Friday, November 18, 2016

God Speaks to Job from the Whirlwind

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and you answer me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.
Who has determined the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line upon it?
On what are its foundations fastened? or who laid its cornerstone;
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band,
And prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors,
And said, Thus far shall you come, but no farther: and here shall your proud waves be stopped? . . .

Have you entered into the springs of the sea? or have you walked in search of the depths?
Have the gates of death been revealed unto you? or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Have you perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if you know it all.
Where is the way where light dwells? and as for darkness, where is its place,
That you should take it to its domain, and that you should know the paths to its home?
Do you know it, because you were born then? or because the number of your days is great? . . .

Can you bind the cluster of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in its season? or can you guide Arcturus with its children?
Know you the ordinances of heaven? can you set their dominion in the earth?
Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover you?
Can you send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto you, Here we are?

Who has put wisdom in the inward parts? or who has given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom? or who can pour out the water skins of heaven,
When the dust grows into clumps, and the clods cleave fast together?

Will you hunt the prey for the lion? or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they crouch in their dens, and abide in their lairs to lie in wait?
Who provides for the raven its food? when its young ones cry unto God, they wander about for lack of food.

Job Book 38, The King James 2000 Bible

My favorite part of the Old Testament, a useful reminder when things are beyond understanding. Because nobody ever promised that we social apes would understand everything. Because we evolved to live in bands of a hundred people, and it is a miracle that we can make a nation of 300 million work at all.


Unknown said...

I, God, am a vicious bastard. But I'm God, so suck it up and deal. And don't ask too many questions. I've rigged it so that there are no answers.

Oh, and I've also rigged it so that if you complain or misunderstand, that's evil. Embrace the suck!

Odd. I find some of the most obvious acts of divine cruelty and arbitrariness, such as Leviticus 10, compelling. But I've never liked Job. The abjection it preaches--"Behold, I am vile" is Job's reply--is too absolute.

And, though I too was not there when God did whatever, I can't help but think that, if the whirlwind speech is really all he has to say--as was proven, for example, at Treblinka--then why should we listen? I'll take the Red Army instead.

John said...

I don't like the story of Job, because God appears as a person, and as a person he is a jerk. To me this speech is a reminder that there are a trillion galaxies, so compared to the plans of God, or the nature of the universe, or however you think about such things, your troubles and cries for divine help are insignificant and your intellect overmatched. To the question, "Why?", the universe seems to answer, "Even if I tried to explain, you couldn't possibly understand."