In one instance it seems like God is afflicting Job

Job 1:11 (KJV)

11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Job 1:16 (KJV)

16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 1:21 (KJV)

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Even Job seems to believe his afflictions are from God

But on the other hand

Job 2:6 (KJV)

6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Job 2:7 (KJV)

7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

It seems there is an adversary lurking in the shadows

Who afflicted Job?

5 Answers 5


As Martin Luther opined, the Devil is God's devil. God was and is sovereign, although not culpable for the evil that occurs. God brings up Job's righteousness to Satan in a clear challenge. And it is also clear that Satan's actions are limited by God as to the extent to which he can torment Job.

It is clear that Job rightly knows that the source of his trouble is God. Psalm 39 addresses this similar to Psa 39:9 "I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it." David in that Psalm expresses the same recognition as to God's sovereignty over all events.

Yes, there is an adversary in Satan, but Job's struggle is not with Satan--it is with God. Satan is used, in the end, to glorify God in Job's response to the trials laid upon him.


The other answer is correct in not taking a Christian notion of "Devil" and "Satan" and applying it to the text. The satan is not to be understood as "the Devil", a deity of similar power as YHWH. From the text speaks a different kind of theology. In particular, "Satan" is not a personal name, since it also was has the definite article ה. It should rather be understood as "the adversary". Furthermore, the satan seems to be one of the "sons of God", a common metaphor for the Canaanite pantheon.

What is very visible in the book of Job is a struggle of the author as to what can(not) be ascribed to God. Yahwism grew out of polytheistic Canaanite religion. In this religion, many deities had their own realm, similar to the Greco-Roman pantheon. The Hebrews eventually became strongly monotheistic, something especially enforced during the Babylonian exile during which they had to distinguish themselves from other peoples. But strict monotheism has the issue that bad things must ascribe negative things to the principal deity as well, eventually yielding to questions like Is God the creator / bringer of evil according to Isaiah 45:7 and 2 Kings 22:20? In Job, the issue is resolved by having a lesser heavenly being do the actual damage, whereas YHWH actually appears as protecting Job ("only upon himself put not forth thine hand" 1:12 KJV; "he is in thine hand; but save his life" 2:6 KJV).

Lastly I would like to draw your attention to a few textual issues:

  • Job 1:16, "the fire of God": at least according to some scholars, אלהים "God" can also be understood as "mighty", yielding "mighty fire".
  • Job 1:19, "there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house": ויגע "smote" is a masculine form whereas רוח "wind" is feminine. Thus, רוח cannot be the subject. Instead, this verb refers back to either the satan or YHWH. In favour of the latter, it may refer back to וגע in 1:11, "touch all that he hath", which is the same root.
  • Job 1:21, "YHWH has given and YHWH has taken" seems very formulaic, so this need not indicate that Job ascribes his afflictions to YHWH.

In Job 1, Satan tells God: "But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.". As the OP suggests, God does cause the disasters, demonstrating to Satan that even such catastrophes won't cause Job to hate God.

Job 1 concludes with: "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.".
Job 2 begins with: "Again there was a day".

This time Satan admits he was wrong the first time: "all that a man hath will he give for his life". But then he tries a different approach:"But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.".

And, as the OP points out, "So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job". This time it is Satan that is causing Job's suffering (though with God's permission).

The key point is that these are two separate events:

  • Job 1: God destroys Job's possessions, but doesn't physically harm Job himself.
  • The rest of the book: Satan is allowed to cause physical harm to Job, but not to kill him.

Whether there is further significance to this (related to the direct physical destruction of life and property by God in the first instance, while in the second instance Satan was allowed to cause harm but not death to only one individual) is a different question.



The commandment came from God, He initiates and instigates the accuser on all accounts. The accusers brings a very weak case against Job but it was sufficient for God because Job was guilty of self-righteousness

God initiates chapter 1

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭

God initiates chapter 2

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭

In the second chapter we can see God showing the Accuser that his argument was not only weak but wrong, but Job was still righteous in his own eyes. Never does God in the Hebrew say that Job is righteous only blameless and upright but never righteous


The Accuser carried out the plan in both chapters he brings the judgment issued from the divine counsel, scene that is seen throughout OT, God meeting with heavenly beings to execute His will and to have counsel meetings


The source was Job’s self-righteousness which is pride and destruction follows prides.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:18‬ ‭

What Job experienced was nothing short of destruction

“So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭32:1‬ ‭

Self-righteousness is a form of pride because righteousness belongs to God alone. Righteousness can only even be imputed to man, never earned

“I will get my knowledge from afar and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭36:3‬ ‭


Ultimately God in His grace decided not to let Job pass into eternity without being given a chance to repent. Unfortunately the sin of self-righteousness is so subtle and strong that it takes a very large amount of judgment to be carried out for a man to realize the error of his way. Job brought it upon himself, God had to make a judgment call and the Accuser merely executed.


From Satan's perspective, or it could just as likely be another of his deceptions, it is God who is responsible for Job's afflictions (Job 1:11). In actuality, the source of Job's afflictions is Satan, who was only able to inflict harm because God had removed His protection (Job 1:10 & 12, Job 2:6).

10 Have You not made a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But reach out with Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will certainly curse You to Your face.” 12 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power - Job 1:10-12

God did not cause Job's afflictions but in removing His protection, He allowed them to occur. Job understood that ultimately nothing can happen but by God's sovereign will.

  • What did you mean by: “ God did not cause Job's afflictions but in removing His protection, He allowed them to occur.”? That seems to be only true in part, but not in whole. The protection of God was removed from Job in terms of Job getting hit with boils from Satan,(Job 2:7-8)- but God rained down the “fire of God” out of Heaven; meaning God afflicted Job in that way directly. (Job 1:16). What do you think about that?
    – Cork88
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 22:33
  • The words in Job 1:16 are spoken by the messenger. They reflect the all too human tendency to hold God responsible for the things that afflict us, including fires and other natural disasters as seems to be the case here. We seldom think of how God's hand is constantly protecting us. Job's faithfulness lies in the fact that he does not reproach God, even though he saw that nothing could happen but by His sovereign will.
    – Nhi
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 5:13
  • I see what you are saying friend, but In the end of Job, it says to the contrary: “Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.“ Job 42:11. It says it right there: “for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him.”. What do you make of that? :)
    – Cork88
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 5:41
  • 1
    The perspective in Job 42:11 is of Job's family and friends, of maybe even his wife (Job 2:9). Ultimately, your point is valid as nothing can happen outside the divine will. But we should avoid over simplification. The book of Job speaks to a mystery that defies human understanding, that is, the reality of human suffering given the existence of a loving God.
    – Nhi
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 14:35
  • 1
    @Cork88 I do appreciate your probing questions and the careful consideration that you have given to my answer.
    – Nhi
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 18:07

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