If this is your first time reading this post, please read past, “30 Minutes for Mommy”, posts to better understand why I am doing this study and why I hope that you will join me. You can find past posts in the side bar under, “30 Minutes for Mommy”, and, “Bible Women”.
This week we are studying Job’s wife. Her name isn’t even given in scripture. There are so few scriptures concerning her that to know her we must know her husband first. I suggest that we study Job’s life in three sections over three days; before his affliction, during his affliction, and after his affliction. On the fourth day we can bring it all together and paint a better picture of who his wife was.
We Meet Job (Gen.1:1-5)
Job was a great man in his time, the most wealthy, infact. He had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 she asses, and a very great house. He was blessed with 10 children, three daughters and seven sons. It is said that he was perfect and upright, fearing God and turning from evil. His children appear to have been very close. We read that each one held a feast ‘in his day’, which is referring to his birthday. They invited their sisters which implies that it was a family gathering, not a ruckus party. It isn’t clear if Job and his wife attended these parties, but we do know that Job had knowledge of when the feasts occurred and when they ended because he offered sacrifices following each event.
We are told that he sent and sanctified them and made an offering on each ones behalf because maybe they did too much eating or drinking or got carried away in some manner and may have sinned against God. Reading over this scripture several times reveals the one flaw that Job may have had. His worry for his children. There is no firm proof that his children renounced God, he doesn’t even question them about his concern. He is just worried that they did and as any overprotective father, he worries and frets and does what he has to do to ease his concern. It is said that he did this sacrificing continually. I cannot find how long a sacrifice took, but anything multiplied by 10 is a rather long time, so to do this thing continually would show that he had a great deal of fear that was probably unfounded.
When the Bible refers to Job as being ‘perfect’, it isn’t in the same way as Christ was ‘perfect’. The Hebrew word for perfect is tam or tamim which means complete, mature, or healthy. Replacing these words to describe Job makes more sense and allows for him to have a flaw, such as extreme worry. Satan will later use this as a foothold in the affliction that he executes on Job, which we will discuss tomorrow.
The Plight of Job
Beginning in Job 1:13 and ending in Job 2:8, we can read all that happens to Job, in short his many herds of animals are either stolen or consumed with fire, his children are killed by a great wind during one of their parties, and his own flesh breaks out in painful boils.
In Job 2:9 we find the only recorded words by Job’s wife, “Renounce God and die!” How terrible a thing to be remembered for! Maybe she thought he had done something evil and wanted him gone like everything else. Maybe she didn’t understand why God would allow such trouble to befall her husband and wished him to be out of his misery. Maybe she was in despair over all the tragedy and simply spoke foolishly, as is stated in Jobs harsh reply to her, (Job 2:10). In any case, she spoke selfishly and did not have the interests of her husband at hand.
In chapter 3, Job goes into great detail on how badly he wishes he could simply die, or better yet, never be born. He curses his day, wonders why he did not ‘give up the ghost’ during birth, and takes delight in the day when he can find his grave. He is in a true state of despair. He feels nothing but pain and sorrow, if even those feelings still linger. He is in a deep, dark pit that no one will be able to bring him out of and the selfish, unreassuring words of his wife only make his place worse.
The bulk of the book, chapters 4-31, are discourses between Job and his friends. Their message to him has the same theme; you have sinned, admit it and get this punishment over with! There is not much support for Job here, either. His wife pleads with him to die and now his friends accuse him of some kind of wickedness that requires repenting. Job maintains his integrity in all of this and continues to bless the name of God, declaring that his Redeemer Lives, and is certain he will see God and God will know him.
Tomorrow, we will talk more about Elihu and the reward Job received.
Preparing to See God
Elihu is different from any of the other characters in this story. He is younger than the rest, very arrogant, and very different in his approach to the situation. His attitude is that God does not punish because you have done something wrong, but we as humans suffer as a means of being kept humble, or to keep us from sin. He comes down harshly on Job for justifying himself rather than God. Elihu reprimands the three friends for not answering Job and keeping their mouths shut. He boldly states that he will now answer Job and will not hold anything back nor stroke any egos. In Job 33:8-11 Elihu directly quotes things that Job has said and directly answers these questions. Elihu states in Job 34:12 that God does not do wicked things nor is He unjust. Job has not spoken against God or cursed Him, but he has questioned his punishment many times over and maintained his integrity, implying that God is being unfair in some way. The reason Job was able to argue this point with his friends was because they were not speaking truth and he knew it. Elihu invites Job to speak , but he can not find words to answer this man because Elihu’s words speak truth.
At this point, I think Job is finally beginning to understand and feel comfort. The truth Elihu spoke may have stung a little, but that’s the way truth works. When a person is truly seeking to do right and they are in despair, the stinging truth can bring comfort because the person now knows and understands what must change in order for them to be better.
I believe that Elihu’s purpose was to get Job ready to see and to hear God. Elihu very beautifully describes the wonders of God in most of chapter 37, and God repeats much of this when He finally speaks to Job in chapters 38-42. God also says this in Job 40:8;
Wilt thou even annul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be justified?
That sounds much like Elihu’s respons to Job in 32:2
…against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
And finally, in 42:7 God lets the three friends know that He is angry with them and that they are to offer a certain sacrifice, but nothing more is said of Elihu.
In the end (Job 42:5-6), Job admits to have heard with his ear, but now he sees with his eyes and repents. God accepts him and blesses him twice that which he had before. Even his daughters are now more blessed because they are the most beautiful in the land. And in all of this, Job’s wife must have felt blessed as well because she bore ten new children for her husband. Often times we must be humbled before we can receive the blessings God has in store for us.
Tomorrow I will tie all this together and hopefully bring some understanding as to why we had to put so much study into all these men in order to learn a lesson from Job’s wife.