Job 2:1-13

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The narrative provides no indication when this assembling of the “sons of God” (“angels of God” [LXX]) occurred in relation to their previously having taken their position before YHWH. Again Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) was present. According to the Hebrew text, he also took his stand before YHWH. This phrase, based on the markings of the Christian scholar Origen (who produced his Hexapla in the third century CE), was not found in the Septuagint text available to him. He added the corresponding Greek words of the phrase from the version of Theodotion (a translator of the Hebrew text or a reviser of the Greek text based on the Hebrew text). With the exception of this additional phrase, the wording of the Hebrew text is the same as that found in verse 6 of chapter 1 (which see for comments). (2:1)

The question attributed to YHWH is virtually identical in wording to the one previously directed to Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]), “From where have you come?” Satan’s quoted response is also the same, “From roving about on the earth and walking about on it.” (1:7) The Septuagint rendering is somewhat different but retains the basic significance. “[After] traveling through that [which is] under heaven and walking about everywhere, I am [now] here.” (2:2; see the Notes section for 1:7-10.)

The question YHWH is represented as having directed to Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) is the same one as found in chapter 1, verse 8, “Have you set your heart [focused your inmost attention] upon my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a man “complete” [or a man of integrity] and upright, fearing God [having a wholesome regard for God] and turning away from evil [shunning corrupt practices]?” In the Septuagint, the question is, “Have you then observed my servant Job, that [there] is not [anyone] like him upon the earth, a man [who is] not evil, [who is] true [genuine or honest], blameless, God-fearing, abstaining from all evil?” Although Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) is represented as having instigated God against him to destroy him without cause, Job still held fast to his “completeness” or integrity. According to the Septuagint, Job still held on to or maintained his innocence even though the devil “said to destroy his possessions without cause.” (2:3; also see the comments on 1:8.)

Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) was not satisfied. His contention continued to be that Job served God for selfish reasons. The quoted retort was, “Skin for skin; everything which a man [owns] he will give for his soul.” The words “skin for skin” may be a proverbial saying related to barter, with one item being exchanged for another one of like value. A man’s life is so precious that he would be willing to give everything that he has in order to save his own soul or himself from death. The implication was that Job would be willing to renounce his God if his very soul, his life, or he himself would be seriously afflicted. (2:4)

Challengingly, Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) is quoted as saying to YHWH, “Now put forth your hand and touch his bone and his flesh.” As one who had no trust in Job, Satan claimed that, if Job were subjected to painful affliction, he would “bless” God to his face. In this context, both the Hebrew and the Greek words for “bless” are used euphemistically to denote “curse” or “blaspheme.” (2:5)

YHWH is quoted as saying to Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) regarding Job, “See, he [is] in your hand” or power. The Septuagint reads, “See, I am handing him over to you.” There was, however, a limitation. The adversary had to be on guard that Job’s “soul” or life was preserved. (2:6)

Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) departed from the “face [or presence] of YHWH.” He afflicted Job with a “bad boil” (a collective singular that designates painful sores) from the sole of his feet to his scalp. According to the description in the poetic section, maggots covered Job’s skin. During the nights, the restless sleep gave him no relief from his misery. (2:7; 7:4, 5).

Job would scrape himself with a broken piece of pottery. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that he scraped away pus from his sores. Job sat outside “among the ashes,” apparently at a dump. According to the Septuagint, Job stayed outside the city or town on a garbage pile. (2:8)

At this point in the narrative, the Hebrew text introduces Job’s wife as a temptress. After some time had passed, she asked him, “Are you still holding fast to your completeness” or integrity? The thought appears to be whether Job continued to cleave to God as his devoted servant. After raising the question, Job’s wife is quoted as saying, “Bless God, and die.” As in other verses, the Hebrew word for “bless” here has a euphemistic sense and refers to making a negative expression about God. The Septuagint reading is, “Say some word [against] the Lord, and die.” These words suggest that Job should simply give up all hope for relief and say something blasphemous that would prompt God to slay him in expression of his wrath. (2:9)

Whereas the Hebrew text says nothing about the suffering of Job’s wife, the Septuagint mentions it. After much time had passed, she said to her husband, “How long will you persevere, saying, See, I will wait yet a short time, expecting the hope of my deliverance?” The question implied that there was no point in waiting for any improvement in Job’s wretched condition. She referred to her own misery when speaking to him about his suffering. Remembrance of Job had been “blotted out from the earth,” for the sons and daughters to whom she had given birth were dead and so her labor pains had been in vain. Job sat in the decaying matter of worms and spent the nights outside, and she wandered about as a “hired servant from place to place and from house to house,” waiting for the sun to set so that she might “rest from the hardships and the pains” that had befallen her. The additional words in the Septuagint suggest that the distress had brought Job’s wife to the breaking point, causing her to tell Job to say “some word” against God, “and die.” (2:9a-9e [LXX])

According to the Septuagint rendering, when Job responded, he looked at his wife and then spoke. He did not call his wife a foolish woman but referred to her words about making a negative or blasphemous expression regarding God as something foolish women would say. He acknowledged that they as a couple had received good from God (“good things from the hand of the Lord” [LXX]). So could they not also accept bad from him or, according to the Septuagint, “endure the bad things”? “In all this, Job did not sin with his lips” (“against God” [LXX]). The Septuagint identifies “all this” as applying to all the things that had befallen Job. (2:10)

News about “all this evil” or calamity that had come upon Job reached his three associates or friends — Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They departed from their own “place” or location of residence (their “own country” or “region” [LXX]) and then met to see Job in order to commiserate with him and to comfort him. The Septuagint identifies all three men as kings or rulers and, therefore, Job’s fellow rulers. (2:11)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar may have been descendants of Abraham. In verses 10 and 11 of Genesis chapter 36, Teman is mentioned as a descendant of Esau the twin brother of Jacob. An epilogue in the Septuagint but not in the extant Hebrew text identifies Eliphaz as being from the “sons [descendants] of Esau.” (42:17e, LXX) Bildad may have been a descendant of Abraham by his concubine Keturah who bore Shuah to him. (Genesis 25:1, 2) The Septuagint refers to Zophar as “king of the Minaeans,” an Arab people that may have descended from one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah. (2:11)

The ravages of his affliction had so greatly altered Job’s appearance that his three friends did not recognize him when first looking at him from a distance. His disfigured appearance moved them to raise their voices in lamentation and to weep. Shocked and sorrowful, they tore their garments and tossed dust toward the “heavens” (the sky), thereby covering their heads with dust. The Septuagint does not mention the “heavens” or the sky. It says that the three men “sprinkled themselves with dust.” (2:12)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar seated themselves on the ground with Job. During the seven days and nights that passed, not a one of them spoke even a word. This was because they recognized that Job’s pain was very great. The Septuagint refers to the “plague” or “blow” being “dreadful and very great.” (2:13)