Divine intervention or dues ex machina is common in mythical stories and at most favors the lead character. It is often a story of the triumph of the good and the evil. In the Bible’s Old Testament, in the book and story of Job, intervention from God was done by allowing his enemy Satan to have power over Job. This tested Job’s loyalty and faith.
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In Iliad, divine interventions were abundant, to the point of being an integral part of the epic. This paper shall try to give one or more specific examples of intervention in each case and make a judgment whether one intervention is more disturbing or surprising than the other.
Thesis Statement: In the Bible’s story about Job, God’s intervention is limited to allowing Satan to destroy Job’s family and possessions, as well as Job’s physical well-being, while the Greek’s Iliad has several interventions from the Gods.
Old Testament’s Job and God’s Interventions
In the story of Job, a righteous man from Uz who pleases God, it is said that Job feared God and shunned evil. Job is blessed from the beginning with seven sons and three daughters, and possessions that made him the greatest son in the east. But God and Satan one day met and talked about Job, of which Satan supposed that Job was upright because God has blessed him.
To prove that Job is as pure and faithful as God has claimed, God allowed Satan to manipulate, “all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand,” (Job, 12). On a fateful day that Job’s sons were feasting, a tragedy struck of a Sabean raid that took animals. While the escaped servant has not yet finished, another servant came that reported the Chaldean raid that killed the servants and took Job’s camels. Another servant came to report the death of his children while feasting when wind smote the house. But Job instead rose, shaved his head, and fell on the ground to worship God. In this instance, it was not God who has intervened with Job but Satan. God’s intervention is limited to allowing Satan to manipulate Job’s family and possessions through destruction.
What happened next has Satan claim to God that Job the upright will blaspheme God if he is allowed to touch Job. Job had boils all over his body, head, and feet and had to sit in the ashes. Even his wife has turned against him and made him curse his God, but Job was steadfast and adored God. Even his three friends cried and threw dust on their heads when they saw Job’s condition.
After that, Job lamented about his life, of the curse that has befallen him. His friends mourned with him and they took turns asking and answering about the man and his relations to his God. In his lamentations, Job cried his faith to his God, continued praying and asking, but with faith and humility, he cried.
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In the end, Job admitted to his God that he cannot speak of things which he cannot understand for great was the wisdom of his God who knew what He was doing, including those that have befallen Job. God took Job back to his caring and he blessed him much more than he previously.
In Iliad, a lot of godly interventions were done as there are many gods in Greek mythology. Through the appeals of the priest Chryses, the Olympian god Apollo intervened and sent plagued to the Greeks after Agamemnon took the priest’s daughter Chryseis. After Agamemnon gave up Chryseis, he instead captured Achilles’ gift Briseis. Achilles walked out of the war.
Another intervention occurred when Athena prevented Achilles from attacking Agamemnon. Athena promised Achilles greater glory if only he would wait. Zeus intervened in the war by having the Greeks defeated when Achilles was away, through the request of Thetis. The Trojan during this time prevailed in the war.
Iris, Zeus sent his messenger Iris to guide the Trojan captains against the assaulting Greek. Paris was rescued by Aphrodite from death. She returned the erring Paris to his lover Helen of Troy which enraged the Greeks to attack Troy.
Similarities and Differences
Both books and narrations of Job and Iliad provide quite disturbing and also surprising effects of interventions on the mortals they talk about. The job was provided a lot of suffering by Satan of which God could have prevented considering his power over everything. But God remained steadfast in proving to Satan how committed is His man Job to his faith.
On the other hand, a lot of arguments and disturbances are caused by the gods of Olympus as each has his or her power, mortal favorite, and agenda. Each moved at his own decision unless stopped by the most powerful of them all – Zeus. Nevertheless, the gods and goddesses of Olympus were like loose canons that moved on their own, indifferent to the outcomes of their mistakes.
So much like the story of Job, Iliad’s gods and goddesses showed a wait-and-see attitude. There seems at most an over-indulgence, or reliance on their own belief so that there seem to be indifference, if not total disregard to the human feelings of neglect and abuse.
In the book of Job, however, only three major characters were present: God, Satan, and Job. The Iliad, on the other hand, has a lot of gods, goddesses, captains, leaders, kings, beautiful women, and men of valor. They all mingled and lived like humans. On one end, only Satan was provoking God to the detriment of a loyal faithful Job.
Iliad and Job contain both disturbing and surprising interventions which could have been provided with a careful study. Iliad’s story of interventions provided a webby and lengthy effect that led to wars and epics of great magnitude. In both stories, the interventions are unexpected, but with a certain degree of differences: Job did not pray for Satan’s intervention nor for God to allow Job’s almost physical and spiritual demise. The people of the Iliad, meanwhile, appealed to their gods for interventions, of which, each favorite god responded at will. In Iliad, there are forces both unidentified as negative or positive that seemed to play to the detriment of their human counterparts.
Job, on the other hand, showed the resilience of a God’s servant against the manipulations of evil, deceit, that of Satan’s destruction of the life and soul of Job.
While in Job, there was a restraint on the part of a God to intervene, Satan broke loose and had a feast on Job. Iliad, on the other hand, had its gods and goddesses themselves at war as to when and how to intervene, with each having their own time and purpose.
The result on Job is a strengthened faith and a happy ending which throughout the story could be disturbing considering his long-suffering. But his return to the embrace of his God, lead character Job showed what a steadfast faith could bring. Meanwhile, in Iliad, there is only a lengthy epic of tragedy and loss, which both mixed the good and the bad experiences of humans and their gods throughout, for a tragic end.