Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber
The grandest Hebrew poem ever written, and the oldest that is preserved, is supposed to belong to this period. You will find it translated in the Bible, where it is called the Book of Job. It tells the story of a chief in the land of Uz, who was very rich.
This man Job is described as a good and honest man, of whom God himself said that he was without his like in all the East. Satan, the tempter, appears again in this poem, and, after visiting all the earth, presents himself before God, who inquires:
"Whence comest thou?"
"From going to and fro in the earth," answers Satan, boldly.
God next asks him whether he has seen Job, and whether he does not admire the man for his great goodness. As Satan would like all men to be as wicked as himself, he answers that Job is good only because he is so prosperous, and that if he were only tried he would soon forget his piety, and even curse his Maker to his face.
To prove the loyalty of his servant Job, God now gives Satan permission to try him in every way, and poor Job suddenly finds himself without wealth or children. But his patience is quite as great as his losses, and although he weeps for his children, he humbly says: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
As Satan has failed in this test, he now gets permission from God to inflict terrible bodily sufferings upon Job, and to make his wife torment him greatly. But, although Job is racked with pain, he merely says: "What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
The second test having also failed, Satan now sends Job’s three friends to him, and they talk to him, and insist that he must have committed some great sin, or he would not suffer so much.
These friends go on reasoning with him for many days, and they ask him many questions, all of which he answers very patiently. Indeed, through all their long talk, Job remains so gentle that it is customary even now to describe great patience by saying that a person is "as patient as Job."
After Satan has done his very worst, and has tormented the poor man in every way, God comes to reprove the friends, and to defend Job. God now restores him to health, wealth, and prosperity, giving him seven sons and three daughters, and allowing him to live long enough to see his descendants to the fourth generation.
The story of the Book of Job has been told here because it is probably much older than the Book of Exodus, the second book of the Old Testament. The first book of the Bible ends with the story of Joseph; and in the Book of Exodus you will hear how the descendants of his father Jacob, or Israel, escaped from Egypt after living there about four hundred years.