Finished Job again last night in my three-year plan through the Old Testament.
It is one of my favorite OT books although it raises as many questions as it answers. It is often pointed to as the Bible’s answer to the Problem of Evil but I think Habakkuk is a little more explicit about that. The answer to the POE in Job is basically, “The answer is above your head because you are finite and I, God, am not. You try running the universe for a day!”
Of the minutiae in the book, I have always thought it interesting that when Job was restored he had seven sons and three daughters- exactly as he did before his trials. The Church Fathers took this as a sign that the lost children would be resurrected on the Last Day.
But isn’t it interesting that in that patriarchal society, the sons’ names are not given yet the daughters’ are? (Well, the Septuagint names one son from a new wife- Job probably felt he needed an upgrade from the shrew we met at the beginning of the book…)
I wonder what the literal significance of naming the daughters rather than the sons was to the original audience. Later, the Church Fathers would read a spiritual sense into it as relating to the soul (souls are usually referred to in the feminine) and salvation.
Another interesting point is that in the Masoretic Hebrew Text we don’t really know who Job was or when he lived although the where is usually taken to be Edom. In the Septuagint, the last chapter of Job contains additional information, and we learn that Job is the grandson of Esau.
Another significant difference occurs when the Lord chides Job’s “comforters” and says they have sinned with their mouths. God tells them to bring a sin-offering to atone for it.
In the Hebrew, the three friends are told to “offer up a burnt offering for yourselves.” (Job 42:8)
But in the Greek, it is Job who makes the offering for them when they are told, “go forth to my servant Job, and he shall make a burnt offering for you.”
A potent lesson for us is that it is precisely when Job forgives and prays for his friends that his blessings are restored multifold, “Then the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends, and He forgave their sin. But the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
The Book of Job encourages us to approach questions like the Problem of Evil with a reverent humility and to remember that the path to experiencing God’s presence and blessings in our life is to be faithful to Him even when it is difficult and confusing, and to love our neighbor as ourself through prayers and sacrifice.