The Book of Job
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Judaism is a religion that is highly focused on a personal connection between God and a human. The Book of Job is an example of how a person’s virtue in Judaism is determined by commitment and unshakable faith. Job’s story of temptation, doubt, devotion and search for answers is a remarkable piece of writing; it bears both religious and philosophical value.
At the beginning of the book Job is a flourishing man who has everything a person needs to be happy: a lot of money and flock, respect in society, a good family. Besides, he is a highly spiritual person who serves God ardently. For this reason God is proud of him; Satan, in turn, is willing to test the man. Satan expresses an idea that the reason for the virtue is his wealth and abundance in all spheres of life, which is actually not his personal merit but God’s present to him. This idea means that it is easy to be good if one has no misfortune. Thus, when trying to tempt Job into denying God and his participation, Satan plays a role of God’s tool. Indeed, this looks reasonable to treat their cooperation in this way; otherwise it is difficult to explain why there is an agreement between God and Satan.
Indeed, the cooperative plan of the good and the evil looks ironic and unbelievable, especially taking into account the fact that Job is very serious about the situation. All his friends make fun of him because of his desire to praise God during a whole succession of misfortunes. When analyzing the story of Job, it is worth considering it in alignment with the overall Judaist doctrine. First of all, it is well known that Judaism as a monotheist religion is different from the rest of religions; the key element in Judaism is the importance of intimate bond between God and his followers. This is why absolute trust is probably the main requirement to a believer, which is more significant than being perfect. One of the major concepts of Judaism is God’s covenant with people who agree to take him as God and accept whatever he decides. This means that there should be no doubts or deviation from one’s worship. A person does not really have to look for God’s motivation but accept whatever befalls him or her.
At the beginning of the story, when there is a paradise period of his life, Job is known for his piety. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” ( Book of Job, 1:1). However, the book implies that without real challenges a human cannot become strong enough to discover the truth. That is why God allows Satan to temp him, as it is important to realize that evil is part of good, its special function. “In Jewish Theology, unlike other religions, Satan has no power of his own. He is not considered to be a power separate from God, i.e. an Evil power fighting God’s Good power but rather he is the Attorney for the prosecution whose only strength is that given to him directly by God” (Reflecting on Judaism). Thus, from this perspective it is clear that the good and the evil are part of God’s plan, while Satan is God’s tool to achieve his goals.
Throughout the book, when Satan starts testing Job by hardships, the character does not reject his connection with God. His family and friends suggest him doing so because they believe that what happens to him is unfair. The man has lost everything he had, though he did not deserve that to happen. The book discusses why the evil occurs: whether it is a kind of punishment for sins, an accident or anything else. For Judaists, it is very important to trust in God as their personal guide, yet they can hardly understand the reasons of his actions. The ironic situation with God and devil tempting Job is quite illustrative of the fact that misfortune is not necessarily a punishment for the wrong deeds. This does not even lie totally in the ethical field, but mostly is part of philosophy. As a result, a conclusion can be made that suffering is needed for personal growth. It helps one mature and show one’s real value. In case there are no challenges and temptations, the victory over them is not as valuable. Facing sorrows awakens a person and transforms their spirit, that is why it can be eventually positive to a person who is tested. Freedom of choice is finally acquired by the character, so a conscious choice to serve God is more valuable than a forced one. When answering the question why God sends challenging tasks to Job, it is worth saying that at the beginning of the book he is unsure about the nature of God. Hence, God sends misfortunate for Job to find out and uncover his potential.
The Book of Job also deals with the concept of knowledge and its limitations for humans. From the story of Adam and Eve and their exile from Eden, it is evident that knowledge is a controversial notion in Judaism. In fact, Job’s story demonstrates that it is necessary to find a middle path between blind faith and ardent desire to know more. Researchers point out the aspects of faith that are represented in the book. In contrast to secular feeling of injustice because of undeserved suffering, none of the virtuous characters in the book draws a conclusion that this means absence of God. “The possibility that the reason why some pious men live miserable and painful lives, whilst others who are patently wicked, enjoy happy and pleasant lives, is that there are no gods or powers above us, is not even considered to them” (Pfeffer 39). Job’s faith is tested rather severely by God, and it is not clear exactly why it happens this way. One of the book’s messages is as follows – the motivation of providence is not for humans to judge. Job faces horrible miseries, including death of his children, and to keep one’s faith and gratitude to God is hard even for pious people in such a situation. It is remarkable that, while belonging to Judaist set of holy books, Job’s story describes communication between people and God that is beyond any official religion. They do not have a church and rituals, no mediators between God and a person. This type of direct communication between Yahweh and his people is one of Judaist main concepts, presenting an opportunity to establish a personal relationship with God.
To conclude, it is worth saying that The Book of Job gives an unusual perspective of Judaism and God’s presence. It describes a typical concept of temptation for the sake of truth and development, which is not related with the idea of punishment and sin. The book demonstrates how misfortune makes a person more conscious about his mission and his special relation with God. At the same time, the book suggests that a human is unable to see the whole of God’s plan, this is why any change should be accepted positively with trust in God.
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