The Cruel God: Job's Search for the Meaning of Suffering

By Margaret Brackenbury Crook | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
"Things Too Wonderful" . . . Job 40:7-42:17

The end of the Argument: Can Job control evildoers better than God? For Him, Behemoth and Leviathan have no terror. Job's reply. The Epilogue: Yahweh approves of Job and bestows upon him twice as much as he had before.

The address of the Almighty in chapters 38 and 39, with Job's reply, form a unit so effective that the Poet may have elected to stop there, had his hearers been content. Yet they seem to have a further question. How far, they inquire, does the Almighty control the terrifying, the defiant factors in the universe? They cannot let the Poet's work come to an end until he has taken up this important question.

Pressure of this kind may account for the retention in the Poet's book of the mighty fragment, the initial address of the Almighty to Job [40:7-14]. It provides a fulcrum not only for what has gone before, but also for what is yet to come. When God says to Job:

40:11b Look upon everyone that is proud and abase him!
12a Look upon everyone that is high and bring him low!

He is saying, in effect, "Can you control evildoers better than I can?" Is God thus admitting, the Poet's students want to know, that some factors in the universe escape His sovereignty?

The Poet will not say that evil befalls a man only by God's permission. That was the contention in the Prologue. He approaches the question from another standpoint: that no rival threatens God's supremacy on the earth or in the deep below. To illustrate, the Poet selects two extraordinary figures: Behemoth, symbolizing terrors of the earth, and Leviathan, those of the restive deep.

Behemoth has often been equated with the hippopotamus

-153-

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