A Bloody Good Job

Last night when I was trying to get to sleep, the only book within reach was The Student Bible. So I randomly opened it and started reading. I figured if the book of Numbers was anything to go by then I ought to drop off to sleep nice and fast. Unfortunately, I opened it to the book of Job. This is a little worrying because it suggestive that my accusation against Hare Krishna propaganda manual Facts For Life, that it could reliably be opened at random and produce something preposterous, may be equally true of the Old Testament.

Seriously, if you’re of the opinion that God is not a mentalist you definitely should read Job, optionally with annotations. If you can’t be bothered, then I shall summarise it here. I’ll try to leave in all the important bits.

Job is a nice man who lives in somewhere called Uz. He has ten children, a lot of slaves, and a faintly ridiculous amount of livestock. He is big on God. One day, God and Satan are having what can only be described as a friendly chat, in which God bets that Satan can’t make Job curse God’s name. So God agrees to let Satan smash all Job’s stuff as long as he doesn’t touch Job personally. So Satan kills all Job’s sheep (which must have taken a long time), then kills his slaves, and then kills his children, all with God’s permission. And Job still loves God, so Satan loses the bet. That is the end of chapter one: like its sequel, The Da Vinci Code, the Bible has very short chapters, although they mostly don’t end in cliffhangers.

In chapter 2, Satan and God go double-or-quits (basically) that Job won’t curse God’s name even if Satan hurts him a lot. So Satan, with God’s blessing, inflicts a lot of nasty boils on Job, boils being the only disease in the Bible, other than leprosy. And Satan loses the bet again.

I stopped reading after that, because it was late and there was no cliffhanger I needed to resolve. But the moral of the story is clear: God is a bastard who will happily kill (or allow Satan to kill) your family and your sheep and oxen and your slaves (which you’re allowed to have) and then cover you in nasty boils, just to settle a bet, and you should praise him for this. Presumably, so should your family and slaves, at least up until the point where they’re murdered by a mythical being.

It’s lucky we have the Bible for moral guidance, isn’t it, or we’d probably all be horrid to each other the whole time.