There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. He was a good man and tried to do all that was right in the sight of the Lord. And God gave him ten children: seven boys and three girls. He gave Job great wealth, too, so that there was no man in all that part of the world as rich as he was.
When Job’s sons were grown up and had homes of their own, they used to make feasts in turn, and send for their three sisters to come and eat and drink with them. And Job kept them in mind of all they owed to God, and urged them to lead good and true lives, and to do no wrong.
When Job had lived at his ease and been a rich man for a long term of years, a great change took place. He lost all his wealth, and all his children; for it was God’s will to try him and see how he would bear these ills.
One day one of his men came to him in great haste, and said, While we were in the field with the ploughs, a band of thieves came and drove off the oxen and asses and slew thy men who were with them, and I alone am left to tell thee.
While this man spoke, there came up one who said, A great fire has come down from the sky and burnt up thy sheep, and all those who took care of them, and I alone am left to tell thee.
While he yet spoke, a third man came and said, Thy foes came and took all thy camels, and slew the men who had charge of them, and I alone am left to tell thee.
Then a fourth came, and said, Thy children were at a feast in the house of thy firstborn son, when there came a great wind that broke down the house, and it fell on the young men and they are all dead, and I alone am left to tell thee.
When Job heard these things he tore his clothes, and bowed down to the earth, as if at the feet of God. And he said, I had nought when I came into the world, and I shall have nought when I die and go out of it. God gave me all that I had, and God took it from me. He knows what is best for me, and I thank him for all that he has done. So Job did not sin, nor speak ill of God, though his grief was so great and had come upon him in such a strange, swift way.
To try Job still more, God let him get sick and he was in great pain. Boils came on him and from head to foot he was a mass of sores.
Then his wife came to Job and said, Dost thou still trust God? Do so no more, but curse him, though he kill thee for it.
Job said, Thou dost not speak wise words. When we have so much good from God, shall we not be content to take our share of the ills he may send? In all this Job said not a word that was wrong.
Now Job had three friends, who, when they heard of his hard lot, came to talk with him and cheer him. But when they saw him, the change was so great they did not know him.
Then they rent their clothes and wept, and sat down on the ground near him, but did not speak for some time, for they could see that his grief was great. These friends thought that Job must have done some great sin, else these ills would not have been sent upon him. When they spoke to him they said, If thou hast done wrong, do so no more, and God will free thee from thy pains.
Now Job knew that he had done no wrong, and he said to them, You came to soothe me, but what you say does not soothe me at all. Did I send for you, or ask you to help me? If you were in such grief as I am, I might say hard things of you and call you bad men. But I would not do so; but would speak kind words to you, and try to help you bear your ills, and to make your grief less.
Then Job spoke of his own griefs, and said: O, that the Lord would put me to death that I might suffer no more. When I lie down at night I cannot sleep, but toss on my bed in pain and wish the day would dawn. Or, if I fall asleep for a while, I have the worst kind of dreams, so that I would be glad to die and wake no more in this world. O, that I had some one to speak to God for me, for he does not hear when I pray. Yet I know that he lives who will save my soul, and that he will come on the earth, and I shall rise up from my grave and see God for myself.
But when Job found that he could not die, nor be made well, but must still bear his pains, he grew cross, and was not at all like the Job of old. He found fault, and said that his griefs were too great, and that God was not kind to put him in such pain.
His three friends did not try to calm him, or to cheer him with the hope that his woes would soon be at an end, nor did they bid him trust in God and seek help and strength from him. But they told him that he must have done some great wrong, else God would not have sent all these ills upon him.
This did not please Job, and he spoke to them in great wrath, and they spoke back in the same style.
When they had talked in this way for some time, and had each of them said things they ought not to have said, they heard a voice speak to them out of a whirlwind that swept by the place. It was the voice of God.
And the voice spoke to Job and told him of the great works that God had done; that it was he who made the earth, the sea, and the sky. He sends the rain on the field to make the grass grow and the flowers to spring up. He sends the cold and the heat, the frost and the snow, and the ice that stops the flow of the streams. He sends the clouds, and the roar and the flash that come from them when the storms rage. He made the horse that is so swift and strong, and has no fear in time of war, but will rush into the fight at the sound of the trump.
All this and more the voice spoke from the whirlwind. And when God had told Job of all these great works, he asked him if he could do these things, or if he thought he was so wise that he could teach God what it was best to do.
Then Job saw what a sin it was to find fault with God. And he was full of shame, and said: My guilt is great; I spoke of that of which I knew naught, and I bow down in the dust before thee.
God said to Job’s three friends, I am wroth with you, for you did not speak in the right way to Job. Now, lest I punish you, take seven young bulls and seven rams and burn them on the altar, and ask Job to pray for you, for him will I hear. So they did as the Lord told them, and Job prayed for them, and God forgave them their sins.
In a short time Job was well once more. His pains all left him; and then his friends and all his folks came to see him and they had a good feast. And each man brought him a rich gift, and the Lord blest him more than he had done before, and gave him twice as much wealth. He had great herds of sheep, and camels, and oxen and asses, and large fields for them to roam in, and a host of men to care for them. So that he was a great man once more.
And God gave him ten children: seven boys and three girls. And when these girls grew up, there were no maids in all the land so fair as they in face and form. And Job had great peace of mind, and dwelt at his ease for long, long years; and when he died he was an old, old man.