In the land of Uz there was a man named Job. He was a good man and confident in his righteousness. Everyone in Uz respected Job. When he visited town from his estate on the steppes, bandits would leave him alone and the merchants would always offer honest prices. The landowners would bow to him and the poor would look up to him. His actions were blameless, and he resisted evil at every opportunity.
Job had earned his comfort after years of toil. In his youth, Job was an orphan beggar. Looking to Heaven for guidance, he recognized that he had a soul and that it entitled him to the rights of liberty, comfort, and honour. Thankful for these blessings, Job went about his life praising the Creator. In his praise, Job worked to claim for himself the rights he was denied as an orphan beggar. His inheritance was not land or cattle like the wealthy children who spat and threw stones, it was his strength and his health. Over time, Job became the wealthiest man in all of Uz, and the most respected nobleman.
Job’s vast lands were covered in seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yolk of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a village’s worth of servants. But the most valued of Job’s wealth were his three sons and three daughters, all born to his wife, the most beautiful woman in Uz.
But despite his wealth, Job grew worried about displeasing the Creator and losing his family. His children held regular parties throughout the year, each in turn hosted at their personal homes. The dates were irregular and the revelry was extravagant due to their father’s wealth. Further, Job’s wife was preoccupied with her vanity. Concerned that they might sin in their hearts and anger the Creator, Job made regular sacrifices and worshipped piously. Thus, Job remained righteous.
In those days, a streak of light flashed across the land of Uz. It was so bright that the daylight looked as if it were night. For those who saw the star fall from heaven, a rift of glowing darkness was left in their vision. The woman Eilish tried to blink the rift away, but it scarred even her closed eyes. There was no escape. All of Uz stumbled as the earth trembled under heaven.
Within moments, the Chaldeans rose from the burning landscape as if smoky incense rising from coals. As they did, the Sabeans too revealed themselves on the crests of the hills. Like a prowling lion, the allies saw weak prey and pounced. Wise in the movements of the celestial bodies, the Sabeans had applied their wisdom to sacking Uz when they knew Heaven would strike it. Knowing there was too much for them alone, they employed the Chaldeans to fight for them. As the crops burned and people wailed, the Chaldeans made off with what livestock was not burning in heavenly flame. They killed whatever servants stood in their way. Eilish, a beggar, was not burdened by responsibility to the livestock. She saw the Chaldeans coming but did not stand in their way. Eilish ran to the houses of Job, the pious. Surely, the most holy and respected nobel in Uz would be safe from this calamity.
Eilish found a raucous household, drunk and stupid to the heavenfire. When his children partied, it was known that Job would go up the mountain to pray for their souls. Meanwhile, guards were stationed around the house to safeguard the revelry from interruption. Eilish slipped through in the chaos, hoping to enjoy safety until she was discovered. But it was the wrong place to be. Heat from the fallen star mixed with the cool wind of the evening to produce a great cyclone over the youth. The cyclone tore the home apart and killed all who were inside. Eilish managed to escape to safety. Eventually the cyclone unwound itself and there was silence in the land of Uz.
The dawn broke as the star cooled and hardened. In the new light the people of Uz looked for their leadership. All the nobels were cowering or escaping, but not Job. From the height of the mountains, a cloud of dust rose as Job rushed home. From the city gates, Eilish could see Job bravely galloping toward the calamity. The people gathered at the gate to wait for him. He arrived long before his attendants even reached the foot of the mountain.
“Who is hurt?” Job called out, his voice resonant and true. The people took stock of themselves to learn how much damage had been done. As they did, Eilish watched as Job brought comfort and security to the fearful people. He found blankets, water, and food for those who needed it. It seemed for a moment that no one had been seriously injured. Then it appeared that no one had lost any livestock to the raiders. But then three of Job’s servants arrived from his property.
The first cried out, “Master! The Sabeans and Caldeans came and took all of your cattle and livestock! All of the servants were killed in the raid, only I have escaped!”
And while the first was still talking, the second arrived and cried out, “Master! A star fell from heaven and landed in your fields, burning all your crops! All of the servants were killed in the fire, only I have escaped!
And while the second was still talking, the third arrived and cried out, “Master! A cyclone came while your children were in the eldest’s house and tore the house apart, killing all of them! All of the servants were killed in the cyclone, only I have escaped!”
And there was silence in the land of Uz.
Job stood from the old man he was helping and ripped his own clothes. Gripping his head in agony, Job stumbled. All realized that Job alone had suffered loss in the great calamity of Uz and that he had lost everything. Wailing, Job tore the hair from his head and fell to the ground.
But then he said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go into the earth! The Creator giveth, and the Creator taketh away! Blessed be the Creator!”
Though he had lost everything, Job did not lose his faith.
On Appropriating this Myth
I am appropriating this myth, but I do not believe this is an example of illegitimate appropriation. Since the original myth has had ample chance to gain and retain an audience on its culture’s own terms, my retelling is not taking up space that should go to them. If you don’t like my version, you can go read the widely available original.
Additionally, throughout my life Job has been one of the most interesting and challenging of the biblical myths. It has been an important part of my spiritual and cultural upbringing. As important as this myth is in my own history and culture, I feel that I have a right to explore it and retell it.
With that out of the way, enjoy! More chapters to come.