All's Well That Ends WellBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Over the past few chapters, G-d has brought Job back down to Earth by pointing out His wonders, which Job can scarcely comprehend, let alone control. Job has had an epiphany that maybe he’s not as wonderful as he thought he was. Job replies:
“I always knew that You could do anything You desired. I included this in my remarks as best I understood it. But there was so much I didn’t know, which You have now told me! I always knew You by reputation, but this is the first time I’ve experienced you ‘first-hand.’ Now I’m absolutely mortified by what I said before.”
Next, G-d addressed Job’s friend Elifaz, whom you will remember was a prophet, as we saw in chapter 4. He said:
“Job may have been mistaken in thinking that he was more perfect than he actually is, but you three were WAY off-base. Job may not be perfect, but he IS righteous and you three were ready to assume the worst of him! You three must offer seven bulls and seven rams to atone. Job will pray for you and when he does, I will forgive you for his sake.”
Elifaz, Bildad and Tzofar did as G-d instructed and G-d showed favor to Job. G-d returned that which had been taken from Job and he had twice as much wealth as he had before. His family and friends, who had been estranged, came and consoled Job for what he had been through and they each gave him a token of their affection. Job had fourteen (or possibly seven) sons and three daughters. His daughters were the most beautiful girls in the land and Job gave them an inheritance with their brothers.
After the events of this story, Job lived an additional 140 years and he saw four generations of descendants. He died satisfied, at a ripe old age.
Now, as for the matter of whether or not Job’s children were actually killed, to which we alluded in chapter 1. We didn’t actually see them killed in the narrative, as the action happened “off-camera.” It is possible that the messengers reporting their deaths had been caused to hallucinate. Several things in this chapter support that hypothesis. First, verse 10 says that G-d restored that which had been captured from Job, which would be the wrong word to use for someone or something that had died. Next, verse 13 says that Job had however many sons and daughters – not that he begot them at this point, but that he already had them. Finally, that same verse uses the unusual word “shivana” for the number of sons. Most commentaries, including Metzudas Dovid and “Rashi,” interpret that word as “twice seven” or 14. Some, however, including Ibn Ezra, interpret it to mean seven. If so, verse 13 could mean that Job had those those selfsame seven sons and three daughters as he had had in the beginning.