Lockdown thoughts from Job 2:1-6

Day 4 in Job. Sorry it’s late. Happy Lord’s Day everyone.

Previously: Job 1:1-5 | Job 1:6-12 | Job 1:13-22


2:1 Now there was a day,
When the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh. And the adversary also came in their midst to present himself before Yahweh.


  • We’re back in the heavenly court. Notice that the adversary presents himself this time as opposed to the previous assembling (1:6). Does it imply that he’s conceded defeat?

2:2 And Yahweh said to the adversary,
“From where have you come?”

And the adversary answered Yahweh and said:
“From wandering the earth, and patrolling it.”

2:3 Then Yahweh said to the adversary,
Have you set your mind upon my servant Job? For there isn’t one like him on the earth:
a man blameless,
and upright,
and God-fearing,
and one who shuns evil.


All this is repeated word-for-word from Job 1:6-12 so far. Until Yahweh says…


And still he holds fast to his integrity,
though you incited Me against him, to destroy him for nothing.


  • Random fact: the word for “his integrity” in Hebrew is tomato. Yum.
  • The last sentence could be read several ways, depending on how the first letter (waw) is translated. Is it “Though you incited me”? Or “So you incited me”? Or “Yet you incited me?”
  • The “for nothing” is the word hinnam (חִנָּֽם) which we’ve already seen in verse 9. It’s related to the Hebrew word for grace hēn (חן), so perhaps it means “gratis” or “gratuitously”.
  • Is Yahweh confessing to being capricious (“incited me to destroy him for no reason”)? Or to being unjust (“incited me for no reason to destroy him?”) Either one poses uncomfortable questions of neat and tidy depictions of God’s character.
  • Whatever Yahweh is saying exactly, He has admitted to being incited.

2:4-5 And the adversary answered Yahweh, saying:
“Skin for skin! And all that belongs to a man he will give for his life.
However, please stretch out your hand and touch his bone and flesh.
[See] if he doesn’t ‘bless’ you to your face.”

2:6 Then Yahweh said to the adversary:
“Behold him, [he is] in your hand. Only keep his life.”

  • “Skin for skin” is a phrase that highlights retribution (e.g. “an eye for an eye”). The adversary holds to cause and effect thinking – if he can go hard enough, then Job will crack.
  • The Hebrew for “stretch out your hand” has a suffix that means it’s best translated as a request or entreaty. The adversary acknowledges that only Yahweh has permission and power to afflict Job.
  • The barakh (ברך) riddle reappears in verse 5 (see previous discussion) Why does the Hebrew text say barakh (to bless) and not qalal (to curse)? The LXX captures it as εὐλογήσει (he will bless), so it’s unlikely a later correction. What does it mean to ‘bless’ God in suffering?

Own reflections:

  • Here is a God who is sovereign over the adversary’s ability to stretch out his hand, yet will say that he “incited Him”. God is God “in ways that won’t fit our minds.”
  • This should make me careful of either giving clichéd assertions about God’s character in light of coronavirus as some Christians are quick to do. The God of the Bible is neither capricious nor cowardly. He is in control, but in complex ways.
  • The reappearance of the phrase “for no reason” reminds us of one of this book’s key questions: retribution. Is life governed by cause and effect (like Proverbs), or do things happen hinam – for no reason? Diving deeply into these puzzles will make us wiser men and women in our chaotic, COVID-riddled world.
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