Book of Job



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Book of Job: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Job goes on, saying that he’s made “a covenant with [his] eyes” not to look at a virgin. If he’s done anything wrong—false, deceitful, or unclean—then others should reap and enjoy whatever he’s sown. If other women have enticed him, then it would be only fair if his wife had sex with another man. If Job has ever dealt unjustly with his slaves, what will he do when God judges him? After all, God created both Job and his slaves alike.
In this section, Job defends his morality. He goes out of his way to avoid lust, for example, by promising himself he won’t even look at young women. He names the consequences he would rightfully suffer if he cheated on his wife or abused his slaves. (Note that while the Old Testament didn’t abolish slavery, slavery in that context was practiced differently than in more modern contexts. Slaves were usually indebted people or wartime captives, the Bible required that they have opportunities for freedom, and slaveowners’ treatment of enslaved people was subject to strict biblical laws.) Job’s overall point is that God should deal justly with people according to their behavior—they should deserve what they get.
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If Job has ever neglected the poor, the widow, or the orphan, then he should suffer terrors at God’s hands. If he’s put his trust in gold, or rejoiced in his wealth, then he should be punished. Likewise, he should be punished if he has delighted in his enemies’ ruin or concealed his own wrongdoing. He wishes he had a written indictment from his adversary. If Job’s “land has cried out against” him, then “let thorns grow instead of wheat, / and foul weeds instead of barley.” Here, Job’s words come to an end.
While Job is quite confident in his personal righteousness, he isn’t bragging. He is putting things pointedly in order to argue that if he had mistreated others, put wealth before God, or anything of the kind, he would deserve what he’s suffering. He would deserve to reap what he’d sown, like “thorns” and “weeds.” But since he doesn’t, he can do nothing but speak his case to God. And now, having made his case, he has nothing more to say.
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