Search the Site


God’s Answer to Job

From Job’s point of view, I think it’s very unsatisfactory because Job has been wanting a clear answer to the question: “Why am I being punished? Why am I suffering? It is unjust because I’ve done nothing to deserve this.”  Now Job doesn’t know, of course, what we as readers know from the beginning of the book, that he is actually an innocent man and isn’t deserving a single thing, that God is using him as a test case of human piety—can a human being be pious for no reward, just for the sake of goodness itself?  And he thinks that what is happening to him is a signal to all the world and his cronies that actually, secretly he is a terrible person, and is deserving what he gets.

But God doesn’t say anything to Job’s case.  He talks about creation and his purposes in creation, how he made the world, how he sustains all the different life forms there are on the planet, and he seems as though he ignores Job; and above all, he ignores the question of justice. 

And that makes Job quite angry, I think, and it makes readers rather dissatisfied because they think, does God not value justice then? Job has a legitimate cause, a gripe against God, and God doesn’t care.  So what are we to make of it?  So it leaves us all rather amazed at these wonderful speeches of the Lord, but also frustrated and a bit empty at how it hasn’t addressed Job’s situation.

  • David J. A. Clines

    David J. A. Clines is professor emeritus of biblical studies at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. He is director and publisher of Sheffield Phoenix Press, editor of the eight-volume Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, and author of a three-volume commentary on Job in the Word Biblical Commentary Series. He was president of the Society for Old Testament Study in 1996 and of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2009.