What do You Really Want? The Book of Job

Brit-Am Commentary (BAC).

Job Chapter Five.
Job 5:1-16. Good Advice Versus A Mirror.

Eliphaz and the Law of the Jungle.
Reflections on Job and Edom.


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What do You Really Want?
The Book of Job. Chapter Five.

Job 5:1-16
Good Advice Versus A Mirror.

[Job 5:1] Call out now;
Is there anyone who will answer you?
And to which of the holy ones will you turn?

We cannot expect our religious mentors and advisors to adapt the truths they hold to our own needs.
We need answers. We need to know the truth.
On the other hand,
The truth should be presented in a way we can accept.

Once when I was younger I went to someone for advice.
He talked with me and then said,
"You do not need an Advisor you need a Mirror."
He meant that I would be unwilling to accept advice that did not fit my expectations.
He had a point but was mistaken.

The advisors of Job were making the same mistake.
Basically the advisors of Job seem to be saying:
God is good.
Good is done to the good.
Bad things happen to the wicked.
No-one is perfect.
If Job is suffering he must have sinned somehow.
He should admit his fault.
God knows best.

Job will reply that such may often be the case but not always.
There is something there beyond us.
The Almighty will announce that Job was more correct than his companions.
Job too will however have erred in calling the Almighty to make an account if only by not declaring the supreme Justice behind everything.

The companions of Job needed to take the case of Job into account as Job saw it.
They who would advice us need to give it to us in consideration of what we are.
Though we should not expect a mirror we also have a right not to see ourselves negated.
We are the ones who will have to live with the path proffered to us.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

The expression, Train up a child in the way he should go, in Hebrew [Chanok leNaar al pi darko] may be understood to say,
# Educate the youth according to his own individual propensity #

When you advise someone take account of who they are. Do not look to make them Mirrors of yourself.

[Job 5:2] For wrath kills a foolish man,
And envy slays a simple one.

This is practical wisdom. When you get angry you are liable to do things that damage yourself.
In fact your anger may well cause you much more harm than whatever it is you are angry about.

envy. In Hebrew "kinah".
Jealousy really can cause a great deal of damage to all of us. Sometimes we resent others and even seek to hurt them because of jealousy. We may not even be fully conscious of this.
We might  feel a little bad about others because they look better than we do or they succeed more or are praised more or are better appreciated. Often we may feel that whatever they receive they deserve less than we. We should be careful about this attitude. It is not usually necessary.

The same word in Hebrew, "Kinah" may mean either envy or extremism, or fanaticism.
Both interpretations are acceptable and these traits should be guarded against.

[Job 5:3] I have seen the foolish taking root,
But suddenly I cursed his dwelling place.

[Job 5:4] His sons are far from safety,
They are crushed in the gate,
And there is no deliverer.

[Job 5:5] Because the hungry eat up his harvest,
Taking it even from the thorns,
And a snare snatches their substance.

[Job 5:6] For affliction does not come from the dust,
Nor does trouble spring from the ground;

[Job 5:7] Yet man is born to trouble,
As the sparks fly upward.

Man is born to trouble. We are in some respects like animals. We cannot be relied upon. We cannot rely on ourselves. We are sometimes our own worse enemies. We need to ask the Almighty to help us and then we may have a chance.

It may be that the undeserving succeed. We too may sometimes experience a run of success.
Nevertheless we need the Fear of Heaven to guide us.
We should learn Biblical Wisdom. Otherwise everything we have (God forbid) may be in danger.

[Job 5:8] But as for me, I would seek God,
And to God I would commit my cause?

[Job 5:9] Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number.

[Job 5:10] He gives rain on the earth,
And sends waters on the fields.

[Job 5:11] He sets on high those who are lowly,
And those who mourn are lifted to safety.

[Job 5:12] He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
So that their hands cannot carry out their plans.

[Job 5:13] He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
And the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them.

[Job 5:14] They meet with darkness in the daytime,
And grope at noontime as in the night.

[Job 5:15] But He saves the needy from the sword,
From the mouth of the mighty,
And from their hand.

[Job 5:16] So the poor have hope,
And injustice shuts her mouth.

Job 5: 17-27.
Eliphaz and the Law of the Jungle.

[Job 5:17]  Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

We have to accept tribulations as a visitation from the Almighty.
On the other hand we do not have to agree with them. Nor should we refrain from attempting to overcome them.
This also may be considered a message of Job.
There are those who consider the whole tale of Job and his trials as one long vision that did not really take place.
The majority of Commentators however say it was a real event that occurred to a real person.
The idea however is worth considering for the light it throws on reality.
Job was suffering so much and his experience was so intense that there was something unreal about it.
Young people in Israel have an expression concerning something weird and frightening that happens to them,
"I felt like I was in a film!"
Alternately, did Job have a vision that was so intense that there was no difference (for him) between what he imagined and what was real?
The Holocaust was similar.
If it was fiction it would have been considered unrealistic!

The People of Israel and especially the Jews are like Job in some ways.

Amos 3:
2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

Exodus 19:
4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.'

Deuteronomy 7:
6 'For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

At all events if troubles come upon you it could be that God is sending you a message.
If you wonder why you are afflicted and your neighbors are not it could be that the Almighty is calling to you to repent and that your neighbors are simply in a different category?

It takes all kinds to make a world.
One of the Sages was visited with afflictions.
He declared,
"I do not want them nor the reward for them!"
I think most of us would agree with this.

Nevertheless each one of us is somehow chosen.
Being chosen implies obligations and liabilities.

Eliphaz continues speaking.
Eliphaz had had a vision. He was not exactly a Prophet but for his time and location he was undoubtedly at a high level.
Nothing he says is wrong.
Neither, at the simple level, was it all right!
His emphasis is on certain matters and his application of correct principles will be shown as incomplete and lacking.
Every Prophet expressed himself in his own terms and according to his own limitations.

[Job 5:18] For He bruises, but He binds up;
He wounds, but His hands make whole.

God can heal. HE will help us.

[Job 5:19] He shall deliver you in six troubles,
Yes, in seven no evil shall touch you.

[Job 5:20] In famine He shall redeem you from death,
And in war from the power of the sword.

Our ancestors were in places that suffered from famine, war, and death.
They survived. Others did not.
By virtue of their survival we are here.
We owe them something.
We are continuations that got here by virtue of others.
It was not for nothing that we got to where we are and others did not.
Let us be thankful and do the best we can while we are able.

[Job 5:21]  You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
And you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes.

When others tell lies and inform against their fellows you shall not be touched.
Neither will you give in to the baser instinct of your fellows. You will not be like them. You shall survive while they will not.

"destruction": In Hebrew "shod" literally "robbery".
In the Holocaust the Germans used Jews against Jews and  Gentiles against their Jewish neighbors.
Many Gentiles benefited from the Jewish disappearance. They received furniture, bed-clothes, houses, properties, better jobs, and so on.  They were deceived into thinking themselves better off. Thinking otherwise was dangerous.

Victims of  crimes and injustice are sometimes ostracized by their families.
The alternative could imply the need for confrontation against forces that there is fear in confronting.

[Job 5:22]  You shall laugh at destruction and famine,
And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

[Job 5:23]  For you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field,
And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.

[Job 5:24]  You shall know that your tent is in peace;
You shall visit your dwelling and find nothing amiss.

[Job 5:25]  You shall also know that your descendants shall be many,
And your offspring like the grass of the earth.

[Job 5:26]  You shall come to the grave at a full age,
As a sheaf of grain ripens in its season.

[Job 5:27]  Behold, this we have searched out;
It is true.
Hear it, and know for yourself.'

Eliphaz tells a truth but he uses harsh terms.
We may survive as did our ancestors.
But at what cost?
If everyone else is suffering you would not want to be like them.

The whole evolutionary concept of Survival of the Fittest is mistaken, at least concerning human beings.
Nevertheless some come through and others do not.
The Almighty decides.
The Israelite Ideal however is not that one or two stay alive but the whole nation.
Moses was brought up in the Place of Pharaoh. He was like a Prince. He killed an Egyptian who was oppressing a fellow Hebrew.
Moses was forced to flee since he realized that his fellow Hebrews had evidently informed on him.
Moses reached Midian and married there.
The Almighty sent him back to Egypt to bring out his people.
This is the Biblical Ideal, that we identify as Hebrews and link our fate to the Hebrew nation in general.

Esther 4:
13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: 'Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'

Esther was being asked to risk her life and try and save her people.
Mordecai warned her NOT to think of herself. Esther at the superficial level could have stayed as she was.
The King did not know her nationality and apparently had decided not to do so. Esther was in a favorable position. She could stay as she was and survive. Mordecai warned her not to entertain such thoughts. If she thought to save herself in the end she would perish and so would all her family. The Jewish people would be saved in some other way and Esther would have lost her chance.

These remarks of Mordecai are interesting and important in themselves. What is particularly of interest is that Mordecai deemed it necessary to direct such words to Esther!
In other words, Esther was as frail and vulnerable as everybody else. She could have failed. She could have given in to her basic survival instincts and sought to save herself at the expense of others.
She did not.

Reflections on Job and Edom.

Edomite Origins.
Eliphaz was an Edomite.
The wise men of Teman from Edom were famous (Obadiah 1:8, Jeremiah 49:7).
Job was also from Edom.
There is an opinion that Job was an Israelite from the Tribe of Issachar.
Genesis 46:
13 The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job, and Shimron.

Job (also known as Jashub, Numbers 26:24) son of Issachar however was evidently someone else.
Iben Ezra mentions the opinion that Job was from Nachor the brother of Abraham but he himself opines that he was an Edomite.
Nachmanides says that Job lived in the northern region of Edom (the Land of Oz) and implies that he was an Edomite.
We too incline towards this view.

This affects how we view the whole outlook of Job.
It may be that Job belonging to the nation of Edom influenced his attitude and world-view. This does not mean that there was anything wrong with it but rather a question of emphasis and a highlighting of some issues along with a relative disregard of others.

The Loneliness of Job.
On the one hand Job was an individual, a lonely man facing the Almighty.
He was not part of a chosen people with a collective goal, a Divinely set mission, and a unique status.
Job is alone facing God on his own terms.
The Book of Job is very deep. It lacks the warmth of the Book of Psalms.
The Psalms like other parts of the Bible present an on-going dialogue of love and service and inter-reaction with the Almighty.
People can read Psalms and feel as if they are speaking to the God of Israel and in a sense they are.
The Book of Job keeps its distance.
The Almighty in the Book of Job does have a personal relationship with Job and an ongoing strongly felt interest in him. HE is not however present as the God of Israel but rather as the Creator of the World and the Deity of Job. There is a difference.

Belief in the World to Come.
When I was young a lot of secular writers on the Bible seemed to say that the Ancient Israelites or Jews (as they called them) did not believe in the after-life. This is not correct.
Awareness of an after-life permeates Scripture. There may however be a possibility of serving the Almighty without relating so much to this aspect of existence.
One of the Sages said that Job was a denier of the Resurrection of the Dead. This does not mean that he did not believe in it. He simply did not factor it into his world-view.
Job was not like the Holy Ones of the past.
Great Believers are known to have lived their lives as if there was a seamless transition between this world and the next.
Not everyone is capable of reaching this level. Perhaps it is not what is wanted of us?
For Job everything had to begin and end here in this world. Whatever else there might be this world on its own terms had to provide its own justification.
This is another way of handling our spiritual situation.

The Ten Tribes and Job.
We believe in the Ten Tribes.
We understand the Ten Tribes to be amongst Western Peoples.
We believe this because Scripture seems to say it quite strongly.
It also resonates with our understanding of history and the present state of affairs.
If for some reason we were in error and it is was all one big mistake it would be understandable.
We had been given Biblical Promises and empirical facts. No other conclusion was possible.
God does not play dice.
We are therefore in the right.
In the future this will be confirmed but before then we lack the final affirmation.
In addition most others do not feel as we.
Nevertheless through belief in the Ten Tribes and the Bible we may feel closer to the Almighty.
We are part of the Divine Plan.
Job was not.
Job represents a side-issue, an alternate approach that is also valid in its own way.


To Make an Offering to Brit-Am!

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Ireland Provinces
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