T some time in those early days—we do not know just at what time, whether in the days of Moses or later—there was living a good man named Job. His home was in the land of Uz, which may have been on the edge of the desert, east of the land of Israel. Job was a very rich man. He had sheep, and camels, and oxen, and asses, counted by the thousand. In all the east there was no other man so rich as Job.
The well of Job
And Job was a good man. He served the Lord God, and prayed to God every day, with an offering upon God's altar, as men worshipped in those times. He tried to live as God wished him to live, and was always kind and gentle. Every day, when his sons were out in the field, or were having a feast together in the house of any of them, Job went out to his altar, and offered a burnt-offering for each one of his sons and his daughters, and prayed to God for them; for he said:
"It may be that my sons have sinned or have turned away from God in their hearts; and I will pray God to forgive them."
At one time, when the angels of God stood before the Lord, Satan the Evil One came also, and stood among them, as though he were one of God's angels. The Lord God saw Satan, and said to him, "Satan, from what place have you come?" "I have come," answered Satan, "from going up and down in the earth and looking at the people upon it."
Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you looked at my servant Job? And have you seen that there is not another man like him in the earth, a good and a perfect man, one who fears God and does nothing evil?" Then Satan said to the Lord: "Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast thou not made a wall around him, and around his house, and around everything that he has? Thou hast given a blessing upon his work, and has made him rich. But if thou wilt stretch forth thy hand, and take away from him all that he has, then he will turn away from thee and will curse thee to thy face."
Then the Lord said to the Evil One, "Satan, all that Job has is in your power; you can do to his sons, and his flocks, and his cattle, whatever you wish; only lay not your hand upon the man himself."
Then Satan went forth from the Lord; and soon trouble began to come upon Job. One day, when all his sons and daughters were eating and drinking together in their oldest brother's house, a man came running to Job, and said:
"The oxen were plowing, and the asses were feeding beside them, when the wild men from the desert came upon them, and drove them all away; and the men who were working with the oxen and caring for the asses have all been killed; and I am the only one who has fled away alive!"
While this man was speaking, another man came rushing in; and he said:
"The lightning from the clouds has fallen on all the sheep, and on the men who were tending them; and I am the only one who has come away alive!"
Before this man had ended, another came in; and he said:
"The enemies from Chaldea have come in three bands, and have taken away all the camels. They have killed the men who were with them; and I am the only one left alive!"
Then at the same time, one more man came in, and said to Job:
"Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking together in their oldest brother's house, when a sudden and terrible wind from the desert struck the house, and it fell upon them. All your sons and your daughters are dead, and I alone have lived to tell you of it."
Thus in one day, all that Job had—his flocks, and his cattle, and his sons and his daughters—all were taken away; and Job, from being rich, was suddenly made poor. Then Job fell down upon his face before the Lord, and he said:
"With nothing I came into the world, and with nothing I shall leave it. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
So even when all was taken from him Job did not turn away from God, nor did he find fault with God's doings.
And again the angels of God were before the Lord, and Satan, who had done all this harm to Job, was among them. The Lord said to Satan, "Have you looked at my servant Job? There is no other man in the world as good as he; a perfect man, one that fears God and does no wrong act. Do you see how he holds fast to his goodness, even after I have let you do him so great harm?" Then Satan answered the Lord, "All that a man has he will give for his life. But if thou wilt put thy hand upon and touch his bone and his flesh, he will turn from thee, and will curse thee to thy face."
And the Lord said to Satan, "I will give Job into your hand; do to him whatever you please; only spare his life."
Then Satan went out and struck Job, and caused dreadful boils to come upon him, over all his body, from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. And Job sat down in the ashes in great pain; but he would not speak one word against God. His wife said to him, "What is the use of trying to serve God? You may as well curse God, and die!"
But Job said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women. What? shall we take good things from the Lord? and shall we not take evil things also?" So Job would not speak against God. Then three friends of Job came to see him, and to try to comfort him in his sorrow and pain. Their names were Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar. They sat down with Job, and wept, and spoke to him. But their words were not words of comfort. They believed that all these great troubles had come upon Job to punish him for some great sin, and they tried to persuade Job to tell what evil things he had done, to make God so angry with him.
Three friends come to see Job.
For in those times most people believed that trouble, and sickness, and the loss of friends, and the loss of what they had owned, came to men because God was angry with them on account of their sins. These men thought that Job must have been very wicked because they saw such evils coming upon him. They made long speeches to Job, urging him to confess his wickedness.
Job said that he had done no wrong, that he had tried to do right; and he did not know why these troubles had come; but he would not say that God had dealt unjustly in letting him suffer. Job did not understand God's ways, but he believed that God was good; and he left himself in God's hands. And at last God himself spoke to Job and to his friends, telling them that it is not for man to judge God, and that God will do right by every man. And the Lord said to the three friends of Job:
"You have not spoken of me what is right, as Job has. Now bring an offering to me; and Job shall pray for you, and for his sake I will forgive you."
So Job prayed for his friends, and God forgave them. And because in all his troubles Job had been faithful to God, the Lord blessed Job once more, and took away his boils from him, and made him well. Then the Lord gave to Job more than he had ever owned in the past, twice as many sheep, and oxen, and camels, and asses. And God gave again to Job seven sons and three daughters; and in all the land there were no women found so lovely as the daughters of Job. After his trouble, Job lived a long time, in riches, and honor, and goodness, under God's care.