Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII.

Stundenbuch von Heinrich VIII. Job on the Dungheap, f. 127v

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Job on the Dungheap, f. 127v

As mentioned above, the nine lessons in Matins of the Office of the Dead are all take from the Book of Job. The upright man of Uz was sorely tested by Satan: his livestock was stolen and destroyed, his servants slain, his house razed, and his children killed. Job himself, covered with boils, ends up on a dungheap, ridiculed by wife and friends. An image of Job on the Dungheap thus often serves as the frontispiece for the Office of the Dead. In Poyer’s image, a weary, nearly naked Job sits on refuse piled within the ruins of a once grand structure – his destroyed mansion. Squinting and leaning forward, he is confronted by his taunting three “friends”: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Richly and exotically dressed, they approach with smug indifference. The youngest gets down on one knee, the better to make jeering eye contact.

In the end, Job is restored to health and prosperity. His trials and ultimate triumph are a metaphor not only for those on earth, but also for those in purgatory. Everyone hopes and prays that, no matter how tested is one’s faith and how long is one’s trial, heavenly reward will be granted by God.

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum


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