There are fourteen “can you” questions in Job. The most riveting are Yahweh’s to Job at the end of the human speeches. It seems that it was popular in antiquity to question a person’s ability on a superhuman scale when a person seems to have fallen off the bus. What ever happened to the basic can dos? Asking a mere mortal to explain his own origin and experience can result in a mountain of lies and fantasy. There is a question that comes, having legs that decisively force a person to can even the most basic human “can do”.
Ability addressed four times
The verb that designates ability (like Greek’s dunamai, I can), appears 183 times in the Hebrew Bible, but yukal, he is able, appears three times in the human speeches and once in Job’s response to Yahweh’s.
If one ventures a word with you, will you become impatient? But who can refrain from speaking? (Job 4:2, NASB)“Who can shut up?” argues Eliphaz.
For calamity from God is a terror to me, And because of His majesty I can do nothing. (Job 31:23, NASB)Job confesses “I am helpless”.
Refute me if you can; Array yourselves before me, take your stand. (Job 33:5, NASB)Elihu throws out a challenge, “Prove me wrong”.
I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2, NASB)Job confesses Yahweh’s ability
Basic “can do”
The canning begins when Yahweh rips into Job, not Job’s miserable comforters. It is humanity’s relationship with an animal that comes under scrutiny without a line on actual ability. The question that puts human can-do in the can is “How is your dominion over leviathan?”, and it has fourteen legs.
- Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?
- Or press down his tongue with a cord?
- Can you put a rope in his nose
- Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
- Will he make many supplications to you,
- Or will he speak to you soft words
- Will he make a covenant with you?
- Will you take him for a servant forever?
- Will you play with him as with a bird
- Or will you bind him for your maidens?
- Will the traders bargain over him?
- Will they divide him among the merchants?
- Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
- Or [fill] his head with fishing spears? (Job 41:1-8, NASB)
All the people running around with an “I can do all things” attitude are practically incapable and seem to have little understanding about the primary responsibility for humans over the planet in having dominion over animals of the sea, the sky and the land and in the water! Straight to the can!