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Bible: The Old Testament

Literature
  • Study Guide
Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Quote 4

If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity?
Why have you made me your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?
         (Job 7:20)

This rhetorical question is spoken by Job after God has killed all his children and his livestock, and afflicted him with a skin disease. Job’s lament is emblematic of the central question discussed by Job and his three friends. The question is a theme in the Old Testament: how can God remain good despite the fact that he allows evil and human suffering to exist? Job’s friends argue that God would only afflict Job with pain if he had committed some grave act of human disobedience meriting punishment. Job, however, raises two complaints against God, the “watcher of humanity.” For one, Job knows he has done nothing wrong, and he wonders what he could have done to become a “burden” to God and deserve such suffering. Second, Job asks why God is so concerned with human actions in the first place—why he watches humanity’s faults and punishes them in turn. Just as Job’s lament is rhetorical and open-ended, so this question and theme is not explicitly answered in the Old Testament.