This has been cited as one of the greatest works in human history and one of the most memorable texts in the Bible. Not going against that status, I encourage everyone to read it at one point in their lives. However I really wonder just how many will be able to get through it in one sitting without your mind wandering off or being confused.
It starts out engagingly enough. Job is the one of the most righteous men in the world and is extremely wealthy and happy for it. God is extremely proud of him. One day, he asks Satan his opinion on Job. And Satan, being...Satan...tells God that if he were to "stretch out his hand" and destroy all of Job's belongings, Job would surely curse God. God gets skeptical and says "Okay. You destroy his life, but don't hurt his body. I want to see how he reacts." And thus begins the completely undeserved torment of our titular character who questions his position in the world and the meaning of life. "Why do good men suffer?"
Now this is all the setup for a very simple story that everyone can relate to, but THEN things start to get bogged down with the arrival of Job's "friends" Bildad the Shuhite and company. These guys each have a different reason for why as to Job might be suffering. Was it because he secretly sinned and this is punishment for refusing to admit it? The friends' back up their reasons with a million examples and their dialogue goes on and on and ON and ON AND ON...I cannot imagine anyone I know totally comprehending this LOOONG section of the book in one sitting without consulting notes or filtering through the billion illustrious examples these characters present to back up their arguments. To make matters worse, scholars believe the text was corrupted as a fourth character (Elihu the Buzite) literally appears out of NOWHERE at the end of these long dialogues and presents HIS long argument as to why Job is suffering. And I thought Job had suffered enough!!
Things don't romantic again until God enters the picture at the end and berates Job for having spoken against him without knowledge. You don't have to be a Christian to admire the number of illustrious examples God puts forth for why he is in charge and Job has no right to question him or his ways. In this scene, if we consider God to be "nature" or the "workings of the universe", then this scene is applicable to every man. Who are we to sit down and whine about the workings of the universe? We are only specks in it and our problems are ultimately inferior compared to the bigger picture. So use this as motivation: put aside your perceived grievances, get off your butt, and try to help the world. Or help yourself first. Just don't spend your days whining about something you can't control because...you can't control it! That's at least what I took from reading this section (three times). Although I must admit, that's probably not what the old Hebrews intended, but given that I'm not one of them, this is what I, a modern kid, take from it.
Anyways, Job caves in and begs forgiveness, declaring his uncompromising loyalty in the face of God's omnipotence and he gets all his wealth and prosperity back. The End.
Yes, this book is one of the most famous examinations of the human condition and I would encourage everyone, Hebrew, Christian or not, to at least be familiar with it. Just get some Cliff Notes for when Bildad and company pop up.