Job – Chapter 20

Them's Fightin' Words!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Tzofar the Naamasite replies to Job:

“Sorry, but I have to respond to that. You disparage me, so I must reply. Don’t you know the way things have always been? As long as man has been on Earth, the victory that evil people enjoy has been short-lived. If they become powerful and elevated, they soon fall and disappear. Their sons will be left to try and compensate for the fathers’ wrongdoings and the property that they took through force will find its way back to the rightful owners. The evil person dies suddenly, at the height of his strength. He loves his wickedness, though he may initially conceal it until the time is ripe to spring his traps on people.”

“The food eaten by the wicked will become like poison to them when their time comes. He will ‘vomit up’ the wealth he gathered; it will be like a snake’s venom to him. He will take no pleasure in his ill-gotten gain and he will have to return it to its owner. Because he oppressed the poor, he actually drove himself from the world. Such a person is always hungry for more, so he will never be able to satisfy himself. He uses up all his resources and doesn’t help the poor, so he will never prosper. As soon as he appears to have enough, he will find himself in trouble and the needy will overwhelm him. G-d will send His wrath upon this person. He is destined to meet a violent end.”

“The darkness that awaits this evil person is concealed from him,” Tzofar concludes. “The fire of Gehinnom (Hell) will consume him and those who take his place will not find things any better. His actions will become known and he will be despised for them. His possessions will be carried off by enemies when he gets his comeuppance. This is the fate G-d has decreed for the wicked.”

The implication of Tzofar’s closing remark, that this is what happens to evil people, is not subtle. Tzofar is suggesting that if this is what has happened to Job, then he must have done something to deserve it. (As you can imagine, Job is NOT going to take that lying down!)

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