Part 7: Chapter 1, Verses 7-11
Verse 7. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you been?' Satan said 'I've been
going back and forth, and walking up and down across the earth.'"
Verse 8. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you seen my servant Job? Is there anyone
else like him in the world [land], any simple, upright, G-d fearing man who
stays away from evil?'"
Verse 9. "Then Satan answered the Lord saying, 'Does Job fear G-d for nothing?'"
Verse 10. "Haven't you rewarded him, his household and everyone around him?
You've blessed everything he does, along with his growing flocks."
Verse 11. "But if you'd even touch his possessions, he'd curse You to Your face."
Let us examine the reasons for G-d's enthusiastic endorsement of Iyov:
1. "He is my servant"
2. "There is no one like him in the world [land]."
The Malbim draws our attention to the significance of these points.
1. "He is my servant." Certainly G-d was not praising Iyov for passive,
mindless subservience. Clearly we are dealing with a virtue that G-d values
very highly. Iyov elevated his G-d given capacity for free will to its
Motivated by a burning love for G-d, he was able to to place
the will of his Creator above any personal drives and desires. He had
climbed to the zenith of altruism and spiritual perfection.
Servitude seems to be an unavoidable part of the human condition. It appears
in many different forms. World history is replete with the sad stories of
nations and people who were forced into surrendering their freedom to the
wicked whims of tyrants and oppressors. Others were shackled by poverty or
illness. Both phenomena are no strangers to the twentieth century.
fortunate ones who are not oppressed and restrained by external forces are
often enslaved to the demands of family, culture and society. The most
joyous times in our lives, marriage and child bearing, are bundled with one
form or another of servitude. These events demand from us a strong sense
responsibility and intense commitment to satisfying the needs and wishes of
others. We are constantly faced with choices how to exercise our free will,
to subordinate ourselves to a higher ideal or subject ourselves to the
demands of life and society.
2. Back to Iyov. G-d describes him as his servant. Iyov was intensely
committed to the fulfillment of G-d's will above and beyond all other
considerations. Through his fervent pursuit of absolute faithfulness to his
creator Iyov was able to elevate himself above all other inhabitants of this
Hence "Is there anyone else like him in the world [land]". All -the
others- were to various degrees people -of the land-. This means that they
too are servants, but not of G-d. They are servants of the -land-, i.e. the
physical. In as much as they are committed to their own material needs and
desires they are vulnerable to the Satan. (See our last lesson Iyov part 6)
Iyov on the other hand is has opted to relinquish his claim to the physical
in favor of a passionate commitment to G-d. Indeed there is no one like him
in 'the land'.
Maimonides has taught us in no uncertain terms that G-d is absolutely devoid
of any physical characteristic or attribute. The human being on the other
hand, is a combination of the physical body and the metaphysical soul
(neshama). Herein lies the struggle of man in pursuit of his creator. They,
man and G-d, are inherently incompatible.
In light of this we can now easily
understand the origins of idolatry . The metamorphism of G-d was to a great
extent response to the struggle of physical man in his efforts to
communicate with a metaphysical G-d.
Iyov was able to transcend the servitude of the 'land'. He was no longer
vulnerable to the natural forces of destruction in this world. In so doing
he eclipsed the darkness of the Satan.
After the incredible testimony of G-d what argument could the Satan possibly
present against Iyov? Could he possibly claim that Iyov had committed any
misdeed or possessed any flaw of character? Was he not entirely committed to
neshama (soul) over body, to the fulfillment of G-d's will above and beyond
any selfish agendas?
The approach that the Satan takes is at once
incredulous and astonishing. He maintains that Iyov is not what G-d claims
him to be. The opposite is true. He is totally committed to his own selfish
material needs. How can the Satan make this outlandish accusation after G-d
himself testified in behalf of Iyov giving him the highest possible
We would be safe to assume that G-d's view of the situation was more
accurate than the Satan's. If so, why was Iyov judged so severely? We have
come to a crucial point in understanding this book. It is absolutely clear
that the suffering meted out to Iyov cannot be explained as retribution for
any wrongdoing or character flaw.
He was by G-d's own testimony a totally
righteous person who had reached the pinnacle of moral, ethical and
spiritual perfection. We will discuss this further on our next lesson.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.