The currently dominant readings of the book of Job agree on one essential point: the book refutes the retributory theology assumed to be Jewish orthodoxy, whereby God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. God is amoral. When expectations of divine justice are abandoned, divine injustice ceases to be a problem. Important points in the argument of this essay are that the narrative framework in the prologue and epilogue provides the premises of the book and is to be taken seriously, not dismissed as ironic or naïve. Further, God’s speech in the theophany does not terrify Job into submission. This means that the book presupposes God’s basic concern for justice. God offers Job verbal debate and in no way threatens him. God’s rhetoric is directed not so much at emphasizing Job’s ignorance as at making him call to mind how much he does know about God’s wisdom, power, and providence. The present essay argues, first, that the book of Job teaches that God does punish and recompense, but incompletely. Justice is immensely important to God, but other principles and concerns may override it. Second, God wants human loyalty, even when justice fails. Third, God needs human help to run the world according to the divine will. God’s need for humanity gives humans a place of high honor and perhaps some comfort in the midst of inexplicable suffering.

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