God says that Job’s three friends have not spoken what is right, but God will forgive them if Job prays on their behalf. After Job intercedes for them, the Lord restores Job’s fortunes and gives him twice as much as he had before.
For many readers of Job, the epilogue (42:7-17) seems too neat, too simplistic, too much a “happy ending” to the difficult questions raised by the rest of the book. After God speaks, it seems apparent that there are no easy answers to our questions about human suffering. Yet the book closes as if Job is rewarded by hanging in there and being faithful even in the midst of great suffering. That looks suspiciously like the view of just retribution promoted by Job’s friends and challenged by Job’s experience.
To be sure, God needed to do something to repair the damage done to Job. God had put him through all this suffering because of a challenge from Satan. God needs to do something to make it right. So Job receives twice what he had lost (compare the numbers from chapter 1). It is important to note that Job does not receive twice as many children. He had seven sons and three daughters at the beginning. They were all killed. But God does not give him twenty in the restitution. Again, he has seven sons and three daughters. It would be unseemly to treat children as if they were property that can be bought and sold, lost and replaced. God has not left Job childless. Job again has a family and will leave offspring behind when he dies. But the ten who died are gone. They will be remembered and mourned, even though Job has new children in whom he can rejoice. So, even though it looks like a “happy ending,” it is not that simple. There will always be some sadness for Job when he thinks about those ten children who are with him no more.