Part 35: Chapter 7, Verses 1 -10
1. Surely a person has a limited time for his life on earth, and his days
are set like the days of a hired worker.
2. As a servant who longs for the
shade, and as a hired worker who waits for the reward of his day's work.
So I was allotted from Hashem useless months of suffering and nights of
affliction have been appointed to me.
4. When I lie in bed at night I say:
When will I rise? When the night passes I am filled with restlessness
until the next evening.
5. My flesh is covered with worms and my skin is a
clod of earth that wrinkles [splits] and melts.
6. My days pass quicker
than a weaver's shuttle and finish without hope.
7. Remember that my life
is a breath: my eye shall no more see good.
8. The eye of him who sees me
shall see me no more: while your eyes are upon me, I am gone.
9. As the
cloud is consumed and vanishes away: so he who goes down to the grave shall
come up no more.
10. He shall return no more to his house, nor shall his
place know him anymore.
In this chapter Iyov begins to dispute Elifaz's position that his suffering
is G-d's response to his minor sins and lapses in His service. Furthermore,
his suffering will ward off greater punishment in the future. Iyov rejects
this based upon his view that man was created in order to achieve a high
level of self perfection through the service of G-d.
Their are two ways that this can be achieved. The first is by utilizing all
of the time given to a person in total dedication to fulfilling the will of
his Creator. The second way is by completing all of the tasks that were
allotted to a person regardless of the length of time required or
difficulties encountered in the completion of these tasks. Accordingly,
Iyov makes two analogies. The servant works for his master from sunrise to
sunset. The days of his servitude are numbered, he cannot free himself
until his days are completed. Similarly, a person is assigned a certain
number of days in this world. He is required to toil for his master all of
his fixed days. Self perfection can be achieved by maximizing one's efforts
during all of the days allotted to him in fulfillment of his Creator's
will. Only when his time is finished can he claim that he fulfilled his
purpose in this world.
Alternatively, it can be argued that fulfillment of purpose is not
dependant on a fixed time period rather on the fulfillment of one's
assigned tasks. This is analogous to a hired laborer who is payed for
completion of his work. The time he devotes to the assigned task is less
important than its total completion. He will receive little consideration
for the obstacles and difficulties he encounters as long as the job remains
unfinished. Likewise, a person who fails to achieve an appropriate level
of self perfection during his lifetime cannot excuse himself based upon the
difficulties and suffering that he encountered during his lifetime. In
either case, Iyov disputes the argument that human suffering is designed to
atone for past sins since the wasted time and lack of achievement during
the period of suffering obviates the completion of ones assigned task in
The servant awaits nightfall so that he can put another day of toil behind
him. Similarly, I [Iyov] have suffered greatly. During each new day of pain
I long for the night to come to rest my weak body and soul. But this too,
is futile. The anguish of my daily suffering afflicts my mind and causes me
terror at night. All night I long for the day to end the horrors of my
stormy mind and each day I await the night to relieve the afflictions of my
My flesh is no longer covered with a protective layer of skin. It was eaten
away by welts and boils. Instead of skin; soil, worms, and larva cover my
flesh like a dead body in the grave. How can I possibly accomplish my task
in this world under such conditions? The hired worker awaits each new day
so that he can complete his job. For me, tomorrow brings only the futility
of biological life.
My days of good are finished. They have disappeared as quick as the
weaver's shuttle passes each thread through the ever expanding fabric. Just
as each new thread is unrecognizable after being swallowed into the newly
woven cloth, yesterday's achievements are a thing of the past as each new
day approaches. I have no hope for further achievement.
You, Elifaz, claim that my suffering is my own doing, that I was negligent
in fulfilling G-d's will. Furthermore you claim that this is all for my
benefit, that it is an atonement for my shortcomings. How can this be so?
The only result of my afflictions is wasted time and horrible suffering.
There is no hope for any productive service of G-d in the future since I am
already like a dead man. If the purpose of my existence is to achieve self
perfection through the service of G-d; how can G-d deny me the possibility
to do so? Your claim that this is all for my own benefit is absolutely
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.