Job’s Wife

Job’s Wife    –by Jinny Batterson

(written in January, 1998, after viewing an exhibit of
William Blake’s illustrations for the Biblical book of Job)

Sometimes it bothers me
What little mention
I get in the Bible.
The one verse in my voice,
At the beginning
Of Job’s story,
Is shrewish
And nagging:
“Do you still hold fast
To your integrity?
Curse God, and die.”

Had I been around
When the scribes wrote
My husband’s story,
I’d have gently reminded them
How much they were leaving out.

I doubt they’d have listened.
Writers and media folks typically
Want “man bites dog”
Tales, or hyperbole.

Gentleness, quiet persistence,
Lie mainly between the lines
Of Biblical lore.

So we get chapter
After chapter
Of Job’s longwinded
Friends arguing–
Trying to fit
Job and God into
Their own little boxes.

I learned early that both God
And Job were beyond labels,
But the scribes couldn’t
Write that in so many words.

William Blake captured it
Better in picture–
Me bent silent at Job’s feet,
Offering what comfort I could.

Showing in my posture
How much it hurt me,
Too, to lose all,
Especially those children.

I’d carried them in my womb,
Wiped their runny noses,
Shared in their triumphs
And sorrows.

Now I was without them,
Utterly thrust down–
No longer a respected matron
And wife,
But the sorely bereaved
Helpmate of a poor
Hulk of a soul
Covered all over with boils.

Many’s the time I considered
Cursing God, and Job, too,
But I didn’t.

Instead, I cooked gruel
Of the grain we had left;
I washed his feet
With my tears,
And I stayed by him.

While he wrestled
With the pain
And the hard questions,
I struggled, too.

If God’s answer to Job
Came loudly:
“Have you a voice like God,
And can you thunder
With a voice like his?”
The answer I got was so still
And small, it took me a
Long time to hear it.

“No loss is irredeemable,”
God told me, “Be steadfast,
And you will come to understand.”

So I stayed on.
After Job’s repentance,
When he prayed for forgiveness
For his three friends,
You may notice
That Job didn’t have
To pray for me–
I had been praying
With and for him all along.

We had lots of good years
After that.
More children, too.

We rarely took any of them
For granted.
There’s no joy
Sweeter than joy after sorrow.

And I read between the lines
(Women can be good at that)
That the scribes paid me
A compliment the only way they
Knew how–by naming my

As they ended their book,
It’s our latest daughters
Whose names they wrote down:
Jemimah, Kesiah, and Kerenhappuch.

Of course, I love our sons, too,
And I’ve loved Job forever.

And I think it’s a testimony
To feminine strength
That it’s our daughters
Whose names are mentioned–
Who share in Job’s inheritance.

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