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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6 MICHAEL V. FOX
â€œwhere no man isâ€, but the rain can change that. The rain falls on
the desert â€œto satiate the waste and desolate land, to make grass
sprout forthâ€ (v. 27). Then animals can feed, herds can graze, and
humans can prosper. This is exactly the sequence of events in Psalm
107, which first says that God dries up water sources and fertile land
(vv. 33-34), but then,
He turns desert into a pool of water,
and parched land into sources of water,
and he makes the hungry dwell there,
and they establish an inhabited city.
And they sow fields and plant vineyards,
and these produce fruit of the harvest.
And he blesses them and they grow very numerous,
and he does not reduce their livestock (Ps 107,35-38).
The people in question here are the redeemed of Israel, but the
phenomena are described as universal and recurrent. These people,
if v. 39 is in place, are subsequently humbled, though it is not said
why 17. This psalm shows that rain in the desert is not considered
irrelevant to human needs and wishes 18.
In any case, it would be extremely egocentric of humans to expect
that everything given to the world must benefit only them. We can
compare how some near-contemporaries of the author interpreted rain
in the desert. In Ps 104,10-11, provision of water to animals is listed
among Godâ€™s blessings. Psalm 107 praises God for giving water (v.
9) and calls such acts â€œwondersâ€ and â€œkindnessesâ€ (107,8). The topos
of water in the desert receives its most glorious expression in Isaiah
35. There, to be sure, the water explicitly serves a human purpose,
namely to enable the returnees to survive the journey home. But the
watering of the desert evokes a sheer delight that goes beyond the
practical needs of the journey. Rain in the desert is a correlate of the
H.-J. KRAUS, Psalms 60-150. A Commentary (Minneapolis, MN 1989)
325, says that transposition of vv. 39 and 40 is absolutely necessary to restore
a â€œsenseless textâ€. The emendation is reasonable, though the mechanism of
the transposition is not specified.
The author of Job draws on Psalm 107 in several places. Ps 107,40 =
Job 12,21a + 24b; Ps 107,42a = Job 22,19a; Ps 107,42b = Job 5,16b. It is more
likely that Job is taking phrases from the psalm and using them in various
places than that the psalmist is drawing together phrases scattered in Job.
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