New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 2:1 Again it happened on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Yahweh- "Before Yahweh" doesn't at all have to mean this happened in Heaven itself. The phrase is used of how men come before Yahweh here on earth. Note how Job addresses the friends in Job 13:7 LXX "Do ye not speak before the Lord...". This is another hint that the friends were represented by the Satan figure of the prologue, who likewise appeared "before the Lord". Satan came amongst them, but influenced them to accept his viewpoint; or even spoke for them, until they became effectively the Satan. See on Job 13:21.

Job 2:2 Yahweh said to Satan, Where have you come from? Satan answered Yahweh and said, From going back and forth in the land, and from walking up and down in it-
See the extensive discussion on Job 1:7.

Job 2:3 Yahweh said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job?-
Later Job complains to God "what is man, that Thou dost magnify him? and that Thou shouldest set Thy heart upon him? (lit. 'consider him')" (Job 7:17). Thus Job sees God- whom he probably conceived of as an Angel- as considering him, whilst we are told earlier that satan / the adversary was told to do this. A human satan considering Job would not in itself have brought the trials, for no one human could have done all the things done to Job; and Job would not have complained so bitterly about a human being considering him.


For there is none like him in the land, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil- See on Job 1:8. The connection with Isaiah is to Is. 59:15 "Yes, truth is lacking; and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey". "He who departs from evil" is the term used about Job (s.w. Job 1:8; 2:3); and he too became a "prey" to evil. Job represents not only the exiles, but the righteous remnant amongst them who departed from evil but suffered all the same.

He still maintains his integrity- Job uses this word about himself in Job 27:6. Again we have the impression that he had been present at these discussions between the Satan and God; and the view of the Satan was in fact the view now of the friends, who effectively acted as the Satan figure who had influenced their thinking. His argument against the friends, that he did maintain his integrity still, was effectively arguing back against this position of the Satan. "Hold fast" or "maintain" is the appeal of the prophets to the exiles (s.w. Is. 27:5; 35:3; 56:4). But sadly there were none who really followed Job's example at that time. None maintained or took hold of Yahweh's righteousness (Is. 64:7 s.w.).

Although you incited Me against him, to ruin him- This is not really a rebuke; for the Satan is carefully portrayed as not actually sinning. Because God did in fact "ruin him". This 'inciting' of God reveals the sensitivity of God to human desires to understand and their wish that He would act. This is exactly what happens in our wrestlings in prayer with God. If God agrees, He "performs the counsel (advice) of His messenger" (Angels; Is. 44:26). That is in a restoration context- to encourage the early readership of Job to understand that God can be moved to respond.  The Hebrew for "incite" means to prick or stimulate, s.w. "persuade"- God can be moved or provoked to action, He is sensitive to our struggles with 'the problem of evil' and His actions upon earth, just as much as human beings can provoke Him to anger.

Without cause- Job repeats this in Job 9:17. Again we have the impression that he had been present at these discussions between the Satan and God; and the view of the Satan was in fact the view now of the friends, who effectively acted as the Satan figure who had influenced their thinking. And the point is established- that suffering can come on individuals "without cause". Yet the friends spend their speeches guessing at what the cause was in Job's case. In the restoration context, the suffering servant likewise suffered "without cause" (s.w. Is. 52:3,5). That figure was clearly based upon Job, and speaks of the righteous remnant at the restoration, and finally of the Lord Jesus who was their embodiment. Jeremiah laments that he too had suffered at that time "without cause" (Lam. 3:52 s.w.); failing to perceive the lessons of the book of Job, just as we can whenever we complain that we suffer "without cause". The reality of course was that the judgments upon Judah had not been "without cause" (Ez. 14:23 s.w.). And Job finally comes to realize that although he is right before God by grace, he too is a sinner and there was "cause" in his sufferings.

Job 2:4 Satan answered Yahweh and said, Skin for skin-
The idea may be that Job was willing to accept the loss of the skin of his children, as it were in exchange for his own skin being saved. But 'Skin for skin' is a human expression- maybe based on trading one animal skin for another. It is appropriate to a human being on earth; and yet as explained on Job 1:6, the human Satan had a representative Angel in Heaven who also used this phrase in reporting the man's thinking before God. This reflects the degree to which God is aware of our language and perceptions.

Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life- This is the basis of the Lord's words "what shall a man give in exchange for his soul / life?" (Mt. 16:26), even if he possesses the whole world, as the mega wealthy Job appeared to. We note that He quotes the words of the Satan with approval; again confirming the impression that the 'Satan' figure is not essentially sinful. Just as the serpent in Eden was an animal making observations, however wrongly; and sin entered the world not by the serpent but through Adam (Rom. 5:12). The serpent was part of a "very good" creation and was a-moral.

Job 2:5 But put forth Your hand now-
Satan asks God: "Put forth Your hand". The hand of God is an Angelic phrase. God agrees- "he is in your hand" (:6). Thus Satan's hand is God's hand, which in practice was articulated through an Angel. Job seems to emphasize the place of God's hand in bringing his trials- Job 2:5,6,10; 6:9; 10:7; 13:21; 19:21; 27:11 AVmg; 28:9. Job in Job 12:9 feels that in the same way as God's hand had created the natural creation- and the Angels did this- so that same Angelic hand was upon him for evil. "By His Spirit (God makes His Angels spirits) He hath garnished the Heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent" (Job 26:13). Thus Job associates God's Spirit with His hand, which is Satan's hand. It seems far more fitting that this hand and spirit should be Angelic rather than human. For no one human being could bring these sufferings upon Job. The human Satan, the fellow worshipper, was reflected in an Angel in the court of Heaven. Again, it was Angelic work that formed the Heavens. Job recognized that his trials came from the hand of God, but knew that His hand would not kill him- "with Thy strong hand Thou opposest Thyself against me... howbeit He will not stretch out His hand to (bring me to) the grave" (Job 30:21,24 AV). This was exactly the brief given to satan- to try Job, but "preserve his life". The hand of God creating evil (Job 2:10,11) must surely refer to God's "Angels of evil" (Ps. 78:49) rather than to man- in the restoration context, the people and Cyrus had to be taught that no one except God (including human satans!) created evil (Is. 45:5-7).

And touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce You to Your face- In Job 2:4–6 we have the ‘Satan’ commenting that Job’s flesh and skin need to be harmed; but in Job 19:26 we have Job stating his faith that even though God destroys his flesh and skin, yet God shall ultimately save him. See on Job 16:14.


Job 2:6 Yahweh said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand. Only spare his life-
See on :5. In the restoration context, this was to be understood as the promise that no matter how God's people suffered, Israel would be preserved. 

Job 2:7 So Satan went forth from the presence of Yahweh, and struck Job with painful sores from the sole of his foot to his head-
Isaiah's description of Israel as "from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness... but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores" (Is. 1:6) is couched in this picture of Job. As if Job represents apostate Israel, although personally innocent; in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. These types of wounds made them ritually unclean. In Isaiah’s first context, the suffering servant was King Hezekiah. Yet all Israel were to see themselves as ‘in’ him, as spiritual Israel are to see themselves as in Christ. “He was oppressed”, as Israel at that time were being “oppressed” by Assyria. As they were covered in wounds and spiritual sickness (Is. 1:5,6), so the suffering servant bore their diseases and rose again in salvation victory. Significantly, Isaiah 40-53 speak of the one servant, whereas Isaiah 54-66 speak of the “servants” who fulfill in principle the work of the singular servant. The suffering servant, based upon Job, was a people embodied in the future Lord Jesus.

Job 2:8 He took for himself a potsherd to scrape himself with-
The word for "potsherd", a piece of broken earthenware, is used repeatedly about Judah in exile (Is. 30:14; 45:9; Jer. 19:1; Lam. 4:2; Ez. 23:34). Job is presented as their representative.

And he sat among the ashes- Another similarity with Abraham, whose seed Job is presented as being (Gen. 18:27). The epilogue and prologue to Job are evidently related. Job begins sitting in dust and ashes and ends repenting in dust and ashes (Job 2:8; 42:6). The silence of the friends at the opening of the book is matched by the silence after God has finally spoken (Job 40:4). Job intercedes for his children (Job 1:5) and ends up interceding for his friends. Job begins with the description of being the Lord’s servant; and the book concludes on the same note (Job 42:7,8). The question of course is: ‘So what’s the equivalent of the ‘Satan’ figure in the epilogue?’. The omission is intended and obvious. Ultimately the answer is the essence of the whole book: the ‘Satan’, the adversary, is none other than God Himself, in His love.

Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him-
Jewish thinking came to be influenced by Babylonian ideas of a dualistic cosmos, split between God and some 'Satan' figure. The book of Job is a corrective to this, in that it teaches that evil comes from God, and any Satan figure is under His total control. Yet a mere skim reading of the prologue to Job has led some to the very opposite conclusion. Significantly, the apostate Jewish writing The Testament Of Job completely twists the intent of the Biblical record, and adds into it the common misconceptions concerning Satan- e.g. it claims of Job's wife: "Satan followed her along the road, walking stealthily, and leading her astray... [Job warns her] 'Do you not see Satan standing behind you and unsettling your reasoning?'" (23:11; 26:6). These classical images of 'Satan' have to be added in to the Biblical record- because they are simply not there in the Biblical text. These ideas of women being easily influenced by a cosmic Satan figure are thereby deconstructed here; Job's wife is presented just as a real woman, making observations which many secular people would make.

Do you still maintain your integrity? Renounce God, and die- "Renounce" or "curse" is a word with two meanings; it can also be translated 'bless'. So she may also have been quipping that blessing God, as Job has done so far in the narrative, all the same leads to death.

The LXX at this point adds a lot more detail, which is very much the language of Lamentations concerning the Jews after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem: "And when much time had passed, his wife said to him, How long wilt thou hold out, saying, Behold, I wait yet a little while, expecting the hope of my deliverance? for, behold, thy memorial is abolished from the earth, even thy sons and daughters, the pangs and pains of my womb which I bore in vain with sorrows; and thou thyself sittest down to spend the nights in the open air among the corruption of worms, and I am a wanderer and a servant from place to place and house to house, waiting for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from my labours and my pangs which now beset me: but say some word against the Lord, and die".

Job 2:10 But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women would speak-
"The foolish" is the term used by the restoration prophets for the unfaithful in Israel; and her perspective is therefore set up as the wrong model which they were following (Jer. 17:11; Ez. 13:3). 

What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job didn’t sin with his lips- The hand of God creating evil (Job 2:10,11) must surely refer to God's "Angels of evil" (Ps. 78:49) rather than to man- Cyrus had to be taught that no one except God (including human satans!) created evil (Is. 45:5-7). See on Job 1:6; 26:13; 30:21. The major theme of the book of Job is that God brought the problems into Job’s life and that eventually they made him a more righteous person (Job 2:10; 16:11; 19:21; 23:16; 42:11). Notice that Job did not believe that only good things came from God; he nowhere complains about Satan bringing the problems. Job realized that his sufferings had made him come to know God in practice rather than just in theory - “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee” (Job 42:5). Seeing that problems make us more righteous people if we respond correctly to them (Heb. 12:5-11), why would a sinful, wicked being, who wants to turn us away from God, bring these things into our lives, when actually they only make us more righteous and closer to God?

I have pointed out that Job all through rejects the ideas promoted by the friends, the view of traditional wisdom (especially emphasized by Bildad, Job 8:8–10), that various supernatural ‘Satan’ monsters and figures were responsible for his experiences. Job began by saying that we receive both good and evil from God’s hand (Job 2:10 cp. Is. 45:5–7). And he ends saying the same – that the Lord brought the trouble upon him (Job 42:11). He repeatedly sees God as the source of all his affliction. Hence God can say that Job has spoken about Him that which is right (Job 42:8). But Job came to realize the massive practical extent of what he had previously known in theory, what he had “by the hearing of the ear”. Now his eye saw / perceived that truly no plan of God can be thwarted, by any of the various ‘Satan’ monsters imagined by men (Job 42:2). We too may say that we believe in the omnipotence of God; but such a belief requires us to throw out all beliefs in supernatural Satan figures. And that’s not a merely intellectual exercise; to see the tragedies and cruelties of our lives as being ultimately from God and under His control is something which shakes us to the core. See on Job 41:1.

Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come on him, they each came from his own place-
I have suggested earlier that the friends were influenced by the Satan figure and effectively became the Satan to Job. They "came" to him just as the evil "came" to him.

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite- These people are traceable in the records of the patriarchs, again suggesting an early date for the historical Job. Eliphaz and Tema are associated with the Idumeans, the people of Esau (Gen. 36:4); Shuah was one of Abraham's children by Keturah.

And they made an appointment together- They were the "sons of God" who came together on set occasions "before Yahweh" (Job 1:6); so it seems that such meetings were not uncommon for them, and perhaps they came together as it were for an extraordinary meeting, or perhaps the dialogues presented occurred at their next regular meeting.

To come to sympathize with him and to comfort him- See on Job 19:12-14. 2:11 the friends came "to mourn with him and to comfort him" , although Job said he turned to them for comfort in vain (Job 16:2). The Hebrew here in 2:11 is identical to that in Ps. 69:20, describing Christ looking in vain for comforters. Job was the prototype of Isaiah's suffering servant and thereby a type of the Lord Jesus. "Comfort" is the word Job finally uses when he says he 'repents' (Job 42:6). Perhaps their aim from the start was to lead him to the repentance they wrongly imagined he must make for the sins which they mistakenly thought lay behind his sufferings.

Job 2:12 When they lifted up their eyes from a distance and didn’t recognize him-
The friends "knew him not" as the Jews also did not recognize the suffering servant because of the great physical torment (Is. 52:14; 53:3). Like those who crucified Christ "they sat down" watching him; "and sitting down they watched him there".


They raised their voices and wept; and they each tore his robe, and sprinkled dust on their heads toward the sky- The descriptions of the elders of Zion sitting on the ground in mourning for Jerusalem in Lam. 2:10 recalls the friends mourning for Job- thus associating both them and Job with a condemned Israel.

Job 2:13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great
- This great grief was intended to represent "the day of grief and of desperate sorrow" that was to come upon a condemned Judah (s.w. Is. 17:11; Jer. 15:18).