Taunts of the Divine Warrior in Job 40:6–14
The book of Job is undoubtedly the longest sustained exploration of disturbing divine behavior within the Scriptures. 1 There is much in this book to offend: whether God’s initial speech with the Adversary, God’s silence throughout Job’s trials, or God’s final hurricane-force assault on the innocent sufferer. The Divine Answer, in particular, is a tour de force of poetic grandeur. It is also frightening—and even abusive—if taken as an instance of how to address those victimized by personal crisis. If Yahweh is indeed “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6 NRSV, passim), it is hard to hear that mercy and grace in God’s response to Job. This article seeks to examine one small but rather abrasive portion of God’s words to Job: the preface to the second Divine Speech (40:6–14). As we press this text and follow the clues that it yields, however, we might be surprised by a trail that leads to a rather more gospel-shaped conclusion.
Taken on its own, it is a harsh and very troubling text. It will not do to simply smooth it over.
The Divine Answer is, like most everything in the book of Job, shrouded in enigma. God’s speech is both overwhelming and oblique. Strangely, it is presented in two parts, as if the Deity needed to pause and take a deep breath, after the initial dizzying verbal barrage of chapters 38–39. The pause highlights this encounter as a test of wits: chess-like, God forces Job to make a move (40:2); Job responds noncommittally (40:3–5), and God resumes his strategy of rhetorical onslaught. The grand-scale parallelism of the two halves of the Divine Speech is clearly signaled by three repeated elements of their introduction:
- the identical introductory formula (“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind” 38:1, 40:6);
- the accusatory question (“Who is this . . . ?” 38:2, “Will you even . . . ?” 40:8);
- the challenge to “gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you shall declare to me” (38:3, 40:7).
The general object of each speech is also the same: a sweeping vista of the created world. The first half is a rapid-fire parade of many dimensions and denizens of the world. The second is a more detailed look at two creatures, but with a breadth of description that continues the original thrust of high-definition nature imagery. However, in the midst of the verbal maelstrom that is the Divine Answer, a speech that focuses so clearly on the complexities of Creation, we find a passage that unexpectedly takes us in a different direction. In the fortieth chapter, verses 9–14 aim unremittingly at Job himself as one who has challenged God. This unexpected amplification of God’s accusation can only make Job, and any readers who have shared his indignation, squirm in terror at the severity of the divine gaze and the impossibility of the divine challenge. Eventually, in verse 14, Yahweh returns to the topic of his creatures and stays there for the rest of the speech (40:15–41:34). Why the shift in topic? Why the harsh challenge towards Job? These questions of literary context and tone catch our attention and draw us in for a closer look.
The text is framed at the beginning by a repetition of the narrative introduction (“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind”), and at the end by the statement gam-anî (“Then I will also . . .” [v. 14]). Waltke and O’Connor point out that gam is used to mark the “final climax of an exposition” and is “the only Hebrew adverb that marks a discourse ending.” 2 The shift in content, with Behemoth lumbering into view in verse 15, confirms that verse 14 is the appropriate end of this exegetical unit. The structure of this passage is thus fairly straightforward to outline:
Narrative introduction (v. 6)
Divine Speech (7–14)
introductory formula (7)
accusatory questions (8–9)
challenge to Job (10–13)
consequence: divine response (14)
Verse 6 of chapter 40 (re)sets the stage for Yahweh’s words (cf. 38:1). The chief contextual clue is the searah (whirlwind, tempest). This is not simply meteorological melodrama. The whirlwind is a sign of theophany, part of a biblical suite of awesome atmospheric and seismic phenomena that announce the manifest presence of Yahweh. 3 As divine self-revelation, it is a manifestation with a purpose: both for salvation, the rescue of the helpless, and for wrath, the judgment of the oppressor. Indeed, divine wrath is the most common overtone connected to the use of searah in the Old Testament. 4 Thus, when God shows up in a whirlwind, the reader is led to expect that once again, the needy will be saved, and the proud judged. Since Job has been the tragic victim of both spiritual attack and his “miserable comforters” (16:2), one might expect the divine Voice to bring a word of rescue to this poor man. These expectations are shattered, however, by the abrasive and accusatory challenge to Job.
Yahweh’s opening statement is a pugilistic challenge: “Gird up your loins like a man.” The verb azar is commonly used to signify preparation for self-defense or even battle. 5 It may allude to an Ancient Near Eastern use of wrestling as a means of settling legal disputes. 6 It certainly serves to call Job to attention, heightening his alertness in expectation of attack. In the verb’s only other use by the Joban poet, Job describes the onslaught of the Lord as a fierce wrestler: “he grasps me by [mg. like] the collar of my tunic” (30:18). 7 The irony of the rhetoric of clothing oneself is strong: Job has begun his ordeal by declaring himself “naked” (1:21), i.e., vulnerable, shamed. God now challenges him to get dressed again, and robe himself as a fighter.
The divine challenge to fight is reinforced by the addition of “like a man.” “Man” here is the virile term geber, “a male at the height of his powers.” 8 It is closely allied to the word gibbôr (valiant, mighty), often used of a warrior. 9 The divine epithet el-gibbôr (mighty God; cf. Isa. 9:6) is turned on its head in Job, as the sufferer accuses God of brutality like a warrior fighting to the death: “he slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy; he pours out my gall on the ground. He bursts upon me again and again; he rushes at me like a warrior [kegibbôr]” (16:13–14; the only use of gibbôr in Job). Having been thus described, Yahweh now returns the punch: Get ready to fight kegeber, like a macho man!
The initial challenge (an imperative) is immediately followed by a declaration: “I will question you, and you will declare to me” (v. 7b). This is a summons to a legal dispute. This was not in fact originally God’s idea, however, but Job’s. Job raises the possibility several times during his earlier debates with the three friends. Such a legal operation arose as a fantasy of desperation, the only conceivable way forward out of his predicament. He hints at it first in chapter 9: “how can a mortal be just [yitsdaq] before God? If one wished to contend [rîb, virtually a legal technical term] with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand” (9:2b–3). Job articulates his wish more clearly several chapters later: “I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God” (13:3), and concludes with a direct plea to God: “Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me” (v. 22). This desperate request reverberates strongly in Yahweh’s own words in 40:7b. Job’s demand is heard, and flung right back at him.
The legal framework is intensified by Yahweh’s next statement, the governing question of the second Divine Speech: “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?” (40:8). Juridical terminology dominates the challenge: mishpat (justice); tsadaq (to be [or declare to be] righteous or innocent); rasha (declare wicked or guilty; condemn). The divine response recognizes Job’s faint hope for some sort of legal resolution to his dilemma: is he right, or wrong? Is God therefore wrong, or right? But the courtroom is not big enough to hold the divine defendant, and the legal metaphor is cracked wide open. The juridical imagery is itself weighed and found wanting; a grander sort of discourse is needed.
And so Yahweh turns, or returns, to the language of the cosmic and hymnic: “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (40:9). The rhetorical question is a taunt, 10 a statement of the impossibility of challenging God. “Arm” (zerôa) is a common poetic figure for “strength,” occurring ninety-one times in the OT, most prominently in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the Psalms. It often is accompanied by the adjectives netûyah (outstretched; e.g., Exod. 6:6), or Ōz (mighty; e.g., Ps. 89:10), and often used in poetic parallelism with yamîn (right hand, right side; e.g., Isa 62:8) or yad (hand; e.g., Jer. 21:5). The anthropomorphic imagery of God’s arm is deeply rooted in theophanic contexts (God revealing himself to save). Isaiah 30:30 is perhaps the most highly charged instance of such description: “And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and tempest and hailstones.” The density of violent meteorological events here suggests that the “descending arm” (nachat zerôa) of this verse is a reference to a lightning bolt. 11 Indeed, the image of a storm god with lightning in his upraised right arm is common in Ancient Near Eastern iconography (cf. the Assyrian god Adad, or Ugaritic Baal). This fulminatory use of “arm” makes the parallel with “a voice that thunders” much more forceful in Job 40:9. This verse reinforces a growing sense of dread, already anticipated in the challenge from the whirlwind, that Job is here dealing with God as the Divine Warrior.
The next statement of Yahweh is an imperative, a direct challenge. “Deck yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor” (v. 10). The verbs are adah and labash; the latter is a more generic term for putting on a garment, the former connotes adornment and finery. The first thing to note here is the importance of clothing as an expression of personal character and integrity (cf. Job 29:14). 12 God continues to provoke Job, challenging his character (as righteous sufferer) to see if it is any match for God himself. More specifically, the language is the language of enthronement, the rhetoric of royal rule: this is nothing less than an invitation—or challenge—to put on divine attributes.
The qualities of divine kingship listed here are “majesty and dignity,” “glory and splendor.” The Hebrew poetry is striking to the ear, with alliteration in each pair of words. The latter duo, hôd and hadar, appear together regularly in the Psalms as royal attributes, whether of an earthly king (Ps. 21:6; 45:4 ET v. 3, where the king is addressed as a gibbôr) or divine (96:6, 104:1, 111:3, 145:5). Their use here, following the reference to the “arm” and “voice” of God in v. 9, solidifies the impression that Yahweh is in effect challenging Job to put on his own royal robes. They call to mind the enthronement psalms that describe either the divine clothing (Ps. 93:1, 104:1 13), or the divine throne (Ps. 97:2, 99:1), or the proclamations of divine dignity and power (Ps. 96:6,7); cf. especially the celebration of his “right hand and holy arm” (Ps. 98:1).
However, the first pair, gaôn and gobah, are slightly surprising in the mouth of Yahweh. Both are much more commonly understood as negative qualities: “arrogance, pride, pomp.” 14 The pair shows up in Prov. 16:18: “Pride [gaôn] goes before destruction, and a haughty [gobah] spirit before a fall.” There are, to be sure, a few OT texts where gaôn and related forms are used as positive divine attributes (most notably in the Songs of Moses and Miriam in Exod. 15). But even these occasions are embedded in descriptions of destructive activity: the defeat of the Egyptian chariots (Exod. 15:1, 7, 21) or the terror of the Day of the Lord (Isa. 2:10, 19). More commonly, however, those who exhibit such lofty conceits are liable to divine censure and judgment (cf. gaôn in Isa. 13:11, Job 38:11; gobah in Jer. 48:29, Ps. 10:4). That Yahweh here includes them as desirable attributes is one more instance of the theologically destabilizing rhetoric of the book as a whole.
Another dimension of this challenge emerges. The style of this passage is that of the hymn of praise. 15 Thus, we should hear God’s challenge to Job, framed in such hymnic language, as a response to Job’s earlier “doxologies of terror.” 16 In two earlier passages (9:4–10, 12:13–25), Job mimics and subverts traditional hymnic forms, describing the destructive power of God in both creation and human society. God now, it seems, returns the favor. But this retort is striking: Job has at least used a form of address that is appropriate for the divine. That God uses hymnic and enthronement language to challenge Job is a harsh and surprising irony. The sarcasm is heightened by the earlier address to Job as geber (man)—one who is definitely not divine.
All of these dimensions of verses 9–10—divine thundering, royal enrobement, the aura of kingship—conspire to conjure up an image of God as the Divine Warrior, who is daring Job to exchange places with him. The Divine Warrior motif is a well-known mythic pattern found throughout the literature of the Ancient Near East. The motif is central to the imagery and theology of God as victorious monarch. 17 The motif incorporates an “archaic mythic pattern” of going out for war, and returning victorious:
- the Divine Warrior goes forth in the storm to battle against chaos.
- Nature convulses (writhes) and languishes when the Warrior manifests his wrath.
- The warrior-god returns to take up kingship among the gods, and is enthroned on his mountain.
- The Divine Warrior utters his voice from his temple, and Nature again responds. The heavens fertilize the earth, animals writhe in giving birth, and men and mountains whirl in dancing and festive glee. 18
These elements are not always all present in any given literary expression of this mythic pattern, nor are they always thus ordered. But it is again striking that the general pattern is clearly inverted in the larger scope of the Divine Speeches. In Job 38–39, we see abundant rain poured out upon the fecund earth (38:25–30, 37–38), and several instances of animal procreation and nurture (39:1–4, 13–16, 30), spinning an allusion to the motif’s final element. The third element is reflected, I suggest, in the attributes and activities of divine kingship as depicted in 40:9–10. The second element, then, seems to be present through the challenge to wrathful activity (“overflowings of your anger”) in 40:11–13. Finally, the initial element of battling chaos (in the form of primeval monsters) is certainly reflected in the invitation to control Behemoth and Leviathan (40:15–41:34). Such an inversion—or subversion—of accepted theological or mythic patterns is not unexpected in the book of Job. I suggest that the inverting of this mythic pattern helps to signal the climax of the book of Job: the trajectory, moving from celebration through wrath to the monsters of chaos leaves Job (and the reader) at the threshold of the moment of creation. If the model of Urzeit/Endzeit 19 holds good, one might say theologically that while Job is left in the dark by his experience (“hides counsel without knowledge”; 42:3), he stands at the threshold of, and is beginning to glimpse (42:5), a new creation.
The more immediate point is that God himself, in his answer to Job, appears to confirm Job’s accusation (16:13–14) that he is present and active as Divine Warrior. But paradoxically, God is inviting Job to don the divine attributes. This leads to a more specific challenge in verses 11–13. A series of six imperatives dare Job to thwart the divine enemies. Or, more shockingly, it may be that God is placing himself as the enemy who mocks by inviting an attempt at conquest: the “proud” (gēeh), whom Job is to conquer, is cognate to the rather ambivalent gaôn (majesty) of verse 10, a dubiously divine attribute. Likewise, the “wicked” (reshaîm) echoes God’s earlier allegation against Job: “Will you condemn me?”, i.e., “do you pronounce me wicked . . . ?” (tarshîenî) (v. 8). While it does not seem that God is making himself out as Job’s prime foe, the overtones that resonate between divine description and that of the enemy do communicate the precariousness of Job’s position.
Yahweh challenges Job to express the “overflowings of [his] anger” (ebrôt apeka). Divine wrath is a necessary aspect of the activity of the Divine Warrior-King. 20 The point of the challenge is for Job to demonstrate the divine power that accompanies divine attire. The first phase of this challenge is to identify and conquer those who are “proud” and “wicked” (such as Yahweh undertakes in Isa. 2:10–22). The centrality of the challenge is emphasized by the tight chiasm of vv. 11–12, and the virtual repetition of “look on all who are proud” (v. 11b, 12a). One cannot exercise the prerogatives of divine rule without bringing low those who exalt themselves.
The second phase of this program for conquest is to bring about the death of the enemy: “hide them in the dust together” (v. 13a). “Dust” (afar) is a symbol of human mortality (see Gen. 2:7 and especially 3:19, echoed in Job 10:9), and is appropriate as a sign of mourning in the face of suffering and death (Job 2:12, 16:15). “Dust” can be used as a counterpart to Sheol, the Hebrew underworld (17:16), and thus to “lie” (7:21) or “be hidden” (40:13) in the dust is to be consigned to the grave, both literal and metaphysical. Job is challenged to bring about the total downfall of his enemies, and hide them “in the hidden place” (battamûn, the first and last word of v. 13 derive from the same root, which the NRSV translates “in the world below”). This is the final phase of the Warrior’s conquest over the wicked: the one who wears the divine attributes has demonstrated his skills for effective moral governance of the world.
All that remains is to celebrate the triumph. And even here, Yahweh obliges. Verse 14 is the apodosis, the consequence of the challenge: If you can accomplish all this, “then I will also acknowledge” you. The word spoken here is, once again, shocking: “acknowledge” is yadah, one of the central acts of Hebrew worship. The root meaning seems to be to “confess,” i.e., to utter publicly what is true, with regard to human or (far more commonly) divine character and activity. 21 Thus one “confesses” one’s sins, which hinder one’s relationship with God. One also confesses who God is; this is usually translated as offering “praise” or “thanksgiving.” The word is one of the central words in the Psalms (used sixty-seven times), and the precise formulation found here, ôdeka (I will acknowledge/praise you), is used fourteen times in the Psalms (and also in 2 Sam. 22:50 and Isa. 12:1). The word is rarely used in this positive sense of another human being; the only other exceptions are Gen. 49:8 (with a pun on Judah’s name), and Ps. 49:18. In other words, when the word has a positive sense, the object is almost exclusively the Deity. But most startling is the reality that this is the only place in Scripture where God is the subject of the verb. God is the one who offers to confess, acknowledge, and even “praise” Job for his conquest. This is a remarkable offer—even if intended as a taunt! The presence of words with strong hymnic overtones—yamîn (right hand) and yasha‘ (save, give victory)—reinforce the interpretation of yadah as not simply an “acknowledgement” but the more religiously potent “praise” (cf. Ps. 17:7, 20:6, 98:1, 108:6). Thus: if Job can accomplish the divine dare of putting on God’s royal robes, and conquering the wicked, God will confirm Job’s triumph by offering him praise, an offering that normally flows only godward.
From this point, Yahweh resumes his tour of the created world, drawing attention first to Behemoth and Leviathan. This is the beginning of the next textual subunit, and thus we need point out only the transition. The presence of these creatures makes more sense as we see them facing off with the Divine Warrior, thus as mythic representatives of primeval power and proud rebellion. And, as Yahweh indicates in his on-going confrontation with Job, he knows Job is not up to the divine challenge presented in verses 9–13.
The text in Job 40:6–14 is one more anomaly in a book of anomalies. In the midst of four sustained chapters focused intensely on the confounding wonder and wildness of creation, God turns to strafe the suffering Job with a taunt. Taken on its own, it is a harsh and very troubling text. It will not do to simply smooth it over. Hartley, for example, says that “Yahweh is expressing his care for his servant. He is seeking to overcome Job’s resistance by gently and persuasively leading him to submission.” 22 Yahweh may have been persuasive with Job, but he is hardly “gentle” in these verses. And if the divine challenge is an expression of care, it is certainly an extreme instance of “tough love.”
The careful reader must take both the larger context and the rhetorical strategy into account. The context is that of the Divine Warrior. His presence is evoked through several means: (1) the strong agonistic challenge: “get ready to fight!”; (2) the hymnic cadences, reminiscent of enthronement psalms and other royal liturgies; (3) the heaping up of divine royal imagery (wardrobe) and action (conquest); and (4) the following section of the Divine Answer, focusing on Behemoth and Leviathan, who are best interpreted as primeval and mythic creatures and not merely zoological oddities. 23 Thus the harshness of this text must be a consequence of seeing God as Divine Warrior in the larger setting of Job and his cry for justice. The Divine Warrior is invoked as a necessary response to theodicy.
Describing and acknowledging God as the Divine Warrior is troubling. It is awkward, in any context, ancient or modern, that seeks to promote a biblical shalom. 24 However, this text in Job is one of several that highlight the importance of the Divine Warrior motif as a means of finding one’s place in a wild and uncertain world. This motif is, I suggest, inextricably linked to a biblical worldview. It is clearly present in a number of passages that link the Divine Warrior with the creation of the world:
Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the Lord!
Awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago!
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
who pierced the dragon? (Isa. 51:9)
This violent vision of primeval conflict has several points of resonance with our passage in Job: the call to be clothed (labash; cf. Job 40:10b) with a divine attribute, the reference to the powerful “arm,” and the conquest of the “dragon” (tannîn, named also Rahab here, and Leviathan in Ps. 74:14). As such, this verse in Isaiah is an important counterpoint to our passage in Job, for it highlights the normal Israelite expectation that Yahweh alone is able to act as Divine Warrior.
This motif of conflict is often said to be absent in key OT passages treating of divine creative activity (e.g., Gen. 1, Gen. 2–3, Ps. 104, Prov. 8:22–31). I suggest that it is not absent, only muted, or (in the case of Gen. 1) delegated to humankind. The motif is present whenever the text acknowledges that creation, or an element thereof, needs to be limited, to be constrained against “transgression” (Prov. 8:29), or to be “subdued” (Gen. 1:28). God the Creator rides a “chariot,” is attended by servants of “flame and wind” (note the destructive and theophanic descriptions), and utters a “rebuke” with a sound of “thunder” (Ps. 104:3–4, 7). All of this conspires to propose that there is something inherent in creation, as biblically portrayed, that must be controlled, and ultimately conquered. One might wish, at this point, that the Bible offered more clarity on the nature of this “something.” In the wisdom of divine revelation, however, it does not. What it does offer, however, is the reality of God as Divine Warrior: the reality that whatever that something is, it will not overpower or outlast the Living God.
There is a further and final dimension to this text from Job that deserves greater prominence. I suggest that this passage is a provocative addition to the OT reflections on the Divine Warrior motif, for the following reason. It is the only place in the Hebrew Bible where a human is challenged to wear divine attire. 25 To see the contrast, let us return to Isaiah. I have already referred to Isa. 51, one of several significant passages that build on this Divine Warrior motif. Isaiah 59 is another text, and a pivotal one. It speaks to the sole capability of Yahweh to act as Divine Warrior, and shows the Warrior responding to injustice by donning his panoply of armor:
He saw that there was no one,
and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle. (Isa. 59:16–17)
Yoder Neufeld has shown how this text caught hold of Israel’s imagination in a number of ways, culminating in its transformation in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (6:10–20). 26 I propose that Job 40:6–14 be added to the canon of Divine Warrior texts, specifically because of its place as a remarkable prelude, even if as a counterpoint, to the notion of donning the divine attire. But the resonance between our text in Job, and this later biblical expression of the motif, does not end here. For Job’s impossibility of being clothed in divine power becomes a sure promise for the people of God. And it does so precisely through the One who, like Job, is an innocent sufferer—indeed, One whose suffering and death are evidence of an invisible Adversary at work. Finally, the promise of triumph, for those wearing the divine armor, looks forward to the reconciliation of all things in creation (Eph. 1:10), a goal which matches the grand cosmic vision of creation put forth in the Divine Answer to Job (Job 38–39). So: what starts out for Job as a taunt, becomes a reality in the New Testament vision of a restored humanity, clothed with the full “majesty and dignity,” “glory and splendor” of Christ himself, the Divine Warrior who is our peace.
- While the allusion is deliberate, this article is not a direct response to Eric Seibert, Disturbing Divine Behavior (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), but an acknowledgement of the importance of both the questions Seibert raises, and the (Anabaptist) Christocentric hermeneutic he wants to uphold. Seibert mentions the story of Job as one example of troubling divine activity (30–31), but refrains from dealing in detail with the book because his concern is primarily historical narrative. Job is read by most interpreters primarily as a dramatic literary creation, thus avoiding Seibert’s historicist concern of “did it really happen like this?” I do not think the distinction is ultimately that significant, since canonical texts shape readers’ theological convictions no matter whether they are shown to be an accurate reflection of “what actually happened.” The ability to capture the imagination, more than historiographic precision, is what feeds theology and praxis.
- Waltke and O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 39.3.4d.
- Cf. Exod. 19:16–19, Ps. 18:6–19, 97:2–5, 104:3–4, Hab. 3:6–15, Nah. 1:3, Ezek. 1:4.
- Cf. Isa. 29:6, Jer. 23:19, Ezek. 13:11, Zech. 9:14
- Cf. 1 Sam. 2:4, Isa. 8:9, 45:5, Jer. 1:17, Ps. 18:32, 39.
- See Cyrus Gordon, “Belt-Wrestling in the Bible World,” Hebrew Union College Annual 23 Part 1 (1950–51): 131–36.
- David J. A. Clines, Job 21–37, vol. 18A WBC (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1006.
- Harris, Archer, and Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1980) I, 148 [hereafter, TWOT]. See also Norman C. Habel, The Book of Job: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985), 520–21.
- The Hebrew root is gabar, “to prevail, be mighty, have strength”; the word family is cognate to the Arabic jabr, which finds its place in popular culture in the name of American basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
- The word is also used by Leo Perdue, Wisdom in Revolt (Sheffield, England: Almond, 1991), 218.
- TWOT I, 254. See also Hans Wildberger, Isaiah 28–39, trans. Thomas Trapp (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), 201.
- Pointed out by John Hartley, The Book of Job, NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 520, n4.
- Cf. Isaiah’s vision in the Temple, seeing “the hem of his robe” (Isa. 6:1).
- These two words and their related word-families (from the roots gaah and gabah) are prominent throughout the book of Job, forming what looks like an important motif for the Joban poet.
- John Gray, The Book of Job (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix, 2010), 453.
- The phrase is from Perdue, Wisdom in Revolt, 153; although he only applies it to Job 12:13–25.
- Millard Lind, Yahweh is a Warrior (Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1980), 171. The classic exposition is Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973). See also Perdue, Wisdom in Revolt, especially 47–56, 218–32, 260–62.
- Cross, 162–63.
- The correspondence between the mythic, primeval world and the eschaton of biblical hope. Cf. Hermann Gunkel, Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton, trans. K. William Whitney, Jr. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006).
- Indeed, the Septuagint translators heighten the royal imagery by personifying the “overflowings” as active agents (angelous) of judgment: “send forth [your] messengers in wrath” (40:11 LXX).
- TWOT I, 364.
- Hartley, Book of Job, 518.
- See Robert S. Fyall, Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002), especially pp. 126–28, for a strong and recent defense of this reading of Job 40–41.
- The exegetical and theological challenges of dealing with the Divine Warrior have been undertaken by many scholars. Cross and Lind have already been mentioned. See also Patrick Miller, The Divine Warrior in Ancient Israel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973); Mary Wakeman, God’s Battle with the Monster: A Study in Biblical Imagery (Leiden: Brill, 1973); Peter C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978); Gerhard von Rad, Holy War in Ancient Israel, trans. and ed. Marva Dawn and John H. Yoder (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991); Tremper Longman III and Daniel Reid, God is a Warrior (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995); Hugh Rowland Page, Jr., The Myth of Cosmic Rebellion: A Study of Its Reflexes in Ugaritic and Biblical Literature, (Leiden: Brill, 1996); Thomas Yoder Neufeld, Put on the Armour of God: the Divine Warrior from Isaiah to Ephesians (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic, 1997).
- Psalm 8 comes close with its statement “you [God] have crowned them [humankind] with glory and honor” (v. 6). But this is presented as an acclamation of praise, not a divine challenge. Also, the psalm is explicit in expressing the closeness of divine and human realities (“you have made them a little lower than God” elohîm) in a creation context—perhaps a refraction of the idea of being made “in the image of God.” Yahweh, in the book of Job, may also be emphasizing the closeness of God and human; but for Job, this is problematic, not praiseworthy, and he even quotes Ps. 8:4 to express his distaste of the Divine Warrior breathing down his neck (Job 7:17, cf. v. 12).
- Yoder Neufeld, Put on the Armour of God.