It strikes me as ironic that the mention of
‘Satan’ in the early chapters of Job has been speed-read as evidence for the
orthodox concept of Satan as an evil being in opposition to God. For on closer
reading of Job, especially against its background of Canaanite and Babylonian
myths about Satan, it becomes apparent that one purpose of the book is to
deconstruct the myth of an evil ‘Satan’ figure. The epic poem demonstrates that
God is all powerful, the ultimate source of calamity, and yet He works through this
to the ultimate happy blessing of His children.
It has been correctly observed that we
don’t read of ‘Satan’ after the prologue to Job. Instead we read only of God
bringing the afflictions into Job’s life. But the friends, and Job himself,
struggle to explain those afflictions in terms of the current ideas in the
surrounding world. This may not be immediately evident, because the Hebrew of
Job is notoriously hard to translate. But closer attention to the text reveals
that there is repeated mention of the various beings and forces of evil which
were thought to be in competition with God. It seems that the story of Job
originated very early in Biblical history, in the times of the patriarchs. And
yet the book has many connections with the latter half of Isaiah- just take a
glance down the marginal cross references in Job, and see how often the later
chapters of Isaiah are referenced. My suggestion is that the book was rewritten
and edited [under Divine inspiration] during the captivity in Babylon, as a message
especially relevant for the Jewish exiles as they struggled with the temptation
to accept Babylonian mythological explanations of evil. This would explain the
allusions to both early Canaanite and later Babylonian views of the ‘Satan’
figure. And we recall from Is. 45:5-7 how Israel’s God was at pains to remind
the exiles of His omnipotence, that He is the only God and source of power in
creation, and that both good and disaster, light and darkness, are ultimately
His creation; and the surrounding Gentile myths about these things were totally
wrong. This is in fact the theme of the book of Job. Susan Garrett points out how Babylonian views of a dualistic cosmos, with God creating good and the 'Satan' figure creating evil, began to influence Jewish thought. She shares my view that the purpose of the book of Job was to counter this: "The story of Job checked an escalation in the power and authority that were ascribed to the Satan-figure, by the repeated and unambiguous assertions in Job 1-2 that Satan had obtained the authority to test Job from none other than God" (1).
The references to ‘Satan’-like beings and
related myths in the book of Job is in order to ultimately deconstruct them as
false, and to re-iterate the utter omnipotence of Yahweh as the only source of
power, the only God. And this of course we would expect from an Old Testament,
God-inspired book. It's been suggested by literary critics that the prologue which mentions Satan (Job chapters 1 and 2) and epilogue (Job 42:7-17) were likely written before the poetic discourses- they appear to be "an Israelite revision of an older Canaanite or Edomite epic poem expressing their views on the age-old problem of evil" (2). Thus those ideas are alluded to and deconstructed- God is presented as all powerful, and the 'Satan' beliefs as untrue.
Job is poetry, and poetry works by using familiar words and
images in new ways. Hence myths can be alluded to and used, but in order to
present them in a different context and to achieve more powerfully a conclusion
rather than just baldly stating it; i.e. that Yahweh is all powerful and that
there are actually no abiding realities behind the myths. Thus poetry is an
appropriate medium through which to articulate this message. "The deceived and the deceiver are His" is poetry which even comes through somewhat in translation (Job 12:16). The expectation is that the deceiver is Satan, and God is with or sympathetic to the deceived. But no. Such dualistic expectations are set up, but crushed at the end of the strophe: both deceived and deceiver are God's. For there is no dualistic cosmos out there.
The Court Of Heaven
The prologue opens with the court of
Heaven. I have earlier suggested that the ‘Satan’ figure is not in itself evil,
but could refer to an Angel [a 'good' one, as I submit there are no 'sinful' Angels], or an Angel representative of a fellow worshipper
on earth. The debates in Heaven between the Angels, the will of God as articulated there, is then reflected and carried out on earth- rather like how in Daniel 1-6 we have events on earth described in historical terms, and then we are given an insight into what's been going on in Heaven in Daniel 7-12. Yet the court / legal language continues throughout the book- e.g.
Job is “perfect”, i.e. legally blameless. Job appeals for ‘witnesses’ (Job
9:33-35; 16:18-22; 19:20-27), an advocate in Heaven (Job 9:33), denies his
guilt and demands a legal list of his sins (Job 13:19), he wishes for God to
come to trial (Job 9:3), and thus Job is described as a man who has taken out a
‘case’ with God (Job 23:4; 40:2). Job 29-31 is effectively Job’s declaration of
legal innocence and an appeal to God to hear his case more sympathetically (Job
31:35). And of course God pronounces a final legal verdict at the very end (Job
42:7), in response to Job’s earlier plea: “Sleeplessly I wait for His reply”
(Job 16:22). It’s as if the whole experience of Job was [at least partly] in
order to test out the Canaanite theories of ‘Satan’, suffering and evil in the
court of Heaven. The friends represent the traditional views of evil, and often
make reference to the myths of their day about ‘Satan’ figures. They speak as
if they are the final court- Eliphaz speaks of how the judges and elders
of their day, the “holy ones”, had concluded Job was guilty, and that they, the
friends, were right: “To which of the holy ones will you appeal [legal
language]?... we have [legally] examined this, and it [Job’s guilt] is true”
(Job 5:1,27). This is of great comfort to those who feel misjudged by man-
above them in Heaven the ultimate Heavenly court is considering our case, and
that is all that matters. Job perhaps perceived this, even though the vision of
the court of Heaven in chapters 1 and 2 was presumably unknown to him as he
endured his sufferings; for in response to the friends’ wrong judgment of him,
he comments that “God covers the faces of the judges of the earth” (Job 9:24).
The final summing up speeches from both God and Job simply emphasize the
omnipotence of God; how ultimately He has been the adversary to Job, and
there is no room in the cosmos of His creation for any other power, especially
any of the various personal ‘Satan’ figures believed in by the worlds of both
Canaan and Babylon. The heavenly court of "sons of God" is paralleled with all the stars in Job 38:7. Bear in mind that the stars were understood as pagan deities. The whole pagan understanding of the cosmos is being deconstructed. The stars are paralleled with the Angelic sons of God who are all totally under God's control; they are His Heavenly court.
The legal language of the book of Job has far reaching implications. We have noted the many connections between Job and the latter part of Isaiah, where again there is the impression of 'God in the dock', a cosmic trial of truth. The gods of the nations are invited to present their best cases, to demonstrate their reality against the claims of Yahweh, Israel's God, to be the only true God. In this trial, the suffering servant is the witness used by God. And this in turn is the basis for the same lawsuit motif in the Gospel of John, where the witness is the Lord Jesus as the suffering servant, and by extension all those in Him (3). Indeed there appear to be seven witnesses in John: John the baptist (Jn. 1:7), Jesus Himself (Jn. 3:11), the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:39), God Himself (Jn. 5:32), the miracles (Jn. 5:36), the Old Testament (Jn. 5:39) and the crowd (Jn. 12:17). John presents the cross as the decisive verdict, linking back to a similar verdict pronounced in Isaiah, which in turn has as its basis the final verdict of Yahweh in support of Job against the beliefs of the friends in the various 'Satan' gods of Canaan and Babylonia.
Leviathan And Behemoth
These monster figures appear at the end of
the book of Job, forming a kind of inclusio with the opening reference
to Satan; and they are clearly part of God’s final answer to Job’s “case”.
Behe-mot can be understood as a reference to Mot, the Canaanite god of death;
and Leviathan appears to be the Canaanite version of the orthodox ‘Satan’
figure, perhaps a reference to the ‘Lotan’ of the Ugaritic myths. In great
detail, these figures are deconstructed. They are shown to be created beings- created by the one almighty God of the Old Testament, to be completely
under His control to the point that He can even tease them, so enormously
greater is His power than theirs. These Canaanite ‘Satan’ figures are thereby
shown to have no significant existence; and they certainly don’t exist as
opposed to God. They are totally under His control. And yet these monster
figures clearly have characteristics shared by known animals, such as the
hippopotamus, crocodile etc. Those similarities are intended. It’s been well observed:
“To say that Leviathan has characteristics of the crocodile and the whale is
not to say that it is such a creature, but rather to suggest that evil
is rooted in the natural world” (4)- and the point is so laboured in Job that
the natural world is of God’s complete creation. ‘Evil’ in a form independent
of Him, in radical opposition to Him, simply isn’t there. It is He who not only created Behemoth, but can effortlessly control him in accord with His purpose (Job 40:15). That’s the comfort of
the message. Indeed the descriptions of the natural world which lead up to the
Leviathan / Behemoth passages are there to underline this point; and it’s
interesting that those passages zoom in upon the cruelties and even brutalities
within nature. Yet these are all of God’s ultimate design and creation, and
under His providential control. Job had earlier perceived this; for he responds
to the friends’ allusions to an evil ‘Satan’ figure as the source of his
suffering by observing: “Ask the animals... the birds of the air... [they show
that] the hand of the Lord [and not any supernatural ‘Satan’] has done this”
(Job 12:7-9). Ginzberg demonstrates that the Jews saw the monster ‘Rahab’ and
Leviathan as the same entity (5); and twice Job stresses how infinitely greater
than Rahab is Yahweh. When God starts speaking about Leviathan, He is therefore
confirming the truth of what Job has earlier said about His power over Rahab /
Leviathan. The context of Job’s comments was to answer the theories of the
friends- and God is as it were confirming that Job’s deconstruction of their ‘Satan’
theories was correct. The same Hebrew words are used about God’s binding and
loosing of the stars [which were thought to control evil on earth] and His
binding, loosing and opening of Leviathan’s mouth (Job 38:31 cp. Job 40:29).
Whether or not Leviathan / a ‘Satan’ figure, or the bad stars, are for real...
God is in utter control of them, and there is thus no conflict, no war in
Heaven, no ultimate dualism at all in the cosmos. Which is just the message we
would expect from a monotheistic Old Testament book. Israel’s God is truly the
Almighty. Just as Job is described as God’s “servant” (Job 1:8), so is
Leviathan (Job 40:28; 41:4). No evil power uncontrolled by God is at work in
Job’s life. We also need to give due weight to the fact that God speaks the
Leviathan / Behemoth passages “out of the storm”, which had been gathering
since Job 37:2. This is significant because storms were seen as manifestations
of evil powers. Yet here (and elsewhere in Scripture), the one true God speaks
out of such storms, to demonstrate how far greater He is than any storm god;
and showing by implication that such storm gods don’t exist, and the ‘evil’
which supposedly came from them was in fact under His control.
Much of the language used about Leviathan and Behemoth is also used about God's manifestation of Himself:
Smoke from nostrils, flame from mouth (Job 41:11,12)
Ps. 18:8 identical
Strength before and dismay behind (Job 41:14 Heb.)
Pestilence before and plague behind (Hab. 3:5)
Strong ones and leaders cringe in fear (Job 41:17 Heb.)
Earth reels (Ps. 18:7); mountains tremble (Hab. 3:6)
Deep sea stirred up (Job 41:23,24 Heb.)
Deep sea laid bare (Ps. 18:5)
Job felt that God was gnashing His teeth at him (Job 16:9)
Breath carries men away
The breath of God's mouth will carry away the wicked (Job 15:30)
On earth there is not his equal (Job 41:33)
Only ultimately true of God
Leviathan is called the 'cruel one' (Job 41:10)- and the very same word is used by Job about God in His afflicting Job in Job 30:21. Leviathan, the seemingly overbearing power of evil in the world, is in fact a manifestation of God to such an intense degree that effectively it 'is' God; God, ultimately, is the adversary / satan to Job. The epilogue and prologue to Job are evidently related. Job begins sitting in dust and ashes and ends repenting in dust and ashes (Job 2:8; 42:4). The silence of the friends at the opening of the book is matched by the silence after God has finally spoken (Job 40:4). Job intercedes for his children (Job 1:5) and ends up interceding for his friends. Job begins with the description of being the Lord's servant; and the book concludes on the same note (Job 42:7,8). The question of course is: 'So what's the equivalent of the 'Satan' figure in the epilogue?'. The omission is intended and obvious. Ultimately the answer is the essence of the whole book: the 'satan', the adversary, is none other than God Himself, in His love.
The Captivity Context
There are several allusions in Job to Babylonian legends concerning Marduk- indicating that the book must have been re-written in Babylon with allusion to these legends. Thus the Enuma Elish 4.139,140 speaks of how Marduk limited the waters of Tiamat, and set up a bar and watchmen so that the waters wouldn't go further than he permitted. But this very language is applied to God in Job 7:12 and Job 38:8-11. One of the purposes of Job was to urge Judah that Yahweh was greater than Marduk, He and not Marduk was to be Israel's God.
In passing, it's significant that dragons in the form of serpents were common in Babylonian theology. Figures on vases show serpent griffins, there was one on Marduk's temple in Nippur, and also on the Ishtar Gate in Babylon. These would have been familiar to Judah in Babylonian captivity; and we have suggested that the book of Job was edited there, under inspiration, for their benefit. They may well have seen a similarity between the Babylonian monsters and the Leviathan / Behemoth beasts. That God is greater than Leviathan and can do what He wills with him would therefore have had a special meaning to the faithful Jew in exile. In a restoration context, Isaiah comforted Judah that God would destroy "Leviathan the gliding serpent; He will slay the monster of the sea" (Is. 27:1). The real 'monster' faced by Judah in exile wasn't a supernatural being; it was a concrete kingdom of men on earth, namely Babylon. God taught Job, and through him showcased to the watching world, that all such imaginations of Leviathan, monsters in the raging sea, crooked serpents etc. were vain- in any case, God had created them and used them to do His will with His people, symbolized as they were by Job. His sitting in dust and ashes is very much the picture of Judah sitting by the rivers of Babylon, bemoaning their losses. The language of Job's captivity being 'turned' (Job 42:10) is the very term used about the restoration of Judah from Babylon (Jer. 29:14; Ps. 126:4).
Other References To Canaanite /
Babylonian Ideas Of ‘Satan’
The sea was understood to be the abode of
evil monsters. Yet Job stresses how God is in control of the raging sea. Just
look out for all the references to the sea in Job (6). God artlessly claims to
have created the sea (Job 38:8-11). In the Canaanite pantheon, Baal was seen as
well matched in conflict by Yam, the sea god. But it’s emphasized by God that
He created the sea, shuts it up within bounds, brought it out from the womb
(Job 38:8). In Canaanite myth, Aquhat [another ‘Satan’ figure in their theology]
could alone “count the months” (7)- but the same phrase is used in Job 39:2
about how God alone has this power. As God ‘shut up’ Job (Job 1:10), so He
could ‘shut up’ the sea, with all the evil associated with it (Job 38:8). For at creation, He had commanded the waters where to go and they obeyed just one word from Him. The
point is, God is using poetry to reframe these pagan myths in the context of
His omnipotence, to show that His awesome power means that there’s no room left
for these supposed beings to exist. It's noteworthy that many times the Bible speaks of the power of God over raging seas- for the sea was so deeply associated with evil in the minds of Semitic peoples (e.g. Ps. 77:19; 93:4 and the fact that three of the Gospels emphasize how Jesus walked over raging sea- Mt. 8:23-27; Mk. 4:36-41; Lk. 8:22-25; "Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!").
Baal was temporarily conquered by Mot, and the Ugaritic poem about their conflict which was found in the Ras Shamra texts speaks of how Baal was made a "slave for ever" (8). This very language is picked up in Job 41:4, where God mocks that in no way would He become a "slave for ever". The allusion shows that the one true God is in no way Baal. He is greater than Baal. Unlike Baal, He is in no conflict with Mot nor anyone. Baal's sister, Anath, muzzled a dragon with great difficulty- but Yahweh muzzled Leviathan and then sported with him (Job 41:1-5). The poem challenges Baal to "Pierce through Lotan the serpent, destroy the serpent the seven headed tyrant" (9). Yet this is exactly the language picked up in Is. 27:1: "Yahweh will punish with His powerful, great and mighty sword Leviathan the serpent, Leviathan the serpent, and He will slay the dragon". Yahweh's utter supremacy over any other god is so great that it makes all ideas of cosmic conflict simply laughable. Ps. 92;10 likewise: "Lo, thine enemies, I YHWH, lo, thine enemies shall perish, all evil doers shall be scattered" alludes to Part 3 lines 8 and 9 of the poem about the Mot-Baal conflict: "Lo, thine enemies, O Baal, lo thine enemies wilt thou pierce through, lo, thou wilt destroy thine adversaries" (10). Note too that Baal's enemies, i.e. Mot and the demons of the underworld, are paralleled with "evildoers". Human sinners rather than demons are the real issue.
Significantly, it is the friends who make
allusion to the ‘Satan’ figures and gods as if they are real, whereas Job in
his responses always denies their reality and sees God as the direct source of
His sufferings. Bildad speaks of how Job’s troubles are to be associated with “the
king of terrors” (Job 18:14); Eliphaz blames them upon the “sons of Resheph”
(Job 5:7); but Job’s response is that the source of the evil in his life is
ultimately from God and not any such being. Eliphaz there speaks of how man's trouble comes "as the sons of Resheph fly upwards". Resheph was known as "the lord of the arrow" and the Ugaritic tablets associate him with archery (11). We would therefore be justified in reading in an ellipsis here: man's trouble comes "as the [arrows of] the sons of Resheph fly upwards". Job's response is that "The arrows of the Almighty are in me" (Job 6:4), and he lament that God is an archer using him as his target for practice (Job 7:20; 16:12,13). Job refuses to accept Eliphaz's explanation that Job is a victim of Resheph's arrows. For Job, if God is "the Almighty" then there is no space left for Resheph. Each blow he received, each arrow strike, was from God and not Resheph.
Job makes the amazing comment: "If although He slays me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). The language of 'slaying' takes us back to the Mosaic commands about how a 'slayer' of a man might be killed by the 'avenger of blood'. Job saw God as slaying him; yet he also sees God as the 'witness' in the case (Job 16:19), and the avenger of Job's blood (Job 19:25). Job even asks God to not let the earth cover his blood, so that God as the avenger of Job's blood may avenge Job's death (Job 16:18). Job does not see 'Satan' as his slayer, and God as the avenger of his blood. Instead Job- in a quite breathtaking set of associations- sees God in all these things: the slayer, the legal witness to the slayer, the avenger of blood, and the One who will enforce the doing of justice in this case, the One who will not let the earth cover Job's blood. If Job really believed in a superhuman Satan, in Satan as the bad guy and God as the avenger of the injustice, he surely would've expressed himself differently. As Job imagines God as it were taking vengeance on Himself, so he came to portray for all time the way that evil and good are indeed both ultimately from God.
Job begins the book by being described as a
man who shunned [the Hebrew word is also translated “to be without” and “to
reject”] ra, “evil”. Michel understands ra here to refer to ‘the
evil one’, the Canaanite god of evil, whom Job disbelieved and rejected
(12). Job says that the friends who came to mourn with him were “ready to raise
up Leviathan” (Job 3:8)- or, as it can also be translated with allusion to the
friends, “to raise up their mourning” (see A.V.). They thought that Leviathan,
the ‘Satan’ figure they believed was real, could be blamed. But Job continually
sees God as the ultimate source of what had happened to him, and understood the
whole matter in terms of ‘how can a man be just with God’ rather than
‘how can a man get Satan off his back?’. A key passage is Job 9:24: “If it be
not he, who then is it?” (R.V.); or as the G.N.B. puts it: “If God didn’t do
it, who did?”. After all the theories of ‘Who’s responsible for all this evil
in Job’s life?’, Job concludes that the source simply has to be God- and not
anyone else. If He truly is all powerful, then who else could ultimately be
responsible? Job states that “the cohorts of Rahab [a Canaanite ‘Satan’ figure]
shall stoop under [God]” (Job 9:13), clearly alluding to the helpers of Tiamat in the Babylonian myth. “God alone stretches out the
heavens, and treads on the back of Yam”- the sea, or sea-monster (Job 9:8). Job believed that it was God who was seeking to swallow him up in death (Job 10:8 Heb.)- surely alluding to how Mot, the god of death, was thought to have jaws encompassing the earth and swallowing up people at their death into the underworld. But Job rejected that myth- he saw God as the swallower, and death as a return to the dust, albeit in hope of bodily resurrection at the last day (Job 19:25-27). Perhaps Job is also alluding to the myths about Mot when he speaks of how "Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering" (Job 26:6 R.S.V.); and in that context speaks as if God is the real attacker, not, therefore, Mot or any other such being. Note too how Num. 16:31-35 describes God as swallowing up Korah, Dathan and Abiram into death in the earth- as if to deconstruct the idea that Mot did things like this.
understood God to be in control in Heaven; he rejects the idea of a cosmic
conflict going on ‘up there’ which the friends seem to allude to. More
specifically, Job speaks of how God’s hand forms and can pierce the “crooked
serpent” and smite any monster (Job 26:11-14). It’s as if Job is mocking the
idea that God has let him go into the hands of the cosmic monsters which the
friends believed in. For Job so often stresses that it is the "hand of God" which has brought His affliction (Job 19:21; 23:2). That Divine hand was far greater than any mythical 'Satan' figure. The theme of his speech in Job 28 is that Yahweh alone is
to be feared throughout the entire cosmos. Nobody else- such as the ‘Satan’
figures alluded to by the friends- needed to be feared.
Job understands that it is God who sends the good and evil, the light and the darkness, into his life (Job 30:26). Significantly, he states his faith that God even marks out the boundary between light and darkness (Job 26:10)- a similar idea in essence to the reassurance of Is. 45:5 that God creates both light and darkness. The 'darkness', however we experience and understand it, is framed and limited by God; it is not a power or being with independent existence outside the realm of God's power. God confirms Job's understanding later, when He says that it is He who can swaddle the sea [another figure for uncontrollable evil] in bands of darkness (Job 38:9)- as if to say that it is God who gives things like darkness and the sea their sinister appearance and perception by men; but He is in control of them, using them in His hand. Job's idea that God fixes limits for the darkness is repeated by God saying that He sets limits for the raging sea (Job 38:10 N.I.V.). God controls evil, or our perception of it (e.g.of the sea as being evil), and He sets limits for it- which was exactly what He did to the power of 'Satan' in the prologue to Job. All these statements by God about His use of and power over things like darkness and sea, with the perceptions of them as being independent forces of evil, are quite different to Canaanite and Babylonian views of creation. In them, gods like Baal had to fight Yam, the evil sea god, with clubs provided by other deities; in the Babylonian version, Marduk has to arm himself with various weapons in order to try to get supremacy over Tiamat (13). But Yahweh as revealed in the book of Job has utter and absolute power over the sea [monster] and the [supposed god of] darkness- for He created the sea and the darkness and uses them creatively for His purpose. That's the whole purpose of the many 'nature passages' in the book of Job. And the language of Genesis 1:9 is evidence enough of His power. He speaks a word- and light, darkness and seas are created, the waters gathering obediently where He commands them. Likewise God isn't in any battle with Leviathan- rather is the monster actually His "plaything" (Ps. 104:26 says likewise).
What Job Learnt
It was so hard for Job to accept that God
and not any orthodox ‘Satan’ figure was his adversary. It’s one thing to deduce
from the Bible that both good and disaster comes from the Lord, as per Is.
45:5-7. It’s of course quite another to accept it in real life, and Job is an
inspiring example. Job 16:9-14 is so powerful- the poetry speaks of Job’s
awesome and even angry realization that God is in fact [in a sense] his
enemy / adversary. “Here Job... identifies God as his enemy rather than his
advocate. From his perspective he is led to wonder if the God in whom he trusted
is not in reality his satan” (14). In Job 2:4-6 we have the ‘Satan’ commenting
that Job’s flesh and skin need to be harmed; but in Job 19:26 we have Job
stating his faith that even though God destroys his flesh and skin, yet
God shall ultimately save him.
I have pointed out that Job all through rejects the ideas promoted by the friends, the view of traditional wisdom (especially emphasized by Bildad, Job 8:8-10), that various supernatural 'Satan' monsters and figures were responsible for his experiences. Job began by saying that we receive both good and evil from God's hand (Job 2:10 cp. Is. 45:5-7). And he ends saying the same- that the Lord brought the trouble upon him (Job 42:11). He repeatedly sees God as the source of all his affliction. Hence God can say that Job has spoken about Him that which is right (Job 42:8). But Job came to realize the massive practical extent of what he had previously known in theory, what he had "by the hearing of the ear". Now his eye saw / perceived that truly no plan of God can be thwarted, by any of the various 'Satan' monsters imagined by men (Job 42:2). We too may say that we believe in the omnipotence of God; but such a belief requires us to throw out all beliefs in supernatural satan figures. And that's not a merely intellectual exercise; to see the tragedies and cruelties of our lives as being ultimately from God and under His control is something which shakes us to the core. God almost jokes with Job, that he had been trying to draw out Leviathan with a fish hook (Job 41:1), and I see that as a commentary upon so many human attempts to get a handle on the way God is the adversary / satan figure in our lives. Shrugging it off as chance and bad luck, believing in a personal Satan in the sea or in Heaven, thinking God is punishing us... all this is trying to capture Leviathan with a mere fishing rod. The book of Job isn't an explanation for specific human suffering- and many who turn to the book looking for that come away disappointed. Rather is it an account of God's sovereign power, putting meaning into the word "All-mighty" when applied to God. On a 'doctrinal' level it is indeed a deconstruction of the ideas of supernatural 'Satan' figures. But on a more personal level, it challenges us to follow in Job's faithful footsteps, as it challenged Judah in captivity.
(1) Susan Garrett, The Temptations Of Jesus In Mark's Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) p. 49.
(2) Douglas Wingeier, What About The Devil? A Study Of Satan In The Bible And Christian Tradition (Nashville: Abingdon, 2006) p. 15. More documentation of this is to be found in The Interpreter's Bible , ed. George Buttrick, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1954) Vol. 3 pp. 878,879.
(3) Expounded at length in Andrew Lincoln, Truth On Trial: The Lawsuit Motif In The Fourth Gospel (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2000).
(4) Robert S. Fyall, Now My Eyes Have
Seen You: Images Of Creation And Evil In The Book Of Job (Leicester: I.V.P.
/ Apollos, 2002) p. 27.
(5) L. Ginzberg, The Legends Of The Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1909) Vol. 5 p.26.
(6) J. Day, God’s Conflict With The Dragon And The Sea: Echoes Of A Canaanite Myth In The Old Testament (Cambridge:
C.U.P., 1985). The book of Daniel perhaps makes the same point- the beasts that
arise out of the raging sea are all under God’s control and part of His purpose
with Israel (Dan. 7:2).
(7) Robert S. Fyall, op cit p. 75.
(8) Umberto Cassuto, Biblical And Oriental Studies (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975) Vol. 2 p. 6.
(9) Cassuto, ibid p. 7.
(10) Cassuto, ibid p. 8.
(11) William J. Fulco, The Canaanite God Resep (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1976).
(12) W.L. Michel, Job In The Light Of
Northwest Semitic (Rome: Bible Institute Press, 1987) Vol. 1 p. 29.
(13) S. Dalley, Myths From Mesopotomia: Vol. 4, The Epic Of Creation (Oxford: O.U.P., 1989) pp. 251-255.
(14) J.E. Hartley, The Book Of Job (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) p. 302.