Job: Part IV

Bildad’s Argument

Rabbi Israel Chait


Student’s edited notes from taped lectures



Chapter 8

 “If thou were pure and upright; surely now He would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”  (8:6,7)


Bildad maintained that for all the punishments Job endured in this world, he would receive reward in the next world. Bildad maintained that Job did not sin, and therefore, he felt that just people receive punishments.





Job’s Response to Bildad


Bildad maintained that the innocent would be paid back in the end for their troubles. But Job replies (9:23):


 If the scourge slay suddenly, He will laugh at the trial of the innocent.”


Job uses this case of the plague to show Bildad that there really is no difference between the righteous and the evildoers, for everyone is plagued alike. This first argument is the practical one. Job says yet another point (9:24) “If not He then who?” This means that if it is not God who caused my pain, then something else did. And while that “something else” caused the pain, God was lax. (We know this is impossible.) Job accuses God in either case.

Job responded in this manner, for Bildad said that although you may experience pain, God would eventually step in and correct your situation. Therefore, Job refuted Bildad, as it imputes injustice to God. For if it were just, why would God eventually “step in”? “Eventual” justice means that until that point, there was injustice. Job maintained that justice from God could not be limited to justice in the end result alone: it must be just “throughout.” God could not be inactive while someone undeserving was troubled. This argument is the primary breakdown of Bildad. The first refutation was the practical argument, “a scourge really does affect the just people with the wicked”, and the second argument addressed God’s justice.

Bildad first states,


“Does God pervert judgment, and does the almighty pervert justice?”


Job answered both. But before we review Job’s answer, let us sum up Bildad: he maintains of the “pain and compensation” theory, revealing that Bildad felt that if God is so powerful and great, He could not do unjust things. He had a premise and a conclusion. Premise: God is powerful and great. Conclusion: He cannot do injustice. But Job answered, “It is true, God can and did all these great things. But that does not mean that He does justice.” Here, Job stated, “although I cannot step into the ring with God because He is powerful and can turn my words around, and I have no power before Him, nonetheless, power and justice are two separate things. And you (Bildad) cannot prove that because God is powerful, this makes Him just.”  Job refutes Bildad’s first argument that “power is synonymous with justice” and the second argument that the righteous individual survives the scourge.

In 10:10 Job says,


“Has though poured me out like milk, and curdled me like cheese?”


Job is now questioning God’s Specific Providence (Hashgacha Pratyos). “Poured me as milk” means God created me, and “curdled me as cheese” means God did not pay attention to me after my creation. In other words, “there is no Divine Providence. And if one says there is, then there seems to be many contradictions.”

Job made the next logical step. He saw that certain things were happening, that if attributed to God, would mean that God was unjust. Therefore, keeping to reason, he had only one choice, which was to say that God was not involved; in other words, no Specific Providence. The reason why Job also stated that there was no World to Come (10:22) is because it would not make sense that God should torture someone and then give them payment. The reason why he denied the Reincarnation of the Dead was because this falls under the category of God’s Specific Providence. In chapter ten, Job answers both of Bildad’s arguments and then makes some headway into his own belief as to what was transpiring.