OrthoAnalytika

Bible Study – Job
Class Four: Job 1:13 – 2:15

From the Orthodox Study Bible.

Job Loses His Children and Property

13.  Now there was a day when Job’s sons and daughters were drinking wine in the house of their elder brother,

14.  and behold, a messenger came to Job and said, “The yokes of oxen were plowing, and the female donkeys were feeding beside them.

15.  Then raiders came and took them captive and killed the servants with the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

16.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said to Job, “Fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep, and likewise consumed the shepherds; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

17.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Horsemen formed three bands against us, surrounded the camels, took them captive, and killed the servants with the sword.  I alone have escaped to tell you!”

18.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Your sone and daughters were eating and drinking wine with their elder brother,

19.  and suddenly a great wind came from the desert and struck the hour corners of the house; and it fell on your children, and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

20.  Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved off the hair of his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped, saying,

21. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  As it seemed good to the Lord, so also it came to pass.  Blessed by the name of the Lord.”

22.  In all these things that happened, Job did not sin against the Lord or charge God with folly.

 

Let’s break this down.

St. Gregory the Great.

On the compounding of affliction.
Lo again, lest any thing should be wanting to his grief for the adversity that came of man, he brings tidings that bands of the Chaldeans had broken in, and lest the calamity that came from above should strike him with too little force, he shews that wrath is repeated in the heavens…
He who is not laid low by one wound is in consequence stricken twice and thrice, that at one time or another he may be struck to the very core. Thus the blow from the Sabeans had been reported, the Divine visitation by fire from heaven had been reported, tidings are brought of the plundering of the camels, by man again, and of the slaughter of his servants, and the fury of God’s displeasure is repeated, in that a fierce wind is shewn to have smitten the corners of the house, and to have overwhelmed his children. For because it is certain that without the Sovereign dictate the elements can never be put in motion, it is covertly implied that He, Who let them be stirred, did Himself stir up the elements against him, though, when Satan has once received the power from the Lord, he is able even to put the elements into commotion to serve his wicked designs.

On the timing of the attacks
We ought to observe what times are suited for temptations; for the devil chose that as the time for tempting, when he found the sons of the blessed Job engaged in feasting; for the adversary does not only cast about what to do, but also when to do it. Then though he had gotten the power, yet he sought a fitting season to work his overthrow, to this end, that by God’s disposal it might be recorded for our benefit, that the delight of full enjoyment is the forerunner of woe.

On Job’s response.
But in that it is added that he worshipped, it is plainly shewn that even in the midst of pain, he did not break forth against the decree of the Smiter. He was not altogether unmoved, lest by his very insensibility he should shew a contempt of God; nor was he completely in commotion, lest by excess of grief he should commit sin. But because there are two commandments of love, i. e. the love of God, and of our neighbour; that he might discharge the love of our neighbour, he paid the debt of mourning to his sons; that he might not forego the love of God, he performed the office of prayer amidst his groans. There are some that use to love God in prosperity, but in adversity to abate their love of Him from whom the stroke comes. But blessed Job, by that sign which he outwardly shewed in his distress, proved that he acknowledged the correction of his Father, but herein, that he continued humbly worshipping, he shewed that even under pain he did not give over the love of that Father.

But be it observed, that our enemy strikes us with as many darts as he afflicts us with temptations; for it is in a field of battle that we stand every day, every day we receive the weapons of his temptations. But we ourselves too send our javelins against him, if, when pierced with woes, we answer humbly.

Christological Interpretation
When his sons were destroyed in the ruin of the house, Job arose, because when Judæa was lost in unbelief, and when the Preachers were fallen in the death of fear, the Redeemer of mankind raised Himself from the death of His carnal nature; He shewed in what judgment He abandoned His persecutors to themselves. For His rising is the shewing with what severity he forsakes sinners, just as His lying down is the patient endurance of ills inflicted. He rises then, when He executes the decrees of justice against the reprobate. And hence He is rightly described to have rent his mantle. For what stood as the mantle of the Lord, but the Synagogue, which by the preaching of the Prophets clung to the expectation of His Incarnation? For in the same way that He is now clothed with those by whom He is loved, as Paul is witness, who says, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle; (for that which is described as having neither spot or wrinkle; ALLEG. Eph. 5:27. is surely made appear as a spiritual robe; and at once clean in practice, and stretched in hope;) so when Judæa believed Him as yet to be made Incarnate, it was no less a garment through its clinging to Him.

 

 

Job Loses His Health

2.1.  Then again as it so happened another day, the angels of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the devil also came among them to present himself before the Lord.

2.  The Lord said to the devil, “Where did you come from?”  Then the devil said before the Lord, “I came here from walking around under heaven and going about all the earth.”

3.  Then the Lord said to the devil, “Have you considered my servant Job, since there is none like him on earth: an innocent, true, blameless, and God-fearing man, and one who abstains from every evil thing: Moreover he still holds fast to his integrity, though you told me to destroy his possessions without cause.”

4.  Then the devil answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin.  Whatever a man has he will pay in full for his life. 

5. Yet truly, stretch out Your hand and touch his bones and his flesh, and see if he will bless You to Your face.” 

6. So the Lord said to the devil, “Behold, I give him over to you; only spare his life.”

7. Thus the devil went out from the Lord and struck Job with malignant sores from head to foot.

8.  So he took a potsherd to scrape away the discharge and sat on a dunghill outside the city.

9.  When a period of time passed, his wife said to him, “How long will you hold out, saying,

10. ‘Behold, I will wait a little longer, looking for the hope of my salvation’?

11. Listen, your memory is wiped out from the earth; your sons and daughters, the pangs and pains of my womb, which I suffered in vain and with hardships.

12. You yourself are sitting down, spending the nights in the open air among the rottenness of worms;

13. and I go about. As a wanderer and a handmaid from place to place and from house to house waiting for the setting of the sun, so as to rest from my labors and pains that now beset me.

14. But say a word against the Lord and die!”

15.  Then Job looked at her and said, “You have spoken as one of the foolish women speaks.  If we accepted good things from the Lord’s hand, shall we not endure evil things?”  In all these things that happened to him, Job did not sin with his lips against God.

 

Let’s break this down.

St. John Chrysostom.  The angels.  Why does the author describe the angels in the act of presenting themselves daily before the Lord? He does so that we might learn no actual event is overlooked by God’s providence, and that the angels report what happens every day. Every day they are sent to settle some question, even though we ignore all this. That is the reason why they were created; that is their task, as the blessed Paul says, “They are sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” “And the devil,” the text says, “also came among them.” You know why the angels are present. But why is the devil present? The latter is present to tempt Job; the former, in order to regulate our matters. Why is the devil questioned again before the angels themselves? Because he had said before them, “He will curse you to your face.” What a shameless nature! He has dared come back!

St. John Chrysostom.  On the wife.  Notes that a long time passed, and she was not able to handle the temptations.  The devil hopes this will be like Eve. 

Fr. Patrick Reardon. 
Indeed, we do perceive a change in Job at this point. If he does not curse God, Job also does not explicitly bless God as he had done in his first affliction (1:21). Instead, he humbly submits to God’s will (2:10).  In each case, nonetheless, God’s confidence in Job is vindicated. Satan has done his worst to Job, but Job has not succumbed. Like Abraham in Genesis 22, Job has met the trial successfully. Having done his worst, Satan disappears and is never again mentioned in the book. The rest of the story concerns only God and human beings.

St. Gregory the Great.  On temptation.
The old adversary is wont to tempt mankind in two ways; viz. so as either to break the hearts of the steadfast by tribulation, or to melt them by persuasion. Against blessed Job then he strenuously exerted himself in both; for first upon the householder he brought loss of substance; the father he bereaved by the death of his children; the man that was in health he smote with putrid sores. But forasmuch as him, that was outwardly corrupt, he saw still to hold on sound within, and because he grudged him, whom he had stripped naked outwardly, to be inwardly enriched by the setting forth of his Maker’s praise, in his cunning he reflects and considers, that the champion of God is only raised up against him by the very means whereby he is pressed down, and being defeated he betakes himself to subtle appliances of temptations. For he has recourse again to his arts of ancient contrivance, and because he knows by what means Adam is prone to be deceived, he has recourse to Eve. For he saw that blessed Job amidst the repeated loss of his goods, the countless wounds of his strokes, stood unconquered, as it were, in a kind of fortress of virtues.

On the nature of evil.
See the enemy is every where broken, every where overcome, in all his appliances of temptation he has been brought to the ground, in that he has even lost that accustomed consolation which he derived from the woman. Amid these circumstances it is good to contemplate the holy man, without, void of goods, within, filled with God. When Paul viewed in himself the riches of internal wisdom, yet saw himself outwardly a corruptible body, he says, We have this treasure in earthen vessels. 2 Cor. 4:7. You see, the earthen vessel in blessed Job felt those gaping sores without, but this treasure remained entire within. For without he cracked in his wounds, but the treasure of wisdom unfailingly springing up within issued forth in words of holy instruction, saying, If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil? meaning by the good, either the temporal or the eternal gifts of God, and by the evil, denoting the strokes of the present time, of which the Lord saith by the Prophet, I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. Is. 45:6, 7. Not that evil, which does not subsist by its own nature, is created by the Lord, but the Lord shews Himself as creating evil, when He turns into a scourge the things that have been created good for us, upon our doing evil, that the very same things should at the same time both by the pain which they inflict be to transgressors evil, and yet good by the nature whereby they have their being.

On how the Church responds to both kinds of “evil”
Holy men, when fastened upon by the war of afflictions, when at one and the same moment they are exposed to this party dealing them blows and to that urging persuasions, present to the one sort the shield of patience, at the other they launch the darts of instruction, and lift themselves up to either mode of warfare with a wonderful skill in virtue, so that they should at the same time both instruct with wisdom the froward counsels within, and contemn with courage the adverse events without; that by their instructions they may amend the one sort, and by their endurance put down the other. For the assailing foes they contemn by bearing them, and the crippled citizens they recover to a state of soundness, by sympathizing with them. Those they resist, that they may not draw off others also; they alarm themselves for these, lest they should wholly lose the life of righteousness.

And more on this
Holy men, when fastened upon by the war of afflictions, when at one and the same moment they are exposed to this party dealing them blows and to that urging persuasions, present to the one sort the shield of patience, at the other they launch the darts of instruction, and lift themselves up to either mode of warfare with a wonderful skill in virtue, so that they should at the same time both instruct with wisdom the froward counsels within, and contemn with courage the adverse events without; that by their instructions they may amend the one sort, and by their endurance put down the other. For the assailing foes they contemn by bearing them, and the crippled citizens they recover to a state of soundness, by sympathizing with them. Those they resist, that they may not draw off others also; they alarm themselves for these, lest they should wholly lose the life of righteousness.

___

Saint Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, vol. 1 (Oxford; London: John Henry Parker; J. G. F. and J. Rivington, 1844), 83.

Robert Charles Hill.  St. John Chrysostom Commentaries on the Sages, Volume One – Commentary on Job.  Holy Cross Orthodox Press.

Patrick Henry Reardon, The Trial of Job: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Job (Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2005), 22.

Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti, eds., Job, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 4–5.

 

What we will cover next week:

The trial of ideas begins.  Job 2:16-7:14

Direct download: 20240207-Job01_13-02_9.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

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