Job's familial piety
After the ministry of the service, my children daily took their supper. They went in to their older brother to dine with him, taking along with them their three sisters also. The urgent matters were left to the maidservants, since my son's also sat at the table with the male slaves who served.
I therefore early would offer up sacrifices on their behalf according to their number, 300 doves, 50 goat's kids, and 12 sheep. I issued a standing order for all that remained after the rites, to be furnished to the poor. And I would say to them, "Take these remaining after the rites, so that you may pray on behalf of my children. Possibly, my sons may have sinned before the Lord through boasting and saying with disdain, 'We are sons of this rich man, and these goods are ours. Why then do we also serve?' " For pride is an abomination before God. And again, I offered up a select calf on the alter of God, lest my son's may have thought evil things in their heart toward God.
As I was doing these things during the seven years after the angel had made the disclosure to me, then Satan-when he had received the authority-came down unmercifully and torched 7,000 sheep (which had been designated for the clothing of widows), the 3,000 camels, and the 500 she-asses, and the 500 yoke of oxen. All these he destroyed by himself, according to the authority he had received against me.
The rest of my herd were confiscated by my fellow countrymen, who had been well treated by me, but who now rose up against me and took away the remainder of my animals. They reported to me the destruction of my goods, but I glorified God and did not blaspheme.
Then the devil, when he had come to know my heart, laid a plot against me. Disguising himself as the king of the Persians, he stood in my city gathering together all the rogues in it. And with a boast he spoke to them saying, "This man Jobab is the one who destroyed all the good things of the earth and left nothing-the one who distributed to the beggars, to the blind, and to the lame-yet the one who destroyed the temple of the great god and leveled the place of drink offerings. Therefore, I also shall repay him according to what he did against the house of god. Come along then and gather spoils for yourselves of all his animals and whatever he has left on earth."
They answered him and said, "He has seven sons and three daughters. Possibly they might flee to other lands and plead against us as though we were tyrants and in the end rise against us and kill us."
So he said to them, "Have no fear at all. Most of his possessions I have already destroyed by fire. The others I confiscated. And as for his children, I shall slay them."
When he said these things to them, he departed and smashed the house down upon my children and killed them. My fellow countrymen, when they saw that what was said truly happened, pursued and attacked me and began to snatch up everything in my house. My eyes witnessed cheap and worthless men at my tables and couches.
I was unable to utter a thing; for I was exhausted - as a woman numbed in her pelvic region by the magnitude of birth pangs - remembering most of all the battle foretold by the Lord through his angel and the songs of victory which had been told to me.
I became as one wishing to enter a certain city to discover its wealth and gain a portion of its splendor, and as one embarked with cargo in a seagoing ship. Seeing at mid-ocean the third wave and the opposition of the wind, he threw the cargo into the sea, saying, "I am willing to lose everything in order to enter this city so that I might gain both the ship and things better than the payload." Thus, I also considered my goods as nothing compared to the city about which the angel spoke to me.
When the final messenger came and showed me the loss of my children, I was deeply disturbed. And I tore my garments, saying to the one who brought the report, "How are were you spared?" And then when I understood what had happened I cried aloud saying, "The Lord gave, the Lord took away. As it seemed good to the Lord, so it has happened. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
So when all my goods were gone, Satan concluded that he was unable to provoke me to contempt. When he left he asked my body from the Lord so he might inflict the plague on me. Then the Lord gave me over into his hands to be used as he wished with respect to the body; but he did not give him authority over my soul.
Then he came to me while I was sitting on my throne mourning the loss of my children. And he became like a great whirlwind and overturned my throne. For three hours I was beneath my throne unable to escape. And he struck me with a severe plague from head to toe.
In great trouble and distress I left the city, and I sat on a dung heap worn ridden in body. Discharges from my body wet the ground with moisture. Many worms were in my body, and if a worm ever sprang off, I would take it up and return it to its original place, saying, "Stay in the same place where you were put until you are directed otherwise by your commander."
I spent forty-eight years on the dung heap outside the city under the plague so that I saw with my own eyes, my children, first my first wife carrying water into the house of a certain nobleman as a maidservant so she might get bread and bring it to me. I was stunned. And I said, "The gall of these city fathers! How can they treat my wife like a female slave?" After this I regained my senses.
After eleven years they kept even bread itself from me, barely allowing her to have her own food. And as she did get it, she would divide it between herself and me, saying with pain, "Woe is me! Soon he will not even get enough bread!"
Sitis sell her hair to Satan
She would not hesitate to go out into the market to beg bread from the bread sellers so she might bring it to me so I could eat.
When Satan knew this, he disguised himself as a bread seller. It happened by chance that my wife went to him and begged bread, thinking he was a man. And Satan said to her, "Pay the price and take what you like." But she answered him and said, "Where would I get money? Are you unaware of the evils that have befallen us? If you have pity on me, show mercy; but if not, you shall see!"
And he answered her, saying, "Unless you deserved the evils, you would not have received them in return. Now then if you have no money at hand, offer me the hair of your head and take three of bread. Perhaps you will be able to live for three more days." Then she said to herself, "What good is the hair of my head compared to my hungry husband?" And so, showing disdain for her hair, she said to him, "Go ahead, take it."
Then he took scissors, sheared off the hair of her head, and gave her three loaves, while all were looking on. When she got the loaves, she came and brought them to me. Satan followed her along the road, walking stealthily, and leading her heart astray.
The speech of Sitis: begun
At once my wife drew near. Crying out with tears she said to me, "Job, Job! How long will you sit on the dung heap outside the city thinking, "Only a little longer! And waiting the hope of your salvation? As for me, I am a vagabond and a maidservant going round from place to place. Your memorial has been wiped away from the earth - my sons and daughters of my womb for whom I toiled with hardships in vain. And here you sit in worm-infested rottenness, passing the night in open air. And I for my part am a wretch immersed in labor by day and pain by night, just so I might provide a loaf of bread and bring it to you. Any more I barely receive my own food, and I divide that between you and me - wondering in my heart that it is not bad enough for you to be ill, but neither do you get your fill of bread.
"So I ventured unashamedly to go into the market, even if I was pierced in my heart to do so. And the bread seller said, 'Give money, and you shall receive.' But I showed him our straits and then heard from him, 'If you have no money, woman, pay with the hair of your head and take three loaves. Perhaps you will live for three more days.' Being remiss, I said to him, 'Go ahead, cut my hair.' So he arose and cut my hair disgracefully in the market, while the crowd stood by and marveled."
A lament for Sitis
Who is not amazed that this is Sitis, the wife of Job?
Who used to have fourteen draperies sheltering her chamber and a door within doors, so that one was considered quite worthy merely to gain admission to her presence:
Now she exchanges her hair for loaves!
Whose camels, loaded with good things, used to go off into the regions of the poor:
Now she gives her hair in return for loaves!
Look at her who used to keep seven tables reserved at her house, at which the poor and alien used to eat:
Now she sells outright her hair for loaves!
See who used to have a foot basin of gold and silver, and now she goes along by foot:
Even her hair she gives in exchange for loaves!
Observe, this is she who used to have clothing woven from linen with gold:
But now she bears rags and gives her hair in exchange for loaves!
See her who used to own couches of gold and silver:
But now she sells her hair for loaves!
The speech of Sitis: concluded
"Job, Job! Although many things have been said in general, I speak to you in brief: In the weakness of my heart, my bones are crushed. Rise, take the loaves, be satisfied. And then speak some words against the Lord and die. Then I too shall be free from weariness that issues from the pain of your body."
So, I answered her, "Look, I have lived seventeen years in these plagues submitting to the worms in my body, and my soul has never been depressed by my pains so much as by your statement, 'Speak some word against the Lord and die.' I do indeed suffer these things, and you suffer them too: the loss both of our children and our goods. Do not suggest that we should say something against the Lord, and thus be alienated from the truly great wealth? Why have you not remembered those good things we used to have? If we have received good things from the hand of the Lord, should we not in turn endure evil things? Rather let us be patient till the Lord, in pity, shows us mercy.
"Do you not see the devil standing behind you and unsettling your reasoning so that he might deceive me too? For he seeks to make you as one of the senseless women who misguide their husbands' sincerity."
Job's Triumph and Satan's Defeat
Again turning to Satan, who was behind my wife, I said, "Come up front! Stop hiding yourself! Does a lion show his strength in a cage? Does a fledgling take flight when it is in a basket? Come out and fight!"
Then he came out form behind my wife. And as he stood, he wept, saying, "Look Job, I am weary and I withdraw from you, even though you are flesh and I a spirit. You suffer plague, but I am in deep distress. I became like one athlete wrestling another, and one pinned the other. The upper one silenced the lower one, by filling his mouth with sand and bruising his limbs. But because he showed endurance and did not grow weary, at the end the upper one cried out in defeat. So you also, Job, were the one below and in plague, but you conquered my wrestling tactics which I brought on you."
Then Satan, ashamed, left me for three years. Now then, my children, you also must be patient in everything that happens to you. For patience is better than anything.