Job's Leprosy
Job 2:7, 8
So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown.…

Satan has now obtained permission to go a step further, and lay his hand on the person of God's servant. He uses the new privilege with skilful ingenuity, selecting the most horrible and loathsome disease, and smiting Job with the worst form of leprosy - elephantiasis.


1. It touches the man himself. Hitherto the blows have fallen on his outer world, though, indeed, they have come very near to him in striking his children. Still, he has not felt them directly. Satan has drawn a marked line between these external troubles and personal troubles (vers. 4, 5). Now he crosses the line. Every man must feel what touches himself, though some may be too callous, too unimaginative, or too unsympathetic fully to appreciate what is outside them. No man can feel his brother's toothache as acutely as he feels his own.

2. It lays hold of his body. Bodily pain is not the worst form of suffering. A broken heart is infinitely more pitiable than a broken skin. Still, bodily pain has this about it, that it cannot be denied or eluded. It is a very tangible and unquestionable fact.

3. It is loathsome and disgusting. Elephantiasis makes its victim an object of repulsion, hideous to behold, shunned by all his fellows. Job had been a prince among men, living in universal respect. He now comes down, not only to poverty, but also to a condition of visible degradation and disgust. To the man of sensitive feelings shame is worse than pain.

4. It is hopeless. Elephantiasis was thought to be incurable. Job took no medical remedies. He only retired to his ash-heap, seeking temporary alleviations. The worst agony can be endured with some patience if there is a prospect of cure; but even a milder complaint becomes intolerable if there is no hope of escape.

II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE SUFFERER. The most significant thing about the narrative here is that so little is said about the behaviour of Job. As yet we have no word from him under his fearful malady. The silence is eloquent.

1. Great suffering stifles thought. This is a merciful provision of Providence. We could not bear both to feel acutely and to think profoundly at the same time. There is a sort of mental anodyne in fearful bodily pain. Its paroxysms act as an anaesthetic to the finer feelings of the soul When the worst of the bodily pain is over the mind recovers itself; but at first it is stunned and crushed into numbness.

2. True fortitude accepts alleviations of suffering. Job does what little he can to relieve the intolerable torments of his disease. He has no idea of attitudinizing as a martyr. Small sufferers may try to make the most of their pains, foolishly nursing them, and obviously playing for pity. This is not the case with the great tragic heroes. The depth of their sufferings are known only to God.

3. Bitter distress seeks solitude. Job retired to the ashes. His complaint made this action necessary; his mood must also have welcomed the retirement. In bitter distress the soul would be alone - yet not alone, for God is present as truly among the ashes as in the gorgeous temple. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

WEB: So Satan went forth from the presence of Yahweh, and struck Job with painful sores from the sole of his foot to his head.

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