Job 1:1-2:10

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Home > The Old Testament > Job > Chapters 1-2a / Verses 1:1-2:10
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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Job. The relationship of Chapters 1-2a to Job as a whole is discussed at Job.

Story.

Message.

Discussion[edit]

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  • Job 1:1-3Job's greatness. Job is described as "perfect and upright," God-fearing (v. 1), with a big family (v. 2) and wealthy (v. 3). The ensuing events suggest that this seemingly successful position is not sufficient. In Gen 22, Abraham was also seemingly righteous and well-off, but was forced to develop a deeper (or show his already-existing deep) faith. The account in Luke 18:18-22 also seems to portray a good person who keeps the commandments, but who can and should do more. (See also the discussion about becoming undone on and around Isa 6:5.)
  • Job 1:6-12: A bet? This passage seems troubling if it seems to suggest that God is allowing Job to be tried in order to win a bet, or, that God doubts himself and needs to test Job in order to restore his pride in the fact that others love him for nobler reasons than simply because God blesses them with prosperity. However, there are better ways to read this passage as shown below.
  • Job 1:6: Satan. Hebrew uses a definite article to describe Satan as "the Satan," where Satan means "accuser." It seems unwarranted to assume that Satan, the accuser, here is the same person as, say, Lucifer in D&C 76:26. Satan approaches the Lord in a council setting where deliberation occurs. The setting suggests that the ensuing scene should be taken as an elaboration on such deliberation. That is, it seems that the Book of Job is being introduced as an overtly theological text.
  • Job 1:7. The Lord is the first to speak asking Satan where he has come from. Satan's response is brief and rather vague. This might be taken as Satan having been up to no good; or perhaps Satan has simply been "doing his job," looking for opportunities to accuse others (for more on this view, see Janzen, referenced below, p. 39).
  • Job 1:8. After Satan mentions that he's been roaming the earth, the LORD asks if Satan has considered Job who is "a perfect and an upright man." Although this might be taken as the LORD bragging, there does not seem to be anything that explicitly warrants this idea. In fact, since the Lord is the initiator of this conversation, it seems that if there is any leading or "baiting" going on in this discussion, the Lord is intentionally bringing Satan into this discussion rather than vice versa. But why would the Lord initiate such discussion? This may be a literary device that is employed in order to, again, cast the story of Job in a theological light (e.g. why does God allow suffering, and what does it mean to love God "disinterestedly," that is, for nobler reasons than simply because God blesses us with prosperity?). Or, perhaps the Lord is effectively chastising Satan for not doing his Job carefully enough—that is, the LORD may be indeed wanting to establish the claim that Job is "a perfect and an upright man" and is leading Satan toward the somewhat inevitable accusation that Job has not been sufficiently tried.
  • Job 1:9. The question of motivation-for-worship is explicitly introduced here: "Doth Job fear God for nought?" (cf. Gen 29:15; Isa 52:3). Although the Book of Job is often taken as a theological treatise on the problem of evil, the explicit theme introduced here is a question of why one (Job) fears God. Presumably, Job would be a praiseworthy individual if (and only if) he feared God "for nought." If Job (perhaps, like Adam, typological of all humankind) is to withstand accusations, it seems he must be able, in some sense, to prove (cf. Abr 3:25; see also Gen 22:1 where the somewhat awkward word "tempt" is used in the KJV, instead of the more common translation "tested") that his fear of the LORD is not simply a result of the blessings Job has received, such as those articulated in verse 10.
The question of fearing God "for nought" can be thought about in several ways. One way to think of this is in a very strict sense: any reason to fear God to fear God would violate the implicit "for nought" requirement suggested here. This, however, may be a reading that takes the text too strictly and/or systematically. For another kind of reading, we might think more carefully about different ways an individual can fear God. Janzen (see reference below) discusses this in terms of Bernard of Clairvaux's stages of human growth. According to Bernard, a 12th century monk, one begins first by loving oneself for one's own sake, then progresses to loving God for one's own sake, and then finally loving God for God's own sake. This 3rd stage of development, loving God for God's own sake, is considered more noble because it is considered less selfish. That is, if we love God only because he blesses us, then this is a rather shallow notion of love.
This way of thinking about different motivations for loving someone casts the theological question of Job in a way that parallels many themes in other scripture, esp. the way love, grace, and hypocrisy are talked about in the New Testament. For example, Jesus teaches that one should love not just one's friends, but one's enemies also (Matt 5:43-47)—loving one's enemies is, presumably, a more noble, pure, and "disinterested" kind of love ("disinterested" in the sense of not having an ulterior motive or interest) because there does not seem to be a selfish reason for loving one's enemies. To love our friends is no great accomplishment (so do the publicans, Jesus says) since friends typically do nice things for us, and they have traits that make them easy to love. In contrast, our enemies typically try to harm us and have traits that make it, for whatever reason, difficult to love them. So, loving one's enemies is a more noble kind of love than loving one's friends because it is more obviously unselfish.
This does not mean, however, that we should think about God as Job's enemy. Although God will allow Job to be afflicted, God's primary interest seems to be to defend Job from the accusation of fearing God merely out of selfish interests. The main question being posed, then, is not about God's love of Job; rather, it is about Job's love of God. Again, for Job's piety to be properly proven (at least to Satan, but perhaps also to God, and/or the divine council, and/or to Job himself), it seems Job's prosperity must be taken away.
  • Job 1:10: Hedge. For the LDS reader, the question of a hedge here may recall the discussion of "opposition" in 2 Ne 2. If the purpose of life is to be tested or proved such that each person can choose between liberty and eternal life or everlasting death (cf. 2 Ne 2:27 and 2 Ne 10:23), then Satan's accusation here seems to be that Job has not really been tested, since his choosing of God so far has perhaps been motivated by the prosperity which God has blessed him with. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden, God promises that life will be hard for Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 2:17-19; note also the "good and evil in Moses 5:11). In this sense, there seems to be a similar theological current at work between evil and hardship in the Book of Job and the creation story. Compare the protection and safety of Israel in Ps 80:12; Isa 5:1-7; 2 Sam 7:1, 10. Also, in a more cosmological framework, see Gen 1:6-9; Ps 104:5-9; Ps 148:6; Job 38:8-11.
  • Job 1:10: Blessed his work. Compare Alma 30:17 where Korihor teaches "that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength." The issue here is similar in that it seems to be questioning the link between prosperity and a cause for that prosperity. However, whereas Korihor seems to teach that prosperity is caused by an individual's genius or strength, the question here in Job seems to be more about God himself being the cause of Job's prosperity (and, hence, Job's piety).
  • Job 1:11. Satan's accusation is made most explicitly here: if God will take away ("touch" or strike) that which Job has, then Satan claims Job will curse God. This challenge calls Job's faithfulness into question. God's claim was that Job is faithful. Satan effectively challenges this claim because "true" faithfulness has not been established, since Job may just fear God as a result of his prosperity. The only way to tell for sure whether Job is truly faithful—that is, the only way to truly test Job—is to make Job undergo trials and afflictions. If Job turns his back on God when his prosperity is taken away then, presumably, God's claim of Job's faithfulness would be proven false. Satan's accusation—again, something that comes about only after God initiates the conversation with Satan (vv. 7-8)—reveals that the LORD's claim of Job's faithfulness has not been proven (perhaps, if God is taken to know Job's heart sufficiently or if God has foreknowledge, then God already knows that Job is sufficiently faithful that he will prove faithful, thus "justifying" God's claim in 8; however, Job's faithfulness has not been proven in the sense that those who do not know Job's heart or future actions in light of trials and afflictions—something that, in all likelihood, Job himself does not know).
  • Job 1:12. The LORD agrees, rather quickly it seems, to allow Satan to afflict Job, with the stipulation of not striking Job himself. One theological point that might be taken from this is that the LORD allows Satan to afflict Job (or humanity more generally): it is not that the LORD does not have the power to stop these Satan-inflicted afflictions; rather, the preceding discussion seems to establish reasons for God allowing suffering in the world (or at least in Job's world), reasons that seem to motivated in terms of proving that Job is righteous or, more specifically, that Job does not worship God "for nought" (v. 9). The description of Satan leaving the LORD's presence might be taken as a theologically emphasizing that Satan is the cause of suffering in the world more generally (not just in the case of Job), but this suffering is allowed by God for the purpose of establishing the righteousness of those that fear God. However, since Job himself never dies, it might be noted that the Book of Job does not seem to address the question of why innocent people are allowed to die (and, of course, there are several other philosophical questions related to the problem of evil that the Book of Job does not seem aimed at addressing, at least explicitly).

Points to ponder[edit]

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Resources[edit]

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  • Janzen, J. Gerald. Job (1985, Westminster John Knox Press), part of the "Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching" series, ISBN-10: 0804231141, ISBN-13: 978-0804231145.
  • "Disinterested" love of God. See this blog post (and those linked to therein) by BrianJ and this blog post by Jim F. regarding selfish motives for loving God.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.




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