God Addresses Job
Rabbi Israel Chait
Student’s edited notes from taped lectures
“12. Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; 13. That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? 14. It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. 15. And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.”
What is God stating in these verses? God is indicating that His Providence must mesh with the laws of nature, viz. when God asks if Job could take the end of the earth and shake off the wicked, God is trying to say that it is not so easy to get rid of the wicked. Meaning, there is an intricate system regarding how the wicked will be addressed. God impresses upon Job the precise laws that exist.
The Ibn Ezra says that Job’s first answer was not correct. And he says that the reason why he did not answer correctly was because Job did not justify God. He only claimed his ignorance. But he did not concede to God’s omniscience. Therefore God answered a second time and described the beasts that have strength in the land, and the Leviathan that has strength in the ocean. How was God’s second address different from the first? We must take note that Maimonides did not include God’s answer to Job because it was not any different than Elihu’s answer. So why did God answer at all? God did so to remove Job’s difficulty in accepting Elihu’s answer. In truth, once Elihu spoke, Job was quiet. He could not respond because he saw that Elihu was correct. Job’s act of acknowledging Elihu’s ideas elevated him, where God would now relate to him. That is why God did not speak to Job until Elihu did. This is because God’s system relates to man in proportion to his perfection. And after hearing Elihu’s truths, Job accepted them, thereby raising his very level of perfection. Only now could God relate to Job.
We then ask what God added, if not new content? There is one difference that the Ibn Ezra mentioned and that is the discussion of the powerful beasts. But what effect did this have on Job and again, what more did God accomplish, which Elihu did not?
God’s first answer broke down Job’s ego. That was His objective with His questions, viz. “where you there?” “Could you do this?” “Can you control that?” God’s questions are broken up into three categories: 1) those concerning Job as a creator, “who made…” 2) those concerning Job as a controller of God’s creating things, “can you chain Orion?” 3) and those concerning Job’s knowledge, “do you know…”.
God went one step further, and that was to convince Job not only that he is nothing, but also that God is everything. Job did not affirm God’s absolute and exclusive reign until the second answer which expressed via the powerful beast; the immutability of the laws of nature. Job desired reality to conform to his wishes; therefore, God taught him the existence of nature’s laws about the beasts. The first two verses in chapter 41 prove this:
“1. Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? 2. Canst thou put a hook into his nose? Or bore his jaw through with a thorn?”
First, God asks, “Who can stand before the monster” and then, “Who can stand before Me?” In other words, the metaphor of the monster is an equation to God’s laws.
The Book of Jobs ends, as Job receives all that he lost returned, and in even greater measure. This is because once Job was “Matzdik God” (affirmed God’s righteousness) thereby; he brought himself directly under God’s “Specific Providence.”