Job’s Response to Eliphaz & The Jerusalem Pomegranate

Finger Pointing UpAs I had mentioned before, that’s the way our justice system is today instead of innocent until proven guilt, it’s if you look guilty that’s because you are.

Job must be really confused and quite upset and disappointed in You, but he still hasn’t disregarded You, as his friends have.

1. Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a 7th century edifice located in Jerusalem.

It enshrines the rock from which Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven.

Sometimes erroneously called the Mosque of Umar, from a tradition that it was built by Caliph Umar I, the Dome of the Rock was actually built by Caliph Abd al-Malik between 687 and 691.

The first domed shrine to be built, the Dome of the Rock is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

The octagonal plan and the rotunda dome of wood are of Byzantine design.

The Persian tiles on the exterior and the marble slabs that decorate the interior were added by Suleiman I in 1561.

The Dome of the Rock is located on a rocky outcrop known as Mount Moriah, where, according to Jewish belief, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice.

The inscriptions inside the building glorify Islam as the final true revelation and culmination of the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

The building is actually not a mosque but a ciborium, erected over a sacred site.

“Then Job answered and said,

Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!

I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.

I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.

Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me” (Job 23:1-6).

Job is seeking a fair trial.  In 9:14-20 Job was fearful that he couldn’t find words to argue with God.  Now he’s confident that if God would give him a hearing, he would be acquitted (see 13:13-19; also Ps 17:1-3; 26:1-3).

“There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:

On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:7-10).

I cannot perceive him…But he knoweth the way that I take – Job is frustrated over his apparent inability to have an audience with God, who knows that he’s an upright man. 

2. Old City Jerusalem
Old City Jerusalem is less than a third of a square mile within the sprawling modern city.
It is a spiritually important site of worldwide significance for three religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

To illustrate the significance that transcends national borders, it was the country of Jordan (which was instrumental in heavily damaging it during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War) that proposed the Old City of Jerusalem as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was added to the list in 1982.

There are numerous things to see In Old City Jerusalem of religious, historic, and archaeological interest.

The sights in Old City appeal to all, regardless of religious beliefs. Its history is long and rich.

Beginning eleven centuries before the birth of Christ, it was inhabited by Jebusites, Hebrew Kings David and Solomon, and Babylonians.

It was during this time that the protective Old City Jerusalem walls were built.

Part of these walls is said to be the existing Wailing Wall or, more properly, the Western Wall, which once surrounded the great Jewish Temple of Solomon and the Dome of the Rock from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem extend for almost 3 miles and contain more than 40 watchtowers and 11 gates, of which 7 are open today.

Old City Jerusalem was occupied by Muslims in the seventh century, and they retained it until 1099 when it was captured during the First Crusade by Christians from Europe.

After that, it passed variously between Muslims and Christians for centuries, with Jews allowed to resettle the area and worship as they pleased at various times.

The Old City of Jerusalem comprised the entire city until the late nineteenth century when the modern metropolis began to grow around it.

It is roughly divided into four quarters, the Muslim Quarter, Armenian Quarter, Jewish Quarter, and Christian Quarter.

While the Armenian Quarter is made up primarily of Christians, they are distinct from each other.

The major things to see In Old City Jerusalem relate to the three religions with Jewish and Muslim holy sites overlapping at Temple Mount, and which also contains the Dome of the Rock.

Even those sites sacred to Christians make their way into the Muslim Quarter, as the Via Dolorosa (Latin for, Way of Grief or Suffering) traverses it.

This is traditionally the path that Christ walked, carrying his cross, and prior to the crucifixion.

Its terminus is in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over what Christians consider to be Golgotha or the Hill of Calvary.

Every Friday, there is a Catholic procession along this route, and one of the important events in the city is Easter, when pilgrims come from around the world to participate in another reenactment.

Things To See In Old City Jerusalem also include those sites that are sacred to Muslims, most notably the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock, as well as the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The other two are the Masjid al-Haram Mosque built around the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a site that is obligatory for Muslims to visit once in their life if they are physically and financially able to do so, and the Mosque of the Prophet, in Medina.

Job is here answering Eliphaz’s admonition beginning in 22:21 – Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.  Job replies that this is what he had always done (vv 11-12).  He treasures God’s words more than his daily food. 

He admits that God is testing him – not to purge away his sinful dross, but to show that Job is pure gold (see Ps 119:11, 101, 168; 1 Pet 1:7).

 “My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth” (Job 23:11-13).

Even though Job is not  an Israelite, he worships the one true God – there is no other:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut 6:4-5).

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Is 44:6).

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me.  I am the LORD, and there is none else.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Is 45:5-7).

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8).

“But our God is in the heaven’s: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps 115:3).

3. New Gate
The New Gate is the newest gate in the walls that surround the Old City of Jerusalem.
It was built in 1889 to provide direct access between the Christian Quarter and the new neighborhoods then going up outside the walls.

The arched gate is decorated with crenelated stonework.

The New Gate was built at the highest point of the present wall, at 790 meters (2,590 ft) above sea level.

The New Gate was the name used by the Ottoman administration.

It was also known as Bab es Sultan Abd ul Hamid by the Arab workforce for the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II who allowed the building.

It should not be confused with the New Gate of the Second Temple complex mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah (26:10; 36:10) that served as entrance to the Great Sanhedrin’s Hall of Hewn Stones, and was previously called the Benjamin Gate.

During the 3rd and 4th centuries the northern wall was rebuilt and improved by the Byzantines leaving no trace or record of a gate in this sector of the fortification.

While there is no information about a gate preexisting at this point in the wall before the city was occupied by the Crusaders, there is a suggestion that they maintained a small postern gate, named after St. Lazarus, just east of the Ottoman construction for the use of troops stationed at Tancred’s Tower (Goliath’s Tower).

Uncovered during drainage and sewage works in the area, it may have also been used by the knights of the Leper’s Order also quartered there.

Early records of the Crusades suggest the wall was breached after the Crusader occupation on the orders of Tancred The gate may well have been, with the tower subsequently named after him.

The breach may have been later converted into a gate.

“For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.

For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face” (Job 23:14-17).

“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?

Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.

They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.

Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.

They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked.

They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.

They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.

They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.

They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;

Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst.

Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them” (Job 24:1-12).

Job describes the terrible injustice that often exists in the world.  Robbery of both the have (v. 2) and the have-nots (vv 3-4) is equally obnoxious to him.  But perhaps his suffering has enabled him to empathize with the poor, who must forage for food (v 5) and reap…corn in the field (v 6).

The scene he depicts is heartrending: The naked shiver in the cold of night (vv 7-8), fatherless infants are snatched from the breast (v 9), field hands harvest food but go hungry (v 10), vineyard workers make wine but suffer thirst (v 11), groans rise from dying and wounded (v 12). 

Job can’t understand why God is silent and indifference (vv 1, 12) in the face of such misery, but the fact that God waits disproves the counselors’ theory of suffering.

“They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.

The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.

5. ivory pomegranate
Ivory pomegranate bearing an 8th century B.C. Hebrew script.
It is the only known object attributed to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.

Solomon’s Temple (sometimes referred to as the “First Temple”) was Israel’s central place of worship for about 380 years, from its construction in ca 970 B.C. until it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.

We know approximately where the remains are—somewhere beneath the present-day platform upon which the Dome of the Rock and El-Aqsa mosques are located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Since the area is holy to Muslims, excavation is not permitted; thus it has not been possible to examine the remains of Solomon’s temple firsthand.

In spite of this limitation, it appears that now, for the first time, an object from Solomon’s Temple has come to light.

The artifact, a small ivory pomegranate, was first noticed in an antiquities shop in Jerusalem by French scholar Andre Lemaire in 1979.

He published a scholarly description of his find in 1981 and a popular version in 1984. It was subsequently purchased and taken out of the country. But in 1988 the pomegranate was purchased by the Israel Museum, where it is now on display.

This unique object is just under 1 3/4 inches tall and a little over 3/4 inch in diameter. It has a rounded body tapering toward a flat bottom pierced by a hole.

The neck is narrow and tall and terminates in six petals, two of which are broken. Its shape is that of a pomegranate in its blossom stage of growth.

A mature pomegranate, in contrast, is globular, with a crown of short petals. With its bright red color, sweet juicy fruit and multitudinous seeds, the pomegranate was a common symbol of fertility in antiquity.

It was widely used as a motif in the sacred and secular art of various cultures throughout the ancient Near East.

A number of examples in round and representational art have been recovered in archaeological excavations.

The pomegranate (rimmon in Hebrew) is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and is included among the seven fruits common in Israel (Deut 8:7–8).

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death” (Job 24:13-17).

4. Lachish
Occupation at the site of Lachish began during the Pottery Neolithic (5500–4500 B.C.E.) period.

Major development began in the Early Bronze Age (3300–3000 B.C.E.).

During the Middle Bronze II (2000–1650 B.C.E.), the Canaanite settlement came under strong Egyptian influence.

The next peak was the Late Bronze Age (1650–1200 B.C.E.), when Lachish is mentioned in the Amarna letters.

This phase of the city was destroyed in a fire ca. 1150 B.C.

The city, under protection of the New Kingdom of Egypt, was rebuilt by the Caananites.

A moated shrine known as the Fosse Temple was also built at the northwest corner of the mound, outside the city limits.

However, this settlement was soon destroyed by another fire, perhaps from an invasion by the Sea Peoples or Israelites.

The mound was abandoned for two centuries.

Rebuilding of the city began in the Early Iron Age during the 9th and 10th centuries B.C. when it was settled by the Israelites.

The unfortified settlement may have been destroyed c. 925 B.C.E. by Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonk I.

In the first half of the 9th century B.C., under Asa of Judah and Jehoshaphat, Lachish became an important city in the Kingdom of Judah. It was heavily fortified with massive walls and ramparts. A royal palace was built on a platform in the center of the city.

Job is no more out of God’s favor as one of the victims than the criminal is in God’s favor because of God’s inaction.  A description of those who cause the suffering depicted in vv 2-12, the murderer (v 14), the adulterer (v 15), the robber (v 16).

Darkness is their element, the medium in which they thrive (see vv 14-17).

By contrast, God’s law is the light against which they rebel (see v. 13).

“He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.

Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.

The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (Job 24:18-20).

Job seems to agree with the counselors here.  But it’s also legitimate to translate the verses as Job’s call for redress against evildoers: May their portion be cursed in the earth…may the grave consume…May the womb forget them; may the worm feed sweetly till they are not more remembered and their wickedness is broken as a tree.

He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.

He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.

They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.

And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?” (Job 24:21-25).

By way of summary, Job says that God Judges the wicked, but He does so in His own good time.  Job wishes, however, that God would give the righteous the satisfaction of seeing it happen (v 1).

The Jerusalem Pomegranate

A thumb-sized chunk of ivory in the shape of a pomegranate may be the only archaeological find recovered from Solomon’s temple.

This graceful, six-petaled blossom is engraved with the words “Belonging to the temple of the Lord, holy to the priests.”

Based upon the shape of the Hebrew letters in the inscription, the artifact was initially dated to the 8th century B.C., although that date is now in dispute.

Investigators for the Israel Antiquities Authority have reassessed the artifact and concluded that although the object itself dates to about 1400 B.C. (considerably earlier than the age of Solomon); the inscription is a recent forgery.

The body of the pomegranate has a hole on the bottom in which a rod might have been inserted to form a scepter.

Two ivory scepters dating to the 13th century B.C. have been excavated in a Canaanite temple in Lachish, each topped with a miniature pomegranate.

This implies that the pomegranate was a rit­ual object used regularly by priests in the ancient Near East, although its use specifi­cally by priests in the Jerusalem temple is now open to question.

Ancient art made rich use of the pome­granate as a decorative motif. In a religious vein, this fruit was used by the Israelites as a sign of the fertility of the Promised Land under the blessing of God (Num 13:23; Deut 8:8).

Chains of pomegranates graced the capitals of the twin bronze pillars flanking the entrance of Israel’s temple (2 Chr 4:13).

They also adorned the hem of the high priestly robes as embroidered blossoms of blue, pur­ple and scarlet alternating with golden bells (Ex 28:33).

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