Job – Chapter 38

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By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

And now, G-d Himself speaks to Job! G-d addresses Job from the midst of a storm because in chapter 9, Job said that G-d could intimidate him by crushing him with a storm (verse 17).

“Who is saying such foolish things?” G-d asks rhetorically. “You don’t know anything. You wanted to talk to Me; well, here I am! Stand up like a man and let’s talk. Where were you when I formed the Earth? Do you know how it was hung in it place? Where were you when the stars started singing and the angels started their praises? Do you set the boundary around the sea? I think not! Where were you when I wrapped the world in clouds?”

“Do you make the sun come up in the morning? Not! Do you shake the world so that the wicked may be uprooted? No! A person is mortal; his face changes in death, until he stands up again at the future revival of the dead. At that time, the wicked will be deprived of light and the arm of oppressors will be broken. Have you explored the ocean depths or seen the gates of Hell? Do you understand the way the world runs? If you do, then please, speak up!” (The Ralbag renders verse 18, “Do you know the distance from the equator to the poles?” The Ibn Ezra also sees it as a geography question.)

“Do you know where light comes from and where darkness goes? Did you know when you would be born? Do you know when you’ll die? Do you understand the wonder of snow? How about the hail that I saved from the plague in Egypt to be used against the invaders in the time of Joshua?” (See Joshua chapter 10.) So, tell me, how exactly does one separate the light over the Earth from the east? Was it you who made a separate follicle for every hair and a separate path for every thunderclap? Do you make it rain in the desert, where no one can see it? Where do ice and frost come from?”

“Can you bind up the constellations, or free them? Do you make the Zodiac go around and around? Do you know which angel is assigned what job in order to supervise them? Can you command the clouds, making it rain? Can you send lightning with a word? Who gave the rooster its ability as an alarm clock? Do you have any control over the sky? How about the dust of the Earth? Do you make sure the lions are fed? How about the ravens?”

G-d appears to end rather abruptly, but He continues in the next chapter.

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