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JAMES CLARKE & co., 13 & 14, FLEET STREET, E.C, 


NOTHING that any one has ever said or will ever say 
about the book of Job can remotely approach the 
titanic impression made by the book itself. It is 
therefore all the more to be regretted that it is so little 
known. " Ye have heard of the patience of Job." 
Many people have heard no more about Job than 
that, and do not even know enough of the book to 
know that it is his endurancejrather than his patience 
that stamps him as the hero that he is, and that is 
commended in the well-known words of St. James 
(v.n). It is therefore at least as important to 
present the book as to discuss it. For this reason I 
have woven the translation continuously through 
the discussion, so that neither reader nor discussion 
can ever wander very far from the book itself. 

The glory of the book could not be altogether 
extinguished even by a feeble prose translation, and 
in many places it is quite clearly reflected from the 
noble prose of the Authorized Version. But I 
have ventured to present it, or most of it, in a fresh 
translation, which attempts to do what little justice 
is possible to the rhythmical and sonorous cadences 
of the original. I hope soon to publish a continuous 
translation of the book. The text bristles with 
difficulties and obscurities of every kind many of 
them probably for ever insoluble. It is not the 



function of this volume to discuss critical and 
textual questions ; in the translation I have adopted 
such emendations as seemed to me most reasonable. 

Probably the poetical part of the book would 
lend itself to dramatic representation as readily, say, 
as Everyman ; but without discussing the question 
whether it is technically a drama or not, no one can 
deny that it is alive with dramatic quality. Partly 
to bring this out, and partly to articulate the pro 
gress of its thought, I have given to its clearly marked 
divisions the name of Acts, instead of the more 
familiar " Cycles of Speeches." 

The book of Job is astonishingly modern. It may 
be true, as Cheyne has said, x that " more than any 
other book in the Hebrew canon it needs bringing 
near to the modern reader " ; nevertheless, Job s 
questions are ours the meaning of life, the purpose 
of pain, the nature of religion, the seat of authority, 
etc. This volume, however, does not discuss the 
general problem of pain : it simply seeks to interpret 
this marvellously penetrating discussion of it from 
a far-off day, when the world, though younger, 
was already perplexed and sorrowful. 

There is nothing here about the War. Yet it is 
perhaps not too much to hope that this noble ancient 
discussion will shed some light on the sorrows which 
have perplexed the faith of some and broken the 
hearts of many. 


" Job and Solomon, p. 107. 






RUINED HEALTH (ch. ii.) 26 




REVELATION (chs. iv. and v.) 41 



GONE (chs. vi. and vii.) 50 


(ch. viii.) 61 


ix. and x.) 67 


OF GOD (ch. xi.) 76 


AND HIS GLIMPSE BEYOND IT (chs. xii.-xiv.) 81 



DOCTRINE OF THE PAST (ch. xv.) 99 


and xvii.) 106 


DOOM OF THE WICKED (ch. xviii.) 116 



(ch. xix.) 123 

AGAINST JOB (ch. xx.) 138 


(ch. xxi.) 145 




EXISTING ORDER (chs. xxiii. and xxiv.) 164 


POWER (chs. xxv. and xxvi.) 174 


(ch. xxvii.) 179 


xxix.-xxxi.) 186 


THE ANSWER OF THE ALMIGHTY (chs. xxxviii., xxxix. 

xl. 2, 8-14) 209 


xlii. 2-6) 230 

THE RESTORATION OF JOB (ch. xlii. 7-17) 241 


xxx vii.) 253 




INDEX 297 

CRUSHED (JoB i. AND ii.) 


THE story opens with a simple quiet dignity, which 
raises no suspicion of the storm that is so soon to 
break. " In the land of Uz there was a man called 
Job a man blameless and upright, who feared God 
and shunned evil." It is the story of an innocent 
sufferer ; but, already in his opening words, the 
large and generous outlook of the writer is evident : 
for, Jew though he be himselLJii^ieroi^, foreigner, 
As if to deliver us J aTfhe~ very Cutset from all little 
views of life and its problems, he brings up upon his 
stage a blameless and God-fearing man from the 
land of Uz. Where Uz was we know not enough 
that it was not Judaea ; but if, as seems most pro 
bable, it was in Edom, the marvel is all the greater 
that this good and saintly man belonged not only to 
a foreign, but to a hostile and hated people. For it 
was Edomites who had said of Jerusalem in the 
day of her anguish, " Lay her bare, lay her bare, 
right down to her very foundation" (Ps. cxxxvii. 7) ; 
and it was of Edom that a Hebrew prophet, possibly 
contemporary, or nearly so, with the writer of Job, 
speaking in the name of Jehovah, declared, " Jacob 
I loved, but Esau (i.e., Edom) I hated " (Mai. i. 21). 
In this man therefore we see something of the breadth \ 
of the mind of Jesus, who made the kind hero of his 
famous parable a Samaritan and not a Jew. By 


The Problem of Pain 

setting his story beyond the limits of Israel, he further 
reminds us that just as there are good men beyond 
her borders in Uz or anywhere so the problem 
with which he is about to wrestle is a universal 
problem, not Israel s any more than ours. The story 
makes its grand appeal " wherever on the wide earth 
tears are shed and hearts are broken. 

The goodness of Job is drawn in simple but firm 
outlines. He is not perfect no man is ; and more 
than once in the course of the argument, Job 
| frankly acknowledges his sins ; but he is a man of 
1 blameless life, rooted in the fear of God. The unani 
mous voice of the Old Testament, heard in the 
Decalogue, in the prophets, everywhere, is that no 
morality is secure, or in the true sense even possible, 
which is not rooted in religion : the good man of the 
prophets is he who rests an active life of justice and 
mercy upon a humble walk with God (cf. Mic. vi. 8). 
And such was Job. His was not merely the negative 
morality of " avoiding evil. * The positive beauty 
and eager generosity of his character we shall see 
displayed when he comes to make his great defence 
in chapters xxix.-xxxi. against the cruel insinuations 
and charges of his friends ; and we need not here 
anticipate, especially as the opening incidents of the 
story reveal the fine quality of his inner and outer 
life. But it is of the utmost importance for our 
appreciation of the later developments of the drama 
to bear steadily in mind this tribute deliberately 
paid in the opening verses to his unimpeachable 
integrity and piety. Job will later say violent and 
bitter things, which may astonish us as profoundly 


The Prologue 

as they exasperated his friends ; but we dare not 
forget that he is and remains a man blameless and 
upright, fearing God and shunning evil. 

Now it is the all but universal teaching of the Old 
Testament that men and nations of this moral 

religious quality are honoured with material rewards. 
The earth was the Lord s, and the fulness thereof, 
and the Judge of all the earth was implicitly trusted 
to do right : which, in one of its aspects, meant to 
give men according to their deserts goods to the 
good and evils to the evil. This is the view of 
Deuteronomy (cf. ch. xxviii.) and of Proverbs, it is 
the view of Job s friends who had been trained in the 
orthodoxy of Deuteronomy, it is at least to begin 
with the view of Job himself. Accordingly, it is 
natural that to so good a man " there were born 
seven sons and three daughters " for a large I 
family was a peculiarly convincing mark of the divine I 
favour (Ps. cxxvii. 3-5) and that " he owned seven 
thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred 
yoke of oxen, five hundred she-asses, and a vast 
train of servants, so that he was the richest man in all 
the East." These facts of his prosperity are not 
additional to his piety : they are the consequence and 
the reward of it stable, so long as his piety remained 
stable. For the good man not only may, but must, 
fare well. So said orthodoxy. 

We are next introduced to a happy family scene. 
" Now his sons used to hold feasts day about, and 
they would send and invite their three sisters to eat 
and drink with them." But this perpetual round 
of gaiety was not without its perils, andjob whom 


The Problem of Pain 

we may think of as a man past middle life, as he has 
grown up sons with houses of their own is fearful 
lest his happy children may be tempted to forget 
or ignore or defy the claims of religion. So " when 
the cycle of feasts was over, Job used to send for 
them, and prepare them for worship, rising early and 
offering burnt-offerings for them all." May we 
detect in this any reflection of the criticism which 
seldom fails to be meted to the rising generation by 
their soberer elders ? However that may be, it is 
plain that Job is a man of the most scrupulous piety. 
Like a good father who bears upon his conscience 
the burden of his children s welfare, he individualizes 
them : not content with a single offering for all, he 
makes an offering for each. He is priest of his family 
not in name only, but in deed and in truth. He 
knows how easy it is for the young and light-hearted 
to go astray, especially when in jovial mood, and to 
trespass the bounds of religious decorum ; and he 
will take no risks where his children are concerned, 
" for/ he said, 

"Perchance my children have sinned 
And cursed God in their heart. " 

He does not know for certain, but perhaps they have ; 
and that is enough. Behind the outward rite we 
see Job s deep and earnest anxiety for the honour of 
his God and the spiritual welfare of his children, even 
after they are grown up and have homes of their own. 
Geniality and religion reigned in this ancient home. 
Of scrupulous piety and integrity, happy in his home 
and possessions such was Job. 


The Prologue 

From these happy family festivals of merry sons 
and daughters with their anxious and reverent 
father, we are swiftly transported to another scene, 
this time in the world above, where " on a certain 
day the heavenly Beings came to present themselves 
before Jehovah, and among them came Satan " 
(more strictly, the Satan, or Adversary) ; for he too 
is one of the supernatural Beings who form the council 
of Jehovah, and perform the several tasks allotted 
to them. " Then Jehovah asked Satan where he 
had come from, and Satan answered Jehovah thus, 
From ranging the earth and from walking up and 
down it. Satan, frs some ofle Jhas said, is the^ 
vagabond of the heavenly host : he makes it his 
business to go up and down the world, spying upon 
men, peering with sinister eyes into their motives, 
and throwing doubt upon their integrity. " Then 
Jehovah said unto Satan, 

Hast thou noted my servant Job, 

That on earth there is none like him 
A man blameless and upright, 
Who fears God and shuns evil ? 

Here is praise indeed. The generous testimony given 
in the introduction to the nobility of Job is here 
confirmed upon the lips of Jehovah Himself in words 
which deliberately repeat the former statement, as 
if to suggest that heaven and earth, God and man, 
are alike agreed about the integrity and piety of Job. 
Nay, Jehovah goes even further than this : in calling 
him by the rare and honourable title My servant, 
He lifts him to a place of unique distinction and sets 
him beside those few but mighty servants who 

The Problem of Pain 

greatly interpret or accomplish His will. He is 
proud of His servant, He is sure of his inflexible 
loyalty, and He is not afraid to expose him to the 
scrutiny of the celestial Cynic. In view of the terrific 
blows which are so soon to smite Job s earthly 
happiness into dust and ashes, it is of the utmost 
importance to note that the initiative comes from 
Jehovah : it is He and not Satan who throws down 
the challenge. Perhaps the writer is here suggest 
ing that human experience, and not least misfortune, 
may have its origin in some thought of God it 
may even be in a thought which does the highest 
honour to the man who suffers. He suffers as 
My servant, who can be trusted with a cross. 
To Jehovah s proud question, Satan made answer : 

" But is it for nothing that Job fears God ? 
Hast Thou not Thyself fenced him and his house, 

And all he possesses on every side ? 
But put forth Thy hand and touch all he possesses, 

And assuredly then to Thy face he will curse Thee." 

The problem of the book, on one of its sides, is 
succinctly stated in the very first words of Satan, 
7s it for nothing that Job fears God ? or, in modern 
language, Is there such a thing as disinterested 
religion ; or, at any rate, a religion whose only 
interest is God Himself ? In his wanderings across 
the world, Satan has apparently seen hypocrites 
enough to make him more than sceptical of the 
possibility of a religion which cost, but which did 
not pay. When it ceased to pay, it vanished that 
was his simple theory, founded on a vast array of 
facts to which he could not believe that Job would 


The Prologue 

prove any exception. The earthly cynic, like the 
heavenly, who is but his counterpart, is often 
flagrantly wrong in his estimate of character. Job 
was good Satan freely admitted but it was worth 
his while. Anyone might well be good on those 
terms : for his substance abounded in the land, and 
" hast Thou not Thyself fenced him and his house, 
and all he possesses on every side ? " so that neither 
thief nor beast could break through or steal. His 
religion has never been put to the test. " Put forth 
Thy hand and touch all he possesses " : Satan could 
not conceive of a man who had a life beyond his 
possessions, a life which no blow could shatter. He 
imagined that, when the gift was withdrawn, 
the sufferer would recoil from the Giver with a curse ; 
because he did not know that there were men doubt 
less there are not many, and cynical eyes cannot see 
any to whom the Giver is infinitely more precious 
* than the gift. Thus, in casting doubt upon the ) 
.sincerity of Job, Satan was also implicitly denying j 
the lovableness of God : a man might love God for j 
what He gave, but not conceivably for what He was. \ 
1 Thus God was on His trial, no less than Job. Each 
believes in the other ; but both will be revealed for 
the shams that they are, when put to the test of fire. 
" Strip the man," says Satan in effect, " of all that 
he has all of it and then we shall see what he is." 
It is a terrible test, but Jehovah is not afraid : if 
His servant trusts Him, no less does He trust His 
servant. So " Jehovah said to Satan : 

See ! all he possesses is in thy power ; 

But lay not thy hand on the man himself. 


The Problem of Pain 

His health and his life were to be spared. " Then 
forth went Satan from the presence of Jehovah," 
to tear with cruel fingers the coverings from the 
innocent Job and to reveal the man in his essential 
quality ; and we may suppose the heavenly council 
looking down, with eyes of strained and eager interest, 
while the terrible test goes on. The departure of 
Satan upon his dark errand recalls the departure of 
another upon an errand darker still. " Judas, 
having received the sop, went immediately out : 
and it was night " night in the world and in his 

This fateful council in the sky makes a fine foil 
to the happy family scene below, and completely 
explains its swift and sorrowful transformation. 
For no sooner had Satan departed than the blows 
directed by his evil genius which were to shatter 
the earthly fortunes of Job, began to fall fast and 
furious. " Now on a certain day, as his sons and 
daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house 
of their eldest brother, suddenly a messenger 
appeared before Job with the tidings : 

The oxen were hard at the plough, 

And the asses were feeding beside them, 
When Sabeans fell upon them and seized them : 
The servants they slew with the sword 
Only I alone am escaped to tell thee. 

While he was still speaking, another came and said : 

1 The fire of God has fallen from heaven, 
And burnt to a cinder the sheep and the servants 
Only I alone am escaped to tell thee. 


The Prologue 

While he was stiJJ speaking, another came and said : 

Chaldeans, formed into three bands, 

Made a raid on the camels and seized them. 
The servants they slew with the sword 
Only I alone am escaped to tell thee. 

While he was still speaking, another came and said : 

Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking 

In the house of their eldest brother : 
On a sudden a mighty wind 

From the other side of the desert 
Came and smote the four sides of the house, 

That it fell on the young folk and killed them 
Only I alone am escaped to tell thee. " 

There is a certain breathlessness about the narrative 
which describes the cruel impetuosity of Satan s 
assault upon the fortunes of Job, and the unrelenting 
thoroughness with which their overthrow was accom 
plished. While he was yet speaking, another came 
and said . . ." Scarcely had one blow fallen, 
when another and more terrible is delivered. Satan 
is determined to strip Job without warning, without 
mercy, and without delay, of all that makes it worth 
his while to be good ; and, to ensure his ruin, the 
forces alike of heaven and earth are summoned 
not only the robber tribes of the desert, but the very 
lightning, the fire of God from heaven, and the mighty 
rushing wind that comes up from the desert. These 
calamities may be natural injtheir kind^ but they are 
supernatural in their intensity and in the rapidity 
of their succession : for was there ever lightning that 
consumed seven thousand sheep at one stroke ? 
It seemed as if the powers of the universe were 
leagued against Job, to tear from him not only all 


The Problem of Pain 

that he had, but all that he loved : for those happy 
sons and daughters, whom last we saw feasting in 
their elder brother s house, are now lying dead among 
its ruins. And the irony of it all is that this should 
have happened at the beginning of one of the cycles 
of the feasts, that is, just after Job had solemnly 
and scrupulously sought to purge his household from 
every shadow of guilt. But now, despite his faith 
fulness, all that was his is gone oxen, asses, sheep, 
camels, servants, sons, daughters, all but his wife 
and the four servants who came with their tales of 
horror vanished in one brief day. Verily, as 
another Hebrew poet wrote : 

" It is but as a vapour that every man stands, 
It is but in mere semblance man walks to and fro." 

(Ps xxx ix. 5f) 

Satan has had a free hand, and he has made the 
most unscrupulous use of the terrifying resources at 
his disposal. His test has lacked nothing ot 
rigour ; it is his own test, applied in his own way. 
How does Job stand it ? At once the breathless 
narrative becomes calm, serene and dignified as 
if to suggest by its very form the steadiness of this 
great soul against which the furious storm had hurled 
itself in vain. " Then Job rose and rent his robe ; 
and, after shaving his head, he fell prostrate on the 
ground." Job is not a Stoic : he is not unmoved, 
as who could be that in one short hour had lost all 
his beloved children ? He is wounded to the very 
heart of him, and he shows all the signs of Oriental 
mourning. But we are especially concerned with 
what he will say, for has not Satan insinuated that 


The Prologue 

his first word would be a curse ? Celestial eyes 
are watching, and celestial ears are listening, and 
this is what he says 

" Naked came I from my mother s womb, 

And naked thither must I return : 
Jehovah hath given, Jehovah hath taken ; 
The name of Jehovah for ever be blessed/ 

It is infinitely noble. Job came to the earth with 
nothing, and he is content to leave it with nothing. 
The things that had crowded his life with interest 
and pleasure, and the children who had filled his 
home with glee, were strictly not his own ; they were 
gifts gifts from the Lord, and the Lord who gave 
has the right to take. See how this man s whole 
life, all that he once enjoyed and all that he now is 
suffering, is overshadowed from end to end with a 
sense of the presence of God. Calamity might rob 
him of his possessions and his children, but it could 
not rob him of his God. The storm that rushed up 
from the wilderness might shatter the house of 
festivity, but it could not shatter Job. He stood 
firm, for he had built his life upon the everlasting 
Rock. With fine literary skill the writer reserves 
the crucial word for the last. " The name of Jehovah 
be ," and breathlessly we wait for the word which 
Satan had maintained and hoped would be " cursed; " 
but the mighty Satan, with those terrible resources 
of fire and storm at his disposal, had met his match 
in Job. " The name of Jehovah be blessed." So 
Satan is foiled, affronted before gods and men. Job 
had stood the test and Job s God too ; for He was 
worthy for whom Job should suffer this. " In 


The Problem of Pain 

all this Job committed no sin, nor did he charge God 
with unseemly dealing." 

How suggestive is all this ! We learn, for one 
thing and the writer s contemporaries had need 
of the lesson that a good man, the best man in all 
the earth, one " blameless and upright, fearing God 
and shunning evil," could be hurled to the depths of 
sorrow and loss for no sin of his own and in this 
the story is a fine preparation for Christianity ; 
and we see, for another thing, how a good man 
behaves in such an hour. He bows humbly to the 
ground before the great Power, the great Person, 
who is above and behind and through all his experi 
ence ; but his attitude is not merely resignation, 
it is praise. He can bless the unseen Hand that 
smote him, for he knows that it is God s. Nay, we 
say, but is it not Satan s ? Job, of course, could not 
know this ; but does not the story remind us that 
it was in the last analysis God who, fearlessly con 
fiding in the loyalty of His servant, and for high 
reasons of His own, delivered Job over for a season 
to the Arch-sceptic and Tormentor ? 

- . A MMWMMW.. 

Now all this is the more wonderful, when we con 
sider that Job had been trained in the school which 
connected piety indissolubly with prosperity, and 
no one could have been more surprised than he at 
the grievous things which had befallen. The blow 
was all the more terrible that it struck at the faith 
by which Job lived. He is utterly alone : not only 
without a child to comfort him, but without an 
explanation or theory to reconcile him to his misery. 
Nay, he is left among the ruins of his happiness with 


The Prologue 

a series of facts which, on his old theory of life, would 
seem as they seemed to his friends to point 
infallibly to some heinous hidden sin. But he can 
bear the loneliness, for he is alone with God : that 
portion not Satan himself could take from him. 

The writer of this wonderful story was too great 
a man to suppose that he had any absolutely complete 
and satisfactory solution to offer of the mysterious 
ways of God : his whole book is a mighty protest 
against the inadequacy of contemporary theories 
of life and suffering. But there are brilliant flashes 
of insight which momentarily light up the mystery, 
and one or two of the most brilliant are in this open 
ing chapter of the story. Whydojpod men sufferj 
One answer to that is this : That through their suffer- 
ing a divine purpose we do not yet say what pur 
pose, but some purpose is being worked out. To 
the thinking heart life would be intolerable and 
history a chaos, were their seeming confusions not 
redeemed and illuminated by a sense of purpose. 
This is the faith that reconciles us to the mystery, 
and this is the faith which shines through the story 
of the council in heaven. The blows that shatter 
to atoms the happiness of Job are not dealt by chance 
or accident or any random hand : they fall by per 
mission. They come, because " Jehovah had said 
to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job ? 
That is, the sorrows below find their explanation in 
the world above. 

Extraordinarily suggestive is the juxtaposition of 
these two scenes the council of the gods in the world 
above, and the calamities that hurl themselves on 


The Problem of Pain 

Job in the world below. Both scenes must come 
into the picture, if the world below is to be approxi 
mately understood, or even tolerated. Something 
was said or purposed there, and something happens 
here. A scene in nature or in life without a sky is 
meaningless. If such a thing could be, it would 
drive men to despair ; but if such a thing cannot be, 
then there is hope and a gospel. " Heaven over 
arches you and me " : to believe that makes all the 
difference. The ancient writer uses the beliefs of his 
own time or perhaps an older time to enforce, or at 
any rate, to suggest, his meaning ; but behind this 
ancient and long superseded conception of a council 
of gods in the heavens is the eternal truth that above 
us is One who cares for us, One whose plan requires 
and comprehends our little lives, One who has His 
purposes for us, One without whose knowledge and 
permission nothing that happens to us can happen. 
Job was ignorant of the details, as we are ; but his 
noble words show that he believed, as we may, in the 
Presence and the Purpose. Job did not know of 
Satan ; it would have been easier for him to say 
what he said had he known. But the presence of 
God in his life, and some more or less consciously 
apprehended sense of His purpose, kept him steady. 
Can we define this purpose more closely ? 
Whether we can or not, it is, as we see, comforting 
and steadying to believe it. But certain aspects of 
the purpose are subtly suggested by the story itself. 
It is, for example, a kindly purpose ; it is the purpose 
of a God who trusts us, who wishes us well, and 
expects us, so to speak, to play up to it In the 


The Prologue 

mind of God there is not a thought of punishing 
Job. " Neither did this man sin, nor his parents ; 
but that the works of God should be made manifest 
in him." Suffering is a privilege He confers upon 
Job, in order to defeat for ever the cynical view, 
urged by Satan, that man has no interest higher than 
his own profit, and that the only religion he can be 
persuaded to embrace is one that ministers to his 
comfort or prosperity. Suffering, from this point 
of view, is a test of the quality of a man s religion j 
if there is a point at which it will cease to stand the 
strain, then it is indeed the hollow thing which Satan 
maintained it to be. Religion, to be worth anything, 
^ust Jae^orth everything : it is only worth while, if 
it enables a man to endure to the end. But if it 
does this, not only is the man glorified, but God no 
less, seeing that it is through faith in Him and His 
purpose that the man endures. Beyond the ruins 
of his earthly happiness and hope he sees a kindly 
Face, and he takes heart for the lonely days to come, 
which cannot fail to be cheered by the great Com 
panion. As Paul Volz has finely said, There 
breathes in the story a glorious optimism faith in 
the victory of the good God and the good man. In 
this human life there is enacted the conflict between 
the good and the evil, and the good abides." 


Satan has been defeated ; but, though perplexed, 
he is not in despair. He simply assumes that the 
test to which he had subjected the piety of Job was 
not terrible enough ; and so, with cool effrontery 
and high hopes, he plans to return to the assault the 
very next time " the heavenly Beings came to present 
themselves before Jehovah. Then Jehovah asked 
Satan where he had come from, and Satan answered 
Jehovah thus, From ranging the earth and from 
walking up and down it. Then Jehovah said to 
Satan : 

Hast thou noted my servant Job, 

That on earth there is none like him 
A man blameless and upright, 
Who fears God and shuns evil ? " 

The scenery, the speaker, the statements, the 
questions, the answers, are precisely the same as in 
the first supernatural council. It is the fashion of 
ancient narratives to indulge in repetition, but it is 
impossible to miss in Jehovah s second challenge to 
Satan the undertone of triumphant irony. He speaks 
as if nothing had happened, though they both know 
very well that much has happened: Satan s cynicism 
has been utterly discredited, and Jehovah s daring con 
fidence in His loyal servant has been triumphantly 
justified. We can fancy Satan wincing under the 


The Prologue 

innuendo, the more so as Jehovah, now pointedly 
reminding him of Job s immovable allegiance, goes 
on : " And still " despite the bitter and unmerited 
sufferings which he owes to thy groundless suspicions 
and cruelty 

" And still he clings to his honour,: 

In vain hast thou set me on to destroy him." 

To this Satan made answer : 

" Skin for skin- 
All a man s goods will he give for his life." 

Cynic before and cynic still ! He cannot now deny 
for to his discomfiture he has seen it proved 
that a man may lose and suffer much and yet retain 
his religion, but he is still deeply convinced that there 
is a point at which a strained faith will snap ; and 
it is one of the innumerable touches illustrative of 
the writer s insight that the strain which he regards 
as conceivably capable of snapping an otherwise 
inflexible faith is the strain of shattered health 
The first blow, terrible as it had been, had at least 
left Job with his life and nothing is more precious 
than life. " All that a man has " his sheep and 
oxen and camels, yes, and his children too " he 
will willingly give for his life " : a truly superficial 
estimate of human nature, disproved by a thousand 
noble lives, but thoroughly worthy of your pro 
fessional cynic. Still, what is life without health ? 
Shatter that, and the faith will reel. So Satan 
requests Jehovah to 

" Put forth Thy hand, touch his bone and his flesh, 
And assuredly then to Thy face he will curse Tliee." 


The Problem of Pain 

To slay him outright would, of course, have invali 
dated the whole test. " Whereupon Jehovah said 
to Satan : 

See ! he is in thy power, 

But take heed that thou spare his life. 

Then forth Satan went from the presence of 
Jehovah " ; and, as before, at his departure the cruel 
tragedy recommences, only this time in fiercer 
form ; for " he smote Job from the sole of his foot 
to the crown of his head with boils." Again, as 
before, the calamity is natural it is the awful 
scourge of lerjrosy : but again, as before, it is super 
natural in its swiftness and intensity. Not gradually 
as upon other men, but instantly it falls upon Job ; 
and it seizes not upon one part of his body only, but 
upon all " from the sole of his foot to the crown of 
his head ; " and the eruptions are so grievous that, 
as he sat solitary and apart upon the ash-heap, out 
side the village, " he took a potsherd to scratch 
with," in order to ease him of his pain. 

At this point his wife appears, whom the narrative 
has hitherto ignored ; and she said to him, 

" Art thou clinging still to thine honour ? 
Curse God and die." 

As Edward Caird x has said, there are those who 
" think, like Job s wife, that the difficulties which 
try our faith are a sufficient reason for renouncing 
it altogether." Her first words are a witness to the 
indomitable integrity of Job s faith ; but if this is 
what it comes to, better dead : a curse from his lips 

1 Lay Sermons, p. 298. 

The Prologue 

this was what Satan had planned for and hoped for, 
and the wife unconsciously seconds the Tempter 
a curse from his lips would evoke an avenging stroke 
from the God he had cursed, and so bring his intoler 
able misery to an end. 

The instinctive assimilation of the woman s 
mind to the purpose of the Tempter suggestively 
recalls the story of Eve and the serpent, and is in 
line with some aspects of the Old Testament view of 
woman. It was Eve who ruined Adam, it was 
Sarah who laughecl incredulously at the promise 
which Abraham was ready to believe, it was Lot s 
wife who turned back for a last look at the wicked 
Sodom. These facts have tempted the commen 
tators into much humorous but rather unworthy 
cynicism. Cheyne, l for example, remarks that " his 
wife, by a touch of quiet humour, is spared " in the 
catastrophes which overthrew his family ; and in the 
same strain Dillon 2 the Adversary " spares his 
spouse, lest misery should harbour any possibilities 
unrealised." Far more worthy, and essentially far 
more penetrating, is Louise Houghton s comment* 
that " the only woe which is to her intolerable is 
that in which she herself has no share." It takes 
a woman to understand a woman. But Job s wife 
serves the purpose of showing how ordinary people 
would act under a strain so awful, and her wild 
impulsive outburst throws into the bolder relief the 

1 Job and Solomon, p. 14. 
The Sceptics of the Old Testament, p. 73, 
Hebrew Life and Thought, p. 267. 

The Problem of Pain 

marvellous patience of Job, who gently chides her 
in these immortal words : 

" Must them too speak 

As foolish women speak ? 
We accept from God what is good, 
Shall we not accept what is evil ? " 

We he and she : in their happiness they had been 
together, and in misery they should not be divided. 
Now, as before, he recognises the great Figure 
moving behind all life s experience permitting, 
bestowing it all ; and the sorrow, he gently main 
tains, should be as unmurmuringly welcomed as the 
joy. In the presence of an utterance so noble and 
a philosophy of life so sublime, it is a peculiarly 
touching under-statement that " in all this Job 
sinned not with his lips." 

Now that the tale of his sufferings is fully told, we 
are more convinced than ever that a good man may 
suffer terribly : nay, the best of men may suffer 
the worst of all here again the story of Job is a 
preparation for the story of Jesus. Orthodoxy of 
course, denied this : but the sheer nobility of Job, 
of his conduct and of his speech, as he lay there in his 
lonely misery, not only uncomplaining but reconciled, 
the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease, 
daily dying his living death, tempted to blasphemy 
by the wife he loved, yet retaining his mastery of 
himself and his devotion to his inscrutable God 
this noble man was the living evidence of the 
inadequacy, not to say the falsehood, of orthodoxy. 
Already we begin to feel upon our faces the breath of 
the coming challenge. 


The Prologue 

But before the storm breaks, the blackness in 
which Job sits is pierced by a gleam of friendship. 
Three men, apparently great Edomite sheikhs like 

himself Eliphaz older than he, Bildad probably 

about the same age, and Zophar younger, repre 
senting among them the chief aspects of life s 
experience and the combined wisdom of the contem 
porary world came from their various districts 
to condole with their stricken friend. It was a 
grave and sorrowful business, they met to discuss 
it, and they " made a tryst together to condole with 
him and comfort him. But when they caught a 
glimpse of him at a distance, they did not recognise 
him " so horribly disfigured was he. Like that 
other more famous Servant, " his visage was marred 
out of all human likeness." 1 " Then every man of them 
wept aloud and tore his robe and scattered dust 
heavenward " in token of the intensity of his grief 
" upon his head." Though they did not see the 
agony of his soul, they saw his misery, and they " sat 
down beside him upon the ground seven days and 
nights " the time one mourns for the dead " and 
no one said a word to him," for they did not know 
what to say to a sorrow like this, and " they saw 
that his pain was very great." 

We shall have occasion enough to resent most 
bitterly ,as Job did, many of the things they will 
say when their tongue is loosened ; but we begin 
with a tribute of respect to the men who travelled 
far to offer their silent sympathy to their unhappy 

1 Isa. lii. 14. 

The Problem of Pain 

friend. " They do not write notes to him and go 
about their business as if nothing had happened. 
They are for ever, " as Mark Rutherford has said, 
" an example of what man once was and ought to be 
to man." 


(JoB iii-xiv.) 



BEFORE the curtain rises and the great dramatic 
debate begins, it is well to remind ourselves that this 
discussion, like so many another, is carried on in 
ignorance of essential facts. The Prologue has put 
Into our Bands flie Key to the problem which is so 
hotly and in part fruitlessly debated by Job and his 
friends. We are in the secret, but they are not. 
They start from the misery which is before their eyes : 
they know nothing of the council in heaven to which 
we have been twice introduced, nothing of the pride 
God is taking in His servant, nothing of the high and 
friendly purpose which explains his misery. And 
therein lies much of the pathos of this discussion, as 
of many another, that it is conducted in the dark. 

But after making every allowance, we are not 
prepared for the awful words with which Job s first 
soliloquy is introduced : " Then Job opened his 
mouth and cursed." It falls like a bolt from the 
blue. Is this the Job on whose lips were but lately 
the words of resignation and praise ? Has Satan 
triumphed after all ? Hardly. Job cursed, not 
indeed his God Satan shall never have that satis 
faction but his day, that is, his birthday. 
Surprising and shocking as is such a curse from such 
a man, Job is but following in the footsteps of the 
great Jeremiah, that other suffering servant, whom 


The Problem of Pain 

later Israel delighted to honour. He too, had cursed 
his birthday in language as vehement, though less 
picturesque and elaborate (Jer. xx. 14-18). 

Now this all but incredible revolution in Job s 
mood becomes psychologically intelligible, when we 
consider his intolerable bodily anguish, which the 
long unbroken silence of his friends had done nothing 
either to assuage or to explain, and when we further 
remember that, according to the view of life in which 
he had been nurtured and which had now had time 
to reassert itself, he had a right to expect from God 
some interposition on his behalf, some practical 
vindication of his innocence, which the contemporary 
world must otherwise inevitably construe as guilt. 
His soul no less than his body was quivering with 
pain. It is therefore no great wonder that the sorrow 
which he had formerly accepted when it was new, he 
now resents, and breaks into an imprecation of the 
day on which he was born. Let us hear his moving 
words : 

" Perish the day wherein I was born, 

And the night which announced that a man-child was there. 
Utter darkness let that night be, 

Looking for light, but finding none. 
May God in the heights above ask not after it, 

And may no beam shine forth upon it. 
May darkness and gloom claim it for their own, 

And may the thick cloud rest upon it. 
Black vapours of the day affright it ! 

And let the thick darkness snatch it away. 
May it not be joined to the days of the year, 

Or enter into the tale of the months. 
As for that night, let it be barren : 

May there never ring through it a cry of joy. 
Accursed of sorcerers be that day 

Of those that are skilful to stir up Leviathan, 

Job s Lament 

Dark be the stars of its morning twilight, 
And never the eye-lids of Dawn may it see ; 

Since it shut not the doors of my mother s womb, 
And hid not trouble from mine eyes." (iii. 3-10.) 

Job treats his birthday as a living thing, which 
had cruelly ushered him into a life of sorrow ; and 
he prays that every year, as it takes its place afresh 
among the days, it may be blotted out or hurled 
back to the primeval darkness out of which it came, 
so that never again should child be born upon it, to 
share a fate like his. 

The patient Job of the Prologue who had accepted 
his torture without murmur or question now rises 
to a mood of challenge. " Why ? Wherefore ? " 
(iii., n, 12, 20). If this is life, then better never to 
have been born ; or, if birth was inevitable, then 
better that death had swiftly followed that would 
have been happiness indeed. 

"Why died I not at my birth, 

Breathe my last as I came from the womb, 
Like a hidden untimely birth, 

Like infants that never see light ? 
Why on the knees was I welcomed 

And why were there breasts to suck ? " 

(iii. 11-16). 

The wail involuntarily reminds us of the chorus in 
(Edipus Coloneus : " Not to be born is, past all 
prizing, best ; but, when a man hath seen the light, 
this is next best by far, that with all speed he should 
go thither, whence he hath come " (1225 ff). Cruel 
were the parents who gave him birth and welcomed 
him ; but once born, if only he had had the unspeak 
able joy of dying at once, 


The Problem of Pain 

Then had I lain down in quiet, 

Then had I slept and had rest 
With kings of the earth and with counsellors, 

Who built stately tombs for themselves, 
Or with princes rich in gold 

Who had filled their houses with silver. 
There the wicked cease their tumult, 

There the weary are at rest 
Prisoners at ease together, 

Deaf to the taskmaster s voice. 
There the small and the great are alike, 

And the servant is free from his master." (iii. 13-19). 

The agitated mood in which he began his impre 
cation, subsides as he contemplates with gentle 
satisfaction what it must be to dwell in peace among 
the dead ; but, welcome as death would be, he never 
for a moment dreams of attaining it by laying violent 
hands on himself. There is a little, but significant 
touch in the last line quoted, which reveals Job s 
sympathy for the servant, a sympathy which often 
again finds striking expression, and which shows how 
kind was the heart that had been so deeply wounded. 
Indeed, profoundly as Job is absorbed in his own 
sorrow, he is ever disposed to " look upon the things 
of others also," and especially upon their misery. 
Out of the depths of his own misery he beholds a 
great brotherhood of sorrow, a host of wretched and 
embittered men who long for the death which refuses 
to come ; and again he asks " Why ? " If human 
life is foredoomed to such sorrow, why should it 
ever have been at all ? What meaning is there in a 
world which has nothing better than this to offer 
to those who are forced to enter it without their 
knowledge or their will ? 


Job s Lament 

Why is light given to the wretched 

And life to the bitter in soul ? 
Such as long for death, but it comes not, 

And dig for it, more than for treasure, 
Who would joy o er a mound of stones, 

And rejoice, could they find a grave. 
For my bread there comes to me sighing, 

My groans are poured out like water. 
For the evil I fear overtakes me, 

The thing that I dread comes upon me. 
Scarce have I ease or quiet 

Or rest, when tumult cometh." (iii. 20-26). 

In this opening lament two things are remarkable : 
first, that Job says not a word about sin. The 
average Hebrew Job s friends, for example, and 
many a psalmist instinctively connected suffering 
with sin, believing that suffering pointed as infallibly 
to sin as sin to suffering. Nothing could more 
vividly suggest Job s conscious innocence than this 
tacit refusal to associate in any way his present 
misery with former sin. And the other point is the 
rising alienation which this monologue betrays. 
Job does not curse God : he does not challenge 
Him at least directly : he hardly even names Him. 
But in the question " Why is light given to the 
wretched and life to the bitter in soul ? " we hear the 
first rumblings of that thunder of challenge which 
Job is to hurl at the Almighty. If we read, as we 
may, " Why giveth He light to the wretched ? " 
the challenge is just a little more audible and daring 
than in the traditional text. He the unnamed 
cause of all the world s misery. But the meaning is 
the same in the end. And if Job is bitter and on the 
verge of defiance, we dare not forget that he had not 


The Problem of Pain 

the sublime consolations of the apostle, 1 who wrote : 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? 
Shall tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine 
or nakedness or peril or sword ? Nay, in all these 
things we are more than conquerors through Him 
that loved us." 

Rom. viii. 35, 37. 


REVELATION (Job iv. and v.) 

The friends, who represent in different ways the 
orthodoxy of the time, had come to condole with 
Job; but on their theory of life that he who does 
well must fare well, and " who ever perished, being 
innocent ? " they could not even at the first have 
regarded him as altogether innocent. And the 
suspicions which the sight of him must have awakened 
in them could not fail to be confirmed by his recent 
words, which were but a veiled challenge of God 
for creating so miserable a world. Nevertheless 
Eliphaz, the most venerable and dignified of the 
three, opens the debate with great courtesy : 

" May we lift up a word unto thee who art fainting ? 
For who has the heart to restrain his speech ?" 

At the very outset he pays a tribute, which Job 
richly deserves, to the fine quality of his character 
in days gone by, significantly singling out his power 
to strengthen the despondent, and gentlv contrast 
ing it with his own despondency now. 

" Behold ! thou hast instructed many, 

And strengthened the drooping hands. 
Thy words used to set up the stumbling, 

And strengthen the tottering knees. 
But now that it comes upon thee, thou art faint ; 
Now that it reaches thyself, thou art terrified." 

(iv. 3-5)- 


The Problem of Pain 

Here emerges for the first time a feature which 
prepares us for the growing exasperation of the debate 
and the rapidly widening estrangement between 
Job and his friends : namely, that the words which 
they sincerely mean to be a comfort act upon him as 
a provocation. If Job had so nobly strengthened 
the weak and the weary so must he have thought 
within himself " why has God rewarded me so ? " 
Eliphaz continues : 

"Is not thy religion thy confidence 

And thy blameless life thy hope ? 
Bethink thee : has an innocent man ever perished ? 
Or when have the just been cut off ? " (iv. 6f). 

In support of this simple proposition, Eliphaz appeals 
to his own experience : 

"It is those who plough wrong and sow trouble 

That reap it : for this I have seen. 
By the breath of God they perish, 

At the blast of His anger they vanish." (iv. 8f). 

In spite of this appeal, however, the truth rather is 
that Eliphaz is imposing his theory upon experience, 
interpreting experience by theory rather than con 
structing his theory out of the facts of experience. 
An innocent man cannot perish, he argues : there 
fore, if he perishes, he cannot have been innocent. 
It is all very simple, too simple to be true : as some 
one has said, " Eliphaz solves the problem by voting 
it out of existence ; " and he clinches his argument by 
a rhetorical simile in which he pictures the sure 
destruction of the roaring lions one of those rather 
heartless irrelevances into which the speakers are 
apt to fall, because they are thinking more of their 


Eliphaz s Revelation 

theory than of the anguish of the innocent man before 

But Eliphaz has, or he thinks he has, an appeal still 
more convincing even than the evidence of experi 
ence he grounds his case on a special revelation ; 
and this he presents in a passage which must ever 
rank as one of the weirdest in literature : 

" Now to me a word came stealing, 

And mine ear caught a whisper thereof, 
In thoughts from the visions of night, 

When deep sleep falleth on men. 
Fear came upon me and trembling, 

That made my bones all quake. 
Then a breath passed over my face, 

The hair of my flesh bristled up. 
There it stood . 

I could not tell what it looked like 
This form before mine eyes. 

In the silence I heard a voice say." (iv. 12-16). 

But how cold all this, how terrible, how different 
from the warm personal friendship which Job in 
later passages, as we shall see, claims to have 
enjoyed with God. Job s God is a Friend, Eliphaz s 
a Terror who makes his bones quake and his hair 
stand on end ; whose presence is felt, not in the even 
tenor of life, but in abnormal experiences and in the 
dead of night. But let that pass : what does the 
weird voice say ? It says : 

" Can mortal be just before God, 

Or a man clean before his Creator ? 
See ! He putteth no trust in His servants, 

His angels He chargeth with folly. 
How much more those whose houses are clay, 
Whose very foundation is dust, 


The Problem of Pain 

Who die before the moth, 

Crushed between morning and evening, 
Bruised without any regarding it, 

Perished for evermore." (iv. 17-20.) 

The message is worthy of the vision, both alike 
are appalling : indeed, the message, besides being 
appalling, is trivial. It hardly needed all this 
supernatural horror to justify so commonplace a 
truth as that no mortal can be just before God or 
pure in the sight of his Maker. Job himself, who 
never claims to be perfect, would have been the first 
to admit the general truth of this statement, but 
what he cannot and will not admit is that this ade 
quately explains the special incidence of the cata 
strophes which have ruined his life. Eliphaz s 
"revelation," besides being appalling and trivial, 
is cruelly irrelevant. If the very angels, with their 
finer natures and opportunities, must stand convicted 
of folly before so stern a God, how much more cer 
tainly must men succumb who live in frail tenements 
of clay ! Can a reasonable God expect from poor 
mortal men a standard of virtue which He does not 
find even in His holy angels ? Here again the words 
which were meant to explain and comfort can only 
exasperate. From the God whom Eliphaz so blandly 
presents Job can only recoil as from an incarnate 
Injustice. Besides, Eliphaz s argument proves 
too much. If Job s " sin " consists in nothing worse 
than in sharing the inevitable frailty of human kind, 
why should he be singled out to suffer this exceptional 
and unutterable woe ? If man is born to frailty, 
is that not all the more reason why a God worthy of 


Eliphaz s Revelation 

human trust and worship should exercise His com 
passion ? Eliphaz is at the other end of the world 
from the Psalmist who wrote : 

" As a father pities his children, 

So the Lord pities them that fear Him ; 
For well He knoweth our frame, 

He remembers that we are dust." (Ps. ciii. 13!). 

Eliphaz is vexed at the irritation which so good 
and wise a man as Job has displayed in his opening 
speech. He reminds him that no good can come of 
that : it is really the mark of the fool, and can but 
draw upon him the deadly stroke of God the very 
thing that Job s wife, in her extremity, had desired 
for him (ii. 9). 

"For vexation killeth the fool, 

Indignation slayeth the simpleton." (v. 2). 

Eliphaz s renewed appeal to experience and his 
frequent use of the personal pronoun / (which is 
more emphatic in the Hebrew text than in the 
English : ^/Jiave seen ") show that he is a person 
of conscious dignity, who takes himself and his 
instruction very seriously : and this in turn explains 
and excuses the later irony of Job. 

"I have seen a fool taking root, 

But his branch became suddenly rotten. 
His children were far from help, 

Crushed beyond hope of deliverance. 
The hungry eat up their harvest, 

And the thirsty draw from their wells. 
For not from the dust riseth ruin, 

Nor out of the ground springeth trouble ; 
But man is born unto trouble, 

While the sons of flame soar above it." (v. 3-7). 
1 Possibly the angels. The meaning of the verse is very obscure, 
and the ordinary translation (" as the sparks fly upward ") is only 
just not impossible. 


The Problem of Pain 

All this again is commonplace and irrelevant, as 
addressed to an innocent man : but in addition, we 
feel here for the first time and it will not be the 
last how cruel are the wounds that can be dealt, 
almost half unconsciously, by those who care more 
for doctrines than for men. For, whether Eliphaz 
means it or not, his calm allusion to the children 
" far from help and crushed beyond hope of deliver 
ance" brings before our minds, as it must have 
brought before Job s, the vision of his happy sons 
and daughters lying dead beneath the ruins of their 
house. Another point of exasperation ! Is it any 
wonder that Job flings his taunt at them, " Miserable 
comforters are ye all "? 

Eliphaz now graciously condescends to show how 
he would act in Job s position. "As for me" 
again the note of conscious importance " I 
would seek unto God " the very thing that Job 
had twice done in the noblest imaginable way, when 
writhing under the terrific blows struck in the 

" Were it I, I would seek unto God ; 

My cause I would bring unto God, 
Who doeth great things and unsearchable, 

Marvellous things without number. 
Who bringeth rain over the earth, 

And over the fields sendeth water 
Setting the lowly on high, 

And lifting the mourners to safety, 
Frustrating the plans of the crafty 

And robbing their hands of success, 
So taking the wise in their guile, 

That their tortuous plans fail through rashness : 
They feel in the day as in darkness, 

At noontide they grope as at night. 

Eliphaz s Revelation 

So the needy He saves from the sword, 
And the poor from the hands of the mighty. 

Thus hope is born in the weak, 

And iniquity stoppeth her mouth." (v. 8-16). 

This is good poetry, and good preaching ; but it 
is not good consolation. It is the teacher here who 
speaks, not the comforter. It is all true enough, 
but it is in the air ; it is laden with no balm for the 
sick and sorrowful heart. But into these fine 
rhetorical commonplaces there shoots a gleam of 
real light. 

" Happy, then, the mortal whom God correcteth ; 

So spurn not thou the Almighty s chastening. 
For He bindeth the wounds He hath made, 

And His hands heal the hurt He hath dealt." (v. iyf). 

In other words, suffering may be sent, not to 
punish, but to discipline the sufferer, and to promote 
his spiritual welfare. It is the same truth as is 
expressed by another of Israel s wise men : 

" Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, 

He afflicteth the son He delights in." (Prov. iii. 12). 

Here is a valuable addition to the brilliant sugges 
tions as to the meaning of suffering thrown out in 
the Prologue ; and we shall treasure it carefully, 
as there are not many gleams of light in the speeches 
of the orthodox friends. The only objection to it 
is that it does not apply to the case in hand : for 
as we must never forget the man to whom it is 
addressed has been described not only by the 
narrator but by God Himself as " blameless and 
upright, fearing God and shunning evil." Perhaps 
we may say that there is another and an even more 


The Problem of Pain 

fatal objection to it that it springs from a heart 
dominated more by doctrine than by sympathy : 
lor, the moment it is stated, the speaker moves 
airily off into an enumeration of calamities from 
which Job may, if he accepts the divine discipline, 
expect to be preserved, but with not one of which 
he is at the moment in the least concerned, except 
it may be " the scourge of the " thoughtless " tongue" 
by which he is being lashed and from which there is 
little chance of his being preserved. Famine, war, 
and the rest what have they to do with the broken 
man upon the ash-heap ? 

" He will save thee in six distresses, 

In seven no evil shall touch thee. 
In famine he frees thee from death, 

And in war from the power of the sword. 
From the scourge of the tongue thou art safe, 

Thou shalt fear not the onslaught of ruin. 
At ruin and dearth shalt thou laugh, 

And the beasts of the field thou shalt fear not. 
For the stones of the earth are thine allies, 

The beasts of the field are thy friends. 
Thou shalt know that thy tent is secure, 

Thou shalt visit thy fold and miss nothing." 

(v. 19-24). 

It is part of that thoughtlessness which, in certain 
circumstances, may amount to a cruelty and a crime: 
and it surely does become cruelty when he goes on to 

" Thy seed thou shalt know to be many, 

Thine offspring as grass of the earth." (v. 25). 

But Job s children are dead a fact which Eliphaz, 
carried away by his eloquent homily, seems to have 
forgotten altogether. The whole speech is, in the 

Eliphaz s Revelation 

intention of the writer, a fine satire on the impotence 
of a mechanical orthodoxy, and on the potential 
cruelty of its exponents, who will not look at facts. 
For all his cutting, or at least careless, innuendo, 
Eliphaz is trying, at the end as at the beginning, 
to be gracious, and he ends upon a note of promise 
a promise destined to be truer than he knew. 

* Thou shalt come to the grave in thy strength, 
As a sheaf coraeth in in its season." (v. 26). 

Or, to be more correct, he really ends upon the note 
of self-conscious importance which had run through 
the whole of his speech : 

" See ! this we have searched so it is. 

We have heard it lay thou it to heart." (v. 27). 

He and his friends are clearly superior persons, 
possessed of truths resting on experience, investi 
gation, and revelation, which it is of the highest 
importance for Job to lay to heart. To Job, in the 
tortures of an incurable disease, the rosy pictures of 
restoration painted by Eliphaz must have seemed 
a bitter mockery ; and this, coupled with Eliphaz s 
cool assumption of superiority, while he is really 
ignorant of the innocence of which Job is so sublimely 
sure, piepares us for the stern speech in which Job 
answers him. 


GONE (Job vi. and vii.) 

Job, who always takes his stand on fact, at once 
concedes the irritation with which Eliphaz had 
charged him (v. 2), but maintains that it is more 
than explained by the misery with which he is 

"O could my vexation be carefully weighed, 

And my misery set in the balance against it ! 
For it is more heavy than sand of the sea, 

And therefore it is that my words are wild."^- 2 *) 

And the Almighty, at whom he had darkly hinted 
before (iii. 23), he now names directly as the Archer 
whose deadly shafts of lose and pestilence have been 
hurled at him, keeping him in ceaseless turmoil 
of body and soul. 

"For the arrows of God Almighty are in me, 

My spirit drinketh their fiery poison." (vi. 4)." 

It is this that constitutes Job s problem : not the 
physical tortures, terrible though they be, but that 
they have been let loose upon him by God s own 
hand. The once gracious Friend has armed Himself 
with terrors and become his relentless foe. He is 
in the mood of the Psalmist who said : 

" This it is that grieves me, 

That the hand of the Most High hath changed." 

(Ps. Ixxvii. 10). 


Job s Challenge 

His sense of alienation is increasing, and it is 
aggravated still more by the odious and insipid 
counsel of the friend who has just spoken : for 

" Doth the wild ass bray as he nibbles the grass, 

And over their fodder do oxen low ? 
Can a man eat that which is tasteless and saltless ? 

Is there any taste in the slime of the yolk ? " (vi. 5f). 

Eliphaz had pointed him to the possibility of 
secure and happy days yet in store ; but this, he 
feels, is not for him. As before, it is not life, but 
death, that he longs for ; he asks not for mercy, or 
even for justice, but only for death. That would 
be his comfort and his joy, and it cannot come too 

"O that I might have my request, 

That God would grant me the thing that I long for ! 
O that God would consent to crush me, 

To let His hand loose and cut me off ! 
So should I still have this for my comfort 
Leaping for joy amid torture unsparing 
That I had not concealed the words of the Holy One." 

(vi. 8-10). 

He has no strength left to achieve or endure any 
more, least of all to endure the sting of those terrible 
darts hurled by an almighty Hand. 

"What is my strength, that I should endure ? 

Or what is mine end, that I should be patient ? 
Is my strength the strength of stones ? 

Or was I created with flesh of brass ? 
Behold ! I have no help in myself, 

And the power to achieve is driven from me." (vi. 11-13). 

Then he turns from the inscrutable God to the 
friends who have failed him in his hour of deepest 

The Problem of Pain 

need, and expresses his disappointment at their 
" treachery " in one of those pictures which will 
live for ever. He compares them to the streams 
which are full and swollen, when no refreshing 
draught is needed, but which, when the thirsty 
caravans reach the spot, have vanished. 

"To one who is fainting a friend should be kind, 

Even though he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty. 
But my brethren have dealt like a treacherous torrent. 

Like channels that overflow their banks, 
Which are turbid because of the ice 

And the snow that hides within them ; 
But, when they are scorched, they vanish : 

In the heat they are quenched from their place. 
The caravans bend their course thither, 

Go up through the waste, and perish. 
The caravans of Tema looked out for them, 

The companies of Sheba kept hoping : 
But their confidence brought them to shame ; 

When they came to the place, they blushed. 
Such now have ye proved unto me : 

When ye look on the terror, ye shudder." (vi. 14-21). 

iFew things are more touching than this thirst of 
Job for human friendship. Intellectually indepen 
dent as he is, he needs men, all the more that God has 
wounded and forsaken him. He had hoped that 
they would pour upon his fevered spirit the cooling 
waters of their sympathy ; instead, they regale him 
with the barren sands of dogma. How utterly 
alone he is, forsaken, as it seems, alike by God and 

From bitterness he passes to irony. He could 
have understood their recoil from him, he tells them, 
had he asked them for a gift of money to ransom 
him, for example, from captivity : that would 


Job s Challenge 

indeed have been too heavy a tax to impose upon 
their generosity. 

"Did I ask you to give me a present, 

Or make me a gift of your substance, 
To rescue me from the foe, 

From the hands of the tyrant to free me ? " (vi. 221). 

But no such gift had he demanded : all he asks is 
some little light upon his problem, some true and 
simple word which will still the storm in his heart. 

"Teach me, and I will be silent, 

Show me wherein I have erred. 
How sweet are words that are true 1 

But when you reprove, what is reproved ? " (vi. 241). 

The friends are unkind, in part because they are 
shallow : nothing impresses them but what they see 
and hear, the misery of the man and his desperate 
words of challenge : they cannot look behind either 
the facts or the words to the innocent life and the 
torn, bleeding heart. He accuses them of taking 
his wild words too seriously : and we must not 
ourselves forget this in our criticism of them, either 
now or later. The words of a man driven by misery 
to despair are not to be coolly dissected by those who 
stand outside his misery, nor are they to be taken 
as a revelation of his inmost heart : they are to be 
borne away by the winds beyond the range of such 
solemn cavil. 

"Is it words that ye mean to reprove ? 

But for winds are the words of despair. 
Would ye throw yourselves on the innocent, 

Or make an assault on your friend ? " (vi. 261). 

At this point the friends turn away in horror from 
his protestations, and again we see this strong man s 


The Problem of Pain 

craving for human sympathy. He cannot bear to 
think that they doubt him or will leave him, and 
it is infinitely touching to watch the almost naive 
earnestness with which he urges upon those conven 
tional men that, when he claims to be innocent, he 
is speaking the truth. 

"Now look upon me, I pray you : 

I would surely not lie in your face. 
O come back let there be no injustice . 

Come back, for the right is still mine." (vi. 281). 

The magnificent breadth of Job s character is 
seen not least in this that, intense as is his own pain 
and misery, he does not allow himself to be completely 
absorbed by it. As in his first lament he had been 
drawn beyond himself to the great brotherhood of 
sorrow (iii. 2off), so here again from his own wretched 
ness he glides almost instinctively into the contem 
plation of the larger sorrow of the world. His own 
life, all human life what is it but an unending, 
unrelenting warfare, from which there is no dis 
charge but death ? What is it but the service of 
a hard Master, which is only rendered tolerable by 
the certainty that, however hard or long the day, 
the blessed shadows of evening must inevitably fall 
at last ? 

\" Hath man on the earth not a warfare, 
With days like the days of a hireling ? 
Like a slave that pants for the shadow, 

A hireling that longs for his wages, 
So empty months are my portion, 

And wearisome nights mine appointment, "(vii. 1-7). 

Note here again the sympathy for the servant 
(cf. iii. 19). But again Job is swung back to the 


Job s Challenge 

thought of his own unutterable misery, with its 
loathsome physical accompaniments. 

" I lie down, saying, When cometh day ? 

When I rise, methinks When cometh even ? 
Worms and clods clothe my flesh, 

My skin grows hard and then runs." (vii. 4f). 

After his former cries for the speedy advent of 
death, it comes as a surprise that he now complains 
of the shortness of life : 

" My days are more swift than a shuttle, 

They come to an end without hope. 
O remember my life is but breath, 

Mine eye shall see good nevermore." (vii. 6f). 

Perhaps his pain has for the moment eased a little : 
however that may be, we have here one of those swift 
changes of mood which invest with perennial interest 
the psychological situations of the great drama. 
The genius of the man for friendship is movingly 
suggested by the next words, which hint rather than 
plainly say that the bitterest drop in death s cup 
is that he and his friends shall see each other no 
more ; and saddest of all is that his intimacy with 
the great Friend will be over for ever. This thought 
is expressed in language of pathetic beauty. 

< The eye that now sees me shall see me no more ; 

Thine eyes shall look for me, but I shall be gone." 

(vii. 8). 

God, after His inscrutable treatment of His faith 
ful servant has brought him beneath the ground, 
will begin to think of him and look for him again. 
Here we see the beginning of that struggle between 
two thoughts of God almost between two Gods 
in the soul of Job : the God who has treated him 


The Problem of Pain 

with such inexplicable cruelty, and shot His poisoned 
arrows at him, and the God who beneath all the 
torture wishes him well and will miss him and yearn 
for him when he is gone. But then it will be too 
late, for the man who leaves this life leaves it for 

" Like the cloud that is spent and that passeth away, 

He that goes down to Sheol shall come up no more. 
He shall never come back to his house again, 

And the place that was his shall know him no more." 

(vii. 9f). 

To understand the fierceness of the problem that 
tormented Job or, if you like, the great soul who 
makes Job his mouthpiece it is well to remember 
that it has to be fought out on this side the grave. 
For, broadly speaking, there is no Beyond, none at 
least that brings any comfort or hope to those who 
have been wronged here. Death is the end : in the 
world beyond, small and great, oppressed and 
oppressor, are all alike (iii. 19). Of punishment, 
reward, or restitution, there is meantime not a 
thought. So, if the gracious Face has to be seen at 
all, it must be here and now. That is for Job the 
tragedy that, if he does not see it here, he cannot hope 
to see it anywhere. But beneath the pathetic lines 
in which he dwells on the inexorableness of death 
we can detect, if not the faint whisper of a hope, at 
any rate the passionate yearning that it might be 
otherwise. The wistfulness with which he looks at 
the thought before he pushes it away, shows how 
much he was fascinated by it ; and he returns to it 
again and again. 


Job s Challenge 


Since, however, he is to die, and death is the end, 
he will at least speak his mind to God before he 
goes ; and the bitter anguish of his spirit drives him 
to an audacity even surpassing that of his first 
sorrowful monologue : 

" So my mouth I will not restrain, 
I will utter mine anguish of spirit, 
Pour out mine embittered soul. 
Am I a sea or a sea-monster, 

That upon me Thou settest a watch ?" (vii. nf). 

The allusion is to the great mythological dragon 
which the God of Light had to fight and slay before 
He could proceed to His beneficent work of creation. 
Job is only too conscious of being nothing but a poor 
"driven leaf" (xiii. 25); and does God he asks 
with savage irony take him for another monster 
like that which He slew and ripped open before, a 
monster who, if he were not crushed, would threaten 
the peace and security of the universe ? If not, 
why does He watch him so ? It maddens him to 
think that he is being everlastingly spied upon by 
those pitiless eyes that never slumber or sleep. His 
case is immeasurably worse than that of the servant 
who can rest at eventide. For, besides the perpetual 
torment which gnaws him to the bone by day, his 
nights are tormented with appalling dreams and 
visions. Better a thousand times that the horrible 
disease which is eating at his throat should suffocate 
him outright and end this living death. 

" When I look to my couch to comfort me, 

To my bed for relief of my sorrow, 
Then Thou scarest me with dreams, 
And with visions dost so affright me 


The Problem of Pain 

That gladly would I be strangled : 

Death itself I spurn in my pain. 
I would not live for ever : 

Let me go, for my days are but breath." 

(vii. 13-16). 

Then follows one of the most sublimely daring 
passages of the book. In his happier days Job had 
many a time thought with quiet gladness of the 
gracious psalm which tells how the infinite God of the 
starry spaces comes daily with His condescending 
love into the little life of man : 

" When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, 
The moon and the stars, which Thou hast set there, 
What is mortal man, that Thou thinkest of him, 

And the son of man, that Thou visitest him ? " (Ps. viii. 31) . 

Those words flash back upon him now, and he breaks 
out into a bitter parody of them, which falls little 
short of blasphemy : 

" What is man, that so great Thou dost count him 

And settest Thine heart upon him 
Visiting him every morning 

And testing him moment by moment ? " (vii. lyf). 

Instead of the God whom the psalmist saw coming in 
love, Job sees a God coming to torment him every 
morning with His tortures and every night with His 
terrors. Why should God count men so great as to 
be worthy of all this cruel attention ? 

"Why dost thou make me Thy target ? 

Why burden Thyself with me ? " (vii. 20). 

How infinitely kinder just to leave him alone : that 
is all Job asks that that great Presence, those 


Job s Challenge 

terrible eyes, should be withdrawn. The sense of 
estrangement is deepening rapidly. 

)"O when wilt Thou turn Thine eyes from me, 
And leave me, though but for a moment ? " (vii. 19). 

Job ascribes his misery to God ; the friends find 
the root of the matter " in himself and in his sin . 
J ob is too clear-sighted and honest to claim perfection ; 
he acknowledges his sin, but none comparable to the 
misery which is crushing him. However, granting 
his sin and here comes another very daring turn 
of thought how does that affect God ? 

"If I sin, how does that harm Thee, 

O Thou who art watcher of men ? " (vii. 20.) 

watching men indeed too pitilessly well. Is 
God nothing but a great incarnate Vindictiveness, 
that for sins inevitable to human frailty He 
should smite man to the dust with His omnipotent 
Hand ? Surely, the true greatness and glory of 
God would be shown rather in forgiveness : 

" Why not forgive my sin, 

And pass mine iniquity by ? " (vii. 21). 

Here is a flash of insight into the essential nature of 
God ; and the thought of forgiveness, though it 
seems so remote as to be unattainable, wakes again 
in the poor tormented mind the old kindly thought 
of God as his Friend and with that he character 
istically ends : 

" For now shall I lie in the dust : 

Thou wilt search, but I shall not be." (vii. 21). 


The Problem of Pain 

For all his wild words, he knows at the bottom of his 
heart that God loves him loves him so dearly that, 
after he is gone, and when it is too late, He will 
search for him. He will not only miss him, but He 
will earnestly seek to recover His vanished friend. 
The man who could so think of God and His pursuing 
love must surely be found of Him in the end. As 
Duhm has said, this is " an anthropomorphism, 
such as could only spring from a living religion." 


(Job viii.) 

The argument is now taken up by Bildad, a man 
probably about Job s own age. The irritation with 
which he had listened to Job s audacities wells up 
into his opening words : 

" How long wilt thou utter these things 

These thy blustering windy words ? " (viii. 2). 

Job s impetuous speeches had amounted to a prac 
tical impeachment of divine justice, and the reverent 
but commonplace Bildad can hardly believe his ears. 
Does Job really mean to say that God Almighty can 
be guilty of injustice ? 

" Is God a perverter of justice ? 

The Almighty, subverter of right?" (viii. 3). 

Nay, verily, the government of the world is in just 
hands. There is a moral order, which ordains that 
the sinner must suffer, and which pronounces no 
less surely that the sufferer has sinned. Nor is the 
proof of this far to seek. Has not Job already 
seen it exemplified in the fate of his own children ? 
an experience which affects Bildad so little that he 
can incidentally throw it into a subordinate cause : 

" If thy children, for sinning against Him, 

He has left to bear their transgression." (viii. 4.) 


The Problem of Pain 

It is Eliphaz s easy dogma over again, " Who ever 
perished, being innocent ? " The children are 
demonstrably sinners, because they are lying dead 
among the ruins of their house. Involuntarily there 
rises into our mind the word of Jesus about the 
Tower of Siloam (Luke xiii. 41), and the solemn 
protest He hurled against this shallow, heartless, 
Pharisaic interpretation of human misfortune. 
Bildad does not scruple to begin his argument by 
stabbing the father s heart. Here again (cf. v. 4), 
the writer is letting us feel how cruel disputants can 
be who care more for doctrines than for men. 

The children are dead, their time for repentance 
is past, but it is not yet too late for Job. 

"Yet seek thou thyself unto God, 

And supplicate the Almighty. 
And if thou art pure and upright, 

Thy righteous abode He will prosper ; 
And, though thy beginning be slender, 

Thine end He shall greatly increase." (viii. 5-7). 

Bildad s use of the word " seek " shows how deeply 
he has been provoked by the beautiful thought with 
which Job had closed his speech. His word is a 
stinging reminder of Job s. He would remind Job, 
who has had the incredible audacity to speak of 
God s seeking for him, that it is rather his business 
to seek for God : he is too shallow to feel that 
Job s wild words are nothing but a passionate grop 
ing after God. So he counsels him to return to the 
God who, as Job believes, has fled from him rather 
than he from God, and promises him on these terms 


Bildad s Appeal to Tradition 

a happiness far surpassing that which once was his 
here speaking, like Eliphaz (v. 26) truer than he 
knew. With fine dramatic instinct, the writer 
often makes the friends say things prophetic of the 
end. In spite of the cruel allusion to the children, 
Bildad s opening words were intended to be concilia 
tory, as those of Eliphaz were courteous. 

The friends are all representatives of orthodoxy, 
but each champions it in his own way. While all 
are saying essentially the same thing, their characters 
and temperaments are quite distinguishable and 
their appeals are different. Eliphaz had rested his 
case on revelation, Bildad rests his on tradition. 
The moral principles on which the world is governed 
he has learned from the fathers. He humbly 
recognises that the problem which is agitating 
all their minds is too stupendous for him to solve, 
even to attempt, but he comforts himself with 
the reflection that it has been solved long ago. 
The faith has been delivered once for all to the 
saints, and it is never to be challenged or 
even criticized any more. Bildad will not, like 
Job, employ his own mind upon the facts ; he is 
content to accept the results reached by the men of 
the olden time, who, strangely enough, are supposed 
to be wiser, though the world was younger and its 
experience necessarily more meagre. He forgets that 
there can be no results for the man who refuses, 
whether from modesty or indolence, to pass his mind 
through processes. He will not use his eyes, but 
only his ears a much easier exercise to listen to 
what other men have said who used their eyes. 


The Problem of Pain 

" For inquire thou of past generations, 

Regard the research of the fathers : 
For we are but dullards of yesterday, 

Whose days on the earth are a shadow 
Shall they not give thee instruction, 

And bring forth words out of their heart ? " 

(viii. 8-10). 

In these words your true traditionalist is pilloried 
for all time his intellectual indolence, his smug 
humility which dispenses him from the obligation to 
do honest and independent work of his own, and not 
least the cool effrontery with which he sweeps all 
his contemporaries into the same category of medio 
crity to which he himself so manifestly belongs : 
"for we " not he only, but all his fellows also 
" we are but of yesterday, and know nothing." 
To the searching question, " Sayest thou this of 
thyself or did others tell it thee ? " he would have 
replied without shame or hesitation, " Who am I 
to presume to say this on the strength of my own 
intelligence ? Others told me of it." At the bottom 
of this indolence and timidity lies an unworthy 
conception of God. Bildad believes in a God who 
was, but not in a God who is : in a God who once 
inspired and illumined the minds of men, but who 
does so no more. His is a mind without resiliency, 
and the God he worships and defends is a God of the 
dead only and not of the living also. His temper 
a little recalls that of the lines of Clough : 

" The souls of now two thousand years 
Have laid up here their toils and fears, 
And all the earnings of their pain 
Ah, yet consider it again ! 

Bildad s Appeal to Tradition 

We ! what do we see ? each a space 
Of some few yards before his face ; 
Does that the whole wide plan explain ? 
Ah, yet consider it again ! " 

No sane thinker despises the toil of the past ; on 
the contrary, he pays it a deep and humble tribute 
of respect : but he pays the truest respect to the 
thinkers of the past when he works in their indepen 
dent and courageous spirit. Then, and then only, 
can he claim to be of their lineage. It is significant 
that the champions ^of^^the orthodoxy which Job 
so fiercely combats are men who will not think for 
themselves men like Eliphaz, who appeal to 
revelation, or like Bildad, to tradition. Not much 
light upon the dark and awful problem is to be looked 
for from men like these. 

But what is it, after all, that Bildad has so humbly 
and easily learned at the feet of the fathers ? It is 
a truth expressed in rather elaborate and difficult 
imagery the text of the passage is obscure but a 
truth as essentially commonplace as that which 
flowed from Eliphaz s awe-inspiring " revelation." 
It is simply that the hope of the hypocrite dies like 
the rush which is not fed by water. 

" Can the rush shoot high without swamp ? 

Or the reed grow up without water ? 
While yet in its freshness, unplucked, 

Of all herbs it withers most quickly. 
So end all who put God out of mind, 

And the hope of the hypocrite dies. 
His confidence is but a thread, 

And his trust as the web of a spider. 
He leans on his house, but it stands not ; 

He grasps, but it cannot endure. 



The Problem of Pain 

Like a plant is he, fresh in the sunshine, 

With suckers that shoot o er the garden. 
Its roots are entwined round the wall, 

It lays hold of its stone habitation. 
But when it is ruined, the spot 

Denies having ever beheld it. 
Thus its course ends in desolation, 

And out of the dust springs another." (viii. 11-19): 

" Parturiunt monies, nascetur ridiculus mus." It 
is of sombre significance for the attitude of the friends 
to Job that the truth which Bildad thinks it worth 
his while to thrust upon him as embodying the 
garnered wisdom of the past, is that the doom of the 
hypocrite is sure and terrible. Clearly Job stands 
already condemned at the bar of their judgment : 
his misery, to say nothing of his blasphemy, has 
condemned kim. And yet they would be kind. If 
he seeks God, there is hope. So Bildad ends, like 
Eliphaz, upon a note of comfort and with a vision of 
Job s restitution. 

" See ! God spurns not an innocent man, 

But He will not uphold evil-doers. 
He will yet fill thy mouth with laughter, 

Thy lips with a shout of joy. 
Thy foes shall be clothed with shame, 
And the tent of the wicked shall vanish." 

(viii. 20-22). 

He does not know the grim point of his own prophecy, 
that he himself, in the end, will be among the foes 
to be clothed with shame (xlii. 8). But in spite of 
his happy picture and his gracious words, his real 
mind about Job comes out in the warning with wnich 
he closes : " The tent of the wicked shall vanish." 


(Job ix. and x.) 

Job replies in a speech of splendid power. Bildad 
had maintained it to be unthinkable that God could 
be other than just. " No doubt," says Job bitterly : 
" He is always in the right for the very sufficient 
reason that, being omnipotent, He can put anybody 
who dares to challenge Him in the wrong, by the 
simple process of crushing him." When he asks, 
" How can man be just with God ? " he means some 
thing very different from Eliphaz when he had asked 
" Can mortal be just before God ? " (iv. 17). Eliphaz 
meant that man cannot stand, because he is a 
sinner ; Job means, because he is too weak to stand 
before a Being of such overwhelming power that He 
can topple the mountains over with a touch of His 
little finger. Before such a One, how can frail 
terrified man hope to plead his cause to win his 
case and secure his right ? All he can do in such a 
Presence is to lie stupefied before His avalanche of 
questions (cf. xxxviii.-xl.). 

" Yes, truly ; I know it is so : 

But with God how can man urge his right ? 
Should Pie choose to contend against him, 

He could answer not one in a thousand. 
Wise-hearted and strong as He is, 

Who hath ever successfully braved Him ? 
Mountains He moves without effort, 

He turns them about in His anger. 


The Problem of Pain 

He shaketh the earth from her place, 

And maketh her pillars shudder. 
He speaks to the sun and it shines not, 

He setteth a seal on the stars. 
He stretcheth the heavens all alone, 

He treadeth the heights of the sea. 
He maketh the Bear and Orion, 

The Pleiades and the southern chambers. 
He doeth great things and unsearchable, 

Marvellous things without number." ( ix. i-io). 

Job repeats in the last couplet former words of 
Eliphaz (v. 9), but the difference in their outlook 
upon the universe is infinite. Eliphaz sees it as an 
arena of wonderful beneficence (cf. v. 10) ; Job, 
of wonderful and devastating omnipotence. The 
(Tod 1 r rie"sees ""there" is ine T^emble God oT"the earth 
quakes, volcanoes, eclipses, and storms. And more 
vexing even than the irresistibleness of this dark 
Power is its invisibility and elusiveness. Every 
where are subtle marks of the terrible Presence, but 
nowhere can you face it and call it to account ; 
and if you could, it would make no difference, for 
it is irresponsible as well as irresistible a savage, 
capricious, annihilating Force, sublimely indifferent 
to moral interests. 

" Lo ! He passes me by all unseen ; 

Sweeps past but I cannot perceive Him. 
He seizeth, and who can prevent Him ? 

Who dare ask Him, What doest Thou ? " (ix. nf.). 

If by some happy chance Job could secure the meet 
ing for which he longed, it would not advance his 
cause one iota ; for this omnipotent Judge cares so 
little for justice that He would not even deign to 
listen : and even if He would, Job would be too 
terrified to speak. 


Immoral Omnipotence 

"Were I right, I could give Him no answer, 

But must needs entreat my judge. 
If I called, He would give me no answer; 

I cannot believe He would listen. 
For He crushes me in a tempest 

With many a wanton wound. 
He suffers me not to take breath, 

But with bitterness He fills me. 
Is it question of right ? There He is. 

Or of justice ? Then who will implead Him ? 
Am I right ? Still mine own mouth condemns me. 

Innocent ? He proveth me perverse." ( ix. 15-20). 

How far the unhappy man is being driven by his 
pain and despair from his former thought of that 
persistent love which would seek him with diligence, 
even after he had gone (vii. 21). Now he thinks of 
God as a Tyrant who is determined to regard him, 
innocent though he be, as a reprobate, and to treat 
him as such ; but Job is equally determined to assert 
his innocence even in the: face of Omnipotence. 
Lashed by pain and grief, he passes from defiance 
to recklessness and hurls at the Almighty a charge 
more appalling than any he has yet permitted him 
self to indulge in : 

"Innocent I am but I reck not, 

I spurn my life ; tis all one, 
And therefore it is that I say, 

He destroyeth both guiltless and guilty. 
When the scourge bringeth sudden death, 

The despair of the blameless He mocketh. 
He hath given up the earth to the wicked, 

He veileth the face of its judges. 

If it be not He, who then ? " ( ix. 21-24). 

There is nothing in the universe but pitiless 
| Power no mercy, no justice, no moral order, 
I nothing but the most cynical confusion of moral 


The Problem oi Pain 

interests, and an order if order it be which is not 
only indifferent, but positively and unabashedly 
immoral. For the moment, it almost seems as if 
Satan s hope is to be fulfilled after all. " He des- 
troyeth " it is a direct challenge of God, though 
he does not name Him " He destroyeth innocent 
and guilty alike." He uses His almighty power 
to defy and destroy the interests which good men 
hold dear, and for which some are ready, like Job, 
to suffer and die. The writer of this book, as of 
Ecclesiastes (cf. iii. 16, iv. i, v. 8) probably lived in 
sorrowful days when justice was flouted ; and behind 
all the rampant injustice of earth Job sees a monster 
who not only tolerates, but ordains it ; for " if it be 
not He, who then ? " This is one of the most drama 
tically effective and moving passages in the book. 
For while we are in the secret, Job is not : we know 
that the immediate cause of his misery is Satan and 
that behind him is a God who reposes in Job a con 
fidence so superb that He can defy Satan to do his 
worst. Job s fearful challenge is only possible, 
because he does not know all the facts. 

After this passionate outburst, his strength is 
spent, and in gentler mood he turns from the great 
world-sorrow to his own, and laments the swiftness 
of his passing days. They are replete with tortures, 
the most awful of which is that God is resolved to 
ignore his innocence. 

" If I vow to forget my plaint 

And to wear a bright face for a joyless, 
I shudder at all my pains : 

I know Thou wilt not hold me guiltless." (ix. 27!). 


Immoral Omnipotence 

All the same, life is sweet and his days are numbered. 
Here again the swift fluctuations of his mood are 
traced with immense psychological power : one 
moment passionately praying for death, and the 
next bewailing the swiftness of its approach. 

" My days are more swift than a runner, 

They flee unillumined by joy. 
They glide like the ships of reed, 

Like an eagle that darts on its prey." (ix. 251). 

Bitterest of all is God s incurable hostility and His 
determination to crush him as a reprobate : 

"I then am infallibly guilty, 

So why should I labour in vain ? 
For, though I wash me with snow, 

And cleanse my hands with lye, 
Thou would st plunge me then in the mire, 

So that even my friends would abhor me." (ix. 29-31). 

Then across the black despair of his soul darts 
a flash of his old irrepressible faith in God, the real 

"Thou art not a man like myself, 

That we come into judgment together. 
O for an umpire between us, 

To lay his hand on us both ! 
Let Him take His rod from off me, 

And affright me no more with His terror, 
And then I would speak unafraid, 

For not such at heart am I. " (ix. 32-35). 

There should be, there must be in the universe some 
One who in kindly human fashion would stand 
between him and his Tormentor, lay his hand upon 
them both and arbitrate between them. It is a 
sublime and daring intuition, " an unconscious 
prophecy " as Professor Strahan has well said 


The Problem of Pain 

" of incarnation and atonement." His Tormentor 
is now Judge ; but, if He were only plaintiff and 
some j uster and diviner One were Judge, Job 
would plead his cause, even against so dreadful an 
antagonist, with confidence in the issue, for he has 
the courage of the pure in heart. As it is, however, 
the contest is so pitifully uneven : still, Job will face 
it, if his Tormentor but remove from him the painful 
stroke of leprosy, and affright him no more with 
those terrors which he has so magnificently des 
cribed in the earlier part of his speech. 

Again the bitter mood comes over him, and he 
" lets loose his complaint against God." Mere 
omnipotence can never command respect, unless 
it be allied with justice : so Job demands to know 
the ground of God s quarrel with him. " Show me 
why Thou contendest with me." It is the challenge 
of the thinker who " would not make his judgment 
blind." He demands that the universe, of which 
he is a part, shall answer to the deepest yearnings of 
his own mind and heart. Surely God is not blind 
to mistake little faults for damnable sins, and 
impatiently to crush to the dust a man whom He 
knows to be innocent. 

"Hast Thou then eyes of flesh ? 

Or seest Thou as man seeth, 
That Thou shouldest seek out my guilt, 

And make this search for my sin, 
Though Thou knowest I am not guilty 

And no treachery cleaves to my hand. " (x. 4, 6. 7.) 

Here another brilliant thought leaps into that mind 
whose fertility no pain can destroy. It is the thought 

Immoral Omnipotence 

of the responsibility of the Creator. Must not the 
God who fashioned men so wonderfully care at least 
as much for His creature as the potter for the vessel 
which he has made ? The thought of the Persian 
poet comes into our minds : 

Another said " Why, ne er a peevish Boy 
Would break the bowl from which he drank in joy ; 

Shall He that made the vessel in pure Love 
And Fancy, in an after Rage destroy?" 

Every man was once a thought in the mind of God : 
is it conceivable that He made him only to torture 
and destroy him ? Or is the care which He expended 
on His handiwork not a guarantee of His interest 
in it and love for it ? Nay verily ! Job gives 
to his beautiful thought a turn of incredible bitter 
ness and audacity. This cunning Potter did indeed 
make His creature so marvellous, only to treat him 
with marvellous cruelty. Wonderful alike in his 
origin and destiny ! How bitter, and how different 
in its application from the gentle thought that 
breathes through Psalm cxxxix. (cf. vv. 13-18). 

"What dost Thou gain from oppressing 

And spurning the work of Thy hands ? 
Thy hands did fashion and mould me, 

And now wilt Thou turn and destroy me ? 
Remember Thou madest me like clay, 

And back to the dust wilt Thou bring me ? 
Didst Thou not pour me out like milk, 

And curdle me after like cheese, 
Clothe me with skin and flesh, 

And knit me with bones and with sinews ? 
Life Thou didst grant me and favour, 

Thy providence guarded my spirit ; 
While this was Thy secret heart, 

And this was Thy purpose, I know. " (x. 3, 8-13). 


The Problem of Pain 

It is easy to see that behind this amazing invective 
lies a passionate yearning for the friendship of God. 
It is because God and His love are everything to Job 
that he cannot bear to think of Him as his enemy. 
How intensely personal all this is, and how unlike 
the cold, remote " revelations " and visions of 
Eliphaz ! 

Again Job repeats and elaborates the charge that, 
whether innocent or guilty, God is equally deter 
mined to crush him, working fresh miracles of cruelty 
upon him and marshalling against him His hosts 
the pains, the tortures, the terrors out of the infinite 
resources at His disposal. 

" Do I sin ? Then Thou dost observe me, 

And refuse to acquit me of guilt. 
Am I wicked ? Then woe is me. 

Just ? I dare not lift up my head 

Full of shame and drunken with sorrow. 
If I rise, like a lion Thou huntest me, 

Working fresh marvels upon me. 
Thine anger with me Thou increasest, 

Thou musterest fresh hosts against me. " (x. 14-17). 

Then he reverts to the old sad question which he had 
asked in his opening monologue : if it was to misery 
like this that God had ordained him, why should He 
ever have created him at all ? He asks now nothing 
more than that he be a little eased of his pain during 
the few short days that lie between him and the dark 
land from which he shall never return : 

" O why from the womb didst Thou bring me ? 

O why died I not all unseen ? 
O to be as though I had not been, 
Borne from the womb to the grave. 


Immoral Omnipotence 

Are the days of my life not few ? 

O leave me to smile a little, 
Ere I go, to return no more, 

To the land of darkness and gloom, 
To the land of murky darkness, 

Of gloom and utter confusion, 

Where the very light is as darkness. " (x. 18-22). 

His friends had closed their speeches with a vista 
of hope and comfort, but Job knows better. He is 
dying : and the elaboration with which he lingers 
upon the inexorable end, beyond which there is 
nothing, shows how passionately he yearns for a 
something beyond, and prepares the way for the 
emergence of a belief in it. 


OF GOD (Job xi.) 

A new champion of orthodoxy enters the lists 
the young and insolent Zophar. He has been 
provoked by the length of Job s last speech, so he 
boldly begins : 

"Should a voluble man go unanswered, 

A man who but babbles be justified ? " (xi. 2). 

But he has been provoked no less by its temper 
its frightful challenges of God which seemed to sound 
the deepest depths of presumption and irreverence, 
and its nearly as appalling assertions of Job s own 

" Must men hold their peace at thy bragging ? 

Thy mocking is no one to curb ? 
Thou maintainest thy way to be pure, 

And thyself to be clean in His sight. " (xi. 3!:). 

In point of fact Job had repeatedly and unflinchingly 
maintained his innocence (cf, ix. 21) : this alone, in 
the face of his calamity, would have been enough to 
condemn him in eyes like Zophar s, that were bleared 
by convention. Job had complained of the 
silence of God : when He does speak, says Zophar 
and he prays that soon He may it will be in con 
demnation of this self-righteous, blasphemous 
braggart ; he will then know that the God he has 

Unsearchable Wisdom 

so bitterly impugned has been vastly kinder to him 
than he deserves. 

" But oh that God would speak, 

And open His lips against thee, 
And show thee the secrets of wisdom 

How marvellous are her achievements : 
For then thou should st know that thy guilt 
God remembers not wholly against thee." 

(xi. 5 f). 

This wish of Zophar that God would speak is one of 
the most effective things in the book : when God 
does speak, in the sequel, it is he and not Job who 
is humiliated. " After Jehovah had spoken these 
words to Job, He said to Eliphaz, My anger is hot 
against thee and thy two friends, for ye have not 
spoken the truth about Me, as My servant Job has 
done. " (xlii. 7). 

How little Zophar really knows of the God whose 
mysterious ways he is defending with such shallow 
impetuosity : just as little as he does of the true 
quality of the man he is insulting. Indeed, with 
naive inconsistency he goes on to admit his ignorance : 

" Canst thou find out the deep things of God ? 

Or come nigh the Almighty s perfection ? 
It is higher than heaven what canst thou ? 

Deeper than Sheol what knowest thou ? 
Longer than earth is its measure, 

And broader it is than the sea." (xi. 7-9). 

Formally a rebuke of Job, who had had the presump 
tion to challenge the infinite God, these words are 
essentially a comprehensive admission of the 
impotence of man to understand the divine nature. 
This sounds very humble : as a matter of fact, 
Zophar s attitude to the problem, despite his pre- 

The Problem of Pain 

tence of humility, is immeasurably more arrogant 
than Job s. Zophar believes, or believes that he 
believes, in a God whose ways are unsearchable : 
nevertheless he himself can expound those ways 
quite glibly. The acknowledged mystery of the 
divine nature, the very thought of which as Zophar 
urges ought to silence Job s impious challenges, 
is apparently, for all that, pretty clearly understood 
by Zophar himself, who blandly proceeds to expound 
it. Often in religious debates a cloak of humility 
has covered a claim to something like omniscience. 
Zophar, however, has nothing to offer but the old and 
exasperating explanation which associates suffering 
with previous sin, and which is more cutting to Job 
than the calamity itself. 

"For well He knoweth vain men, 

He looks upon sin and He marks it." (xi. n). 

It is significant that this friend makes no appeal 
to authority of any kind in support of his conven 
tional statements. Eliphaz had rested his case on 
" revelation," Bildad on " tradition " : if these 
fail to carry conviction a direct message from 
heaven, and the matured wisdom of the fathers 
what is left ? The average man, with his common 
sense, is left : and on this Zophar is content to rest 
his case. 

" Even a senseless man may be taught, 

As a wild ass s colt may be caught." (xi. 12). 

Men, like colts, learn sense by suffering. It is a 
somewhat coarser version of the truth put forward 
by Eliphaz, that suffering is disciplinary (v. 

Unsearchable Wisdom 

Considering the unexplained misery of the older man 
before him, this saying and simile of Zophar s 
are stamped with a callousness, different indeed in 
kind, but similar in spirit to that of the other two 
friends (cf. v. 4, viii. 4). It is characteristic of the 
youthful and fiery Zophar that he thinks to dispose 
of a great and heart-breaking problem by a witty 
proverb. We begin to feel how bankrupt is the 
wisdom of the friends, and how little it can do for a 
bold and resolute thinker like Job. 

In spite, however, of his flippancy and insolence, 
Zophar means well, and he, like his friends, closes 
with a gracious promise, expressed in language of 
much beauty : for the writer, though he has little 
sympathy with the friends, never seeks to win an 
easy victory over them by holding them up to 
ridicule. He lavishes upon the form of their 
argument the same wealth of genius as he expends 
upon his hero : 

"Now if thou would J st prepare thy heart, 

And stretch out thy hands unto Him, 
And put away sin from thy hand, 

And let wrong dwell no more in thy tent, 
Then thy face thou would st lift without blemish, 

And thou would st be steadfast and fearless. 
Yea, thou would st forget thy sorrow 

As floods that are passed would st thou think of it. 
Brighter than noon would thy life rise, 

Thy darkness would be as the morning. 
Secure would st thou be in thy hope : 

Thou could st lie without trembling or care, 
Lay thee down without one to affright thee, 

And many would sue for thy favour." (xi. 13-19). 

It is to be noted that the condition of Job s restora 
tion is a penitent return to God. This is precisely 


The Problem of Pain 

what the other two friends had urged (v. 8, viii. 5). 
How it must have stabbed the heart of the man who 
all his life had feared God and shunned evil, and who 
even now was yearning for God to return to him. 

Throughout the first cycle of speeches the friends, 
though they have said many irritating things, have 
had Job s welfare at heart, and have honestly sought 
to guide and comfort him. They have their sus 
picions of his integrity, and they have expressed 
them, but they have not accused him of heinous 
sin. Their real mind about him, however, comes out 
ominously in the last words of Zophar : 

"But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, 
The place of their refuge is perished. 
Their hope is to breathe their last." 

Doubtless this utterance skilfully identifies the 
wicked with Job s enemies, and has the effect of an 
unconscious prophecy of the fate of the friends ; 
but beneath the words we cannot help feeling that a 
warning is intended for Job himself, especially as 
more than once he had uttered his desire for death. 

His GLIMPSE BEYOND IT (Job xii.-xiv.) 

The friends have all now spoken, and Job thinks 
very little of what they have had to say. He meets 
it with a sarcastic proverb to match the proverb with 
which Zophar had disposed of the great problem 
(xi. 12). 

"Verily ye are the people 

And wisdom shall die with you." (xii. *). 

Woe betide the world when Zophar and his friends 
leave it, for only fools will then be left in it. But 
in sober truth their expositions are the veriest 
trivialities, familiar to everybody, familiar he 
scornfully adds to the very animals themselves. 

" But, like you, I have understanding : 

Who knoweth not things like these ? 
Inquire of the beasts they will teach thee ; 

The birds of the air they will show thee; 
The creatures that crawl they will teach thee ; 

The fish of the sea they will tell thee. 
For which of them all doth not know 

That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this 
In whose hand are all living souls, 

And the breath of all human kind ? " (xii. 3, 7-10). 

Well might Job claim to have understanding as well 
as the friends ; all that they had said about the 
greatness and the mystery of deity, he too had 
maintained with equal, nay with superior power. 
Above all, he had read the facts with independence ; 


The Problem of Pain 

and, caring not how far his conclusions deviated 
from the findings of " revelation " or tradition, he 
had discovered that 

"It is tents of robbers that prosper, 

And those that vex God that are safe 
Those who say, Is not God in my hand ? " 

(xii. 6). 

Honesty was the ruinous policy : the road to success 
was made by trampling upon the rights of men and 
the laws of God. 

His opinions may be right or they may be wrong ; 
but at any rate they are unconventional, and they 
are his own. 

" Doth not the ear test words 

As the palate tastes food for itself ? "(xii. n). 

This is one of the great emancipating words of the 
book. The true thinker must take the facts between 
his teeth, and taste the world for himself. He has 
no more right, and no more need, to accept on these 
points the verdict of another man than to accept his 
decision on the taste of food. Every palate has the 
power, the right, the duty, to decide for itself : 
and no man can taste by proxy. As with food, so 
with facts. Job will enslave his minoTTo noTnan. 
His ear will test for itself the words which enshrine 
the wisdom of the ancients and challenge them, if 
need be. He claims for himself the right which the 
fathers exercised, of using his own mind and reaching 

Ihis own conclusions. Here again (cf. x. 2), the voice 
of the Protestant speaks, asserting alike the right and 
the duty of private judgment. Zophar had thought 
to silence Job by pointing him to the inscrutable 


Job s Independent Criticism 

wisdom of God (xi. 7-9). Job refuses to be silenced; 
he owes it to his own mind to demand an answer. 
His is the true scientific temper, which collects and 
investigates all facts, welcome and unwelcome, in the 
belief that they are ultimately coherent and 
intelligible. It is, as a biographer of Maeterlinck 
has said, " the spirit that does not seek, like the 
traditional religions, to create a reputation for itself 
of inflexibility and infallibility, certifying the un 
certain and striving to adjust the facts or supposed 
facts to theories, but which plainly states difficulties 
and loyally constrains theories to bend humbly 
before the phenomena that prove them untenable 
or doubtful." 1 The power to read the facts does not 
depend upon age 

" Doth wisdom depend upon years, 

Understanding on length of days ? "(xii. 12) 

but upon intellectual honesty and insight. 

And what does Job see when he looks at the world ? 

Many a psalmist had seen it to be full of the goodness 

. of God : " O taste and see that the Lord is good " 

(Ps. xxxiv. 8). Job tastes and sees not this, but 

only that 

" With Him is wisdom and might, 

Understanding and counsel are His. "(xii. 13). 

Infinite might directed by infinite skill, but not a 
trace of morality, of goodness, of justice or love. 
The solemnity with which he delivers his report is 
indicated by the twice repeated Behold ! 

1 From the French of Gerard Harry, by Alfred Allinson, A 
Biographical Study of Maurice Maeterlinck, p. 41. 


The Problem of Pain 

" See ! He breaketh down, and who buildeth ? 

Imprisons, and none can set free. 
See ! He holds back the floods, and they dry ; 

Then He hurls them on earth and confounds it." 

(xii. I 4 f). 

Through his own sombre experience he looks out 
upon the world, and he sees upon the arena of history 
what he had seen before in nature (cf. chap, ix.) 
a great, capricious, devastating Omnipotence, 
which overturns peoples and mountains with equal 

" The wise men of earth He makes foolish, 

The judges He turns into madmen. 
The fetters kings rivet He loosens, 

And binds their own loins with a chain. 
He leadeth priests barefoot away, 

Ancient families He overturneth. 
He removeth the speech of the trusty. 

The elders He robs of discretion. 
He poureth contempt upon princes, 

He looseth the belt of the strong. 
He revealeth the deep things of darkness, 

The gloom-wrapped He bringeth to light. 
Earth s chiefs He bereaves of their judgment ; 

They wander in trackless wastes, 
Where they grope in the unlit darkness, 

And stagger like drunken men." (xii. 17-25). 

These glowing lines are doubtless a reflection of the 
sorrowful soul of Job, but no less of the misery of 
some period when ancient national landmarks were 
being removed, when the contemporary political 
order was being overthrown, and a confusion reigned 
similar to that which we are witnessing to-day. 
One of the most amazing and intellectually heroic 
things in the writer of the book is that, unlike some 
of his contemporaries, he refuses to seek refuge from 
the sorrows of the present in some future Kingdom of 

Job s Independent Criticism 

God, or to comfort his soul with apocalyptic visions. 
He looks the facts full in the face, and seeks his 
explanation among them, not beyond them in some 
area not amenable to the control of evidence. 

Now the appalling facts which he has emphasised 
are indisputable : he has seen them with his own 
eyes and examined them with that independence 
which he has just been claiming as at once his right 
and his duty. 

" Lo ! all this mine eye hath seen, 

Mine ear hath heard it and marked it." (xiii. i.). 

He turns with scorn from the conventionalities of 
the friends who would seek to " besmear " the facts, 
to whitewash with their falsehoods the perplexing 
order of the world, and to heal with their inanities 
the deep wound of his heart. He reminds them that 
their only chance to pass for wise men will be to say 
nothing at all ; and he resolves to turn from them 
to God Almighty who alone can help, and argue his 
case before Him. 

^ " What ye know, that I know too : 
I am not one whit behind you. 
But I would addresss the Almighty 

Tis with God I am longing to reason : 
For ye are smearers of lies, 

Good-for-nothing physicians, each man of you." 

(xiii. 2, 5). 

I Here again flashes out that irrepressible confidence 
Jin God and His reasonableness, which no accumu 
lation of facts could slay. The bitter mood is 
passing, at least for the time, and the deeper thing 
in the soul of Job is coming to the surface. But 
before he appeals to the God in whom we feel he 


The Problem of Pain 

is trusting in spite of everything, he turns to the 
friends and discharges upon them a searching and 
solemn rebuke for their flimsy apologetics and their 
immoral defence of God ; for every defence must be 
not only inadequate but immoral, which ignores or 
explains away inconvenient but undeniable facts. 

"Now listen to this mine indictment, 

Attend to the plea of my lips. 
Is it God that ye utter your lies for ? 

Do ye speak your deceit for Him ? 
And to Him would ye show your favour ? 

And God s is the cause ye would plead ? 
Were it well il He searched you out ? 

Can ye mock Him as men are mocked ? 
For He will punish you sore, 

If ye secretly show Him your favour. 
Shall His majesty not make you shudder ? 

Shall the dread of Him not fall upon you ? 
Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, 

Your bulwarks are bulwarks of clay." (xiii. 6-i2(. 

These, as one has said, are truly " golden words." 
God needs no favouritism ; and Job assures his 
friends so confident is he in His eternal justice 
that God will not only decline to accept their 
defences of Himself and His ways, but that He will 
not even tolerate them : nay, He will summon all 
those terrors, which Job has already so vividly 
described, to strike down those self-constituted 
champions of His, who in reality are not defending 
Him at all, but rather their own narrow and bigoted 
conceptions of Him. He needs no defence but the 
truth, but it must be the whole truth. The friends 
have forgotten that God lives and moves. They 
have their settled views of the universe, resting on 


Job s Independent Criticism 

revelation, tradition, dogma, into which no new or 
disconcerting facts may be allowed to intrude ; 
or, if they do enter, they must be instantly accommo 
dated to the scheme, instead of being allowed to 
modify it, if the scheme, as it stands, cannot find 
room for them. Their theology is a finished product, 
and, because finished, it is dead. But Job s is a 
living mind, alert and responsive to every new 
phenomenon : he believes in a living and a moving 
God, whose work is never done, and whose revelation 
is never over. The " maxims " with which the 
friends placidly settle the stupendous world-problem 
were once indeed glowing convictions in the minds of 
those who coined them, but the glow of the early 
vision has died in its passage across the generations 
and become cold ashes. The " bulwarks," defences, 
apologetics, as we call them, go down before the first 
serious attack of an honest mind alive to the facts 
of to-day. The writer s scorn for ancient defences 
which no longer meet modern needs could not be 
better indicated than by his threat of the divine 
terrors which await those who take shelter behind 
them. He is preparing us for the doom of the friends 
in the Epilogue (xlii. 7). Every word of Job 
at this point thrills with the conviction that God 
is just not merely wise and mighty, as he had 
formerly maintained and will see justice done. 
His old confidence in God is not merely reviving, it is 
aglow ; and its re-emergence, after the bold and bitter 
challenges of the previous chapter, is peculiarly 
refreshing and significant of the fundamental 
security of Job s faith. His feet are on the rock. 


The Problem of Pain 

He feels that it is no longer with the friends that 
he has to do, but with God ; and, though his life is 
being gradually crushed out of him by the unen 
durable pains and horrors of a disease sent, as he 
believes, by God, he is desperately resolved to take 
all the risks of meeting Him face to face, in order to 
present his case and defend his character. His 
happiness and prosperity have vanished, His physical 
existence is being swiftly destroyed : but all that is 
as nothing if he can only vindicate his moral per 
sonality. And in the very thought that he dare thus 
venture to approach Him, he experiences a sudden 
access of comfort. This high resolve is itself a 
guarantee of his innocence, for no hypocrite would 
willingly approach so terrible a Presence. Behind 
the terror Job knows at the bottom of his soul that 
there is a Justice to which he may with confidence 
appeal, and he is prepared to die rather than have 
his innocence suspected. 

" Be still, let me be ; / will speak 

Then upon me come what may. 
I will take my flesh in my teeth, 

I will put my life in my hands. 
See ! He slays me, I cannot endure ; 

But my ways will I defend to His face. 
And this also shall be my salvation, 

That a hypocrite dare not approach Him. 
Hear now my speech with attention, 

As I declare in your ears. 
Attend as I set forth my case, 

I know that the right is with me ; 
And if any disputeth against me, 

Then I would be silent and die." (xiii. 13-19). 

He is preparing to meet his God, when the old 
sense of his helplessness comes over him again 


Job s Independent Criticism 

(cf. ix. 34). How can he, as he is, face God, as He is, 
with any hope of doing himself justice ? he, the 
poor, emaciated, tortured man face the terrible God 
of the earthquake, the eclipse, and the storm ? 
The Judge and the defendant will meet on too pathet 
ically unequal terms. So Job first asks that the 
awful leprosy be lifted from his body, and the terror 
of the divine majesty from his soul, and, thus 
emancipated from his disabilities, he professes him 
self willing to face the Almighty without flinching 
ready to answer any charge that He may bring, or to 
make his own statement first, and calmly await the 
answer of the Almighty. 

"But two things alone do not unto me, 

Then I will not hide from Thy face. 
Lift the weight of Thy hand from off me, 

And let not Thy terrors appal me : 
Then call Thou, and I will answer ; 

Or let me speak, and answer Thou me. 
How great is my guilt and transgression ? 

Acquaint me with my sin." (xiii. 20-23). 

There is superb audacity in all this ; such an audacity 
as is only possible to conscious integrity of the Old 
Testament type. In the sequel, as we shall see, 
something very different happens. There is no 
debate : when God finally speaks, Job is dumb 
(xl. 41). Still, his apostrophe here is nothing less 
than magnificent. With his good conscience he is 
ready to appear before God and speak to Him 
unafraid, as a man to his friend, leaving Him free 
to open or close the debate as He pleases. For 
all his sense of the sovereignty of the Presence he is 

The Problem of Pain 

willing to confront, Job uses language which daringly 
suggests something like equality ; but behind the 
audacity lies an overwhelming faith in the person 
ality, the reasonableness, the friendship of God, 
which is worth a thousand of Eliphaz s revelations 
or Bildad s traditions. 

He calls, and with beating heart he listens for an 
answer ; but no answer comes. Then " his un 
friended and solitary spirit shrinks back into its 
tenement of pain/ 1 and he cries : 

"O why dost Thou hide Thy face, 

And count me as Thine enemy ? 
Wilt Thou harass a leaf that is tossed ? 

Wilt Thou chase the withered stubble, 
That Thou passest a judgment so bitter, 

Entailing upon me the sins of my youth ? 
Thou dost fasten a block on my feet, 

And set watch over all my ways. 
Round my roots Thou cuttest a line, 

Setting bounds that they may not pass." (xiii. 24-27). 

Job does not deny that he shares the sinfulness, as 
the frailty, of humanity : but he cannot believe 
that for common and inevitable sins God would 
impose upon him a penalty so dreadful, and he knows 
not how else to account for His pitiless vigilance and 
persistent hostility. So far is Job from being worthy 
of those fierce assaults, like the primeval monster 
whom it took the great God to slay (cf. vii. 12), he 
is only too conscious of being nothing but a driven 
leaf or withered stubble. Why should the Almighty 
harass the frail one so ? 

1 G. G. Bradley, Lectures on the Book of Job, p. 116. 

Job s Independent Criticism 

From the sorrow of his own life Job now passes, 
as was natural to so generous a heart, to the con 
templation of the pathos of all human life. Formerly 
he had dwelt upon its toil (vii. iff), now he is thinking 
of its transiency : and he wonders that God should 
bring to so stern an account a being whom He has made 
so frail, and exposed, by the very constitution of his 
nature, alike to the ravages of care and sin. In a 
spirit very different from Eliphaz (iv. i8ff), he argues 
that the frailty of man s moral nature is a reason 
why God should deal with him in clemency. Besides, 
his time is so short ; and all he asks is that, like an 
over-wrought servant, at the end of the day, he 
may be permitted to spend the brief evening of his 
life in peace, before the everlasting night descends 
upon him. 

"Man that is born of a woman 

Is of few days and filled with trouble. 
He comes forth like a flower and he withers, 

He flees like a shadow and stays not. 
On such dost Thou open Thine eyes ? 

And him would st Thou bring to Thy judgment ? 
Who can bring from the unclean the clean ? 

Not one is free from sin. 
Seeing, then, that his days are decreed, 

And the tale of his months is with Thee, 
Look away, and let him have peace, 

To enjoy, like a hireling, his day." (xiv. 1-6). 

Yes, the night is everlasting ; so that, if there is 
no hope here, there can be none there. But there is 
hope here at least for a tree ; and here the great 
sufferer startles us with one of his most touching and 
beautiful thoughts : 

The Problem of Pain 

" For hope there may be for a tree ; 

Though cut down, it may sprout once more, 

And the shoots therefrom need not fail. 
Though its root in the earth wax old, 

And its stem be dead in the ground, 
It may bud at the scent of water, 

And put forth boughs like a plant." (xiv. 7-9). 

Travellers tell us that it is still the custom, in the 
neighbourhood of Damascus, to cut down old and 
decaying trees near the roots, and that, when plenti 
fully watered, they put forth shoots again. In 
happier days Job had watched this phenomenon 
with those clear and penetrating eyes of his : 
perhaps he sees it now, in an inspired moment, as a 
parable of the new life to which man shall awake, 
when Death has laid his axe to the roots of his present 
life for how much better is a man than a tree ! 
and for one bright moment his bruised mortal body 
stands before his enraptured eyes, clothed with 
immortality, on the other side of death. But the 
next moment the vision has vanished. 

" But the strong man dies and lies prostrate : 
Man breathes his last, and where is he ? 

Like the floods of a vanished sea, 
Like a river dry and withered 

Till the heavens be no more, he awakes not, 

Nor ever is roused from his sleep." (xiv. 10-12). 

We see, as we have seen before (vii. 91), how Job 
is fascinated by the thought of the Beyond. It is 
too good to be false, and nature points that way ; 
but the facts of human experience, those facts from 
which Job never flinches, are all against it ; and 
sadly, but deliberately, he puts the thought away. 


Job s Independent Criticism 

Yet he cannot put it away. May it not be true after 
all ? He looks at it again spell-bound. 

" O wouldst Thou but hide me in Sheol, 

Out of sight, till Thine anger be past, 
And then call me to mind in Thine own set time, 

If a dead man may live once again : 
I could wait all the days of my warfare, 

Until my release should come. 
Thou shouldst call, and I would answer ; 

Thou wouldst yearn for the work of Thy hands." 

(xiv. 13-15). 

Here is one of his most splendidly daring thoughts 
all the more wonderful that he had so recently 
longed for death. He is going down swiftly to 
Sheol ; but perhaps the inexplicable anger of the 
God who is sending him there, will one day be spent ; 
and He, the omnipotent One, He to whom nothing is 
impossible, will yearn for His faithful friend and in 
love summon him back again. It is the old kindly 
thought of God which he had for a moment cherished 
once before (vii. 21), but now he dwells upon it 
more wistfully. We see here the will to believe, the 
slow struggle of the soul towards a faith in immor 
tality, and we shall see more of it. It is as touching 
as it is daring this thought of the God who has 
hidden him in the dark under-world for a season, 
but who loves him still and will bring him up again 
in His own good time. If this gracious imagination 
be true, then Job will no longer ask even for a quiet 
even-tide : he will be content to endure his 
unendurable anguish, sustained by the thought of 
that ineffable meeting with his now reconciled God, 


The Problem of Pain 

who has been yearning for Job as passionately as 
Job for Him. 

This is no doubt a bit of autobiography. It gives 
us a glimpse into the soul of the writer, as it struggled 
and swayed under its conflicting emotions towards 
a faith which meant peace. We see, too, the fertility 
of his mind, and its hospitality towards new ideas. 
Not only do such thoughts never occur to the con 
ventional friends, but they do not even offer them a 
welcome : they do not give them a moment s 
consideration. This helps us to feel the loneliness 
of Job, who, in the hour of his supreme need, is left 
uncomforted by the religion of his day with its para 
phernalia of revelations, traditions and maxims, 
but who takes his splendid leap across to Sheol, 
and finds God waiting for him there. 

" But now " after his daring flight he is forced 
back into his gloom by the stern realities of the 

" But now Thou countest my steps, 

And passest not over my sin. 
My transgression is sealed in a bag, 

Thou hast fastened secure mine iniquity." 

(xiv. i6f). 

God has been pitilessly watching his every sin, 
counting them carefully, hoarding them relentlessly 
to bring them forward now, in their totality, in 
justification of the penalty He is exacting. The 
friends had spoken of the future with hope, but what 
hope can there be for him or for any one in a world 
whose law is decay and death ? Man crumbles to 
dust as surely as the mountains. 


Job s Independent Criticism 

"But the very hills crumble to pieces, 

The rocks are moved out of their place. 
Water wears stones to dust, 

The floods wash the soil away : 
So the hope of man Thou destroyest ; 

He lieth, to rise up no more. 
Thou dost worst him for ever ; he passeth, 

Dismissed with his face how changed ! 
Honour comes to his sons, but he knows not: 

Or shame, but he doth not perceive it. 
But the flesh upon him feels pain, 

And the soul within him is sorrowful." (xiv. 18-22). 

The whole chapter is of inexpressible beauty. Man 
passes from the misery of this present world to that 
dull listless life, which is no life, in Sheol, where his 
dearest matter not to him nor he to them ; and with 
this sorrowful picture the first great cycle of speeches 

The friends, leaning upon their rigid and con 
ventional doctrines, have sincerely striven to bring 
Job to a better mind ; and, though they have said 
many things that wounded him to the quick, they 
have on the whole tried to be kindly and comforting, 
and they have always ended with a vision of happier 
days to come. But Job has stood before them as a 
wall of adamant : he has rejected with scorn their 
theories which he cannot reconcile with so many 
tragic facts. But while their minds have been 
stationary, his has been swiftly moving from 
point to point : now scorning life, now lamenting 
the speed of its passing ; now bewailing the finality 
of death, now venturing if only for a moment 
upon a faith in some sublime experience beyond it. 
Behind all his challenges we can detect the gentle 


The Problem of Pain 

undertone^of _a faith in God as his omnipotent 
Friend. Will this glimmering faith be smothered 
by his misery, or will it rise into increasing clearness 
and power ? That is the question that rises to our 
minds, as we enter upon the second act of this great 
spiritual drama. 

(JoB xv.-xxi.) 



THE friends have listened with something like 
consternation to the audacities and irreverences of 
Job, delivered, as we may well believe, with a 
passion that flashed from his very eyes. 

"How fierce the emotions that sweep thee 1 

And how thou flashest thine eyes, 
As thou turnest thy breath against God 
Into words from thy rebel lips." (xv. 121). 

Job stands before them guilty condemned alike by 
his misery and by his own wild and impious speeches. 
Any lingering doubt they may have cherished as to 
his guilt is entirely removed by the arrogance of his 
demeanour towards God and themselves, His repre 

"Thy guilt instructeth thy mouth, 

And thou choosest the tongue of the crafty. 
Thine own mouth condemns thee not I, 

And thine own lips are witness against thee." 

(xv. 5 f). 

The very first words of Eliphaz, who resumes the 
debate, betray a little temper. Job, he hints, is not 
quite the wise man he takes himself to be : his last 
long speech, flashing with thoughts too fair and subtle 
for mechanical minds, had only bored Eliphaz and 
stamped the speaker as a wind-bag. He begins by 


The Problem of Pain 

"Would a wise man pour forth windy answers, 

Or fill with the east wind his breast ? 
Would he reason with profitless words, 

And with speech that is all unavailing ? " (xv. 2f). 

Worse, Job is not only unwise, but ungodly ; 
by his outspoken impieties he is not only violating 
the reverent silence which is seemly in the presence 
of God, but he is assailing the very foundations of 
religion itself. 

" See ! thou art destroying religion, 

Disturbing devout contemplation." (xv. 4). 

Eliphaz is no doubt thinking partly of Job s (to him) 
extraordinary suggestion that God could lightly 
pass over sin (cf. vii. 21), but chiefly of his furious 
denials of the existence of a moral order, and of his 
assertion that the Power behind the world is cruelly 
indifferent to moral interests " He destroyeth 
innocent and guilty alike " (ix. 22). But later words 
in this speech of Eliphaz lead us to believe that he 
is also thinking of Job s defiant repudiation of the 
theory of human suffering he himself had so carefully 
set forth in his first consolatory speech as adequately 
explained by the inherent sinfulness of man (iv. lyff), 
and as having a disciplinary purpose (v. lyf). It 
would be altogether in the spirit of the friends to 
confuse religion with orthodoxy, to identify it with 
their particular interpretation of it, and to condemn 
the man who rejected their views as if he had rejected 
religion itself in other words, to consider the 
heretic as a practical atheist. It would be amusing 
if it were not so tragic ; for there is more genuine 
religion, more passionate yearning for God, in one of 


Unadulterated Doctrine 

Job s invectives than in all their orthodoxy put 

But it is not surprising that the aged Eliphaz, 
conscious of being supported in his opinions by the 
mature wisdom of his time for 

" With us are the gray and the aged, 

More mighty in years than thy father " (v. 10) 

should descend to the language of sarcasm, and ask 
Job whence he derives this marvellous wisdom of 
which he seems to claim a monopoly. Perhaps he 
was a member of the heavenly council, initiated into 
the divine secrets, in the distant days when the world 
was born ? 

" Wast thou the first man to be born ? 

Wast thou fashioned before the hills ? 
Wast thou one of the heavenly council ? 

Was wisdom revealed unto thee ? " (xv. yf). 

Eliphaz is thinking, with a sense of superiority, of 
the real revelation, trivial though it seemed to Job, 
which God had once vouchsafed to him in the dead 
of night (iv. 12 ft). Job had scornfully rejected 
the friends commonplaces, dressed up as revelations, 
with the words " Who knoweth not such things as 
these ? " (xii. 3), and he had summoned them to 
listen to his own daring and independent criticism 
of life (xii. n, I4ff). Eliphaz is piqued and angry. 

"What knowest thou that we know not ? 

What insight is thine and not ours ? " (xv. 9). 

He does not see the pointlessness of his question : 
he forgets that Job knows all that the friends can 
tell him for he has himself been trained in the same 


The Problem of Pain 

school and very much more. To their knowledge 
of the theory he adds his own experience of its inade 
quacy, he knows the touch of suffering upon his life, 
and that has sharpened his eyes to the vast sorrow 
of the world. 

But the vanity of Eliphaz has been particularly 
wounded by Job s rejection of what he is pleased to 
call "the consolations of God," the "gentle" 
speech of comfort with which he had opened the 
debate and in which he had directed Job to his 
"revelation," and sought to teach him the disci 
plinary value as well as the origin of his sufferings. 

"Dost thou spurn the divine consolations, 

The word that dealt with thee so gently ? " (xv. 1 1). 

How bitterly Job would smile at this allusion to the 
" consolations." They were indeed the miserable 
consolations of an Eliphaz, but assuredly not " of 
God." For Job the tragedy is that God will not 
intervene at all, far less to console him : He will not 
break His inexplicable silence. But Eliphaz is not 
to be moved by Job s ridicule from his beloved 
" revelation." He repeats his comfortable doctrine 
of human depravity, and almost in the old words : 

" What is man that he should be clean, 

Or just one of woman born ? 
See ! He putteth no trust in His saints, 

And the heavens are not clean in His sight ; 
How much less one abhorrent and tainted 

A man that drinks evil like water." (xv. 14-16). 

This rather impotent reiteration, this inflexible 
adherence to an old formula, is psychologically very 
effective, suggesting as it does that Eliphaz, like his 

1 02 

Unadulterated Doctrine 

friends, is a man of ossified mind. His affection 
for the single idea he possesses closes his mind to 
other ideas, even when they are forced upon him by 
a tragedy. How unlike the flexibility of Job, who 
eagerly scans the whole range of fact, in nature, in 
life, in history. We feel here the writer s tacit 
condemnation of a wooden orthodoxy which refuses 
to expand or modify in the presence and under the 
pressure of new facts. 

" Now listen," says Eliphaz. The debate grows 
exciting. Job (cf. xiii. 17) and his friends fling about 
their appeals for a hearing, each keenly conscious 
that he has something of real importance to say, 
which the other side is ignoring. 

"Now listen to what I will show thee, 

The thing I have seen I will tell 

Even tales that were told by the wise 

And not hidden from them by their fathers, 
Who had the land all to themselves, 

When no stranger had yet come among them/ 

(xv. 17-19). 

Eliphaz, after reminding Job of his wonderful reve 
lation, here adopts a position not unlike that of 
Bildad in emphasizing tradition (ch. viii.). He 
begins by promising to tell Job of something he has 
seen, but it turns out to be, after all, only something 
he has heard. For one of his conventional religious 
type, that will do just as well. The doctrine with 
which he is about to regale Job has come down 
from the " wise " men of the olden time ; and the 
wise men of to-day, like Eliphaz, accept it unques- 
tioningly, as Job would, too, if he were the wise man 
he thinks he is. It is the " pure " doctrine cherished 


The Problem of Pain 

in the old days before there had been any infiltration 
of foreign influence. Again, an indirect testimony 
to the closed mind of orthodoxy ! No intellectual 
stimulus, nothing but mental and moral corruption, 
can be expected from circles or nations beyond its 
own. " He followeth not with us." What a small 
and hermetically sealed world the friends are living in, 
irresponsive to the innumerable fructifying influences 
beyond it, and blind to many of the most impressive 
facts. But let that go. What is, after all, the doc 
trine ushered in with this pompous and very flimsy 
and questionable guarantee of its truth ? It is this : 

"All his days is the wicked in pain, 

All the years for the tyrant appointed. 
In his ears is the sound of terrors, 

In peace comes the spoiler upon him. 
He cannot escape from the darkness, 

And he is reserved for the sword, 
Appointed as food for the vulture 

He knows that his doom is at hand. 
The day of darkness appals him, 

Constraint and distress overpower him. 
For he stretched out his hand against God, 

Played the warrior against the Almighty, 
Running against Him stiff-necked 

With the thick of the boss of his bucklers, 

Like a king prepared for the onset. 
He covered his face with his fat, 

He set thick folds of flesh on his loins ; 
And he dwelt in desolate cities, 

In houses that none should inhabit. 
What he has won, others shall capture, 

His substance shall not endure. 
The fierce heat shall wither his branches, 

His fruit shall the wind whirl away. 
Let him not trust his plant when it shoots, 

For the branch thereof shall be vanity. 
It shall wither before its time, 

Before its fronds become green. 


Unadulterated Doctrine 

His grapes he shall shed like the vine, 
And cast off like the olive his blossom. 

For a barren tribe are the godless ; 

Tents of bribery the fire shall consume." (xv. 20-24). 

It is just the old doctrine of the certain doom of 
the wicked, expressed, of course, with the ingenious 
variety of its brilliant writer s mind. But there are 
two or three points of importance. One is the 
thoughtlessness and irrelevance of part of the speech. 
In the picture of the bloated, sensuous, corpulent 
sinner who rushes like a warrior against the Almighty 
how unlike the bruised worn man whose misery 
started the whole problem ! we cannot help feeling 
that the speaker is wandering from the immediate 
facts and indulging his gift for rhetoric, as he had 
done before in his cruelly thoughtless allusion to 
the children (v. 4). It is further of importance that 
he dwells now upon the inward penalty of sin. The 
sinner is lashed by conscience as well as by misfortune 
the sound of the coming destruction is in his ears. 
But most significant of all is it that the well-meaning 
Eliphaz should now entirely drop the idle of com 
forter and hold before Job the divine terrors. He does 
not yet accuse him of heinous sins that monstrous 
injustice is yet to come (xxii. 5ff) ; but he points 
with ominous elaboration to the fate of the obstinate 
and unrepentant sinner, and leaves Job this time 
without a word of hope. This has the natural effect 
of alienating Job still more from the friends and 
driving him back upon God. 


and xvii.) 

Eliphaz has made it very plain by implication 
that the time for consolation is past, and that his 
duty now is to operate upon his misguided friend 
with the gospel of fear. Job s sensitive soul instinct 
ively feels the chill in the temperature. Far from 
refreshing his weary spirit, the friends have wearied 
him yet more with their voluble commonplaces, and 
with his customary candour he has not hesitated 
to tell them so. 

"Many things such as these have I heard: 

Ye are wearisome comforters all of you." (xvi. 2). 

He feels that with disputants like these no progress 
is possible ; and, so far as the profit of the debate is 
concerned, it might be immediately brought to an 
end. With slight variations due to temperament, 
age, and mental predisposition, the friends persist 
in saying the same things over and over again ; 
and we have seen how Eliphaz harps for the second 
time upon his famous revelation, which was to 
reconcile Job to his lot. The friends repeat them 
selves and repeat each other ; there is an intellectual 
rigidity about them, which rendered further dis 
cussion useless. Their minds only mark time, they 
could not march ; and well might Job ask : 


The Witness in Heaven 

"Shall windy words have an end ? 

What is it that provokes thee to answer ? " 

(xvi. 3). 

Behind their intellectual rigidity there lay, as 
there always does in such cases, a certain lack of 
imagination. They had no eyes but for familiar 
facts, no minds but for established doctrines, no 
power to enter sympathetically into the unfamiliar, 
whether a new range of facts or another human 
experience. Their comfort is therefore of the 
rhetorical order, lacking heart and imagination 
lip-comfort, as Job calls it accompanied by an 
ominous shake of the head. But Job has imagina 
tion as well as intellect. " Were your soul in my 
soul s stead " Job could readily imagine that : 
but they could not imagine the reverse, and so they 
have nothing steadying or uplifting to say. 

" I, too, could speak like you, 

Were your soul in my soul s stead. 
I could weave words together about you, 

And shake my head at you. 
I could strengthen you with my mouth, 
And encourage you with lip-comfort." (xvi. 4!). 

Yes, he could, but he never would : he has too pro 
found a sense of human sorrow for that ; and, on 
Eliphaz s own confession (iv. 31) what he had really 
done in such a case is what he afterwards claims to 
have done (xxix. 12-17) he had " strengthened the 
drooping hands : his words had set up the stumbling, 
and strengthened the tottering knees." 

Since, however, the friends with their cold 
comfort have only harrowed his soul and deepened 


The Problem of Pain 

his sense of loneliness, his only refuge is in God. 
But what a God ! For 

"Now He hath wearied and dazed me, 

My misery seizes upon me, 
It rises for witness against me, 

My grief testifies to my face. 
In His wrath He hath flung me down torn, 

He hath gnashed upon me with His teeth. 
My foes whet their eyes upon me, 

With open mouth they gape. 
They insult me with blows on the cheek, 

Coming on in their masses against me. 
To knaves God has given me up, 

Into wicked hands He has hurled me. 
I was happy, when He took and shattered me, 

Grasped my neck, and then dashed me to pieces. 
He set me up for His target, 

On all sides His archers beset me. 
He cleaves through my veins unrelenting, 

He pours out my gall on the ground. 
One breach after another He makes on me, 

Rushing at me like a warrior. 
Sackcloth I sewed on my skin, 

And my horn I have laid in the dust. 
My face is red with weeping, 

And over mine eyelids is darkness 
Though wrong there is none in my hands, 

And though my prayer be pure " (xvi. 7-17). 

One or two of the touches graphically suggest 
the horror of the disease the face inflamed, the 
spasmodic weeping ; but the deepest horror is that 
behind this inscrutable thing is God. The verses 
are alive with the strong sense of God s personal 
hostility. He is there in the gloomy background, 
though He is only once named. It is He that hath 
done this : and what He has done is described in 
a succession of similes, as if no single picture was 
adequate to describe the fury of the inexhaustible 


The Witness in Heaven 

wrath which was being hurled upon him. First, 
in language palpitating with an energy in which the 
fierceness of the assault becomes almost audible, 
God is likened to a wild beast which seizes him by 
the neck with its claws, crushes and tears him to 
pieces, and then flings him down bleeding on the 
ground. Then He is compared to an archer (cf. vi. 4.) 
who hurls his pitiless shafts at his poor human target, 
piercing him through and through ; and finally to 
a warrior, storming the wall of an enemy city. 
Two circumstances conspire to render these assaults 
all the more pathetic : one is that, before they came, 
Job had been so strangely happy ; and the other, 
that he had led a blameless life. And now this is the 
end ! He, an innocent man, is being hurried into 
the grave with every circumstance of cruelty by 
the God whom he had served so well. He goes down 
with his reputation besmirched and unvindicated. 

But no ! It cannot be. At this point Job s 
spirit takes one of its magnificently daring flights. 

" O earth ! cover not my blood ; 

No rest let there be to my crying. 
Behold, in heaven is my Witness, 

And I have a Sponsor on high. 
My friends pour their scorn upon me, 

But my tear-stained eyes look unto God, 
That He plead for a man with God, 

And for son of man with his Friend." (xvi. 18-21). 

He is being murdered, he is dying : but his blood, 
like the murdered Abel s (Gen. iv. 10), can cry 
from the ground to the God of justice in heaven, for 
the universe is on the side of justice. There is one 
there who will hear. In the dazzling light which 


The Problem of Pain 

momentarily illumines the gloom of Job s spirit, 
he sees Him up yonder. Behold ! he is sure of 
Him, not merely of His presence, but of His good 
will, of His support, of His advocacy, of His power 
and His yearning to testify on his behalf and to 
establish his innocence before an unbelieving 
world. He prays no more for a little ease or comfort 
before he dies ; for before his soul there hovers the 
glorious vision of his heavenly Friend, his Witness 
and Sponsor on high. 

What a passion for character, what a soul of 
honour, breathes through words like these ! He has 
not yet risen to the wonderful conviction which he 
later attains that he will himself see his Vindicator 
and his vindication (xix. 25-27) ; but he goes down 
to his grave happy in the sublime faith that, though 
he will not be there to see it, his character will be 
triumphantly cleared ; and that is infinitely more 
to such a man than health or happiness or life itself. 
Here we see him grasping more firmly thoughts 
which had visited him before but which he had not 
been able to hold thoughts of the indefeasible 
justice and friendship of God and he now has the 
courage to carry them into the world beyond. He 
has now far transcended the sorrowful mood in 
which he had said, " Thou shalt seek me, but I shall 
not be" (vii. 21). He has a deeper assurance of the 
future than when he threw out the tentative hope 
that God might hide him for a season in Sheol, till 
His wrath be overpast (xiv. 13). He is now con 
vinced that the justice to which he had so confi- 
4ently appealed (xiii. 7, 16) persists beyond death 

The Witness in Heaven 

His earthly friends may pour their scorn upon him, 
but his heavenly Friend is for him, and that is enough. 

At this point Job touches again, only more firmly, 
the singular thought he had expressed before, of an 
arbiter between himself and God (ix. 33-35). Then 
he had lamented that there was no such one, no one 
to stand between, laying one hand on God s shoulder 
and the other on his, and decide between them both. 
But now in this moment of illumination he sees that 
in the contest between himself and God, God Himself 
must be the arbiter. It is a subtle thought which 
reveals two conceptions of God contending in the 
soul of Job. He appeals away from the unintelli 
gible God who torments him to the Judge of all the 
earth, who will do right by the faithful, even after 
they are dead. There is no refuge from God but 
God, but He will be Refuge indeed. 

It is characteristic of the swiftly moving mind of 
Job that he can pass immediately from the shining 
heights to the blackest depths. He is too sternly 
compassed about by the sorrowful facts of the present 
to tarry long in the high places to which he has been 
swept in a moment of rapture. Like the prophets 
who preface many a glorious vision of the future 
with " It shall come to pass in the latter days," 
he sees only too plainly the misery and the bitterness 
of the days that now are. 

" For when but a few years come, 

I shall go whence I shall not return. 

His anger hath ruined my days, 

And for me is left nought but the grave. 

Delusion is surely my portion, 

On bitterness tarries mine eye." (xvi. 22, xvii. if), 


The Problem of Pain 

Vindication will come he is now sure of that but 
not here, at least not as long as he lives. And then 
he gives utterance to that curious sense, which we 
have observed before, of dichotomy in God, that 
strange conflict between the inscrutable God who 
torments him, and the God who will in the end deliver 
or at least vindicate him. It is as if God were 
divided against Himself. 

" Lav a pledge for me Thou with Thyself : 

For who else would strike hands with me ? " 

(xvii. 3). 

The thought is much the same as that which he had 
uttered but a moment before, that God would plead 
for him with God the God of grace, in whom he 
trusts in spite of everything, with the God of wrath, 
whose poisoned arrows quiver in his palpitating 
flesh. The thought here is the same, but it takes 
a slightly different turn. He prays for a pledge of 
victory in that day of trial to which he looks forward 
with expectation, but which he does not believe 
he is destined with his bodily eyes to see. But who 
can give such a pledge ? Who can provide a surety 
that will satisfy the God whom for the moment he 
is compelled to regard as his enemy ? Who but God 
Himself ? for none but God can satisfy God. His 
words here reveal the unutterable loneliness of his 
soul, forsaken as he is alike by man and God by the 
well-meaning friends who lacerate him with their 
platitudes, and by the God who abuses His omni 
potence to crush him ; but they reveal no less his 
indefeasible confidence in a love behind and beyond 

The Witness in Heaven 

the present distress, in a God who by His ultimate 
intervention will justify alike Himself and Job. 
With nothing else to sustain him, he sustains himself 
completely upon the confidence that the Judge 
Himself no other and no less will be his surety. 

But again from this lofty height he sinks back 
into the depths of the unredeemed misery which 
besets him behind and before. The sorrows which 
surge around him like a sea, the blackness of spirit 
in which he dwells, the tortures which rack his poor 
emaciated body, reveal him as a marked man 
marked by the anger of God, and marked for the 
scorn of conventional men, who believe with only too 
painful facility that, as God is just, so men are not 
thus tormented for nothing. The hypocrite has 
been unmasked at last. His story has travelled 
from tribe to tribe and now he is the wonder 
and derision of the world. 

"Thou hast made me the by-word of nations, 

They look upon me as a monster. 
Mine eye is grown dim for vexation, 
My members are all as a shadow. 
My days pass away without hope, 

The desires of my heart are extinguished. 
The night I turn into day, 

And the light is before me as darkness." 1 

(xvii. 6f, i if). 

Infinite loneliness, hopelessness and sorrow 
breathe through the words that follow : 

1 The noble words of verses 8-10, especially verse 9, which A. B. 
Davidson describes as " perhaps the most surprising and lofty in the 
Book," hardly seem consonant with the mood of Job at this point, 
and should probably be transferred, with many scholars, to the 
speech of Bildad, between xviii. 3 and 4. 

The Problem of Pain 

" If I hope, then the grave is my home, 

And my couch I have spread in the darkness. 
I call to the pit, My mother, 

And unto the worm, My sister. " (xvii. 13!). 

Hope is hard to slay, and gleams of it fitfully illu 
mine his anguish. But how can hope be cherished 
by such a man as Job, whom a cruel and incurable 
disease is relentlessly dragging down to the grave, 
and whom God and man alike seem resolved to tor 
ment to the end the one by His power, and the 
other by his platitudes ? If he timidly ventures to 
hope, at once he is mocked by the spectre of the 
grave which already is yawning for him. Never 
more can there be for him real fellowship in the bright 
world above where once, with wife and children and 
friends, he was so happy, but only in the blackness 
of the grave, where his fellows will be the ugly creep 
ing things that harbour there. What is the good, then, 
of cherishing hope or speaking of happiness ? and 
why add this delusion to the others that embitter 
his soul ? 

"Where, then, were that hope of mine ? 

And my happiness who can espy ? " (xvii. 15). 

But he does not rest there. He closes with one 
of those astonishing words which, however dark be 
the mood in which they were spoken, begin to disclose 
new and nobler vistas : 

" Will it go with me down to the grave ? 

Shall we sink to the dust together ?" (xvii. 16). 

The words which lead up to this leave little doubt 
that the mood in which it was spoken was one of 
almost, if not altogether, utter hopelessness. And 


The Witness in Heaven 

yet, as so often happens with the great words of the 
Old Testament, it points to something beyond itself. 
Job asks a question to which he gives no answer. 
The answer he would give in that moment is as good 
as certain ; and yet, as the question remains unan 
swered, the other alternative is left open. Besides, 
in other moods, Job had answered his question in 
another and more daring way. He had looked at the 
possibility and cherished the hope (xiv. 13-15) that 
God would hide him in the dust until His wrath 
was overpast ; that, overcome with yearning for the 
work of His hands, He would call His servant back 
from the nether gloom : and he had felt in antici 
pation the thrill of unutterable joy with which he 
would respond to that trumpet call. And deep down 
in his soul, almost extinguished by the crushing 
weight of his sorrows, this hope is glimmering still. 
It is, or at least it may be, as it certainly once was : 
whether the spark will ever again be fanned into a 
flame only the sequel can show. 

DOOM OF THE WICKED (Job xviii.) 

One of the most striking things in the speeches of 
the friends and here the writer is drawing from the 
life is their incapacity to be impressed by the 
arguments of Job or by the movements of his mind. 
His sublimest appeals they simply ignore. As the 
drama unfolds, they show more temper and less 
sympathy less for the man and none for his argu 
ment ; they move more and more deliberately away 
from the fire of his challenges to the shelter of their 
tedious and comfortless orthodoxy. His fairest 
thoughts breed in them nothing but impatience, 
and for answer they have nothing to offer but 
truisms and ill-concealed invective The writer 
is subtly suggesting how little of imaginative 
response, how little of human sympathy, may be 
looked for from men whose minds have been tied 
by a system, and who are more concerned to defend 
conventional opinions than to face new truth and to 
alleviate human suffering. 

Bildad s second speech well illustrates this 
intellectual and moral callousness. His first 
words reveal the impatience and the irritation with 
which he had listened to Job s moving appeal to his 
Witness in the heavens and his sorrowful lament 
touching the hope which is likely to be buried with 


The Doom of the Wicked 

him in the dust. The one is too sublime, and the 
other too tender, for the pedestrian soul of Bildad. 
Like all who care more for orthodoxy than for men, 
his chief concern is to present his own case. So he 
brusquely begins : 

" When wilt thou end thy words ? 

Now consider, and we will speak." (v. 2.) 

He is mortally offended at the slight that Job had 
more than once put upon his intelligence and that 
of his friends all the more that they are so conscious 
of possessing the truth, the ancient truth believed 
by the fathers (viii. 8) and piously handed on to 
their succeeding race, the truth which had actually 
been disclosed to Eliphaz in a special revelation 
(iv. I2ff.) while the misery of Job is proof enough of 
how far he has swerved from it. Honest men like 
Bildad will not be deflected from it by Job s captious 
criticisms : they will be more than ever convinced 
of the justice of their own opinions. 

" Why are we counted as beasts, 

And deemed by thee to be dullards ? 
Honest men thrill with horror at this ; 

A pure man is roused by such godlessness. 
But the righteous holds on his way 

And the man of clean hands waxes stronger." 

(xviii. 3, xvii. 8f). 

Job has been candid enough to count them as 
beasts : why, it is not they, but he, who is behaving 
like a beast, like a veritable wild beast " thou 
that tearest thyself in thine anger." He pointedly 
recalls the word which Job, in his last speech, had had 
the hardihood to apply to God s treatment of him : 
he cannot rise to the height of Job s great argument, 


The Problem of Pain 

but he can fasten, in his petty way, on single words. 
Job had complained that God in His anger had 
" torn " him with his teeth (xvi. 9). " Nay, verily," 
retorts Bildad, " it is thou that tearest thyself ; " 
and what he means he at once makes plain, charac 
teristically enough, in the language of exaggeration 

" For thy sake shall earth be made desert, 

Or rock be moved out of its place ? " (xviii. 4). 

Job seems to imagine that the whole order of the 
universe is to be turned upside down, simply to 
accommodate his necessities. We are reminded of 
the more modern taunt, " Shall gravitation cease 
when you pass by ? " But Job had never really 
made any such desperate claim : it is a nobler 
thought that inspires his challenges. Doubtless he 
feels the world-sorrow most keenly where it impinges 
upon himself, for every heart must know its own 
bitterness more directly and completely than it can 
know that of any other heart. But, as we have seen, 
more than once (chaps, vii. and xiv.), it is really a 
world-sorrow that Job is voicing in his own laments ; 
and the burden of his complaint is that the power 
which is so manifest in the world is not manifestly, 
or rather not at all, on the side of justice. " He 
destroyeth innocent and guilty alike " (ix. 22). 

Then Bildad begins to paint his comfortless picture 
of the sure doom of the wicked a doom of darkness 
unillumined. Job had dreamt of a future in which, 
though he himself would be dead, his heavenly 
Witness would make his righteousness shine clear 
as the noon-day : but let him not deceive himself. 


The Doom of the Wicked 

God is not mocked. The real truth Job had himself 
proclaimed in the saner words with which he had 
closed his last speech, and in which he had recog 
nized that the grave would be his everlasting home, 
and he and his hope alike would go down to the 
eternal darkness together. 

"Nay, the light of the wicked is quenched, 

And the flame of his fire shall not shine. 
The light in his tent shall be dark, 

And the lamp o er his head shall go out." 

(xviii. 5f). 

This, urges Bildad in a curious passage, is the 
inevitable doom of those who ignore or defy the moral 
constitution of the world. In truth it can neither 
be ignored nor defied. The man who tries to run 
athwart it will find himself caught in inextricable 

" His great swinging strides become shortened, 

His own counsel maketh him stumble. 
His foot is thrust into a net, 

So that over the net-work he sprawleth. 
A snare shall take hold of his heel, 

And a trap shall close tightly upon him. 
A noose lies concealed on the ground, 

And a trap on his path doth await him." 

(xviii. 7-10). 

This view of the moral universe is true, and there 
is something powerful and eerie in the deliberate 
accumulation of grim synonyms something perhaps, 
too, significant of the harsh quality of the mind of 
Bildad in this view of the world as a gigantic trap. 
It is all true ; but, like so much of the truth urged by 
the friends, it happens not to be relevant to the case 


The Problem of Pain 

in hand. Hell-hounds may pursue " the wicked " 
(v. 5) from one disaster to another ; but Job, 
whatever his disasters, we know and God knows to be 
a man " blameless and upright." Yet 

" On all sides are terrors appalling, 
Pursuing him close at his heels. 
For him shall misfortune be hungry, 

Disaster is ready to throw him." (xviii. nf). 

The inexorable Bildad, however, is not content 
with generalizations : in a cruel passage, redeemed 
by two immortal phrases, he proceeds to sketch the 
doom of the wicked in details so vividly and 
pointedly suggestive of the sufferings of Job that his 
rebuke could not be plainer, had he said outright, 
" Thou art the man." 

"The pestilence gnaws at his skin, 

And the first-born of death at his members. 
Then, dragged from his tent in despair, 

He is marched to the King of Terrors. 
His house shall be haunted by ghosts; 

On his homestead shall brimstone be scattered. 
His roots shall be dried up beneath, 

And above shall his branches be withered. 
From earth shall his memory perish ; 

No name shall be his on the streets. 
From the light he is thrust into darkness, 

And chased right out of the world." (xviii. 13-18). 

Job was the living, or shall we say the dying, 
proof that Bildad s doctrine was true. " The first 
born of death," the terrible leprosy, was that very 
moment gnawing at his skin not more cruelly than 
the words of his " comforter " were lacerating his 
soul. Plucked from the tent where he had had such 


The Doom of the Wicked 

happy fellowship with his God and his children, and 
driven, under the ban of his disease, to a place on the 
ash-heap outside the village, he was even then, slowly 
but surely, making his way to the King of Terrors. 
In the brimstone to be scattered on the homestead 
of the godless Job could not fail to read an allusion 
to the " fire of God " that had fallen upon his flocks 
from heaven (i. 16) ; while in the tree with its dry 
roots and withered branches he could not fail to see, 
as he was intended to see, his own wasted, blasted 
life ; and the passing of his name from the streets, of 
his memory from the earth, of his kith and kin from 
human habitation, is a bitter reminder of the fate 
that had swept away his sons and daughters. It is 
all unspeakably cruel. In the first cycle of speeches 
the friends had been drifted by their own rhetoric 
into thoughtless and half unconscious allusions to 
these things ; but this is a piece of studied and cal 
culated callousness, which is sharpened to an even 
keener edge by the speaker s closing words : 

"The west is appalled at his doom, 

And the east is stricken with horror. 
Yea, such are the homes of the wicked, 

Of those who care nothing for God." (xviii. 201). 

The doom, well merited though it be, will be so 
terrible that the world, from end to end, will shudder 
at it. Yes, such will be the doom ; and all the par 
ticulars enumerated are reflected to the last iota 
in the experience of the unhappy man before whose 
mournful eyes the picture is held up. Job sees 
himself deliberately thrown by his friend among 
" those who care nothing for God." 


The Problem of Pain 

We must do Bildad the justice of admitting that 
he spoke his real mind undisguisedly. He can cherish 
no hope for his friend, and he extends to him none : 
he wraps him in the gloom which he predicted for 
him. How will this fresh injustice react upon the 
soul of Job ? 


(Job xix.) 

The transparent insinuations of Bildad s speech 
create in Job a tumult of emotions upon which he 
is eventually lifted to higher heights than any he 
elsewhere attains throughout the whole course of 
the drama. But he reaches them out of the depths. 
It is in part at least the despair to which his 
human friends have driven him that throw him 
at last into the arms of the great Friend. But the 
fierceness of the soul-struggle on which Job is about 
to enter already trembles through his opening words : 

" How long will ye vex my soul, 

And crush me to pieces with words ? 
These ten times ye have put me to shame, 

And set upon me unabashedly. 
Well, be it that I have erred 

Mine error abides with myself." (xix. 2-4). 

He does not mean by this to admit that he has 
erred certainly not in any degree which would 
explain his present misery ; but if the concession 
be made for the sake of argument, at any rate that 
is his affair, not theirs. The real explanation, how 
ever, lay not in sin, but in God. Here, as every 
where, Job and the friends are diametrically opposed, 
he finding the " root of the matter " (v. 28) in God, 
and what he can only think of as His mysterious 
and cruel caprice, they finding it in Job himself 


The Problem of Pain 

and his sin. Bildad, in his first speech, had recoiled 
in horror from the thought that God could " pervert 
justice " (viii. 3) ; but this, Job maintains using 
the same word is precisely what He has done : 

" Know then, it is God that hath wronged me, 

And compassed me round with His net." (xix. 6). 

Bildad had had much to say about the net in which 
the sinner must inevitably be caught (xviii. 8) ; 
but Job, who is writhing in its toils, maintains that 
it is God who has thrown it round him, an innocent 

" Behold ! I cry Wrong but no answer ; 
I call but justice is none." (xix. 7). 

Then he goes on, with an expressive variety of meta 
phor, to describe the inexplicable alienation and 
hostility of God : 

"My way He hath fenced round impassably, 

Darkness He sets on my path. 
He hath stripped my glory from off me, 

And taken the crown from my head " (xix. 8f) 

not only his prosperity, but still more perhaps, as 
xxix. 14 suggests, and infinitely more precious to 
Job, his reputation for righteousness. 

" He hath torn me clean down I am gone : 
He hath plucked up my hope like a tree. 
He hath kindled His anger against me, 

And counted me one of His enemies. 
On come His troops together, 

They throw up a rampart against me." 

(xix. 10-12) 

He feels himself assaulted as if he were some 
mighty fortress, instead of being a broken, emaciated, 


Job s Sublime Faith 

anguished man by those terrible hosts of God, 
disease, bereavement, pain, sorrow, despair. 

So much for the alienation of God which, to a man 
of Job s passion for the divine fellowship and favour, 
was the bitterest loss of all. But very terrible also 
to one with his generosity of nature and his instinct 
for friendship was the alienation of men ; and this, 
too, he had to bear the estrangement, the mockery, 
even the loathing, of some whom he had loved and 
of others whom he had served. His misfortunes, 
his miseries, and., above all, his disease, had stamped 
him as a man " smitten of God and afflicted," whom 
it was a sacred duty to shun ; and the frightful 
physical accompaniments of the disease filled even 
his dearest with aversion and horror. The peculiar 
sting of his servant s treatment of him can only be 
fully understood when we bear in mind Job s own 
amazingly gracious treatment of his servants, as set 
forth in his concluding speech (xxxi. 13-15). 

" My brethren are gone far from me, 

My friends have estranged themselves from me ; 
My neighbours have ceased to acknowledge me, 

Guests of my house have forgotten me. 
Maids of mine count me a stranger, 

An alien am I in their sight. 
To my servant I call, but he answers not, 

Till with my mouth I entreat him. 
My breath is strange to my wife, 

And my stench to mine own very children. 
Yea, even young boys despise me, 

And mock when I try to rise. 
All mine intimate friends abhor me ; 

The man whom I love turns against me. 
My skin clings to my bones, 

I escape with my flesh in my teeth." (xix. 13-20). 


The Problem of Pain 

These mournful words could only have been 
uttered by a man with a genius for kindliness and 
friendship. He had none of that self-sufficiency 
which enables an arrogant man to dispense with his 
fellows, and the loss of his friends left him with 
a feeling of desolation second only to that which he 
suffered through the seeming withdrawal of God. 
This helps us to understand the vehement appeal to 
his three friends which follows : 

" Have pity, have pity, my friends, 

For the hand of God hath touched me." 

(xix 21). 

It is unexpected and almost bewildering that Job 
should turn in his despair for pity to the very men 
upon whose arguments he had showered such sar 
casm, irony, and scorn, and whose friendship he had 
compared to the waters which vanish when the 
thirsty traveller needs them most. But it shows us 
two things his infinite need of friendship, and his 
awful sense of the hostility of God. As more than 
once he has been driven from the friends to seek 
refuge in God, so here he seeks refuge with the 
friends from the terrible unseen " Hand that has 
touched " him. 

Unutterably tragic is the wail which follows, for 
no kindly response gleams from those sullen eyes 
or frigid faces : 

" Why do ye persecute me like God, 
And devour my flesh insatiably ? " 

It is as if he said, " Well ye know that God is using 
the resources of omnipotence to torture me : will ye 
be as cruel as God ? " In this at least the friends are 


Job s Sublime Faith 

all too godlike. For Job it is a moment of indes 
cribable tension and unutterable loneliness : in the 
heavens above and the earth beneath there is nothing 
but rampant injustice and cruelty. To whom can he 
go ? To whom can he make his appeal ? God has 
forsaken him, his friends have forsaken him, he has 
nothing to support him in all the universe but his 
own bare word. Well, let that be written down 
this testimony of a good and stainless conscience 
as an everlasting witness. If God will not witness 
for him, he will confidently trust his honour to this 
imperishable record inscribed upon the everlasting 

" O that my words were now written, 

That they were inscribed in a book, 
That, with iron pen and with lead, 

On a rock they were graven for ever." 

(xix. 231). 

He appeals away from the friends who misunder 
stand, suspect, denounce him, to posterity that 
later world which, with this record before its eyes, 
will do him the justice he cannot find among his 

It is a daring and glorious appeal ; but, after all, 
it is not enough to satisfy the wronged and lacerated 
heart : and after a pause Job, recognizing its 
inadequacy, goes back upon it. It is something 
more intimate and personal for which his heart is 
yearning. Then, by one of those marvellous 
revulsions of feeling which reflect so vividly the 
tempest of his soul, he rises at one bound out of the 
depths of the blackest despair to the sublimest 
confidence in the God whom he cannot and will not 


The Problem of Pain 

let go, and he expresses this confidence in language 
of unshakable conviction. Unhappily, at this point 
both the text and the meaning are unusually obscure. 
This is not the place to enter upon a minute dis 
cussion of textual difficulties : yet we cannot rightly 
understand the speaker s attitude of mind until we 
have at least some approximate idea of what he 
actually said. How difficult it is to reach certainty 
on this point will be readily seen by a comparison of 
the three best known English versions. The 
Authorized Version reads : 

v. 25. " For I know that my redeemer liveth, 

And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : 

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

v. 27. Whom I shall see for myself, 

And mine eyes shall behold, and not another ; 
Though my reins be consumed within me." 

(xix. 25-27). 

The Revised Version : 

"But I know that my redeemer liveth, 

And that he shall stand up at the last upon the earth : 
And after my skin hath been thus destroyed, 

Yet from my flesh shall I see God : 
Whom I shall see for myself, 

And mine eyes shall behold, and not another. 

My reins are consumed within me." 

And the American Revised Version : 

" But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, 

And at last he will stand up upon the earth : 
And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, 

Then without my flesh shall I see God ; 
Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side, 

And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger, 

My heart is consumed within me." 


Job s Sublime Faith 

The obscurity of the original is seen in the intrusion 
of very important and conceivably misleading words, 
italicized in the Authorized Version for example, 
" at the latter day" <( though after my skin worms 
destroy this body " for which there is no warrant 
whatever in the original. Apart from this, there is 
at least one great phrase about whose meaning there 
is among translators not only no unanimity, 
but positively conflicting and diametrically contra 
dictory interpretations. One rendering represents 
Job as anticipating a vision of God in his flesh, 
another from his flesh, another without his flesh. 
The Hebrew preposition means simply from, which 
two of the versions have taken to mean from within 
and the other apart from. Both meanings are 
justified by Hebrew usage, and only the immediate 
and the larger context has the right to decide. 

But even when the translation is decided, the 
meaning is still uncertain : for each of these render 
ings is capable of two interpretations, one descrip 
tive of Job s condition before death, the other after, 
(i) " In his flesh " has been taken, for example, 
not very naturally perhaps, to mean " reduced to a 
mass of flesh " the skin having disappeared under 
the ravages of the disease ; but the living man, though 
thus disfigured, is still blessed with a vision of God. 
(ii) It has also been taken to mean " clothed in a 
resurrection body." It is easy to see how far- 
reaching the consequences of this rendering would be ; 
and though there are no thoughts too daring for the 
brilliant mind behind this book, the conscientious 
interpreter will be reluctant to accept this view 



The Problem of Pain 

without the amplest proofs of its probability. But 
again, the other rendering " without my flesh " 
may mean either (i) "in a disembodied state " 
after death which would yield an idea the very 
opposite of that which we were last considering ; 
or (ii) " in a fleshless state," that is, reduced to a 
skeleton a view which would approximate to the 
first we considered. 

All these possibilities are daring and dramatic, 
and thoroughly worthy of the context. The picture 
of the sufferer, now but a shadow of his former self, 
looking out from his bruised and emaciated frame 
upon the face of God, is hardly less wonderful than 
the picture of him on the other side of death gazing, 
whether in some strange new resurrection body or as 
a disembodied spirit, upon that Face which had so 
long been hidden here. Our decision will partly 
depend upon whether we regard Job as thinking 
with despair or with kindliness and hope of the world 
beyond death ; and, as we have seen, his attitude 
on this point fluctuates. It is prevailingly one of 
gloom : Sheol is the world of impenetrable dark 
ness, from which no traveller returns (vii. 10, xiv. 
10) : but in rapt moments he had seen the darkness 
illumined by a flash. He had thought of the love of 
God as searching for him after he was gone (vii. 21), 
as hiding him in Sheol till the divine wrath was over 
past, only to remember him and bring him up again 
(xiv. I3ff.) ; and if there is anywhere a sublime 
moment in the drama, it is surely at the point which 
we have reached. This consideration inclines us 
very decidedly towards the view that Job is thinking 


Job s Sublime Faith 

of the world beyond. Swiftly descending, as he is, 
to the grave in humiliation and agony, he comforts 
himself with the great and beautiful thought that 
he will see God on the other side. 

There are other phrases, however, in our trans 
lations, either ambiguous or misleading. Take the 
most famous " my Redeemer." At once the word 
suggests to our minds redemption from sin, whereas 
nothing could be further from the mind of Job 
at this moment, when he is looking forward to a 
future in which his innocence will be established. 
The word here rendered Redeemer is used in Hebrew 
to denote the next of kin, whose duty was to deliver 
a kinsman from bondage or debt, or to avenge his 
blood. What Job longs for is One who will clear 
his reputation, and some such word as Vindicator 
or Champion is needed to bring this out. Parallel 
to this is the word rendered in the Authorized 
Version by " at the latter day," in the Revised Ver 
sion by "at the last," in the American Revised 
Version by " at last." It is not so strong in colour 
as these renderings suggest, it simply means " an 
after-one," that is, one coming after to establish his 
innocence when he is dead. There are other minor 
points on which we need not here touch. 

It has been instinctively felt by every generation of 
readers that the faith of Job utters itself here in the 
sublimest form : and it is more than probable that 
the fascination of the passage has influenced the 
present text, as it has unquestionably influenced the 
later versions. The Latin version, for example, 
of v. 2$b reads in novissimo die de terra surrecturus 

The Problem of Pain 

sum, " on the last day I shall arise from the earth" 
which is wrong and misleading in nearly every 
particular, most of all in its totally unwarranted 
substitution of I for he ; and our own Authorized 
Version shows similar,though not so fatal, tendencies. 
In the light of these facts, the present text demands 
the most scrupulous examination ; and, though this 
cannot be done fully here, or anywhere adequately, 
without a discussion of the Hebrew original, one or 
two points are obvious, and may carry more or less 
conviction even to the reader who cares nothing for 
the minutiae of criticism. 

The most obvious fact is that v. 27 consists of three 
lines, whereas practically throughout the whole 
book at any rate in indubitably authentic passages 1 
there are only two lines in each verse. 2 Probably 
therefore, one of these lines is not original. It is 
further obvious that the three lines 26b, 2jab, ring 
the changes on the same thought in a way rather 
alien to the masculine style of Job with its infinite 
variety. It might indeed be argued that this linger 
ing upon the thought is psychologically motived 
by the dazzling power of the vision, as Job sees it 
with the eye of faith ; but when the first two lines 
(i.e., z6b, 2ja,) are written in Hebrew,* one beneath 
the other, they are seen to be composed of almost 
identical consonants. For example, the word for 

1 The triplets in chapter xxiv. (13-24) and xxx. (2-8) are believed 
to be a later intrusion. 

1 The last clause of the last verse of the chapter we are discussing 
is suspected for good reasons. 

3 266 mbsr chzh lh. 
2ja shr n chzh I. 


Job s Sublime Faith 

flesh in v. 26b (bshr) differs by only a single consonant 
from the word for whom (shr) in v. 2ja ; besides, the 
relative (whom) is so clumsy and unusual at the 
beginning of a line of Hebrew poetry as to be 
altogether improbable in this place ; and this so 
strongly tends to confirm the suspicion of the line, 
arising in our minds out of its virtual repetition of the 
preceding line, that we may with reasonable proba 
bility assume that it is not original. 

Further, in v. 26a, though it is not impossible to 
extricate some kind of meaning from the phrase 
after my skin, it cannot be said to be a natural phrase. 
Now, as it happens, the outlines of the words for 
" after " and " another " are the same in Hebrew 
(chr) and for " skin ( f r) and " witness " (d) they 
are very similar. 1 In this context, where everything 
turns upon the divine vindication and testimony, it is 
surely highly probable that the original reference 
is to that " Other" who was to be in the after-time 
Job s Witness." Now in the similar passage 
(xvi. 19) the " Witness in heaven " has for its parallel 
the " Sponsor on high." There is indeed no such 
parallel in the text here as we have it ; but it is im 
portant to observe that the corresponding word from 
my flesh, which, as we saw, is so capable of various 
interpretations, was not read by the Greek version 
at all, which had, on the contrary, a word whose 
consonants 2 are closely akin to those of the word 
translated sponsor in xvi. 19. It does not seem 
prudent, however tempting it may be, to build much 

1 The consonants d and r in Hebrew differ only by a " tittle." 
* mshd. 


The Problem of Pain 

upon a word like flesh, which has not the support 
of our oldest foreign witness to the text, viz., the 
Greek version ; and it seems, on the other hand, very 
probable that we have here an echo of the words 
used before in a similar, though less exalted, moment 
of rapture. Probably, therefore, the whole passage 
originally ran thus : 

" I know that there liveth a Champion, 
Who will one day stand over my dust ; 

Yea, Another shall rise as my Witness, 
And, as Sponsor, shall I behold God, 

Whom 1 mine eyes shall behold, and no stranger s. 
My heart is faint in my bosom." (xix. 25-27). 

It may seem at first sight a pity that attention 
should have been drawn away from this great experi 
ence of Job upon a critical discussion. But no dis 
cussion can be irrelevant which helps us to enter the 
soul of a writer or speaker ; and the words of Job, 
thus recovered from later modifications and accre 
tions, shine out more gloriously than ever. Every 
word is alive with passion. "/ know." The I is 
here in the Hebrew emphatic as well as the know : 
the American version is right with its " As for me 
I know." It is his own conviction that Job is about 
to utter his own and not another s, just as later it 
is through his own eyes and not those of another that 
he sees his dazzling vision of God. Bildad may be 
content to appeal to tradition (viii. 8), but Job must 
know for himself know with his own mind, and see 
with his own eyes " I know." He utters here the 
deep and settled assurance of his soul. Tossed upon 

1 Whom, not in the Hebrew, but inserted here for the sake of 
the connection in English. 


Job s Sublime Faith 

a sea of doubt, he anchors here at last. He does not 
think his ultimate vindication merely possible, or 
highly probable ; it is certain : he knows. The 
spark of faith which had been all but smothered by 
his sufferings and by the rhetorical " consolations " 
and orthodoxies of his friends, leaps into flame. 
He passes from a mere presentiment of his coming 
justification (xiv. 14) through a prayer (xvi. 21) 
to the assurance of it. He goes on from strength to 
strength till in the end he sees beyond the darkness 
to the shining face of God (cf. Ps. Ixxxiv. 7). 

It is no abstract or formal vindication with which 
he is concerned, no vindication even by the just 
voice of posterity. That is good, but it is not enough : 
his religion is too warm and personal to be satisfied 
with that. He longs for his Vindicator even more 
than for his vindication : he yearns for Another, for 
One like unto himself, only infinitely greater, who will 
speak to him on the other side of death the mighty 
word which will establish his innocence for ever. 

" I know that my Vindicator liveth." He may 
seem to be inert and dead : Job, borne away by his 
passion, may have maintained that there is not a 
trace of discriminating justice in all the world 
(ix. 22} ; but now he is sure that, in spite of appear 
ances, God is alive. It is the living God of Job, 
not the dead God of contemporary theology, that 
quickens his mind to this living thought of Himself. 
There is perhaps here, too, a contrast between the 
living God and the dead Job. Job must die and that 
speedily ; but what matters that, if he trust his 
fortunes and his soul to a God who cannot die, but 


The Problem of Pain 

who lives and works in the interests of righteousness 
for evermore ? The postponement of the word 
God to the end of v. 26 conies with overwhelming 
dramatic power. When Job speaks of the Champion 
who will one day stand over his dust, it is still open 
to the friends to believe that he has in view some 
human champion, especially as minds so con 
ventional as theirs would be little prepared for so 
startlingly bold a claim as Job here makes. How 
the last words would sound upon their ears as the 
utterest blasphemy " And as Sponsor shall I 
behold God ! " 

The vision of God as Witness to Job s innocence 
after he is dead and gone, and of himself alive again, 
face to face with that God, and hearing from His 
own lips the blessed words of justification, so over 
powers him that he swoons away in rapture " My 
heart is faint in my bosom ; " and when he returns to 
himself, it is to warn his friends of the awful doom in 
store for them, if they persist in their attempt to 
find the root of the matter in him, that is, to account 
for his sufferings by his sins : 

"But if ye are determined to hunt me, 

And in me find the root of the matter, 
Then dread ye the sword for yourselves ; 

For wrath will destroy the ungodly." (xxi. 281). 

There is an inexhaustible suggestiveness about 
this scene. But we must be careful not to be drawn 
by the spell of it into inferences which are not 
justified by the facts. We have here one of those 
flashes of inspired insight which reappear in later 
and less original days as doctrines and dogmas ; 


Job s Sublime Faith 

but there is nothing here that in any way implies 
any developed doctrine of the resurrection. Job 
is not contemplating for himself a state of ever 
lasting blessedness in the world beyond. He is 
interested in the other world primarily as the arena 
of his vindication, and he concentrates his gaze upon 
the sublime moment when he and his Vindicator shall 
stand face to face. That is all : but that is much, it 
is almost everything; for if though but for a moment 
the dead can live again, then the bar between this 
world and the other is not insurmountable, the veil 
has been rent in twain ; and if life for a moment 
beyond it is possible, it will not be long till men will 
learn to believe in the life that shall never end. 

The germ of the doctrine of immortality is here ; 
and it is profoundly significant of the passionately 
ethical and religious quality of the Hebrew genius 
that this belief in a life beyond is not reached by any 
consideration of the animistic nature of the soul. 
It is struck like a spark out of the clash of a great 
spiritual experience by a passion for the victory of 
justice and for fellowship with God. It is felt that 
even the last great enemy Death must not and cannot 
offer a permanent obstacle to the realization of those 
two yearnings of the human heart. 

It is strange and sad that Job is not able to hold 
the splendid heights to which he has soared. Under 
the lash of his friends and the strain of the great 
world-sorrow together, he falls back again into his 
mood of challenge. But it is something to have touched 
those heights, if only for a moment. The man who 
falls from them can only fall into the arms of God.r 




JOB (Job xx.) 

It is the unhappy lot of Zophar, the coarsest 
and the noisiest of the friends, to reply to this noble 
speech of Job. He replies to it as the friends for 
the most part do when their turn comes by 
ignoring it, launching breezily off instead upon the 
sea of truisms and platitudes. The exquisite pathos 
of Job s last utterance, the vision which had thrown 
him into a transport of rapture and made him faint 
for very joy, had left not an iota of impression upon 
the prosaic soul of Zophar : at most it had provoked 
him as much of it as he had understood. The 
broad arguments, the swift and beautiful intuitions, 
are nothing to him : he can only fasten upon single 
words, upon warnings and threats that move more 
upon the level of his comprehension, upon obvious 
exhibitions of temper whose real source and depth he 
was incompetent to understand. Job had ended his 
speech with a threat of the divine judgment which 
would assuredly overtake those who persisted in 
finding the root of the matter in him instead of in 
God. That Zophar had understood ; and the resent 
ment which it had kindled within him inspires his 
opening words : 


Zophar s Warning 

" Nay, not so do my thoughts make answer ; 

And therefore my heart is uproused. 
Must I hear thine insulting reproof, 

While mere breath without sense is thine answer ? " 

(xx. 2f). 

Then he proceeds with the now painfully familiar 
homily upon the doom of the wicked : that is all the 
friends have now to say. Eliphaz and Bildad had 
both descanted eloquently upon this theme, leaving 
the man whom they had come to comfort without a 
ray of hope. Now Zophar joins the chorus. He 
begins rather pompously by inviting Job to contem 
plate the great sweep of history which illustrates 
so abundantly the thesis he is about to develop, that 
the happiness of the wicked is short. 

" Knowest thou not this from of old, 

From the time there were men on the earth, 
That the song of the wicked is short, 

And the hypocrite s joy but a moment ? 
Though his majesty mount to the heavens, 

And his head reach unto the clouds, 
He shall utterly perish like dung ; 

Those that knew him shall ask, Where is he ? " 

(xx. 4-7). 

Zophar, whose speeches proclaim him as a hasty 
man, not unnaturally believes in a hasty God, a God 
who cannot wait, but must show His hand at every 
turn and smite the wicked by a swift and sudden blow 
in the middle of his career. If this is Zophar s inter 
pretation of history, it only shows either how little 
he is acquainted with the facts, or how shallow is 
his appreciation of them. He is kin to the man 
who sang : 


The Problem of Pain 

Be not kindled to wrath at the wicked, 

Nor envious at those that work wrong ; 
For, like grass, they shall speedily wither, 
And fade like the green of young grass." 

(Ps. xxx vii. if) 


"Yet but a little, and the wicked vanish : 

Look at his place he is there no more." (verse 10). 

But the profounder thinkers of Israel, the great 
psalmists and prophets, whose eyes were opened by 
a sorrowful experience of their own or their nation, 
never spoke thus. What impressed them was not 
God s swift interventions, but rather His mysterious 
delays. " How long," asks one, 

" How long. O God, is the foe to insult ? 

Shall the enemy spurn Thy name for ever ? 
Why, O Lord, dost Thou hold back Thy hand, 

And restrain Thy right hand within Thy bosom ? 
Arise, O God, and defend Thy cause : 

Remember how fools all the day insult Thee. 
Forget not Thou the uproar of Thine enemies, 
The din of Thy foes that ascends evermore." 

(Ps. Ixxiv. lof, 221). 

And a prophet, astonished that God should watch 
in silence the devastating progress of a pitiless enemy, 
thus delivers his soul : " Thou that art of purer eyes 
than to behold evil, and that canst not look upon 
perverseness, wherefore lookest Thou upon them that 
deal treacherously, and holdest Thy peace when the 
wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous 
than he ? Is he to draw his sword for ever and to 
slay the nations pitilessly evermore ? " (Hab. i. 13, 
17). And for answer he is told that the intervention, 
though sure, may tarry, and that one must with 
patience wait for it (ii. 3). 


Zophar s Warning 

But the duty of patience forms no part of the gospel 
of Zophar. He has a simple mechanical creed, 
because he fancies himself to be living in a simple 
mechanical world. As we saw in his first speech, 
the creed which he professes recognizes worthily 
enough the mystery that attaches to the divine 
nature : it asserts that no investigation can ever 
explore that nature to its recesses (xi. 7). But in 
truth he only believed that he believed this : his 
working creed is very different. After his protesta 
tion of humility, he immediately makes it clear that 
to him the universe is not so very mysterious after 
all. He really believed that the divine action was 
an essentially simple thing, entirely within the limits 
of his comprehension. Hence the glib exposition 
which he offers Job of the ways of providence an 
exposition all the more irrefutable as it is illustrated 
by the very fate of the man to whom it is addressed. 
It is Job himself who has been soaring and who is 
soon to vanish to vanish in his prime : 

"Like a dream he shall fly beyond finding, 

Dispelled like a vision of night ; 
No more shall the eye see that saw him, 

His place shall behold him no more. 
His sons shall be crushed by privation ; 

His wealth shall his children restore. 
The vigour of youth filled his bones, 

But with him it shall lie in the dust." (xx. 8-n). 

In the passage which follows Zophar offers a very 
realistic description of the wicked man s love of sin, 
which he elaborately compares to a dainty morsel 
that an epicure rolls under his tongue, but which is 
destined at the last to turn to poison within him : 


The Problem of Pain 

"Though evil be sweet in his mouth, 

As he keeps it hid under his tongue ; 
Though he spare it and let it not go, 

But still holdeth it back in his mouth ; 
Yet his food in his stomach is turned, 

It is poison of asps within him. 
The wealth that he swallows he vomits; 

God casteth it forth from his belly. 
The poison of asps he has sucked, 

And the tongue of the viper shall slay him." 

(xx. 12-16). 

It is all very true and vivid, but grotesquely 
irrelevant as applied to Job who, as the Prologue 
reminds us, not only hated sin, but regularly made 
atonement even for the bare possibility of it in his 
children. But, besides being irrelevant, it is coarse, 
faithful reflection of a mind as indelicate as it was 
shallow. The finer instincts of one of the Greek 
translators modified the last word of the line " God 
casteth it forth from his belly " to house. But this 
is to obliterate a characteristic trait and to do Zophar 
too much justice. The picture ought not to be 
robbed of touches like these, which help us to under 
stand what sort of man it sometimes is who sets 
himself in opposition to a man of the type of Job. 
Not then for the last time did the opponents of theo 
logical progress show themselves coarse and abusive. 
It would be amusing, were it not so pathetic, to 
find Job described by implication as an arch- 
oppressor. He who has repeatedly shown the most 
tender regard for the lot of the servant, and who has 
expressed with such intimate sympathy the servant s 
longing for the evening shadow (iii. 19, vii. 2), is 
held up to execration as a monster who robbed the 
poor of their just gains and who is consequently 


Zophar s Warning 

doomed by God to pay a terrible penalty not only 
the negative penalty of disgorging what he has 
swallowed, but the positive penalty of assault from 
the terrors of the divine wrath. 

" No rivers of oil shall he see, 

No torrents of honey and butter. 
His increasing gain brings him no gladness, 

His trafficking yields him no joy. 
For he crushed down the gains of the poor, 

And he plundered the house that he built not. 
His treasures have brought him no peace, 

And his precious things cannot deliver. 
And since none has escaped his devouring, 

His own fortune shall not endure. 
Brought to straits in the fulness of plenty. 

The fell force of trouble assails him. 
God shall let loose His hot wrath against him, 

And terrors shall rain down upon him. 
As he fiees from the weapon of iron, 

The bronze bow pierces him through. 
The missile comes out at his back, 

And the glittering point from his gall. 
Terrors keep coming upon him ; 

Deep darkness is stored up for him. 
A mysterious fire shall devour him 

And ravage those left in his tent." (xx. 17-26). 

As Job had once described his own experience of 
the divine assault in the imagery and almost in the 
very language of v. 25 (xvi. 13) it is abundantly 
evident that Zophar, though he may seem to be 
indulging in innocent generalizations, is really hurling 
venomed shafts at Job himself. If any confirma 
tion were needed of a truth which is luminous in 
every line of Zophar s speech, it would be furnished 
beyond a peradventure by the conclusion, which 
runs thus : 

"The heavens shall reveal his guilt, 

And the earth shall rise up against him, 

The Problem of Pain 

His house shall be swept by destruction, 

Accursed in the day of His wrath. 
Such the wicked man s portion from God, 

God s heritage unto the rebel." (xx. 27-29). 

Job had appealed to the earth to transmit his 
cry to God, and to the heavens to witness for him 
(xvi. i8f). They will, says Zophar : the earth will 
rise up against him, and the heavens will be witness 
to his guilt. Nay, have not earth and heaven 
already conspired to proclaim that guilt ? It is 
impossible in these concluding words not to think 
of the Prologue, where the successive catastrophes 
of Job seemed to prove that heaven and earth were 
in league against him as a guilty sinner. The 
Sabeans and Chaldeans on earth, on the one hand ; 
and on the other, the wind that rushed up from the 
wilderness, smiting the house that held his children, 
and the fire of God that fell from heaven : are not 
these things the incontrovertible proof that Zophar 
is speaking the truth ? " Such is the wicked man s 
portion from God " and such, only too obviously, 
was the portion of Job : the inference to Job s 
depravity was inescapable. 

It is not without interest that this conclusion 
closely resembles the conclusion of Bildad s last 
speech (xviii. 21) ; as if the writer were deliberately 
suggesting the imitative quality of conventional 
minds. They are echoes, not voices. Eliphaz and 
Bildad frankly admit that they but reproduce the 
fathers (xv. 18, viii. 8). Men of this type have little 
that is fresh or helpful to say, and much of that little 
they borrow from one another. 


(Job xxi.) 

The friends have no wall spoken for the second time. 
Their personal allusions to the fortunes of Job have 
been gradually growing more pointed and exasper 
ating. But more exasperating even than those 
innuendoes is the false or at least inadequate theory 
from which they spring, that the world is governed 
on principles of a mathematically exact retribution ; 
and this is the theory which Job sets himself to 
attack with all the energy of his outraged intelli 
gence : for the case, as stated by the friends, is a 
travesty of the facts. His opening words are already 
heavy with the burden of the coming assault : they 
disclose a soul charged with the solemnity of the 
challenge it has undertaken in the interests of 

" Hear now my word with attention : 

Your consolation be this. 
Suffer me, for I would speak also : 

Then, when I have spoken, mock on. 
Is it man that I would complain of ? 

And why should I not be impatient ?" ^xxi. 2-4). 

With an ironical allusion to the " divine consola 
tions " Eliphaz had administered to him in vain 
(xv. n), he declares that the only consolation he asks 
of them is that they listen in silence to the terrible 
truth about the government of the world which 



The Problem of Pain 

he is about to unfold. The most terrible truth of all 
is that behind that government is God Himself. 
Were human conduct all that Job had to complain 
of, he could comfort himself with God . but, when 
it is God Himself who, whether from indifference 
or caprice, has created the problem, why should he 
not be " impatient " almost unto fury ? 

At the same time the speech which follows is not 
delivered primarily with the idea of indicting God 
for His government of the world : its aim is rather to 
demolish the retributive theory of the friends, which 
alleged that every sufferer was a sinner, by pointing 
to an order of facts which they had conveniently 
ignored. But they are not to be ignored, urges Job ; 
they are clear enough to honest eyes ; the very 
thought of them, to say nothing of the sight of them, 
makes him shudder. And even the friends, unless 
their eyes are blinded and their hearts irredeemably 
hardened by their orthodoxy, must listen with horror 
to a recital so terrible. 

" Now listen to me ; and, in horror, 

Lay ye your hand on your mouth. 
When I think of it, I am confounded, 

And shuddering seizeth my flesh." (xxi. 5f). 

These words prepare us for an unusually fierce 
attack upon the conventionalities of the friends and 
a merciless exposure of some of the facts that make 
faith hard. He begins with the old Protestant 
challenge that had characterized his very first speech. 
" Why ? " The reason within him demands to 
find its counterpart in the world without, and it is 
the failure to find this correspondence that staggers 


Job s First Indictment 

faith. The expectation is mocked by the facts. 
At any rate Job s expectation has been mocked by 
facts which have thrust themselves upon him, and 
which he now proceeds to set forth with a remorseless 
detail which shows that he is not moving in the region 
of generalizations. He had claimed to be a man of 
observation and of independent judgment (xii. u) 
to have a palate with which he tasted for himself : 
he did not trust without verification the verdict 
of others. He therefore confronts the eloquent 
commonplaces of his friends with the more than 
disconcerting results of his own independent 
observation : 

"Why are wicked men suffered to live, 

To grow old and wax mighty in power ? 
Their seed is established before them, 

And their offspring in sight of their eyes. 
Their homes are strangers to terror, 

No rod of God is on them. 
Their bull doth unfailingly gender, 

Their cow never loses her calf. 
Like a flock they send forth their young children ; 

Their boys and their girls dance. 
They sing to the timbrel and lyre; 

At the sound of the pipe they make merry. 
They finish their days in prosperity, 

And go down to Sheol in peace 
Though they said unto God, O leave us, 

We desire not to know Thy ways. 
Why should we serve the Almighty ? 

And what is the good of prayer ? 
See ! their fortune is in their own hand : 

Nought He cares for the schemes of the wicked." 

(xxi. 7-16). 

The bitterness of the description lies in this, that 
every detail of it is contradicted by Job s own 
experience. " Blameless and upright, fearing God 


The Problem of Pain 

and shunning evil," the blessings enumerated ought to 
have been his happiness at home, prosperity 
abroad, a long life, a peaceful death : instead, they 
fell to atheists who cared nothing for prayer or 
worship, and who openly flouted God and His will. 
As for him, though he had served God continually 
with the most scrupulous piety, he had been con 
demned to every conceivable torture of mind and 
body, the rod of God had smitten him with many 
stripes, he was going down in agony to a premature 
grave. But the contrast reaches its climax of pathos 
in the allusion to the band of children who go forth 
like a flock, and who merrily dance to the sound of 
music, while Job s own children are lying dead 
beneath the ruins of their house. 

Such, then, is Job s reading of the world in 
flattest contradiction to the verdict of the friends. 
He gives the lie direct to their very words as well as 
to their thoughts. With an evident allusion to 
Bildad s easy dictum that " the light of the wicked 
is put out " (xviii. 5) apparently a favourite 
statement of orthodox Israel, as it occurs twice 
again in the Book of Proverbs (xiii. 9, xxiv. 20) 
Job scornfully asks, 

" How oft is the lamp of the wicked put out ? 
How oft does disaster assail them, 
Or the pains of His anger lay hold of them ? " 

(xxi. 17). 

He does not maintain that this never happens, but 
he knows too well that it does not always or even 
often happen, as on the theory of the friends it 
should. A prevalent belief in Israel, which finds 


Job s First Indictment 

pictorial expression in the first Psalm, is that the 
wicked are like the chaff which the wind driveth 
away ; and at this statement, too, is hurled the 
scornful challenge, 

" How often are they as the straw before wind, 

Or like chaff that is stolen by the storm ? " (xxi. 18). 

Here we can imagine the friends, overcome by the 
vehemence of the speaker and the inexorable logic 
of his facts, sullenly conceding his contention that 
the wicked man may fare brilliantly. But their 
faith in the moral order is in no way disconcerted 
by this circumstance ; for, if the sinner escapes, they 
can still affirm that his children suffer ; and this 
satisfied ancient conceptions of solidarity, such as are 
suggested in the appendix to the second command 
ment, that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the 
children, and such as are illustrated by the story 
of Achan, where the children suffer, if not instead of, 
at any rate, as well as, the guilty father (Josh. vii. 24!). 

But such beliefs and practices are revolting to Job : 

" God stores up his guilt for his children," 
(" Nay," I reply) ; " let Him punish 
The man himself, that he feel it. 
Let his own eyes behold his disaster, 

Let him drink the wrath of Almighty. 
For what doth he care for his house, 

When his own tale of months is cut short ? " 

(xxi. 19-21). 

He is, as we have seen, the sworn champion of the 
sacred rights of personality ; and, just as he main 
tains that every man must face the facts and 
" taste " the flavour of the world for himself, so he 
maintains the right of every man to be protected 


The Problem of Pain 

from punishment for sins of which he was not guilty. 
He lifts up the same sort of protest against current 
conceptions as is raised by Deuteronomy (xxiv. 16), 
" The fathers shall not be put to death for the 
children, neither shall the children be put to death 
for the fathers " ; and still more pointedly by 
Ezekiel (xviii. 4), " The soul that sinneth, it " 
it, and no other soul " shall die." Men cannot be 
saved, and should not be punished, by proxy, and 
Job s righteous soul is just as much incensed by the 
penalization of the innocent as by the escape of the 
guilty. This new fact, to which they appeal in 
support of the moral order, is only another proof that 
there is no such thing as a moral order at all. This 
thought Job now proceeds to elaborate in lines of 
astonishing pathos : 

"One dies with his strength unimpaired, 

In the heyday of ease and prosperity; 
Filled are his buckets with milk, 

His bones at the marrow are moistened. 
And one dies with soul embittered, 

With never a taste of good. 
In the dust they lie down together, 

The worm covers them both." (xxi. 23-26). 

Job is not here saying that the wicked live in ease 
and die in peace, while noble souls like himself go 
down to their grave embittered. What he says is 
subtler and sadder even than that : it is that in the 
distribution of human fortunes, merit plays simply 
no part at all. Moral considerations are not even 
paid the respect of being defied, they are simply 
ignored. There is no moral order, there is not even 
a definitely immoral order ; there is simply no order 


Job s First Indictment 

at all. We are living in a world in which anything 
may happen to anybody ; and in the world beyond 
to which one might look with humble hope for the 
rectification of anomalies, and to which not long 
before Job himself had looked forward with a delirium 
of joy there is no difference : " In the dust they 
lie down together, the worm covers them both." 
It is the same pessimistic protest against the indiffer 
ence of things as we find in the later Hebrew thinker 
who lamented that " all things come alike to all ; 
there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked ; 
to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean ; 
to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth 
not " (Eccl. ix. 2). 

From this contemplation of the pathos and 
seemingly utter meaninglessness of all human 
destiny, Job returns, as is his wont, to the immediate 
facts. He had been deeply pained by the innuen 
does of the friends. They had not yet directly 
accused him of heinous sin that crowning insolence 
is soon to follow : but, after describing his misery 
to the letter, they had blandly asserted that such 
was the fate of the wicked. It did not need the 
quick intelligence of Job to discover that their 
generalizations were really meant for him. 

" Behold ! I know your thoughts, 

And your cruel devices against me, 
In asking, Where lives now the tyrant ? 

Where now does the godless dwell ? " (xxi. ayf). 

He knows very well that he himself is the godless 
tyrant, at whom, cruel as God (xix. 22) they have 
been aiming their poisoned shafts. But it is only 

The Problem of Pain 

their inexperience of the great world, he now reminds 
them, that leads them to statements so unqualified 
and to doctrine so inept. Every traveller knows how 
false their position is. The whole course of the 
debate has revealed their native incapacity to enter 
sympathetically into another mind, and they have 
not had their individual and national limitations 
corrected by such an experience as travel gives. 
They have never been beyond the borders of Edom, 
nor have they taken the trouble to consult those who 
have. Even had they done this, it would have made 
little difference, for minds enthralled by the doctrines 
to which they have been trained are not hospitable 
to uncongenial truth. 

" They take the rustic murmur of their bourg 
For the great wave that echoes round the world." 

But men who have travelled up and down the 
world, as the writer of this book appears to have 
done, know very well that many a tyrant has been 
happy in his life-time and publicly honoured in his 
death : 

"Have ye never asked those that travel ? 

Have ye never noted their proofs 
That the wicked is kept from disaster, 

Is saved in the day of wrath ? 
Who tells him his way to his face, 

Or requites him for what he hath done ? 
And yet he is borne to the grave, 

And men keep watch over his tomb. 
Sweet for him are the clods of the valley, 

And after him all men draw." (xxi. 29-33). 

The vividness of these lines strongly suggests that 
they portray an actual scene of some mighty 
monarch, it may be, who had wronged countries, 


Job s First Indictment 

burned temples, desolated homes, and broken 
innumerable hearts, borne amid acclamation to his 
tomb in the valley, where he sleeps his sweet sleep 
for ever. 

These are the facts, and no true comfort can be 
offered by th ose who deny them. Nay, those who 
deny them are traitors and fools ; and this trenchant 
word, which so scathingly summarizes the friends 
contribution to the debate, brings the second act of 
the great drama to an end : 

" Why then offer your idle comfort ? 

Your answers leave nothing but falsehood.** 

(xxi. 34.) 

One cannot resist the impression that, in his 
sombre indictment of facts, Job has been guilty of 
that very one-sidedness for which he had con 
demned the friends. He sees, as they do, only some 
of the truth, not the whole of it. Still, his attitude 
is an immeasurably greater contribution to the 
progress of thought than theirs. Or it would be more 
correct to say that their attitude renders progress 
impossible : the truth is already fixed and formulated, 
and all that the pious have to do is gratefully and 
reverently to cling to it. But a man with the atti 
tude of Job is disposed to travel (v. 29) oeyond con 
ventional pronouncements, to keep his mind open 
for fresh facts, however disconcerting they 
may be to accepted theories, and to find, if he can, 
an explanation which will cover all the facts, and 
not some of them only : for if it does not cover them 
all, it does not adequately cover any of them. 
But in no case must inconvenient facts be ignored 


The Problem of Pain 

in the interests of a theory, however buttressed by 
" tradition " or " revelation/ or coerced within an 
artificial scheme. 

The course of the debate in the first two cycles of 
speeches shows that Job s hospitality of mind is 
rewarded by ever deeper glimpses of truth. While 
the friends stand still, he is moving on. Always 
profuse and not seldom brilliant, they grow less 
dignified, less just, more bitter ; but intellectually 
they remain where they were. Job, however, moves 
from insight to insight. In his earlier moods 
(cf. ch. iii.) he had thought of death as the end, and 
of vindication he had not even dreamt ; then he 
passed to a faith in the certainty of his vindication at 
the hands of his Witness in the heavens, the God of 
ultimate justice, though he would no longer be alive 
to enjoy the ineffable comfort of it (xvi. 19) ; and 
finally, there had flashed upon him the great con 
viction that not only would he be vindicated after 
death, but that he himself would hear the word 
pronounced and see his Vindicator face to face, the 
God in whom the ancient folk believed as " merciful 
and gracious," but who is now seen to extend His 
mercy and His grace to His faithful servant in the 
world beyond the grave. Job lives in a world of 
thought and emotion into which the friends cannot 
follow him. 


(JoB xxii.-xxxi.) 


There are unexhausted resources in the living 
mind of Job ; but the friends, who mistake formulas 
for truth, have reached the end of their wisdom. 
They have stated and illustrated their theory, they 
have scattered their insinuations very liberally 
abroad, they have done all that from their standpoint 
could be done, except accuse Job to his face of specific 
sins ; and this, in resuming the debate, Eliphaz 
calmly proceeds to do. But first he reminds Job 
of the wisdom and profitableness of piety. It is 
good to be good so he argues good, that is, for 
the man himself : not of course, for God : what can 
it matter to Him whether a man is good or not ? 

" Can a man bring profit to God ? 

Nay, the wise man but profits himself. 
Doth Almighty God care for thy righteousness ? 
Hath He gain from thy blameless ways ?" (xxii. 21). 

There is something peculiarly repellent about this 
position of Eliphaz, whether we consider its com 
mercial view of religion or its loveless conception of 
God. It is as if the writer were never weary of 
satirizing the conventional religious type incarnate 
in the friends. It would be worth Job s while to be 
godly, urges Eliphaz ; for godliness pays, it is profit 
able for this life of any other he has not a glimmer 
ing. He does not know, what the Prologue makes 


The Problem of Pain 

so clear, that Job s sufferings have come upon him 
just because he is a man of pre-eminent godliness 
" none like him in all the earth." He does not know 
that there are men like Job, whose goodness is not 
stained by the thought of earthly reward, but who 
would continue to be good, though they should die 
for it. In short, he adopts precisely the attitude of 
the sneering Satan of the Prologue, who imagines that 
men do not serve God for what He is but for what 
they get, not for the love of Him and of goodness, 
but only for the substantial returns He sends them. 
The religion of Eliphaz could not be more sternly 
pilloried than in this implicit comparison. 

And his conception of God is on the same mean 
level. He worships a God who stands aloof from 
men and their struggles, showering upon them from 
afar His rewards and penalties, but not really 
caring, as He does not need to care, whether they 
are good or not. It is they, and not He, who will 
suffer for their folly. What a loveless God ! wide 
as the poles asunder from the great Friend for 
whom Job so passionately yearned. The Bible 
from end to end might be regarded as a protest 
against this dishonouring fiction of Eliphaz. His 
torian, psalmist, prophet, evangelist, apostle, rise 
up in indignant repudiation of such a travesty. 

" As a father pities his children, 

So the Lord pities them that fear Him ; 
For well He knoweth our frame, 

He remembers that we are but dust." (Ps. ciii. 131). 

" As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, 

Even so shall thy God rejoice over thee." (Isa. Ixii. 5). 


Baseless Charges 

"There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one 
sinner that repenteth" (Luke xv. 10). 

It is no surprise that the man who thinks so meanly 
of God should be cruelly unjust to his own suffering 
friend. With his wooden view of the world, Eliphaz 
can only interpret Job s suffering as punishment, 
and, as it is obvious that a just God could never 
punish a man for his piety, the inference is inevitable 
that Job must be guilty of colossal sin. 

" For thy piety would He chastise thee, 
Or enter with thee into judgment ? 
Is not thy wickedness great ? 

Are not thine iniquities endless ? " (xxii. 41). 

But not content with generalities, the old man, with 
incredible effrontery, launches forth upon a detailed 
catalogue of sins, which his theory obliges him to 
believe Job must have committed and therefore did 
commit : 

" Thou hast wrongly taken pledge of thy brother, 
And stripped from the naked their clothing. 

No water thou gavest the weary, 

And bread thou hast held from the hungry. 

Thou hast sent widows empty away; 

Orphan arms thou hast broken in pieces." (xxii. 6f, 9). 

The sins alleged are all of that detestable order 
denounced so ceaselessly and unsparingly by the 
prophets, sins against the rights of the weaker 
members of society the poor, the hungry, the naked, 
the widow, the orphan the refusal of help to the 
helpless, the keeping in pledge overnight of the gar 
ment the poor man requires for sleeping in 
(Exod. xxii. 261), and so on. We know already 
from the Prologue that there is not a word of truth 


The Problem of Pain 

in all this charge. Job was and remains " a man 
blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning 
evil ; " and later we shall find him repudiating the 
monstrous charge in detail (xxix. i2fL, xxxi). 
Even Eliphaz himself had testified in his opening 
speech to Job s benevolence. This is therefore a 
melancholy exhibition of the frightful injustice to 
which the exigencies of controversy may drive even 
a good man like Eliphaz. There are no facts in 
Job s career to support his theory, but it is easier 
to believe that Job is a hypocrite than that the theory 
is false or inadequate ; and so facts must be invented 
facts of the most damning kind. Devotion to a 
doctrine blazes forth into the cruellest injustice 
to the man who cannot be fitted into the doctrine : 
his reputation is tortured till it does fit. All this 
seems to suggest incorrigible depravity of soul ; 
but in reality, though inexcusable, it becomes 
intelligible, when we see that it has its roots in a sort 
of intellectual depravity, or in a timidity as fatal 
as depravity, that is, in a deliberate subjection of the 
mind to an inelastic theory which restricts its free 
exercise and forbids its appreciation of fresh facts. 
In this cruel and baseless calumny we see an antici 
pation of the havoc wrought all down the ages by 
acrimonious theological debate. 

Job s sad fortunes, then, are explained by his 
grievous sins : 

"And therefore are snares round about thee, 

And fear on a sudden confronts thee. 
Thy light is vanished in darkness, 

And floods of water are over thee." (xxii. lof). 


Baseless Charges 

Eliphaz immediately follows up one piece of injus 
tice by another. To the wrong of calumny he adds 
the wrong of misinterpretation : 

" Is not God in the heights of heaven ? 

And the tops of the high stars He seeth. 
Yet thou sayest, What doth God know ? 

Can He judge aright through the thick darkness ? 
The clouds hide Him, so that He sees not ; 

He walketh the vault of the heavens. " (xxii. 12-14). 

Job, of course, had never said anything of the kind, 
though there were no doubt many in Israel who did 
make use of such arguments, like the wicked who 
created the problem for the writer of Psalm Ixxiiij 

" How doth God know ? " they say, 

" And hath the Most High any knowledge ? " 

(verse n). 

The height of Job s offence was his reiterated 
complaint that the fortunes of men showed no trace 
of being determined by divine justice. Eliphaz 
perverted this criticism into the statement that God 
had no knowledge of what happened on earth : 
with the implied inference that Job was free to 
sin as he pleased. 

Eliphaz now does Job the dubious honour of 
associating him with the ante-diluvian rebels : 

" Wilt thou keep to the ancient way, 

Which men of sin have trodden, 
Who untimely were snatched away, 

While the ground beneath ran Like a stream ? " 

(xxii. I5f). 

Job and they are alike in that neither would believe 
in the judgments of God ; and unless he change his 



The Problem of Pain 

rebellious mind, he will as surely be swept away as 
they. But for him there is yet hope ; and here 
follows a noble passage, gracious and almost tender, 
in which it is hardly fanciful to see the reflection of a 
penitent mood in Eliphaz himself. It almost seems 
as if, ashamed of the baseless charges with which 
he had begun, he was determined to atone by ending 
on a note of comfort and hope a note which is all 
the more striking, when we consider the almost 
unrelieved harshness of his last speech (ch. xv.). 

" Now be friendly with Him and submissive, 

For this is the way to happiness. 
Accept from His mouth instruction, 

And lay up His words in thy heart. 
If thou humbly turn to Almighty, 

And put away sin from thy tent, 
And lay in the dust thy treasure, 

Ophir gold among stones of the brook, 
That the Almighty become thy treasure, 

And His instruction thy silver, 
Then the Almighty shall be thy delight, 

Thou shall lift up thy face unto God. 
He will hearken unto thy petition, 

And so shalt thou pay thy vows. 
The thing thou decreest shall stand, 

And light shall shine on thy ways. 
For He humbles the high and the proud, 

But whose eyes are lowly He saveth. 
The innocent man He delivers 

And saves, for his cleanness of hands." (xxii. 21-30). 

Eliphaz is obliged, of course, by this theory to 
believe in the guilt of Job ; but if Job is willing to 
listen to such disciplinary truths as he had sought 
to put before him (v. 17, xv. n) and to make his 
peace with God, he assures him that all will yet be 
well. Here, as elsewhere, the poet skilfully 

Baseless Charges 

introduces an anticipation of the end, especially in 
the promise to Job that his prayer would be heard 
(v. 27). Eliphaz could not know that the prayer 
which was to be offered and heard was a prayer for 
himself and his two misguided friends (xlii. 8-10). 


EXISTING ORDER (Job xxiii. and xxiv.) 

The speech of Eliphaz must have cut deeply into 
the sensitive soul of Job hardly less the call to 
penitence with which it ended than the unjust 
accusations with which it had begun ; for the one 
was as irrelevant as the other. Its assumptions 
were little calculated to soothe the rebellious mood 
in which Job had hurled his last indictment at the 
constitution of the world. Earlier speeches were 
uttered " in the bitterness of his soul " (vii. n, x. i) : 
it is only too natural that he is bitter and rebellious 
still : 

"This day also my plaint must be bitter, 

His hand on my groaning lies heavy." (xxiii. 2). 

But he does not immediately reply to the reproaches : 
he does that later in detail, but not now. There are 
speeches to which the only dignified answer is 
silence. More than ever now, after the cruelty of 
his oldest and wisest friend, he feels his infinite need 
of God, and of a meeting with Him : 

" O that I knew where to find Him, 

That I might come unto His throne." (xxiii. 3). 

Such an utterance never rises to the lips of any of 
his friends, for no such need and no such passion 
lodges in their hearts. They do not need to find 
Him, for they have found Him already : at any rate 


Job s Second Indictment 

the fathers have found Him (viii. 8-10) and told 
them what they have discovered of Him ; and for 
men of this shallow and conventional type that is 
good enough. They are content to hear about Him. 
Job must see Him nothing else and nothing less 
will do. They can define His attributes and 
describe His ways, but Job must meet Him face to 
face. They have theology, he has religion. It is a 
very touching cry, " O that I knew." Not so long 
ago, in a moment of illumination, he had been able to 

"I know that my Champion liveth, 

Whom mine eyes shall behold, and no stranger s ; 
And, as Sponsor, shall I behold God." (xix. 25-27). 

In that moment he had been sublimely sure that 
he would find in the other world Him whom he 
sought ; but alas ! he cannot find Him in this. This 
sorrowful cry of the Old Testament " O that I knew 
where I might find Him " is never completely 
answered until One came who could say to all who 
laboured and were heavy laden, " Come unto Me, 
and / will give you rest " (Matt. xi. 28). Job was 
calling for a God whom " no man hath seen at any 
time : but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom 
of the Father, He hath declared Him " (John i. 18). 
He has to solve his riddle without the solace of Him 
who knew what was in man, who was touched with 
the feeling of our infirmities, and tempted as we, 
yet without sin/ He longs for a sight of the unseen 
God, in order that he may set before His just and 
sympathetic mind that case of his, which is so 
tragically misunderstood by his earthly friends : 


The Problem of Pain 

"O that I knew where to find Him, 

That I might come unto His throne, 
And set forth my cause before Him, 
With arguments filling my mouth. 
I would know with what words He would answer, 
And understand what He would say to me." 

(xxiii. 3-5). 

He believes that the God who made man s mind 
will listen to the questions which that mind is com 
pelled, by the facts of the world in which it finds 
itself, to raise, and for which in some sense surely 
God is responsible. Here we see another gleam 
of that sweet confidence in God, which again and 
again had broken through Job s darkness. There 
had been times when he believed that all his effort 
to vindicate himself would be in vain, that God 
was unscrupulous as He was omnipotent, that, be he 
never so clean, God would plunge him in the mire, 
and use His awful power to crush him (ix. 3of). 
But those times are past for ever. Not in vain has 
he stood upon the peaks of vision. In the white 
heat of an earlier struggle he had been able to say, 

"This also shall be my salvation, 

That a hypocrite dare not approach Him" (xiii. 16) ; 

and later, in his greatest hour, he had been very sure 
of God and of His will to vindicate him, if not here, 
then hereafter (xix. 25 if). That is where he stands 
now, with his kindlier thought of God. Should the 
meeting come for which he passionately longs, 

" Would He use His great power in the contest ? 

Nay, He would give heed unto me ; 
There the upright might argue with Him, 

And my right I should rescue for ever." (xxiii. 6f). 


Job s Second Indictment 

Job worships a reasonable God who, he knows, 
will listen to His poor afflicted servant, if only He 
can anywhere be found. But where is He ? 

" Behold, I go east, but He is not ; 

And west, but I cannot perceive Him. 
I seek in the north, but in vain : 

I turn south, but I cannot behold Him." (xxiii. 8f). 

There, then, is the tragedy, that the God who is 
working everywhere, is visible nowhere. If only He 
would let Himself be seen, Job would appear before 
Him, not only without fear, but with unspeakable 
joy, whether to plead his case or to answer the 
Almighty s questions. Job is as sure of God s 
justice as of his own, as sure of his own as of God s ; 
and this meeting of the two just ones would be but 
the meeting of friends the omnipotent God and His 
disfigured, wasted servant. Nothing could better 
evidence the stainless integrity of Job than this 
longing for a meeting with Him whom no disguise 
can deceive : 

" He knoweth the way that is mine ; 

I would come forth as gold, should He try me. 
My foot hath held fast to His steps, 

And His way have I kept without swerving. 
Not once have I strayed from His precepts; 
His words have I hid in my bosom." (xxiii. 10-12). 

It is a bold claim to make, but, scanning his past, 
Job makes it deliberately. 

It is difficult, however, to maintain the soul in its 
noblest moods, when the facts which confront it at 
every turn are either neutral or hostile. The God 
to whom he has appealed so passionately refuses to 
appear, and His place is taken by the old spectre 
of a capricious Omnipotence. 

The Problem of Pain 

" But when He hath resolved, who can turn Him ? 
And what He desireth, He doeth." (xxiii. 13). 

As Job looks round upon the world, a great revulsion 
of feeling comes over him and he shudders with horror. 
He is afraid, not because God judges, but because He 
does not judge : 

" For this cause His presence confounds me, 
The thought of Him fills me with terror ; 
For God hath weakened my heart, 

And the Almighty confounded rne clean. 
I am utterly lost in the darkness, 

And gloom enwrappeth my face. 
Why doth God not fix seasons for judgment, 
And His friends never see His great day ? " 

(xxiii. i5-xxiv. i). 

Now it was exactly a mood of this kind that 
introduced Job s vehement challenge of the existing 
order of things in his last speech. There, after 
summoning his friends to listen in awe-struck 
silence, he begins his indictment of the world with 
the words, 

"When I think of it I am confounded, 

And shuddering seizeth my flesh." (xxi. 6). 

What follows is an exhibition of one side of the 
injustice that runs through the fortunes of men 
the prosperity of the wicked : those who laugh at 
God and prayer and goodness enjoy a happy life 
and a peaceful death. It is perfectly certain from 
the concluding words of ch. xxiv., 

" And if not, who will prove me a liar, 

And reduce mine indictment to nothing ? " 

that Job had immediately before been hurling a 
similarly audacious challenge at the moral govern- 


Job s Second Indictment 

merit of the world. The chapter, as it stands, is 
striking but not terrible. It consists of a series of 
brief but vivid sketches of various sorts of evil 
doers or outcasts from society : first, of wealthy 
land-owners who, for some small debt, deprive poor 
tenants of their means of sustenance, snatching from 
the widow, for example, her solitary cow. 

"The wicked remove the landmarks, 

They plunder the flock with the shepherd. 

They drive off the ass of the fatherless, 
Take the ox of the widow in pledge. 

The poor they turn out of the way, 

And the needy must huddle together." (xxiv. 2-4). 

This is followed by a peculiarly graphic description 
of some wretched folk, driven ofi the land by some 
stronger race, to find a miserable subsistence in the 
desert, where they are obliged to live by plunder, 
exposed to biting winds and drenching rains, with no 
shelter but the clefts of the rocks. 

See ! like the wild ass in the desert, 

They roam forth in search of prey : 

Their children eat bread of the jungle. 
They reap the fields in the night-time, 

They plunder the vines of the wealthy. 
All night they lie bare, without clothing, 

With nothing to keep out the cold. 
They are wet with the showers of the hills, 

And the rocks they embrace for a shelter. 
The fatherless they tear from the breast, 

And the babe of the poor take in pledge. 
They go about bare, without clothing, 

And, hungry, they pilfer the sheaves. 
They press out the oil twixt the olive-rows, 

The wine-vats they tread and then drain. 
From cities and homes they are driven ; 

Their little ones cry out for hunger, 

But God takes no heed of the wrong." (xxiv. 5-12). 


The Problem of Pain 

Then comes a description of night-hawks 
murderers, adulterers, and house-breakers who, 
haters of the light, prowl stealthily about and do 
their wicked deeds under the shelter of the darkness 
which they love. 

" There are those who rebel against light, 

Who recognize not His ways, 

But refuse to abide in His paths. 
In the evening the murderer rises 

To butcher the poor and the needy, 

The thief stalks abroad in the night. 
With face muffled up in a veil, 

The adulterer watches for twilight, 

Assured that no eye can behold him. 
In the darkness they break into houses, 

They shut themselves up in the day-time ; 

For all of them hate the light. 
Familiar with gloomy ways, 

They seek for themselves the deep darkness, 

And swiftly they glide on the waters." (xxiv. i.3-i8a). 

It will be noticed that, unlike the rest of the book 
which has two lines to the verse, this little fragment 
has three. So also has the following fragment 
much of it almost hopelessly unintelligible which 
des-cribes in interesting terms but in a thoroughly 
conventional spirit the heartless conduct of some 
notorious sinner, who is hurled to a well-deserved 

"His portion of land shall be cursed, 

Consumed by the drought and the heat, 
And flooded away by snow-water. 
The streets of his place shall forget him, 
Shall think of his greatness no more : 
Like a dead tree shall he be uprooted. 
For he did not good to the widow, 
No pity he showed to her babe ; 
And his power swept the hopeless away. 


Job s Second Indictment 

Vengeance falls : he expects not to live. 

He is hurled beyond hope of recovery; 

The tormentor is on his way. 
His greatness is brief he is gone : 

Like the mallow he bends, he shrivels 

Cut down like the top ears of corn." (xxiv. i8b-24). 

This little piece is conceived entirely in the spirit 
of the friends, and could certainly never have been 
adduced by Job as one of the supreme illustrations 
of the mismanagement of the world. Indeed, it is 
very doubtful whether even the earlier sketches, 
significant enough as they are of the disorders that 
infect society, are sufficiently appalling to justify 
either the horror that creeps over Job as he enters 
upon the recital, or the abrupt and telling challenge 
with which he concludes it 

" And, if not, who will prove me a liar, 

And reduce mine indictment to nothing ?" 

a challenge peculiarly inapplicable in relation to 
the last of the sketches which, so far from denying, 
any one of the friends might have rejoiced to claim 
as his own. 

The description as a whole forcibly recalls that 
in Sartor Resartus : " That stifled hum of Midnight, 
when Traffic has lain down to rest ; and the chariot- 
wheels of Vanity, still rolling here and there through 
distant streets, are bearing her to Halls roofed-in, 
and lighted to the due pitch for her ; and only Vice 
and Misery, to prowl or to moan like nightbirds, are 
abroad ; that hum, I say, like the stertorous, unquiet 
slumber of sick Life, is heard in Heaven ! Oh, 
under that hideous coverlet of vapours, and putre 
factions, and unimaginable gases, what a Fermenting- 


The Problem of Pain 

vat lies simmering and hid ! The joyful and the 
sorrowful are there ; men are dying there, men are 
being born ; men are praying, on the other side 
of a brick partition, men are cursing ; and around 
them all is the vast, void Night. The proud 
Grandee still lingers in his perfumed saloons, or 
reposes within damask curtains ; Wretchedness 
cowers into truckle-beds, or shivers hunger-stricken 
into its lair of straw. . . . The Lover whispers 
his mistress that the coach is ready ; and she, full of 
hope and fear, glides down, to fly with him over the 
borders : the Thief, still more silently, sets-to his 
picklocks and crowbars, or lurks in wait till the 
watchmen first snore in their boxes." 1 Like the 
world which Teufelsdrockh saw from the pinnacle 
of Weissnichtwo, the world reflected in these sketches 
is immoral and miserable enough. But considering 
their general tone, the divergence into an alien 
metre, and the obvious irrelevance of the last des 
cription, many scholars are inclined to believe that 
the present chapter was substituted by pious hands 
for a challenge far more terrible, so terrible as hardly 
to bear transcription in a sacred book in which the 
later Church was wont to seek its edification. They 
believe that, as Job s last speech had powerfully 
challenged the moral order by a lurid exhibition of 
the prosperity of the wicked, so this speech which is 
similarly introduced, and whose conclusion suggests 
that its contents were appalling, was a possibly even 
more audacious indictment by reason of its revela 
tion of the unmerited sufferings of the righteous. 
1 Book i., ch. iii. 

Job s Second Indictment 

Dillon 1 puts it tellingly thus : " There is obviously 
a sudden break in the text just when heterodoxy 
merges into blasphemy." 

This, of course, can never be more than a con 
jecture, though it is a probable one, as we have 
already seen that there are scarcely any limits to the 
intellectual audacity of Job. If the conjecture be 
correct, it is a thousand pities that we have for ever 
lost a speech which so shocked the later copyists 
that they could not bring themselves to transcribe 
it. Its contents, we may imagine, would move along 
the lines of the immortal sketch in Isaiah liii. It 
would be folly to attempt to reconstruct a speech, 
of which ex hypothesi not a fragment is extant. 
But for the sake of giving body to the void, we may, 
with our eye on the companion picture, in ch. xxi., 
assume that in essence it was something like this : 

"Why are righteous men suffered to perish, 

To die, cut off in their prime ? 
Their seed is destroyed before them, 

Their children in sight of their eyes. 
Their homes are haunted by terror, 

The rod of God is upon them, 
Like a flock they send forth their young children, 

But their boys and their girls are crushed. 
They finish their days in disaster, 

And in anguish go down to the grave, 
Though they said unto God, We praise Thee, 

All the day we delight in Thy ways. " 

Of two things we may be sure that whatever Job 
said in his reply to Eliphaz, it was terrible, and it 
was true, however incomplete : and he ends by 
hurling his unanswerable challenge. 

1 The Sceptics of the Old Testament, p. 55. 

POWER (Job xxv. and xxvi.) 

The friends are by this time sufficiently accus 
tomed to the shock of Job s heresies, or blasphemies, 
as they seemed to them to be. But those utterances 
had been, for the most, incidental, thrown out in the 
heat of an overpowering emotion. His last two 
challenges, however, had been of a peculiarly sus 
tained and deliberate nature, and Bildad instinctively 
feels that in effect they are an impeachment of the 
wisdom and the power with which God rules the 
world. They seem to him to suggest that, in His 
distribution of prosperity to the wicked and of 
calamity to the righteous, God is either unintelligent 
or unjust, or, if just and intelligent, then unable to 
give effect to His will. To Bildad either alternative 
is unthinkable. In his very first speech, he had con 
tended that God, being Almighty, could not con 
ceivably " pervert justice " (viii. 3). He therefore 
now addresses himself to the task of convincing 
Job of the wisdom and the power of the Creator, and 
he does this by showing, in terms largely borrowed 
from mythology, that the universe is replete with 
evidence that God is limited neither in the one 
attribute nor in the other. But both in the argument 
and in the development of it, one cannot resist the 
impression that the friends are coming perilously 
near the end of their dialectic resources The writer 
Still lets them clothe their arguments in language 

God s Wisdom and Power 

which, for varied splendour, has no parallel in the 
world, but the arguments themselves are increasingly 
tenuous. Bildad begins in an ironical vein : r 

"How well thou hast aided the weak, 

And supported the arm of the strengthless ! 
How well thou hast counselled the foolish, 
And shown thine abundance of wisdom ! 
Who inspired thee to utter such words, 

And whose spirit is it that comes forth from thee ? * 

(xxvi. 2-4). 

God is the weak and foolish One, who forsooth 
will be glad to be reinforced by the wisdom and 
might of Job an irony all the more stinging, when 
we look at the unhappy man to whom it is addressed, 
lying worn and crushed upon his ash-heap, a man 
whose sinful folly, as Bildad supposes, has brought 
him to the pass in which he is, and who is impotent 
to deliver himself from its consequences. Bildad 
mockingly asks him to declare the source of the 
inspiration of his blasphemous speech, meaning 
thereby to suggest the wicked folly of attempting 
to criticize the government of one so wise and mighty 
as God. He naturally then proceeds to expatiate 
upon the divine power : 

"Dominion and fear are with Him, 

On His high places He maketh peace. 
His hosts are they not beyond counting ? 

Whom doth not His ambush surprise ? " (xxv. 2f) 

1 In view of the contents of chap, xxvi., which is spoken from the 
standpoint of the friends had Job uttered it, he would hardly have 
needed the rebuke of xxxviiif and in view of the fresh intro 
duction to chap, xxvii. (" and Job took up his parable again and 
said ") which would be wholly unnecessary if chap, xxvii. were really 
a continuation of chap. xxvi.,. it seems natural to assign chap. xxvi. 
(as well as chap, xxv.) to Bildad. That xxvi. 2-4 should be trans 
posed to the beginning of Bildad s speech, where it is very natural 
find elective, is a highly probable conjecture, 


The Problem of Pain 

God is the Lord of the universe, and His dominion 
is such as to fill mortal man with awe instead of 
inspiring him to audacious criticism. The universe 
is far vaster than Job has any idea of. Not only on 
earth, upon whose problems Job s gaze is concen 
trated so fiercely, but in the spacious halls of 
heaven and among rebellious angels, His mighty rule 
is manifest. Who is Job to criticize such a God ? 
For he, like other men as Bildad long ago reminded 
him is but of yesterday, and knows nothing (viii. 9). 
Also who is he to hurl these long-winded challenges 
of which Bildad has twice before complained 
(viii. 2, xviii. 2), but never with such astonishment 
as now ? Job has been indignantly asking why 
innocent men suffer ; but in language strongly 
reminiscent of Eliphaz (iv. lyff, xv. 14), and 
intended perhaps to suggest the timid and unoriginal 
quality of Bildad s mind, he contends that there is 
no such thing as innocent suffering : there is not an 
innocent man in all the world. Every man is 
unclean, and we have to do with an all-seeing God 
whom the tiniest speck of impurity cannot elude. 

" How can man then be just before God ? 

How can one born of woman be pure ? 
See ! the moon herself is not clear, 

And the stars are not pure in His sight. 
How much less is man a mere maggot, 

And the son of man but a worm ? " (xxv. 4-6). 

This depreciatory estimate of man is characteristic. 
There is nothing here of " how noble in reason ! 
how infinite in faculty ! " From Bildad s mighty but 
unloving God it is an easy inference to his degrading 
view of man, He has nothing of that sense of the 

God s Wisdom and Power 

gracious condescension of the infinite One which 
glows in the eighth Psalm, " What is man that Thou 
art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou 
visitest him ? " If Job, in his despair, had seen in 
those gentle words nothing but a mockery of the 
visitation wherewith it had pleased God to visit 
him (vii. 17!"), Bildad had seen in them nothing at 
all. Job s savage application of the words springs 
from his passionate longing for the love of such a 
God as they describe, while such a God is not in all 
Bildad s thoughts. He is more concerned for God s 
attributes than for His friendship. 

The text of Bildad s homily, then, is the wisdom 
and especially the power of God ; and on this con 
genial theme he descants with a truly noble eloquence, 
drawing his illustrations from the heavens above 
and the earth beneath, from, the waters beneath the 
earth and from Sheol beneath the waters. 

"Before Him in pain writhe the giants, 

Whose home is beneath the waters. 
Sheol is naked before Him, 

Uncovered lieth Abaddon. 
He stretcheth the north o er the void. 

And He hangeth the earth over nothing. 
In His thick clouds He tieth the waters, 

Yet the clouds are not torn with the weight. 
He closeth the face of His throne, 

And over it spreadeth His cloud. 
A circle He drew on the deep 

To the confines of light and of darkness. 
The pillars of heaven fell a-rocking, 

Astonished at His rebuke. 
By His power He stirred up the sea; 

By His wisdom He smote clean through Rahab. 
His breath made the heavens fair ; 

His hand pierced the serpent that fleeth. 


The Problem of Pain 

See ! these are the fringe of His ways ; 
Yea, tis only a whisper we hear : 
Who can tell how mighty His thunder ? " (xxvi. 5-14) 

In His contest with the great primeval monsters 
God displayed His victorious might ; and scarcely 
less wonderful than the might attested by the uni 
verse is the mystery which pervades it how the 
earth, for all its unthinkable weight, remains 
suspended over nothing ; how the thin clouds do not 
burst with the mighty burden of waters tied up in 
them ; how the breath of God chases away the 
clouds from the sky, leaving it clear and fair. And 
all this that we can see and hear is as nothing to the 
vaster things than can neither be seen nor heard : 
they are as the whisper to the thunder. What a God 
then must He be, who is behind and above the 
immeasurable universe ! and this is the God, implies 
Bildad, whom Job has been so wantonly blaspheming. 

There is not the faintest possibility that this 
argument, though urged so earnestly and eloquently, 
will make the least impression upon Job ; for the 
very simple reason that he is already as fully con 
vinced as Bildad, and with that more intimate 
knowledge which comes from personal experience, 
of the mysterious power of God. Indeed, in his very 
first answer to Bildad (ch. ix.) he had described that 
power in colours as vivid and more terrible. 
Job is only too deeply convinced of the power that 
pervades the universe ; but is there anywhere in 
it a Justice and a Love ? That is his question, and 
Bildad cannot help him there. 

(Job xxvii.) 

In the great debate which is drawing to a close, the 
intellectual bankruptcy of the friends is becoming 
very evident. It is seen in the increasing irrelevance 
of what they have to say, in their tendency to borrow 
from another, in their proffering of arguments which 
have been already used more powerfully by Job 
to pulverize their position. But if the traditional 
text be accepted, the crowning proof of their bank 
ruptcy would lie in the simple fact that Zophar, the 
third speaker in the first two cycles, has vanished 
from the debate altogether. According to the 
present text, none of the friends speaks again after 
Bildad has spoken in ch. xxv. : Job has the field 
entirely to himself from ch. xxvi. (or at any rate 
ch. xxvii.) to ch. xxxi. 

It must be confessed that this is rather improbable. 
The intellectual exhaustion of the friends could have 
been just as fittingly indicated by another and a last 
conventional speech from Zophar as by his complete 
disappearance from the scene. Besides, the actual 
contents of a large part of ch. xxvii. practically all 
of it from v. 7 to the end, with the exception of 
v. 12 constitute a faithful reproduction of the spirit 
and teaching of the friends ; while most of it is 
unsuitable, and much of it simply impossible, upon 


The Problem of Pain 

the lips of Job. For example, " when the wicked 
man s children grow up, it is for the sword, and his 
offspring shall not be satisfied with bread" (v. 14) : 
Job ^.ould not conceivably have said that ; indeed, 
in one of his recent impeachments of the existing 
order of things, he had said the very reverse that 
they went merrily forth like a flock, singing and 
dancing to the sound of music (xxi. nf.). But this 
is precisely the doctrine of the friends, expressed 
with that curious callousness which we have more 
than once seen to characterize their allusions to 
children, in contexts which must recall to Job s 
mind the fate of his own (v. 4, Eliphaz ; viii. 4, 

One scholar explains this by assuming that Job 
" forgets himself sufficiently in ch. xxvii. to deliver 
a discourse which would have been suitable in the 
mouth of one of the friends." But surely this is 
absurd and impossible. Job may lose his temper, 
but never his point of view, and nothing but a fit of 
temporary insanity, which there is not the smallest 
reason for ascribing to him, could ever have induced 
him for a moment to adopt a position which again 

and again he had combated with all the strength of 
his ironical eloquence. But we can even go further 
and, with tolerable confidence, definitely assign 
the passage (vv. 7-23) to Zophar. The speaker 
introduces his account of the fate of the wicked in 
the words : 

" The wicked man s portion from God is this, 

And the lot the Almighty bestows on the tyrant." 

(xxvii. 13). 


The Last Clash 

But this bears an unmistakable resemblance to the 
words with which, in the last cycle, Zophar had ended 
a very similar description (xx. 29) ; and this raises 
the presumption to a practical certainty that it is 
Zophar who speaks in this passage for the third and 
last time. 

We are therefore left with the first six verses of 
ch. xxvii. and v. 12, which is all that remains of 
Job s reply to the speech in which Bildad, with an 
abundance of mythological allusion, had expatiated 
upon the power of God. Here, as in Job s last 
utterance, it is difficult to believe that something has 
not been suppressed. Bildad s emphasis upon the 
divine power, which Job had never doubted, leaves 
him unconvinced of the wisdom and the justice in 
which he is longing to believe, but for which he can 
find no evidence in the world as he knows it ; and 
it is easy to believe that Job launched forth once 
more upon some superb audacity which later trans- 
scribers hesitated to copy ; though of course there 
is always the possibility that it was dropped acci 
dentally. But two or three points are reasonably 
clear : first, that Job must have said more than is 
contained in the five or six verses here assigned 
to him ; secondly, that he spoke as a wronged and 
embittered man his opening words (v. 2) leave no 
doubt about that ; and lastly, that what he said was 
terrible and undeniable the words of v. 12, which 
presumably once formed the close of his speech, make 
this practically certain : 

" Ye have all, with your own eyes, seen it : 
Wherefore then this idle folly ? 


The Problem of Pain 

We are irresistibly reminded of the very similar 
conclusion to the sustained and impassioned 
challenge which he had hurled at the moral order in 
ch. xxi. 

" Why, then, offer your idle comfort ? 

Your answers leave nothing but falsehood." 

(xxi. 34). 

Let us look then at this last collision between Job 
and his friends. The debate now hardly wears 
even the semblance of an argument : each speaker 
goes his own way, harping upon his favourite thought 
Job on his innocence, Zophar on the doom of the 
wicked. Unimpressed by Bildad s eloquent 
exposition of the divine power, Job sweeps past his 
mythology and on to the only thing that now matters 
to him his own innocence. This he begins by 
solemnly asserting, prefacing his assertion with the 
most extraordinary oath in the whole range of 
Scripture : 

" As God Almighty liveth, 

Who hath wronged and embittered my soul 
For within me my life is yet whole, 

And the spirit of God in my nostrils 
I swear that my lips speak no falsehood, 

My tongue doth not utter deceit." (xxvii. 2-4). 

His body is wasted, but he is still in full possession 
of all his faculties, as his glorious speeches show ; 
and thus, though the oath may seem that of a 
madman, he swears with his mental energy, as he 
asserts, unimpaired " by the God who has robbed 
him of his right," swears that the charge he has 
deliberately brought against the order of the world 
which crushes innocent men like himself or, if 


The Last Clash 

you like, against the God who ordains such a doom 
is no impiety, it is the truth : witness be God 
Himself who has wronged him. Job s assertion of 
innocence in the face of the God who, as he believes, 
has outraged him, and of the men who accuse and 
denounce him, is sublime : the one thing he will not 
abandon is the testimony of his own conscience : 

"God forbid I should grant ye were right; 
I will cling to mine innocence till I die. 
I maintain to the end I am guiltless ; 

Not an hour of my life do I blush for." (xxvii. pf). 

Robbed as he is of everything, of health and home 
and friends, of happiness and honour and reputation, 
this abides his inalienable possession, which neither 
man nor devil nor God Himself can take from him. 
At this point the sense of the injustice which has 
been meted out to him seems to have driven him to 
another and a last vehement challenge of that 
inexplicable Providence which dooms the innocent 
to disaster a challenge which, resting upon facts 
which the friends themselves cannot fail to have 
observed, they are helpless to refute. Why, then, 
continue their idle discussions any longer ? 

" Ye have all with your own eyes seen it ; 

Wherefore, then, this idle folly?" (xxvii. 12). 

In point of fact these " idle discussions " are at 
last concluded by a few gorgeous truisms from 
Zophar. It is long since he has abandoned the hope 
of converting Job, but he will at least clear his 
conscience by reminding him for the last time of the 
doom of the godless : 


The Problem of Pain 

" Perish my foe like the wicked, 

Mine enemy as the unrighteous. 
For what is the hope of the godless, 

When God requireth his soul ? 
Will God give ear to his cry 

In the day when distress comes upon him ? " 

(xxvii. 7-9). 

Eliphaz had promised Job that, in the event of peni 
tence, he would once more delight himself in the 
Almighty (xxii. 23-26), but for the obstinate and 
impenitent Job that prospect exists no more : 

"Will the Almighty be then his delight ? 

When he calleth, will God be entreated ? " 

(xxvii. 10). 

Zophar now assumes the role of the teacher and 
proceeds to expound, in the conventional way now 
so familiar to us, what the sinner has to look for in 
life and in death : 

"I will teach you how God wields His arm, 

And not hide the Almighty s behaviour. 
The wicked man s portion from God is this, 

And the lot the Almighty bestows on the tyrant. 
If his children grow up, the sword claims them ; 

His offspring are stinted for bread. 
By death shall his remnant be buried : 

Their widows shall make no lament. 
Though silver he heap up like dust, 

And prepare (costly) raiment like clay, 
Yet the just shall put on what he stored, 

And the silver shall fall to the innocent. 
Like a spider s the house which he builded, 

Like booth which the vine-keeper maketh. 
He lieth down rich, but he wakes not ; 

He openeth his eyes, and he is not. 
He is caught in a flood of terrors ; 

In the night he is stolen by a tempest. 
The east wind bears him away, 

It sweepeth him out of his place. 


The Last Clash 

God hurleth at him without mercy; 

Fain would he escape from His hand. 
His hands He clappeth at him, 

And He hisseth at him from His place." 

(xxvii. ii, 13-23). 

With this picture of an unlovely God, clapping 
His hands in derision, like a malicious man, over 
the impenitent sinner, and hissing him out of the 
world, the contribution of the friends to the solution 
of the great world-problem is brought to an end. 
The God they believe in is a fitting counterpart of the 
men who represent Him and defend His ways. 


(Job xxix.-xxxi.) 

The debate is now over 1 . The loneliness of Job 
is complete forsaken as he is, or thinks himself to 
be, by God, by man, by all save his good conscience. 
Having no one else to speak to, he speaks to his own 
heart. He passes his life in review, his former 
happiness and his present misery, before he makes 
his one last appeal to the God who has hitherto, with 
such inexplicable consistency, refused to appear in 
answer to his most desperate calls. A melancholy 
beauty pervades his whole retrospect. The vivid 
contrasts suggest the infinite sorrow of the man who 
who had passed so mysteriously from the one to the 
other : but the old bitter polemic has vanished ; 
for, whether the friends have departed or not, Job 
is no longer conscious of their presence he speaks 
not to them but to himself. 

His opening words are as characteristic of his piety 
as of his misery. 

" O to be as in months long gone, 

As in days when God used to keep me." (xxix. 2). 

The first thing he mentions about the happy days 
now vanished is that they were days " when God 
used to watch over him." He had lived in the 
Presence, and there was no loss like that loss : that 

1 For ch. xxviii. see p. 273. 


Job s Great Defence 

is why he puts it first. The touch of that vanished 
Hand, and the sound of that Voice which had 
been so strangely still to lose these things was to 
lose that loving-kindness which, for such a man as 
Job, was better than life. The fearfulness of the 
change his misery had wrought in his conception of 
God is vividly suggested by a comparison of this 
with other passages in which the thought of those 
watchful eyes had filled him with terror, and his most 
earnest prayer had been that God would be gracious 
enough to look away from him, and leave him alone ; 
for now He was watching him only too cruelly well 
(vii. 17-19), setting a " watch " over him (vii. 12) 
it is the noun of the verb which he now uses to des 
cribe God s former vigilant care of him as if he were 
some mighty monster endangering the peace of the 
universe. Then He had watched over him, now He 
watches him. Wistfully he turns to the days 
" when His lamp shone over my head," as it shines 
now no more. How Bildad would find in this con 
fession, if he heard it, the confirmation of his 
prophecy that the lamp would one day be put out 
in the tent of ungodliness (xviii. 51). But in those 
days when Job had the light, he had walked in it : 

" His lamp shone over my head, 

And I walked by His light through the darkness." 

(xxix. 3). 

If only he could be once again 

" As I was in the days of mine autumn, 

When God protected my tent, 
While still the Almighty was with me, 

And my children were round about me ; 
When my steps were bathed in milk, 

And the rock poured me rivers of oil." (xxix. 4-6) 


The Problem of Pain 

Too deep for tears or comment are the exquisitely 
simple words, " when my children " those children 
who are now lying dead " were round about me." 
It is a moving testimony to the joy and beauty of 
Job s home life that in the opening verses which 
describe the happy past and are filled with the 
presence of God, the only other presence alluded to 
is that of his children. His God and his home, the 
Almighty and his children these are placed side by 
side as the most precious things in all the world to 

From these he turns to the thought of the honour 
and the influence which had once been his, but which 
now are gone for ever how, alike on street and 
market-place, old and young, high and low, did him 
reverence : how in the council-chamber his words 
were listened to with grateful and admiring silence, 
falling upon the ear like refreshing rain upon the 
thirsty land : 

" When I went to the city gate, 

Or took up my place in the open, 
The youths, when they saw me, hid, 

The old men rose and stood. 
Princes refrained from speech, 

And laid their hand on their mouth. 
The voice of the nobles was hushed, 

And their tongue would cleave to their palate. 
They hearkened to me and they waited, 

Kept silence till I should give counsel ; 
After / spoke, they spake not again, 

My speech fell like rain-drops upon them. 
They waited for me as for rain 

Open-mouthed, as for latter rain." (xxix. 7-10, 21-23) 

an exquisite touch, when we remember the welcome 
that men give in drought-cursed lands to rain. 


Job s Great Defence 

" When I smiled upon them, they were strengthened ; 

The light of my face cheered the sorrowing. 
I chose out their way and sat chief, 

Enthroned like a king in his army." (xxix. 241). 

But Job had been expert in action no less than in 
speech, he had been benefactor as well as counsellor. 
He had cared more for opportunity than for honour 
for the opportunity of helping those who could not 
help themselves, especially those whom it was in the 
East the fashion of the mighty to exploit and oppress. 

" I was blessed by the ear that heard me, 

The eye bore me witness that saw me ; 
For I rescued the poor when he cried, 

The fatherless and the helpless. 
The wretched gave me their blessing; 

The widow s heart I made sing. 
I put on the garment of righteousness, 

A robe and a turban of justice. 
Eyes was I to the blind, 

Feet to the lame was I ; 
A father was I to the poor, 

And I searched out the cause of the stranger. 
I shattered the jaws of the wicked, 

And hurled the prey from his teeth." (xxix. 11-17). 

Job was not one of those who are " too proud to 
fight." The passion with which throughout the 
debate he had defended his own case, because the 
high interests of eternal justice were involved, he 
had been equally willing to expend on behalf of any 
one, be he friend or unknown stranger, whose rights 
were being ignored or trampled upon. Behind the 
last two lines quoted we can see a mighty struggle 
waged by the indignant Job with some incarnate 
fiend, from whose greedy jaws he had snatched the 
prey. The splendour of the picture is only fully 
appreciated when we remember that the ideal Job 


The Problem of Pain 

here claims to have fulfilled is just the ideal to 
which prophet after prophet had summoned Israel 
with such passion and persistence. To the last 
detail he fulfils the prophetic programme. ;< Let 
justice roll down like water, and righteousness like 
a perennial stream " (Amos v. 24) ; " I desire mercy 
and not sacrifice " (Hosea vi. 6) ; and still more 
aptly, " Seek justice, restrain the violent, do right 
by the fatherless, plead for the widow " (Isa. i. 17). 
Job is the man, come at last, for whom the prophet 
heart had yearned. 

But the relevance of this picture to the discussion 
is only completely grasped when we consider it in 
the light of the cruel charges which Eliphaz had 
invented in order to support his shallow contentions. 
He had accused Job of stripping the naked of their 
clothing, of refusing drink to the weary and bread to 
the hungry, of sending widows empty away, of 
breaking the arms of the fatherless (xxii. 6-9) ; and 
point for point Job dissipates those wicked and base 
less calumnies by a simple statement of the facts. 
" I put on the garment of righteousness, a robe 
and a turban of justice." Fearlessly he stands 
forth before God and men as righteousness incarnate. 
So he thought, as well he might trained as he had 
been in the faith that goodness guaranteed a long 
and happy life that all would go well with him till 
the end and in the end : 

"So I thought, I shall die with my nest; 
As the sand my days shall be many. 

A reference to the legendary phoenix, a bird which was said to 
live five hundred years, when it burnt itself in its nest and rose to a 
new life from the ashes. 


Job s Great Defence 

My root is spread out to the waters, 
All night lies the dew on my branches. 

Within me my glory is fresh, 

And my bow is renewed in my hand. " (xxix. 18-20) 

" But now " abruptly comes the startling con 
trast between the happy then and the dreadful now. 
He had hoped for length of days with strength un 
impaired and undiminished glory : instead, he is 
going down to the grave before his time as a leper 
accursed of God and abhorred of men, his body 
covered with sores and gnawed with pain, his soul 
pierced with sorrow, and clothed in darkness. There 
is little observable order here in the enumeration of 
his miseries. His heart is hot and seething, as he 
tells us later, with the tumult of them. Body, mind, 
and spirit are all alike shattered in a common ruin 
now it is the heat of fever or the lacerating pains, 
now it is the alienation and the unbroken silence of 
God ; but it is perhaps not without significance that 
he puts here first the scorn and loathing of men, which 
comes with all the more force after his gracious 
picture of the reverence with which, in happier days, 
he had been everywhere received: 

" But now am I become their song, 

Yea, I am a by-word among them. 
In horror they stand far aloof, 

And they spare not to spit at the sight of me. " 

(xxx. 91). 

There are hints throughout the book which go to 
show how deeply the writer had been impressed by 
the fickleness of human friendship : this may explain 
the passion with which he makes his hero yearn for 
the heavenly Friend. Job s sketch of the past, 


The Problem of Pain 

crowded with deeds of kindness, shows how he had 
loved men, and how intimately he had been touched 
with the feeling of their infirmities : all the more 
bitter therefore to him must have been the ingrati 
tude of those whom he had shielded from the con 
sequences of poverty and injustice. It was sad 
enough to be scorned and shunned by men for the 
leper that he was, but sadder still was the hostility 
of God, who stormed upon him, as if he was some 
fortified city, with all the terrors of His infinite 
resources : 

" He hath slackened my bow-string and humbled me, 

Flung down my banner before me. 
Against me His hosts stand up ; 

They raise deadly ramparts against me 
My path they tear up clean, 

My tracks they destroy altogether. 
His archers ring me around, 

As through a wide breach they come in, 
Rolling on in the midst of the ruin. 

Terrors are turned upon me ; 
My weal is the sport of the winds, 

And my welfare is passed like a cloud." (xxx. 11-15). 

Then he comes back to the thought of his physical 
misery his pain, his emaciation. 

" And now is my soul poured out, 

The terrors of misery seize me. 
The night boreth into my bones, 

And the pains that gnaw never slumber. 
From sore wasting my garment is shrunk ; 

It clingeth to me like my vest." (xxx. 16-18). 

But it is God who is responsible for his misery : he 
therefore turns upon Him with bitter reproaches for 
the cruelty of a silence which He refuses to break 


Job s Great Defence 

or breaks only with another lash of His scourge, 
or another roar of His pitiless storm : 

" God hath plunged me into the mire, 

So that I am like dust and ashes. 
I cry, but Thou givest no answer ; 

Thou standest and heedest me not. 
Cruel to me art Thou turned, 

With the might of Thy hand Thou dost scourge me. 
Thou settest me to ride on the wind, 

And I melt in the roar of the storm. 
For I know Thou wilt bring me to death, 

To the house where all living assemble." (xxx. 19-23). 

He knows that he must die, but he is dying before 
his time, and in tumult, not in peace for this, he 
had once said, is the privilege of the wicked (xxi. 13) 
he is riding to death on the wings of the storm. 
Tortured as he is by pain and grief, and hastening 
to the grave uncomforted, is there anything to wonder 
at in his strong crying and tears ? Has he not at 
least the right of the mourner to weep or of the 
drowning man to cry aloud for help ? If his 
plaintive wails make him a fit companion for the 
wolf and the ostrich, at least those wails are wrung 
from a body tortured unto agony and from a soul 
grieved well nigh unto despair. 

" Yet sinking men stretch out their hand, 

And cry for help as they perish. 
He whose days are harddoes he weep not ? 

Is the soul of the needy not grieved ? 
For instead of the good I had hoped for came evil, 

Instead of the light I awaited came darkness. 
My heart is hot and restless, 

And misery daily confronts me. 
I go with my sorrow uncomforted, 

Standing where jackals are gathered. 



The Problem of Pain 

Brother am I to the wolves, 

And of ostriches the companion. 
All blackened my skin peels from off me ; 

My bones are burned with the heat." (xxx. 24-30)." 

The contrast between the happy past and the 
sorrowful present he gathers up in the expressive 
words : 

"So my lyre is turned into mourning, 

My pipe to the voice of lament." (xxx. 31). 

But Job s ambition is not to indulge in the luxury 
of grief : it is to assert and defend his innocence 
if possible, in the presence of Almighty God. He 
therefore proceeds to draw a detailed portrait of 
himself, in which he lets us see not only the nature 
of his conduct but the quality of his inner life. This 
description is of supreme value, revealing as it does 
the noble heights to which ancient Hebrew piety 
could soar. It embodies indeed the noblest ideal 
in the Old Testament, and one of the noblest in the 
world. It fills in the vague outlines in which Job 
was sketched at the beginning of the book as " a 
man blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning 
evil." It shows us what these large and simple 
words meant, when translated into the details of 
daily intercourse with men and women of every kind, 
and it is the final and crushing answer to the baseless 
charges which Eliphaz, under the stress of his rigid 
theory, was obliged to invent, in order to defend his 
indefensible position (ch. xxii.). Let us look now 
at the features which go to make up this immortal 
picture of a good man. 

He begins, as we might expect, by asserting that 

Job s Great Defence 

he had practised the presence of God. His whole 
life had been controlled by the thought that God s 
eyes were upon him not only upon its general drift, 
but upon its every detail. His faith had been not 
only that God is, but that He was actively interested 
in all that he did ; that He is the rewarder of them 
that diligently seek Him, and the punisher of those 
who ignore Him and defy His moral will : 

" A tryst I made with mine eyes 

To give no heed unto folly. 1 
For how doth the high God reward it 

The Almighty in heaven requite it ? 
Is not for the wicked misfortune, 

Disaster for workers of wrong ? 
Doth He not see my ways, 

And number my steps every one ?" (xxxi. 1-4). 

It is strange and almost startling to find Job here 
asserting misfortune for the wicked and disaster 
for the workers of wrong. Is not this precisely 
the doctrine of the friends which Job throughout the 
whole course of the debate has been denying with all 
the vehemence of his soul ? Some scholars have 
fastened upon the fact that these verses are not found 
in the original text of the Greek version, to prove 
that they did not form, as it is held they could not 
have formed, any part of Job s original speech. But 
it is fairer to interpret them as a statement of his 
ancient faith, of the faith by which he had lived before 
the blows fell which shattered it, at least in that 
form, to pieces. 

After this assertion of his governing sense of the 
presence of God, he proceeds formally to disclaim 

1 A general term for sin, peculiarly appropriate at the beginning. 
Dr. Peake s highly probable emendation for the virgin of the text. 

The Problem of Pain 

the practice and the temper of covetousness, and of 
that falsehood by which the covetous disposition 
too often seeks to secure its ends : 

" If ever I walked with falsehood, 

Or my foot hath made haste unto fraud 
Let God only weigh with just balance, 

Mine innocence He must acknowledge 
If my step ever swerved from the way, 

Or my heart hath gone after mine eyes, 
Then what I sow may others enjoy, 

And all produce of mine be uprooted." (xxxi. 5-8). 

Not content with Tightness of conduct, Job has 
preserved his Tightness of heart. The stream of his 
life is pure, because the hidden source from which it 
flows is pure. He is not afraid to lay it bare before 
the eyes of God, and to challenge the verdict of Him 
whom no bribe can purchase. The fine courage of 
this challenge reminds us of the similar challenge of 
the Psalmist, 

"Search me, O God, know my heart: 

Try me, and know my thoughts," (Ps. cxxxix. 23) 

a challenge which was possible to him, as to Job, 
only because he, too, was conscious of living in 
the Presence : 

"O Lord, Thou searchest and knowest me; 

When I sit, when I rise Thou knowest it, 

Thou perceivest my thoughts from afar. 
When I walk, when I lie Thou siftest it, 

Familiar with all my ways. 
There is not a word on my tongue, 

But see ! Lord, Thou knowest it all. 
Behind and before Thou besettest me ; 

Upon me Thou layest Thy hand." (Ps. cxxxix. 1-5). 


Job s Great Defence 

The noble audacities of Job and of the Psalmist 
are a fine testimony to the cleansing power of the 
presence of God. 

But a man s relation to women tests the quality of 
his life even more severely than his attitude to the 
property of others, and here again Job claims for 
himself the most stainless purity, alike of heart and 
of conduct : 

"If my heart hath been lured by a woman, 

If I lurked at my neighbour s door, 
May my own wife grind to another, 

And let others bow down upon her. 
For that were an infamous crime, 

An iniquity calling for judgment, 
A fire that devours to Abaddon 

And would all mine increase consume." (xxxi. 9-12). 

Adultery is a crime punishable by the law of man, 
but far more terrible to Job is the thought of the 
inextinguishable fire which it kindles in the con 
science and which brings a man s home and happiness 
down in red ruin. With all the nobility of this 
speech, it is interesting to note how, in not unimpor 
tant ways, Job is entangled in the thought of his 
time. The wife of the guilty man, who would herself 
be the most deeply wronged, was to be, according to 
Job s imprecation, subjected to the further indignity 
of being reduced to the most menial bondage 
(cf. Exod. xi. 5). This is only possible because the 
wife is not regarded as a wholly independent person 
ality, but to some extent as the property of her 
husband, to be disposed of according to his pleasure. 
The claim that follows is perhaps the most 
wonderful of all : 


The Problem of Pain 

"iNever spurned I the cause of my servant 

Of man or of maid when we strove : 
Did not He that made me make him, 

Dfd not One fashion us in the womb ?" (xxxi. 13, 15). 

Here is the brotherhood of man indeed, in its 
sublimest form : not the brotherhood of social 
equals a sentiment which is hard enough even yet 
to compass but of master and servant, an idea 
which, with our implacable modern war between 
labour and capital, seems hardly even yet more than 
a wild and all but impossible dream. What slave 
owner in the ancient or modern world could have 
said or conceived such a thing ? To the most com 
prehensive of all Greek intellects, the slave was 
nothing but the tool of his master ; and that has 
been, for the most part, the modern practice, 
whatever the theory may have been. But note the 
theory underlying Job s practice. Here, as every 
where, his conduct is rooted in his conception of 
God. The God who made him made the slave as 
well. They are brethren, because Oi e is the Creator 
and Father of them both. He does not name the 
Father here, though he hints at this relationship 
(as does the writer of Psalm ciii. 13) a little further 
on ; but that is essentially his meaning. And in 
this he soars far above the thought of Malachi when 
he asks, " Have we not all one Father ? hath not one 
God created us ? " (ii. 10). The prophet is thinking 
of a brotherhood within the Jewish family, a brother 
hood which his whole prophecy shows that he does 
not dream yf extending beyond the confines of his 
people, but Job s profound and searching words 
leap across all national barriers and class distinctions, 


Job s Great Defence 

resting as they do the relationship of men to one 
another upon their indefeasible relationship to a 
common Creator. There is a noble pathos, too, 
about this argument of Job, when we remember 
the grim use he had made in an earlier passage of 
this very thought of God. The Almighty, he had 
then argued (x. 8ff), might have been expected to 
care at least as much for His creatures as a potter 
for the vessel he has so cunningly made ; but God s 
hands had made him only to destroy him. Here he 
maintains that he had treated the humblest of his 
fellow-creatures with that kindly thoughtfulness 
which he himself had looked for it would seem in 
vain at the hands of God Himself. 

From the humble within his home he turns to the 
weak and defenceless beyond it, the poor and the 
needy, the widow and the orphan, the naked and the 
hungry, and he claims, in words which would have 
made the heart of the prophets sing for joy, to have 
helped them in every way opened to him by the 
abundance of the resources with which God had 
blessed him : 

"Ne er denied I the wish of the poor, 

Nor brought grief to the eyes of the widow. 
Never ate I my morsel alone, 

Without sharing thereof with the orphan. 
Else what should I do, when God rose ? 

When He visited, what should I answer ? 
For, father-like, He brought me up from my youth, 

And my Guide has He been from my mother s womb. 
Never saw I one naked and perishing 

Needy, with nothing to cover him 
But I warmed him with fleece from my lambs, 

And his loins gave me their blessing." 

(xxxi. 14, 16-20). 


The Problem of Pain 

Here again his morality is determined by his religion 
the motive of his conduct is rooted and grounded in 
God. He thinks of the God he worships as a God of 
justice, to whom the interests of the defenceless 
are specially dear as a God who will one day rise up 
to make inquisition : and what would he answer 
in that dread day, if he had crushed or even neglected 
God s poor ? He feels himself to be debtor to all 
whom he can help, because his own debt to God 
is so heavy. Gratitude to the God who " like a 
Father, had brought him up from his youth, and 
guided him even from the womb of his mother " 
immortal words must express itself in playing the 
part of father to God s needy children. 

And as Job has always used his power to help the 
helpless, so he had never abused it by smiting the 
innocent (whom we may suppose to be a rival) even 
when he could count securely on plenty of support. 
He is willing that his arm, if ever lifted in such a 
cause, should be broken : 

"If, because I saw help in the gate, 
I ever set hand on the innocent, 
Let my shoulder fall from its blade, 

And mine arm from the socket be broken." 

(xxxi. 2if). 

Job was prompted to the beneficence which he has 
just described, and the hospitality he is yet to des 
cribe, by his own noble heart : but without his 
wealth it would have been impossible for him to 
exercise it on so extensive a scale ; and there was the 
danger that he should make of the means an end. 
The love of money is a root of evil of all kinds, and 


Job s Great Defence 

no one ever emphasized the peril of it more than our 
Lord Himself, and its fatal power to shut men out 
of the Kingdom. But Job is as free from the love 
of his own gold as of another man s ; he put his trust 
in the Giver and not in His shining gifts. He had 
learned the lesson so eloquently urged by Deuter 
onomy (viii. 171) or rather it was the impulse of 
his own unspoiled nature to remember that it is 
" Jehovah thy God who giveth thee power to get 
wealth," and he had never been tempted to say, 
" My power and the might of my hand hath gotten 
me this wealth." 

" Never set I my trust upon gold, 

Nor called the fine gold my confidence. 
Mine abundant wealth never elated me, 

Nor all that my hands had gotten." (xxxi. 241). 

Nothing in the universe claimed the homage of 
Job but God Himself. As God was the Giver of 
the wealth which some men are tempted to worship, 
so He was the Creator of those glorious bodies which 
hung in the firmament, " fretted with golden fire," 
which tempted the homage of others : but Job was 
as little allured by the one as by the other. The 
very intelligible worship of the heavenly bodies was 
wide-spread in the East, and even the less imagina 
tive West feels the spell of them. It was against 
this worship that the writer of the great prose-poem 
with which the Old Testament opens wrote the 
words, " God made the two great lights ; the greater 
light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the 
night : He made the stars also ; and God set them 
in the firmament " (Gen. i. i6f). God made them 


The Problem of Pain 

and set them there, not to be worshipped as though 
they were independent beings, but to do His bidding, 
to rule and shine for Him. Job had given his heart 
to the Creator, and not to any of His creatures how 
ever splendid : 

"Never, watching the shining lights, 

Or the moon as she walked in her splendour. 
Did my heart feel their subtle allurement, 
Or my hand throw a kiss to my mouth." 

(xxxi. 26-28). 

Through his noble disclaimer we cannot help feeling 
how his poetic heart was thrilled by the glories of 
the midnight sky ; but for him idolatry was as 
repellent as adultery (v. u). 

"This, too, were a crime for the judges. 

For to God above I had lied." (xxxi. 28). 

At this point he makes one of his most wonderful 
claims, one which lifts him to a lonely eminence 
among the saints of his people. The average pious 
Israelite welcomed the downfall of his enemy 
for this, apart from any personal reason as a visible 
vindication of the moral order in which he believed. 
There are psalmists who look forward with joy to the 
day when they shall wash their feet in the blood of 
the wicked (Ps. Iviii. 10). But Job scorned such a 
thought : 

"Ne er rejoiced I at enemy s fall, 

Nor triumphed when evil befel him, 
Nor suffered my mouth to sin 

By demanding his life in a curse." (xxxi. 2$f). 

How little he would have cared for, how thoroughly 
he must have despised, Bildad s promise that " those 


Job s Great Defence 

that hated him would be clothed with shame " 
(viii. 22) ; and how impossible it is that he could 
have uttered the wish which the traditional text 
ascribes to him, " Perish my foe like the wicked, 
mine enemy as the unrighteous " (xxvii. 7). His 
enemy was God s creature ; and of him he would 
have said, as he said of his servant, " Did not He 
that made me make him, did not One fashion us in 
the womb ? " (xxxi. 15). One great scholar has 
said, " If ch. xxxi. is the crown of all ethical develop 
ment in the Old Testament, v. 29 is the pearl in this 

The kindness Job had showered upon the poor 
showed itself as generosity to his dependants, and 
as hospitality to strangers and travellers : 

" The men of my tent will declare 

None has ever been stinted of food. 
Not a stranger e er lodged in the street, 

For I opened my doors to the wayfarer." (xxxi. 3 if). 

Further the justice and the pity which he exercised 
towards men, he exhibited no less in his relation to 
the soil : the earth was the Lord s, and he treated 
it as such, respecting its rights no less than the rights 
of the men who owned it. 

" If my land ever cried out against me, 

Her furrows all weeping together ; 
If her strength I have drained without cost, 

Or have poured out the life of her owner ; 
Let thorns take the place of wheat, 

And foul-smelling weeds of barley." (xxxi. 38-40). 

This man of the stainless life knew no fear but 
the fear of God. He had nothing to conceal, and he 
concealed nothing. His life was naked and open in 


The Problem of Pain 

the eyes of his clansmen as well as of his Creator : 
he could bring it out into the open and stand before 
them without fear and without shame. 

" No fear of the crowd ever led me 

To hide my sin among men. 
No contempt of the clans ever scared me 

To stay behind closed doors in silence." (xxxi. 331). 

What an ideal and what an achievement ! 
Infinitely transcending in its inner purity and its 
positive beneficence the merely negative demands of 
the Decalogue and even the more or less external 
demands of most of the prophets. How much 
nobler and ampler than the life described in the 
fifteenth and twenty-fourth Psalms, and how much 
more winsome than the high-minded man of Aris 
totle, 1 who " claims much and deserves much," 
and whose loftiness comes perilously close to 
haughtiness. There is much indeed in Job which 
reminds us of Jesus. It is an altogether glorious 
description of a great ethical personality ; yet, 
though it is a self- vindication from end to end, with 
the greatest skill every suspicion of self-praise is 
avoided. Mark Rutherford has truly said, " In 
discernment of the real breadth and depth of social 
duty, nothing has gone beyond the book of Job." 
Many traits are omitted, because they go without 
saying his love for his friends, his affection for his 
wife whom we may be sure he loved as dearly as 
Ezekiel did her who was " the desire of his eyes " 
(xxiv. 16). But how rich this man was in social 
relationships : as governor, as counsellor, as 

1 Nicomachean Ethics, iv. 3. 

Job s Great Defence 

employer, as landowner, as host, as benefactor, he 
stands continually in kindly and helpful relations 
to all sorts and conditions of men. Profoundly 
significant of the whole tenor of his life is the simple 
claim that he " ate not his morsel alone." As the 
one word suggests his frugality, the other suggests 
his delight in men and in doing good. He does not 
live either to himself or by himself : in a world so 
full of need and wrong, he cannot bear to dwell, 
like a star, apart. Though not of the world, he is 
in it. 

And this is the man, so pure and so good, who has 
suffered so mysteriously living like a saint and 
perishing like a felon. The hour has struck for his 
last great appeal to God, and it excels in majestic 
audacity everything that has gone before : 

" O for One who would listen to me. 

Behold ! there is my cross ! 

Let Almighty God give me His answer. 
O would that I had the indictment 

Mine Adversary hath written. 
For, bearing it high on my shoulder, 

And winding it round like a crown, 
Every step of my life I would tell Him ; 

Like a prince I would enter His presence." 

(xxxi. 35-37)- 

If only God Almighty would appear, Job, in the 
proud consciousness of his integrity, would face 
Him with unspeakable joy, whether to hear what 
answer God had to give to the assertion of innocence 
to which he affixes his signature, or to hear what 
indictment God had to bring against him in justifi 
cation of the awful suffering to which He had sub 
jected him, God Himself is the Adversary : but 


The Problem of Pain 

Job is not afraid so conscious is he of the rectitude 
of his life as he has just revealed it, and of the essen 
tial justice of the invisible God he is so eager to meet. 
And what a meeting ! The poor, disfigured, ema 
ciated leper, rising up from his ash-heap wasted in 
body, but a Titan in spirit to face the terrible 
God of the eclipse, the earthquake, and the storm ; 
and facing Him not cringingly like a suppliant, but 
proudly like a prince, and wearing his indictment 
like a garland. Could anything be more sublime 
than this ? It is not Christian ; but it is magnificent. 


(Job xxxviii., xxxix., xl. 2-14, xlii. 2-6) 


xxxix., xl. 2, 8-14) 

Then Jehovah answered Job at long last the 
answer ! But out of the whirlwind the very sort 
of answer that Job had from his first appeal feared 
and deprecated (ix. 34, xiii. 2of). But, however 
strange and at first sight irrelevant it may seem, 
let us not forget that it is an answer, God s own 
answer. It is expressed with a wealth of eloquence 
and imagination which, even after all we have seen 
of the writer s literary genius, is nothing less than 
astonishing. " No one," as Kautzsch has truly said : 
" would be surprised if, after the composition of 
nineteen speeches, the creative power of the poet 
should gradually flag : but precisely the contrary 
is the case. The speeches of God surpass in energy 
and sublimity everything that has gone before." 
The divine appeal to Job to " gird up his loins like a 
man " is, as has been said, an echo of the demand 
the poet must have made upon himself. But the 
tone of the opening words is more than surprising : 

" Who is this that darkeneth counsel 

By words that are empty of knowledge ? 
Gird up thy loins like a man : 

I will ask of thee do thou enlighten Me." 

(xxxviii. 2f). 

1 In this chapter I have drawn freely from my The City with 
Foundations, pp. 147-153. 



The Problem of Pain 

The weary Job, who has just emerged from one 
long struggle with the friends, is now invited to 
prepare for another this time with the omnipotent 
God to whom he has made his appeal ; and, instead 
of the gracious answer to which he had looked so 
confidently forward, he is buried beneath an 
avalanche of questions. There is a touch of some 
thing that must have sounded to Job like mockery 
in the words " Who is this ? " this man, who 
in his impotence and ignorance, has presumed to 
challenge Omniscience and Omnipotence. It does 
not promise well. Yet from this first seemingly 
scornful question flashes the gleam of a gospel for 
Job. He has been only too thoroughly convinced 
by his sorrowful experience of the power of God : 
but the word " counsel " suggests His wisdom. The 
system at which Job has railed, not only evidences 
irresistible power, it is subtly interfused with a 
sense of purpose : and, on the very threshold, he, 
and we, are by implication invited to look out for 
evidences of that purpose in the splendid panorama 
of Creation which is about to be unrolled. 

And first there pass before us the wonders of the 
inanimate world. The Almighty begins with the 
wonder of the world itself, which is compared to a 
Building of mighty proportions, constructed with 
infinite architectural genius to the music of the 

" Where wast them, when I founded the earth ? 
Declare out of the depths of thine insight. 
Dost thou know who appointed her measures, 
Or who stretched upon her the line ? 


The Answer of the Almighty 

Whereupon were her pedestals sunk, 

Or who laid her corner-stone, 
When the morning-stars sang together, 

And the sons of God shouted in chorus ?" 

(xxxviii. 4-7). 

No haphazard construction this : it is built according 
to " measures and lines," evidence of the law and 
order, the purpose and plan, by which it is inspired. 
But what had Job to do with the making of it, and 
where was he then ? His indignant " whys " and 
" wherefores " are answered by the question, 
" Where wast thou ? " And this is only the first of 
many. The next picture is an inimitable description 
of the sea, that turbulent child of chaos, likened to a 
giant baby, with swaddling-band of clouds : 

" Who shut up the sea with doors, 

When it burst its way out of the womb ? 
When I gave it its robe of cloud, 

And its swaddling-band of the dark cloud ; 
When I broke off its border for it, 

And set on it bars and doors, 
Declaring Thus far, but no further, 

And here shall thy proud waves be stayed. " 

(xxxviii. 8-1 1). 

Here, too, is evidence of power instinct with order. 
Once the ocean monster had threatened to over 
whelm God s wonderful building of a world ; 
but on it, too, His authority was imposed : it has 
bars and doors, and a border which it dare not pass. 
Then, in fine contrast to its blustering, comes the 
quiet, gracious miracle of the dawn, when the world 
stands forth in sudden brightness : 

" Didst thou ever give charge to the morning, 

Or appoint to the day-star her place, 
To take hold of the skirts of the earth, 
And to shake out the wicked from off it ? 

The Problem of Pain 

It is changed as clay under the seal, 

And the world stands forth (bright) as a garment. 

(xxxviii. 12-14). 

Then are disclosed the sources of the sea, the mystery 
of the world of the dead, with the grim porters who 
guard its gates, and the breadth of the earth. 
But of sources and breadth and depth Job 
knows nothing at all. The power and the order 
everywhere manifest reigned countless ages before 
him, and are sustained independently of him : 

Hast thou entered the springs of the ocean, 

Or walked in the depths of the sea ? 
Have the gate- ways of Death been unveiled to thee ? 

Hast thou looked on the porters of Hades ? 
The breadth of the earth hast thou noted ? 
How great is it ? Tell, if thou knowest. 

(xxxviii. 16-18). 

Then comes the marvel of the light, which is regarded 
as having a home of its own in some corner of God s 
universe : 

" Which way leads to the home of the light ? 

And where is the place of the darkness ? 
Canst thou fetch it out unto its border, 

Or lead it back home to its house ? 
Thou wast born then, so doubtless thou knowest 

The tale of thy years is so great." (xxxviii. 19-21). 

In the last two lines the irony is particularly keen. 
The universe is a great store-house where the God of 
battles keeps His treasures of snow and especially 
of hail, ready to hurl as did indeed happen in some 
of Israel s historic battles (cf. Josh. x. n) against 
His adversaries : but has Job ever visited the arsenal 
where those weapons are stored ? 


The Answer of the Almighty 

" Hast thou entered the store-house of snow ? 
Hast thou looked on the guardians of hail, 
Which I hoard for the time of distress, 

For the day of assault and of battle ?" (xxxviii. 22f). 

Then follows the miracle of the rain, which God has 
so strangely tied up in the thick clouds (xxvi. 8), 
and which nevertheless falls so finely, each drop 
along its appointed line, as the lightning flash along 
the path appointed for it : 

" Which way are the vapours divided, 

That scatter on earth the cool water ? 
Who cleft for the torrents a channel, 

A path for the flash of the lightning 
Sending rain on the desolate land, 

On the uninhabited desert, 
Thus gladdening the wilderness waste, 

And the thirsty land clothing with verdure ?" 

(xxxviii. 24-27). 

In a sense, as we shall see, the last four lines hold the 
key to the riddle of the universe, suggesting as they 
do that even the uninhabited desert is not beyond 
God s care. His love extends to every part of the 
world which He made, and is showered in refreshing 
rain even upon the waste and desolate land " where 
no man is." Then comes the wonder of the dew and 
the frost and the ice. How is it that running water 
can harden ? Does Job know ? 

" Say, hath the rain a father ? 

Or who hath begotten the dew-drops? 
Out of whose womb issued the ice ? 

And the hoar-frost of heaven who hath borne it ? 
The waters are frozen like stone, 

And the face of the deep remains hidden." 

ixxxviii. 28-30). 


The Problem of Pain 

From the earth Job s eyes are lifted to heaven 
to behold the mighty miracles being perpetually 
enacted there : 

" Dost thou fasten the chain of the dog-star, 

Or loosen the bonds of Orion ? 
Dost thou bring out the stars in their season ? 

The Bear with her young dost thou lead ? 
Dost thou lay down the law to the heavens, 

Or establish their rule in the earth ? " (xxxviii. 31-33). 

There is no confusion there: it is surely no helpless 
or witless God that rules there. The heavens above, 
no less than the earth beneath and the waters round 
about the earth, are within the reign of lawa law 
which it is very certain Job did not impose upon 
them. Note again the irony, which is still further 
enhanced by the following questions touching the 
wonder of the clouds : 

" Dost thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, 

That abundance of waters obey thee ? 
Dost thou send on their mission the lightnings ? 

To thee do they say, Here we are ? 
Who hath set in the fleecy clouds wisdom, 

Or given to the meteor insight ? 
Who spreadeth the clouds out in wisdom ? 

Who tilteth the pitchers of heaven, 
When the dust runneth into a mass 

And the clods cleave firmly together ? " 

(xxxviii. 34-38). 

Only a poet who loved the world could have 
written this glorious chapter, and it is no surprise 
that he loved the living creatures upon it as well, 
" all things both great and small." From the 
wonders of the inanimate creation the great Ques 
tioner now passes to the wonders of the animal 
world ; and here, as there, it is not the exceptional 


The Answer of the Almighty 

things, but everything, that is wonderful the ox, 
the ass, the goat, the horse, the hawk, the lion, and 
behind them all the wonderful love of God. Never 
surely were more living pictures than these. First 
comes the lion, king of beasts : 

" Dost them hunt for the lion his prey 

Or the young lions craving appease, 
When low in their lairs they crouch, 

Lying in wait in the thicket ? 
Who provideth at even his food, 

When his young ones cry unto God, 
Open-mouthed, for the food that is lacking ?" 

(xxxviii. 39-41). 

The poet means that God cares and provides for the 
wild beasts : for it is assuredly not Job who procures 
for the lion his food. Man would rather destroy 
such creatures : but the God who made them pro 
vides food for their young ones, when they cry unto 
Him a touch which reminds us of the generous 
outlook of some of the Psalmists (civ. 14, 28, cxlv. 16, 
cxlvi. 9). Then come the wild goats, with the 
miracle of their speedy parturition : 

"Dost thou fix the birth-times of the wild goats 

Or watch o er the calving of hinds ? 
Dost thou number the months they fulfil 

Or determine the time of their bearing ? 
They cower and bring forth their young, 

Swiftly ridding themselves of their birth-pangs. 
Their young ones grow strong in the open, 

Go forth and come back not again." (xxxix. 1-4). 

What an appreciation of the wild life of the open 
breathes through these last two lines ; and still 
more in the amazingly vivid picture of the wild ass, 
which abhors the city (as perhaps the poet did) and 
rejoices in the free life of the wilderness, 


The Problem of Pain 

" Who let out the wild ass free ? 

Who loosened the bonds of the wild ass, 
Whose home I have made the steppe, 

And the salt land the place of his dwelling ? 
He laughs at the din of the city, 

No driver roars in his ears. 
The mountains he scours as his pasture, 

And every green thing is his quest." (xxxix. 5-8). 

Wonder upon wonder ! The irony reaches its 
climax in the astonishing picture of the wild ox 
which will never be bent to the service of Job or of 
any man : 

" Will the wild ox be willing to serve thee, 

Or spend the night in thy crib ? 
Wilt thou fasten a rope on his neck ? 

Will he harrow thy furrows behind thee ? 
Wilt thou trust his magnificent strength, 

Or put him in charge of thy labour, 
Expect him to come again, 

And gather thy seed to thy threshing-floor." 

(xxxix. 9-12). 

The rather obscure and difficult passage which follows 
describes the curious habits of the ostrich : 

" The wing of the ostrich beats joyously, 

But her pinions and feathers are cruel, 
For she trusteth her eggs to the ground, 

And she setteth them down in the dust, 
Forgetting that foot may crush them, 

Or beast of the field tread upon them. 
Her young she treats harshly, as strangers, 

Unmoved though her toil be in vain. 
For God hath not dealt to her wisdom, 

Nor allotted to her understanding. 
She scuddeth along in her flight, 

At the horse and his rider she laugheth." 

(xxxix. 13-18). 

But of all the astonishing pictures in this astonishing 
panorama of animal life, surely none can compare 


The Answer of the Almighty 

with that of the war-horse with his wild delight in 
battle : 

" Dost thou give to the war-horse his strength, 

Clothe his neck with the quivering mane ? 
Dost thou make him to leap like a locust 

With snort that is splendid and terrible ? 
He paweth the valley exulting, 

As forth to the fight he fares. 
He laughs undismayed at the terror, 

He turneth not back from the sword. 
Against him the quiver may rattle, 

The glittering spear or the dart ; 
He devoureth the ground in wild rage, 

Without turning to right hand or left. 
At the trumpet alarm he saith Ha ! 

For he scenteth the battle afar, 

The thunder of captains, the shouting." (xxxix. 19-25), 

No comment is possible upon lines like these. The 
wonderful description closes with a sketch of the 
hawk and the keen-eyed eagle, whose home is on the 
heights : 

"Doth the hawk soar aloft by thy wisdom, 

And spread out her wings to the south ? 
Doth the eagle mount up at thy bidding, 

And make her nest high on the mountains ? 
The cliff is her home where she lodges 

The peak of the cliff and the fortress. 
She spieth her prey from the heights 

With those eyes which see from afar. 
Her young ones suck up blood : 

Where the slain are, there is she." (xxxix. 26-30). 

After passing before the eyes of Job this glorious 
panorama of animate and inanimate creation, replete 
with evidences of the divine wisdom and love, the 
Almighty now turns to him with the severe and 
humbling words : 


The Problem of Pain 

" Shall a caviller strive with the Almighty ? 

He that argues with God let him answer. 
Wilt thou disallow My right, 

And condemn Me that thou mayest be justified ? " 

(xl. 2, 8). 

Job has repeatedly and vehemently criticized the 
existing order of things : now that he has seen it 
as God has revealed it, in all its immensity, depth, 
and implications, what has he to say to it now ? 
What does he think of it ? of his criticism of it ? 
of himself ? " Why," as Schmidt puts it, "does he 
presume to censure God who has created all things, 
and in His wisdom directs and provides for His 
world ? " Job had not only maintained that he 
himself was right, he had implied that God was 
wrong ; and he has to learn that his own reputation 
is not to be secured at the expense of God s ; that 
the divine righteousness and his own are not incom 

The speech of the Almighty closes with a magni 
ficently ironical invitation to Job to sit upon the 
throne of the universe and assume the reins of 
government : 

"Hast thou an arm like God ? 

With a voice like His canst thou thunder ? 
Now deck thee with pride and with majesty, 

Clothe thee with glory and splendour. 
Pour forth the floods of thine anger, 

And all that is lofty abase. 
Every proud one lay low whom thou seest, 

And crush thou the wicked beneath thee. 
Hide them together in dust, 

And bind up their faces in darkness. 
And 7 then will render thee praise 

That thy right hand hath won thee the victory." 

(xl. 9-14). 


The Answer of the Almighty 

The invitation is couched in a form which implies 
that there is a great gulf fixed between man s ways 
of governing and God s. Man in general, Job in 
particular, if elevated to the throne, would immedi 
ately play the petty tyrant, treating the rebellious 
with all the unconsidered and short-sighted indig 
nation which he had vainly expected God to display, 
and annihilating them on the spot. But God, who 
not only spares the wild animals but loves them and 
feeds them, does not habitually drive the wicked 
instantly into the outer darkness, but shows upon 
them something of that mercy which is over all His 
works, something of that large patience which is 
natural to One to whom a thousand years are but as 
a day. The very quality in God which provokes 
and perplexes Job is only another of His glorious 
attributes, and in no way incompatible with His 
hatred of wrong. But when Job has shown how 
much better he can conduct the universe with his 
methods of blood and iron, God will be ready to 
render him the praise which normally man renders 
to God. Could irony any further go ? 

This whole speech of Jehovah is no less astonishing 
than many of Job s own astonishing alike in its 
irony and in its seeming irrelevance. With the 
exception of its suggestive conclusion, it seems at 
first a totally unethical answer to an intensely 
ethical problem, Indeed, in spite of the claim of the 
words which introduce it (xxxviii. i), many have 
maintained that it is not an answer at all, but simply 
a majestic reiteration of much that had already been 


The Problem of Pain 

well said by the friends, and brilliantly by Job 
himself. All the disputants were agreed about the 
wonder of the universe and of the power behind it ; 
and those who see in the speech no more than that, 
rightly refuse to regard it as a satisfactory or even 
as a relevant answer to a man in the case of Job. 

From any point of view, it can scarcely be main 
tained that its relevance is immediately obvious. 
It contains not a syllable about Job or his sorrow, 
not a word that acknowledges his integrity or 
commends his endurance, not a ray of light upon the 
particular grief that is breaking his indignant heart, 
not a solitary allusion to the problems of the moral 
world that have been discussed with such vehemence 
by him and his friends, not a hint of another world 
in which the wrongs of this will be righted and its 
sorrows comforted for evermore. The speech offers 
no theory such as the friends have incidentally 
offered of suffering, whether as punitive, disci 
plinary, educative, or redemptive. It says simply 
nothing at all about human life and its problems : 
which has led some scholars to the conclusion that 
the writer had nothing to say. Instead of the con 
solation and the vindication with which Job had 
dreamed his heavenly Friend would soothe his 
wounded heart, there is hurled out of the whirlwind 
a volley of ironical questions, which have nothing to 
do with him or his grief, or even with human life at 
all, but which gather round the mysterious processes 
of nature the steadiness of the earth, the move 
ment of the sea, the marvel of the heavens with 
their stars and clouds, the invisible sources of the 


The Answer of the Almighty 

snow, the rain, the hail, followed by inimitable 
sketches of animal life. Where was Job, the Voice 
asks, when these wonderful processes were inau 
gurated, and what has he to do with the sustaining 
of them ? It seems cruel of the great Friend thus 
to overwhelm the broken-hearted man who had 
appealed to Him so confidently. His spiritual 
cravings are simply ignored. It would seem as if 
the Creator had more interest in His stars and in 
His wild beasts than in the most wonderful creature 
in His whole creation. The case which Job had 
hoped to present to a sympathetic ear, he has now no 
opportunity even of stating : he is simply struck 
dumb. God does not even express the remotest 
approval of the servant who had served Him so 
well. The speech seems to suggest the same sort 
of bankruptcy within the sphere of ethical inter 
pretation as had so often provoked Job to ridicule 
in the friends : so much so that some interpret it 
as indicating the impotence of man to solve the 
world enigma, and the certainty since this is 
all the Almighty has to say that no solution is 

As against this, it has to be noted, at the outset, 
that the speech is, at the very least, a noble appeal 
to fact to the secrets of nature which are open to 
every observant and reverent eye. The passion for 
fact which has characterized Job s every statement 
and demand is here, if not satisfied of this more 
hereafter at least met. Job had cried out in his 
loneliness, " Oh, that I knew where I might find 
Him " (xxiii. 3). The wonders of the world in 


The Problem of Pain 

which Job lives and moves and has his being, pass 
in majestic procession before him, and the Voice 
says, " Behold ! He is there." How infinitely more 
impressive is this revelation than Eliphaz s fantastic 
and abnormal vision of the night (iv. izff). 

Again, it is truly wonderful to find this great poet- 
thinker resolutely refusing to find his final solution 
on the other side of Death, that is, in a region beyond 
the control of evidence. Intuitions, no doubt, may 
be as valuable as evidence may even, in their own 
place, be evidence ; and we have already found that, 
in a moment of exaltation, Job leaps to the great 
thought of the Beyond, and clasps to his torn 
heart the comfort of it (xix. 25). That is part of his 
solution, a part which we believe he could never 
again let go ; but he will not stake the whole of his 
case on that. The other world must be the refuge 
of faith and not of despair : the possession of God 
there must be the issue of the discovery of Him here. 
The future must be the happy consummation, not 
the negation, of experiences enjoyed in this present 
world ; and though the writer, like his hero, believes 
in the rectification, on the other side, of injustices 
and anomalies on this, he never allows the thought 
of the future to dominate his discussion ; and here, 
in the divine speeches where, if anywhere, we may 
fairly look for a solution of the riddle he does not 
allow it to emerge at all. He has faced the problem 
at its very hardest, and deliberately rejected its 
easiest solution ; and nothing could be more 
indicative of his immense intellectual courage and 
candour than this stern repudiation of the tempta- 


The Answer of the Almighty 

tion to cut the knot of his problem by placing its 
solution in the world beyond. 

But in what sense is the speech of Jehovah an 
answer ? What effect might it reasonably be 
expected to produce upon Job or upon us ? For 
one thing, it suggests that, in perplexity or sorrow, 
it is good for us to get away from ourselves " to 
forget ourselves," as one has said, " in the glorious 
creation of which we form a part." When those who 
look in learn to look out, there will be at least the 
possibility of depression merging into self-forget- 
fulness, it may be even into illumination and 
exaltation. Job desperately appeals to God for a 
revelation of Himself and for light upon his misery ; 
and, for answer, God passes before Him the glorious 
panorama of Creation of earth and sky and sea, with 
the wild and happy things that are therein. To a 
broken heart, such an answer may seem a mockery ; 
but it is God s own answer, and it means, at the 
least, that so long as we have eyes for nothing but 
our problems, the problems will remain. If we do 
not solve them, we can at least for a while forget 
them, by looking away to the wonders of the 
immeasurable universe. Job was made to feel that 
God had purposes that extend to creatures other than 
man and to worlds other than ours. 

The first feeling that comes over us, as we look, 
is a sense of overwhelming mystery. Job has no 
answer to give to any of the questions that fall upon 
his terrified ears. He does not know where the light 
dwells. He does not know where God keeps His 
treasures of snow and hail. He does not really know 


The Problem of Pain 

anything of the wonderful world about him. Nor do 
we. We have watched the great processes, and 
given them names, and spoken of cause and effect, 
of the conservation of force, and the transformation 
of energy ; but, in the last resort, we are as ignorant 
as Job. " Behold, we know not anything." We are 
not in the secret counsels of the Almighty any more 
than he. 

The world is a mystery which we have to accept 
without being able to explain : and this was doubt 
less one of the lessons which the panorama of nature 
was designed to bring home to the desolate soul of 
Job. Mystery, mystery, on the right hand and on 
the left ! If he could not answer the simplest 
questions that could be asked about the familiar 
phenomena of the natural world, how could he hope 
to understand the infinitely more intricate problems 
that gather about the moral world and human life ? 
Our problem, frightful as it is when looked at by 
itself, shrivels almost into insignificance, when seen 
against that background of infinite mystery. Ours 
is but a little bit of the mystery in which the whole 
universe is enwrapped, and before which it is wisdom 
to bow in silence. 

This were, however, after all but a melancholy 
consolation resignation rather than consolation ; 
and the glorious vision of nature can do more for the 
sorrowful heart than that. The majestic speech of 
the Almighty, which suggests that the universe is 
a mystery, suggests also that it is an orderly mystery. 
Behind it is Mind. Its phenomena do not happen 
in any order, they happen in a particular order ; 


The Answer of the Almighty 

their sequence can be depended upon. Its God is a 
God of order, not of confusion. Through the 
centuries this order has run inexorably on seed 
time and harvest, summer and winter, day and 
night and this, we believe, will continue while the 
earth remaineth. It is surely no unwisdom to 
trust the Being who " made all that/ 

In spite of the mystery that baffles and besets 
us behind and before, the world of which we form a 
part is a world in which things are in their places. 
The stars in their courses obey His laws. The earth 
has its " measures and lines." Sea and land have 
each their bounds assigned them. 

" Who shut up the sea with doors, 

Declaring, Thus far, but no further, 

And here shall thy proud waves be stayed ? " 

The sea is not allowed to overwhelm and devastate 
the land. In the physical world things are where 
they should be, and will it not also be so in the world 
of human life ? Sorrow has its place, like the sea, 
but no more than the sea will it be allowed to work 
wreck and ruin. " Thus far shalt thou come, but 
no further." A mighty Intelligence pervades the 
whole universe, and lifts up, we may be sure, into its 
comprehensive purpose the things that men call 
evil. This is the real answer to Kenan s charge that 
" instead of explaining the universe to man, God 
contents Himself with showing the smallness of the 
place man occupies in the universe/ It is, in short, 
a universe in which we live and of which we form a 
part. " The earth is the Lord s, and all tha t fills it," 
including ourselves. Job is no outcast from intelli- 



The Problem of Pain 

gible law. He and we find our places within the 
system, not beyond it ; and the sufferings of this 
present time, alike for Job and for us, are woven into 
the fine web of God s mighty purpose. 

The world we live in is a world whose order we 
have a right to trust. It is full of meaning and pur 
pose. And as we watch the unfailing regularity with 
which its great processes go on ; as we think of the 
Mind by which they are directed, and the unweary 
everlasting arms upon which they are sustained, we 
too shall find something of that quiet order which 
pervades the universe, enter and take possession of 
our own souls, as we begin to trust that infinite 
Mind and to lean with all our weight upon those 
mighty arms. 

But in the mystery by which we are surrounded 
there is more than order ; there is love. As Mr. 
Chesterton has put it, the secret " is a bright and not 
a sad one." The system of things is not cruel or 
indifferent ; it is an order at the heart of which is 
love. Surely this thought was never expressed with 
more tenderness or beauty than in the lines : 

" He sends rain on the land where no man is, 
On the wilderness, where there is no man, 
To gladden the waste and the wilderness, 
And to clothe the parched land with green." 

This thought also shines through the lines which 
describe God s care for the young lions. The God 
who is kind to His wild creatures can be no less than 
kind to the noblest of all His creatures. The God 
who lavishes His love upon the waste and desolate 
ground, will surely not forget His men and women. 


The Answer of the Almighty 

with their wasted and desolate hearts. The great 
poet who gave us this immortal book does not actually 
say so, indeed he deliberately avoids saying so 
for in these speeches he persistently keeps our eyes 
turned away from human life and its problems 
but that is what he means. If God cares for the 
wilderness and for the young lion, will He not also 
care for the man ? If He pours His love even upon 
the place where no man is, He can surely be trusted 
to remember the places where the men are. It is 
the Old Testament anticipation of the words of Jesus : 
" If God so clothe the grass of the field, shall He not 
much more clothe you ? " As has been well said, 
the solution offered here is one " which does not 
solve the perplexity, but buries it under the tide of a 
fuller life and joy in God." 

The impression made by the whole speech recalls 
words spoken by Carlyle, when an old man, in his 
Rectorial address to the students of Edinburgh 
University : " No nation that did not contemplate 
this wonderful universe with an awe-struck and 
reverential feeling that there was a great, unknown, 
omnipotent, all-wise, and all-virtuous Being, super 
intending all men in it and all interests in it no 
nation ever came to much, nor did any man either, 
who forgot that." The universe, as interpreted by 
this solemn and wonderful speech of Jehovah, is 
seen to be governed by the same God of order and 
of grace as the Hebrew historians find in the great 
expanses of history. 

In the Book of Job, as throughout the Bible, the 
essence and climax of revelation is the thought of 


The Problem of Pain 

God as Love. With all his passion for facts, this is 
a fact which Job had only spasmodically grasped. 
It is indeed the fact, which makes all other facts 
endurable, even when they are not completely 
intelligible : the fact which has uplifted men to sing 
songs in the night and to rejoice in all things ever 
more. Often Job had sternly summoned the atten 
tion of his friends to facts which they were disposed 
to ignore or explain away : now his own attention 
is summoned by the Almighty to a fact which he had 
often doubted and sometimes denied, but which 
turns out to be the most pervasive, as it is the most 
exhilarating, fact in all the world. Nature which, 
in words that bordered on impiety, he had denounced 
as terrible, is now for him transfigured by the presence 
of the love revealed within it. The thought of God 
as mere power, which had driven him to rebellion, 
is now reinforced by the thought of Him as love, 
which brings him peace. He might have said with 
Rabbi ben Ezra : 

" Praise be Thine ! 

I see the whole design, 
I, who saw power, see now love perfect too : 

Perfect I call Thy plan : 

Thanks that I was a man ! 
Maker, remake, complete I trust what Thou shalt do 1" 

So, though clothed in the garb of irony and severity, 
the answer to which Job had looked forward with 
such wild expectation, turns out to be a gracious 
answer after all. It is a tacit rebuke of the merely 
retributive theory of the universe which the friends 
had so stubbornly defended and which Job himself 
had been reluctantly forced by the logic of facts to 


The Answer of the Almighty 

deny. It presents us with a God who loves the whole 
world which His own fingers framed, who " maketh 
His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth 
His rain on the just and the unjust," and even upon 
the thirsty desert land, where there are neither just 
nor unjust. 

Even this ancient poet, who very keenly felt the 
mystery that lies about the world, and human life, 
yet learned from nature that it was not an unillumin- 
ated mystery that it was lit up by the love of God. 
He saw that love shining in the most unlikely places 
and he had faith to believe that it shines always 
and everywhere, whether men have eyes to see it, 
or not. We do not always see it plainly ; but we, 
who have looked upon Jesus, know Him and what 
He is ; and we believe that the mind that is behind 
the universe is the same mind that was in Him. 
As we can trust Him, no less surely may we trust 
It. The mystery of life is not thereby abolished, but 
it is illuminated. It can be faced with quietness and 
confidence by those who believe that behind it is 
that Love " which is showered upon the wilderness 
where no man is, to satisfy the waste and desolate 


xlii. 2f, 5f.). l 

It is part of the writer s greatness that he does not 
involve God in the sort of discussion with Job that 
the latter had desiderated. He lets Him appear in 
His glory the glory of His power, His wisdom, 
His pity ; and Job, who could assail the friends with 
such eloquent vehemence, is dumb or all but dumb 
in this glorious Presence much like the prophet 
Isaiah after he had seen the Lord God of hosts whose 
glory filled the whole earth (ch. vi.). It is not that 
he is crushed ; nay, he is transfigured, standing as 
he does within a universe itself transfigured by the 
all-pervasive presence of a glorious God of grace. 
But before this immensity he feels himself to be 
infinitely insignificant, and his criticism of it to be 
pathetically inept ; never again will he make so 
foolish a venture. 

"Then Job answered Jehovah and said: 
Ah, how small am I ! What can I answer ? 

I lay my hand on my mouth. 
Once indeed have I spoken enough : 
Yea twice but not ever again." (xl. 3-5). 

1 The vivid but somewhat grandiloquent descriptions of behemoth 
(the hippopotamus, xl. 15-24) and leviathan (the crocodile, chap, 
xli.) are generally believed to be additions of later writers, who 
imagined these huge animals to be more impressive witnesses of 
Jehovah s might than the ordinary animals mentioned in chap. 


Job s Reply 

After all his doubts and denials, his protests and 
challenges, he returns to the simple humility he had 
displayed in the Prologue when the first blows fell 
(i. 21). His intellectual doubts have not been solved, 
not at least by intellectual methods ; but they have 
been absorbed in the great certainties that have 
swept over his soul as he contemplated the vision 
the certainties of God and of His love ; and his 
heart fills alike with peace and rapture too deep for 
many words. He is not merely resigned, he is at 
rest ; he is not merely at rest, but a flood of silent 
joy wells up within him. The wonderful thing that 
has happened to transform his protests into sub 
mission and his passion into peace, is just his new 
experience of God. He sees his little life included 
within an infinitely transcendent and kindly purpose, 
by the glory of which the sufferings of this present 
time are transfigured. " From the dark and narrow 
field of personal experience he is led into a vast 
cosmos which is luminous with God/ 1 Formerly he 
had been sure of himself, of his own innocence and 
integrity; now he is sure of God and His love, as he 
sees it " writ large " upon the pages of the world 
of which he forms a part : it is the combination of 
these two assurances, and most of all the latter, that 
brings him peace. The good man has tasted and 
seen that God, too, is good ; and so with quiet heart 
he can lie down upon his bed of anguish or face the 
death he believes to be impending, inspired by the 
assurance that the God who sustains the universe is 
sustaining him as well. There falls upon his heart 

1 J. Strahan, The Book of Job, p. 345. 

The Problem of Pain 

" that peace which follows upon the right under 
standing of all great experiences." 1 

11 1 acknowledge that Thou hast prevailed, 

There is nothing too hard for Thee. 
Therefore spake I without understanding, 

Of wonders beyond my knowledge. 
I had heard of Thee but by hear-say, 

But now with mine eyes I have seen Thee ; 
And therefore I spurn (my words) 

And repent in dust and in ashes." (xlii. 21, 5f). 

Job s criticism of the existing order was not 
illegitimate : the God who has given men a " palate " 
cannot be angry with them when they present their 
independent report of the " taste " of the world 
(xii. n). But, however legitimate, it was inept, 
as all criticism must be which is exercised in ignor 
ance of essential facts. It is the breadth and the 
depth of the vision that have convinced him of the 
grotesque inadequacy of his criticism, and of the 
shallowness of his protests. He had been speaking, 
as critics not uncommonly do, of things " beyond 
his knowledge," with the result that his new ex 
perience of God has brought him to a better 
knowledge of himself, and he spurns his former 
hasty words, sincere though they had been. His 
earlier criticisms, he now discovers, had been far 
more dominated by tradition than he could ever 
have been willing to believe. He had flung them 
forth with all the ingenuous passion of an utterly 
sincere soul : nevertheless they really rested on the 
theory of mechanical retribution which he had 
denounced with scorn when it had been presented 

1 John Bailey, Milton, p. 249. 

Job s Reply 

by his friends. His soul had been agitated to its 
depths, just because he had brought to his criticism 
of the world the retributive theory in which he had 
been trained and which he found did not uniformly 
or even frequently correspond to the facts either 
of his own experience, or of the world which his 
own sorrow had taught him to observe so keenly. 
He was, as he confessed, far more of a traditionalist 
than he knew : not indeed of Bildad s sort, who 
clung to the pronouncements of the fathers (viii. 8), 
even after they had been discredited by innumerable 
facts ; but in the sense that he brought traditional 
standards to the interpretation of life, and was 
exasperated when the tradition was not supported 
by the facts. That is what he means when he 
says, " I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the 
ear/ But now he has seen the world with " larger, 
other eyes " ; he has a sense of that gracious 
Presence interfused through all things : more simply, 
he has seen God. " But now " after the 
marvellous panorama has been unrolled " mine 
eye hath seen Thee." It is the difference between 
the rumour of God and the vision of God. Con 
fused by the inadequate interpretations he had 
heard, he was steadied, strengthened, comforted, 
inspired, by the sight which he had seen of God 
upon the throne of the universe, wielding His 
sceptre of love. 

The real force of these simple words, " But now 
mine eye hath seen Thee," is only fully appreciated 
when we recall the similar words uttered by Job in 
one of his most exalted moments under the spell 


The Problem of Pain 

of an earlier vision, less elaborate but hardly less 
fascinating. As with the eye of faith he had 
rapturously contemplated the Almighty attesting 
his integrity on the other side of Death, the assur 
ance had risen within his heart that this blessed 
experience would one day be vouchsafed to his 
bodily eyes. 

"As Sponsor shall I behold God, 

Whom mine eyes shall behold, and no stranger s." 

(xix. 26f). 

The words here and there are the same. The 
book is throughout pervaded by such intense 
dramatic quality and all its parts are so compact 
and fitly joined together that we cannot but believe 
these widely separated words to have been written 
with each other in view. A pessimist might main 
tain that the later use of the words is designed as 
a gentle, but deliberate, rebuke of the earlier ; that 
the daring hope of a vision and a meeting in the 
world beyond was not to be fulfilled : and that the 
only vision of God Job need ever hope to receive 
was such as had already been vouchsafed in the 
wonders of the universe that had moved in stately 
procession through the divine speech. " Now mine 
eye hath seen Thee " as if the writer meant to imply 
that the old hope which Job had cherished was a 
delusion and a snare. But surely this interpretation 
is unnecessarily austere. There is no incompatibility 
at all between the two visions : rather is the one the 
fruition of the other. The God of this side is also 
the God of that. The speech of the Almighty has 
done little for us if it has not taught us how great 


Job s Reply 

God is, and how mindful of His creatures. The God 
whom Job will one day see is the God whom he has 
already seen. What is to hinder the kind and 
omnipotent Creator, who has revealed Himself 
already, from revealing Himself again and otherwise 
to the man whom He honoured as His servant and 
His friend ? 

The effect of the vision of God is very striking 
the more so as with that the poem ends. It leads 
Job, not to modify his criticism, but to abandon it 
altogether. There is nothing here of Henley s 
defiance : 

" Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed." 

Whether that had ever been Job s mood or not, 
it certainly is not now. It is not chance, but God 
with whom now, as always, he knows himself to be 
dealing ; and his head is bowed " in dust and 
ashes." Face to face with the immensity and 
complexity of the universe which he now sees to 
be luminous with a Presence as gracious as it is 
strong, he recognizes again the inevitable and 
pathetic inadequacy of his own criticism of it. 
His wild challenges were sincere, but they were 
shallow as oblivious of one order of facts, and 
indeed of the spirit of the whole, as the friends had 
been of the other. So he repents in dust and ashes. 

But we must beware of reading too much into this 
confession. It does not mean that Job at last 
regards himself as a miserable sinner: he is not 
making the confession for which the friends have 
been long and patiently waiting. He is not admit- 


The Problem of Pain 

ting, and never will admit, that he is a sinner at all 
in their sense : he does not ask for forgiveness. 
One of the most interesting features in the demeanour 
of Job throughout the whole discussion is his 
deliberate refusal to regard sin as the key to the 
present order of the world, or to the differences 
observable in the fortunes of men. This is the 
friends contention, but never Job s ; and that 
the writer is expressing his own mind through the 
words of his hero is confirmed by the same significant 
absence of sin from the speech of the Almighty. 
Nor is Job s phrase intended to imply that discussion 
and criticism are in themselves sinful : this great 
thinker-poet sympathizes too profoundly with his 
hero to believe that. But he means that discussion, 
to be adequate, must be informed, and a criticism 
that is ignorant of essentials must for ever remain 
inept. It is no moral obliquity that Job is here 
confessing, but an intellectual incompetence which 
expressed itself no doubt at times in hasty and shallow 
protests to "grasp this scheme of things entire." 

There is a tribute of discussion and a tribute of 
silence ; and when the soul that has wrestled with 
its doubts has been rewarded by the vision which 
brings peace, in penitent shame for its unworthy 
doubts and foolish challenges it humbly bows in 
grateful and adoring silence before the Lord of all. 
" The conclusion of the whole matter is that, when 
we have uttered all our arguments and registered 
all our protests, we are driven back on those in 
spirations of the soul which nothing can destroy." 1 

1 B. J. Snell, The Value of the Old Testament, p. 99. 

Job s Reply 

And thus the mighty drama ends with Job 
bowed upon his ash-heap prostrate before the Lord 
God Almighty, wasted in body, but with his mind 
filled with a strange peace marred only by the 
memory of its former presumption, and with a quiet 
rapture in his heart. 

(Job xlii. 7-17) 


THE RESTORATION OF JOB (Job xlii. 7-17) 

THE tragedy has ended in the repose of reconcile 
ment. Job now knows that, whether living or 
dying, he is the Lord s. We have been powerfully 
reminded by the speech of Jehovah of " the con 
nection of the limited world of ordinary experience 
with the vaster life of which it is but a partial 
appearance." 1 Even if Job were to die, we should 
part from him with the impression, as Professor 
Bradley 3 has nobly said in another connection, 
that this " heroic being, though in one sense and 
outwardly he has failed, is yet in another sense 
superior to the world in which he appears : is, in 
some way which we do not seek to define, untouched 
by the doom that overtakes him ; and is rather set 

free from life than deprived of it The 

tragic world, if taken as it is presented, with all its 
error, guilt, failure, woe and waste, is no final reality 
but only a part of reality taken for the whole, and, 
when so taken, illusive ; and . . . if we could see 
the whole, and the tragic facts in their true place in 
it, we should find them, not abolished, of course, 
but so transmuted that they had ceased to be strictly 
tragic find, perhaps, the suffering and death 

1 A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy, p. 174. 
Op. cit. p. 324. 


The Problem of Pain 

counting for little or nothing, the greatness of the 
soul for much or all, and the heroic spirit, in spite of 
failure, nearer to the heart of things than the smaller, 
more circumspect, and perhaps even better beings 
who survived the catastrophe." The function of the 
speech of the Almighty is to enable us to " see the 

But the natural human instinct, and still more 
the old Hebrew instinct, for a happy ending could 
not let the story end there. Mark Rutherford has 
said toward the close of his fine comments on the 
book : " God is great, we know not His ways. 
He takes from us all we have, but yet, if we possess 
our souls in patience, we may pass the valley of the 
shadow and come out in sunlight again. We may 
or we may not. " But for the old Hebrew-story 
teller, we not only may, but we must ; so he 
rounds off his tale with the complete material 
restitution of his sorely-tried hero. Whether this 
sketch could have come from the hand of the great 
writer who has already brought the story to so 
noble a conclusion, it is not the province of this 
volume to discuss, though there is really no adequate 
reason for doubting it ; it is enough to say that, as 
far back as we can trace it, it has formed part of 
the book we are considering ; and the conclusion, 
so full of suggestion, is such that on deeper con 
sideration, so far from resenting it, we receive it 
with the most cordial welcome. 

" So, after Jehovah had spoken these words to 
Job, He said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My anger 
is hot against thee and thy two friends ; because 


The Restoration of Job 

unlike My servant Job, ye have not spoken the truth 
about Me/ The sublime speeches of Job (xxix.- 
xxxi.) and the Almighty (xxxviii.f) have long ago 
pushed the friends out of our mind. But God has 
not forgotten them. He is angry with them ; and 
His first words, addressed to their chief spokesman, 
are very stern. Zophar (xi. 5) had prayed long ago 
that God would speak and open His lips against 
Job ; and lo ! when He does open His lips, it is to 
speak against himself and his friends. He tells 
them very plainly that they have not spoken the 
truth about Him, " as My servant Job " hath done. 
Here, then, is one element, and far from an un 
important one, in the restitution of Job. The friends 
had defended the Almighty with every argument, 
honourable or dishonourable, known to controversy ; 
and for their pains they are rewarded with His fiery 
indignation. Job had been the great heretic, 
challenging their truisms with a vehemence that 
savoured often of impiety and bordered once or 
twice upon blasphemy ; yet it is he, and not they, 
who comes out of the conflict with the seal of the 
divine approval. It is easy to see where the 
sympathies of the writer lie. He is saying as plainly 
as words can put it, that the God in whom he believes, 
the God of his hero, is on the side of honest, fearless, 
even daring inquiry ; that the frankly critical 
discussion of beliefs universally held by the contem 
porary church is no crime ; that the challenge of 
the most venerable religious opinions is no impiety. 
Nay, more, he is saying that these discussions and 
challenges may themselves even be brilliant con- 


The Problem of Pain 

tributions to a larger truth ; may do the world an 
infinitely deeper religious service than blind adherence 
to an orthodoxy, which only remains orthodoxy so 
long as it is not effectively challenged ; and that, 
if uttered by a man like Job, with his passion for 
God and for truth, they are peculiarly well-pleasing 
to God, who is honoured by the active and not by 
the stagnant mind. 

Job was right and the friends were wrong. Job 
was wrong in many particular things he said, and, as 
we have seen, he humbly takes to his heart the rebuke 
of the vision ; but he was right in his intellectual 
temper, in the drift, the impulse, the sheer intrepid 
honesty of his thought. The friends were right in 
many particular things they said ; but they were 
wrong how painfully wrong we see in the kindling 
of the divine anger in their intellectual torpor 
and inhospitality, in their timidity, in their stubborn 
adherence to the past and the present, to the opinions 
of the fathers and the brethren, in their refusal to 
face the uncongenial and the unfamiliar, in their 
preference for dogmas and doctrines to facts, in 
their scorn of experiences they did not understand, 
in their readiness to imagine any hypocrisy and 
invent any calumny rather than face the simple 
truth. Out of all the welter of the discussion, Job 
stands forth as the champion of intellectual and 
religious freedom, with the seal of the God of truth 
stamped upon his disfigured brow. As he believes in 
God, so he believes in the right and still more in the 
duty of private judgment, however clamorous and 
overwhelming the opposition ; and, for so believing, 


The Restoration of Job 

God lifts him to the highest honour. Again and 
again four times over within two verses He calls 
him " My servant Job/ 

Here, in this high title deliberately repeated, is 
another element in Job s restitution. Servant 
before, when all went well (i. 8), he is " my servant " 
still. "But now go to My servant Job with seven 
bullocks and seven rams " great offering for a great 
crime " and offer them as a burnt offering for 
yourselves, and My servant fob shall pray for you ; 
for, out of regard for him, I will not put you to con 
fusion for your failure to speak the truth about me, 
as My servant Job has done." The Greek version 
puts this with engaging candour : " For, but for 
him, I would have destroyed you." Notice how 
deliberately the contrast is again emphasized between 
the truth of Job and the falsehoods of the friends : 
the writer is clearly putting himself into this. 

Once more Job stands forth in radiant light. 
We know him already as a man of superbly 
courageous intellect : here we see him as a man of 
prayer. But this, after ?11, is no surprise ; for one 
of our first glimpses of him was in intercession for 
his children. Here is yet another element in the 
restitution of Job, that he is privileged to be an 
intercessor whom the Lord will hear : he takes his 
place with Abraham (Gen. xx. 7) and the prophets 
(cf. Amos vii. 3) and the great Servant of Isaiah 
liii. who made intercession for the transgressors ; 
and he is worthy thus to mediate between God and 
man, because of the things which he suffered. The 
fate of his friends, whose theology had almost turned 


The Problem of Pain 

them into enemies, will be nothing less than terrible, 
unless Job stands between them and God ; and he 
does. Whatever reparation may ultimately be made 
to Job for his shattered health and ruined fortunes, 
we feel that notning can surpass these spiritual 
tokens of the divine favour, and we are more than 
grateful to the Epilogue for recording them. Even 
if nothing else should happen, Job is now reinstated 
in deed and in truth ; and the peace that was already 
gathering upon us at the close of the tragedy is being 
confirmed by every fresh sentence of the Epilogue. 
" So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and 
Zophar the Naamathite went and did as Jehovah 
told them, and Jehovah had regard unto Job. So 
when Job prayed for his friends, Jehovah changed 
his fortunes, giving him double of all he had before." 
Jehovah had regard unto Job. How simple, how 
sweet, how comforting, after all the storm ! 
Jehovah regarded Job first of all by hearing his 
prayer for his friends. It is good that this should 
come first, before the story of his material restitution. 
But this follows very quickly follows indeed as the 
consequence of the other. It was when Job was 
praying for his friends that his own fortunes were 
transformed. How much spiritual insight lies in 
words like these. 

This transformation is now described with 
picturesque detail. He received from the hand of 
the Lord, whose love for His creatures has already 
been so nobly illustrated in the vision of Creation, 
twice as much as he had before. Seven sons and 
three daughters the fairest women in all the world 


The Restoration of Job 

were born to him, to take, so far as that was possible, 
the place of the dead ; and friends came with 
presents to rejoice and feast with him in the old 
home to which he nad now returned. " Then his 
brothers and sisters and old friends came every one 
of them and dined with him at his home ; and they 
condoled with him, and comforced him for all the 
misery that Jehovah had brought upon him. 
Besides, each of them made him a present of a piece 
of money and a gold ring." It is hard not to see in 
all this a gentle satire on the fickleness of human 
friendship, which recalls Job s mournfully beautiful 
words uttered in the first sorrow of his abandon 
ment. The friends who had been to him as " a 
treacherous brook" (vi. 15), who had stood afar 
off and forgotten him in the hour of his adversity 
(xix. 14), now that he does not need them so sorely 
though Job is a lover of men (ch. xxxi.) and will 
gratefully welcome them come flocking with their 
presents " to comfort him for all the misery that 
Jehovah had brought upon him." This writer 
knows the human heart to its depths. 

But most strange of all is it to see trooping into 
the picture " fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand 
camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand 
she-asses." What, we ask, have these creatures 
now to do with the blessedness of Job ? Is it not 
just a little disappointing something of the nature 
of an anti-climax after the magnificent conclusion 
of the drama, which leaves Job bowed with sub 
mission and at peace with the glorious God, and 
after seeing him crowned, in the earlier part of the 


The Problem of Pain 

Epilogue, once and again with the glory and honour 
of the divine approval ? So some have thought : 
nay, this very material compensation has seemed to 
some to be a blow struck, all unconsciously it may 
be, at the whole teaching of the drama, which is 
that a good man is willing to serve God for nought 
a reversion indeed to the position of Satan in the 
Prologue. Cheyne, for example, has characterized 
it as " a sad concession to a low view of providential 
dealings." But this is to make too much of what is, 
after all, only a minor trait. The material reward 
is, in any case, not much more than a sort of poetic 
justice. It is indeed an outward and visible sign 
of the relation subsisting between Job and his God ; 
but it is hard to believe that the genius who fought 
his way to such a solution as appears in chs. xxxviiif. 
would himself have laid much, if any, stress upon it. 
Yet it i* not inappropriate or irrelevant. Job s 
sufferings had their origin in Satan s denial of his 
integrity ; and now that Satan has been convinced 
for Job has clung in the deepest darkness to the 
God of his conscience it is only just that Job 
should be restored to his former state. Besides, 
no earthly possessions or prosperity have any power 
to injure the soul of this man who has been through 
the furnace seven times heated, and come forth as 

" After this Job lived a hundred and forty years. 
Thus he was spared to see not only his children 
but his grandchildren four generations." Then 
comes the inevitable end " Job died, old and full 
of days." Yet the Greek version refuses to consider 


The Restoration of Job 

this the end, and makes the extraordinarily interest 
ing addition, " And it is written that Job will rise 
again with those whom the Lord doth raise." Who 
shall say that this addition was unjustified ? It 
was made at a time when men were more fully and 
clearly persuaded of immortality than in the days 
when the book was written ; besides, there were 
daring expressions of this very hope and faith in 
the book itself though found upon no other lips 
than Job s. The addition is in strict line with his 
loftiest aspirations. The writer of it could not let 
Job end in death. He carried him beyond it 
through the resurrection to that world in which, 
face to face, he was destined to behold his Redeemer 
and his heavenly Friend. 



(Job xxxii.-xxxvii.) 

(Job xxxii.-xxxvii.) 

EVERY generation has felt the spell of this wonderful 
book, and already in very early times this fascination 
kindled the imagination of thoughtful readers to 
make supplementary contributions to the text. Of 
these the most elaborate is the section devoted to 
the speeches of Elihu (xxxii.-xxxvii.), 1 added by 
some one who felt that Job s audacity needed 
rebuke, and who, dissatisfied equally with the 
arguments of his friends and the speech of the 
Almighty, was eager to illuminate the problem of 
suffering from a somewhat different angle. His 
contribution which, though not without interest 
and value, is diffuse, and in places very obscure, 
has not much to offer that is really new : his 
leading ideas and sometimes even his language are 
obviously suggested by the speeches of the original 
book, notably those of Eliphaz and Jehovah. 

Broadly speaking, while the friends regard suffering 
as penal, Elihu regards it as corrective, disciplinary, 
educative. But let us look at the speeches them 
selves : 

1 This section violently interrupts the fine transition from the 
appeal of Job (xxxi.) to the reply of Jehovah (xxxviii.). Besides, 
Elihu is not mentioned in the Prologue, nor yet in the Epilogue. 
For reasons against the authenticity of this section, see my Intro 
duction to the Old Testament, pp. 272-274. 


The Problem of Pain 

" I am but young in years, 

While ye are aged men : 
So I was timid and feared 

To set mine opinion before you. 
I felt that days ought to speak, 

And that years gave the right to teach wisdom. 
But the spirit enlighteneth men, 

The Almighty inspires them with insight. 
It is not the old men that are wise, 

Nor the aged that understand truth ; 
And so, I pray, listen to me 

I, too, would set forth mine opinion." (xxxii. 6-10). 

Though young, Elihu is conscious of divine 
illumination, and believes that what he has to say 
will bring to Job s mind the conviction which the 
friends have failed to bring. 

" I awaited what you had to say, 

I lent mine ear to your reasons ; 
Yea, I gave heed unto you, 

While ye searched out what to say. 
But see ! none brought conviction to Job, 

Not a man of you answered his words. 
Say not, Here we have come upon wisdom : 
Tis God must confound him, not man. 

(xxxii. 11-13). 

These last two lines mean that he does not agree 
with the original writer in thinking a theophany 
to have been necessary to convince and convict Job. 
He is conscious of the power to present incontrovert 
ible arguments, and this he promises to do with 
absolute impartiality : 

"He has not yet debated with me, 

Nor will I give him answer like yours. 

I, too, will answer my share : 

I too will set forth mine opinion. 

For filled with words am I ; 

The breath in my body distresses me. 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suflering 

Like wine without vent is my belly, 

Like new wine-skins ready to burst % 
I must speak and so find me relief, 

I must open my lips and make answer. 
I would show my favour to none, 

And give flattering titles to no man. 
Of flattery I know nothing 

Else soon would my Maker remove me. * 

(xxxii. 14, 17-22). 

Of the last two lines one critic facetiously remarks, 
" It is not quite so tragic as all that." 

This rather bombastic exordium would no doubt 
be less amusing to an Oriental audience than to us : 
at the same time it is difficult to believe that a very 
lofty solution of the burning problem is to come 
from a young man who maintains that he is ready 
to burst, if he is not to have the opportunity to 
deliver himself of his speech. He proceeds with 
the same conceit and diffuseness, promising not to 
overawe Job as the theophany had done another 
indirect polemic against the divine speech in chs. 
xxxviiif. : 

" But listen, Job, pray, to my words, 

And give ear unto all that I say. 
Behold ! I have opened my mouth, 

My tongue in my palate hath spoken. 
My heart poureth forth words of knowledge, 

Unfeigned is the speech of my lips. 
Then answer me this, if thou canst : 

Stand up and debate with me. 
See ! I am in God s sight as thou ; 

I, too, was fashioned of clay. 
The spirit of God hath created me; 

My life is the breath of Almighty. 
See ! no terrors of mine need appal thee, 

Nor shall my hand lie heavy upon thee." 

(xxxiii. 1-7) 


The Problem of Pain 

He then proceeds, in a manner not unknown to 
controversialists, to build his case upon misrepresent 
ation : 

"Thou hast certainly said in my hearing, 

Thy voice I heard thus maintaining, 
Pure and sinless am I, 

I am clean, there is no guilt in me. 
But He findeth pretexts against me, 

He counteth me as His foe. 
He setteth my feet in the stocks, 

Keepeth watch over all my ways. 
Behold ! when I cry, comes no answer ; 

God hideth himself from men/" (xxxiii. 8-12). 

Job, of course, had said nothing of the kind. In 
spite of the noble record which he claims in his 
great speech of vindication (xxxf.) he had frankly 
admitted his " transgression " (vii. 21), and " youth 
ful sins" (xiii. 26) ; but he had refused to admit 
that these venial and inevitable failings were 
sufficient to explain and justify the colossal disaster 
by which he had been overwhelmed. Job Elihu 
alleges had maintained that God is silent. Nay, 
answers Elihu : He speaks loudly enough, especially 
in two clear and notable ways ; and it is at this 
point that Elihu s contribution to the discussion is 
most distinctive. 

The first way is by means of dreams and visions : 

" Now why dost thou plead against Him 

That He giveth thy words no answer ? 
For God hath one manner of speech, 

Yea, two and He doth not revoke it. 
In a dream, in a vision of night, 
When deep sleep falleth on men/ 

In slumbers upon the bed, 
Then He opens the ears of men, 

And sendeth them fearful warnings, 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

To turn men aside from wrong. 

And to bring human pride to an end 

To keep back man s soul from the pit 

And his life from descending to Sheol." (xxxiii. 13-18). 

Just at this point where Elihu promises to be 
original, his debt is most obvious. He draws heavily 
upon the mysterious apparition of Eliphaz, whose 
words he even quotes (iv. izfL) the chief difference 
being that, whereas Eliphaz regards his vision as 
exceptional, Elihu considers such visitations as 
normal experiences with men whom God is seeking 
to wean from their sin. His allusion to the dreams 
in which God visits men rests on words of Job s 
own (vii. 14). But how Job would have scorned 
these edifying exhortations of Elihu ! 

" Thou scarest me with dreams, 

And with visions dost so affright me, 
That gladly would I be strangled : 

Death itself I spurn in my pain." (vii. i^f). 

The dreams which Elihu maintained were sent by 
a gracious God to instruct him and to save him 
from himself, only filled Job with terrors so appalling 
that death would have been an infinitely welcome 

But God speaks to men through pain and sickness 
as well as through visions and dreams : 

"Or on bed of pain he is chastened, 

And all his bones are benumbed. 
His soul has a loathing of bread, 

And the daintiest food he abhorreth. 
His flesh is lean and wasted; 

His bones are all but bare. 
His soul draweth nigh to the pit, 

And his life to the angels of death." (xx*iii. 19-22). 



The Problem of Pain 

In those hours of weakness and loneliness God sends 
His angel to interpret to the sufferer his chastisement 
and to win him through contrition and penitence 
from the angel of death who has laid his icy hand 
upon him ; and the man who accepts this discipline 
and visitation in humility will assuredly be restored 
and live to sing his grateful song of praise before the 
congregation : 

"Then over him there is an angel 
Interpreter, one of a thousand, 
Who expounds unto man his chastisement, 
Takes pity on him and says : 

I Let him not go down to the pit ; 

I have found for his soul a ransom. 
Then his flesh becomes fresher than child s. 

He returns to the days of his youth. 
He prays unto God with acceptance, 

He looks on His face with joy, 
Tells the story of his salvation. 

And sings before men this song ; 

I 1 have sinned and perverted the right, 
Yet He hath not requited my sin. 

He hath ransomed my soul from the pit, 

That alive I behold the light. 
See ! all these things God doeth, 

Twice, yea thrice, with a man, 
To bring back his soul from the pit, 

With the light of life s sunshine upon him. 1 * 

(xxxiii. 23-30). 

Though this is but the elaboration of a hint in 
the first speech of Eliphaz (" Happy is the man 
whom God correcteth," v. 17), there is much here 
that is beautiful and true and nobly said. It is really 
spoken from the inside ; it grasps very firmly the 
great truth of the love of God adumbrated in the 
speech of Jehovah, and applies it in a more intimate 
and personal way than that speech had done. 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

Strictly, of course, it does not meet the case of Job 
who, we must never forget, both at the beginning 
and the end of the book is described as " My 
servant," " a man, blameless and upright, fearing 
God and shunning evil." He at least does not need 
those terrible visitations to purify him ; but it is 
nevertheless a profoundly suggestive interpretation 
of the place of suffering in human life generally, 
" protecting a man by a shield of pain from the 
greater evil of sin " x a gift whereby character is 
deepened, strengthened, purified, and lifted God- 
wards. As Cornill has finely said, " If a man 
recognizes the educative character of suffering and 
takes it to heart, the suffering becomes for him a 
source of infinite blessing, the highest manifestation 
of divine love." Has Job any answer to offer to 

"Be attentive, Job, listen to me, 

Be thou silent, and I will speak. 
If aught thou canst say, then answer me : 

Speak, for my wish is to clear thee. 
But if not, listen thou unto me : 

Be silent, while I teach thee wisdom." (xxxiii. 31-33). 

Again Elihu returns to the attack on Job in a 
passage marked this time by misunderstanding as 
well as misrepresentation : 

" Listen, ye wise, to my words, 

And give ear to me, ye that have knowledge. 
For the ear is the tester of words 

As the palate the taster of food. 
Let us choose for ourselves what is right. 
Recognize by ourselves what is good. 

* W- B. Macleod, The Afflictions of the Righteous, p. 241. 

The Problem of Pain 

For Job claimeth to be in the right : 

God/ he says, hath deprived me of justice. 

Though right, I am counted a liar ; 

And though sinless, He wounds me past healing.* 
Where is the man like Job, 

That drinketh up scorning like water, 
That leagues with the workers of wrong, 

And that walketh with wicked men ? 
For he saith that a man hath no profit 

From being the friend of God." (xxxiv. 2-9). 

True disciple of Eliphaz here as before, Elihu does 
not scruple to invent wicked calumnies in support 
of his doctrine. Job s stainless record is the proof 
that he had never " leagued with the workers of 
wrong or walked with wicked men." Besides, in 
accusing Job of mockery, of " drinking up scorning 
like water," he shows his complete inability to under 
stand the man. The last two lines may be an allusion 
to the probably suppressed speech of Job in ch. 
xxiv., in which he had maintained that the friends of 
God were rewarded with disaster. But Eliphaz 
does not see that what he took for scepticism and 
impiety in the utterances of Job was really the 
obverse of his passionate yearning for God. 

In the baldest possible fashion Elihu now lays 
down the old and, in Job s eyes, completely dis 
credited doctrine of exact retribution ; but he gives 
it a new and extraordinarily interesting turn. It is 
simply inconceivable, he argues, that the great 
Ruler of the universe can be other than just. It is 
His spirit that unceasingly sustains all things : the 
withdrawal of it would mean universal collapse. 
He is supreme and His dominion unchallengeable ; 
what temptation could He have to injustice ? what 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

interest of His could be served by it ? The whole 
of history, crowded as it is with evidence that wrong 
is punished in high and low alike, confirms his con 
tention that there is One above who watches over 
nations and men in the interests of the moral order : 

"So, ye men of intelligence, listen. 
Far be it from God to do evil, 

And from the Almighty to err. 
For the work of each man He requiteth, 

He bringeth His way back upon him. 
God assuredly cannot do wrong, 

The Almighty would not pervert justice. 
Who entrusted the earth to His charge ? 

And who watcheth over the universe ? 
If He should recall His spirit 

And gather His breath to Himself, 
All flesh together would perish, 

And man would return to the dust. 

If thou art wise, listen to this, 

And give ear to the sound of my words. 
Could One rule to whom justice were odious ? 

Condemn st Thou the Just and the Mighty One 
Who saith to a king, Thou villain 1 

To nobles, Ye infamous men ! 
Who showeth no favour to princes, 

Regardeth not rich more than poor ? 
For the work of His hands are they all ; 

In a moment they die at midnight. 
The rich are convulsed, they pass : 

He mysteriously removeth the mighty. 
For His eyes are over man s ways, 

Every one of his steps He beholdeth. 
No darkness is there and no gloom 

Where the workers of wrong may be hidden. 
No time doth He set for man 

To appear before God in judgment : 
He shatters the strong without trial, 

And others He sets in their place. 
For He giveth heed to their works; 

In the night He doth overturn them. 


The Problem of Pain 

Beneath their crimes they are crushed ; 

He smites them in presence of witnesses ; 
For they turned from following Him, 

And they gave no heed to His ways. 
So the crushed were driven to cry to Him, 

And the call of the wretched He heard." (xxxiv. 10-28). 

In the light, then, of all this incontestable proof 
of the justice of the Omnipotent One, will it not be 
common prudence in the rebellious Job to abandon 
alike his criticism and his wickedness, and turn to 
God with penitence and confession of sin ? 

" Say to God, I have borne my sin, 

I will not offend any more. 
Now I see it : O teach me Thyself. 

Have I sinned ? I will do so no more. 
Must He recompense after thy wishes, 

That thou hast rejected (His ways) ? 
Tis for thee to decide not for me ; 

Then utter the thing that thou knowest. 
Men of intellect will admit 

Men of wisdom who listen to me 
That Job hath not spoken with knowledge, 

His words are not marked by insight. 
O that Job might be tried to the end 

For the wickedness of his answers ; 
For he addeth rebellion to sin, 

And multiplies words against God." (xxxiv. 31-37). 

Job, Elihu alleges, had maintained that religion 
was unprofitable (xxxiv. 9). This he now proceeds 
to controvert, showing himself once more an apt 
pupil of Eliphaz. He repeats his master s awful 
doctrine that God is too exalted to be interested 
in or affected by the conduct of His creatures 
(xxii. 21). He sits upon his distant, lonely throne 
in the heavens, unmoved alike by their sin and 
their righteousness. It is true that Job s religion, 
if he were religious, could bring no profit to God : 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

but he would find that it would be immensely 
profitable to himself. One hardly knows whether 
to abhor more this utilitarian conception of religion 
or this heartless conception of God a conception, 
by the way, essentially at variance with the better 
things Elihu had not long before said about the 
immanence of God (xxxiv. 141). Elihu s philosophy 
is as poor as his theology : 

"Thinkest thou this to be just, 

Dost thou call it thy right before God, 
To ask, What advantage is mine ? 

What the better am I, if I sin not ? 
Well, I will give thee an answer, 

And thy three friends as well. 
Look to the heavens and see, 

And observe the clouds high overhead. 
What effect hath thy sin upon Him ? 

What cares He for thy many transgressions ? 
What gain comes to Him from thy righteousness ? 

What receives He from thy hand ? 
Tis to men like thyself thy sin matters, 

Tis mortals thy righteousness touches." 

(xxxv. 2-8). 

These shallow contentions are followed by a really 
fine and searching passage which shows how easily 
the true inward meaning of adversity is missed. 
The cry which rises from the depths is too seldom 
a genuine yearning for God, it is for the most part 
only an animal cry for deliverance. It is relief, and 
not God, that men want, and that is why the dis 
cipline so often ends in nothing. 

"Under sore oppression men cry 

For help from the tyrannous arm ; 
But none saith, Where is God my Creator ? 

The Giver of songs in the night, 
Who grants us more knowledge than beasts, 

And more wisdom than birds of the air. 


The Problem of Pain 

Then they cry, but receive no answer, 

Because of their impious pride. 
For to idle cries God will not listen, 

Nor will the Almighty regard them. 
But when He seems not to regard thee, 

Be still and wait patiently for Him." (xxxv. 9-14). 

Elihu, who is full of matter, begins again to 
"justify his Creator" with all the comprehensive 
knowledge and presumptuous self-importance of 

" Wait, I pray, but a while ; I will show thee : 

I have yet to say somewhat for God. 
With knowledge fetched from afar 

I will justify my Creator. 
For truly my words are no lie, 

One in knowledge complete stands before thee." 

(xxxvi. 2-4). 

His defence of the Almighty moves along two 
lines of evidence history and nature each of which 
is elaborated with a fulness intended to justify 
his claim to " knowledge fetched from afar." 
First, then, history abundantly illustrates the saving 
power of suffering. 

" Behold, God spurneth the stubborn, 

The wicked He spareth not : 
But He granteth the rights of the wretched, 

Withdraws not their due from the just. 
It has happened to kings on the throne, 

Seated in pride and glory, 
That prisoners in chains they became, 

Held fast in the cords of misery : 
Then He set forth before them their doings, 

Their proud and rebellious behaviour ; 
He opened their ears to instruction 

And bade them turn back from sin. 
If they hearken and do Him homage, 

They finish their days in prosperity. 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

But if stubborn, they pass to Sheol; 

They die without coming to knowledge. 
For, godless at heart, they grow sullen ; 

They cry not for help when He binds them. 
They die in the days of their youth, 

Like sodomites they perish. 
The sufferer He saveth through suffering; 

Adversity opens his ear." (xxxvi. 5-15). 

In the last two lines there is real insight, noble 
truth pointedly expressed. " God delivers the 
afflicted," as Professor Strahan finely comments, 
" not only in, but through, their affliction, saving 
them by that from which they would fain be saved." 
The moral for Job is obvious : the penalty for 
sin has fallen, and the price of restoration will have 
to be paid : it is paid in a willing unmurmuring 
submission to the Hand that has justly smitten 
him : 

" But thou hast been lured by thy freedom, 

By ease at the jaws of distress, 
By the fat on thy well-filled table, 

And the absence of trouble to haunt thee. 
The full fate of the wicked is thine, 

Thou art held in the grasp of His judgment; 
Let not chastisement make thee resentful, 

Nor let the high ransom deflect thee. 
Wouldst thou marshal thy plaint against Him, 

And all the resource of thy might ? 
Beware, and incline not to sin, 

Nor make choice of sin rather than suffering." 

(xxxvi. 16-19, 21.) 

The second and concluding argument is drawn 
from the evidence afforded by nature. There God s 
incomparable wisdom and majesty are so plain to 
the open eye that criticism becomes a sort of 
blasphemy ; and Job s duty is to join the mighty 


The Problem of Pain 

chorus of praise which rises evermore from the lips 
of reverent men : 

" See ! God by His power doeth loftily 

Who is a teacher like Him ? 
Who hath enjoined Him His way ? 

Or who hath said, Thou doest wrongly * ? 
Remember to magnify Him 

For His work whereof men have sung. 
All men look with pleasure thereon, 

Though man seeth it but from afar." (xxxvi. 22-25). 

The phenomena which illustrate the power and 
the wonder of God are then enumerated in a way 
that is vivid and striking enough, but marred some 
what by the prolixity which runs through all Elihu s 
utterances. This passage has been clearly suggested 
by the speeches of the Almighty, but it is to them as 
the whisper to the thunder (xxvi. 14). With a later 
age s somewhat more scientific knowledge of nature, 
Elihu discourses to Job whom he bids to " stand 
still and consider the wonders of God" of the clouds 
and the rain, the thunder and the lightning, the snow 
and the ice and the hail, the wind and the sky. 

" Behold I God is great beyond knowledge, 

The tale of His years beyond search. 
For He draweth up drops from the sea, 

Which He poureth in rain from His vapour, 
Wherewith, as the clouds distil, 

They drop down in showers upon men. 
Who can tell how the clouds are spread out, 

How He thunders from His pavilion ? 
He spreadeth His vapour around Him; 

He covers the tops of the mountains. 
Therewith He sustaineth the nations, 

And food in abundance He giveth. 
He wrappeth His hands in the lightning, 

And biddeth it fly to its mark. 
His thunder announces His coming; 

His anger is kindled at wrong. 


Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

At this doth thy heart not tremble, 

And leap right out of its place ? 
Hark, hark to His voice tempestuous, 

To the roar that goes forth from His mouth. 
Neath the whole sky He letteth it loose, 

And His flash to the fringe of the world; 
In the wake of it roareth His voice, 

With His voice majestic He thunders; 
Nor holds He the lightnings back, 

Whensoever His voice is heard. 

God letteth us see His wonders ; 

Great things beyond knowledge He doeth. 
For He saith to the snow, Fall earthwards ; 

Likewise to His strong rushing rain. 
He sealeth up all mankind, 

That His work may be known of them all. 
The beasts go into their lairs, 

And within their dens remain. 
The tempest comes out of its chamber, 

And out of its store-house the cold. 
By the breath of God ice is given, 

The broad waters lie in constraint. 
Yea, He loadeth the thick cloud with hail, 

And the cloud doth scatter His lightning. 
This way and that it darteth, 

Turning about by His guidance, 
Doing whate er He commands it 

Over the face of His world, 
Whether for curse and correction 

Or in mercy He sendeth it forth. 

Hearken to this, Job ; stand still, 

And consider the wonders of God. 
Dost thou know how God doeth His work ; 

How He flashes the light of His cloud ? 
Dost thou know how the thick clouds are poised ; 

How He pours down a flood when it thunders, 
What time thy garments grow hot 

From the south wind which laps earth in silence ? 
Like Him canst thou spread out the sky, 

Which is strong as a molten mirror ? " 

(xxxvi. 26-xxxvii. 18), 

The Problem of Pain 

Much of this is very fine ; but it lags behind the 
great speeches of the Almighty in xxxviiif. as much 
in penetration as in literary power. There are none 
of those inimitable glimpses 1 into the benevolence 
which is there seen to irradiate the world. It is 
the power and the splendour of God that attract 
Elihu a splendour more dazzling than the most 
dazzling light. How foolish, then, and how wicked 
to challenge, as Job had done, the mighty system 
controlled by such a One : 

" How then shall we speak of Him ? Tell me ; 

For helpless we are in our darkness. 
Shall one cavil at Him when He speaketh ? 

Or shall a man say that He errs ? 
Now no man can look on the light, 

So dazzling bright in the sky, 
When the wind has passed over and cleared it, 

And radiance comes out of the north : 
But the splendour of God how terrible ! 

The Almighty we cannot find out." (xxxvii. 19-23). 

It is significant that Elihu concludes this elaborate 
demonstration of the divine power, with a meagre 
but pointed allusion to the divine justice. The All- 
powerful is the All- just, and therefore men must 
fear Him : 

" Powerful He is and all-righteous. 
And justice He will not pervert. 
For this cause ought mortals to fear Him : 

But the heart of conceit He despiseth." (xxxvii. 231). 

There is Power and there is Justice ; but where 
is Love ? Elihu had seen it upon the sick-bed 
(xxxiii. 1911), but he does not see it, as the speeches 
of the Almighty reveal it, in the universe. There 

1 The solitary equivalent is xxxvii. 136. 

Elihu s Interpretation of Suffering 

is here the same philosophical failure as we noted 
before in his inability to combine the transcendent 
and the immanent the failure to see the world 
as one. And this is only part of his failure to under 
stand Job and the writer of the original book : for 
while that great genius accords to Job the honour of 
a theophany, Elihu can only end with the ominous 
warning that God gives no heed to those who, like 
Job, are wise in their own conceit and dare to criticize 
the system under which they live. God will ignore 
such, says Elihu : " God in His glory will appear " 
says the older and greater poet. It is the difference 
between mediocrity and originality, between con 
vention and inspiration 




THE fine poem which constitutes ch. xxviii. is very 
generally believed by scholars to be a later addition 
to the book. " It does not connect well either 
with the preceding or the following chapter. The 
serenity that breathes through ch. xxviii. would 
not naturally be followed by the renewed lament 
ations of ch. xxix., and k would further be 
dramatically inappropriate for a man in agony to 
speak thus didactically. It is a sort of companion 
piece to Proverbs viii. ; it is too abstract for its 
context, and lacks its almost fierce emotion." 1 But 
it has a deep interest and beauty of its own, and is 
valuable as a specimen of later Jewish thought, 
apparently after that had begun to be influenced 
by the philosophy of Greece. Its theme is Wisdom 
by which, as the later verses (23-27) show, is meant 
the Divine Reason inherent in the created world 
and its unattainability by man or any other created 
thing. The various stanzas gather round a refrain, 
with which the poem seems originally to have begun. 

Metals can by skill and dangerous effort be 
extracted from mines here follows a remarkable 
description of ancient mining operations but no 
skill or effort can bore a way to Wisdom : 

1 See my Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 277. 


The Problem of Pain 

"As for wisdom whence cometh she? 

Understanding where hath she her home ? 
For a mine there is for the silver, 

And a place where the gold is refined. 
Iron is taken from dust, 

And copper is smelted from stone. 

Man explores the dark to its limits, 

Seeks stones from the blackest gloom. 
He breaketh a shaft through the ground : 

Forgotten, they hang without foothold, 

They swing to and fro far from men. 
From the surface of earth cometh bread, 

While, beneath, it is raked as by fire. 
Her stones are the home of the sapphire, 

The dust thereof is gold. 
He puts forth his hand on the rock; 

At their roots he o erturneth the mountains. 
Channels he cuts in the rocks, 

And he bindeth the streams that they weep not. 
Each precious thing his eye seeth; 

He bringeth the secret to light." (xxviii. 1-6, 9-11). 

No bird or beast or man has ever been to the haunts 
of Wisdom, nor is there any mart in which she can 
be purchased even at the costliest price : 

" But Wisdom whence cometh she ? 

Understanding where hath she her home? 
The pathway is strange to the vulture. 

Unseen by the eye of the hawk, 
By the sons of pride untrodden, : 

Nor ever by fierce lion skirted. 
The way to her no man knoweth; 

In the land of the living none finds her. 
The deep saith, She is not in me ; 

And the sea saith, She is not in me.* 
No fine gold for her can be given, 

Nor silver be paid as her price. 
Not in Ophir gold can she be valued, 

In precious onyx or sapphire. 
Gold and clear glass are no match for her, 

Jewels of gold no exchange for her. 


The Mystery of the Divine Wisdom 

Speak not of coral or crystal ; 

More precious than rubies is Wisdom. 
The topaz of Cush is no match for her; 

In pure gold she cannot be valued." 

(xxviii. 71, 12-19). 

This Wisdom is hidden from all but God. 
She is the Idea which He employed and expressed 
in His creation of the world : 

But Wisdom whence cometh she ? 

Understanding where hath she her home ? 
She is hid from the eyes of the living, 

Concealed from the birds of the air. 
Abaddon and Death declare, 

A rumour of her we have heard. 
But the way to her God understandeth, 

And He alone knovveth her home. 
For He looks to the end of the earth 

And all things under heaven He beholds. 
When He settled the weight of the wind 

And meted the waters by measure, 
Created a law for the rain, 

And a path for the flash of the lightning, 
Even then did He see and declare her, 

Establish and search her out." (xxviii. 20-27). 

The main idea of the poem that Wisdom is 
unattainable by man and known to God alone 
receives another turn in the triplet with which it 
closes : 

" And He said unto man, Behold 1 
The fear of me that is Wisdom, 
And turning from wrong Understanding. " 

(xxviii. 28). 

The Wisdom here commended is a piety expressing 
itself in morality, or a morality rooted in religion. 
This is the dominant ideal of the Old Testament 
(cf. Mic. vi. 8), completely incarnate, for example, 


The Problem of Pain 

in the person of Job, as we learn from the Prologue 
(i. i), where the words are identical. This is the 
wisdom attainable by man, and to be striven after 
by him : the other is God s own unattainable 

This charming poem contributes nothing to the 
solution of the problem which agitates the whole 


(Job xxviii.) 


Now that we have traversed the whole book and 
made ourselves familiar with the drift and progress 
of its thought, it will be well to ask ourselves what, 
if any, is its specific contribution to the ever present 
and ever urgent problem of suffering. The discussion 
presented by the book is not in any case exhaustive, 
as it curiously ignores the profound solution embodied 
in the immortal picture of Isaiah liii., that suffering 
may be vicarious. The Hebrew genius, which was 
not speculative, deals with its problems in the 
concrete ; in the book of Job, therefore, not so 
much with suffering as with a sufferer. The book 
throbs with life ; it is warm with the glow of a real 
human experience. Its hero is the writer s other 
self ; it is his own doubts and fears and struggles 
that he has thrown into imperishable literary form : 
and it is living men, of narrow conventional outlook, 
who debate the high theme with him and who, by 
contrast, in the clash of the debate reveal him to 
us in all his lonely grandeur. This is one of the 
many qualities that give the book its strange power 
over the human heart and its indefeasible place in 
the literature of the world. 

Whatever solution it has to offer and to that 
we shall come presently it was felt by its very 
earliest readers that the original book at any rate 


The Problem of Pain 

had not completely solved the mystery with which 
it deals. Scholars are all but universally agreed 
that the speeches of Elihu form no part of that 
book : they are we need not say a protest but 
at any rate an attempt to supplement its teaching, 
and to present an aspect of truth which seemed to 
a later age to have been insufficiently presented in 
the book itself ; and it is not improbable that it is 
to this later addition, conceived in the spirit of 
orthodoxy, that we owe the preservation of the older 
book which hurled its mighty challenge against the 
easy and comfortable tenets of the time. Whether 
Elihu s own contribution is adequate or exhaustive 
is another matter ; but at any rate all this goes to 
show how keenly every thoughtful age has felt the 
mystery, and how the fascination of it has ever 
urged men on to new solutions of that which, after 
all is said, must ever remain in large measure shrouded 
in mystery. As Illingworth 1 has remarked, " Suffer 
ing is not a subject on which anything new can be 
said. It has long ago been probed, to the utmost 
limit of our capacity, and remains a mystery still." 
But we can make no headway at all, until we 
have learned the first lesson of the Epilogue, that 
God loves an independent thinker. It has been 
said that, where God has left off teaching, man 
should leave off learning. But God is a Teacher 
who never leaves off. Evermore He is presenting 
to us, as to Job (xxxviiif), His wonderful world, 
and He invites and expects us to open our eyes, to 
look at it and learn from it reverently indeed, but 

1 Lw/r Mnndi, p. 113. 


honestly, fearlessly, incessantly. This is the soul 
alike of science and religion to keep the eye and the 
heart ever open to the wonder of God. Intellectual 
integrity is a part of true religion. There is more 
genuine religion in an intelligent and even a 
passionate challenge than in a wooden, passive, 
languid acquiescence. We are not bound, and we 
are not likely, to solve the riddle of the world ; but 
as brave, intelligent, and reverent men, we are bound 
to try. It was not the friends who said the correct 
things, but the man who said the terrible things in 
the desperate honesty of his soul, that won from 
the Lord the " Well done, thou good and faithful 
servant." " Ye have not spoken the truth about 
Me as My servant Job hath done. Him will I 
accept " (xlii. 8). The attitude of the friends is 
always thoroughly conventional ; in their defence 
of the Almighty and His ways they remind us of 
Matthew Arnold s bishops and their effort " to do 
something," as they said, " for the honour of Our 
Lord s Godhead." Job is original and emancipating. 
This, then, is the temper in which the great 
writer attacks his problem. What does he make of 
it ? It is one of the many proofs of his greatness 
that he does not claim to have completely solved it. 
He is too great a man to think that he can expound 
the universe. 

" Ah, how small am I ! What can I answer ? 
I lay my hand on my mouth." (xl. 4). 

It is difficult to resist the impression that he 

intended his ultimate solution to lie in the speeches 

which he attributes to the Almighty : but the first 


The Problem of Pain 

impression they make and it remains with us to 
the end in overwhelming force is that the universe 
I is an infinite mystery. To the questions which are 
1 hurled out of the whirlwind, Job has no answer at 
[ all : all he can do is to lay his hand on his mouth. 
He stands in the presence of something, of^some One, 
that transcends him infinitely ; and it would be the 
sheerest insanity in him, who holds so utterly 
insignificant a place in the immeasurable scheme of 
things, to suppose that he completely understands 
it or the mighty Power that created and controls it. 
He cannot accept the ironical challenge to ascend 
the throne of the world (xl. 10-14), for who and what 
is he ? Clearly it is no philosopher with a full 
blown system who writes these glorious speeches ; 
it is some reverent, adoring soul, smitten into wonder 
and silence by the vast system within which he 
lives. Suffering is a feature of the world as we know 
it ; and, if we cannot adequately explain the simpler 
part, to say nothing of the whole, is it matter for 
wonder that we cannot explain the more intricate 
part ? The poet is reading to us as plainly as he 
can the lesson of reverent agnosticism. 

But the fact that we cannot know completely 
is no proof that we cannot know at all, and no reason 
why we should not try to know ; and though the 
writer has no system, he has inspirations and 
intuitions which are worth a thousand systems, 
and they flash from many points of the book. So 
far from being a philosophical discussion, it is hardly 
a discussion at all ; for, though the psychological 
interest of the situation is heightened by every 



speech, there is practically no development in the 
argument. The friends grow more excited and 
unfair, Job grows more calm and dignified : but, 
so far as argument is concerned, neither he nor they 
affect each other. The drama is, what Renan aptly 
calls it, " a shower of sparks," and even the severely 
handled friends are not without their measure of 
illumination. They are men of average intelligence 
and of conventional religious type. They represent 
the truth that has descended from the fathers and 
that is cherished by the contemporary church ; and 
this can never be the complete illusion which Job 
so mercilessly anathematized. His denunciations 
were justified in so far as it was truth which they 
believed without examination, accepted without really 
assimilating. But some of the things they said were 
true all the same. 

We do not speak here of their penal conception 
of suffering. The book is a fierce attack upon that 
view, and the writer must have abhorred it as a 
ludicrously inadequate explanation of human misery. 
His own experience and observation rose up to testify 
against it. He saw no mechanical adaptation of 
human fortunes to desert, but a totally undiscrimin- 
ating distribution of the goods and the evils of life. 
He saw the sun of prosperity rise upon the unjust, 
and he saw the tower fall upon innocent men 
and bury them beneath the ruins. True, in the 
Epilogue, everything moves according to the 
traditional scheme : the " wicked " friends would 
have been destroyed but for the intercessory prayer 
of Job, and the righteous Job is rewarded not only 

a8 3 

The Problem of Pain 

with spiritual privileges, but also with those material 
things dear to ancient Israel s heart. But the poem, 
in which the writer utters himself most distinctively, 
is a sustained and passionate protest against the 
penal view of suffering. The amazing courage of 
this protest is only fully appreciated when we 
remember that this conception was held not only 
by ancient Israel, and by the conventional spirits 
of every age, but by the historians and even by the 
prophets themselves at any rate in its application 
to the nation. But Job will have none of it. One 
would have liked to see the friends argue their case, 
as the punitive conception of suffering has never 
been without its defenders : but men who take their 
opinions from ancient or contemporary authority 
find it easier to state their case than to defend it 
elaborately or convincingly. It is almost too much, 
perhaps, to expect that the friends should argue it, 
for to them there is no problem. God is just, men 
get what they deserve and there is an end of the 
matter. " Who ever perished, being innocent ? " 
The man who is innocent will not perish, and the 
man who perishes is not innocent. What more is 
there to be said ? 

But there is real illumination in these words of 
Eliphaz : " Behold, happy is the man whom God 
correcteth ; therefore despise not thou the chasten 
ing of the Almighty. For He maketh sore, and 
bindeth up ; He woundeth, and His hands make 
whole " (v. 17). The fact that the admonition was 
not strictly relevant to Job s case does not affect 
its essential truth. Suffering, in the providence of 



God, may have a disciplinary value. If resented, 
it will harden and embitter the man whom it visits ; 
but, when borne with meekness and uncomplaining 
faith, it has been recognized by many a sufferer to 
be a veritable gift of God, cleansing the character 
of its dross, developing in it unfamiliar graces and 
virtues tenderness, patience, humility, sympathy, 
refinement, strength, beauty and bringing with it 
a revelation of God, of His presence and sustaining 
power, which without it would have been in that 
degree impossible. The unremoved thorn will be 
accompanied by an experience of that abounding 
grace of God which is always sufficient for those who 
expectantly wait for it ; so that what begins as pain 
ends as power, and the weeping that tarries for the 
night is transformed into the joy of the morning. 
The wound is bound up and healed by hands that 
the sufferer learns to confess as none other than God s 
own, and the discipline of pain and sorrow is seen in 
the end, though seldom at the beginning, to be one 
of His most blessed gifts. This is the truth more 
fully elaborated by Elihu in the passage where he 
describes sickness and pain as one of the ways in 
which God speaks to men (xxxiii. 19-28) in order 
to teach, to cleanse, and redeem them. The soul 
is let down to the depths that it may be lifted up 
again and set upon the rock, ransomed and rejoicing. 
Then " they are glad, because it is quiet ; they are 
brought to the haven they long for " (Ps. cvii. 30) ; 
and with chastened heart the sufferer can sing, 

" He hath ransomed my soul from the pit, 

That alive I behold the light." (Job xxxiii. 28). 


The Problem of Pain 

Another aspect of suffering is suggested by the 
Prologue. It is a test. It reveals to a man how 
weak or how firm is his grasp of the eternal things ; 
it tests the motives of his goodness. Satan main 
tains that if only a heavy enough hand be laid upon 
Job, the faith that is in him will be crushed. He 
is good, because it is worth his while ; but if his 
faith be subjected to the strain of adversity, there 
is a point at which it will snap. There is a real 
truth in this view, cynical as are the assumptions 
which underlie it. Adversity is a searching test, 
alike of a man s character and of his religion. 
Terrible things can come upon individual lives, 
colossal tragedies can be enacted upon the broad 
stage of international life and history ; but the 
faith which suffers itself to be -shattered by these 
things is not the mighty faith kindled by the vision 
of chs. xxxviiif., of a world sustained evermore upon 
gracious and mighty arms. The faith which is to 
be truly adequate at any point must be adequate 
at every point. It must be for ever insufficient, 
unless it have an all-sufficient God. It must be able 
to face every possible contingency and terror from 
which the natural man recoils, with the triumphant 
words of Paul, " In all these things we are more than 
conquerors through Him that loved us : for I am 
persuaded that neither life nor death nor angels 
nor principalities nor things present nor things to 
come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other 
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love 
of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 
viii. 381). 



The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our 
Lord. Therein lies the difference between the 
Old Testament and the New. The love of God, 
so precious to the saints of the older covenant, 
was not yet so persuasively revealed as it is 
in the face of Jesus Christ. The cry of the older 
time was " O that I knew where I might find 
Him " (xxiii. 3) ; and not till long afterwards 
did the Word become flesh and dwell among us, full 
of grace and truth. But even so, there were men 
in the olden time who could endure, as seeing Him 
who is invisible. The words, " Though He slay me, 
yet will I trust in Him" (xiii. 15) it is pretty 
generally agreed do not represent what Job said 
or could have said in that particular context ; but 
they do represent the whole attitude of the man. 
Job had often called for a revelation : he is himself 
a revelation. Deep down below all the protests 
and challenges wrung from his agony of body and 
soul is the simple trust so finely expressed in the 
Prologue : " Jehovah gave, Jehovah took : the 
name of Jehovah be blessed " (i. 21). The man who, 
after losing his all, can still say that, has stood the 
test. Suffering tests. 

Another fine thought of the Prologue is that 
suffering is woven into the heavenly plan of human 
life. It is not only not unknown to God, it is actually 
drawn within His purpose. The one intolerable 
thing is that what we are called to suffer should have 
no meaning no high origin and no fruitful issue. 
It is a comfort to know, as we have already seen, that, 
if we let it do its work upon us, it has an issue 


The Problem of Pain 

cleansing, refining, strengthening. This alone is 
enough to suggest that it has a purpose, that purpose. 
But the fact of the purpose is made clear beyond 
cavil in the wonderful opening scenes where, for 
the highest ends to prove the power of religion and 
the lovableness of God what is to happen on earth 
is decreed in the councils of heaven. On the earth, 
the fierce sorrows and the fiercer discussions : and 
above, the explanation of it all. It is part of God s 
purpose and plan that Job is permitted, nay privi 
leged, to suffer. When the divine decree has been 
issued and the heavenly council dispersed, the blows 
begin to fall thick and fast. Job does not know why, 
but God knows. He means him well, the very 
best. He is trusting His own reputation, as it were, 
into the hands of His servant. He is conferring 
upon him the unspeakable honour of refuting in 
his own person, once for all, by his fidelity, the 
cynical estimate of human nature and the utilitarian 
conception of religion. 

How different this sorrowful earth would seem, if 
we could see it over-arched by the purposeful heavens. 
As a modern thinker has said, " Every special 
incoming of God into human experience is prepared 
in the unseen, before it appears in the seen." The 
sense that all the vicissitudes of our life are elements 
in God s individual plan for us ought to lift us into 
a peace which chances and changes cannot mar. 
How calmly life might be lived and sorrow borne, if 
we believed that some great purpose lay behind it 
all, and was through it to be fulfilled. Nay, not so 
much a purpose as a Person. Above our little lives 



is One upon the throne who has prepared a place 
for us in His universe, and designed for us experi 
ences through which He is calling us to honour Him 
by unflinching fidelity. The picture in the Prologue 
is but the application to the experience of sorrow, of 
the great thought which sustained the prophet 
Jeremiah throughout his tempestuous career the 
thought that, before he was born, he had been in the 
mind of God. " Before thou earnest forth out of the 
womb, I set thee apart and appointed thee" (Jer. i. 4). 
As the Prologue suggests that there is a purpose 
behind life s seeming accidents, so the speeches of 
the Almighty reveal the character of that purpose 
as Wisdom and Love, and the extent of it as com 
prehending the universe. It stimulates at once our 
L trust, our affection, and our imagination. The 
! suffering inevitable to human life is an element in 
ia world created by wisdom and sustained by love. 
It may be true that no explanation of it can ever be 
adequate, but it is equally true that every explana 
tion of it must be wholly inadequate which ignores 
these facts. In an order which testifies at every 
point to one supreme Intelligence, nothing can be 
unmeaning or unrelated ; and the infinite Heart 
that cares for all created things and provides for 
their needs, must care most deeply for the highest 
creature of them all, and it provides for his sorest 
need by a revelation of Itself. To trust such a 
Person, such a purpose, so wise, so kind, so com 
prehensive, is to be at rest. In experiences of suffer 
ing and sorrow the man who knows this trust may 
say with the Psalmist : 



The Problem of Pain 

" I laid me down and slept : 

I awoke, for the Lord did sustain me." (iii. 5). 

The darkness and the light are both alike to God and 
to those who put their trust in Him. 

There is yet another ray of light cast by the book 
upon the problem of suffering this time from the 
world beyond. Nowhere is the tragedy, the dark 
ness, the finality of death expressed more powerfully 
than in some of the gloomier utterances of Job : 

" Like the cloud that is spent and that passeth away, 

He that goes down to Sheol shall come up no more. 
He shall never come back to his house again, 

And the place that was his shall know him no more." 

(vii. 9f). 

That other country is 

" The land of darkness and gloom, 
The land of murky darkness, 
Of gloom and utter confusion, 

Where the very light is as darkness." (x. 2if). 

There is hope for a tree that is cut down, but none 
for the man whom death has laid low (xiv. 7ff). 
Yet it is nothing less than wonderful to see how 
Job simply refuses to believe in death s finality. 
He looks wistfully at the hope suggested by the ana 
logy of the tree. He begins to cherish the faith that 
God may one day yearn for him and summon him 
back from the dark world in which for a time He 
i has hidden him. And in the atmosphere of this 
\ hope and faith he soars, in one magnificent moment, 
1 to the sublime assurance that, one day in the world 
beyond, he will stand before the living God, face to 
face, and hear at last from those lips the solemn 
vindication for which in this world he had so long 



and patiently waited, but in vain (xix. 256*. ) It is a 
mighty triumph of faith, worthy of the mighty 
hero whose struggles the book immortalizes. 

The Epilogue ends by assuring us that all was well 
in the end. This is true, in a far deeper sense than 
the Epilogue intends. " Great is your reward 
in heaven." The full reward is never here, but 
there. It is fortunate for the discussion that the 
writer does not operate much with this conception, 
for that would have been to take his problem too 
lightly. But it is even more fortunate that he does 
not ignore it, for that would have been to take it too 
meanly. Not upon the narrow stage of this life can 
the great drama of the soul be completely enacted. 
Spirits of finer mould have always felt that the 
experiences of this present world the wrongs un- 
expiated, the sufferings unjustly inflicted and 
patiently borne, the yearnings incompletely satisfied, 
the fellowship with men and with God which to 
mortal eyes is sundered by death that these 
experiences point beyond themselves. " On the 
earth the broken arcs ; in the heaven, a perfect 
round." Even Jesus, we are told, endured the cross 
and despised the shame for the joy that was set 
before Him ; and His greatest servant bore with joy 
his innumerable toils and hardships, his stripes 
and stonings, his exposure to the assaults of calumny 
and hatred, his multitudinous perils by land and on 
the sea sustained by the assurance that " the 
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be 
compared with the glory which shall be revealed." 




Aked, C. F. The Divine Drama of Job, in The Short Course Series. 

Blake, B. The Book of Job and the Problem of Suffering. 

Bradley, G. G. Lectures on the Book of Job. 

Bruce, A. B. The Moral Order of the World. Lecture vii 

Caird, E. Lay Sermons, pp. 283-312 ; The Faith of Job. 
Chesterton, G. K. The Book of Job (Illustrations by C. M. Tongue). 
Cheyne, T. K. Job and Solomon ; Jewish Religious Life after the 

Exile, pp. 158-172 ; Article on Job in Encyclopedia Biblica. 
Cobern, C. M. A New Interpretation of the Book of Job ; in 

The Methodist Review, May, 1913, pp. 419-439. 

Davidson, A. B. Old Testament Theology, pp. 466-495. 

Davidson, A. B., in Book by Book, pp. 136-149. 

Davison, W. T. The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament ; 

Article on Job in Hastings Dictionary oj the Bible, vol. ii. 
Dawson, J. Job and His New Theology. 
Dillon, E. J. The Sceptics of the Old Testament. 
Driver, S. R. The Book of Job in the Revised Version, edited with 

Introductions and Brief Annotations. 

Fairbairn, A. M. The City of God, pp. I43ff. 

Fowler, H. T. A History of the Literature of Ancient Israel, 

ch. xxiii. 

Froude, J. A. Essay on the Book of Job : now in Everyman s 
Library ; (Froude s Essays in Literature and History). 

Genung, J. F. The Epic of the Inner Life. 

Godet, F. Studies on the Old Testament, pp. 183-242. 



Gordon, A. R. The Poets of the Old Testament, pp. 202-254. 
Gunkel, H. In Die orient all sch en Liter aturen, pp. giff. 

Harvey-Jellie, W. The Wisdom of God and the Word of God, pp. 

86fr, i28ff, 1648, iSgff. 

Herder, J. G. Vom Geist der Ebraischen Poesie, IV. and V. 
Hutton, W. B. Expositor, 1888, pp. 127-151. 

Jastrow, M. A Babylonian Parallel to the Story of Job : in the 
Journal of Biblical Literature., 1906, pp. 135-191. 

Kautzsch, E. The Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 154-162. 

Die Poesie und die poetischen Biicher des Alten Testaments, 

pp. 89-109. 

King, E. J. Early Religious Poetry of the Hebrews, pp. 81-90. 
Knox, W. J. The Problem of the Book of Job : in Queen s Quarterly, 

(Kingston, Canada), January, 1910, pp. 181-192. 
Komg, E. Die Poesie des Alten Testaments, pp. 89-117. 

Lowth, R. Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, xxxii.- 

Macdonald, D. B. Article on Job in the Standard Bible Dictionary. 
Macleod, W. B. The Afflictions of the Righteous. 
Moulton, R. G. The Literary Study of the Bible, pp. 1-41. 

Peake, A. S. The Problem of Suffering in the Old Testament, 
ch. v. 

Renan, E. Le Livre de Job. 

Rutherford, M. Notes on the Book of Job. 

Schmidt, V. The Messages of the Poets, in The Messages of the 

Bible Series. 

Seligsohn, M. and Siegfried, C. in the Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. vii. 
Sprague, H. B. The Book of Job with Introductory Essay and 

Explanatory Notes. 

Volz, P. in Die Schriften des Alten Testaments. 

Watson, R. A. The Book of Job in the Expositor s Bible Series. 
Wright, C. H. H. Biblical Essays. 



Addis, W. E. in the Temple Bible series. 

Barton, G. A. in the Bible for Home and School series. 
Budde, K. in the Handhommentar zum Alien Testament series. 

Cox, S. Commentary on the Book of Job. 

Davidson, A. B. Chapters i.-xiv. (1862) ; Job in the Cambridge Bible 

Duhm, B. in the Kurzer Handkommentar zum Alien Testament series. 

Ewald, H. Vol. xxviii. of the Theological Translation Fund Library. 
Gibson, E. C. S. in the Westminster Commentaries series. 
Jennings, W. The Dramatic Poem of Job. 

Marshall, J. T. in the American Commentary on the Old Testament 
(American Baptist Publication Society). 

Peake, A. S. in the Century Bible series. 

Strahan, J. The Book of Job (a commentary full of illumination). 

Wright, G. H. B. The Book of Job. 


Besides the Introductions by Baudissin, Budde (Gcschichie der 
althebraischen Litteratur) Cornill, Reuss, Sellin, Steuernagel, 
Strack, may be mentioned the following in English : 

Driver, S. R. in The International Theological Library. 
Gray, G. B. in the Studies in Theology series. 

McFadyen, J. E. (Hodder and Stoughton). 
Moore, G. F. in the Home University Library* 


Blake, B. In the Book of Job and the Problem of Suffering. 
Cox, S. In his Commentary on the Book of Job. 
Dillon, E. J. The Sceptics of the Old Testament. 



Genung, J. F. In the Epic of the Inner Life. 
Gilbert, G. H. The Poetry of Job. 

Jennings, W. The Dramatic Poem of Job. 

King, E. G. The Poem of Job, Translated in the Metre of the 

Schmidt, N. The Messages of the Poets, in the Messages of the 

Bible series. 
Sprague, H. B. The Book of Job, the Poetic Portion versified etc. 

Wilson, P. The Book of Job, Translated into English Verse. 


Blake s Vision of the Book of Job, with Reproductions of the Illus 
trations. A Study by Joseph H. Wicksteed. 

Giran, tienne. A Modern Job : an Essay on the Problem of Evil. 




Amos v. 24 
Amos vii. 3 



Anticipation of end, 49, 63, 
66, 77, 80, 87, 163, 243 
Aristotle 204 

Arnold, Matthew 281 

Avarice 2oof. 

Bailey 232 

Bildad 31, 6ifif, Ii6fif, 1740". 

Bradley, A. C. 241 

Bradley, G. G. 90 

Caird, E. 28 

46, 6 if, 79, I2of, 1 80 

Carlyle 17 if, 227 

Chesterton 226 

Cheyne 6, 29, 248 

Clough 64f. 

Common sense 78 

Cornill 259 

Covetousness 198 

Death 37, 55, 249 

Deuteronomy viii. i ji. 201 
Deuteronomy xxiv. 16 150 
Dillon 29, 173 

Dramatic quality 

63.70, 77, 136, i62f. 
Duhm 60 

Ecclesiastes iii. 16, iv. i, 

v. 8 70 

Ecclesiastes ix. 2 151 

Elihu 253ff, 280, 285 

Eliphaz 31, 4 iff, ggfi, 

i57ff, 190,194,242,284 
Exodus xi. 5 197 


Exodus xxii. 26f. 159 

Ezekiel xviii. 4 150 

Ezekielxxiv. 16 204 

Fatherhood of God 198-200 
Friendship 52, 191, 247 

Genesis i. i6f. 201 

Genesis iv. 10 109 

Genesis xx. 7 245 

Greek Version 142, 245, 248 

Habakkuki. 13, 17 ; ii. 3 140 

Henley 235 

Hosea vi. 6 190 

Hospitality 203 

Houghton, L. S. 29 

Illingworth 280 

Immortality 75, 92f, 137, 2gof. 
Independence of thought, 

82, 244, 280 
Intellectual hospitality, 

io3f, 152, 154 

Isaiah i. 17, 190 ; vi. 230 ; 
Iii. 14, 31 ; liii., 173, 245, 
279 ; Ixii. 5, 158. 

James, Epistle 5 

Jeremiah i. 4 289 

Jeremiah xx. 14-18 36 

Jesus 62, 204, 227, 287 

Job. i.-xxvii., 11-185 ; xxviii. 

273!! ; xxix.-xxxi. 186- 

206 ; xxxii.-xxxvii. 253- 

269 ; xxxviii.-xlii. 209-249 

Job s wife 28 

John i. 18 165 

Joshua vii. 24f. 149 

Judas 18 





Literary art 
Love of God 

55. 93, ii- 
Luke xiii. 4f. 
Luke xv. 10 
Lux Mundi 

Malachi i. 2f. 
Malachi ii. 10 
Matthew xi. 28 
Micah vi. 6-8 
Moral order 


150, 2261. 







12, 275 

61, 149 
223f, 282 

Oedipus Coloneus 37 

Omar Khayyam 73 

Omnipotence 67ff, 84, 167 

Paul 286 

Peake, A. S. 195 

Prayer 14, 245 

Presence of God 186 

Private judgment 

82, 244, 280 

Prosperity 13, 22, 242 

Proverbs iii. 12 47 

Proverbs xiii. 9, xxiv. 20 148 
Psalms iii. 5, 290 ; viii. 3f, 
58, 177 ; xv., xxiv., 204 ; 
xxxiv. 8, 83 ; xxxvii. if, 10, 
140 ; xxxix 5f, 20 ; 
Iviii. 10, 202; Ixxiii. ii, 
161 ; Ixxiv. lof, 22f, 140 ; 
Ixxvii. io, 50 ; Ixxxiv. 7, 
133 ; ciii. I3f, 45, 158, 198 ; 
civ. 14, 28, 215 ; cvii. 30, 
285 ; cxxvii. 3-5, 13 ; 
cxxxvii. 7, ii ; cxxxix. 1-5, 
13-18, 73, 196 ; cxxxix. 23, 
196 ; cxlv. 16, 215 ; cxlvi. 



Rabbi ben Ezra 228 

Renan 225, 283 

Responsibility of the Creator, 


Retributive theory 145^, 

228, 233, 260, 283 
Revelation 43 

Romans viii. 18 291 

Romans viii. 35-37 40, 286 
Rutherford, Mark 32, 204, 242 

Sartor Resartus 17 if. 

Satan 15, 26 

Sea-monster 57 

Sin 39, 59, 90, 105, 123, 236 
Snell, B. J. 236 

Solidarity 149 

Star- worship 20 if. 

Strahan 71, 231, 265 

Suffering, as discipline 

47, 78, 2581, 284f. 
Suffering as test 25, 286f. 



Unconscious prophecy 

62, 66, 77, 80, 86f, 162!. 243 

Volz 25 

Weirdness 43 

Wisdom 273-276 

Woman in Old Testament 29 


31, 76ff, I38ff, 1791, 243 

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Achievement of Israel, The 


Concerning the Soul 


Addresses to Children . 17, 19, 


Consciousness of Jesus, The 


Advent Sermons .... 


Cookery Books .... 


After Death 


Creative Prayer .... 


Allotment Gardening for Profit 




Altars of Earth .... 


Crucible of Experience, The 


Animal Jollities .... 


Animal Joy-Book, The . 


Devotional Literature of Scotland, The 


Around the Guns .... 


Discerning the Times 


Art of Addressing Children 


Down the Ages .... 


Art of Exposition, The . 


Dr. Isabel Mitchell of Manchuria . 


Art of Sermon Illustration, The 


Aspects of the Spiritual . 


Effectual Words .... 


Astronomy Simplified 


Essays on Christian Unity . . 


Eternal Religion, The 


Beauty of the Bible, The 


Burden of the Lord, The 


Faces through the Mist . . . 


Faith and Progress 


Challenge, The, and other Stories for 

Faith of a Wayfarer, The 


Boys and Girls 


Faith of Isaiah, The 


Changing Church and the Unchanging 

Faith of Saint Paul, The 


Christ, The .... 


Faith s Certainties .... 


Changing Vesture of the Faith, The . 


Farther Horizon, The 


Children s Paul, The 


Fellowship of the Spirit, The . 


Chosen Twelve, The 


Finding of the Cross, The 


Christ in Christian Thought 


For Childhood and Youth 


Christ of Faith and the Jesus of 

" Freedom of Faith " Series, The 


History, The .... 


Christ of the Children, The 


Galilean, The .... 


Christian Church and Liberty, The . 


Glorious Company of the Apostles, 

Christian Idea of God, The ; 




Christian World Album of Sacred 

God in History .... 


Songs, The .... 


God Our Contemporary . . 


Christian World Pulpit, The . 4, 


God s Freemen .... 


Christian s God, The 


Great Hereafter, The 


Christology of the Earliest Gospel, The 


Guide Posts and Gateways 


Christ s View of the Kingdom of God 


Christ s Vision of Kingdom of Heaven 


Hampstead : Its Historic Houses, its 

Church and the Creeds, The . 


Literary and Artistic Associations 


Church and the Sacraments, The 


Harvest Thanksgiving Sermons 


Church and Woman, The 


Health and Home Nursing 


Church at Prayer and the World 

Health in the Home Life 


Outside, The . 


Heavenly Visions . 


Code of Deuteronomy, The . 


Hidden Romance of the New Testa 

Common Life, The .... 


ment, The .... 





Hidden Word, The . . .17 

History and Modern Religious Thought 1 5 
Home, C. Silvester : In Memoriam . 27 
House of the Secret, The . .12 

How to Cook . . . .24 

" Humanism of the Bible " Series, The 6 

Ideals for Girls . . . .22 
Ideals of the Early Church, The . 13 
Illustrations from Art for Pulpit and 

Platform . . . .11 

Imperishable Word, The . . 22 

Incarnate Glory, The ... 6 
Individuality of Saint Paul, The . 7 
Inspiration in Common Life . . 25 
Invisible Companion and other Stories 

for Children . . . .24 
Isaiah in Modern Speech , . 4 

Jeremiah in Modern Speech . . 4 
Jesus and Life .... 7 
" John Oxenham " Book of Daily 

Readings, The ... 20 
Joy-Bringer, The : A Message for 

those who Mourn . . .26 

Kingdom of God in the Apostolic 
Writings, The . . . .8 

Leaves for Quiet Hours . . .19 
Letters of Christ, The . . .25 
Life Here and the Life Hereafter, The 1 1 
Life in His Name . . . .11 
Life of the Soul, The . . .16 
Life s Beginnings . . . 10, 17 
Life s Transient Dream . . .19 
Literary Study of the Prophets, The 8 
" Living Church " Series, The . 5 

Marfchale, The . . . .14 
Marprelate Tracts, The ... 3 
Mary Crawford Brown . . .21 
Meaning and Value of Mysticism, The 4 
Messages of Hope . . . .19 

Metellus 13 

Midst Volcanic Fires . . .10 
Model Prayer, The ... 20 

Modern Conflict, The . . .19 
Modernism and Orthodoxy . . 8 

More Tasty Dishes . . . .24 

My Belief 11 

My Daily Meditation for the Circling 

Year 11 

Mystery of Preaching, The . . 8 

New Illustrations for Pulpit and 

Platform . . . .10 

New Spiritual Impulse, A, or Pente 
cost To-day . . . .20 
New Testament in Modern Speech, 

The .... 12, 16 

Nights of Sorrow and of Song . .14 

Nile and Jordan .... 3 

Notes on the Life and Teaching of 

Jesus 23 

Old Testament in Modern Speech, The 4 
Old Testament Stories in Modern 

Light 24 

Oliver Cromwell . . . .25 
On the Rendering into English of the 

Greek Aorist and Perfect . . 26 
One Thing, The . . . .10 
Oracles of God .... 6 
Our Ambiguous Life . . .9 

Our Children 21 

Our City of God . . . .18 
Our Protestant Faith . . .20 
Outline Text Lessons for Junior 

Classes 25 

Pages from a Joyous Life . .13 
Passion for Souls, The . . .25 
Periodical Essayists of the Eighteenth 

Century, The .... 4 
Persistent Word of God, The . .14 
Pessimism and Love in Ecclesiastes 

and the Song of Songs . . 7 
Peter in the Firelight ... 22 

Philippians 15 

Picture Books for the Young . . 26 
Pilgrim Cheer . . . .13 

Pilot, The 11 

Plowers, The . . . .17 

Prayer 25 

Problem of Pain, The ... 6 
Problems of Living . . .18 

Progressive Lay Preaching . .15 




Prophet of Reconstruction, The . 6 
Psalms in Modern Speech and Rhyth 
mical Form, The . . .15 
Pulpit and the Children, The . .17 
Pulpit Manual, A . . . .19 

Reasonable Religion . . .10 

Reconstruction : A Help to Doubters 1 6 

Religion and To-day . . .18 

Religon that will Wear, A . . 26 

Resultant Greek Testament, The . 17 

Robert Henderson . . .18 

Rosebud Annual, The . . .14 

Scent o the Broom . . .18 
Sceptre of Faith, The . . .15 
Scottish Church Question . .21 
Scottish Pulpit, The ... 7 
Sculptors of Life . . . .21 
Secret Garden of the Soul, The . 7 
Seed of the Kingdom, The . . 23 
Seeking the City . . . .15 
Sermons on God, Christ and Man . 1 1 
Sharing His Sufferings . . .21 
Sheila s Missionary Adventures . 1 7 
Shining Highway, The . . .19 
Ship s Engines, The . . .27 
Short Talks to Boys and Girls . . 24 
Sidelights on Religion . . .18 
Song of the Well, The, and Other 

Sermons 20 

Songs of Service and Sacrifice . 13 
Spiritual Pilgrimage of Jesus, The . 9 
Spoken Words of Prayer and Praise . 1 2 
Stories of Old . . . .21 
Stories Twice Told . . .17 
Story of Social Christianity, The . 5 
Story of the English Baptists, The 15 
Studies in Christian Mysticism . 22 
Studies in Life from Jewish Proverbs 7 
Studies of the Soul , 27 


Sufficiency of Christianity, The . 3 
Sunday School in the Modern World, 

The 8 

Sunlit Hopes . . . .10 

Talks to Little Folks ... 24 

Tasty Dishes 24 

Text-Book of Dogmatics, A . .12 
Theosophy and Christian Thought . 9 
Things Most Surely Believed . .19 
Things that Matter Most . .11 

Thinkers of the Church, The . . 5 
Thoughts for Life s Journey . .19 
Through Many Windows . .17 

Under the Shadow of God . . 20 
Ungilded Gold : Nuggets from the 

King s Treasury . . .16 
Unspeakable Gift, and other Sermons, 

The 12 

Use of the Old Testament in the 

Light of Modern Knowledge, The 9 

Vision Triumphant . . .22 
Visions of the End ... 6 
Vocation of the Church, The . . 5 

War and Immortality . . .22 
Wayfarer at the Cross Roads, The . 23 
Way and the Work, The . . 23 
Way of Remembrance, The . . 23 
What is the Atonement ? . .15 
Who Wrote the Bible ? . . .22 
Wisdom Books, The ... 4 
Women and their Saviour . . 23 
Women and their Work ... 23 
Won by Blood .... 19 
Word and the Road, The . .14 
Working Woman s Life, A . .16 

Young Man s Ideal, A 

. 21 







Alexander, Arch., B.D. 5 

Hastings, Frederick 1 3 

Mclvor, J. G. . 8 

Andrews-Dale, A. . 20 

Haweis, H. R. . 22 

Michael, C. D. . 21 

Aveling, F. W. .14 

Henderson, Alex. C. 22 

Micklem, Nathaniel 

Ayre, J. Logan . 4 

Herman, E. . 4,7,9,20 

13, 14 

Hill, Robert . .17 

Miles, E. G. . . 19 

Ballingal, James . 13 

Horton, R.F. 11,16,25 

M Intyre, David M. 11 

Barr, James . .21 

Houston, David . 10 

Morrow, H. W. 

Birch, Ernest A. . 17 

Hughes, H. Maldwyn 

14, 20, 22 

Black, James 8, 25 

11, 15 

Morten, Honnor . 22 

Bonner, Carey . 8 

Humphrey, Frederick 23 

Moxon, R. S. .8 


Hutton, John A. 

Catherine . 21 

4, 9, 14, 23 

Norman, Alfred . 10 

Brierley, J. ("J.B.") 

16, 18 

Jackson, George . 10 

O Neill, F. W. S. . 20 

Brown, Charles 20, 25 

James, A. T. S. . 15 

Orchard, W. E. . 11 

Burns, David 15, 20 

Jeffs, H. . 11, 15 

Burns, James 11,19 

Jones, J. D. 19,20, 23 

Patten, John A. . 13 

Burns, James Colder 22 

Jordon, W. G. .13 

Pennell, W. J. .15 

Burton, W. . .13 

Jowett, J. H. 

Philip, Adam . 14 

9, 11, 21, 25 

Pierce, William . 3 

Carlile.J.C. . 15, 24 

Piggott, W. Charter 22 

Carlyle, A. J. .5 

King, Archibald . 17 

Pollock, John . 9 

Chapman, W. . 19 

Knight, G. A. Frank 3 

Pringle, A. . .23 

Clow, W. M. . . 5 

Knight, William Allen 22 

Coats, R. H. . . 5 

Knox, D. B. . . 10 

Reed, J. Gurr . 15 

Kyd, David Russell 19 

Reid, H. M. B. . 12 

Davey, J. Ernest . 8 

Reid, John . .16 

Davidson, Gladys . 25 

Lament, Daniel . 5 

Ridgway, Emily . 26 

Dearmer, Percy . 5 

Langridge, A. K. . 19 

Robertson, James 

Dyson, W. H. . 22 

Leckie, J. H. .5 

Alex. . 6, 9, 10 

Lewis, Edward W. . 24 

Robinson, James 

Ellis, E. T. . . 23 

Lofthouse, W. F. . 6 

Woodside . .10 

Elmslie, W. A. L. . 7 

Robinson, William 9 

MacDougall, John . 19 

Roose, J. Stephens 20 

Farningham, Marianne 

Macinnes, Alex. M. F. 8 

Ross, D. M. . 8, 10 

16, 23 

Macintosh, B. R. . 18 

Ross, David . .17 

Finlayson, T. Camp 

Manson, William 6, 20 

Royden, Maude . 5 

bell ... 27 

Mark, Thiselton . 21 

Russell, F. A. . 25 

Prater, Maurice . 10 

Marr, George S. . 4 

Marshall, J. S. . 24 

Scott, Charles A. 

Gibberd, Vernon . 17 

Mather, Mrs. Lessels 25 

Anderson . . 6 

Gladden, Washington 22 

Matheson, George . 19 

Scott, D. Russell . 7 

Gordon, Alex. R. . 7 

Maxwell, Anna . 3 

Scottish Presbyterian, 

Grant, W. M. .13 

McFadyen, John E. 

A. . . .26 

Griffith-Jones, E. . 12 

4, 5, 6, 9, 15 

Simpson, Hubert L. 6 

Grubb, Edward 19, 23 

McFadyen, Jose phF 7 

Sleigh, R. S. .3 






Stalker, James . 7 

Thomson, D. P. 7, 8 

Watson, William 21, 25 

Stead, F. H. . . 5 

Thomson, W. R. 7, 12 

Weatherhead, Leslie 

Stevenson, J. G. . 21 

Tillyard, Aelfrida . 22 

D. . . .14 

Stevenson, J. Sin 

Tipple, S. A. .12 

Welch, Adam C. 6, 7 

clair . . 17, 18 

Tynan, Katharine . 12 

Weymouth, Richard 

Stirling, James . 4 

Francis 12, 17, 26 

Strachan, R. H. 7 
Strahan, James 6, 14, 21 

Urquhart, W. S. . 9 

Williams, T. Rhondda 24 
Wimms, J. W. . 23 

Street, Jennie . 23 

Struthers.J.P. 13, 14, 17 

Waddell, John . 1 1 

Swetenham, L. . 20 

Watkinson, W. L. . 25 

Yates, Thomas . 21 


BS 1415 .M33 1917 


McFadyen, John Edgar, 

The problem of pain : 

study in the Book of 
AAA-9577 (mcsk)