Job’s Wife

Inspired by the Georges de La Tour painting below, the following poem attempts to give an added voice to the eloquence of Tour’s work by “unmuting” Job’s wife. As a character in the Book of Job, a Gentile living during the time of the patriarchs, Job’s wife is not prominent. But, perhaps, she delivers the most bitter blow to Job. Through her, we hear the voice of Satan speaking most directly to Job when she asks,  “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). In the midst of his sufferings, I believe Job’s greatest challenge was to withstand this voice and choose to trust God.

Job Mocked by his Wife Georges de La Tour (17th c.)
“Job Mocked by his Wife,” Georges de La Tour (17th c.)

No, Job, I didn’t sign up for this.
The ships lost at sea, drowning spices
Camels marauded, flocks lit into carrion husks
Children buried by an ill-wind where they danced
And my jewels? Bartered for funeral meats

Shall I proclaim it for posterity, inscribe in stone
Your endless complaints, the hollow sounds
Of jagged grief and friends’ scorn?
Look at me! Washing our rags, hiding my shame
From the maids that I once kicked out of doors

Job, I didn’t sign up for this, my darling.
Your boils how they stink where they fester
Open wounds that run dry and break open again
The prayers that you whisper late into the night
While in the city they dance and they dine

Gentiles we are, not of Abraham’s tribe!
The God you both serve has given you hell
So leave it, I tell you; curse Him and die!
Don’t live like a fool trusting Him with your life
When a stillborn child has much better luck

I heard you this morning sing like a lark,
Of your God who will come to intercede and save
Who with your own eyes you will see at last
So you’ll wait, diseased, though you’re slain. You’re mad!

The sacrifices you offered once smoked to the sky
Yet you speak of a Redeemer as if he were a man
But, husband, what broken body, what blood can make clean
Hearts bitter with hate, hands wicked with lust?
This God that you worship is too holy, too proud
Do what I say! Curse Him and die!

I didn’t sign up for this!
Do you hear?
I didn’t sign up for this.

Job 19:19-27
All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?
Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Roughly reworked from an earlier version for dVerse "Poetics: "Exploring the Narrative Voice," guest hosted by Ingrid. Thank you, Ingrid for a superb prompt. More dVerse poems, at Mr. Linky's.

50 thoughts on “Job’s Wife

  1. Smart stutf woven without flaw. I thought Job had it bad, but never thought to ask his wife. Loving Job is hard enough, but such suffering’s God too? Who does sign up for that …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a fantastic share. I can hear the disdain, questions, hurt and scorn in her voice. In my mind, she is powerfully saying this:

    Gentiles we are, not of Abraham’s tribe!
    The God you both serve has given you hell
    So leave it, I tell you; curse Him and die!

    And the ending lines are just superb. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sanaarizvi

    My goodness this is absolutely FANTASTIC! I especially love; “The sacrifices you offered once smoked to the sky/Yet you speak of a Redeemer as if he were a man.”💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I sometimes wonder if my own faith would lead me to praise God as Job or become bitter as Job’s wife and want to just curse God and die. I’m sure she was amazed at the blessings as they finally came in the end. It’s a powerful story, here! 💝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Tricia,
      We never know until we’re really tested, of course, but as to our faith, don’t we just trust that He will provide that as well? His providence, His grace, from beginning to end. 💝💝

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a beautifully interpretative narrative Dora. You have done a wonderful job showing Job’s wife’s perspective! And in the heart of darkness who could blame her for her view, yet Job did not give up on God and God did not give up on Job!
    Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa,
      Thank you! That point of despair that she reached is all too easy to visualize, to hear. In her bitterness she forgot that God was as near to her in her suffering as Job.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The story of Job is that of the ultimate test of faith. I love that you gave voice to his wife, and examined the kind of things she might be feeling. The ordeal is also a trial of her faith as a wife as well as Job’s faith in God. The repeated line ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ rings clear. While we can understand her disappointment, there are no guarantees in this life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ingrid,
      You’re right, there are no guarantees of prosperity and health, suffering is inevitable, the providence of God and his love our only hope. We hear Job’s wife’s voice (so familiar) when her faith reached its breaking point. But I think she, like Job, regained her hope, faith tested and proved.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And our Lord knows already the outcome, the testing having scoured away the dross from the gold that is His gift of faith. Our challenge? To remember His steadfast love (Psalm 139) and trust (Rom.8:28). 💞

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Carol Ann Duffy, my favourite female poet, wrote a whole series of poems from the points of view of famous wives in her anthology The World’s Wife; in which I think your poem would fit well, Dora. I hadn’t seen the painting that inspired you, which is stunning, as is your poem, in which you have given her a powerful and bitter voice. I especially love the way she berates him for ‘‘Camels marauded, flocks lit into carrion husks Children buried by an ill-wind where they danced’ and then adds her jewels at the end as punctuation. She really felt the shame of washing rags!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Kim,
      Thank you so very much for your generous comments! I’ll have to check out Duffy’s anthology. It sounds intriguing and you’ve got me interested. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Bjorn! And thanks for the link too. Your librarian probably trips over or rearranges tome after tome on the book of Job. On suffering, there’s nothing better written.


    2. Björn just shared a link to your first prompt post in which you highlight Duffy’s poetry. I love “Anne Hathaway” and “Elvis’s Twin Sister”!!! And i must, must, MUST read more of her. 🤗 Thanks again, Kim.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, we’re all around the same age, but she (and you) are miles ahead of me in poetic sensibility. I’m glad she’s a contemporary because I need to get out of the rut of the same old same old and read something new. Thanks, Kim! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  8. writingwhatnots

    Her frustration and anger are so tangible – they really make the painting speak . ‘The hollow sounds of jagged grief’- I think this is a great poetic line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! Job’s piteous look in La Tour’s painting while she towers over him really got to me. Her hopelessness, shame and bitterness at God make her Job’s worst enemy in his suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynn,
      Thank you so much for your comments! It’s funny how she stands there in the background to the whole book, after being given a few words to speak, hovering over Job and his friends as a dark shadow, an alter ego or goad. When God spoke, I like to think she knew his mercy as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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