One of the most famous accounts in the Bible is that of the sufferings and patience of Job. Only brief mention is made of his wife and daughters, but much can be learned from thoughtfully considering what is indicated about them. What role did Job’s first daughters play in his sorrow of heart at their death? How did Job’s wife respond to catastrophic tragedy? How might I behave in similar circumstances? Can I learn from her mistakes? What could I do to prepare my heart to withstand “in the evil day?” (Eph. 6:13).
Very little is said of Job’s wife and daughters, but we get glimpses that reveal their hearts through their actions and words. Obviously there is a lack of faith in Job’s wife and a lack of dedication in Job’s first daughters. The second set of daughters appears to be much better—indicating they had better training.
Initially Job’s wife had borne him seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:2). No doubt she needed and had plenty of help to take care of these ten children. Because her husband had a great household (indicates numbers of servants) and great possessions of land and cattle, we may conclude Job’s wife had whatever help she might need. He was the “greatest of all the men in the east” (Job 1:3).
We don’t actually get much indication of the relationship between Job and his wife except during his suffering, when she told him to curse God and die. Terrible affliction came upon them both (Job 1:13-19). They literally lost everything. They lost every one of their children in one hour.
At this point Job’s wife was suffering as much as Job, and was there to watch as he suffered even more harsh physical pain in his sickness. No doubt she was the one to care for him and provide what little food he was able to eat during this time (Job 2:7-8), but did she? Did anyone? We do get one further revelation that all was not well with Job’s wife through the passage in Job 19:13-27.
13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. 14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. 15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. 16 I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth. 17 My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body. 18 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. 19 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. 20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. 21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. 22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? 23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me (Job 19:13-27)
Considering her own suffering, added to the physical affliction of the one she must have loved, she had a heavy burden to bear. No doubt she wanted to help Job to find relief. Her solution probably would have worked, but she did not consider much past the immediate need in this life. She apparently did not consider Job’s condition before God in eternity! Nevertheless she spoke foolishly and Job rebuked her (Job 2:9-10).
If there were no such thing as life after death, cursing God and dying in order to avoid suffering might have been the answer. Did Job’s wife understand the eternal resurrection? Did she understand eternal life and death? Was the spiritual realm real to her? Did she understand eternal life and death? All we can know at this point is that she became an accomplice to Satan himself in causing her husband to be tempted to do wrong.
There could be no higher treason than to curse God (1 Kings 21:10). In essence, she was asking her husband to sell his eternal life and his soul for immediate physical relief, thus becoming an accomplice to Satan in Job’s great temptation. After Job’s affliction, he was blessed with twice as many possessions as he had before (Job 42:10).
Even though Job’s wife is never mentioned again, we assume she was the one to bear and train their new children. Job’s sons are not named, but his daughters are named Jemima, Kezia; and Kerenhappuch. By comparison, “…in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren” (Job 42:15).
The last children were partly what show us that the Lord has great pity and great kindness—strongly indicating they were good children. The scriptures do not tell us why Job’s wife is not mentioned again, but we can be sure that the Lord rewards faithfulness (Job 1:2-3; Job 42:12-13-14). Under the New Testament covenant we see a promise of the reward (Mark 10:28-30). Job’s wife and daughters were rewarded for whatever faithfulness they had and for whatever ways they obeyed the Lord.
Pictures taken from Treasures of the Bible, Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D., published by International Publishing Company, 1894: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/