Who should be Fighting Evil

Moses is the example.

Professor Gerald Aranoff,

Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff
INN:GA

For previous article on this subject, click here.

Some have suggested, as does the Soncino commentary, that God is speaking the opposite  when he asks this of Job, using a rhetorical question.  Soncino has a sub-title; “Job Ironically Invited to Rule the World.”

Surely the Malbim has it exactly right.  My proof is Moses.  One opinion is that Moses wrote the Book of Job.  Moses he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  God tells Job:  Bury them all in the earth with the same Hebrew word in both places!

(Exodus 2:11-15):

Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he found two Hebrews fighting; so he said to the offender, Why do you strike your fellow?” He retorted, Who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses was frightened, and thought: Then the matter is known! When Pharaoh learned of the matter, he sought to kill Moses; but Moses fled from Pharaoh. He arrived in the land of Midian, and sat down beside a well.

This compares beautifully to (Job 40:11-14):

Scatter wide your raging anger; See every proud man and bring him low. See every proud man and humble him, And bring them down where they stand. Bury them all in the earth; Hide their faces in obscurity. Then even I would praise you For the triumph your right hand won you.

In the Baba Bathra 15a one view is “You say that Moses wrote his book and the section of Balaam and Job.”

Sanhedrin 58b states that the Egyptian Moses killed and buried in the sand was indeed worthy of death:

“R. Hanina said: If a heathen smites a Jew, he is worthy of death for it is written, He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). R. Hanina also said: He who smites an Israelite on the jaw, is as though he had thus assaulted the Divine Presence; for it is written, one who smiteth man [i.e. an Israelite] attacketh the Holy One It is a snare for a man to pledge a sacred gift rashly And to give thought to his vows only after they have been made (Proverbs 20:25).”

Perhaps this offends the sensibilities of some that a true prophet of God would do killing and that God would approve.   To support their sensibilities they twist the plain meaning of Job.  The Soncino commentary on Job has Job 40:14 as irony where the words are meant the opposite of their usual sense.  Job with Hebrew Text and English Translation Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Victor E. Reichert, Soncino Press, 1960, page 211:

“Then will I also confess unto thee . Ibn Ezra renders: “I will also praise thee.” The turn of the phrase is unexpected…Is God thinking of Job’s many proud boasts of innocence, culminating in the splendidly bold utterance with which his great self-vindication had drawn to its close? If you would abase the proud, you must begin at home, then when you have subdued your own arrogance, I could praise you as able to save yourself.  This self-salvation might be scornful irony …”

To me the correct reading is as the Malbim says: “Then even I would praise you For the triumph your right hand won you (Job 40: 14).  If you can lead conduct as this, and not withstanding, you will be called god creator.  For not only with The Creator of the world, it is appropriate to refer to His great strength , but also to great prophets [ancient].”

Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.  Then Moses was frightened, and thought: Then the matter is known! Surely, Moses expected wide support from fellow Israelites and not attacks against him by prominent left-wingers. Because of the evil attacks against Moses, he had to flee Egypt: When Pharaoh learned of the matter, he sought to kill Moses; but Moses fled from Pharaoh. He arrived in the land of Midian, and sat down beside a well.

We see other examples of prophets killing the wicked, such as: Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal, let not a single one of them get away.” They seized them, and Elijah took them down to the Wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there (1 Kings 18:40).

Especially now with the Ayatollah in Iran ranting and raving worse day by day and with the woeful lack of world progress in fighting anti-Semitism and terror---we need religious and civil leaders to call for Scatter wide your raging anger; See every proud man and bring him low. See every proud man and humble him, And bring them down where they stand. Bury them all in the earth; Hide their faces in obscurity. Then even I would praise you For the triumph your right hand won you.



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