It’s not necessary to condone her exhortations to curse God. But we should seek to understand them.

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in French. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Indonesian.

After seeing her husband lose his fortune, his family, and his health, Job’s wife is at her wit’s end. “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?” she asks her husband in Job 2:9 (NLT). “Curse God and die!”

This is the only time Job’s wife’s voice appears in this 42-chapter book. We learn scant details about her. Even her name is unknown.

We know, however, that she is the wife of the book’s “hero.” A man described as “blameless and upright,” who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). A man who is wealthy, blessed with many children, and “the greatest man among all the people of the East” (v. 3).

As the story begins, the narrator presents Job to us as a man who is both upright and respected. We can therefore deduce that his wife is a woman of the upper class, probably as influential as her husband. As mother of a large family, manager of the household, she is used to a certain lifestyle. We do not know her degree of faith, but nothing suggests that she does not respect the God of her husband or follow his religious practices.

Suddenly, in just a few verses, her husband loses his herds and wealth (and with that his social status and power), his children, his servants, and finally his health:

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet …

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