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Job was asked once what he considered the severest affliction that could strike him, and he replied, "My enemies' joy in my misfortune,[7] and when God demanded to know of him, after the accusations made by Satan, what he preferred, poverty or physical suffering, he chose pain, saying, "O Lord of the whole world, chastise my body with suffering of all kinds, only preserve me from poverty."[8] Poverty seemed the greater scourge, because before his trials he had occupied a brilliant position on account of his vast wealth. God graciously granted him this foretaste of the Messianic time. The harvest followed close upon the ploughing of his field; no sooner were the seeds strewn in the furrows, than they sprouted and grew and ripened produce. He was equally successful with his cattle. His sheep killed wolves, but were themselves never harmed by wild beasts.[9] Of sheep he had no less than one hundred and thirty thousand, and he required eight hundred dogs to keep guard over them, not to mention the two hundred dogs needed to secure the safety of his house. Besides, his herds consisted of three hundred and forty thousand asses and thirty-five hundred pairs of oxen. All these possessions were not used for self- indulgent pleasures, but for the good of the poor and the needy, whom he clothed, and fed, and provided with all things necessary. To do all this, he even had to employ ships that carried supplies to all the cities and the dwelling- places of the destitute. His house was furnished with doors on all its four sides, that the poor and the wayfarer might enter, no matter from what direction they approached. At all times there were thirty tables laden with viands ready in his house, and twelve besides for widows only, so that all who came found what they desired. Job's consideration for the poor was so delicate that he kept servants to wait upon them constantly. His guests, enraptured by his charitableness, frequently offered themselves as attendants to minister to the poor in his house, but Job always insisted upon paying them for their services. If he was asked for a loan of money, to be used for business purposes, and the borrower promised to give a part of his profits to the poor, he would demand no security beyond a mere signature. And if it happened that by some mischance or other the debtor was not able to discharge his obligation, Job would return the note to him, or tear it into bits in his presence.

He did not rest satisfied at supplying the material needs of those who applied to him. He strove also to convey the knowledge of God to them. After a meal he was in the habit of having music played upon instruments, and then he would invite those present to join him in songs of praise to God. On such occasions he did not consider himself above playing the cithern while the musicians rested.[10]

Most particularly Job concerned himself about the weal and woe of widows and orphans. He was wont to pay visits to the sick, both rich and poor, and when it was necessary, he would bring a physician along with him. If the case turned out to be hopeless, he would sustain the stricken family with advice and consolation. When the wife of the incurably sick man began to grieve and weep, he would encourage her with such words as these: "Trust always in the grace and lovingkindness of God. He hath not abandoned thee until now, and He will not forsake thee henceforth. Thy husband will be restored to health, and will be able to provide for his family as heretofore. But if--which may God forefend--thy husband should die, I call Heaven to witness that I shall provide sustenance for thee and thy children." Having spoken thus, he would send for a notary, and have him draw up a document, which he signed in the presence of witnesses, binding himself to care for the family, should it be bereaved of its head. Thus he earned for himself the blessing of the sick man and the gratitude of the sorrowing wife.[11]

Sometimes, in case of necessity, Job could be severe, too, especially when it was a question of helping a poor man obtain his due. If one of the parties to a suit cited before his tribunal was known to be a man of violence, he would surround himself with his army and inspire him with fear, so that the culprit could not but show himself amenable to his decision.[12]

He endeavored to inculcate his benevolent ways upon his children, by accustoming them to wait upon the poor. On the morrow after a feast he would sacrifice bountifully to God, and together with the pieces upon the altar his offerings would be divided among the needy. He would say: "Take and help yourselves, and pray for my children. It may be that they have sinned, and renounced God, saying in the presumption of their hearts: 'We are the children of this rich man. All these things are our possessions. Why should we be servants to the poor?' "

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