And then what follows is that opens up the dialogues with the friends. So let's just
pause. If you take the view that it's a thought experiment, then the point of the
heavenly scene is not to teach you about how God actually make decisions.
The point is simply, God's in his decision-making room, an opposing point of view
comes up to set up the thought experiment — Is it good policy for God to reward
the righteous? And it raises the question, does God in fact, always reward the
righteous and does God allow suffering for a reason that is undisclosed? Could it
ever be just that God would allow such a thing to happen? Those are the questions
that the fictional introduction would set up for you.
As John Walton says, "The Book of Job is focusing on how God works in the world,
not how God works out things in heaven."
Jon: It's Walton's point of view.
Tim: It's Walton's point of view. "If you take the view that the books has a historical core
to it, and therefore this is actually trying to teach you theology about how God
operates and runs the world, you have to accept it for what it seems to be like."
Which causes some tensions to see it personally and theologically with a lot of
people. Again, I don't want to go there in the video, but it's real issue.
And I know some people who hold that view. They do think that the book of Job is
trying to teach you about what goes on in the heavenlies and they're at peace with
it. So it's not beyond imagination.
Tim: So once Job curses his birthday, that gets you into the poetic core of the book.
Chapters 3 through essentially 27 are going to be what are called the cycles of Job
and the friends. So Job opens chapter 3 cursing the day he was born, and then the
first friend will respond, Eliphaz. Then Job responds.
Then the next friend responds to that, Bildad, then Job responds to that. Then the
next friend responds, Zophar, and then Job response to that. The cycle number one.
And then it just cycles over again. The second time through that same.
Then, the third cycle actually breaks down, the third friend never gets a chance to
speak. And what happens is the emotional intensity ramps up as you would expect.
Job actually get so frustrated with the friends, he stops talking to them all together
because he's so disagrees with their point of view.
Essentially the friends, back to our triangle, Job's insisting that he's righteous, but he
assumes that God runs the world according to the strict principle of just
recompense. So his conclusion that grows throughout the book is God is unjust, or
cruel. The friends have the exact opposite point of view and defend it to the hilt that
God is just, by which they mean he runs the world according to the strict principle of
justice, therefore, Job must have sinned.
Jon: And all three of them are taking the same argument.
Jon: Are they nuanced in different ways between the three friends?
Tim: No, no.
Jon: They just attacked him.
Tim: They attacked him. The fact that there's three I think gives the author a way to create
different personas of a litany of different kinds of arguments. But on the whole—
Jon: But that all are basically, "You must have screwed up.
Tim: If you didn't know who was speaking when of the friends, you wouldn't be able to
really tell their arguments apart. Here's just a couple samples. Eliphaz in chapter 4,
he says, "Consider now, who being innocent has ever perished? When have the
upright ever been destroyed?" He says, "As I have observed here on planet Earth,
those who plow evil and those who sow trouble, reap it. At the breath of God they
perish; at the blast of his anger, they are no more." Hint, hint, Job. It's respectable.
Jon: It's an intervention.
Tim: Yeah, they're there for an intervention. It's exactly right. Bildad in chapter 8, he says,
"Think about your children, Job." He says, "When your children sinned against Him,
he gave them over to the penalty of their sin." So it's clear he views the house
collapsing on Job's children as God's judgment.
And then he says, "Job, if you seek God, earnestly, and plead with Almighty, if you
are pure and upright like you say you are, then God will rouse himself on your
behalf, and He'll restore you to your prosperous estate." "He's saying, "Your kids got
what woes coming to them, but if you're really innocent like you say, then just tell
God and he'll zap you back to a perfect life once more." It's obvious he believes
that's not what's going to happen. So this is the kind of it's all very artful and
highfalutin type of arguments.
Jon: And then every time Job just is like, "Look, I know I'm innocent."
Tim: Yes, that's exactly right. So, he calls his friends windbags and worthless counselors,
and you don't know me kind of stuff. "You don't know me." And constant theme in
his speeches is he keeps maintaining his innocence. It's such beautiful poetry down
in Job's defense.
Chapter 16, he says, "My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes, yet
my hands have been free of violence, and my prayer is pure." He says, "Earth, don't
cover up my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest." He's echoing the story of Cain
and Abel, where God says to Cain, "Your brother's blood cries out from the ground."
There's irony here because God said to Cain, "Your brother's blood is crying out to
me," and now, here Job is saying to the earth, "Don't cover up my blood; let it cry
out to God, but cry out not as a plea for help but as a cry of accusation."
Jon: Or plea of innocence.
Tim: Yeah, or plea of innocence, which in essence is an accusation. That's earlier on in
chapter 16. By chapter 27, he's so bold as to say this. "As surely as God lives who has
denied me justice, the Almighty Who has made my life bitter as long as I have life in
me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips won't say anything wicked; my tongue
won't utter lies. I'll never admit that you, the friends, are right. Until I die, I won't
deny my integrity; I'll maintain my innocence; I'll never let go of it." I mean, he's
getting hardcore. So that's him maintaining his innocence.
So then he's going to go on and begin to make claims about God's character. He
already did in saying God denied him justice, but then what he goes on is to say,
"Well, if that's how you treating me, which is true because it's my life experience,
what does that say about how you treat everybody else?" And he says some really
Like in chapter 9, he says, "Even though I'm blameless, I have no concern for myself. I
despise my own life. It's all the same. My life already sucks. So I'm just going to say
what I really think. God destroys the blameless along with the wicked. When a
scourge brings sudden death, God mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land
falls into the hands of the wicked, God blindfolds its judges." And then he says, "If
it's not God, and who is it?" He's so bold.
Jon: But he's kind of right in that he said, "He destroys both the blameless and the
wicked." That's what he did.
Tim: Oh, you're exactly right. Well, that's true. In Job's case, God allowed the blameless to
suffer. But then he goes on to say that God mocks the innocent.
Jon: Then he takes it a little deeper
Tim: Anytime a land falls into the hand of wicked people, that's God at work
Jon: And then he's purposefully making it so that that can't be reconciled.
Tim: The movie mix is, "In my case I'm blameless, God allowed me to suffer."
Jon: So first premise is correct, and then he takes it too far.
Tim: He takes it further. Yeah, that's exactly right. Now, what's interesting as you read
through Job speeches, especially, he's constantly going back and forth. He says
things like this, but then he'll go back and he'll say, "No, I don't want to believe
And then he'll start talking, and he'll say, "Surely, actually, the Book of Proverbs is
true and the wicked will suffer and the righteous will be rewarded." And then in the
next speech, he's like, "But really? I don't know, not today. I don't think that." He's
just on an emotional roller coaster, which is it's a beautiful portrayal of the emotional
intensity of hardship and suffering. It's very realistic.
So where he ends at the end of the day is saying, "My friends aren't helping me, I
don't know how to make sense of this, I just need to talk with God." And so about
half a dozen times he starts saying, "If I could just get in a room with God and He
could hear me and I could hear Him, we could sort this out."
So chapter 23, he says, "Today, my complaint is bitter. God's hand is heavy, in spite
of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him. If only I could go to his dwelling, I
would state my case before Him. I'd fill my mouth with arguments. I'd find out what
he'd have to say to me, and consider what he would answer me."
So finally, his final speech, his last words, in chapter 31 are these. He says, "Oh, that I
would have someone to hear me! I sign my defense. Let the Almighty answer me. Let
my accuser put his indictment in writing. Here's mine with my defense. Now, God,
you write your charges. Surely, I would wear it on my shoulder. I would wear it like a
crown. I would give him an account of my every step. I would present it to him as a
What he's saying is, "I've written out every part of my defense, let God write every
part of his accusation, and I know I would be in the right, and I would wear it like a
crown if I could just prove my case." That's where Job's words ends.
Jon: You can really empathize with Job here. He got it really bad. He didn't do anything
wrong. and then he had to sit through a lot of speeches from his so-called friends
who don't trust him that he actually didn't do anything wrong.
I mean, if they would have been like, "Okay, yeah, this is weird. I do trust you. I guess
you didn't do anything wrong, but this is confusing." But they're like, "No, listen,
you're screwed up."
Tim: Their theology is so clear to them.
Jon: So he's just getting more and more aggravated. He knows he didn't do anything
wrong, and we know that he didn't do anything wrong. So it's like all this empathy of
like, "Yeah, this is horrible." And so when it gets to the point where it's like, "I just
know and if I could sit down with God, I write down my defense, he writes down His,
we compare notes, it's going to be obvious I didn't deserve this." And you can just
be like, "Yeah, totally. I get that."
That final speech, it doesn't feel like, "Oh, man, Job you're really pressing your luck
here." It just kind of feels like, "Yeah, that seems like a normal reaction."
Tim: Yes. I think it is a normal reaction. But that part of the presentation of Job is that his
suffering has pressed him, this isn't just about logic anymore. This is about
processing suffering through the full range of emotions. So sometimes he has made
Jon: Yeah, the other one where he's like, "You blindful judges, you mock the innocent."
That's he's kind of getting a little fired up.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. So his final words are sensible. I agree with you. Again, it's a
realistic portrayal of the psychology of suffering.
Jon: That's the end of part two of this three-part conversation. Next up, the third and
final part, we really get into it. In the third episode, we talked about the surprise
friend Elihu, who just shows up out of nowhere, he talks on and on for a number of
chapters. So what's he all about? And then we'll go back and we'll talk about chapter
28, and the significance of that chapter.
Finally, we'll get into the showdown of God shows up and defends himself against
Job. It's really the heart of the book and shows us what this book is really all about.
It's extremely fascinating. We'll talk about the virtual tour of the universe that He
gives Job, we'll talk about the behemoth and Leviathan, these great monsters that
God's pretty stoked about, and then we'll see how Job response to all this.
We're having this conversation and other conversations about themes and books of
the Bible because we make videos, animated shorts that go up on YouTube. You can
watch them all at youtube.com/thebibleproject. You could also watch them on our
website, thebibleproject.com, which has been newly updated. You can give to our
next project there. You could download free resources there.
And if you want to say hi to us, the best place is on Twitter, @JoinBibleProj and on
It is a true pleasure to work on this project, and we thank you for being a part of it
with us. Next up, part three.