Coyote tales Vs Biblical Job
The book of Job as translated by Stephen Mitchell draws attention of every reader, posing a challenge, which each reader need to solve for him or herself. There is no general agreement concerning such main issues as structure, the unity, and the core meaning of the book and even to the least issues such as its style, date and origin. According to Mitchell (1992), “the theme of the book of job is nothing less than human suffering and the transcendence of it; it pulses with moral energy, outrage, and spiritual insight” (p. 176). In this paper, I will focus on the coyote the trickster and job as characters who challenge given systems of culture and/or ways of thinking.
How do they do this?
Mitchell (1992) say, in the Bible, the book of Job, the main character is Job who undergoes many challenges. In the American Indian trickster tale by Richard and Ortis narrates a story about a character known as Coyote, who differs with everybody else then. Both coyote and job were determined, and nothing could change them. According to Richard and Ortis (1998), “Coyotes’ mission was to ensure that people die forever” (54). As they continue to explain, all the other men objected the idea of dying forever (p. 54). They unanimously agreed that people will die and be gone for a little while, and then come back to life again as Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz explains. To bring people back to life after death, they built a large grass house facing the east.
The house of restoration was built as agreed by the council. After its completion, all people were informed that people who died would be brought back to life in the medicine house. The chief medicine man elaborated how this would be executed. People would sing a song calling the spirit of the deceased to the grass house. The spirit would come, and life gets restored. People were happy because they were concerned for the dead to come and be alive again.
Richard and Ortis (1998) argues that when the first man died, the medicine men gathered in the grass house and sang (p. 68). After ten days, a whirlwind blew from the west and circled the grass house. When Coyote, who was against the idea of bringing people back to life saw the whirlwind about to enter the house, he closed the door. The spirit of the whirlwind passed on after it found the door closed never to return. According to Richard and Ortis (1998), “in this way Coyote made death forever, and since that time on, people grieved over their dead and were disappointed” (p. 69).
The biblical story of Job also shows how, persevered through many hardships but remained steady and faithful to God. According to Mitchell (1992), “Job was a leading citizen in the land of Uz, pleasing his God with his piety” (p. 184). When the Satan saw the relationship between Job and God, he went to God and claimed that, Job was stead because he had not been tested. God granted Satan permission to test Job, whereupon Satan killed all the children and the livestock of Job. However, job remained focused to God and said “Naked came I from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken; may the name of the Lord be blessed” (Mitchell, 1992).
When the Satan failed in this test, he went to on to seek permission to afflict job’s body. God grant him permission again, and Satan afflicted Job with diseases, so that the whole of his body was covered by boils. Job struggled with the affliction, and he used to seat on an ash-heap outside the city gates. His three friends visited him to comfort him, but he didn’t to them for seven days. On their side they argued that Job must have sinned before God, and he needed to repent, as required by doctrine then. However, Job didn’t agree with their view and he continued explain that he was innocent. Job even proposed to argue his case against his God as in a court, as follows;
“If only there was an arbiter
Who could lay his hand on us both?
Who could make you put down your club
And hold back your terrible arm.
Then, without fear, I would say,
You have not treated me justly” (Mitchell, 1994).
Job made clear his determination not go against God, by making the following declaration;
“I swear by God, who has wronged me
And filled my cup with despair,
That while there is life in this body
And as long as I can breath,
I will never let you convict me;
I will never give up my claim.
I will hold tight to my innocence;
My mind will never submit” (Mitchell, 1994).
More people kept on coming to Job, and a young Elihu came along and tried to convince Job that he made a mistake in thinking that he was in the same class as God, and even more just. Thus, he sinned in his conceit. Nevertheless, job did not agree. It was after all these trials, when God spoke to job out of a whirlwind; he reinforced what Elihu had said and then really appeared to job, who finally did submit at long last. He said;
“I have heard of you with my ears;
But now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore, I will be quite,
Comforted that I am dust” (Mitchell, 1994).
God showed His faithfulness to job after remaining steadfast. All the children and livestock of job were restored and even increased twofold; thus Job ended his days better than before the trials.
Do they ask questions or act in certain ways?
According to Richard and Ortis (1998), Coyote jumped up and suggested that people ought to die forever (p. 87). They argued that the world was not large enough to hold all the people and that if people were allowed to come back to life after dying, there would be a shortage of food to satisfy them (p. 88). Apart from this argument, Coyote never asked any question but acted to pass on his intentions. On the other hand, though Job received many advises from his friend, including his wife, he maintained his focus to God, and he never asked them any question. Job told his friends openly that, he was not ready to go against God. However, Job presented his petitions to God directly and questioned why He had filled his cup with despair.
Who are their opponents?
Coyote’s opponents were all the other men who were living in the beginning of this world. All the men became the opponents of Coyote because they were of the view that people should come back to life after death while Coyote felt that people should die forever. Job had several opponents, during his period of trial. The obvious opponent of Job was the Satan, who argued that Job was just and faithful to God because of material things God provided to him.
However, job proved him wrong, after enduring the test and remaining faithful to God. Also, the Job’s friends opposed his view and advised him to rethink his position. The wife of Job also advised him to go against God, and even she told him that death was better than the suffering from he was going through. But despite the difficulties job under went and advises he got from his friend defy God, he chose to remain faithful to his God. In return, God repays Job, even two times and even as Mitchell (1992) puts it, his life was better than even before he underwent the test (184).
How do they resemble one another, or differ from one another, in their personalities and approaches to life?
Coyote can be compared to the biblical Job in many ways. In their personalities, they have some similarities and also some differences. One obvious character common to both Coyote and Job is determination. Coyote was determined and ensured that, his agenda of people dying forever came to pass despite the fact that all other people were not for the idea. Job on his story he remained steadfast and endured all the sufferings, till at last when God repaid him.
Both Coyote and Job were bold and spoke out their views, though they both got objection of their views. Coyote went against the wish of all other people and in the same manner Job refused to take views of his friends and even those of his dear wife. Thus, we can term both Coyote and job as successful in their mission.
Nevertheless, the two characters are distinct in many ways. Job was involved in dialogue with his friend who were convincing him to change his position, but Coyote didn’t argue with his oppose after putting forth his stand. Also, Job situation was a matter of faith, whereby he believed that God was in control of the situation whereas Coyote acted physically. Coyote closed the door when he saw the whirlwind coming.
In conclusion, we can are interesting and the two characters (Coyote and Job) can be compared to one another. It is obvious that the book of Job presents us with some real questions, whereas the Coyote tales mostly affirm things as they are.
Mitchell, Stephen. The book of Job. New York City, NY: HarperPerennial, 1992.
Erdoes, Richard & Ortis, Alfonso. American Indian tales. New York City, NY: Viking,1998.