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We all know that Job was ravaged by the Adversary in the first two chapters of Job, but in the end, he died content:

Thus the Lord blessed the latter years of Job’s life more than the former. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand she-asses. He also had seven sons and three daughters. The first he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. Nowhere in the land were women as beautiful as Job’s daughters to be found. Their father gave them estates together with their brothers. Afterward, Job lived one hundred and forty years to see four generations of sons and grandsons. So Job died old and contented.—Job 42:12-17 (NJPS)

In terms of his possessions, that makes a lot of sense: everything is doubled. But he still lost his first set of children:

This one was still speaking when another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a mighty wind came from the wilderness. It struck the four corners of the house so that it collapsed upon the young people and they died; I alone have escaped to tell you.”—Job 1:18-19 (NJPS)

What beliefs might Job have held that allowed him to be content after having his children needlessly taken away from him that are consistent with the knowledge he might have had about God keeping in mind the time he lived in? Can we learn anything from Job's story or response that form the basis for any Christian doctrines that would be relevant for somebody today dealing with similar issues of bereavement?


migration rejected from Oct 10 '15 at 23:32

This question came from our site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Votes, comments, and answers are locked due to the question being closed here, but it may be eligible for editing and reopening on the site where it originated.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Nathaniel, curiousdannii, Mr. Bultitude, ThaddeusB, Jon Ericson Oct 10 '15 at 23:32

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

For the next two weeks I'm challenging us to think about why we can be thankful. – Jon Ericson Nov 18 '11 at 21:10
(This is a purposely loaded question. I don't think it's as serious a problem as the way I worded it. But there are lots of people who feel just this way about how the book of Job is resolved. I'd like to collect answers that could help people who don't trust that God is good all the time.) – Jon Ericson Nov 18 '11 at 21:11
@Caleb: would it help if I refocused the question to whether or not this passage in Job implies some sort of afterlife? – Jon Ericson Nov 18 '11 at 22:48
People recover from grief even in cultures without afterlife beliefs... and he lived for 140 years afterwards, which is quite a lot of time to recover from grief and return to contentment with one's life, even without a philosophy that allows one to bear it easily. – Muke Tever Nov 19 '11 at 14:40
@JonEricson: I think a question about whether there is any textual evidence for Job believing in an afterlife would be a great related question to ask back over on BH.SE! – Caleb Nov 19 '11 at 16:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

In chapter 19 we see a clear view of Job's beliefs on the subject, which explains (at least partially) where he would have found the strength to recover from his grief at the loss of his children:

Job 19:23-26

23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!

24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

He gives as his solemn testimony, (one that he wishes to be written in a book and recorded forever, at a time when, for all he knows, he might not have much longer to live,) a confession of his faith in the Gospel. He knows that his Redeemer (Christ) lives, and that (related to this) he will find resurrection after death and be able to see God in his flesh even after his body has rotted away.

I've mentioned in a few different places how Genesis gives us hints that full knowledge of the Gospel was available from the beginning. (1) (2) (Many Bible scholars consider Job to have been a contemporary of Abraham's, so he's certainly in the right time period to have had the same knowledge available to him that Abraham and Melchizedek had.)

Since Job understood the Gospel and had faith in the Resurrection, the loss of his children was not a tragedy to him in the same way as it would have been to others without that knowledge. Once he had passed through his ordeal and come out of it with his faith intact and a knowledge of his status in good standing before God, he could look forward to being able to see his children again. He would not consider them "lost," merely separated from him for a time, and he could find comfort in that.

I think this may be a misreading of the passage in the larger context of Job and the even larger context of pre-Second Temple, Judaism. I've asked a question on the Biblical Hermeneutics site if you'd like to read my response or weigh in on the topic. (In the post-Easter context, however, I absolutely agree with your answer.) – Jon Ericson Nov 21 '11 at 18:01
On further reflection, I sort of agree with your answer. ;-) I've filled in my thoughts in my own answer to this question. What do you think? – Jon Ericson Nov 21 '11 at 18:40

The point of the book of Job is hope. Job went through the stages of grief in the middle section of the book. To a certain point of view, Job put God on trial and found him guilty.

However, God responds to him, reminding him not to judge {God}. It's God who is supposed to judge man. Job's story, teaches us to never give up; the bad times will end, just like a hurricane will eventually stop.

P.S. The Edomites {sic}, were a foreign people who weren't always on friendly terms with their Jewish neighbors. The assumption is that the book of Job was written in a period when they were friendly. – user35971 Oct 6 '15 at 2:30
I'm confused - who is "we" and why did you bring up authorship? If it doesn't have any bearing on your answer to the actual question, then it doesn't belong in this post. Also why did you purposefully misspell a word and then add {sic}? – ThaddeusB Oct 6 '15 at 2:38
Sorry, by "we" I meant religious scholars. I was referring to the book as allegory in that Job's existence may be in doubt. I pointed out that Job wasn't a Jew, to say the book is hard to date; I forgot the right spelling, and {sic} is a term used to note when there's a misspelling. – user35971 Oct 6 '15 at 3:14
Also I got the research from – user35971 Oct 6 '15 at 3:20
Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview of this site, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer. Unfortunately, it in answer to an old question that would not be considered on-topic under today's site rules. Beyond that, your answer really doesn't address the question of how Job could be content with the second half of his life. For some tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? – Lee Woofenden Oct 8 '15 at 0:43

I see the answer to Job's contentment in the fact that he was humbled by God, and came to accept that God is indeed sovereign over everything in life, including life and death, the death of his children, his own illness, etc. God asks Job, "Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?" When Job realized that being angry with God was rebellion and pride against God's God's absolute sovereignty, he humbled himself and accepted the events of his life as within God's permissive will. When he humbled himself, he could again be content, and God again blessed him as a righteous man.

Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview of what this site is about, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for offering an answer. Unfortunately, the question itself is one that doesn't fit today's guidelines for this site, since it is mostly opinion-based. See: How we are different than other sites. Still, if you could provide some Bible quotes to support your answer, it might pass muster. – Lee Woofenden Oct 8 '15 at 10:06

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