commendable. A woman who had one chance to record her voice on the pages of the Holy Scriptures wasted it in spiteful nagging. Chapters later, we hear of her indirectly through the husband's lamentation. Even that second indirect reference was not a compliment. That nameless woman was a wife who loudly wished her husband dead, to his hearing, at a time when he most needed everyone's succour, especially hers. She was a blatant woman who never hid her heart, who cared little about decorum or modesty when it came to saying what she wanted to say, how she wanted to say it. In that first verse dedicated to her profile, her voice is heard telling her husband audaciously to his sorry, sickly face: “I wish you were dead. I would rather have a man who fights God with his every blistering sore, with every breath from his stale mouth until he drops dead, than a stinking sore-infested and fallen man who clings so stupidly to the ideals of a God who would let him suffer thus without any apparent material compensation for all his religious commitments” (Job 2:9). She taunted that she would rather be the widow of a dead bold backslider than the wife of a living suffering saint. Even to naive observers, Mrs. Job cut the picture of a veritable tool in the hands of the same evil forces that had sworn to waste the husband. She probably never realized it, or maybe she was their willing agent.
Job had had all his children wiped out in one day in the first phase of his ordeals at the hands of forces beyond his mortal might. He had lost friends and cacquaintances in the process (Job 19:13-22). How did the storm that wiped out all his wealth, all his children, and drove all his friends far from him manage to spare this woman, to be his only companion and 'comfort'? How did Job manage that resident torment until his storms passed?
We hear nothing of her in the latter days of Job's restoration and glory, except perhaps indirectly in the reference to Job's new “children,” from which anyone would deduce that there was a mother and a wife. We hear her voice only once in the days of Job's afflictions, as a cruel, vicious, deadly partner, showing perhaps that that was the kind of atmosphere in which she functioned best, as a tool of Satanic terror against the godly man. In the other reference to her in the further days of the husband's tribulations, Job is overheard lamenting, “My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake” (Job 19:17). The Message Bible puts it simply this way: “My wife can't stand to be around me anymore. I'm repulsive to my family.” In the days of his prosperity, she enjoyed his presence; in the days of his adversity, he had become repulsive. The husband's last reference to her is in the context of asserting his righteousness, when he swore that if he had so much as lusted after another woman, then may another man sleep with his wife. That was a declaration of how faithful he had been to his marriage and his wife (Job 31:9-10).
There is the likelihood that Job may not have found as much of a friend in his wife as he found in his children; that he may have been closer to them (or they closer to him) than to her. For example, Job seemed very informed about the children's activities, up to being a part even of their regular parties, such that whenever they finished those celebrations, Daddy Job never failed to make for them his precautionary 'clean up' sacrifices, in case they had sinned against God in the process. No mention is made of the wife in any of those sweet moments. She did not belong to happy days and celebrations of joy. She functioned best in trouble, and in creating them. We either hear her virulent voice wishing her husband dead, or we hear the husband bemoaning her strange manners and abandonment of him in his hard time. Maybe she represented the third silent phase of Job's troubles, the phase of family troubles; the first phase being the storms that took his wealth and children, and the second being the invasion of his health with strange boils.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually (Job 1:4-5).
It was a happy home where, according to verse 4, brothers were at peace with sisters, and siblings feasted together. Everyone honoured the other's invitation; everyone rejoiced with the other sibling. In all these events, not one mention is made of the mother, only the father. Job cared about the spiritual welfare of his family, but his wife was a loud spokesperson for the enemy, and she was not modest about it.
His wife said to him, "Are you still trying to be godly when God has done all this to you? Curse him and die" (Job 2:9, The Living Bible).
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22, New International Version).
In the final chapter of Job, after his restoration, we read,
10 After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune and then doubled it! 11 All his brothers and sisters and friends came to his house and celebrated. They told him how sorry they were, and consoled him for all the trouble God had brought him. Each of them brought generous housewarming gifts (Job 42:10-11, The Message).
Again, in this final episode of joy and celebration, no mention is made of Mrs Job. Mention is made of Job's friends and sisters and brothers, but not of Mrs Job. Mr Job must have come from a pleasant family background, where every brother and sister was a part of every other sibling's joy and sorrows, a quality which he tried to transfer to his children. Where was Mrs Job when this party was taking place? Did she avoid it because she hated her in-laws (Job's sisters and brothers) as well as Job's friends? Or was she dead? God blessed Job's latter days with more beautiful children than he had lost in the days of his trial. In other words, there was still a wife. Was it the same wife or another? The probability is that God washed that pestilent wife away with Job's past and, in the restoration package of new things, also gave him a new wife. Here is the reason for that thinking? If God could be so “wrath” with the friends of Job for ignorantly attributing his woes to secret sins for which they said God was punishing him; if God could compel such outsiders to urgently make restitution to Job or get in trouble with Him (Job 42:7-9), how much more pleased would God have been with the woman in the house who, not ignorantly but deliberately provoked him, laying before his naked eyes snares to ruin him in the hands of his God? If for their “folly” (as God described it) (Job 42:8), the Almighty could be angry with Job's friends until they went to apologize, with tokens of atonement, what may have been the fate of the wife who never showed any sign of penitence, never confessed her sin to God or man? If God could be so intolerant of “folly,” how tolerant could He have been with the blatant ill-treatment of a righteous man whom (regardless of the wife's spiteful blackmail and 'bad belle'), He described as “my servant Job”? It would appear that God killed her, cutting her off from partaking so undeservedly in the celebration she had meant to frustrate. That is one way to understand Job 42:11, that Job's relations and friends visited Job and “comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him” (NIV). How do you comfort and consol a man whom God has just restored? How do you comfort and console a man who has just had double blessings for everything he had lost? That is a coded verse. That they “came to his house and celebrated” with him, everyone can understand in the context of his restorations; but that they should also comfort and console him, raises deep questions that the story teller would not decode. In the same restoration package of Job, God may have killed that spokesperson for Satan, giving occasion for sisters and brothers and friends to return not only to celebrate his recovery but also mourn the new loss, the subtraction of the trouble maker as a means of securing and sustaining the new gains that Job was entering into.
What part did such a pestilent wife play in the success story of Mr Job? Could she have fitted well as the universal proverbial woman behind every successful man?
From The Preacher's diary,
December 4, 2009.