Thursday, June 15, 2006

Slowly She Creeps Along

Yesterday I finally cracked open the spine of my Bible again and started reading. I picked up with Job and read for 45 minutes--how much time I could spare. I figured something, finally, was better than nothing.

The book of Job always baffles me. Why does God point Job out to The Accuser? (I prefer to translate it that way, rather than the baggage-laden Satan.) God seems almost naive in doing this. What did he expect The Accuser to do? And when God goes for The Accuser deal, he ends up seeming rather whimsical. But these are my perennial questions about Job, nothing new about them for me.

What I did notice for the first time yesterday was Job's wife. Now, I haven't read the whole book now for awhile, so I can't recall if she ever shows up again in the story other than near the very beginning when she says, "Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die." And Job replies, "You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" (2:9 & 10)

Astoundingly, the footnote in my New Oxford Annotated Bible points out regarding verse 9 the following: Curse, literally 'bless,' a euphemism. Job's wife still believed in his integrity (see 4.6 n.) but wishes to shorten his torture.

Wow. I don't know about you, but the only thing I've ever heard about Job's wife is that she tells Job to curse God and die. And she's gotten an awful lot of bad press over those few words she was given to speak. But now I see that she didn't actually say that? My question is, how do translators know that this particular passage is sarcasm? Are you aware of anywhere else in the Bible where such a justification is used? I mean, what if Job's wife truly meant, "Bless God, and die"?

Along with this thought, it occurred to me for the first time that everything Job lost, his wife lost, too. And yet we never hear about it this way. Was it not her children who were killed? Was it not her home that was lost? Was it not also her fortune that disappeared? And was she not having to watch her husband be tortured and waste away before her very eyes? But we hear nothing of her faith, we don't even hear her cry or suffer along with Job. Surely she suffered!

I know these questions are "outside the text." The story is not concerned with Job's wife, but with Job. Even so, I would love to hear the story told again from her perspective.

1 comment:

see-through faith said...

what an interesting thought. Job's story as told by his wife. mmmm. And yet we do read the story from the third person narrative - we see what happens to Job, and the love and concern of his friends. Much of what they say and advise reminds me of Christians ... all too often we blame a friend for the circumstances - unconfessed sin / unforgiveness, wrong attitude ... but this story shows us that the enemy CAN wreck havoc on our lives - and even then we are to praise and bless God

A hard book -but I'm glad it's in the Bible. It explains something of how to persevere when times are awful. It teaches me that it's ok to be angry and even shout at God. And in that sense goes hand in hand with the psalms of lament.