William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job were published two years before his death in 1827 and are in many ways a testimony to his life’s work.
In the first engraving of the series (Plate 1), Blake had chosen to show Job and his wife with books (very possibly sacred texts) open on their laps. The portrayal of Job’s subsequent experience of agony and loss then culminates here in Plate 11, with Blake imagining what Job saw in one of his dreams and visions of the night (Job 7:14).
Job sees a terrifying figure, having characteristics of the transcendent divinity depicted in earlier engravings, but entwined with a serpent who points threateningly to the law engraved on tablets of stone. Job is appalled and terrified by the threatening sight. Below are figures who would chain Job and drag him down into the fiery flames.
What seems to terrify Job is that entry to heaven consists of obedience to what is engraved on the tablets of stone (it is worth noting that in the watercolour version of this image Blake makes explicit that that it is the Decalogue which is inscribed on the stones, quoting from the Hebrew of Exodus 20:13–15), and incipient entry to hell is the consequence of disobedience. In his vision Job sees the terrifying, diabolical, character of his theology.
But by means of his night vision, Job would come to a realization of the illusory character of the theology he had received. This vision paves the way for Job to see that God is not some transcendent monster but is in Christ a divinity who is with and in him. Job declares (in words incorporated in Plate 17), ‘I have heard thee with the hearing of the Ear but now my Eye seeth thee’ (Job 42:5). It is through what Job sees, whether here in the night vision or in his vision of God (Job 38–41), that he realizes how his received theological wisdom must be turned upside down.
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3643610 [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.