Job E2: Where on Earth Is Uz?

This is part two of our three part conversation on Job. If God is just, does that mean that the universe ought to always be run by the principle of strict just compensation? The book of Job is a perfect thought experiment to explore this question. Job has done nothing to deserve the suffering that is inflicted on him, and God acknowledges there was no reason. But even though Job doesn’t deserve it, he is still human, and he reacts to the suffering in a myriad of ways. Sometimes trusting and praising God, sometimes accusing God of being cruel and untrustworthy.

Episode 7
Aug 29, 2016
Play Episode
Show Notes

In this episode, Tim and Jon continue their discussion on Job. How exactly does Job fit in with the other wisdom books of the Bible? It’s kind of a weird book. Job takes place in Uz, a non-Israelite town, and it features non-Israelite people. It seems out of place, but it’s also a book that other biblical authors refer to throughout Scripture. We have to wonder about the differences between Job and the other books of the Bible. Is Job a literal account, or is it a wisdom parable that is intentionally fiction? In the first part of the episode (02:14-09:42), the guys talk about the first two chapters of Job. In this section, God’s justice is questioned, but the story is not trying to teach about the origins of human suffering. The guys try to get at what this first part may be trying to teach us.

In the second part of the episode (09:57-22:50), Tim and Jon talk about the heavenly scene in Job and discuss why the author chose to include it. The point of the heavenly scene isn’t to tell us how God makes decisions. It asks the question of whether or not it is a good policy for God to always reward the righteous.

In the next part of the episode (23:09-26:57), the guys break down the structure of the book, specifically chapters three through twenty-seven. These chapters are the poetic core of the book called “the cycles.”

In the final part of this episode (27:12-41:30), the guys spend some time discussing Job’s friends. His friends are working within a human framework that says that God rewards the righteous and brings wrath upon sinners, yet Job continues to defend his innocence throughout the book. What is really going on here?

Video: This episode is designed to accompany our video on the book of Job. You can view it on our youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswSg2ohqmA

Scripture References: Job, Ezekiel 14, Numbers 22

Show Music: Defender Instrumental by Rosasharn Music; Blue Skies by Unwritten Stories; Flooded Meadows by Unwritten Stories

Scripture References
Job 3
Job 4:7-9
Isaiah 6:8
Isaiah 14
James 5:11
Job 1:6-2:7
1 Kings 22:19-23
Zechariah 1:7-17
Job 1:6
1 Kings 11:14-40
Numbers 22:32
Job 1:8-12
Job 1:20-22
Job 2:3-10
Job 8:4-6
Job 16:16-18
Job 27:1-6
Job 9:21-24
Job 23:1-5
Job 31:35-37
Ezekiel 28

Podcast Date: August 29, 2016


Speakers in the audio file:

Jon Collins

Tim Mackie

Jon: This is the second of a three-part conversation on the book of Job between myself,

Jon Collins and Tim Mackie. We are co-founders of The Bible Project, and we're

putting together a short animation on the book of Job. And this is our conversation

leading up to that script.

If you haven't listened to part one, it'd be helpful to do that. In part one, we talked

about the main question that the book of Job is trying to answer.

Tim: Question in the book of Job is, if God is just, does that mean that the universe ought

always to be run according to the principle of strict, just compensation?

Jon: In this way, the book of Job is a perfect thought experiment for exploring this

question. Job has done nothing to deserve the suffering that's being inflicted on


Tim: "He's maintained his integrity, even though you incited me against him to ruin him

for now reason."

Jon: But even though Job doesn't deserve this, he's still human, and he reacts to the

suffering in a myriad of different ways. Sometimes trusting and praising God, other

times accusing God of being cruel, and untrustworthy, reckless, unfair, and corrupt.

Tim: He's just on an emotional roller coaster. It's a beautiful portrayal of the emotional

intensity of hardship and suffering.

Jon: We're going to dive deeper into the book of Job. We're going to talk about the

strange heavenly scene that opens up the book, where God is in heaven making

decisions with angels, and it's kind of confusing. We'll talk about how Job responds,

and then the long intervention that his friends have with Job, and what we need to

learn from all of this. Here's part two of our conversation. Here we go.


Jon: Job, does that name have a meaning in Hebrew?

Tim: Good up. I don't think it does because I'm actually pretty sure it's not a Hebrew

name. Job, in Hebrew you say 'Iyobh.

Jon: 'Iyobh.

Tim: 'Iyobh. 'Iyobh. It's traditional route derivation. In Jewish interpretation is from the

Hebrew word "'Iyyov," which is enemy or attacker.

Jon: Oh.

Where on Earth is "Uz"?

Tim: But the Hebrew, Aramaic, Lexicon of Old Testaments [unintelligible 00:02:57] old

Babylonian, there's ayavum [SP], which means "where is the father." So we don't


Jon: We don't know.

Tim: But that does raise an interesting feature of the book of Job. As it introduces him, it

tells us he lives in the land of Uz, which is essentially a Hebrew way of saying


Jon: Really? Wasn't is a real place well? Timbuktu is a real place.

Tim: Yeah, totally. Uz was a—

Jon: Was just some far out of the way place.

Tim: Far out of the way place. The whole point is in a land far, far away. That's the effect

that the opening line have. In a land far, far away is a non-Israelite named 'Iyobh.

Jon: Was there any strategic reason that it wasn't non-Israelite?

Tim: Yeah. I think it universalizes the conversation. It's also I think the author's way of

showing that this work is contributed to international conversation. The author is

speaking from an Israelite God of Israel covenant Yahweh point of view, but he's

making from that point of view a contribution to the wider conversation about

divine justice and how the world works, and so on.

So none of the three friends are Israelites either. So yeah, it's the only book in the

Bible that's quite like this - long ago, in a land far, far away. So that's significant. It

also raises some questions about the literary genre intended by the author — like,

what did the author expect the reader to think about what type of book this is.

That's interesting.

Job is mentioned one other time in the Old Testament by the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel tries to imagine the three most righteous people he can, and if they were

living in Jerusalem, it still wouldn't survive. And he names Noah, Job, and then a

figure with the Hebrew letters Dnl [Sp]. Most translations translate it as Daniel. But

that character doesn't quite fit what Ezekiel is doing, because the whole point is

ancient people from the past who were unquestionably righteous and good.

Noah fits the bill, obviously — righteousness. Generation Job fits the bill. Daniel is a

contemporary of Ezekiel in Babylon, and he's a really good guy. He's known for his

wisdom more than necessarily his righteousness.

Where on Earth is "Uz"?

So, some people think — and to be honest, I have about 50 — that Ezekiel is

alluding to a character we know of in ancient Canaanite literature named Dnl, who

was the ancient Kang who was super wise and super righteous. So he would more fit

the bill of Noah, Dnl and Job because all three of them are non-Israelites, all three of

them are from the distant past, and all three of them were super righteous.

Jon: Yeah, Noah was a non-Israelite.

Tim: Correct. But that's the only time in the Old Testament that Job is mentioned. Then

James, or actually Jacob, but James in the New Testament mentions Job patience in

his suffering. So the question is, did this actually happen? Or is it something like an

ancient historical righteous figure was picked by the author of Job and placed in a

parable or wisdom parable type setting It's intentionally fictional, and the author

intends you to know that this is like a thought experiment.

Jon: It kind of feels like a thought experiment.

Tim: It does. It does very strongly. There are some people feel that it's really important to

defend the idea that the author thinks it was a historical event. Some people think

that being mentioned in the New Testament by James means that you should take

that interpretation.

Jon: Because James seems to be treating him like a real dude.

Tim: Well, but that's the thing. All James says is, "Take Job as an example of suffering with

patience." James doesn't tell you what you should think about the literary genre of

the book.

Jon: Right.

Tim: Notice James claims to have some independent historical knowledge about the

person of Job. It's clear that he knows the book of Job just like you and I do. I think

they're strong arguments to be made that the book is a look like a wisdom thought

experiment. And that fits with the books opening in a land far away long, long ago. I

think we can be neutral on it, because whatever you think about that question, the

message of the book is still the same.

Jon: It must be a thought experiment because, how could he have never done anything


Tim: But the book doesn't say that he never did anything wrong. It says that he was a

righteous man, blameless. It's just set up the narrative as—

Where on Earth is "Uz"?

Jon: How could be blameless? At one point he must have had a bad thought about

someone or he must have like—

Tim: Sure. The point is, is he was blameless...

Jon: He cheated in cards once.

Tim: ...and righteous and didn't merit this particular—

Jon: He lied about the size of the fish he caught.

Tim: Sure, sure. And he acknowledges that in the book. But the point is, is he didn't do

anything wrong to merit this particular suffering. As a thought experiment, it makes

perfect sense to just portray the most righteous man.

Jon: The most upright man.

Tim: Correct. People who do take the book as referring to historical figure, and that that's

important, usually have a theological problem then with the claim of total innocent,

and with God saying he…God says He—

[crosstalk 00:08:49]

Tim: Yeah, exactly. So the argument goes, "Well, of course, he was sinful in general sense,

he just was exceptionally righteous." So I think that's imposing a theological grid

onto the book. The book is just trying to say, "This guy doesn't deserve what he

got." God even says it.

Jon: Which makes it feel much more home to say this is a thought experiment. It's a

literary thought experiment. There's no such thing as a guy this rad. I don't know.

Maybe there's rad people.

Tim: Some great out there.

Jon: There are some great people. But it's like everyone has had their moment.

Tim: But everyone's a mixed bag. That's exactly right.

Jon: Everyone's a mixed bag. There's no one that's gone through their whole and just


Tim: Job is being portrayed as the most righteous individually you could ever possibly

imagine. That also has implications for how you interpret the heavenly scene to


Where on Earth is "Uz"?


Tim: So the opening scene that gets repeated twice, once in chapter one and again in

chapter two, is of God presiding over the sons of God in His divine court. Some

English translations say "the angels came before the Lord. Literally, in Hebrew, it's

the sons of God, which is the phrase it can refer to the king of Israel, the Son of God.

Son of God can refer to the nation of Israel in Exodus 4, but the sons of God can also

refer to angelic or divine beings who are God's messengers and emissaries. It's an

image of God's decision-making room that's used elsewhere in the Old Testament.

Jon: And this is supposed to come from...

Tim: The divine council.

Jon: ...from courtroom stuff the kings use.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. It's creating an analogy between a king's court with his cabinet

and council and God.

Jon: "What are we going to do with this invading army? How are we going to handle

this? We're all going to tell them what they think."

Tim: Correct? So, you have in a story in 1 Kings 22, where God is making decisions about

what to do with King Ahab, and so one of the prophets, Micaiah is privileged to

overhear what's going on in the decision room. You have something similar in the

book of Zachariah where Zachariah sees these patrollers that God has sent out to go

survey what's going on among the nations. And then they come back and give a

report to God. That's in Zachariah 1.

Then, in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah has that scene of God enthroned, and God says,

"Who shall we send? Who will go for us?" So Isaiah is being brought into the divine

Council and commissioned. That's the scene here.

So then we're told God's holding court, taking the State of the Union or something.

And then we're told that the Satan was there with him. No English translations

translate to word "the" which is there in Hebrew. And I'm reading the NIT here, it has

a capital S Satan.

Jon: Satan with capital S. Is there any other name of someone where it's "the" some


Tim: Actually, that's the interpretive issue here is that Satan is not a name. It's not proper

name anywhere in the Old Testament, but it's become translated as one.

Jon: As a proper name. This character is never referred to as having a name?

Tim: No. To get into New Testament, yeah, though there's some relevant stuff happening

there. Actually, almost all the times that this word appears in the New Testament it

all always occurs with the word "the" as well, which also never gets translated in

English. So it's still "the Satan" appearing in the New Testament.

Here's the deal. Satan is a normal Hebrew word that means in a poser or a

challenger. Someone who's opposed to you. And humans can be a Satan. There's a

story in 1 Kings 11 where God raises up satans against Solomon when he starts

being unfaithful.

Jon: The way that you're pronouncing just threw me off.

Tim: Satan?

Jon: Satan. It makes me imagine like a Satan baton - is all I see when you say, "Satan."

Tim: Boy, sorry, man. I'm not sure what to say. It's the Hebrew word "Satan."

Jon: Got it. It's that how it's pronounced in modern Hebrew?

Tim: Yes.

Jon: Satan?

Tim: Satan.

Jon: We're just going to make it a little more fierce. It's got to be more fierce moments.


Tim: Satan. The word "the" is just putting "ha" in front of word. So, ha-Satan, is actually

what this figure is called.

Jon: Ha-Satan. That's better. Let's go with that.

Tim: Ha-Satan, the Satan.

Jon: Ha-Satan.

Tim: So here's the deal. Satan is a Hebrew noun that is used of humans who oppose

other humans. Solomon has a number of political enemies, other kings that attack

him in 1 Kings 11, and they are described with the noun "Satan." The angel of the

Lord is a Satan.

Jon: The angel of the Lord being?

Tim: An angel or the angel of the Lord, which is a key way that God Himself appears to

people in the Old Testament, He appears as a Satan. In the story about Balaam

riding his donkey to go curses Israel, "And the angel of the Lord stands as a Satan

against Balaam." So there, very clear it means as one who is opposed or challenged.

Jon: How is it translated in that passage?

Tim: It's good. Let me look it up.

Jon: While you're looking that up, when we did the Messiah video, it begins with the

snake crusher. So we introduce the snake, and we don't say, "The snake is Satan."

We just introduced it. It's a snake.

Tim: The serpent.

Jon: The serpent.

Tim: And the story in Genesis doesn't introduce the snake as the Satan.

Jon: But I noticed a lot of comments. A lot of people are like, they want to fill in the gaps,

they want to help other people understand well. Here's the snake, he's Satan.

Usually, there's really well thought out understanding of Satan's origin that comes

from - is it Ezekiel?

Tim: From Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 are important passages in the history of the

development of the idea of Satan. There's a strong desire to create a biography ha-

Satan. I think it's much more complicated than we realize, and that we should be

way more humble and assume that we really don't know very much at all.

So when the angel of Lord appears to Balaam, in Hebrew, it says, "As a Satan." In the

New International Version it gets translated, "The angel of the Lord stood in the road

to oppose him, or as one opposed to him." That's a good translation. An opposer.

So, if you have "ha," "the" Satan in the heavenly courtroom of God, it's the one


Jon: So, it didn't have to be some creature that crawled out of hell and was like, "Hey,

God. It's just one of the sons of God who's opposing God?"

Tim: That's right.

Jon: He's saying, "I have a different opinion than you, God."

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So the Satan, the opposer is there.

Jon: Oh, interesting.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: It gives me totally different picture. You have this courtroom and someone's like,

"Well, I'm going to take an opposing view here."

Tim: That's exactly right.

Jon: And he's the Satan.

Tim: He's the Satan. It's signing his role in the courtroom, in the divine court where the

role that he plays because he's going to oppose God's judgment...

[crosstalk 00:18:06]

Jon: And when you're in a courtroom and you're opposing, generally you're doing that

for the benefit of the king. You're on the same team here. You're on the same

country civilization. So I'm just like, "I don't think you're doing this right, I'm going to

oppose you." But you're doing that not because you want to take down the

kingdom. It's because you want to make sure the kingdom is strong.

Tim: One of the challenges here is the Jewish and Christian readers have tended to

import later theology about spiritual evil into the story. I think it actually ends up

distorting our understanding of what's happening in the heavenly scene because

there's no indication that ha-Satan here is the embodiment of evil and injustice.

There's no indication that he hates Job or hates God. There's no indication that he

gets pleasure—

Jon: Punishing people?

Tim: No. What happens is God points out, "Have you seen Job? He's righteous and

blameless and upright," just the way that the narrator introduced him. Fears God and

shuns evil.

And so, the opposer's role and what the opposer does is simply say, "You know,

that's bad policy for you to reward Job." What he says is, "Does Job fear God for

nothing? Haven't you put a hedge around him and his household and everything he

has? You've blessed the work of his hands."

So the whole point is, "Do you really know that he's righteous? You don't know that

he's righteous truly because he's only good because you bless him and protect him.

So, what he's exposing here isn't that he hates Job or that he hates God. He's saying,

"What about this policy that you reward the righteous for serving you? Does that

show truly what human beings are and what they're about?"

Whereas I have it here in the notes, the Satan challenges God's policy of rewarding

the righteous by suggesting that it corrupts their motives proving them to be

unrighteous. So the accusation gives the book an interesting twist because we're

inclined to spend our time asking why righteous people suffer. But the Satan turns

the question upside down and asks why righteous people should even prosper.

In this way. The book gives us an answer that we need, rather than answer that we

thought we wanted from the book.

Jon: Maybe this whole deal with rewarding righteous people is actually backfiring on us.

Tim: I mean, that's bad policy because it corrupts their motives. It doesn't actually allow

them to be truly righteous. That's what the Satan is saying.

Jon: He's making a really good point.

Tim: Yeah. Yes.

Jon: Does he actually love you or is he just using you to get what he wants? Is that kind

of what he says?

Tim: That's what the Satan is saying.

Jon: "And how could you know, unless...

Tim: Unless you take away your blessing?

Jon: And see what he does."

Tim: God says, "Very well then, everything he has is in your power but don't lay a finger

on Job himself." What follows from here is Job's family, children are destroyed.

Jon: That's rough. That kind of makes him feel like an evil dude. I mean, he could have

just maybe killed some of his livestock or something.

Tim: But look at how it goes. Some raiders come and take away as animals, then lightning

strikes his sheep and the servants, then the Chaldeans come and carry away his

camels, and then a wind comes and causes the house to collapse on his children.

Jon: That's rough.

Tim: And Job gets up, cuts off all his hair, says, "Naked I came into this world; naked all

depart. The Lord gave me all this; the Lord's taken away. May the name of the Lord

be praised."

Jon: So he wins. He did.

Tim: The conclusion of the narrative is Job did not sin by charging God with any

wrongdoing. That's round one.

Jon: So if the story ended there, what we've learned is that Job actually was righteous. He

wasn't just doing it to get hooked up.

Tim: And the opposer's accusations are groundless.

Jon: And the story could have ended, but it doesn't.


Tim: On another day, the sons of God are there, God holds court again and the opposer

comes, and God says, "Hey look at Job. Nobody like him, blameless integrity. He's

maintained his integrity even though you incited me against him to ruin him for no


It's very important because God acknowledges that there was no just reason. He

maintained his integrity. The point is point proven. "You questioned his integrity and

my policy, the point's proven to you."

Then what the Satan answers is, "All right but what about his body? A man will give

all he has for his own life. Strike his body and surely he'll curse you." Once again,

God agrees to the proposition. So then the opposer went out and afflicted Job with

painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.

Job's wife comes and says, "Are you still holding on to your integrity, curse God and

die." And Job responds, "You're talking like a fool, shall we accept only good from

God, and not also trouble." In this, the narrative said Job did not sin.

So the story ends right there, and you're like, "Oh, all right, it's the same repetition.

The stakes went higher. So you think, "Job's cool, then. This is all going to brush

over, and he's going to move on." But then the story gets even more interesting

because Job's three friends, non-Israelite friends, come and they hardly recognize

them. They come and sit next to him for seven days saying nothing because they see

how horrible his suffering is.

Then Job in his mouth. It's one of the most artfully designed poems in the Hebrew

Bible, chapter 3, and it's one long, elaborate curse on the day he was born. Then, you

realize, "Oh, there's a lot more going on inside this guy than you thought." It's so


Jon: Jon: He's bummed.

Tim: And then what follows is that opens up the dialogues with the friends. So let's just

pause. If you take the view that it's a thought experiment, then the point of the

heavenly scene is not to teach you about how God actually make decisions.

The point is simply, God's in his decision-making room, an opposing point of view

comes up to set up the thought experiment — Is it good policy for God to reward

the righteous? And it raises the question, does God in fact, always reward the

righteous and does God allow suffering for a reason that is undisclosed? Could it

ever be just that God would allow such a thing to happen? Those are the questions

that the fictional introduction would set up for you.

As John Walton says, "The Book of Job is focusing on how God works in the world,

not how God works out things in heaven."

Jon: It's Walton's point of view.

Tim: It's Walton's point of view. "If you take the view that the books has a historical core

to it, and therefore this is actually trying to teach you theology about how God

operates and runs the world, you have to accept it for what it seems to be like."

Which causes some tensions to see it personally and theologically with a lot of

people. Again, I don't want to go there in the video, but it's real issue.

And I know some people who hold that view. They do think that the book of Job is

trying to teach you about what goes on in the heavenlies and they're at peace with

it. So it's not beyond imagination.


Tim: So once Job curses his birthday, that gets you into the poetic core of the book.

Chapters 3 through essentially 27 are going to be what are called the cycles of Job

and the friends. So Job opens chapter 3 cursing the day he was born, and then the

first friend will respond, Eliphaz. Then Job responds.

Then the next friend responds to that, Bildad, then Job responds to that. Then the

next friend responds, Zophar, and then Job response to that. The cycle number one.

And then it just cycles over again. The second time through that same.

Then, the third cycle actually breaks down, the third friend never gets a chance to

speak. And what happens is the emotional intensity ramps up as you would expect.

Job actually get so frustrated with the friends, he stops talking to them all together

because he's so disagrees with their point of view.

Essentially the friends, back to our triangle, Job's insisting that he's righteous, but he

assumes that God runs the world according to the strict principle of just

recompense. So his conclusion that grows throughout the book is God is unjust, or

cruel. The friends have the exact opposite point of view and defend it to the hilt that

God is just, by which they mean he runs the world according to the strict principle of

justice, therefore, Job must have sinned.

Jon: And all three of them are taking the same argument.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Are they nuanced in different ways between the three friends?

Tim: No, no.

Jon: They just attacked him.

Tim: They attacked him. The fact that there's three I think gives the author a way to create

different personas of a litany of different kinds of arguments. But on the whole—

Jon: But that all are basically, "You must have screwed up.

Tim: If you didn't know who was speaking when of the friends, you wouldn't be able to

really tell their arguments apart. Here's just a couple samples. Eliphaz in chapter 4,

he says, "Consider now, who being innocent has ever perished? When have the

upright ever been destroyed?" He says, "As I have observed here on planet Earth,

those who plow evil and those who sow trouble, reap it. At the breath of God they

perish; at the blast of his anger, they are no more." Hint, hint, Job. It's respectable.

Jon: It's an intervention.

Tim: Yeah, they're there for an intervention. It's exactly right. Bildad in chapter 8, he says,

"Think about your children, Job." He says, "When your children sinned against Him,

he gave them over to the penalty of their sin." So it's clear he views the house

collapsing on Job's children as God's judgment.

And then he says, "Job, if you seek God, earnestly, and plead with Almighty, if you

are pure and upright like you say you are, then God will rouse himself on your

behalf, and He'll restore you to your prosperous estate." "He's saying, "Your kids got

what woes coming to them, but if you're really innocent like you say, then just tell

God and he'll zap you back to a perfect life once more." It's obvious he believes

that's not what's going to happen. So this is the kind of it's all very artful and

highfalutin type of arguments.

Jon: And then every time Job just is like, "Look, I know I'm innocent."

Tim: Yes, that's exactly right. So, he calls his friends windbags and worthless counselors,

and you don't know me kind of stuff. "You don't know me." And constant theme in

his speeches is he keeps maintaining his innocence. It's such beautiful poetry down

in Job's defense.

Chapter 16, he says, "My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes, yet

my hands have been free of violence, and my prayer is pure." He says, "Earth, don't

cover up my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest." He's echoing the story of Cain

and Abel, where God says to Cain, "Your brother's blood cries out from the ground."

There's irony here because God said to Cain, "Your brother's blood is crying out to

me," and now, here Job is saying to the earth, "Don't cover up my blood; let it cry

out to God, but cry out not as a plea for help but as a cry of accusation."

Jon: Or plea of innocence.

Tim: Yeah, or plea of innocence, which in essence is an accusation. That's earlier on in

chapter 16. By chapter 27, he's so bold as to say this. "As surely as God lives who has

denied me justice, the Almighty Who has made my life bitter as long as I have life in

me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips won't say anything wicked; my tongue

won't utter lies. I'll never admit that you, the friends, are right. Until I die, I won't

deny my integrity; I'll maintain my innocence; I'll never let go of it." I mean, he's

getting hardcore. So that's him maintaining his innocence.

So then he's going to go on and begin to make claims about God's character. He

already did in saying God denied him justice, but then what he goes on is to say,

"Well, if that's how you treating me, which is true because it's my life experience,

what does that say about how you treat everybody else?" And he says some really

bold things.

Like in chapter 9, he says, "Even though I'm blameless, I have no concern for myself. I

despise my own life. It's all the same. My life already sucks. So I'm just going to say

what I really think. God destroys the blameless along with the wicked. When a

scourge brings sudden death, God mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land

falls into the hands of the wicked, God blindfolds its judges." And then he says, "If

it's not God, and who is it?" He's so bold.

Jon: But he's kind of right in that he said, "He destroys both the blameless and the

wicked." That's what he did.

Tim: Oh, you're exactly right. Well, that's true. In Job's case, God allowed the blameless to

suffer. But then he goes on to say that God mocks the innocent.

Jon: Then he takes it a little deeper

Tim: Anytime a land falls into the hand of wicked people, that's God at work


Jon: And then he's purposefully making it so that that can't be reconciled.

Tim: The movie mix is, "In my case I'm blameless, God allowed me to suffer."

Jon: So first premise is correct, and then he takes it too far.

Tim: He takes it further. Yeah, that's exactly right. Now, what's interesting as you read

through Job speeches, especially, he's constantly going back and forth. He says

things like this, but then he'll go back and he'll say, "No, I don't want to believe

that's true."

And then he'll start talking, and he'll say, "Surely, actually, the Book of Proverbs is

true and the wicked will suffer and the righteous will be rewarded." And then in the

next speech, he's like, "But really? I don't know, not today. I don't think that." He's

just on an emotional roller coaster, which is it's a beautiful portrayal of the emotional

intensity of hardship and suffering. It's very realistic.

So where he ends at the end of the day is saying, "My friends aren't helping me, I

don't know how to make sense of this, I just need to talk with God." And so about

half a dozen times he starts saying, "If I could just get in a room with God and He

could hear me and I could hear Him, we could sort this out."

So chapter 23, he says, "Today, my complaint is bitter. God's hand is heavy, in spite

of my groaning. If only I knew where to find him. If only I could go to his dwelling, I

would state my case before Him. I'd fill my mouth with arguments. I'd find out what

he'd have to say to me, and consider what he would answer me."

So finally, his final speech, his last words, in chapter 31 are these. He says, "Oh, that I

would have someone to hear me! I sign my defense. Let the Almighty answer me. Let

my accuser put his indictment in writing. Here's mine with my defense. Now, God,

you write your charges. Surely, I would wear it on my shoulder. I would wear it like a

crown. I would give him an account of my every step. I would present it to him as a


What he's saying is, "I've written out every part of my defense, let God write every

part of his accusation, and I know I would be in the right, and I would wear it like a

crown if I could just prove my case." That's where Job's words ends.

Jon: You can really empathize with Job here. He got it really bad. He didn't do anything

wrong. and then he had to sit through a lot of speeches from his so-called friends

who don't trust him that he actually didn't do anything wrong.

I mean, if they would have been like, "Okay, yeah, this is weird. I do trust you. I guess

you didn't do anything wrong, but this is confusing." But they're like, "No, listen,

you're screwed up."

Tim: Their theology is so clear to them.

Jon: So he's just getting more and more aggravated. He knows he didn't do anything

wrong, and we know that he didn't do anything wrong. So it's like all this empathy of

like, "Yeah, this is horrible." And so when it gets to the point where it's like, "I just

know and if I could sit down with God, I write down my defense, he writes down His,

we compare notes, it's going to be obvious I didn't deserve this." And you can just

be like, "Yeah, totally. I get that."

That final speech, it doesn't feel like, "Oh, man, Job you're really pressing your luck

here." It just kind of feels like, "Yeah, that seems like a normal reaction."

Tim: Yes. I think it is a normal reaction. But that part of the presentation of Job is that his

suffering has pressed him, this isn't just about logic anymore. This is about

processing suffering through the full range of emotions. So sometimes he has made

larger claims.

Jon: Yeah, the other one where he's like, "You blindful judges, you mock the innocent."

That's he's kind of getting a little fired up.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So his final words are sensible. I agree with you. Again, it's a

realistic portrayal of the psychology of suffering.

Jon: That's the end of part two of this three-part conversation. Next up, the third and

final part, we really get into it. In the third episode, we talked about the surprise

friend Elihu, who just shows up out of nowhere, he talks on and on for a number of

chapters. So what's he all about? And then we'll go back and we'll talk about chapter

28, and the significance of that chapter.

Finally, we'll get into the showdown of God shows up and defends himself against

Job. It's really the heart of the book and shows us what this book is really all about.

It's extremely fascinating. We'll talk about the virtual tour of the universe that He

gives Job, we'll talk about the behemoth and Leviathan, these great monsters that

God's pretty stoked about, and then we'll see how Job response to all this.

We're having this conversation and other conversations about themes and books of

the Bible because we make videos, animated shorts that go up on YouTube. You can

watch them all at youtube.com/thebibleproject. You could also watch them on our

website, thebibleproject.com, which has been newly updated. You can give to our

next project there. You could download free resources there.

And if you want to say hi to us, the best place is on Twitter, @JoinBibleProj and on

Facebook, facebook.com/thebibleproject.

It is a true pleasure to work on this project, and we thank you for being a part of it

with us. Next up, part three.

8 Episodes

Episode 8
Job E3: Job vs. Elihu
This is our third and final conversation about the book of Job. First we talk about Elihu, a character that seems to pop up our of nowhere. Then we talk about chapter 28 in Job, how it stands apart from the rest of the speeches and gives us a clue as to what the point of the whole book is. Then we talk about the final showdown. God responds to Job’s accusations of being unjust and unfair.
59m • Sep 10, 2016
Episode 7
Job E2: Where on Earth Is Uz?
This is part two of our three part conversation on Job. If God is just, does that mean that the universe ought to always be run by the principle of strict just compensation? The book of Job is a perfect thought experiment to explore this question. Job has done nothing to deserve the suffering that is inflicted on him, and God acknowledges there was no reason. But even though Job doesn’t deserve it, he is still human, and he reacts to the suffering in a myriad of ways. Sometimes trusting and praising God, sometimes accusing God of being cruel and untrustworthy.
41m • Aug 29, 2016
Episode 6
Job E1: Suffering Well
Why do good people suffer? Why is there evil in the world? Why can’t God make it so that everyone always gets what they deserve? Many people turn to Job to learn about how to deal with suffering as it is a very realistic portrayal of someone dealing with circumstances that are unfair. But is that all the book of Job is about?
51m • Aug 3, 2016
Episode 5
Ecclesiastes E2: The "Teacher" vs. Jesus
We continue our conversation on Ecclesiastes. We let “The Teacher” dismantle our perspective about the world by discussing death, time and chance, and it isn’t going to be pleasant.
1hr 7m • Jul 7, 2016
Episode 4
Ecclesiastes E1: Not Another Proverbs
The book of Ecclesiastes is a unique book in the Bible that has delighted and confused Christians throughout the years. It is our second book in the Wisdom series. One thing that makes it unique is that the book relies on ancient wisdom as core to understanding God’s world, Ecclesiastes’ wisdom is based off of experimentation. The core conclusion of Ecclesiastes is that life is "*hevel*." “*Hevel*, *hevel*, everything is *hevel*.” And while modern translations typically translate that Hebrew word as “meaningless,” in Hebrew, it is the word for smoke or vapor.
51m • Jun 18, 2016
Episode 3
The Tree of Knowing Good and Bad
Welcome to part two in our series on reading the books of wisdom literature in the Bible.
48m • Jun 17, 2019
Episode 2
This book is for understanding Proverbs and Parables and Riddles for the wise. This book claims that there is a powerful, mysterious force in the universe called Hochma, we translate into “Wisdom". Wisdom is built into the universe principle in which the whole universe is ordered and which it coheres. The book starts with nine chapters of speeches encouraging us to seek after Hochma.
49m • Jun 8, 2016
Episode 1
Intro to the Wisdom Literature
Tim and Jon discuss the Wisdom Literature in the Bible: the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. All of these books are wrestling with a particular set of questions. We’ll talk about how we got these wisdom books in our holy scriptures. We’ll discuss why there are three different books with three very different perspectives on why their is suffering in the world and the perspective we should have on how to live.
32m • May 16, 2016
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