Why did God hate Job?

For the past week or so I have been reading deeply into Job. For the benefit of those who don’t know, I have been reading the Christian Bible itself, in various translations, and commentaries .. over 300 pages worth .. on the subject of the Book of Job. Oh, I know, in the scheme of things, its not a lot of pages, but it was enough to confirm that when I had read this book before, I hadn’t actually read the words incorrectly, nor I had jumped to any conclusions about either Job, nor God’s, behaviour.

To lay down the usual guidelines, for those new to my site, I am not a fundamentalist Christian, but having spent years arguing with them about their concept of the Bible being the literal truth, without errors, additions or contradictions, I gave into the voice in my heart that said I had to start asking questions. And I still am. I have questions .. and in this case, I have comments as well.

Job is one of the reasons why people turn away from God. I have NO idea how this book got into the Bible, although, I suppose, it could be for the very good explanations of what God ‘is’. On one hand he’s supposed to be wonderful, protective, loving .. and on the other we see Satan and He have a dispassionate discussion on what a good man Job is, and how much he deserves to be punished for it? Umm… Yes, God gave Satan permission to punish Job in any way it wanted, except to kill the man. If God is the God of Love, you would have thought he’d have applied that same protection to Job’s ten children, and an unnumbered group of ‘servants’, all who were murdered in the name of ‘testing’ Job’s faith. What the heck did it have to do with all those innocent people? And why, from one brief appearance, is Job’s wife seen as appalling, when she would have been devastated as well, by the loss of her children, if nothing else .. or should we believe that she had about as much ‘love’ for them, as God did?

I went into the Book looking for the reason that God treated Job the way he did. I read diligently and carefully, right to the last page, looking for one word of explanation, or one ‘it was a test’, or ‘it was a mistake’ or even ‘sorry’, from God to Job .. and what did I see instead .. God’s pomposity – blustering comments like ‘will you condemn me that you may be justified’ (as Job was perfectly entitled to do), said in a way that showed God thought Job had no right?

How about ‘have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his’? Hang on a minute, who is actually speaking there? This is not God, to talk about himself in such a disassociated way. Interesting. And then there’s what he actually said .. what the heck does having an arm, or a big voice, have to do with anything that happened to Job? I don’t remember reading anything about Job trying to outshout God? And what the heck has God’s ability to ‘draw out Leviathan with a fishhook’ have to do with God’s mistake in giving Job and his family over to Satan. Satan (the word meaning adversary) was God’s enemy, so why did God feel any need to hand over one of his ‘blameless and upright’ followers into its hands? And while we are on the subject of questions, who was Job anyway? He was not an Israelite, coming, as it states, from the Land of Uz. So what is a non-Israelite story doing in the Jewish Bible, and then the Christian one?

And this straight off the top of my head, before I even look at the pages of notes I took during the reading … Let’s go over to the notes.

It appears that Job was written in three parts over two or three hundred years between the 7th and 4th centuries, although the story itself comes from a much later time (NOAB 2010 p726). It is divided into Chapters 1-2 & 42:7-17, 3:1-31:37 and 38:1-42:6). Elihu (Chapter 32-37) is said to be a much later addition, as a commentary from someone who didn’t like what Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite (also not Israelites) had to say. (Hmm.. no additions – but then we don’t know when it happened.) My commentary explained that there was a striking similarity of ‘form and content’ between Job and the text known as the Babylonian Theodicy (C1000BCE). Perhaps that’s where the Jewish folk got the story from to start with, and then adapted it, without thinking it through very well?

Thoughts like this sprang to my mind – Job’s kids were killed by a loving and trusting God because Job trusted God too much. He ‘knew’ that God might turn on him (2:10), but he continued to be a devout and pious follower, and took time to make sacrifices for his children, for their protection ‘just in case’ they might break one of God’s commandments. Definitely the sort of person God should ‘test’, just in case all that piousness and good nature was a huge facade?

And then there were his kids. Job obviously ‘owned’ them but not his wife, since everything Job owned was either stolen or murdered. I am sure his wife was very relieved that God spared her. I wonder if she really hated God, or if she was being tested too, not just by losing her children, but by the obvious ‘insanity’ of her husband, as he sat in the ‘ashes’ of his life and continued to Love God. She was one very strong lady not to have cracked sooner.

The acts of Satan in God’s name:
Murder seven sons and three daughters – creations of God.
Murder an unnumbered group of servants of Job as well as a huge number of various sorts of stock – all creations of God.
Destroy buildings
Incite various tribes that were not Israelites to do the deeds
Interfere in the natural weather patterns to cause the damage
Then strike Job with loathsome sores after requesting permission from God a second time.

Why didn’t Satan get punished for the first misdeeds when in chapter 2 God decided to blame It for inciting Him to ‘ruin Job without reason’? No, God went on to let him do it again, with the sores. I have to wonder why God decided to allow this ‘test’ in the first place? I guess he didn’t appreciate getting caught? Job had identified Him as the assailant without knowing it to be true in 6:4, but it wasn’t divine anger that had caused Job such harm. No, instead it seems to be simply God’s indifference to the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of one of his true believers. That was bad enough to start with, but .. why allow Satan to continue to torment Job after Job remained steadfast in his faith? What sort of monster is God, and why did he hate Job so much? I can’t find an answer to that question. It seems God didn’t hate Job at all. He was just ‘testing’. And if he will ‘test’ one truly faithful person in this way, the rest of us had better be very, very careful .. but .. back to the book.

By not cursing God (Job 2:9), for inflicting this unjustified punishment upon him, Job showed he had true integrity. His wife thought he should curse God and just die. Why does that make her a villain? I think it makes her human. She didn’t understand what Job had done to deserve such punishment, and she thought he should follow societal norms and react – but we know he had not done anything .. so who is the villain .. no, not Satan. Satan acted for God. Satan could have refused to, but why should he, he is humanity’s enemy too. God should never have allowed this ‘test’ to happen in the first place. In my opinion God proved itself unworthy of Job’s love and trust in doing do. Job stands in his integrity, for me, no matter how angry he gets later. It was justified.

And then we have the irony of calling to God for help in 5:8-21.

There is obviously going to be a part 2 to this blog .. so more soon,

Love & Peace
Ama

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11 thoughts on “Why did God hate Job?

  1. Heather Benson says:

    I knew I was missing out by being away so long. 🙂 So I have a question for you: what do you make of Job’s final speech in chapter 42? In particular, how do you read his comment about hearing but then seeing and finally abhoring himself and repenting? How does it fit with the story–or does it? And what does it say about Job?

    • Ama Nazra says:

      Hello Heather,

      I had a good break too. I can’t do the silly season, with all its ‘ho ho ho merry commericalism’, but my partner loves it, so we had a very nice Christmas Day with family. Must get back here and start writing again, since I am not actually finished with the ‘Job’ theme yet, but its nibbling quietly along in my mind. Will answer soon,

      Love & Peace
      Ama

    • Ama Nazra says:

      Hello Heather,

      My first questionw ould have to be ‘Who wrote Job’s reply’? We are talking about a story that was written in three parts over 200+ years, around 700-500 BCE .. so asking what Job meant in his speech .. we don’t even know if he wrote it, or who wrote it, or why they wrote it, and given that he came from Uz, and was not an Isralelite, we can’t even guarantee if the story was about the God of the Israelites, or the god of Uz .. a story that someone then borrowed and adapted .. that’s if you don’t take the story literally, which I don’t.

      If I did .. I have more questions. His repetence is to say that he didn’t understand the ‘wonderous’ things God was doing for him (42:3), and so he’s choosing to repent in dust and ashes, anyway”. I don’t understand the wonderous things either, I certainly don’t see any. Since no purpose of God can be thwarted (42:2), in my opinion Job was trying to protect himself from more of God’s wrath. Think what he went through, think of the emotional and physical torture of losing your children and all those illnesses .. Job, unless he was a miracle unto himself, was a wreck. You don’t bounce back from that very easily unless you are insane .. or blocking it all out, which is insanity in itself. Job said to God ‘Hear (me), and I will speak, I will question you and you declare to me,” in other words he’ll believe everything God tells him, regardless of whether it is true or not. Satan has broken Job with God’s permission, and in being broken, if we believe what is written here, Job finally actually ‘sees’ God. What does he see? A monster, thoughtless, uncaring, unkind .. and terrifying. Of course Job gives in and decides to despise himself, because God has proved that ‘he’ despises Job. Where does the repenting get him? He gets give gifts, new children, more cattle .. new wife? The old one seems to have turned her back on God? Isn’t that the way the devil wins people, by giving them everything they want before destroying them?

      As I said in my answer on your site, what does this teach us about God?

      Love & Peace
      Ama

      • Heather Benson says:

        Then my first question is, does this mean you’re back? : ) Beyond that though, I’m not too concerned about who wrote it. I’m not saying authorship isn’t interesting. It is, but I’m happy to leave it to you. To my mind, “Who wrote it?” is a different question from “What does it mean?” which is different again from “Is it true?” : )
        I keep coming back to your question in your original post, in your reply on my site, and in your reply above: what does this mean about God and our relationship to him?
        The first thing that comes to my mind is that God’s love and our circumstances are two different things. I think you would agree with that based on evidence outside the book of Job, I mean just in life, right?

        So maybe a follow-up question has to do with the nature of God’s love. Does God’s love have anything to do with protecting us, saving us from harm? My guess is that it doesn’t, and here I wouldn’t turn to Job but that other unfortunate soul, Jesus: totally loved, totally given over to destruction.

        I think you’re right to ask what God’s testing of Job means for us, and I think you’re right to characterize it as something scary. It’s worth considering what it means to serve this particular God. God never says “follow me and skip off into the sunset.” The image he uses is one of death: “take up your cross and follow me.” That’s not pretty, and it’s not comforting, but it is consistent with what goes on in Job and the rest of the book.

      • Ama Nazra says:

        Hello Heather,

        Yes, I’m back. Thank you for being my trigger to write again. 🙂 And the fabulous questions here.

        My main questions are more ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ .. why was it written? What were the motives of the writer? Why was it included in the Christian bible when it was, so obviously, not Israelite based? ‘Is it true becomes vital!’ How do we measure God by what God allowed to happen to Job? What does that mean for humanity, and more personally, me, as a non-traditional Christian? And more .. why doesn’t God act this way now? What changed?

        I think our relationship, our personal relationship, not through the church, not through other people, but us with God, is our soul song. We all have a calling to God (whether we ignore it or not), in so many different ways .. some through the Bible and the church, and others through paths the Church wouldn’t approve of :-), but if its true there is only one God, then all paths lead to God, so does the path really matter or is the outcome, returning to God, most important? And how do we return to God, can we find that answer in Job? Blind faith? Faith ‘anyway’ regardless of what God does to us? Is that the choice of a healthy mind – which leads into my next blog, “Job & God, slave & master”. Why did Job continue to be faithful to God, to the point of giving up his free choice?

        And then there is free will, which is a whole topic all by itself. And is the answers to your questions “is God’s love and our circumstances two different things” and “does God’s love have anything to do with protecting us, or saving us”. Your guess is right. It doesn’t. God gave us free will. The church says ‘free will to choose to love God’ and then none. I don’t see that myself in daily life, given I can choose the majority of what happens in my life, but if people want to think that God is demanding they have toast instead of cereal for breakfast, that’s up to them.

        I don’t see Jesus as unfortunate. He proved, if you believe the Gospels, that he knew what was coming, his crucificion anyway. If he knew that and went willingly, which he did, he must have known why God needed him to go through, even if he didn’t know what the actual process was going to be? I can’t compare his experience and Job’s because Jesus had knowledge, Job had none, Jesus knew he was working for the greater good, where was the greater good in what happened to Job? Jesus gave us a version of God that doesn’t match with Job’s experiences of God. Who was wrong? Jesus is supposed to be the source of salvation, and our knowledge of God, where does it say this about Job. Who do we believe?

        I love the mental image of following God off into the sunset, skipping. I used to do that as a kid. 🙂 God doesn’t use the cross as a symbol, we do. God didn’t write the bible, people did. We place the meaning and value on symbols. God doesn’t. We have to stop saying God wrote the bible, to be able to step back and see the hand of man in it. If God really did inspire people to write the bible, or write it himself somehow, which we know he didn’t, then why are there so many contradictions and confusing bits .. like Judas dying twice, once from hanging himself and then hopping down (presumably dead) from the tree and falling over in a field and disembowling himself?

        No, the bible is not comforting, unless you take it a verse at a time, which a lot of Christians do. As a whole it gives us all a lot to think about.

        Love & Peace
        Ama

      • Heather Benson says:

        Your thought “but if people want to think that God is demanding they have toast instead of cereal for breakfast, that’s up to them” got a chortle out of me. The rest I will chew on, but that was downright funny. : )

      • Ama Nazra says:

        Thank you. I’m glad I made you laugh. 🙂 I find it odd that people do not understand the immensity of the gift of free will. Nor do they do not grasp the burden of responsibility that comes with being able to create our own lives. God has given us such a gift, and we give it away all the time. Blaming God when something goes wrong, when God has not shown any credible signs of stepping into anyone’s life and intervening, since before Jesus came .. is not fair to God. He no longer says ‘my way or I’ll torment you’. He says ‘come, the door is open’ .. we can choose to step through, or not. It’s up to us.

        Love & Peace
        Ama

  2. kpblueart says:

    I really feel that it is a case of God chooses not to love. Why, besides his contest with satan is another question. What I look at is that he allowed his whole family to be destroyed but he gave him new ones. I guess it was just alright. Everything is dispensible. If he did the same thing over and over for thousands of years always replacing them with others, it would be just alright. He gave him some more. He can easily forget those others. After all, what were they compared to God in Jobs mind. My object is not to be blasphemous, but this is what goes through my mind. So I have finally said.

    • Ama Nazra says:

      Hello KPBlueArt

      Thank you for the comment. You wrote “He (Job) can easily forget those others”. Tell me, are you married, do you have children? If my husband and children died I would be devastated. I might recover and marry again, too old to have more children, but I would never forget them. You can’t replace one person with another. They are not clones of each other. Every person is an individual, and unique. Perhaps I am the odd one, but I cannot see that it is All right to destroy a living person ‘just because’ .. you see, God was not angry. He and the ‘devil’ were just having a chat, and decided to test one man by destroying his entire family .. not just one or two, by accident, but by deliberate choice. This is definitely not the action of the loving God that Jesus taught us about .. wouldn’t surprise me as an action from Jehovah, but then I don’t believe that Jehovah is ‘God’, or a god, of any sort. And while I cannot read Job’s mind from that story .. I can get a sense of the huge struggle in his mind, and his confusion and fear .. and in my personal opinion, he had a nervous breakdown trying to ‘accept’ that God would treat him like this. That would be the only way he might have coped.

      But the story is not about the Hebrew God, because it comes from a mythology long before written history, from Ur, which was not an Israelite city.

      Job wrote, in 42:6 “therefore I despise myself” .. so the devil succeeded in destroying a good man. My question is still .. if Jesus God said ‘love one another as I have loved you’ .. is Job why humanity is now at war with humanity? Is this God dicing with the devil again, with the faith and fate of humanity the prize again? The way things are now, and headings, the devil wins again.

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