Job – Chapter 22

The "No Bang" Theory

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Elifaz responds to Job’s latest statement:

Is G-d missing anything? Of course not! So it doesn’t affect Him whether or not a person learns wisdom! It doesn’t benefit G-d for a person to behave righteously! He doesn’t fear anything you can do, He has no reason to engage you in debate, and you can’t take Him to court. Doesn’t He know what sins you have and have not committed in order to treat you accordingly? Did you take collateral for no reason or take the shirt off a poor man’s back? Did you let people go hungry and thirsty? You don’t get special treatment from G-d just because you were a prominent person! Did you oppress widows and orphans? Things like this would get you into your current sorry state.”

“G-d is above us all, but do you think He doesn’t see what goes on down here? Do you think our actions are beneath His notice? Will you follow in the footsteps of earlier, evil generations? These people were cut off because of their ways. Who can distance themselves from G-d without paying the price? They denied Him even though He gave them good things in their lives – I just don’t understand how they can be so oblivious to Him!”

“The righteous rejoice for not having followed the path of the wicked and the innocent can mock them. You’ll see the wicked get theirs. Repent and get closer to G-d so that you will be complete and enjoy goodness. Learn His word and embrace it. If you give up your evil ways and return to G-d, your situation will improve. You will be firmly established and prosperous. G-d will judge your enemies and you will delight in Him. Pray to Him and He will listen; you can be confident that your sacrifices will be accepted. He will favor you and allow your plans to succeed. You will be able to elevate a humble person and your merit can save others.”

By accusing Job of a series of fairly severe sins, Elifaz is intimating that for a person as prominent as Job, even a seemingly minor sin is quite serious. In verse 15, Elifaz uses the phrase “orach olam,” “the way of the world.” The Ibn Ezra says that this refers to the heretical belief that the world was always the way it is now, without a beginning. (Hmm. Debates over the origin of the universe. The details may be different, but apparently some things never change!)

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