The religions of the ancient near East were mostly polytheistic. Its history spans more than two millennia, from the Bronze Age to the early Iron Age. There are various sub-religions that make up these religions of the ancient near east they include; Assyro-Babylonian religion, Canaanite religion, Egyptian religion, Minoan religion and many more. These religions had broad aspects that they share including purification and cleansing rituals, sacrifices, divination, polytheism and sacred prostitution, and they were centered on theocracies
This analysis will take an in-depth look and an exploration of the book of Job in the Bible. It will further look at the questions of suffering in the book. The book of Job was written by an unknown author, it is possible that it is the most ancient literary account in the Bible. It is a book that is a mixture of divine and human wisdom that addresses major issues in life. It is also a prime example of Hebrew wisdom literature that is centered with the concept of theodicy that is defense of integrity of justice and righteousness of God in the light of the evil, injustice and underserved suffering in the world. Job is the principal character in the book of job in the Hebrews Bible. Job in the Jewish tradition is the son to Uz, the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. In Hebrew the name job was taken to mean the persecuted one. The book focuses on the trials that Job underwent in the hands of God and how he deals with them. The characters in the book are Job, his wife, God, Satan his three friends and a man called Elihu.
It begins with an Introduction of the character of Job; a description of him is that of a blessed man that leads a righteous life. He was praised by God such that Satan was prompted to challenge him in terms of his integrity. He even went ahead to suggest that Job only served God just because he protects him. God removed his protection on Job and allowed Satan to take his wealth, his children and physical wealth in an attempt to make Job curse God. The book is mostly on Jobs conversation with his three friends concerning his condition and the possible reasons.
Job's wealth and faith
Job was famous for his riches as he owned sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys and servants. An important of his possessions was his family he had seven sons and three daughters. This wealth made him to be known as the greatest man in the east. He even described the respect that people gave him
. With all this riches and honor job was not proud, he was constantly aware that it is God that was blessing him with all these. He had great faith and this through his concern on the spiritual welfare of his children who he constantly thought had cursed or sinned against God in their hearts. Through all the wealth and faith no one was able to forestall the tragedies that were to befall him
From riches to ashes
The devil was given a free hand by God and he struck Job freely; it just took him a day to smash Job with one disaster after another. The Sabena and Chaldean bandits stole Jobs, camel, oxen and donkeys. There occurred a storm that killed all his sheep, his servants die and worst of all, all his children die in when a house they were in collapsed in a desert tornado. He also loses his health as he is struck with boils head to toe. He became an outcast in the society with his disease which was a form of leprosy and he was seen sitting alone as he scrapped his sores that were itching with broken pieces of pottery. He sat on a heap of ashes that was symbolic of the deep sorrow and also the tearing of his clothes, wearing of sackcloth, shaving his hair and sprinkling of dust on his head. His wife went ahead and told him to curse God and die.
Job went through overwhelming and sudden suffering, he suffered financially as he lost all this wealth. He also suffered physically as he lost his health, psychologically as he lost his children whom he loved so much and finally he suffered socially since he was no longer influential and was even considered an outcast because of his disease. On top of all these he seems to suffer in the hands of everyone and anything; natural disasters wind, fire, his loved ones i.e. his wife and later his friends and even the raiders who were evil people. His reaction to this suffering was the lord is the one who gives and also takes and he continued to praise Him his friends tried to find a reason why he was suffering his three friend Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar all questioned his suffering. They all held that the righteous never suffered but those who were unrighteous were entitle to suffering
Eliphaz asked him that if indeed he was innocent why then was he being punished. There was no way he was plowing iniquity and mischief he would just reap the same. He convicted Job to his foolish response to his misfortune and urged him to repent and lay his sins before God. His basic message was that Job was suffering due to his sins. He therefore wanted Job to see that Gods oppression was a result of his sin. Bildad told him that God is just and only judged those who sinned against him. Zophar told him if it is true that he is clean then God himself will deliver him from the situation. Their proposed solution to his suffering was for him to repent his sins so that his prosperity would be restored. Job was disappointed with his friends and sought God to reveal to him the reasons behind his suffering. Contrary to his expectations God did not answer anything to do with his suffering.
The book of Job is hence a book that deals with human suffering even though the suffering of the innocent is not the main purpose of the author in the book. It is more than an ancient play that is out to portray the absurdities of life, man's weakness and Gods prominence to sovereignty. This book portrays that a suffering individual can question God and also have doubts of His care but they can also face the hard questions in life with faith still maintain relationship that is not broken with God who ever loves. The sufferer comes to a resolution that is satisfactory resolution for personal and collective injustice and suffering that is undeserved. This observation is addressed within the context of the suffering man Job who was righteous and also many believers who suffer and can identify with Job.
From this book there is the understanding of the overall concept of suffering and how it is essential for the maintenance of a relationship that loves and has meaning with God even when one is undergoing sufferings. The blame of the devil to all suffering is common with everyone but the book explores the cause and effect of suffering. There is also a realization that nothing especially suffering can happen without the knowledge, love, wisdom and power of God
. While Satan is considered to be the prime mover of sin, evil and suffering there should not be ignorance of the fact that there is a connection between Satan's desire and the permission that he gets from God to execute his desires. The friction is clearly portrayed in the troubles that were inflicted on job. Though God was also at work on Jobs suffering, it should not be taken that he was not concerned with what his people go through. God therefore inflicts suffering both directly and indirectly to many people for different reasons; discipline, judgment, refining, but Satan is the one behind misery in people. Satan challenged Job in three areas; his righteousness, his fear of God and his separation from sin the issues of prosperity and its resultant retribution stands out as the main focus in the understanding of suffering in the book
Since God is just, it would be a wrong assumption that the fallen world under Satan's ruler ship is fair. The failure of the traditional wisdom to answer jobs complaint is a revelation that the world operates by plan of the fallen being and only a personal relationship with God can those who suffer find meaning and purpose to the injustices that take place. There are various truths that are presented in the book of Job and include; sin is not always the basis of suffering. The acceptance of the false tenets about suffering cause a blame and challenge on God. Suffering can be faced with faith, trust and a loving gracious…