When reading Iyov 1:11 and 2:5 the phrase " שְֽׁלַֽח־נָ֣א יָֽדְךָ֔ וְגַ֖ע " means what specifically?

  • How is the imperative request "please-Send Your-Hand and-Touch" suppose to be understood in a physical world?

2 Answers 2


Moreh Nevukhim I:18 (emphasis mine):

THE three words karab, "to come near," naga‘, "to touch," and nagash, "to approach," sometimes signify "contact" or "nearness in space," sometimes the approach of man's knowledge to an object, as if it resembled the physical approach of one body to another...

In the passage, "Touch (ga‘) the mountains, and they shall smoke" (Ps. 144:5), the verb "touch" is used in a figurative sense, viz., "Let thy word touch them." So also the words, "Touch thou him himself" (Job 2:5), have the same meaning as "Bring thy infliction upon him." In a similar manner must this verb, in whatever form it may be employed be interpreted in each place, according to the context; for in some cases it denotes contact of two material objects, in others knowledge and comprehension of a thing, as if he who now comprehends anything which he had not comprehended previously had thereby approached a subject which had been distant from him. This point is of considerable importance.

  • Although G-d is considered "incorporeal", ancient Ivrim like David believed His-Hand could literally touch ( Ga, גַּ֖ע ) physical objects. In Tehillim 144:5 [ chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16365/jewish/Chapter-144.htm ] : "YHVH, bend Your heavens and descend; touch the mountains and they will smoke." ( יְהֹוָה הַט־שָׁמֶ֥יךָ וְתֵרֵ֑ד גַּ֖ע בֶּֽהָרִ֣ים וְֽיֶֽעֱשָֽׁנוּ ) testifying the same touch ( גַ֥ע ) requested by Ha-Satan in Iyov 1:11 & 2:5 is a physical encounter with G-d's Hand. If this Touch was only mental, did Iyov just imagine he was afflicted with severe boils? Jan 13, 2021 at 16:09
  • Maimonides disagrees with your reading of scripture. In addition, G-d’s incorporeality does not preclude His interaction with the world which He created.
    – Joel K
    Jan 13, 2021 at 16:21
  • Exactly. - So how is the phrase "please-Send Your-Hand and-Touch" suppose to be understood in a physical world? Is G-d's Hand microscopic? (Does bacteria serve as His-Hand)? Jan 13, 2021 at 16:29
  • 1
    G-d has many messengers
    – Joel K
    Jan 13, 2021 at 17:55

The Malbim on 2:5 writes:

אולם, אך בזה תבחנהו בחינה ברורה, אם תשלח ידך ותגע אל עצמו ואל בשרו לא בעורו לבד רק מכה הנוגע בעצמו ובשרו שיש בה סכנת נפש עד שיתיאש מרפואה, ואז לא יהיה לו במה להתנחם ומה לירא ולקוות אז על פניך יברכך ויגנה הנהגתך:

However, were You to stretch out Your hand and touch his person, his very flesh; not just skin-deep but so severely that he becomes convinced that his condition is terminal, then he would surely curse You to Your face and damn Governance.

So from the Malbim we see that it is written in these human, corporeal terms for us to gain an insight into how Hashem will act.

  • Like Iyov - Are we left without deeper insight regarding how " שְֽׁלַֽח־נָ֣א יָֽדְךָ֔ וְגַ֖ע " works? Is Malbim saying the imperative request instantly occurs but cannot be seen? Does this mean "Ga!" ( גַ֖ע ) is the physical moment when a person feels abnormal from the unseen presence of Yad-kha ( יָֽדְךָ֔ )? Jan 13, 2021 at 15:40

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