The Orthodox Pages



22nd November 2007


















































































































































ast week we finished with Moses and the Book of Exodus. The next 3 Books of the Old Testament are Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which we won’t look at as they basically deal with details that don’t concern us at this time. Leviticus deals with the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood - how they were to receive and make sacrifices and what atonements and offerings had to be made for every kind of sin. Numbers is a census of the Israelite people. Its mentions the genealogies of the heads of each tribe and all the men capable of carrying arms for war; And Deuteronomy with means secondary law or the law given a second time deals with all the laws and ordinances in detail. The next Book is that of Joshua or Jesus the son of Nun. Joshua is the Hebrew version of Jesus: both mean saviour. Joshua takes the leadership of the Israelites after Moses dies and leads them over the river Jordon, but has many battles to win before bringing his people to the Promised Land. The battle of Jericho is well known. The Israelites went around the city seven times and blew their horns and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. The battles don’t concern us, but two figures are of great importance: they are both mentioned before the taking of Jericho. The first is a woman called Rachab who was a prostitute and aided two spies sent by Joshua to view the land. They lodged at her house and when the king of Jericho heard of them she hid them and lied that they had already left the city. For this she and all her family were spared when the Israelites entered Jericho and killed every man woman and child. We have seen this woman’s name before when we looked at Jesus’ family tree. The genealogy states that “Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king”. So Rachab is King David’s Great Great Grandmother and is one of Christ’s ancestors. She was a citizen of Jericho who was saved and taken into Israel. The other figure worth mentioning is a man who Joshua saw holding a sword. When he asked him who he was, he replied that he was the Chief Captain of the Lord’s host, in other words the captain of the Lord’s army of angels who is none other than the Archangel Michael the Archistratigos.
The next book in order is the Book of Judges. After Joshua, Israel didn’t have a single strong government or leader as it had with Moses and Joshua. For three hundred years until the establishment of the Monarchy, order was established by certain powerful men and women who were called Judges. They not only had the power to judge but also had charge of the political and military administrations. The names of the main Judges are Gothoniel (Othniel), Deborah, Barak, who St. Paul mentions in his epistle to the Hebrews, Gideon, Jephthae and Samson. There are other lesser judges also mentioned and two greater judges Eli and Samuel who are not mentioned in the book of Judges as they are mentioned in the first book of Kings (1 Samuel).
Next in line is the book of Ruth. Again we saw her in Christ’s genealogy and is King David’s Great Grandmother. The Book is only four chapters and tells the beautiful and sentimental story of Ruth, the daughter in law of Elimelech and his wife Naomi who went to the land of Moab because of a famine. Their two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Shortly after, Elimelech dies and also his two sons and all three women are left widowed. Naomi decides to return to her people in Bethlehem and tells her daughters in law to remain in their own country. Orpah stays, but Ruth is determined to follow her Mother in law. Ruth utters those well known words of loyalty: “wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” In Bethlehem Ruth marries Booz who begat Obed, who begat Jesse, who begat David.
Next we have the four books of Kings. In the King James and other western translations, which are translated from the Hebrew and not the Greek, these are called Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings 1 and 2. In the Septuagint the Books are called Kings 1, 2, 3, 4. Kings 1 or Samuel 1 tells us that Samuel’s mother Hannah was barren and made a vow with God that if he granted her a son she would offer him to the Lord. And so after giving birth to Samuel and weaning him, she took him to Eli the priest who raised him in the temple. While still a child, God called to him during the night and told him of the things he was going to do. This was the beginning of his establishment as a Prophet of the Lord. The book continues telling of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines and how the Philistines won and took the Ark of the Covenant from Israel. They placed it in the house of Dagon their idol god and in the morning they found the idol face down on the ground. They set it back to its place and the next morning they found it again face down with the head and hands cut off. The Philistines realized that they couldn’t keep the Ark and carried it to a place called Gath. As they carried it, wherever they passed, the men of the city were smote with emerods in their secret parts. Emerods is apparently haemorrhoids. The Philistines decided to return the Ark back to Israel, but felt they had to make an offering to appease the Lord for their trespass. It was decided to make 5 golden images of their haemorrhoids and 5 golden mice, which plagued their city, and place them in a chest next to the Ark. They then took the Ark to a Hebrew town called Bethshemesh, and gave it to the Levites. There it seems that they were curious to know if the Philistines had taken anything from inside so they opened it to see. For looking into the Ark it says that the Lord smote the men of Bethshemesh, and slaughtered fifty thousand and seventy men. It reminds me of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, which, when the Ark was opened, everyone who gazed at it was destroyed.

The Book of Samuel continues with Samuel anointing Saul as the first king of Israel. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and was the tallest and apparently best looking in all of Israel. It seems that at the anointing of the Kings of Israel, they were also bestowed with the gift of prophesying. It says of Saul that “he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” Saul began his reign with victories against the Philistines and all was well until one day he disobeyed Samuel, who told him to wait for him seven days before going to battle. When the seven days were up and Samuel didn’t turn up, Saul made a burnt offering by himself which he was not allowed to do, but only the priests. When Samuel came he told him that he acted foolishly and because of his stupidity and arrogance his kingdom would not be inherited by his children, but that God would seek out another to take his kingdom. The Lord told Samuel to go to a man called Jesse in Bethlehem and anoint his son David as King. From that day the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, but departed from Saul who was now troubled with an evil spirit. It was suggested that Saul find someone to play music when the evil spirit took hold of him to help him calm down. David was an accomplished harp player and when Saul heard of him he asked that he be sent to him. And so it came to pass, when the evil spirit was upon Saul, that David played the harp, and Saul was refreshed, and the evil spirit departed from him.

King David is considered by the Orthodox Church a prophet and his Psalms that he wrote are used in every Orthodox service. But the world remembers him more for the fight he had with the Giant Goliath. He was according to the Septuagint version 4 cubits and a span, in other words 4˝ cubits, but according to the King James 6 ˝ cubits. The Hebrews had two cubit measurements, the common cubit which is 0.45m and the royal cubit which is 0.525m. If we assume that we are given the common cubit for Goliath’s height, he was 2.025m or 6ft 7˝ins according to the Septuagint and 2.92m or 9ft 7ins according to the King James. If we take the Septuagint measurement as correct then it’s not something that seems too incredible, there are many men today that are more than 6˝ ft and would seem like giants in comparison to Middle Eastern men. The tallest man ever recorded was Robert Wadlow of Illinois who at his death in 1940 was 8ft 11ins, that’s 2.71m and only 8ins shorter than the King James measurement for Goliath. The tallest person living today according to the Guinness World Records 2007 is Xi Shun of China (Inner Mongolia) who stands at 7ft 8.95ins. Goliath was from Gath, a city of the Philistines, but most probably originated from a tribe of giants called the Anakim who fled to Gath after their people were destroyed by Joshua. It mentions in Joshua that he destroyed the Anakim and there were none left except only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. The Anakim are also mentioned twice in Deuteronomy as being tall and very strong. (Deut. 2:10, 9:2) The rest of Samuel 1 tells of the battles David won and how Saul hated David because he saw that God was with him and tried on many occasions to kill him. It mentions Samuel’s death and then how Saul was killed in battle with his three sons.
Kings 2 (Samuel 2) describes David’s reign, first as king of Hebron over the house of Judah which he reigned for seven and a half years and then as king of all Israel which he reigned for 33 years. It tells of the Ark of God which had been in the house of a certain Abinadab at Gilbeah ever since it was returned to the Israelites from the Philistines and how David, wearing only a loin cloth, accompanied its return to Jerusalem with music and dancing and how God instructed David to build a temple to place the ark inside. It also tells us of David’s greatest sin. He slept with the wife of one of his commanders named Uriah. The woman was Bathsheba and she fell pregnant with his child. When her husband returned from battle, David ordered him to go home and wash knowing that at home he would sleep with his wife and would justify his wife’s pregnancy. But Uriah didn’t go home, he slept outside David’s door. When David asked him why he didn’t go home he replied “The Ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” David realized that Uriah was not going to go home so he sent him with a letter to Joab who was leading a battle and told him to set Uriah on the battle forefront so that he would be killed in battle. And so it was and David took Bathsheba into his home and she became his wife. But God was displeased with David and sent the Prophet Nathan to tell him that he had done a grave sin. David repented and God forgave him his sin, but the child died soon after birth. Bathsheba again fell pregnant and gave birth to Solomon who found favour with God and was to be the next King of Israel.

Before we leave David we should make mention of the Book of Psalms as we see in them David’s repentance for his sins and many other revelations of his inner self and also his prophetic vision’s of the Messiah. Not all the Psalms are David’s but because he is the author of the majority of the 150 Psalms, the Book is called the Psalms of David. They are rich in religious sentiments which came forth from the souls of the holy men that wrote them. The church reads from the Psalms in every service and are offered as types of prayer because within the psalms Christians can express their pain, their joy, their gratitude to God, their repentance and confession, and their hope, while in the Messianic Psalms which foretell the birth and work of the Saviour, Christians can find support for faith and at the same time they help us to unite the Old Testament with the New. For repentance there is nothing better than Psalm 50 (51 in King James) which David wrote after he sinned with Bathsheba and killed Uriah. The Messianic Psalms are basically 12 and foretell the coming of Christ or can only be interpreted in Christ. They are the Psalms 2, 8, 15, 19, 20, 44, 67, 71, 88, 109, 117, 131 according to the Septuagint numbering. We won’t look at all of them but an example is Psalm 109: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Jesus himself mentions this verse as referring to the Messiah when he asked the Pharisees whose son is the Christ. They replied David’s and then Jesus said “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then calls him Lord, how is he his son?” From the same Psalm we also have a referral to Christ’s Priesthood “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Kings 3 (1) deals with David’s last days and the anointing of Solomon as King. It tells how Solomon asked of God only for wisdom which he was granted, but also wealth and honour which he didn’t ask for. The book goes into great details of the building of the temple and the materials used and then its consecration. It tells how Solomon had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart from God and he fell into idolatry. For this evil, God told him that his son would not reign in all of Israel, but for David’s sake and the promise he gave David he would divide the Kingdom and his son would only reign in Jerusalem. The story of Solomon comes to an abrupt end and it tells as that the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are written elsewhere in the book of the acts of Solomon? In other words in the Book of Chronicles. We are not told if King Solomon repented of his apostasy, but the Church considers him a saint and prophet and believes he repented bitterly. For all his wealth and wisdom he didn’t find happiness and in his book Ecclesiastes he describes his many years of searching and his continual disappointments. He begins by acknowledging that everything is in vain: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity:” A theme that he carries throughout the Book to the very end. Other books of the Old Testament attributed to Solomon are Proverbs and Song of Songs. There is another book found in the Septuagint, but not in the King James because it was written in Greek and is called Wisdom of Solomon. In spite of the title, it’s very doubtful that Solomon is the author as it is considered that it was written much later than Solomon by someone in Egypt in 2 century BC, who had perfect knowledge of the Greek language and philosophy.
Kings 3 does not end with Solomon but mentions some of the kings after him and also the great prophet Elias (Elijah) and his successor Eliseus (Elisha). It mentions the reign of Ahab who married the woman Jezebel and for her sake served the idol god Baal. As punishment, Elias told Ahab that it would not rain for the next years. It doesn’t tell us how many years, but we know from St. Luke’s Gospel (4:25) and from the Epistle of St. James (5:17) that it was for 3˝ years. Ahab blamed Elias and not his own apostasy for all that came upon him and sought to kill him. The Lord told Elias to hide himself by the brook Cherith. He was to drink of the water of the brook and the Lord commanded the ravens to bring him bread and flesh to eat. When the brook dried out God sent him to Zarephath, to a widow and her son so that they would feed him. When he reached there he asked her for some water and a piece of bread. She told him she hadn’t enough for herself and her son. He told her not to worry because the Lord would make the flour and oil that she had not to run out. Elias stayed with them many days and then one day the widow’s son died. He took the boy and laid him on his own bed and as it says in the King James version “he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” The Septuagint says that he breathed on the boy three times. If we take the Kings James version as correct then this is another pre-figuration of the cross made by Elias’ body stretched out like a cross on the boy’s body. If the Septuagint is correct then the breathing is symbolic of the first breath God breathed into Adam. It is very probable that Elias stretched himself upon the boy and also breathed on him because we have a similar event with his disciple Eliseus (Elisha) It says in Kings 4 after telling us that a certain child died that “Eliseus went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.”  (2) 4 Kings 4:34) There is something similar in the Acts of the Apostles: When Paul had been preaching for a long time someone fell asleep and fell from the third loft and died.” Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.” Acts 20: 10) According to the Church, the widow’s boy that Elias raised from the dead was the Prophet Jonah. This is mentioned in the Synaxarion for his nameday 21st September.
We next see Elias making a proposal before King Ahab telling him to gather all 450 prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel where they could challenge their god’s power against the power of the one true God. He told the people to choose and to follow whoever proved to be the more powerful of the two. He even pointed out that the odds were against him by 450 to 1. Two bullocks (oxen) were brought - one for a sacrifice to Baal and the other for God. The test was for each side to pray to their god to send fire and consume the offering. The Prophets of Baal went first and prayed from morning till noon, but no fire came. Elias who seems to have a great sense of humour started to mock them and said: “Cry aloud: for he is a god; for he is meditating, or else perhaps he is engaged in business, or he is in a journey, or perhaps he is asleep, and is to be awakened.” When it was time for Elias to offer his sacrifice, he ordered that it be drenched first with water. He then prayed and “the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice.” Other events we see with Elias is the time he was fed by an angel and how God told him to anoint Eliseus (Elisha) as his successor.
Kings 4 carries on from Kings 3 and narrates the death of Ahab and then Elias’ Ascension into heaven. After hitting the river Jordan with his mantle it divided and both he and Eliseus cross over to the other side. On the other side Elias asked Eliseus what he would like to do for him. Eliseus answered that he wanted a double portion of his spirit to come upon him. Elias replied that if he saw him when he was taken away then it would be done unto him as he requested. As they walked and talked, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire which came between them and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven. As he went up into heaven his mantle fell and Eliseus took the mantle and went back to the Jordan. He smote the waters with the mantle saying “Where is the Lord God of Elias?” and the waters parted and he crossed over again to the other side. The rest of Kings 4 deals with other miracles that Eliseus did like curing Naaman the captain of the host of the king of Syria of leprosy and with the reigns of various kings of Israel and covers a period of about 300 years.

Elias did not die a natural death, but was taken up to heaven in the flesh. Another person who is believed to not have died is Enoch of who it is said “walked with God and was seen no more because God took him." (Genesis 5:24). It is Jewish tradition and also the Church’s that these two figures will be sent again by God in the last days. It says in the Book of Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elias the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Mal. 4:5-6) The Jews of Jesus’ day certainly understood this about Elias, although they were confused, and thought that perhaps Christ himself was Elias: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” (Matth 16:13-14) Just as St John the Baptist is called the forerunner of Christ because he came to prepare the way of the Lord and heralded the first coming of Christ, so also Elias is called the Second Forerunner and will herald the second coming of Christ, when He will come in all power and majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. The church knows that both Enoch and Elias will come back to the earth in those last days, and preach Christ. They will be slain by the antichrist, and lay in the streets for three days, after which the Lord will come and there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth.
Before we leave Kings 4 there is an event that shows how God sanctifies the relics of the saints and performs miracles through them. Eliseus died and was buried. The next year as the Jews were about to bury another man, they were invaded by the Moabites. Because they had to hurry, they cast the man into the sepulchre where Eliseus was buried. When the dead body touched the bones of Eliseus, the man revived and stood on his feet. Kings 4 ends with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invading Jerusalem and taking the king and its citizens captive to Babylon.
The next two books are called Chronicles 1 and 2. The Septuagint calls them Paraleipomena, in other words all the things that were omitted or neglected to be mentioned in the four books of Kings. But they also give a summary of the Old Testament story from Adam to the end of the Israelite’s captivity in Babylon.
Then we have the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. In the Septuagint we have Ezra 1 and 2 and Nehemiah. Ezra 1 actually contains pages from the last chapters of Chronicles 2. All three books talk of the destruction of Jerusalem, the captivity of the Israelites, events during the last kings of Judah, the return of the captives to Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple. They also give a catalogue of the names of those who returned and rules for mixed marriages.
Our next book according to the Septuagint is the book of Tobit which is not found in the King James Version. This is one of the nicest books of the Old Testament. It tells of how Tobit was taken captive with others to Nineveh by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser, and how during those years he remained a faithful and pious Israelite doing good works of charity and always walking in uprightness and in fear of God. He used to bury the dead that the king had murdered and thrown behind the Nineveh walls. This was forbidden and when the king heard of it he sought to have him killed. Tobit escaped but all his belongings were confiscated and all that he had left was his wife and son Tobias. One day after burying someone he slept outside by the wall because it was considered a defilement to bury the dead. Sparrow droppings fell on his eyes and he became blind. So now blind and not able to work and support his family he became despondent and prayed to God to let him die. On the very day of Tobit's prayer, Sarah, a young relative of Tobit living in the Median capital, Ecbatana, also prays for death. She has been married seven times, and every one of her husbands has been killed on their wedding night by the jealous demon Asmodeus. The prayers of both are heard, and the archangel Raphael is sent to help them. At this point, Tobit decides to send his son Tobias to the Median city of Rages to recover money left there in trust with a friend. Raphael (disguised as Azarias, another of Tobit's relatives) appears, to accompany and guide Tobias. En route, Tobias catches a large fish in the Tigris River and is advised by his heavenly guide to keep its heart, liver, and gall because of their healing properties. When they reach Ecbatana, the archangel persuades Tobias to marry Sarah. On the wedding night, Tobias, as instructed by the archangel, takes live ashes of incense and puts the heart and liver of the fish upon them and makes a smoke. When the demon smelled the odour he fled to the remotest parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him. So Tobias slept with his wife and was saved from the demon. His father in law makes him promise to stay with him for fourteen days of festivities so he asked Raphael to journey to Rages, to recover the money held in trust. After this Tobias, Sarah, and Raphael return to Nineveh, where Tobias uses the gall of the fish to restore his father's sight. Raphael then reveals his identity saying “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One.” He then tells them that “All these days I merely appeared to you and did not eat or drink, but you were seeing a vision. Write in a book everything that has happened.” And then disappears.
We next have The Book of Judith again not found in the King James and the Book of Esther. These are historical books, but show how women can use their beauty and wisdom to bring down the greatest of enemies. Judith was a widow and used her beauty and charm against Holofernes, the chief captain of the army of Assur. She got him drunk then cut of his head which she then proudly showed off to the Israelite elders. Esther used her charm and wisdom to save the Jewish people after the king of Persia was tricked by his prime minister into making a decree that all the Jews in the Persian Empire were to be put to death. She revealed to the King that his prime minister called for the ruling because Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, refused to bow down to him. The King realized he was to kill an innocent people and hanged his prime minister and gave protection to the Jews. An annual feast, the feast of Purim was set up in memory of the deliverance of the Jews which is still celebrated to this day.
Next we have the three books of the Maccabees which again are only found in the Septuagint. As they are historical books and deal mostly with the battles of the Jewish nation, we won’t look at their content except the very beginning of Maccabees 1 which is of special interests to Greeks and Greek history as a whole. It says that “After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, (which is Cyprus) had defeated a King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. (He had previously become king of Greece.) He fought many battles, conquered strongholds, and put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth, and plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted, and his heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army and ruled over countries, nations, and princes, and they became tributary to him. After this he fell sick and perceived that he was dying. So he summoned his most honoured officers, who had been brought up with him from youth, and divided his kingdom among them while he was still alive. And after Alexander had reigned twelve years, he died.” (Maccabees 1: 1-7)
Our last stop for today is the Book of Job. It says of Job that he was true, blameless, righteous, and godly, abstaining from everything evil. He had seven sons and three daughters and was the wealthiest man in his country with several thousands of sheep, camels, oxen and asses. It says that one day the angels of God came to stand before the Lord and the devil came with them. The Lord asked the devil, where did you come from? And the devil replied “I am come from compassing the earth and walking up and down in the earth under heaven”. And the Lord said to the devil, “hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a man blameless, true, godly, abstaining from everything evil.” The devil answered: “Does Job worship the Lord for nothing? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”

And so begins Job’s many painful trials and temptations to test his loyalty and faith in God. As his son and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, a messenger came and told him his servants had been slain and his oxen and asses were stolen. Before he could finish another messenger came and told him that fire came from heaven and consumed his sheep and the servants that were with them. Then another came and told him his camels were taken away. And then another came and told him that while his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead. In just a few moments Job went from being the richest and happiest man in the land to the poorest and unhappiest. Torn my his grief at the loss of his children, servants and wealth, he didn’t blame God, but fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Again the angels of God stood before the Lord and the devil came also. God said to him: “Hast thou then observed my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a harmless, true, blameless, godly man, abstaining from everything evil, and he still cleaves to innocence although you have told me to destroy his substance without cause. And the devil said: Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has will he give as a ransom for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said to the devil, Behold, I deliver him up to you only save his life. So the devil smote Job with sore boils from his feet to his head.” The sores caused his body to stink that he was forced to sit on a dung-heap outside the city. After being in this state for some time, the devil seeing that he remained firm with patience and faith in God, decided to use his wife to stir him up. She said to him: “how long will you hold out expecting hope of deliverance, your memorial is abolished from the earth, even your sons and daughters which I bore with pangs and pains, and you spend the nights in the open air among the corruption of worms, say some word against God and die.” “But he looked at her and said: Thou hast spoken like one of the foolish women. If we have received good things of the hand of the Lord, shall we not endure evil things? In all the things that happened to him, Job sinned not at all with his lips before the Lord.”

What was painful for Job more than losing his children, his wealth and then his health, was the fact that he thought all his sufferings came from God. In his mind he could not explain how a righteous and just God could punish him who lived blamelessly and righteously. But his trials were not only these. His friends come to comfort him but instead of comforting him they grieved him even more by continually repeating that tribulations are punishment from God cast upon him because of his sins. His friends must have thought that he had committed grave sins to receive such a punishment, but his own conscious didn’t accuse him of any transgressions worthy of such a punishment from God. This causes him to curse the day he was born and wished that that day and night never existed. At first glance this can be seen as his fall but in reality it was his salvation. Job was in a dilemma: A righteous God punishes a righteous person with such a frightful punishment, which surpasses any kind of justification. Faced with the thought to curse God of to deny the existence of God, he preferred to deny himself and wished he never existed, that he was never born so that he would not be found in this unpleasant and disagreeable predicament. He cursed the day he was born and in that way did not lose his faith in God. After this another friend appears who condemns all the other friends for the things they told Job and also Job for his despondency. He tells him that only God knows the reason for all his suffering, but man is always obliged to have hope and trust in God and suffer without complaining every trial that comes his way. In the end God reproaches Job for thinking that he could ever understand God’s righteousness and judgement. He forgives him and in appreciation for his complete faith, humility and patience during the trials, he rewards his virtue with more joy and happiness, with children and wealth, more than he had before his trials and temptations.
Job is seen by the fathers of the Church as a type of Christ and his story is read in Church during Holy Week in anticipation of Christ’s sufferings. They are not completely alike, but have many common elements. Job was wealthy as a king before his trials – Christ was God before becoming man, the whole world which he created was his. As Job became poor without even a roof over his head, so also Christ became a poor man without a roof, for as he himself said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matth. 8: 20) God gave Job to be tempted by the devil, he did the same with Christ: both overcame the temptations. As Job was naked outside the city sitting like rubbish on a dung-heap, so also Christ was crucified naked on the Cross outside the city walls. Both suffered their trials with the greatest of patience and humility.