Does Genesis Prove Job’s Innocence?

After eating the forbidden fruit, it’s not only Adam who feels the effects of his transgression when he’s expelled from the garden of Eden; God curses the land, saying, “Cursed is the ground (אדמה; adamah) because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). Similarly, after Cain murders Abel, God tells him, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (אדמה; adamah)” (Genesis 4:10). As with Adam, the land will also deny its fruits to Cain. The Lord declares, “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground (אדמה), which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth (בארץ, ba’aretz)” (4:11-12). Like Adam and Cain, Job laments the disproportionate penalty imposed on him.

Adam disregards God’s prohibition and Cain destroys the divine image when he kills his brother. However, unlike Adam and Cain, Job is innocent; he’s done nothing wrong. Therefore, he objects to what he perceives as an unjust sentence against him, saying, “I am pure (זך; zach), I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from iniquity (עון; avon)…. I am blameless (תם; tam)… [and] I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my heart (לבבי; levavi) will not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 33:9; 9:21; 27:6). Job affirms that he has not made the same mistakes as Adam and Cain.

In the stories of Adam and Cain, the ground (אדמה; adamah) or land (ארץ; eretz) are cursed and unable to sustain the respective sinners. More, when Adam “eats” (אכל; achal) the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6), the cursed land produces “thorns and thistles” (Gen 3:18). In Cain’s case, his brother’s blood “cries against” him (4:10). Job invokes the language of Genesis to show that he is not guilty of these primordial sins, stating, “If my ground (אדמתי; admati) would cry against me… [or] if I have eaten (אכל; achal) of its fruits… let thistles grow instead of wheat” (Job 31:38-40). Job uses the terminology from Genesis to underscore his innocence. Since Job remains righteous, God blesses him and his land: “The Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before…. Nowhere in all the land (הארץ; ha’aretz) were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers” (Job 42:12, 15). The book of Job draws on the Hebrew language of Genesis to highlight Job’s innocence and show the mercy of God.

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Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

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