Job – Chapter 8

Shape Up or Ship Out

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The next friend to address Job was Bildad the Shuchite. He said, “How long will you persist in saying such things? Do you think G-d isn’t fair? If He punished your children, they must have done something to deserve it.” (Rashi says that Bildad’s intent is that if they perished through their feast, then their feast was the source of their sin.) “If you repent and seek G-d,” Bildad says, “He will focus on your merits and your home will be complete in your righteousness. Your beginning (Job’s earlier prosperity) will seem small compared with what lies ahead.”

“Look at past generations,” Bildad advises, “and work at understanding what they learned. We have no experience to speak of and our lives are brief; the teachings of our ancestors are priceless when it comes to understanding things.”

Bildad compares people to various types of grass. Papyrus needs water to grow and it won’t be plucked while it’s still green, but when the water runs out, it’s the first one to dry up. Similarly, a person who turns his back on G-d will prosper until his merits run out and then it’s “game over.” Such a person relies on his home, but it will not endure. When his merits run out and G-d takes action, this person will disappear. G-d will neither abandon the righteous nor allow the wicked to persist.

“If you shape up,” Bildad told Job, “G-d will cause your mouth to be filled with joy, while those who rejoiced in your troubles will be ashamed. Those who stumble and return to G-d will arise, but those who are obstinate in their ways will fall and stay down.”

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