In Job 1:12 God gives Satan permission to torment Job

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

It’s in my understanding that only Satan will torment him.

In Job 1:16 it says:

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

I have read elsewhere that “the fire of God” most likely means thunder.

Either way both the fire of God or thunder are both (in my understanding) controlled only by God. Only God can control the weather or his own fire.

Was it actually he who did this in Job 1:16?..or for that matter in Job 1:19 where a mighty wind struck the four corners of the house?

This is all in NIV

Is it a translation mistake or something else I’m not fully understanding yet?

  • 1
    Prior to the fall of Satan to earth, as documented in the visions of John in Revelation and mentioned also by Jesus, in prophecy, that Entity had considerable, and heavenly, power. Now, that power is operated only by elect angels, seen in the seven angelic powers of the book of Revelation who are the agencies which bring plagues and judgments upon out present age. Good question. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    May 15 at 13:44
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    @ Nigel J. Thanks! I’ve come to understand more now that as the Prince of this Earth if he has powers as great as doing miracles he apparently also has some powers to makeshift weather occurrences in this realm. I didn’t know that before now.
    – Nat
    May 15 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


The narrator speaks of a wager between God and Satan, in which God allows Satan to torment Job - even though Job does not deserve it - as a test to see whether he will curse God (1:6-12). However, Job himself never mentions Satan and consistently holds God responsible for his woes.

the arrows of the Almighty are in me, and my spirit drinks in their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. (6:4)

Job also blames his friends for tormenting him refusing to recognize the justice of his complaint:

My companions are undependable as a wadi, as watercourses that run dry in the wadies; Though they may be black with ice, and with snow heaped upon them, Yet once they flow, they cease to be; in the heat, they disappear from their place. (6:15-17)

In the end, God rules against Job's friends, who have defended God throughout the dialog by insisting that Job must have sinned and thus deserves his punishment:

the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger blazes against you and your two friends! You have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job." (42:7)

Conclusion: Although Job never curses God, he consistently holds God responsible for tormenting him unjustly. Satan, meanwhile, is mentioned only in the book's prolog, and even there he acts with God's express permission. God Himself affirms absolute sovereignty over nature and its violence in chapters 40-42, never referring to Satan's role in such things. God also affirms that Job has spoken correctly about God. We have to conclude that both God and "natural evil" are responsible for Job's torment. Job's friends are also to blame. According to the prolog, Satan is the immediate cause, but he torments Job with God's permission.

  • Just a little suggestion. It should have a distinction between "holds God responsible" and "trusts God's salvation". May 15 at 13:43
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    I think he does both -- he insists that God has not treated him justly yet has faith in God's deliverance. Even if Satan does the tormenting, God is responsible for it because Satan got God's permission before acting. This does not reflect my personal theology, but I do think it is how the book presents the situation. May 15 at 14:40
  • So are we going to solve the problem of evil here? Job is a difficult book and bringing Job into compliance with the NT understanding of things is probably a lost cause. The Lord's prayer: Lead us not into TESTING (not temptation to commit evil). James tells us God does not take the role of an AGENT in temptation to commit evil. Exegesis of JOB is a nightmare project. May 15 at 17:00
  • @C.StirlingBartholomew... I'm partial to nightmares... don't see a need to bring Job into compliance... except perhaps in the sense that God makes the sun shine on the unjust as well as the just Matthew 5:45 May 15 at 17:31
  • @DanFefferman - Job was unaware of the deal between God and Satan. Although he could complain that God did not respond to him, practically, he could not hold God responsible for his suffering. May 15 at 22:25

Of course not! All those who did the will of Satan, just like his three “friends” who counseled him to apologize to God for non-known reason and in such an ignoble, slavish and his own conscience-trampling way return health and earthly favors from God, and his hapless, wife, who in throes of her ill-advised compassion urged him to curse God and die; yes, they tormented Job no less than Satan, perhaps even more than the latter.

  • thank you. Of course it wouldn’t make sense if he did. So the question then remains, how did Satan control the weather?
    – Nat
    May 15 at 12:46
  • @Nat How did Satan control the weather? Easily! - most of humans, like the mentioned "friends" and the mentioned wife, choose earthly comforts at expense of heavenly search for Truth. Such people are ok when there is no calamity, but when there comes a calamity and a serious moral-ontological dilemma, they do not side with divine will, but with earthly interests, and because of this please Satan and in this sense Satan controls them. But even without Satan, those people would do absolutely the same, so Satan is not to be blamed for everything, humans can be utterly naughty even without him. May 15 at 13:12
  • @Nat Oh, sorry, in my previous letter I understood "weather" in a metaphoric sense. But to be precise to your question: just like God preserves health of humans, so does He preserve them from natural catastrophes. Here He removed His protecting hand at request/behest of Satan in order to deprive Job both of his possessions and health, and all that in order to vanquish Satan's slander that Job honors God only for the benefits he gets from Him in a mercantilistic way. May 15 at 13:19
  • thank you for your response
    – Nat
    May 15 at 13:23
  • @ Dan Fefferman +1
    – Nat
    May 15 at 17:47

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