In numbers 3 there is a census of the tribe of Levi. The Levites are counted separately from the tribes because they are set aside for service to God. The services they render are also laid out in this chapter, and it is kind of analogous to the role of deacons in the church today.
In the tabernacle, and later the temple, there were three levels or types of ordained men that served, just like there’s three degrees of Holy Orders in the church today.
The opening of this chapter echos the first one, there is a council in heaven and God asks Satan his thoughts on Job. In the first round, Satan was given the permission to take everything from job materially and even his children, but he wasn’t allowed to touch Job himself. He claims that this is why Job remains faithful, and that afflicted with illness, even a righteous man like job will curse God.
And he isn’t necessarily wrong here, there’s many people who would break under these circumstances and possibly only after illness touched them and not just their family, but Job is a thoroughly righteous man, and he will not bend in his honor, respect and adoration towards God.
God grants this permission that was with withheld the first time around, with the caveat that he cannot kill him.
So Satan afflicted Job with some kind of advanced skin disease that had several severe symptoms. To alleviate these symptoms, Job resorts to debridement of his flesh, he essentially removes diseased skin with a piece of broken pottery.
Job is in such bad shape that his wife recommended he curse God and die. This could be seen as her having pity on his condition and recommending blasphemy so that God would strike him dead, or antagonism against him because she has also lost everything and is now bitter and filled with hate of the only survivor besides herself. Really I can see either position here, but for the sake of Job I like to think she was speaking from a position of compassion.
Jobs three friends enter the story at this point, they came together to see him and we’re so stricken by the sight of his condition that they wept, tore their robes and put dust on their heads. They then sat in silence with him for seven days in mourning. I believe they were so shocked by everything that had happened that it took a long time till they could even think of what to say.
I’ve been to many funerals in my life and sometimes the death is so tragic that “I’m sorry for your loss” just seems to not be enough to express your remorse and empathy towards the surviving family members. Now I think of this times 10 and can completely understand why they were silent for seven days. If only his wife had joined them in silence too.