The Book of Job (Hebrew: SEFER IYOV) deals with the question whether righteous upright people still cling to G-d as soon as life is getting pretty bad for them. When a righteous person who hasn’t really sinned in a severe way is stricken with the loss of children, wealth or any kind of misfortune.
In Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed) 3:22, the Rambam (Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1135-1204) writes that there are Sages who clearly state that Job (Iyov) never existed and the entire Book of Job is nothing but a poetic fiction teaching us something. And then there are those Sages who state that Job did exist but cannot determine where and when Job lived. Some say that he lived in the days of Moshe, others see him in the days of King David or that Job was among those who returned from the Babylonian exile. However, whether Job existed or not, the main topic remains the same:
Are righteous people who suffer without having done any sin, still willing to cling to G-d? And I am talking here about G-d and not any idol-worship god or false sons of god or other family members. 🙂
The Rambam states that, no matter whether Job was real or not, the introduction to the book is certainly a fiction. Meaning, G-d talking to the angels and satan. Furthermore, the Rambam points out that the terms “wise, clever or intelligent” were never ascribed to Job. He was only called “upright in his actions”. A clever person would surely know that there is a G-d and the person would reflect his own behaviour. Whether he has done anything bad and that G-d may be punishing him.
Any human being enjoys his family, property, success in life, and so on. The question is how we react as soon as something is turning out to be very wrong and seemingly unfair. Are we too upset and frustrated to reflect our own mistakes? Are we so full of anger that we tell G-d to leave us alone and never come back?
Happy and prosperous times are always great but what happens when it comes to loss and suffering? Do we stick to G-d and accept our misfortune or are we starting to deny Him by saying that there is not Creator of the Universe and that G-d doesn’t even exist?
This is what the Book of Job is about and for me it is not relevant whether Job existed or not. My major concern is that the book is going to teach me something. Teachings all of us can use in life.