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Job, the most pious Gentile that ever lived,[1] one of the few to bear the title of honor "the servant of God,"[2] was of double kin to Jacob. He was a grandson of Jacob's brother Esau, and at the same time the son-in-law of Jacob himself, for lie had married Dinah as his second wife.[3] He was entirely worthy of being a member of the Patriarch's family, for he was perfectly upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Had he not wavered in his resignation to the Divine will during the great trial to which he was subjected, and murmured against God, the distinction would have been conferred upon him of having his name joined to the Name of God in prayer, and men would have called upon the God of Job as they now call upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But he was not found steadfast like the three Fathers, and he forfeited the honor God had intended for him.

The Lord remonstrated with him for his lack of patience, saying: "Why didst thou murmur when suffering came upon thee? Dost thou think thyself of greater worth than Adam, the creation of Mine own hands, upon whom together with his descendants I decreed death on account of a single transgression? And yet Adam murmured not. Thou art surely not more worthy than Abraham, whom I tempted with many trials, and when he asked, 'Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit the land?' and I replied, 'Know of a surety that thy seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years,' he yet murmured not. Thou dost not esteem thyself more worthy than Moses, dost thou? Him I would not grant the favor of entering the promised land, because he spake the words, 'Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock?' And yet he murmured not. Art thou more worthy than Aaron, unto whom I showed greater honor than unto any created being, for I sent the angels themselves out of the Holy of Holies when he entered the place? Yet when his two sons died, he murmured not."[4]

The contrast between Job and the Patriarchs appears from words spoken by him and words spoken by Abraham. Addressing God, Abraham said, "That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked," and Job exclaimed against God, "It is all one; therefore I say, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked." They both received their due recompense, Abraham was rewarded and Job was punished.[5]

Convinced that his suffering was undeserved and unjust, Job had the audacity to say to God: "O Lord of the world, Thou didst create the ox with cloven feet and the ass with unparted hoof, Thou hast created Paradise and hell, Thou createst the righteous and also the wicked. There is none to hinder, Thou canst do as seemeth good in Thy sight." The friends of Job replied: "It is true, God hath created the evil inclination, but He hath also given man the Torah as a remedy against it. Therefore the wicked cannot roll their guilt from off their shoulders and put it upon God."

The reason Job did not shrink from such extravagant utterances was because he denied the resurrection of the dead. He judged of the prosperity of the wicked and the woes of the pious only by their earthly fortunes. Proceeding from this false premise, he held it to be possible that the punishment falling to his share was not at all intended for him. God had slipped into an error, He imposed the suffering upon him that had been appointed unto a sinner. But God spake to him, saying: "Many hairs have I created upon the head of man, yet each hair hath its own sac, for were two hairs to draw their nourishment from the same sac, man would lose the sight of his eyes. It hath never happened that a sac hath been misplaced. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another? I let many drops of rain descend from the heavens, and for each drop there is a mould in the clouds, for were two drops to issue from the same mould, the ground would be made so miry that it could not bring forth any growth. It hath never happened that a mould hath been misplaced. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another? Many thunderbolts I hurl from the skies, but each one comes from its own path, for were two to proceed from the same path, they would destroy the whole world. It hath never happened that a path hath been misplaced. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another? The gazelle gives birth to her young on the topmost point of a rock, and it would fall into the abyss and be crushed to death, if I did not send an eagle thither to catch it up and carry it to its mother. Were the eagle to appear a minute earlier or later than the appointed time, the little gazelle would perish. It hath never happened that the proper minute of time was missed. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another? The hind has a contracted womb, and would not be able to bring forth her young, if I did not send a dragon to her at the right second, to nibble at her womb and soften it, for then she can bear. Were the dragon to come a second before or after the right time, the hind would perish. It hath never happened that I missed the right second. Should I, then, have mistaken Job for another?"

Notwithstanding Job's unpardonable words, God was displeased with his friends for passing harsh judgment upon him. "A man may not be held responsible for what he does in his anguish," and Job's agony was great, indeed[6]

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