Job here stands erect for the first time in William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job.
With his back to the viewer and arms outstretched before a stone altar, he seems to be offering sacrifice (cf. Noah and the Rainbow, Houghton Library, Harvard, B437). Above him is part of the circle of light, which had been seen surrounding Christ in the previous plate in the series. Kneeling beside the upright Job is his wife, also bathed in light, and on his right the comforters, in shade, are bowing in obeisance. The flame from the altar moves heavenward, towards the circle of light.
The words below the image are ‘And my Servant Job shall pray for you’ (Job 42:8), and above the image ‘Also the Lord accepted Job’ (Job 42:9). Blake has picked up a contrast in the text of the book of Job. The comforters are still bound by the old ways of thinking and offer sacrifice, whereas the LORD ‘turned the captivity’ of Job, when he prayed for his friends (42:7–8, 10). The emphasis in Job 42:8 echoes Romans 12:1–2 (which is not quoted in the marginal texts): ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God’ (KJV). The open book, with its writing, glosses the major caption. Words from Matthew 5:44–5, 48 start with the exhortation to ‘love one’s enemies’ and to ‘pray for those that despitefully use you and persecute you’.
Thus, in the second of two climactic engravings, an ethical transformation complements an epistemological one, and together they confirm that Job is no longer the prisoner—and victim—of habit: ‘And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends’ (42:10).
Dreams and visions have been the pathway to this. As part of his interpretative programme Blake focuses on the verses which mention them (Job 4:12–13; 32:8; 33:15). Only the visionary can disrupt the habits of religion—and of life more generally. Blake the artist and Job the recipient of visionary insight have this high and disturbing calling in common.
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3643617 [accessed 22 October 2018]
42 Then Job answered the Lord:
2“I know that thou canst do all things,
and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.
3‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’
5I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees thee;
6therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliʹphaz the Teʹmanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9So Eliʹphaz the Teʹmanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naʹamathite went and did what the Lord had told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends; and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house; and they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. 12And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. 13He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14And he called the name of the first Jemiʹmah; and the name of the second Keziʹah; and the name of the third Kerʹen-hapʹpuch. 15And in all the land there were no women so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. 16And after this Job lived a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17And Job died, an old man, and full of days.