The Babylonian Theodicy (Job 33)

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An Akkadian text from approximately 1000 B.C. has striking similarities to the book of Job. Commonly called “The Babylonian Theodicy”, it is a dialogue between a sufferer and his friend. In this text a hurting individual bemoans his fate and the treatment he has received at the hands of the gods. Like Job, he has been generous and devout, but now he is driven about in destitution, like a beggar (see Job 30:1-11). He complains that the wicked strut around, secure in their wealth (see 21:1-21). A friend responds that the sufferer does not fully understand the ways of the gods. He does not accuse the man of grievous sin in the manner of Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (e.g. 22:4-5). However, in much the same vein as Elihu in Job 33, he concedes that the ways of the gods are mysterious.

The Babylonian Theodicy does not wrestle with the questions of God and evil as profoundly as does the book Job, but it does demonstrate again that this kind of literature had parallels elsewhere in the ancient Near East. The date of the Babylonian Theodicy is not far removed from the golden age of wisdom under Solomon (latter tenth century B.C.), and the similarities in genre suggests that Job may have been written at about the same time.


 

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