Michael V. Fox, «God's Answer and Job's Response», Vol. 94 (2013) 1-23
The current understanding of the Book of Job, put forth by M. Tsevat in 1966 and widely accepted, is that YHWH implicitly denies the existence of divine justice. Retribution is not part of reality, but only a delusion. The present article argues that the book teaches the need for fidelity in the face of divine injustice. The Theophany shows a God whose care for the world of nature hints at his care for humans. The reader, unlike Job, knows that Job's suffering is important to God, as establishing the possibility of true human loyalty.
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10 MICHAEL V. FOX
8,22 30. Williams assumes that the author knew Prov 8,22 and would
have read Job 40,19a in this fashion. Williams finds this all the
more disturbing insofar as â€œBehemoth is a primary symbol of the
power of chaos, of destruction, and of thwarted relationshipsâ€ 31.
Even if this is an accurate picture of Behemothâ€™s mythical back-
ground (and it does fairly describe the Egyptian God Seth), none
of these traits come into view in this passage. As Newsom acutely
observes, â€œ[â€¦] although Godâ€™s ability to overcome them [sc., Be-
hemoth and Leviathan] is taken for granted, there is little or no ref-
erence to enmity or hostility between God and these creatures.
Instead, God describes them with evident admirationâ€ 32.
Nevertheless Newsom finds these placid pictures unsettling, be-
cause â€œthe uncomfortable sense grows that Godâ€™s identification with
the chaotic is as strong as with symbols of orderâ€ 33. From the â€œrela-
tionship of congruenceâ€ between God and Leviathan (and Behemoth)
â€œthe nonmoral and nonrational aspects of deity are highlighted.
Knowing Leviathan, one knows something of the monstrous that is
its own reflection of the numinous, wholly otherness of Godâ€ 34. This
might be so if Leviathan and Behemoth were portrayed as the em-
bodiments and generators of chaos and evil, but the author has chosen
not to import these associations into his depiction. These creatures
may be anarchic â€” as wild animals are by nature â€” but they are
Godâ€™s creations and under his control (40,15; 41,3; cf. Ps 104,26).
If Godâ€™s pleasure in Leviathan is â€œidentificationâ€, then God can be
said to â€œidentifyâ€ with the sea monsters that he calls â€œgoodâ€ in Gen
1,21. But no one would read that verse to mean that God stands on
the side of chaos in opposition to the ordered world he is creating.
And it is overly dramatic to say, as A. Brenner does, that in describing
the two beasts â€œGod here reveals himself as he is never revealed else-
whereâ€ for the beasts must originate from Godâ€™s â€œdark side, the one
that generates evilâ€ and is thus â€œpart of the Godheadâ€ 35. But even if
the beasts were, in their mythological origins, from â€œthe dark sideâ€,
J.G. WILLIAMS, â€œYou Have Not Spoken Truth of Me: Mystery and Irony
in Jobâ€, ZAW 83 (1971) 246.
WILLIAMS, â€œYou Have Not Spokenâ€, 246.
NEWSOM, Book of Job, 249.
NEWSOM, Book of Job, 252.
NEWSOM, Book of Job, 252.
A. BRENNER, â€œGodâ€™s Answer to Jobâ€, VT 31 (1981) 134.
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