Job – Chapter 9

What's The Point of Arguing?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

So, Bildad reiterated the point made by Elifaz, that G-d is not arbitrary. If Job’s children were killed, Bildad said, they must have done something wrong. Job himself is being afforded an opportunity to clean up his act and if he does, his future will be even brighter than his previous state was.

Job disagrees.

Remember, Job hadn’t blamed G-d directly for his troubles, though he did blame G-d indirectly, by saying that G-d had delegated running the world to the Zodiac. “Since G-d isn’t handling things personally,” Job says, “what does one accomplish by being righteous? You can ask G-d all the questions you want, but He’s never going to answer. You can’t ‘win’ in a debate with G-d; who ever accomplished that? He punishes people for their actions, but they don’t know the reasons.”

“G-d is infinitely powerful. After all, He created the whole universe and performs wonders too numerous to count. Anything He wants, He can just do. If He wants to punish a person, no one can stop Him. So what can I say? Even if I’m right, He gets the last word. If He wanted to, He could punish me even worse, for no reason at all! I can’t compete because in a contest with G-d, I will automatically lose.”

“I know I’m innocent,” Job continues, “but I don’t know what to do about it. It doesn’t matter if one is righteous or guilty, G-d punishes everyone the same way. The wicked have a good laugh when the righteous are caused to endure suffering. Let’s face it, the wicked are running the show here on Earth. If not, why do the righteous suffer so much?”

Job starts to conclude this part of his reply to Bildad. “My life is passing by quickly and there’s no good in it. If I withhold my complaints about the way I have been treated, you will take that to mean I admit that I have sinned, but I haven’t. Even if I were guilty, what good would be gained by turning to G-d after all He has done to me? There’s simply no level playing ground where I can discuss the situation with G-d on equal terms. There’s no impartial moderator between us. Let Him take the threat of punishment away and allow me to speak freely, without fear of consequences.”

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