Literature / Book of Job

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

The 18th book in the Christian Bible's established order. Despite being near the middle, the story of Job is probably the first one written, even before the Pentateuch.

Job is an honest upright man, blessed with wealth and children, but Satan challenges God that Job is only devout because of the blessings his life has given him. God decides to prove Satan wrong and demonstrate Job's genuine piety by allowing Satan to rob him of his life of blessing, in order to showing Satan that even when alone, impoverished and suffering, Job will keep the faith.


This book provides examples of:

  • Butt Monkey: Job loses his family, his home, his possessions and his health, all in apparently under an hour, simply because Satan didn't like him and/or needed to tear someone else down to feel better about himself.
  • Character Filibuster: Job and his three friends really liked to talk. And God and Elihu go on for just as long. At one point God just starts listing animals and monsters for a full chapter out of the clear blue to make a point.
  • Call Back: God's second conversation with Satan goes almost exactly the same as the first.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Seemingly this is Job, as all his misery is because God allowed Satan to pick on him, for the sake of a bet.
  • The Devil: Unbuilt Trope. Satan is a main character, but rather than being named the Lord of Darkness, he freely circulates in Heaven and converses (albeit rather impudently) with God Himself. His role seems to be something of a trickster prosecutor, trying to prove that Job's alleged devotion to God is not really genuine. It is suggested the name Satan should be read as adversary or accuser, and that it refers to a role rather than a distinct person; as such, this is the original Devil's Advocate.
  • Death Seeker: 3:21 and 22 (it goes on longer as character filibuster above describes)
    They long for death and it won't come. They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure. It is a blessed relief when they finally die, when they find the grave.
  • Despair Speech: Pretty much the entirety of Job's monologues.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Escalating from losing his material goods, to his family, to his health.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite all the suffering which Job endures, God restores his fortunes in the end, proving His faithfulness and goodness, despite the mistakes Job had made along the way. Even back then, Job kept his head above water.
  • Fallen Angel: Not the actual trope but its prototype is here, and is the strongest rebuttal to those who claim the concept is incompatible with Judaism. 4:18 is below; 15:15 can also be a case, but amusingly the book makes no insinuations that Satan did anything wrong beyond being mistaken in his malicious judgment of Job.
    If God cannot trust some of His own angels and has charged some of them with folly, how much less will he trust those made of clay?
  • Fatal Flaw: In the beginning of the book, Job was fearful that, while he was rightful in front of God's eyes, maybe his children have done wrong. This fear allowed Satan to imply to God that Job wasn't trusting him as much.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Satan has been known to hang around heaven and take friendly bets with God.
  • Good Running Evil: Satan is shown to cause suffering for Job only with God's explicit permission. God is keeping Satan on a leash, so-to-speak.
  • In Mysterious Ways: In the end you see Job humiliate himself before God. It was all to teach him humility and dependence on Him.
  • Kaiju: The Behemoth (a huge, dinosaur-like creature) and leviathan (a giant sea serpent) are ur examples of Kaijus.
  • Laser-Guided Karma / No Sympathy: Job's friends claim him sinning must be the reason why all these bad things have happened. Job protests that he has been upstanding for all of his life.
  • Methuselah Syndrome: Not as long as the actual Methuselah, but still pretty long; Job lives to be 140, old enough to see his great-great grandchildren.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Job experienced so much suffering specifically because he was a moral and upright man, which inspired Satan to want to test his true devotion to God.
  • Omniscient Morality License: God points this out to Job in the end.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Why the three friends argue that Job must have done something wrong to deserve his suffering.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Job was given these from his friends, claiming that his life of sufferings was the result of him sinning. God also gives him one for questioning His authority. And Elihu pops out of nowhere to deliver one to both Job and his friends. In the end, God humbles the three friends with a short one and by tasking Job to pray that they be forgiven.
  • Religious Russian Roulette: Over the course of the book, Job worked his way up to demanding answers from God, not only from the tragedies Satan inflicted, but from his know-it-all friends dragging down his morale. God does step in eventually in response to Job's demands, but doesn't give an answer and only says "Who are you to speak back to me?"
  • Replacement Goldfish: God restores Job's wealth and family after the ordeal is over. His old children are still dead, so God grants Job a new set of replacement, more beautiful children.
  • Rules Lawyer: As David Plotz points out, he accused God of wrongdoing, but didn't technically curse Him, as Satan had wanted.
  • Sarcasm Mode: God, during His speech with Job.
    God: What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
  • Science Hero: God himself throws in several scientific facts as a proof of his authority over his world, from water cycle to telecommunication. He also throws in several biological facts during his speech.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Satan tried to invoke this reaction, and Job's own wife suggested it so he could be put out of his misery. It didn't work.
  • Smug Snake: Satan. Of course, he doesn't stay in the story long enough to see how it all turns out.
  • Spare a Messenger: Bad things constantly happen to Job, and each time there is one survivor who seems to have survived only so Job knows what's going on.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Job's family, servants, and employees, as a wager between two supernatural beings, at least in the South Park version of events. Satan, literally, the Accuser, in the Bible proper has the authority and right to test ANYONE through suffering, within limits. In Job's case, God had sheltered him disproportionately up to that point, hence the extreme fridge-stuffing.
  • Trauma Conga Line: An Ur-Example. Servants rush in to inform him of the latest tragedy to plague his estate even while previous servants are still informing him of the one before it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?
    • Satan appears only in the first two chapters to challenge God and then apparently just walks off as the rest of the book focuses on Job and his three friends.
    • For that matter, Elihu pops out of nowhere, delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to both Job and his three friends, and then just disappears again.
  • Wham Line: For most of the story, it's just Job and his friends arguing over his fate and Job protesting that he doesn't deserve any of this. Until, without warning, we get this: "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: God's lengthy speech to Job was more of a rebuke for him questioning His authority. He then calls out Job's friends for their arrogant "he had it coming" accusations of Job.
  • With Friends Like These...: Job's visitors keep insisting that he must have done something to deserve all his suffering, and they turn on him when he denies it, essentially "kicking him while he's down." In the end, God is far angrier with them than with Job, but pardons them when Job, despite everything, brings an offering on their behalf.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: When God appears before Job, he gives a speech describing his entire creation, essentially daring Job: "I created the entire universe. You mean to tell me you know better than I do?!"
    • The above goes into almost giddy detail, like how much fun it is to watch ostriches run.
    • Several verses also mention the concept of hydrologic cycles, telecommunications using lightning and deep sea exploration before they were discovered.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Job's three new daughters Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-Happuch are said to be more beautiful than any other women in the land.
  • Zen Survivor
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