The book of Job focuses on theological and philosophical explanations of Job's (and other pious individuals') suffering. Eventually, God Himself talks to Job revealing that His thoughts and plans for human misery are far beyond possible human understanding.

However, the "prophetic" beginning of the book speaks of a simple bet between God and Satan to test Job's faith.

Why, instead of those long theological debates, doesn't God reveal the true reason for Job's suffering?

  • Perhaps the bet is a parable for human suffering AS IF it were a bet. – Jonathan Dec 20 '20 at 19:30

According to Malbim (36:2 and 16ff), Elihu informs Iyov of this:

עתה חוה לו הסבה האמתיית מה שגרם לו כל היסורים האלה, אשר כבר ידענו זה מן הספור הנזכר בתחלת הספר שזה היה ענין נסיון, ובאר דבר הנסיון בפרטיות,...

Now [Elihu] revealed to him the true cause of all of his sufferings, which we know from the narrative at the beginning of the book: it was a test. He goes on to explain this test in detail...

ודבר זה מה שהיה לך רחב בלא צוקה ושלחן מלא דשן זה הסית אותך מפי צר, ר"ל שעי"ז היית ירא אלהים וסר מרע, ולא היה פתחון פה להצר והשטן לקטרג עליך על רוע מעשיך, כי לא נמצא עולתה בך: ודין, אבל באמת דין רשע מלאת כשבאו עמך לעומק הדין, בעת שבאו בני האלהים והשטן להתיצב על ה' אז מלאת דין של הרשע שהוא השטן המקטרג עליך לאמר החנם ירא איוב אלהים, כי טען עליך שיש אפשריות שתתמוטט מדרך הטוב ודין ומשפט יתמוכו, והדין והמשפט שהם מחויבים להשקיף על כל הצדדים וכל אופני המשפט, הם תמכו את דין הרשע,...

The fact that you had "broadness" without "anxiety," and a "table full of fatness" - this is what caused "the enemy's mouth to be able to convince [Hashem] about you." Meaning that because of [your physical plenty] you were G-d-fearing and shunning evil, so that there was no opportunity for the Adversary/the Satan to accuse you of evil deeds, since no unrighteousness was found in you. "But in judgment": in fact "you were filled with the judgment of the evil one" - when they delved deeper into ultimate judgment, when the G-dly retinue and the Satan presented themselves before G-d. Then "you were filled with the judgment of the evil one" - the accusing Satan, who argued "Does Iyov fear G-d without cause?" He claimed that there is the possibility that you will fall away from goodness. "And judgment and rectitude supported": judgment and rectitude, which must look at all angles and all aspects of jurisprudence, supported the judgment of the evil one...

So it's possible that Hashem doesn't confirm that to Iyov because it's not necessary, since Elihu had already covered it. But it's also possible that it's because, as the Malbim goes on to explain (42:2ff), Iyov in fact did pass the test: he was trying to be a "devil's advocate" for purposes of debate. So Elihu, not knowing that, would have thought (and says so, in Malbim's rendition) that in fact Iyov failed the test, whereas Hashem knew the truth.

  • According to Rambam "Satan" is a metaphor for the psychological power of יצר הרע yetzer hara. Also, the Satan in Job is a fable since G-d is good and only does good. – Jonathan Dec 20 '20 at 19:40
  • @Jonathan Fine, then: since הוא שטן הוא יצר הרע הוא מלאך המות (Bava Basra 16a), then that fits quite well. As for your second question, see Moreh Nevuchim 3:24. – Meir Dec 20 '20 at 19:47

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