Job 11-14: Job and Zophar

Reading: Job 11-14

Zophar, again, has very little to add. Basically, he tells Job to stop talking before he makes things worse for himself. Like the other friends, Job’s suffering challenges their faith, and they are unwilling to hear anything that might suggest that they misunderstand God. Strangely enough, Zophar builds on Job’s earlier theme of transcendence, but even while calling God too big to understand he assumes that he understands what will happen in the end.

Job answers back: “all of you are worthless physicians, if only you would keep silent that would be your wisdom.” (Job 13:4-5 NRSV) Job goes on to suggest that his friends are not speaking for God, but that they are truly speaking for themselves. Job is, strangely, wise enough to see through them, even while he suffers.

Job then goes on to pray to God, asking simply that God will show up and answer his questions: What are my sins? Why do you hide your face? Why am I your enemy? Why are you so hard on those who are far weaker? Is this you at all?

Again, if we skip forward to chapter 41, in all that Job says, Job does not sin against God. While suffering, Job questions God’s justice and God’s mercy. Job complains that what happens is not fair, and God eventually validates Job’s right to speak. Zophar is wrong: The person who suffers is allowed to speak, and should not be silenced.

Continued:  Job 15-31: Beating the dead horse

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