topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, December 08, 2014

Job, Dissected

DISCLAIMERS:
1. If you find this post religiously offensive I really don't care because if you are that religiously high-strung we probably wouldn't get along very well anyhow.
2. I am a seminary drop-out with bootleg Reiki so if you disagree with me or don't like what I am saying, that's fine, consider the source.

Ok, grab a cup of tea if you are still with me and let's go.

A long time ago when people didn't read or write, or even really think for themselves, stories were told in order to preserve and pass down information, entertain, teach, etc.  They were told in the context of the time so people could relate to and benefit from the meaning,  But universal meanings are still universal through time, the trick is to extract the meaning from archaic context, i.e Outdated Fluff.

Job's Story text source from this link

In the land of Uz there lived a man named Job; and he was blameless and upright, one who revered God and avoided evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred asses; and he had many servants, so that he was the richest man among all the peoples of the East.


Here is Uz.  Now you know.

Job was a really rich guy with a big family.  He was really happy and perfect and everyone loved him and he thought Jehovah was the Best Ever. He was grateful for his blessings.

One day when the sons of God came before Jehovah, Satan came with them. Jehovah said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan answered, "From going back and forth on the earth, and walking up and down on it." And Jehovah said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? For there is no man like him on the ea rth, blameless and upright, who reveres God and avoids evil." Satan answered, "But is it for nothing that Job reveres God? Have you not yourself made a hedge all about him, about his household, and about all that he has? You have blessed whatever he does, and his possessions have greatly increased. But just put out your hand now and take away all he has; he certainly will curse you to your face." Then Jehovah said to Satan, "See, everything that he has is in your power; only do not lay hands on Job himself." So Satan left the presence of Jehovah.

Externalized Jehovah (positive) and Satan (negative).  They pretend to be enemies but really they are drinking buddies who play poker together.

They engage in a philosophical debate.


J says "Job thinks I am the Best Ever!"

S says, "Of course he does, he has a perfect life!"
J says "Ok, go fuck him up just don't kill him.  He will still think I am the Best Ever."

One day, as Job's sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were ploughing and the asses were grazing near them when Sabeans suddenly attacked and seized them; the servants were put to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "Lightning has fallen from heaven and has completely burned up the sheep and the servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you."

While this man was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans, attacking in three bands, raided the camels and drove them away; the servants were put to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."

While this one was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in their oldest brother's house when a great wind came from across the wilderness, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men and killed them. I alone have escaped to tell you."

Then Job rose, tore his robe, shaved his head, threw himself on the ground and worshipped, saying:

"Jehovah gave, Jehovah has taken away;
Blessed be the name of Jehovah!"

In all this Job did not sin nor blame God.

Job lost all his wealth and all his children died in simultaneous freakish unexpected events. But Job still thought Jehovah was the Best Ever.  He attributed both fortune and misfortune to Jehovah's hand, so he did not get mad or upset, not even when his children died, because he was obviously was either a Zen Master, he had no capacity for human feeling, or he didn't like his children very much.


If there were enough people left alive 
they could have had a mutton feast.

On another day when the sons of God came before Jehovah, Satan came with them. And Jehovah said to Satan, "From where do you come?"

Satan answered, "From going back and forth on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." Jehovah said to Satan, "Have you seen my servant Job? For there is no man like him on the earth, blameless and upright, one who reveres God and avoids evil; he still is faithful, although you led me to ruin him without ca use." Satan answered Jehovah, "Skin for skin, yes, a man will give all that he has for his life. But just put out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he certainly will curse you to your face." Jehovah said to Satan, "See, he is in your power; only spare his life."

Satan and Jehovah continue their sadistic philosophical debate.

J says "Job lost his wealth and family and he still thinks I am the Best Ever!"

S says "That is because he is incapable of human feeling.  But he can feel physical pain.  Let me mess up his body."
J says "Ok, go for it.  Just don't kill him."

So Satan left the presence of Jehovah, and afflicted Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head with leprosy so terrible that Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself.

Leprosy was the Worst Disease Ever back then.  It was a big problem.  And Job had it bad.


This is what severe leprosy looks like.


Also, you lose many of your important bits.

As he sat among the ashes, his wife said to him, "Are you still holding to your piety? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak like a senseless woman. We accept prosperity from God, shall we not also accept misfortune?" In all this Job said nothing that was wrong.

Taking Job's story in isolation, we may infer that the standard ancient Biblical coping mechanism was to blame religion.

And let's throw in some psychological woman-bashing. Maybe she is upset that her children died. Such a stupid woman, right? Also, while being afflicted with severe painful leprosy, obviously Job remains in the same mental state as a normal healthy person and is unable to say "DAMNIT, THIS SUCKS!"  Being able to say that, by the way, doesn't necessarily mean hating on God, it just means you are human.  Which Job obviously isn't, not really.  And in the literal context of the story he would be rather justified to get mad at Jehovah.  Except Jehovah can say "I did nothing; Satan did it.  Hate on him instead."


When Job's three friends heard of all this trouble that had befallen him, they came each from his own home: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, for they had arranged to go together and show their sympathy for him and comfort him. But when they saw him in the distance, they did not at first know him. Then they all wept aloud and tore their robes and threw dust upon their heads. And they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights without any one saying a word to him, for they saw that he was in great trouble.

Job was not relocated to the nearby leper camp.  He still had three good friends left and they were upset to see his condition. 


Job is not in quarantine and is probably spreading leprosy

Then Job began to speak and said:
"Why did I not die at birth,
Breathe my last when I was born?
I should then have lain down in quiet,
Should have slept and been at rest
With kings and counsellors of earth,
Who built themselves great pyramids;
With princes rich in gold,
Who filled their houses with silver.

"There the wicked cease from troubling,
There the weary are at rest;
Captives too at ease together,
Hearing not the voice of masters.
There the small and great are gathered,
There the slave is free at last."

Job finally said "DAMNIT THIS SUCKS! Death is better, bring it on!"

Then Eliphaz, the Temanite, answered:
"If one dares to speak, will it vex you?
But who can keep from speaking?
See! you have instructed many,
And strengthened the drooping hands.
Your words have upheld the fallen,
Giving strength to tottering knees.
But now that trouble comes, you are impatient,
Now that it touches you, you lose courage.

"Is not your religion your confidence;
Your blameless life, your hope?
Remember! What innocent man ever perished?
Or where were the upright ever destroyed?
Happy the man whom God corrects;
Therefore, spurn not the Almighty's chastening.
For he causes pain but to comfort,
And wounds, that his hands may heal."

BFF #1 tells Job to stop being a hypocrite and take his own advice that he gave to others.

Job's team of BFFs want to remind him that Jehovah is still the Best Ever.  Because we all know that pain is the best comfort, right? (We can also say we must know one (pain) in order to know the other (comfort) )

Then Job answered:
"What strength have I, that I should endure?
And what is my future, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones,
Or is my body made of brass?
A friend should be kind to one fainting,
Though he lose his faith in the Almighty.
Teach me, and I will keep silent.
Show me how I have sinned."

Job says 'Enough is enough! I don't deserve this! I cannot handle any more! What did I do wrong?"

Then Bildad, the Shuhite, answered:
"Is God a God of injustice?
Or can the Almighty do wrong?
If your children sinned against him,
He has let them suffer the penalty;
But you should earnestly seek him,
And devoutly beseech the Almighty.
If you are pure and upright,
He will surely answer your prayer,
And will prosper your righteous abode."

BFF #2 says "God punishes people who do things He doesn't like.  Your children totally deserved to die, by the way.  But if you are perfect, He won't punish you.  Talk to Him about it."

Then Job answered:
"To be sure, I know that it is so;
But how can a man be just before God?
He is wise in mind and mighty in strength,
Who has ever defied him and prospered,
Blameless I am! I regard not myself;
I hate my life; it is all one to me.
Therefore, I openly declare:
He destroys the blameless as well as the wicked."

Job says "Nope! I am being punished.  I think God is neurotic after all.  I am perfect and still, I get punished." (Meaning bad things still happen to good people.)

Then Zophar, the Naamathite, answered:
"If you would cleanse your heart,
And stretch out your hands to God,
And put away sin from your hand,
And let no wrong dwell in your tent,
You would then lift your face without spot,
You would then be steadfast and fearless."

BFF #3 says "Stop being human and start being perfect according to Jehovah's standards again.  You will be happier if you go back to thinking Jehovah is the Best Ever."

Then Job answered:
"Verily you are the people,
And with you wisdom shall die!
But I have a mind as well as you,
And who does not know all this?
Oh, that my words were now written,
That they were inscribed in a book,
That with an iron pen and with lead
In rock they were carved forever!

"For I know that my Defender lives,
That at last he shall stand upon earth;
And after this skin is destroyed.
Freed from my flesh, I shall see him,
Whom I shall behold for myself;
My own eyes shall see, and no stranger's."

Job says "Shut up, moron.  At least I will get to die at some point and tell Jehovah off for being an insufferable neurotic asshole."

Job again spoke and said:
"Oh, to be as in months of old,
As in days when God guarded my steps,
When his lamp shone above my head,
And I walked by his light through the darkness;
As I was in my prosperous days,
When God protected my tent;
When still the Almighty was with me,
And my children were all about me!

"When I went to the gate of the city,
And took my seat in the open,
The youths, when they saw me, retired,
And the aged rose up and stood;
The princes refrained from talking,
And laid their hands on their mouths;
The voices of nobles were hushed,
And their tongues stuck fast to their palates.

"He who heard of me called me happy,
He who saw me bore me witness,
For I saved the poor who cried,
And the orphan with none to help him.
The suffering gave me their blessing,
And I made the widow's heart glad.

"Eyes was I to the blind,
Feet was I to the lame,
And a father to those who were needy.
I defended the cause of the stranger,
I shattered the jaws of the wicked,
And wrested the prey from his teeth.

"Men listened to me eagerly,
And in silence awaited my counsel.
After my words they spoke not,
And my speech fell as rain-drops upon them.
But they sing of me now in derision,
And my name is a by-word among them.

"Oh, for some one to hear me!
Behold my defense all signed!
Let now the Almighty answer,
Let Jehovah write the charge!
On my shoulder I would bear it,
As a crown I would bind it round me;
I would tell him my every act;
Like a prince I would enter his presence!"

Despite the leprosy, Job still has total clarity of mind.  He recalls his life before leprosy and the afore-mentioned unforseen freakish events,  He calls Jehovah out to find out what the hell is going on.

Then out of the whirlwind Jehovah answered Job:
"Where were you when I founded the earth?
You have knowledge and insight, so tell me.
You must know! Who determined its measures?
Or who measured it off with a line?
On what were its foundations placed?
Or who laid its corner-stone,
When the morning stars all sang together,
And the sons of God shouted for joy?

"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That abundance of water may answer you?
Can you send on their missions the lightnings;
To you do they say, 'Here we are'?

"Does the hawk soar because of your wisdom,
And stretch her wings to the south wind?
Does the eagle mount up at your bidding,
And build her nest on high?

"Will the fault-finder strive with Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer.
Will you set aside my judgment,
And condemn me, that you may be justified?"

Jehovah appears in a dramatic whirlwind.  Happens all the time.  He says to Job, "Here is a list of reasons why I am so fabulous.  Are you this fabulous? Can you do these things?  No?  I thought not.  So don't you dare get mad at me."

(OR from within the whirlwind of mental ranting, Job experiences spiritual clarity.)


Dramatic Whilrlwind.  Jehovah is in there somewhere.

Then Job answered the Lord:
"How small I am! what can I answer?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I spoke once, but will do so no more;
Yes, twice, but will go no further.

"I know thou canst do all things,
And that nothing with thee is impossible.
I spoke, therefore, without sense,
Of wonders beyond my knowledge.
I had heard of thee but by hearsay,
But now my eye has seen thee;
Therefore I despise my words,
And repent in dust and ashes."

Job says "Oh you're right!  I suck!  I can't do all those cool things, therefore I deserve to be punished.  I'm sorry for not liking it! You are the Best Ever!"

(OR Job realizes that he is small in relation to universal forces and due to human limitations he cannot know all from a divine viewpoint)

Then Jehovah gave back to Job, twice as much as he had before. And Jehovah blessed the last part of Job's life more than the first part; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand asses. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And after this Job lived an hundred and forty years.

Jehovah said "Aw, that's ok Job. We are still pals. Thanks for telling me how cool I am.  I love flattery."  He then gave Job the winning number combinations for the Livestock Lottery.  

Although it is not specifically mentioned, we may assume the leprosy was removed and its various permanent disfiguring complications were reversed. 


Job had more kids because the first ones never mattered anyhow, and he lived for a really long time Happily Ever After just like Cinderella.



Yes, they did.

******************
Some Things:
1. God and Satan are not two judgy sadistic beings in the sky inflicting reward and punishment at whim, or because they have something to prove.  That is silly and flat-out neurotic.
2. Snarkiness aside, I do understand the universal meaning of this story is to keep faith through good times and bad, there is a big picture into which we may not have full insight. (Though the Tao would say there is no "good" or "bad".) I do get it.

However:
1. It is ok to say "DAMNIT, this sucks! What the hell is going on!"
2. It is ok to say enough is enough.
3. We all have our limits and should not put up with neurotic negative treatment.
4. When trust is broken it needs to be dealt with.  

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