Beyond its allusions to Creation (see Scripturosity article Genesis in Job – Part 1), the next reference to the primeval history of Genesis remarkably detailed in the book of Job is the Fall of Man and nature’s Curse.
There is no way to intellectually reconcile faith in a good and loving God with the suffering that so indelibly defines our world without an intrinsic understanding of the cause for nature’s groaning.
A naturalistic explanation of human emergence is that death and misfits and suffering and mutations eventually brought about man. The biblical explanation of life’s inherent pain and misery is that man brought death. “Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men…(Romans 5:12).”
According to the Bible, suffering is a remnant phenomenon of the Curse placed on the creation at the time of Adam’s sin. His disobedience would be shown to have implications far more reaching than his own mortality. Man’s obedience to God had been key to the preservation of Paradise. Now perfection became flawed and innocence condemned. All of creation was cursed with mankind because of mankind.
John Calvin wrote the following concerning the curse and what we see in nature today…
“The Lord…determined that his anger should, like a deluge, overflow all parts of the earth, that wherever man might look, the atrocity of his sin should meet his eyes. Before the fall, the state of the world was a most fair and delightful mirror of the divine favour and paternal indulgence towards man. Now, in all the elements, we perceive that we are cursed. And although the earth is still full of the mercy of God (Psalm 33:5), yet at the same time appear manifest signs of his dreadful alienation from us, by which, if we are unmoved, we betray our blindness and insensibility.”
It is fascinating to find in the writings of Job, a keen awareness and comprehension of creation’s Curse.
“Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” said the Lord to Adam, “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee (contrasting the previously cooperative earth that he dressed and kept)…In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return (Gen. 3:17-19).”
Job ended his discourse with his “comforters” with a reminder of the Curse’s strangle-hold on their environment. “Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley (31:40).”
Earlier he prays within earshot of the others, “Remember, I beseech Thee, that Thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt Thou bring me into dust again (10:9)?”
Elihu sarcastically advised with a similar acknowledgement, “Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment…If He set His heart upon man, (or) if He gather unto Himself His spirit and His breath (Gen.2:7); All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust (Job 34:10-15).”
Job references the Curse and the futility of protecting your offspring from its effects in 14:1-4. In protest of the friend’s insistence of his guilt based solely upon the tragic turn of circumstances, Job recounts of the testimony of old, “Man that is born of woman is few of days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not… Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.”
Job had a remarkable grasp of the sentence of sorrow placed upon woman at the time of the Fall (Gen.3:16).
Woman’s curse was an engagement of sorrow. There is something very interesting; however, about the words translated “sorrow” in verse 16. They actually represent two different Hebrew words.
The first sorrow, the sorrow that is to be “greatly multiplied,” is defined by Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon as “pain” or “toil” and specifically “of travail.”
The second “sorrow” (“…in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…”) is a different word. It is defined (B-D-B) similarly as “pain, hurt, toil,” also noting travail but it points out that the same word is found in Proverbs 10:22. This passage is contrasting sorrow as the antithetical reality to the Lord’s blessing. There is no allusion to or connection to physical pain at all. This word in its very essence is probably best defined by Ungers Bible Dictionary as “grief arising from the privation of some good we actually possessed.”
The “sorrow” that was to be “greatly multiplied” is descriptive of the physical pangs of childbirth. The second “sorrow” of Genesis 3:16 is referencing the inevitable grief that will now be associated with protecting and rearing offspring after the Curse.
Job was simply saying, “My suffering is the result of original sin and the curse – nothing more.”
Eliphaz aligns with Job’s perspective in his previous comments. “Yet man is born into trouble, as the sparks fly upward (5:7).” He follows up with a similar recognition, “What is man, that he should be clean? And he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous (15:14)?”
Bildad offered the same appreciation for the initial context of Job’s circumstances. “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of woman (25:4)?”
Job even expresses knowledge of the original sin, references the catalyst, and makes personal application. “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquities in my bosom: Did I fear a great multitude…or the contempt of families…that I kept silence, and went not out of the door (31:33,34)?”
This record makes it quite clear that Job and those with whom he associated had a coherent appreciation for the history of mankind as it was preserved from the beginning and eventually compiled by Moses. Either their knowledge was based on an indirect passing down through oral tradition or they had a more direct access to the Sacred Annals in some way. Regardless, the references cannot be considered coincidental.
The next article in this series will address the chronicled recognition of a hydrological cataclysm that had rocked the earth only a few short centuries prior.