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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GODâ€™S ANSWER AND JOBâ€™S RESPONSE
IV. Meteorology and Astronomy
YHWH asks, â€œDoes the rain have a father?â€ and â€œFrom whose
womb did ice come forth?â€ (38,28-29). Tsevat rephrases these
queries as a taunt: â€œHow do rain, ice, and frost come into being?
Give a realistic answer. Do not give Me myths for factsâ€ 14. But the
distinction between myths and facts is anachronistic. Those who
believe in myths consider them factual. In any case, real knowledge
of meteorology is irrelevant, and the questions in 38,28-29 are not
hard to answer. They are a way of pointing to the rainâ€™s true creator
and hence his graciousness. Of course the rain has no mother or fa-
ther. Yet it exists and is a great blessing of which YHWH is creator.
The question evokes awe and gratitude, not a feeling of stupidity.
God asks Job if he ever commanded the morning or informed the
dawn star of its place (38,12). The answer is obvious: â€œOf course not;
but you, God, haveâ€. The rhetorical question is a way of underscoring
the fact that YHWH does manage the world, and Job knows it. The
only answer to the question â€œHave you come to the stores of snow,
or seen the stores of hail?â€ (38,22) is, â€œOf course notâ€. But this is so
obvious that no answer is called for. The real purpose of the question
is implied in the relative clause, â€œwhich I have reserved for the time
of trouble, for the day of battle and warâ€ (v. 23). Job is reminded that
YHWH is a war god with hidden armories at his call. The enemies for
whom the weapons are held in readiness are not specified, but surely
Job is not among them, because no such weapons are needed to de-
feat him. Job sometimes imagined himself as Godâ€™s enemy (10,17;
16,9-14; 19,10-12), but was certain that God was exaggerating Jobâ€™s
All the meteorological phenomena mentioned demonstrate Godâ€™s
skills in creation and management. Mankind, although not men-
tioned, is obviously among the beneficiaries. According to Tsevat,
rain in the desert (38,25-27), is â€œwasted on land uninhabited and un-
inhabitableâ€ and thus has no moral purpose 15. Yet rain benefits not
only desert animals but also humans, because the rbdm is grazing-
land essential to the human economy 16. To be sure, the verse says
TSEVAT, â€œMeaningâ€, 86.
TSEVAT, â€œMeaningâ€, 100.
As noted by CLINES, Job 38-42, 74.
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