Job – Chapter 30

That Was Then, This Is Now

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

In the previous chapter, Job enumerated how esteemed he was before G-d afflicted him with all of his current troubles. Now, Job continues:

“But that was then; now, people younger than me laugh at me, even those of low families whose fathers were far below me. I put them to work as shepherds, but I shouldn’t have because not only were they bad people, they were bad workers. Because of their poverty, they would dwell alone, subsiding on plants and berries they would pluck for food. These people were so despised, they were driven out of the cities, to live in caves. They were descended from equally lowly people, alienated from the people of the land.”

“But now,” Job continues, “I have become a topic of conversation among them. They hate me and they keep away from me, except to spit on me. And you know why all this has happened? Because G-d has taken away all my power and authority. Little punks stand up to me, acting with shameless ‘chutzpah.’ They antagonize me just for fun. Terrors have come upon me and my salvation has dissipated like a cloud.”

“Now,” Job says (are you detecting a theme here?), “my soul pours out because of all my troubles. My bones are picked clean all night and my muscles know no rest. My oozing boils constantly require having their dressing changed. They require me to sit in the dirt” (as we said in chapter 2) “and I myself have become like dust and ashes. I cry out to G-d, but He doesn’t answer. All He does is think, ‘What can I do to Job next?’ He’s acting hatefully to me for some reason. He will send me to the grave, where we all end up.”

“It’s not G-d’s way to send complete destruction. While He’s afflicting one person or nation, He’s simultaneously comforting another. He knows whether or not I was compassionate to the needy when I was up. I expected good as a reward for my deeds, but He sent evil instead. I am internally conflicted and I cannot remain silent about this. I have been blackened without even going out in the sun. I wail and moan constantly, like an ostrich or a jackal. All my rejoicing has turned to mourning.”

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