Part 38: Chapter 8, Verses 1-7
1.And Bildad the Shuhite said:
2. How long will you speak words like
these; the words of your mouth are like a mighty wind.
3. Would G-d distortjudgment, would G-d distort justice?
4. Your children sinned against Him and He sent them away because of their sins.
5. If you seek out G-d and beseech forgiveness.
6. If you are pure and upright then He will now arouse His mercy upon you and He will repay your righteousness and complete your household.
7. Although your beginning was small, your end will be very great.
The first of Iyov’s friends to actually accuse him of sin is Bildad
Hashuhite. First he lays down the principle of his argument.
Bildad believes in free will and the absolute perfection of the Creator
G-d. His flawless nature precludes the possibility of any shortcomings
whatsoever. Iyov also accepts this premise and actually builds his own
position upon it. However, Bildad challenges Iyov’s conclusion.
Iyov argues that since G-d’s perfection excludes the possibility of any
flaws; his own sorry state of affairs cannot be by Divine directive. It is
better to associate the blatant lack of justice with a blind force that
cannot distinguish between the righteous and the wicked than to attribute
the perversion of justice to the perfect G-d. The blind force Iyov
theorizes is an inexplicable force of destiny that randomly leads people.
Bildad, on the other hand, claims that the absolute perfection of G-d
obviates the possibility of blind destiny.
To accept Iyov’s postulation is possible only if we posit one of two
things. Either G-d does not have the ability to judge properly, or that
despite the fact that He has the ability to judge he has made a conscious
decision not to do so because the lowly nature of human beings causes Him
to disassociate with His creation. To accept the former would compromise
G-d’s capabilities. To accept the latter would cast aspersions on the
justice of the Creator. Bildad rejects both of these possibilities since
they contradict the absolute perfection of G-d. Hence "Would G-d distort
judgment, would G-d distort justice?"
With regard to your [Iyov’s] children you cannot claim that they died
without cause. For even you admit that they must have sinned. (see chapter
1:5) Here Bildad exposes Iyov’s inconsistency. Iyov admitted that his
children must have deserved punishment. Iyov’s children were enjoying their
festivities and suddenly the house falls on them and kills them. Their
overindulgence must have caused them to sin. This was obvious to Iyov. This
is more than an implicit recognition that G-d is the judge of man,
scrutinizing his action and behavior.
As far as others are concerned, in this case his own children, Iyov is
willing to recognize the justice of G-d. But when it comes to himself he is
unwilling to accept G-d’s judgment. This is in important lesson for all of
us. How often do we apply our theology to others and excuse ourselves?!
From the careful wording of this verse can learn another important idea.
Bildad did not say that G-d sent them away as a punishment [for] their
sins, rather He sent them away "in the place (b’yad pisham) of their sins".
This concept is not an easy one to grasp. We most likely think of
punishment as divine retaliation for the offense committed. Bildad
describes it differently. The transgression is in and of itself a ‘place’.
Our freewill choice moves us in the direction that we want to go. The
result of those choices bring us to our desired destination. We
[are] what we chose; we are where we want to be.
Bildad now begins to give advice to Iyov. If you [Iyov]will only turn to
G-d and ‘discuss’ the issue directly with Him you may discover an answer to
your confusion. If you have not been as virtuous as you claim you can ask
G-d for forgiveness and He will certainly be merciful and redeem you from
your present state of anguish. If, in fact, it is true that you are as
righteous as you state then your suffering will bring you immense reward in
This advice seems simple enough. In fact, we wonder why Iyov did not think
of it himself. Instead of compromising his entire belief system it would be
much more logical to retain whatever is salvageable. Iyov should have
accepted his own human fallibility, and recognized the possibility that he
may have erred in the past thus tarnishing his otherwise sterling
performance. Alternatively, he could continue to maintain his absolute
righteousness and attribute his present troubles to some future
consideration that G-d may have, i.e. a temporary loss for the sake of a
much greater future gain. Iyov, however, takes a hasty leap in his thinking
process and comes to the (so far unverifiable) conclusion that G-d has
abandoned him. Clearly, the lesson here is that when one is in the thick of
emotional and physical turmoil it is not the best time to adopt a new
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Y. Schwartz and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of
Orchos Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem.