Misunderstood and maligned

(Credit: Getty Images)

Job’s wife. She has been misunderstood and maligned for millennia. I scratch my head wondering how we have continued to misrepresent a woman so reprehensibly despite what the Bible says of her?

From my reading, I learn of a faithful and devoted wife—a woman who has faith in God, has shared both the good and the bad with her husband—yet furrowed brows accompany the mere mention of her name. Why is this so?

Naturally, because Job dominates this Old Testament episode, our minds are drawn to and consumed by him. Nevertheless, if we could just lean our heads a little to one side and peer past Job, we would see the woman behind him.

Remember, Job did not suffer alone. His wife was there with him. She suffered the loss of all their earthly possessions and the accompanying wealth. Her reputation was tarnished and she became the subject of spiteful gossip and undeserved scorn. However, the painful loss of those worldly trinkets was nothing compared to the heartbreak of losing her children (Job 1:13-19). In God’s original plan there was to be no death, so we are unprepared when it happens within our own home, and even more when it happens to our own children. The lament of Job’s wife echoed throughout the land, barely reflecting the heartache within her breast, which had been torn asunder.

We should not forget the speed and viciousness with which these calamities occurred, as is the opportunistic character of Satan when the restraining hand of God is partly withdrawn. These tragedies struck in one day, but Job was not alone, there was one person who shared his pain—probably more, if I know anything of a mother’s love.

Time passes in the story of Job, but the heartbreak of pain and loss does not. Two ruined lives stand in the shadows of what were once full, happy and prosperous times, as her husband is incapacitated with a sickening, body-deforming illness. In Job 2:7 the illness is identified as boils covering his entire body. No part of his person was spared, making even the simplest tasks impossible to perform.

Now comes possibly the most infamous verse of the Old Testament in Job 2:9. At the commencement of chapter two, Satan is given freedom to hurt the body of Job, but not to kill him. We have no idea of time in relation to the events of chapter one. It could be one week, one month, six months—we just don’t know. Nor do we know how long Job suffered his terrible affliction before his wife advised her husband: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

At this juncture, it matters little to me whether we retreat to the Hebrew root word for curse brk, which some have suggested can also be translated “bless”. That is immaterial. Job’s wife is a desperate and emotionally overwhelmed woman. Her husband lives with debilitating pain; there is no relief afforded him, despite the services of the very best physicians. Hope has been drained from the cup of reason and logic, as she witnesses the terrible suffering of her husband. She wants his pain to stop, but there is no cure, no end of suffering in sight.

Therefore, she adjures him with the heartbreaking appeal, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die.” Instead of imagining a vile vindictive woman tempting her husband to blaspheme, think of a broken wife weeping as she gently touches her husband’s cheek then nestling her hand in his, quietly beseeching him. For this is the man she loves. She is Job’s only wife (unusual for the time) and it is likely they have shared the marriage bed for longer than 30 years.

Imagine yourself in a similar situation. Or perhaps you don’t have to—you have been there immersed in one or more dark chapters of life. Someone dear to you is suffering or has suffered chronic pain, each minute of each hour, every day, month after month after month. The prognosis is death. There is no chance of recovery. Do you ask the doctor to increase the morphine to control the pain, which will shorten the life, or do you allow your loved one to suffer? Only you can answer that question.

“God strongly condemns the three friends, but not Job’s wife. On the contrary God approves of her faithfulness . . .”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.