Lessons from divine judgment (Wis 12:19-12:22)

“Through such works,

You have taught your people.

The righteous man must be kind.

You filled your children with good hope.

Because you give repentance for sins.

If you punish with such great care,

If you punish with such great indulgence,

The enemies of your servants,

As well as those deserving of death,

You grant them time to give up their wickedness.

You grant them the opportunity to give up their wickedness.

With what strictness

You have judged your children.

Our ancestors gave oaths.

They gave covenants full of good promises!

While chastening us,

You scourge our enemies

Ten thousand times more.

Thus when we judge,

We may meditate upon your goodness.

When we are judged,

We may expect mercy.”

We have to learn something from the actions of God. We learn that the righteous person (τὸν δίκαιον) must be kind (φιλάνθρωπον), just like God. We need to have hope for repentance (μετάνοιαν) just like our sons or children (τοὺς υἱούς σου), when we punish them with care and indulgence. Our enemies deserve death, but we should grant them an opportunity in a time and place (χρόνους καὶ τόπον) to give up their wickedness, just like our children. Our ancestors gave oaths, promises, and covenants. Thus God punishes us, but he punishes our enemies 10,000 times more. When we judge others, we should remember the goodness of God. When we are judged, we expect mercy (ἔλεος).

Righteous power (Wis 12:15-12:18)

“You are righteous.

You rule all things righteously.

It is deemed alien to your power

To condemn anyone

Who does not deserve to be punished.

Your strength is the source of righteousness.

Your sovereignty over all

Causes you to spare all.

You show your strength

When people doubt

The completeness of your power.

You rebuke any insolence

Among those who know it.

Although you are sovereign in strength,

You judge with mildness.

You govern us

With great forbearance.

You have power to act

Whenever you choose.”

God is righteous (δίκαιος) and strongly rules righteously. Thus he punishes everyone who deserves it. His strength is the source of his righteousness (ἰσχύς σου δικαιοσύνης ἀρχή). Because he has power over all, he is able to spare some people. Some see this as a weakness, but it only shows the completeness of his power. God judges with mildness and forbearance, even though he has the power to act whenever he wants to.

Eliphaz accuses Job of wrong doing (Job 22:1-22:7)

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered.

‘Can a mortal be of use to God?

Can even the wisest be of service to him?

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty Shaddai?

Even if you are righteous,

Is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?

Is it for your piety that he reproves you?

Does he enter into judgment with you?

Is not your wickedness great?

There is no end to your iniquities.

You have exacted pledges

From your family brothers

For no reason.

You have stripped the naked of their clothing.

You have given no water to the weary to drink.

You have withheld bread from the hungry.’”

Eliphaz reminded Job that God only punishes in a just fashion. How could he be of service to God? How could he bring pleasure to the almighty one, Shaddai? Even if he was blameless and righteous, what had he gained? However, Eliphaz said that Job’ wickedness was great. He had treated people unfairly. He then enumerated the evil things that Job had done. He exacted pledges from his family. He striped clothes to make people naked. He failed to give water and bread to the hungry and thirsty people. These were explicit things that Job had done wrong.