It seems nowadays everyone is talking about jobs: job creators, joblessness, Steve Jobs and even certain sexual acts featuring the word job. Perhaps then, this would be a good time to look back at the original job, the biblical Job. The Story of Job, appears in the old testament’s appropriately titled Book of Job, though reading it is not as much of job as many other old testament books (Leviticus anyone?).
Believers point to Job as a story of how God rewards faithfulness, while I see it as a fantastic illustration of what a nasty piece work the Christian God is. This of course is ironic, since the English word Job is apparently rooted, not in this biblical story, but in the expression: “jobbe of worke” meaning piece of work (as opposed to continuous work). Or at least that is what the Internet says.
Enough with the word, play let’s get to the story. In this story we meet Job, who is described as a “perfect, and upright” follower of God. He is the “greatest man in east,” and apparently has great wealth, including “seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household.” Needless to say, God thinks this Job character is just the bee’s knees. God gathers his council, who are apparently referred to as “the sons of God”… Wait God has sons other than Jesus? Apparently, and among them comes Satan. God asks Satan where he has been. Apparently the notion of God as all-knowing, either has yet to enter the tradition or is only selectively applied by old testament writers.
Keep in mind, The Book of Job marks an early appearance of Satan as a character, in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Satan comes from a noun form of a Hebrew verb meaning to obstruct or oppose. In Job, he appears as ha Satan or the satan, which is apparently like the accuser,” or “the adversary”. In other words, as he appears in the book of as more of a devil’s advocate than an actually devil. He won’t develop into the ultimate enemy of humanity, until latter.
Anyway, as the story progresses. God starts talking up what a great and loyal servant this Job character is to his “sons”. Satan points out, that it’s easy for Job to be so loyal, after-all look at how well God has rewarded him. Satan suggest that if Job lost everything, he would “curse thee to thy face.” God answers Satan’s challenge by putting Job’s fate into Satan’s hands and the bet is on!!!
God’s on limit on what Satan can do is not put thine hand on Job himself.
So let the games begin: God allows Satan to kill Job’s slaves and animals killed with swords and through burning to death. Way to keep it classy, God!! But wait, Job’s children are next: Satan takes them in a windstorm! Through all this Job remains loyal, continues to worship god and never blames God for these happenings (though God did in fact, approve all of them).
In the second book, it’s round two, and this time God gives Satan the go ahead, on violating Job’s flesh bone, but requires Satan stop short of killing him. So Satan “ smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown”. Job takes “a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.” Job eventually curses the day he was born, but at no point does he lose his loyalty toward God, or assign blame to God. Eventually God, rewarding Job’s loyalty, God cures Job’s boils and gives him even more animals and children than he had to begin with.
So, in other words, God gave the go-ahead for the murder of a man’s children and slaves, and killed his animals, then allowed him to be afflicted with boils, all for a stupid bet. This is utterly repulsive. Any human that did any of the things that God, and is buddy Satan do to job would be recognized as a monster. So, what if Job, got a new family and animals? How could that possibly justify killing his first family? The whole story reflects what a nasty tribal war God the Jews of this time worshiped. I’m glad to say we have moved well beyond the morality of the bible.