INTRODUCTION TO JOB
The Book of Job is a masterpiece written during the golden age of poetic creation in Israel, probably at the time of the First Temple. According to a specific Hebraic tradition, it is attributed to Moses. It is the first metaphysical novel of international literature, and without a doubt, one of its best examples. The text’s rhythm transports us to the roots of a new knowledge of humanity and its mysteries.
This lyrical poem’s theme comes from an old folk legend, which depicts the righteous put to the test by Satan. Its universal dimension is underlined by the fact that Job is neither a Judean or an Israealite, but an Idumean.
Persuaded by Satan, Elohim allows that Job loses his children and his possessions, and that he shall be physically struck by an apparently incurable disease.
The suffering of the righteous evokes in turn the ontological problem of evil.
The central question that dominates the work is: how can we appreciate Job’s destiny with respect to the generally accepted rules of retribution? Should the righteous’ suffering make us doubt the universal moral order? The drama becomes tragedy: Job is torn, at his very core. He no longer understands the justice of Elohim, whom he continues to acknowledge as his god and worship. Job the Wise is forced to revolt against Job the Righteous. Job has lost more than his offspring and his possessions: it is an attack against the roots of his being, roots that are now dry; it is an attack against his trust in Adonai’s justice. His thinking becomes unsurpassable and audacious when, having renounced everything, having agreed to lose everything, he clings onto the ultimate thing that is his and that, for him, is the most precious: his sense of justice. He understands and accepts that Elohim shall take away his children, his good health, his possessions. But he cannot doubt what, in his eyes, is an evidence: his virtue of justice, which he suddenly turns into an absolute priority, an element of autonomous virtue that is disjointed from hope and even from faith, because it accuses Adonai and summons Him to justify himself. The justice of men fails, beyond fear and hope, and in turn seems to denounce the collapse of divine justice. The Hebraic tradition that came after saw Job as a rebel and a blasphemer (Talmud, Baba Bathra, 15-16). This is probably Israel’s thinking at its most audacious, stripping the universe of its myth. Never before had human assertion gone so far than with this victim, devoured by his diseases yet overcoming them, who aspires to justice and to devotion.
Extract from the Book of Job