Job – Chapter 31

Job's "Last Words"

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Job concludes his response:

“I’m a righteous person. I didn’t even look at eligible girls unless I was looking to get married or to find a wife for one of my sons. But this is how G-d repays me? Isn’t this kind of punishment more appropriate for sinners? Why doesn’t G-d treat me fairly? He knows I haven’t acted falsely. He should treat me fairly, because I’m innocent! If I have done anything wrong, then I deserve to be punished accordingly, measure for measure. If I had sinful thoughts about another man’s wife, that would be like fire, threatening my harvest. If I didn’t treat my servants fairly, then I would deserve whatever G-d gives me.”

“Have I ignored the needs of the poor or of widows? Did I let orphans go hungry? I was raised in the ways of righteousness all my life! I didn’t let a needy person go around without adequate clothing – I used the fleece of my own flocks to make them clothes and they blessed me for it! If I had raised a hand against an orphan, I would deserve to lose that arm. I have seen what G-d does to the wicked and I fear it, so I have always stayed in line.”

“If I had trusted in riches rather than in G-d, or if I had been lured to idolatry, I would deserve to be punished. Same thing if I had rejoiced in the downfall of others or tried to collect money I wasn’t actually owed. Didn’t I crowd my house with guests? No one ever went without a place to stay. I wasn’t perfect, but I always admitted when I was wrong. I used to be able to overcome a huge number of evil men, but now the lowliest of them can intimidate me into hiding.”

“I wish there was someone who would listen to my side and take action on my behalf. May G-d testify on my behalf and may the one who sides with Him write it down in a book! If he did, I would wear the book like a crown and carry its author on my shoulders out of gratitude. I would explain it all to that person and I would ask him to present my case to G-d.”

“If my property complains that I was lax with fulfilling my agricultural obligations, if I didn’t pay my workers or oppressed my sharecroppers, then may my land grow thorns and weeds instead of crops. That’s all I have to say; I’m finished.”

Rashi cites a Midrash that Moses is the one Job wants to write his book. As per our introduction, we are working under the assumption that that’s exactly what happened.

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