In the Bible, where are Job's relatives

Job

His wife asks him if he is still working properly. One bad news after another catches up with him. His huge herds of cattle and camels are looted or burned in the fire, enemies butcher the servants, his seven sons and three daughters are killed when a house collapses. He himself is struck with terrible ulcers all over his body. So difficult that he has to leave the community and sit on a heap of ashes and rubbish outside the village. But he still does not complain to his God with a single word and firmly adheres to his faith. Understandable that his wife doubts his mind and attacks him badly: "Say God and die!"

Job is an innocent and godly man. A few centuries before Christ he lives with a large number of servants somewhere in eastern Palestine. And he's richer than anyone else in the area. He does not know that he has to be used as the pawn in a bet between God and Satan. A risky bet: if Job failed, God would have put himself at risk. And Satan is very certain that Job will turn away from God if he only plays along badly enough with him. But God too trusts in Job's unshakable piety. The devil has the green light for all afflictions, he only has to spare Job's life.

Life? What does life mean here? A person is tormented physically and mentally, that his friends are speechless, that he himself curses the day on which he was born and curses his life. If he had died giving birth, then he would have peace now and would not have to suffer so senselessly. He is still aware of his impeccable lifestyle. The God who inflicts such pain on him and refuses to tell him why: Why does God give people life at all if he only spoils it for them later seems increasingly puzzling to him?

Anyone who is dishonorable can mock Job: "Now those whose fathers I would not have considered worthy of putting them with my dogs at the flock are laughing at me," he complains. And even suffers like a dog under the hand of God. But what kind of God is that who inflicts such sufferings? Job experiences him as an oppressor, a destroyer, a violent criminal, an incomprehensibly cruel man who has no right to demand human loyalty.

The desperate but steadfast Job gets back prosperity and health in the end. He has more camels and cattle, more donkeys and sheep than before. Everything is replaced twice. The relatives turn to him again, as many children are born to him as he had before. And nobody in the country has more beautiful daughters. Job has a long and blessed life ahead of him. All's well that ends well?

For many, the story of Job is a parable of the God who gives people a chance to prove themselves in trials. Their outcome cannot mask the fact that the image of God in the Book of Job is a step backwards behind the God of the prophets of Israel, whose special characteristics included law and justice and who rather freed from suffering than caused it. “This God forces godlessness”, writes the theologian Jörg Zink, “and if Job does not succumb to it, it is because he is a poetic figure, a poetic archetype of superhuman stamina.

Hans-Albrecht Plasterer
from: JS-Magazin - magazine of the Evangelical Church for young soldiers

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