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In chapter 2 Job refuses to curse God but states:

"Shall we accept good from God and not trouble"

and then in chapter 3v3-4 it says that Job cursed the day he was born:

'May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, "A boy is conceived!" 4 That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it.'

God created Job. So is it correct to say that Job is actually cursing God indirectly?

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It's important to look at these passages in the context of the whole of the book of Job. At the beginning of the book we learn that he is exemplary and at the end of the book he is rewarded by God, so the question is what happened in between.

The challenge made by ha-satan in the previous chapter is that Job will "blaspheme You to Your face". (It doesn't actually say "curse".) In chapter 2, after many afflictions, Job's wife says to "blaspheme and die". Job does not blaspheme at all, let alone to God's face; in 2:10 we're told that he challenged his wife and "did not sin with his lips".

In 2:14 we're told he "cursed his day". To whom is he speaking? Apparently to his friends who have at this point been sitting with him for a week. What does he say? His speech begins in 3:2:

יֹאבַד יוֹם אִוָּלֶד בּוֹ וְהַלַּיְלָה אָמַר הֹרָה גָבֶר:

"Would the day in which I was to be born be lost, and the night when one said, 'A man has impregnated.'

He then goes on to say "may that day be dark", "may the shadow of death defile it", and many other negative things. The closest we get to a curse, though, is in 3:7:

יִקְּבֻהוּ אֹרְרֵי יוֹם הָעֲתִידִים עֹרֵר לִוְיָתָן:

May those who curse the day, curse it-those destined to be childless in their union.

The object of all this negative speech is clearly that day or, more broadly, his birth, but nowhere does he move from that to cursing God directly. Nor is there anything in the text to suggest that he is speaking to God. He's complaining (for quite-understandable reasons), not asking God for the editing of history.

Job and his wife both understand that blasphemy will lead to death. But Job didn't die. Now, you might say, maybe Job is special -- maybe this is blasphemy, but God didn't punish him because this all came about at God's initiative in the first place? To answer this we can look for similar "kill me now" or "I wish I'd never been born, no really" incidents elsewhere in the Tanakh (the books closest in time to Job) for guidance.

Possibly the most prominent case of this is with Moshe. First, early in his career, when God threatens to destroy the people and start over with Moshe (because of the golden calf), Moshe says "erase me too" (Ex 32:32). Then later in the wilderness, when he is exhausted by the frequent complaints of the people, Moshe speaks to God thus (Num 11:15):

וְאִם כָּכָה | אַתְּ עֹשֶׂה לִּי הָרְגֵנִי נָא הָרֹג אִם מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְאַל אֶרְאֶה בְּרָעָתִי:

If this is the way You treat me, please kill me if I have found favor in Your eyes, so that I not see my misfortune."

Let's put this in context: Moshe, God's chosen leader of the people, the one everyone will look to for a model, asks God to kill him to end his suffering. Not only does God not do this, but God continues to support Moshe for years to come and ultimately gives him a quiet, dignified death -- not actions we would expect if God is upset with what Moshe said.

Later King David expresses similar sentiments at times (such as in Psalm 22, pointed out by rhetorician). And consider the mood of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) -- "all is vanity", in reference to God's creation, sounds pretty derogatory, doesn't it? Yet God did not punish either king for blasphemy, nor am I aware of any tradition that says any of Moshe, David, and Shlomo blasphemed.

It seems clear from these examples -- and, to go back to the original question, Job's survival -- that whatever this negative speech about one's existence is, it's not a challenge to God.


Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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This is a good answer. To build on your answer, Jeremiah 20 might fit even closer than does Numbers 11. –  Soldarnal Oct 8 '13 at 18:53
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Good question, and welcome to BHB.

As you will find out very quickly if you continue to participate in BHB, perhaps the most important principle of hermeneutics is context. A good mantra for a site such as ours should be:

"A text without a context is a pretext."

The habit of contextualizing a text saves us students of the Bible from jumping to conclusions when faced with apparent contradictions in Scripture. You did well in comparing one verse in Job to another verse in the same book. To get rid of the apparent contradiction between Job 2:10 and 3:1, however, we need to consider the verses in the context of the whole of Job and even the whole of Scripture.

Let's set the stage for an answer to your question by looking at Job 1:20-22, which is preceded by Job's having experienced three tragedies back to back, including the loss of all his children:

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God" (1:20-22).

In his behavior Job was not prey to what I call "easy believism", but recognized clearly that God, despite the tragedies Job had just experienced, was still Sovereign and in control of Job's life. It is easy to believe in a god (small G) who gives us only what we want and not what we don't want. It is not so easy to believe in the one true God who in His infinite wisdom gives us both! Job was not an easy believer!

The words "Curse God and die" came from the mouth of Job's supportive(!) wife. What triggered the words was Job's having been stricken by Satan--with God's permission--with painful and hideous "boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (2:7). What was Job's response to this near blasphemy coming from his wife? Job said,

"'You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

Are we justified at this point in concluding that given his "druthers" Job would still have chosen disaster over blessing? No. Job was not a masochist saying to God, "Pile it on, Lord, it hurts so good." He was, rather, a realist who bowed to the sovereign will of the God he worshiped (again, see 1:20).

When we come to chapter 3, entitled in the NASB "Job's Lament," after his three friends had joined him in silence for an entire week, we read

". . . Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said, 'Let the day perish on which I was to be born, And the night which said, A boy is conceived. May that day be darkness; Let not God above care for it, Nor light shine on it'" (vv.1-4).

Is wishing you had never been born tantamount to cursing God? Before you answer, consider the words of another saint of God who endured suffering beyond human comprehension and subsequently cried out

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. . . . But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people" (Psalm 22:1-4,6).

This prophetic psalm, which gives us remarkable details concerning the cross-death of Jesus Christ, underscores the role of emotions in giving voice to words that reflect accurately the inner turmoil of a saint. This saint, as with Job, felt he was being punished unfairly and unjustly, but who is reality was called upon to endure the seemingly inexplicable actions of a sovereign God for a greater good.

Was Jesus truly forsaken of God while on the cross? No. If He were, why would His last words be,

"'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last" (Luke 23:46).

No, Jesus was not forsaken of the Father, nor did the Father avert His eyes from His Son while Jesus as the Lamb of God was bearing away the sin of the world. Where some Christians have gotten the notion that God the Father turned His back on Jesus as He hung on the cross, I do not know. It is certainly not from Scripture.

Did Jesus feel forsaken by His God? Yes. Was He in fact forsaken? No.

Finally, did Job, like Jesus, feel forsaken by the God whom he worshiped? Perhaps yes. If you were to ask Job, "Job, were you in effect cursing God when you cursed the day you were born?", I suggest Job would have answered invariably, "No! God forbid. But I certainly felt as if I were accursed, knowing as I did that I was blameless before God!"

Job knew in his heart that God had adjudged him as blameless in His sight. God Himself had said,

"'For there is no one like [Job] on earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil'" (1:8),

and despite his moments of despair, perplexity, and incomplete knowledge about the inscrutable ways of the transcendent God whom he worshiped, Job did not sin with his lips. Had he done so, the book of Job may not have become part of sacred Scripture!

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