Her name was never revealed and yet she may be the most infamous woman in the Bible. Augustine labeled her "the devil's accomplice." Calvin called her "a diabolical fury."
And the contemporary understanding of Job's wife hasn't improved on Calvin or Augustine. It's difficult to find a book or sermon treatment of the life of Job that doesn't include the usual condemnations toward his wife. It has become a standard joke to pity Job, as if his wife was yet another cross God called this man to bear.
If the Proverbs 31 woman represents a model of Christian virtue, the wife of Job occupies the role of least desirable, sharing space in the Hall of Shame with the likes of Jezebel, Delilah, and Michal.
But is this image an honest assessment of her character? Or is there a possibility that in our rush to empathize and identify with Job, we've rushed to cast judgment on his wife?
What We Forget
I wonder if there isn't a gap in our understanding of the Job story. Although clearly Job is the main character, he is not the only one. She may not have been the primary subject of the cosmic argument between God and Satan (1:6-11; 2:1-4), but she was still caught in the crossfire. You might argue that every hardship endured by Job was similarly felt by his wife:
She watched her children die (Job 1:13-19). Ten times God had blessed her womb. Ten times she endured the joy and pain of childbirth. Ten lives nurtured to love, honor, and respect Jehovah. From the account in the first chapter of Job, this appears to be a fun-loving, God-fearing, tight-knit family. Who was the heartbeat of this home? Likely Job's wife played a part in that. It's unlikely he could be such an esteemed man in society (Job 1:1) if his wife was not an integral and influential leader in her own right.1