Victor Sasson, «The Literary and Theological Function of Job’s Wife in the Book of Job», Vol. 79 (1998) 86-90
Against a background of her family situation, the negative role of Job’s wife in her husband’s trial is analysed here. It should be noted that there is no mention of her in the Epilogue that would correspond to her being mentioned in the Prologue. Apart from never being mentioned by name, she is altogether overlooked when Job is restored to good fortune.
It is a well known scientific fact much to the chagrin of the male that the female of the species will preferably mate, if she can, with the male who is most powerful the one who is most able to provide the most security. In human society, too, this is a fact of life which only a sheltered person living in an ivory tower can deny. Margaret Mead, the noted anthropologist, observes: "In women's eyes, public achievement makes a man more attractive as a marriage partner 4. In a real sense, then, it is the female of the species who has always had a need for patriarchy with all the positive and negative aspects it entails. It is she who must have originally created, encouraged, and perpetuated this now much maligned institution. But, evidently, it is part and parcel of the natural process and it is doubtful that anyone can ever succeed in dislodging and eliminating it. It appears to be desperately and tacitly needed by the majority of ordinary, decent women themselves, irrespective of the financial independence they might achieve. Needless to say, with protection comes power-problematic or unproblematic, desirable or undesirable. Perhaps had men naturally needed matriarchy to the extent women have always needed patriarchy, similar results would obtain.
There are, therefore, firm grounds to believe that Job's wife must have married a man much older than herself a Job who had struggled hard enough to amass a notorious wealth. She certainly did not marry him for his wisdom: we can rest assured on that score. Nor did she marry him for his piety, which she considered a simpleton's folly and at which she eventually scoffed. A man with seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-donkeys was to be wooed and brought under the marriage canopy. As a shrewd young lady, she must have found an older, Job rather attractive for a marriage partner, and must have eagerly sought the protection of his name and the security of his wealth. All of this is borne out by the fact that the woman who had extraordinary physical stamina (in contradistinction to her mental impatience) bore Job ten children before his trials began, and ten more after his restoration, making it a total of twenty. Allowing an average of two years span between each childbirth, Job's wife was pregnant over a period of forty years (barring the possibility of any twins). This is a positive and commendable role in the dramatic and near tragic history of the man Job. But as we shall soon see this cannot have been undertaken without self-interest in mind.
Much that we would like to, we cannot end on a positive note regarding Job's wife. We cannot forget that she distanced herself from her husband in his most difficult hour. No doubt some commentators will gloss over or whitewash this part and other embarrassing parts in the story to suit their political agenda. But Job, undergoing extreme torments of body