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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]


1. The man Job . Job is referred to in the OT in the book bearing his name, and in   Ezekiel 14:12-20 , where he is mentioned as a conspicuous example of righteousness; in the Apocr [Note: pocr Apocrypha, Apocryphal.] in Sir 49:9 [Heb. after Smend and Ryssel], and the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] of Tob 2:12; and in the NT in   James 5:11 , the last two passages alluding to his patience. The reference in Ezk. shows that righteous Job was a familiar figure in some Jewish circles in the 6th cent. b.c. On the assumption that the Job of the book is sketched, as to the main outlines, after ancient tradition, probably the same in substance as that known to Ezk., we have to think of him as a Gentile living in patriarchal times either in the Hauran or on the confines of Idumæa and Arabia (see Uz), and his friends also must be regarded as Gentiles.

This conclusion is supported by the names of God generally employed in the poem. The Tetragrammaton, which is used 31 times by the writer in the prose parts, occurs only once in the poetic portions ( Job 12:9 ), and is ascribed to Job only in one verse in the Prologue (  Job 1:21 ). Adonai is also met with once (  Job 28:28 ). God is usually referred to by Job and his associates by names not distinctively Jewish: Et , 55 times; Etoah , 41 times out of 57 in the whole OT; and Shaddai , 31 times out of 48 in OT; Etohim is comparatively rare in the poem. The entire absence of distinct allusions to Israelitish history points to the same conclusion. The great word torah , ‘law,’ is used only once (  Job 22:22 ), and then in the general sense of ‘instruction.’ According to a lost work, ‘Concerning the Jews,’ by one Aristeas, cited by Euseb. ( Ev. Praep . ix. 25), and the appendix in the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , said to be taken from a Syriac book but standing in some relation to Aristeas, Job is to be identified with Jobab, king of EdomGenesis 36:33 ). This identification, which appears also in the Testament of Job , a work probably containing an ancient Jewish nucleus, although critically worthless, is not without interest and value, as possibly preserving a fragment of old tradition. The name Job , which probably belongs to the traditional story, is in Heb. ’Iyyôb . The apparently similar name Job (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ) of   Genesis 46:13 , a son of Issachar, is differently spelt (in Heb. Yôb ), and is therefore given in the RV [Note: Revised Version.] as Iob. Jobab , which is met with in several connexions (  Genesis 10:29 Joktanite;   Genesis 36:33 Edomite;   Joshua 11:1 Canaanite;   1 Chronicles 8:9 Benjamite), seems to be quite distinct, although Cheyne remarks (in EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] ) that the possibility of a connexion must be admitted. The meaning of ’Iyyôb is extremely uncertain. If explained from the Heb., it means either ‘attacked’ or ‘attacker’ (Siegfried in JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] ). If explained with the help of the Arabic ’ayyûb , it means ‘returning,’ ‘penitent.’ In all probability it was a foreign name taken over with the story, which seems in the first instance to have been of foreign origin. The name Aiab , which was current in the north of Palestine c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 1400 (Tell el-Amarna Letters, No. 237 Winckler [118 Petrie]), may be a Canaanitish equivalent, but no stress can be laid on the similarity. It has also been noticed that aiabu in Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] meant ‘enemy’ ( ib. 50 Winckler [147 Petrie]), but this cannot be regarded at present as more than a coincidence.

2. The Book of Job

(1) Place in the Canon . Except in the Syriac Bible, which locates it between the Pentateuch and Joshua, on account of its supposed great antiquity, the book is always reckoned as one of the Kethubim or Hagiographa , and is often given the third place. It is usually grouped with Ps. and Prov., with which it is associated by the use of a special system of accentuation (except in the Prologue and Epilogue), but the order of the three books varies.

In a baraitha in the Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Talm. ( Baba bathra 14 b ), which probably gives the most ancient order (Ryle, Canon of OT , 232), it comes after Ruth and Ps.; in many Heb. MSS, especially Spanish, and in the Massorah, after Ch. and Ps.; in the German MSS, which have been followed in most printed editions, after Ps. and Proverbs. Of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] MSS Codex B has the remarkable order: Ps., Pr., Ec., Ca., Job, Wis., Sir.; A has Ps., Job, Proverbs. In printed editions of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] and Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] Job usually comes first, and this order is generally adopted in European versions, owing no doubt to the influence of the Latin Bible.

(2) Text . The Heb. text of Job was long regarded as excellent, but has been much questioned in recent years, some critics resorting very largely to emendation with the help of the Versions and free conjecture. The reaction against the earlier view has probably led some scholars too far. When the difficulty of the theme, its bold treatment in many places, and the large number of words, forms, and uses not met with elsewhere (according to Friedrich Delitzsch, 259) are duly taken into account, the condition of the text is seen to be less corrupt than might have been expected. Much discussion has been occasioned by the peculiar character of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] as restored to its original form by means of the Sahidic translation first published in 1889. This version differs in extent from the Massoretic text more widely in Job than in any other book. There are two interesting additions: the expansion of   Job 2:8 and the appendix at the end of the book; but the chief characteristic is omission. A little less than one-fifth of the Heb. text is absent about 400 lines out of, roundly speaking, 2200 for the whole book and 2075 for the poetic portions. A few have found in this shorter edition the original text of the book, but most ascribe the minus of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] to defective understanding of the Hebrew, imperfect acquaintance with the structure of Heb. poetry, and the desire to conform to Hellenic standards, etc., rather than to variation of text. This version therefore, in the opinion of most competent judges, is of little use for the restoration of the text. Here and there it suggests a better reading, e.g. in   Job 8:13 a ‘latter end’ for ‘paths,’ but in the main the Massoretic text is greatly to be preferred. It is not improbable, however, that the arrangement of the latter is wrong in a few passages: e.g. in ch. 31, where 8:35 37 form a more fitting close than 8:38 40.

(3) Analysis . The book, as we have it, is a poem framed in prose, with bits of prose interspersed. The prose portions are as follows: the introduction, often called the Prologue (ch. 1 f.), stating the problem, ‘the undeserved suffering of a good man,’ giving a partial solution, and bringing on the scene the hero’s three friends; short headings (  Job 3:1 ,   Job 4:1 etc.); a supplementary note (  Job 31:40 c.); a brief introduction to the speeches of Elihu (  Job 32:1-6 ); and the sequel, often called the Epilogue (  Job 42:7-17 ). The poem opens with a monologue in which Job curses the day of his birth (ch. 3). This is followed by a series of three dialogues extending over chs. 4 28: (i.) 4 14; (ii.) 15 21; (iii.) 22 28.

The three friends in succession, probably in order of seniority, reason with Job, all from the generally accepted standpoint that suffering is a sure indication of sin. As the discussion proceeds they become more and more bitter, until the most moderate and dignified of them, Eliphaz, actually taxes Job with flagrant iniquity (  Job 22:5-9 ). In the third dialogue, as we have it, one of the speakers, Zophar, is silent. Job replies at length to each expostulation, sometimes sinking into depression on the verge of despair (  Job 14:1-12 etc.), occasionally rising for a moment or two into confidence (  Job 16:19 ,   Job 19:25-27 ), but throughout maintaining his integrity, and, notwithstanding passionate utterances which seem near akin to blasphemy (  Job 10:8-17 ,   Job 16:7-17 ), never wholly losing his faith in God.

The dialogues are followed by a monologue spoken by Job (chs. 29 31), consisting of a vivid retrospect of the happy past (ch. 29), a dismal picture of the wretched present (ch. 30), and what Marshall calls ‘Job’s oath of self-vindication’ an emphatic disavowal of definite forms of transgression, in a series of sentences most of which begin with ‘if,’ sometimes followed by an imprecation (ch.31). The succeeding six chapters (32 37) are ascribed to a new character, a young man, Elihu the Buzite, who is dissatisfied] with both Job and his friends. The distinctive note of his argument is the stress laid on the thought that God teaches by means of affliction; in other words, that the purpose, or at least one main purpose, of trial is discipline ( Job 33:19-28 ,   Job 36:10;   Job 36:15 ). Elihu then drops out of the book, and the remainder of the poem (chs. 38 42:6) is devoted to Jahweh’s answer to Job’s complaint, calling attention to the Divine power, wisdom, and tenderness revealed in creation, in the control of natural forces and phenomena, in the life of birds and beasts, and in the working of Providence in human history, and suggesting that He who could do all this might surely he trusted to care for His servant; and Job’s penitent retraction of his ‘presumptuous utterances.’

(4) Integrity . On the question whether the book, as we have it, is a single whole or a combination of two or more parts, there is a general agreement among scholars in favour of the latter alternative. There are clear indications of at least two hands. The speeches of Elihu (chs. 32 37) are ascribed by most (not by Budde, Cornill, Wildehoer, Briggs, and a few others) to a later writer, who desired to supplement, and to some extent correct, the work of his predecessor.

The chief reasons alleged for this conclusion are: (1) the silence about Elihu in the Epilogue. (2) The fact that the whole section can be removed without any break of continuity,  Job 31:40 c. linking on naturally to   Job 38:1 . (3) The Aramaic character of the diction, and the occurrence of words and phrases not found elsewhere in the poem. (4) Literary inferiority. (5) Theological diversity, the conception of God differing from what is met with in the rest of the book (Marshall, Job and his Friends , p. 82ff.).

The third of these reasons has been shown to be inconclusive. The language of Elihu is not inconsistent with the view that these chapters were written by the author of the dialogues. The fourth reason is not without weight, but it must be allowed that there are some very fine things in these chapters, and it must be remembered that they have probably been handed down less carefully than some other parts of the book, on account of the disfavour with which some of the ancient Jews regarded Elihu (‘inspired by Satan’ Test. of Job , ch. 41). In any case, Friedrich Delitzsch has gone too far in describing the author as ‘a fifth-rate poet.’ The remaining three reasons, however, seem to be nearly decisive.

The fine poem in ch. 28, which contrasts the success of man in finding precious ore with his utter failure to find wisdom, does not fit in with the context, and is therefore regarded by many as an addition. The striking, but rather turgid, descriptions of the hippopotamus and the crocodile in chs. 40, 41 are also held by many to be an interpolation. Some question the verses about the ostrich ( Job 39:13-18 ). The Prologue and Epilogue are considered by some to be the relies of an earlier work in prose.

A few scholars go much further in critical analysis. Bickell, for instance, in his search after the original text, expunges not only the speeches of Elihu and the Prologue and Epilogue, but also the whole of the speeches of Jahweh, and many smaller portions. Cheyne (in EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] ) seems to find four main elements in the book, as we have it, ‘which has grown, not been made’: (1) the Prologue and the Epilogue; (2) the dialogue; (3) the speeches of Jahweh; (4) the speeches of Elihu. Marshall (in Com .), on the ground that there are different strata of theological belief, also finds four elements, but only in part the same. (1) The dialogues up to   Job 27:23 , with the Epilogue, and part of the Prologue; (2) chs. 28 31, and the speeches of Jahweh; (3) the speeches of Elihu; (4) the references to the heavenly council in chs. 1 and 2.

(5) Nature of the Book . The class of Heb. literature to which the Book of Job belongs is clearly the Chokhmah or Wisdom group, the other representatives of which are Pr., Ec., and Sir. the group which deals with questions of practical ethics, religious philosophy, and speculation. The book is mainly not entirely, as one of the Rabbis thought ( Baba bathra , 15 a ) a work of imagination, but, in the judgment of most, with a traditional nucleus, the extent of which, however, is uncertain, as there are features in both the Prologue and the Epilogue which suggest literary invention: e.g. , the recurrence of the words ‘I only am escaped alone to tell thee’ (  Job 1:15-17;   Job 1:19 ), the use of the   Numbers 3:1-51 (  Job 1:2; JOba 1:17 ,   Job 2:11 ,   Job 42:13 ) and 7 (  Job 1:2 f.,   Job 42:8;   Job 42:13 ), and the doubling of Job’s possessions (  Job 42:12 ). The poem, as handed down to us, can hardly he described in modern terms. It contains lyrical elements, but could not appropriately he designated lyrical. It has more than one dramatic feature, but is not really a drama. It reminds one of the epos, but is not an epic. It is didactic, but, as Baudissin has observed, soars high above a mere didactic poem. It is emphatically sui generis . It stands absolutely alone, not merely in the literature of Israel, but in the literature of the world.

(6) Poetic Form . The Austrian scholar Bickell, who has been followed by Duhm, and in England by Dillon, has tried to show that the poem was written throughout in quatrains, but the textual havoc wrought in the attempt seems to prove clearly that he is, in part at least, on the wrong track. Very few critics accept the theory. The only thing that seems to be certain about the poetic method of the writer or writers is the use throughout of the parallelism of members, which has long been known as the leading feature of ancient Oriental poetry. A verse usually consists of two lines or members, but there are many instances where there are three (  Job 3:4 ff.,   Job 3:9 ), and one at least where there is only one (  Job 14:4 ). More than eight hundred out of about a thousand verses, according to Ley, consist of two lines, each of which has three independent words. But here again there are many exceptions, some no doubt due to textual corruption, but more in all probability to the poet’s mastery of the forms which he employed.

(7) Purpose and teaching . The chief object of the poet to whom we owe the dialogues, and probably the Prologue and the Epilogue, and the speeches of Jahweh, and we may add, of the compiler or editor of the whole book, is to give a better answer to the question, ‘Why are exceptionally good men heavily afflicted?’ than that generally current in Jewish circles down to the time of Christ. A subsidiary object is the delineation of spiritual experience under the conditions supposed, of the sufferer’s changing moods, and yet indestructible longing for the God whom he cannot understand. The poet’s answer, as stated in the speeches of Jahweh, seems at the first reading no answer at all, but when closely examined is seen to be profoundly suggestive. There is no specific reply to Job’s bitter complaints and passionate outcries. Instead of reasoning with His servant, Jahweh reminds him of a few of the wonders of creation and providence, and leaves him to draw the inference. He draws it, and sees the God whom he seemed to have lost sight of for ever as he never saw Him before, even in the time of his prosperity; sees Him, indeed, in a very real sense for the first time (  Job 42:5 ). The book also contains other partial solutions of the problem. The speeches of Elihu lay stress, as already observed, on the educational value of suffering. God is a peerless teacher (  Job 36:22 b), who ‘delivereth the afflicted by his affliction, and openeth (uncovereth) their ear by adversity’ (  Job 36:15 ). The Prologue lifts the curtain of the unseen world, and reveals a mysterious personality who is Divinely permitted to inflict suffering on the righteous, which results in manifestation of the Divine glory. The intellectual range of the book is amazingly wide. Marshall observes that ‘every solution which the mind of man has ever framed [of the problem of the adversity of the righteous, and the prosperity of the wicked] is to be found in the Book of Job.’ On the question of the hereafter the teaching of the book as a whole differs little from that of the OT in general. There is yearning for something better (  Numbers 14:13-16 ), and perhaps a momentary conviction (  Job 19:25-27 ), but the general conception of the life after death is that common to Hebrews, Assyrians, and Babylonians.

(8) The characters . The interest of the Book of Job is concentrated mainly on the central figure, the hero. Of the other five leading characters by far the most interesting is the Satan of the Prologue, half-angel half-demon, by no means identical with the devil as usually conceived, and yet with a distinctly diabolical tendency. The friends are not very sharply differentiated in the book as we have it, but it is probable that the parts are wrongly distributed in the third dialogue, which is incomplete, no part being assigned to Zophar. Some ascribe   Job 27:7-10;   Job 27:13-23 to Zophar, and add to Bildad’s speech (which in the present arrangement consists only of ch. 25)   Job 27:5-14 of ch. 26. what is left of Job’s reply being found in   Job 26:1-4 ,   Job 27:2-6;   Job 27:11 f. Marshall finds Zophar’s third speech in chs. 25 and   Job 26:5-14 , and Bildad’s in   Job 24:18-21 . There seems to be considerable confusion in chs. 25 27, so that it is difficult to utilize them for the study of the characters of Bildad and Zophar. Eliphaz seems to be the oldest and most dignified of the three, with something of the seer or prophet about him (  Job 4:12-21 ). Bildad is ‘the traditionalist.’ Zophar , who is probably the youngest, is very differently estimated, one scholar designating him as a rough noisy fellow, another regarding him as a philosopher of the agnostic type. It must be allowed that the three characters are not as sharply distinguished as would be the case in a modern poem, the writer being concerned mainly with Job, and using the others to some extent as foils. Elihu , who has been shown to be almost certainly the creation of another writer, is not by any means a copy of one of the three. He is an ardent young man, not free from conceit, but with noble thoughts about God and insight into God’s ways not attained by them.

(9) Date . In the Heb. Sirach ( Sir 49:8-10 ) Job is referred to after Ezekiel and before ‘the Twelve.’ which may possibly suggest that the writer regarded the book as comparatively late. The oldest Rabbinic opinion ( Baba bathra , 14 b ) ascribed the book to Moses. Two Rabbis placed Job in the period of the return from the Exile ( ib. 15 a ), one as late as the Persian period ( ib. 15 b ). These opinions have no critical value, but the first has exercised considerable influence. Modern students are generally agreed on the following points: (1) The book in all its parts implies a degree of reflexion on the problems of life which fits in better with a comparatively late than with a very early age. (2) The dialogue, which is unquestionably one of the oldest portions, indicates familiarity with national catastrophes, such as the destruction of the kingdom of Samaria, the overthrow of Damascus, and the leading away of large bodies of captives, including priests and nobles, from Jerusalem to Babylon (  Job 12:17-25 ), which again, on the assumption that the writer is an Israelite, points to an advanced stage of Israelitish history. Many take a further step. ‘The prophet Jeremiah in his persecutions, Job who is called by Jahweh “my servant Job” (  Job 42:7 ), and the suffering Servant of Jahweh in the exilic prophet are figures which seem to stand in the connexion of a definite period’ (Baudissin, Einleitung , 768), and so point at the earliest to the Exile and the decades immediately preceding it. These and other considerations have led most recent critics to date the main poem near, or during, or after the Exile.

Some earlier scholars (Luther, Franz Delitzsch, Cox, and Stanley) recommended the age of Solomon, others (Nöldeke, Hitzig, and Reuss) the age of Isaiah, and others (Ewald, Riehm, and apparently Bleek) the period between Isaiah and Jeremiah. Marshall thinks that the dialogue may have been written as early as the time of Tiglath-pileser iii (b.c. 745 726), but not earlier. Dillmann, König, Davison (in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] ), and Driver favour the period of the Exile; Cheyne (in EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] ) puts the earliest part after b.c. 519; G. Hoffmann, c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 500; Duhm, from 500 to 450; Budde, E.Kautzsch, and Peake, c [Note: circa, about.] . 400; the school of Kuenen, the 4th or 3rd cent.; O. Holtzmann the age of the Ptolemys; and Siegfried (in the JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] ), the time of the Maccabees.

At present the period from c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 600 to c [Note: circa, about.] . 400 seems to command most approval. The later portions of the book, especially the speeches of Elihu, may have been written a century or more after the main poem. Marshall thinks that the latest element may be as late as the age of Malachi, and Duhm confidently assigns ‘Elihu’ to the 2nd cent. b.c. A definite date is evidently unattainable either for the whole or for parts, but it seems to be tolerably certain that even the earlier portions are much later than used to be assumed.

(10) Authorship . Besides the Talmudic guess cited above, very few attempts have been made to fix on an author. Calmet suggested Solomon , Bunsen Baruch , and Royer (in 1901) Jeremiah . None of these views needs to be discussed. Whoever was the author of the main poem, he was undoubtedly an Israelite, for a Gentile would not have used the Tetragrammaton so freely. Of familiarity with the Law there are, indeed, very few traces, but that is doubtless owing to the poet’s wonderful skill, which has enabled him to maintain throughout a Gentile and patriarchal colouring. There is no reason for thinking that he wrote either in Babylonia or in Egypt. He must have lived in some region where he could study the life of the desert. It has been remarked that all the creatures he names (except the hippopotamus and the crocodile, which may have been introduced by a later hand) are desert creatures. He was intimately acquainted with the life of caravans (  Job 6:15-20 ). He knew something of the astronomy of his time (  Job 9:9 , cf.   Job 38:31 f.). He had some acquaintance with the myths and superstitions of Western Asia: cf.   Job 9:13 ,   Job 25:2 ,   Job 26:12 , where there may be allusions to the Babylonian myth about the struggle between the dragon of Chaos and Marduk, the god of light;   Job 3:8 ,   Job 26:13 , where reference may be made to popular notions about eclipses and to the claims of magicians; and perhaps   Job 29:18 b., where some find an allusion to the fabulous phÅ“nix. He was probably familiar with the Wisdom-lore of Israel, and possibly of Edom, and may safely be assumed to have known all that was worth knowing in other departments of Heb. literature (cf.   Job 7:17 f. with   Psalms 8:4 f., and   Job 3:3;   Job 3:10 with   Jeremiah 20:14-18 , although the order of dependence is by no means certain in the latter case). The poetic execution reveals the hand of a master. It seems most natural to look for his home in the south or southeast of the Holy Land, not far from Edom, where he would come in frequent contact with Gentile sages, and could glean much from travellers.

(11) Parallels to Job . Cheyne (in EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] ) has endeavoured to connect the story of Job with the Babylonian legend of Eabani, but the similarity is too slight to need discussion. A far closer parallel is furnished by a partially preserved poem from the library of Ashurbanipal, which probably reproduces an ancient Babylonian text. It represents the musings of an old king, who has lived a blameless and devout life, but is nevertheless terribly afflicted in body and mind pursued all day, and without rest at night and is apparently forsaken of the gods. He cannot understand the ways of Deity towards either himself or others. ‘What seems good to a man is bad with his god.… Who could understand the counsel of the gods in heaven?’ The poem ends with a song of praise for deliverance from sin and disease ( Der Alte Orient , vii. No. 3, pp. 27 30, and extra vol. ii. 134 139; and M. Jastrow in JBL [Note: BL Journ. of Biblical Literature.] xxv [1906], p. 135 ff.).

The Jesuit missionary, Père Bouchet, called attention in 1723 to the story of the ancient Indian king Arichandiren who, in consequence of a dispute in an assembly of gods and goddesses and holy men as to the existence of a perfect prince, was very severely tested by the leader of the sceptical party. He was deprived of his property, his kingdom, his only son, and his wife, but still trod the path of virtue, and received as rewards the restoration of wife and son, and other marks of Divine favour. These parallels, however, interesting as they are, do not in the least interfere with the originality and boldness of the Hebrew poem, which must ever be regarded as the boldest and grandest effort of the ancient world to ‘justify the ways of God to men.’

W. Taylor Smith.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

a patriarch celebrated for his patience, and the constancy of his piety and virtue. That Job was a real, and not a fictitious, character, may be inferred from the manner in which he is mentioned in the Scriptures. Thus, the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of him: "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God,"  Ezekiel 14:14 . Now since Noah and Daniel were unquestionably real characters, we must conclude the same of Job. "Behold," says the Apostle James, "we count them happy which endure: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy,"  James 5:11 . It is scarcely to be believed that a divinely inspired Apostle would refer to an imaginary character as an example of patience, or in proof of the mercy of God. But, beside the authority of the inspired writers, we have the strongest internal evidence, from the book itself, that Job was a real person; for it expressly specifies the names of persons, places, facts, and other circumstances usually related in true histories. Thus, we have the name, country, piety, wealth, &c, of Job described, Job i; the names, number, and acts of his children are mentioned; the conduct of his wife is recorded as a fact, Job ii; his friends, their names, countries, and discourses with him in his afflictions are minutely delineated,  Job 2:11 , &c.

Farther: no reasonable doubt can be entertained respecting the real existence of Job, when we consider that it is proved by the concurrent testimony of all eastern tradition: he is mentioned by the author of the book of Tobit, who lived during the Assyrian captivity; he is also repeatedly mentioned by Arabian writers as a real character. The whole of his history, with many fabulous additions, was known among the Syrians and Chaldeans; and many of the noblest families among the Arabs are distinguished by his name, and boast of being descended from him.

Since, then, says Horne, the book of Job contains the history of a real character, the next point is the age in which he lived, a question concerning which there is as great a diversity of opinion, as upon any other subject connected with this venerable monument of sacred antiquity. One thing, however, is generally admitted with respect to the age of the book of Job, namely, its remote antiquity. Even those who contend for the later production of the book of Job are compelled to acquiesce in this particular. Grotius thinks the events of the history are such as cannot be placed later than the sojourning of the Israelites in the wilderness. Bishop Warburton, in like manner, admits them to bear the marks of high antiquity; and Michaelis confesses the manners to be perfectly Abrahamic, that is, such as were common to all the seed of Abraham, Israelites, Ishmaelites, and Idumeans. The following are the principal circumstances from which the age of Job may be collected and ascertained:—

1. The Usserian or Bible chronology dates the trial of Job about the year 1520 before the Christian era, twenty-nine years before the departure of the Israelites from Egypt; and that the book was composed before that event, is evident from its total silence respecting the miracles which accompanied the exode; such as the passage of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptians, the manna in the desert, &c; all of which happened in the vicinity of Job's country, and were so apposite in the debate concerning the ways of Providence that some notice could not but have been taken of them, if they had been coeval with the poem of Job.

2. That it was composed before Abraham's migration to Canaan, may also be inferred from its silence respecting the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, which were still nearer to Idumea, where the scene is laid.

3. The length of Job's life places him in the patriarchal times. He survived his trial one hundred and forty years,   Job 42:16 , and was probably not younger at that time; for we read that his seven sons were all grown up, and had been settled in their own houses for a considerable time,  Job 1:4-5 . He speaks of the sins of his youth,  Job 13:26 , and of the prosperity of his youth; and yet Eliphaz addresses him as a novice: "With us are both the gray-headed and very aged men, much elder than thy father,"  Job 15:10 .

4. That he did not live at an earlier period, may be collected from an incidental observation of Bildad, who refers Job to their forefathers for instruction in wisdom:—

"Inquire, I pray thee, of the former age,

And prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:"

assigning as a reason the comparative shortness of human life, and consequent ignorance of the present generation:—

"For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing; Because our days upon earth are a shadow."

 Job 8:8-9 .

But the fathers of the former age, or grandfathers of the present, were the contemporaries of Peleg and Joktan, in the fifth generation after the deluge; and they might easily have learned wisdom from the fountain head by conversing with Shem, or perhaps with Noah himself; whereas, in the seventh generation, the standard of human life was reduced to about two hundred years, which was a shadow compared with the longevity of Noah and his sons.

5. The general air of antiquity which pervades the manners recorded in the poem, is a farther evidence of its remote date. The manners and customs, indeed, critically correspond with that early period. Thus, Job speaks of the most ancient kinds of writing, by sculpture,   Job 19:24; his riches also are reckoned by his cattle,  Job 42:12 . Farther: Job acted as high priest in his family, according to the patriarchal usage,  Genesis 8:20; for the institution of an established priesthood does not appear to have taken place any where until the time of Abraham. Melchizedec, king of Salem, was a priest of the primitive order,  Genesis 14:18; such also was Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, in the vicinity of Idumea,  Exodus 18:12 . The first regular priesthood was probably instituted in Egypt, where Joseph was married to the daughter of the priest of On,  Genesis 41:45 .

6. The slavish homage of prostration to princes and great men, which prevailed in Egypt, Persia, and the east in general, and which still subsists there, was unknown in Arabia at that time. Though Job was one of the greatest men of all the east, we do not find any such adoration paid to him by his contemporaries, in the zenith of his prosperity, among the marks of respect so minutely described in the twenty-ninth chapter: "When the young men saw him, they hid themselves," (rather, shrunk back, through respect or rustic bashfulness,) "the aged arose and stood up in his presence, (more correctly, ranged themselves about him, ) "the princes refrained from talking, and laid their hand upon their mouth; the nobles held their peace," and were all attention while he spoke. All this was highly respectful, indeed, but still it was manly, and showed no cringing or servile adulation. With this description correspond the manners and conduct of the genuine Arabs of the present day, a majestic race, who were never conquered, and who have retained their primitive customs, features, and character, with scarcely any alteration.

7. The allusion made by Job to that species of idolatry alone, which by general consent is admitted to have been the most ancient, namely, Zabianism, or the worship of the sun and moon, and also to the exertion of the judicial authority against it,   Job 31:26-28 , is an additional and most complete proof of the high antiquity of the poem, as well as a decisive mark of the patriarchal age. 8. A farther evidence of the remote antiquity of this book is the language of Job and his friends; who, being all Idumeans, or at least Arabians of the adjacent country, yet conversed in Hebrew. This carries us up to an age so early as that in which all the posterity of Abraham, Israelites, Idumeans, and Arabians, yet continued to speak one common language, and had not branched into different dialects.

The country in which the scene of this poem is laid, is stated,  Job 1:1 , to be the land of Uz, which by some geographers has been placed in Sandy, and by others in Stony, Arabia. Bochart strenuously advocated the former opinion, in which he has been powerfully supported by Spanheim, Calmet, Carpzov, Heidegger, and some later writers; Michaelis and Ilgen place the scene in the valley of Damascus; but Bishops Lowth and Magee, Dr. Hales, Dr. Good, and some later critics and philologers, have shown that the scene is laid in Idumea. In effect, nothing is clearer than that the history of an inhabitant of Idumea is the subject of the poem which bears the name of Job, and that all the persons introduced into it were Idumeans, dwelling in Idumea, in other words, Edomite Arabs. These characters are, Job himself, of the land of Uz; Eliphaz, of Teman, a district of as much repute as Uz, and which, it appears from the joint testimony of Jeremiah. Ezekiel, Amos, and Obadiah,  Jeremiah 49:7;  Jeremiah 49:20;  Ezekiel 25:13;  Amos 1:11-12;  Obadiah 1:8-9 , formed a principal part of Idumea; Bildad, of Shuah, who is always mentioned in conjunction with Sheba and Dedan, the first of whom was probably named after one of the brothers of Joktan or Kahtan, and the two last from two of his sons, all of them being uniformly placed in the vicinity of Idumea,  Genesis 25:2-3;  Jeremiah 49:8; Zophar of Naama, a city importing pleasantness, which is also stated by Joshua,  Joshua 15:21;  Joshua 15:41 , to have been situate in Idumea, and to have lain in a southern direction toward its coast, on the shores of the Red Sea; and Elihu, of Buz, which, as the name of a place, occurs only once in Sacred Writ,  Jeremiah 25:23 , but is there mentioned in conjunction with Temen and Dedan; and hence necessarily, like them, a border city upon Uz or Idumea. Allowing this chirography to be correct, (and such, upon a fair review of facts, we may conclude it to be,) there is no difficulty in conceiving that hordes of nomadic Chaldeans as well as Sabeans, a people addicted to rapine, and roving about at immense distances for the sake of plunder, should have occasionally infested the defenceless country of Idumea, and roved from the Euphrates even to Egypt.

The different parts of the book of Job are so closely connected together, that they cannot be detached from each other. The exordium prepares the reader for what follows, supplies us with the necessary notices concerning Job and his friends, unfolds the scope, and places the calamities full in our view as an object of attention. The epilogue, or conclusion, again, has reference to the exordium, and relates the happy termination of Job's trials; the dialogues which intervene flow in regular order. Now, if any of these parts were to be taken away, the poem would be extremely defective. Without the prologue the reader would be utterly ignorant who Job was, who were his friends, and the cause of his being so grievously afflicted. Without the discourse of Elihu, Job 32-37, there would be a sudden and abrupt transition from the last words of Job to the address of God, for which Elihu's discourse prepares the reader. And without the epilogue, or conclusion, we should remain in ignorance of the subsequent condition of Job. Hence it is evident, that the poem is the composition of a single author; but who that was, is a question concerning which the learned are very much divided in their sentiments. Elihu, Job, Moses, Solomon, Isaiah, an anonymous writer in the reign of Manasseh, Ezekiel, and Ezra, have all been contended for. The arguments already adduced respecting the age of Job, prove that it could not be either of the latter persons. Dr. Lightfoot, from an erroneous version of  Job 32:16-17 , has conjectured that it is the production of Elihu; but the correct rendering of that passage refutes this notion. Ilgen ascribes it probably to a descendant of Elihu. Another and more generally received opinion attributes this book to Moses; this conjecture is founded on some apparent striking coincidences of sentiment, as well as from some marks of later date which are supposed to be discoverable in it. But, independently of the characters of antiquity already referred to, and which place the book of Job very many centuries before the time of Moses, the total absence of even the slightest allusion to the manners, customs, ceremonies, or history of the Israelites, is a direct evidence that the great legislator of the Hebrews was not, and could not have been the author. To which may be added, that the style of Job, as Bishop Lowth has remarked, is materially different from the poetical style of Moses; for it is much more compact, concise, or condensed, more accurate in the poetical conformation of the sentences; as may be observed also in the prophecies of Balaam the Mesopotamian, a foreigner, indeed, with respect to the Israelites, but not unacquainted either with their language, or with the worship of the true God. Upon the whole, then, we have sufficient ground to conclude that this book was not the production of Moses, but of some earlier age. Bishop Lowth favours the opinion of Schultens, Peters, and others, which is adopted by Bishop Tomline and Dr. Hales, who suppose Job himself, or some contemporary, to have been the author of this poem; and there seems to be no good reason for supposing that it was not written by Job himself. It appears, indeed, highly probable that Job was the writer of his own story, of whose inspiration we have the clearest evidence in the forty-second chapter of this book, in which he thus addresses the Almighty: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee." It is plain that in this passage some privilege is intended which he never had enjoyed before, and which he calls the sight of God.

The book of Job contains the history of Job, a man equally distinguished for purity and uprightness of character, and for honours, wealth and domestic felicity, whom God permitted, for the trial of his faith, to be suddenly deprived of all his numerous blessings, and to be at once plunged into the deepest affliction, and most accumulated distress. It gives an account of his eminent piety, patience, and resignation under the pressure of these severe calamities, and of his subsequent elevation to a degree of prosperity and happiness, still greater than that which he had before enjoyed. How long the sufferings of Job continued, we are not informed; but it is said, that after God turned his captivity, and blessed him a second time, he lived one hundred and forty years,  Job 42:16 . Its style is in many parts peculiarly sublime; and it is not only adorned with poetical embellishments, but most learned men consider it as written in metre. Through the whole work we discover religious instruction shining forth amidst the venerable simplicity of ancient manners. It every where abounds with the noblest sentiments of piety, uttered with the spirit of inspired conviction. It is a work unrivalled for the magnificence of its language and for the beautiful and sublime images which it presents. In the wonderful speech of the Deity, Job 38, 39, every line delineates his attributes, every sentence opens a picture of some grand object in creation, characterized by its most striking features. Add to this, that its prophetic parts reflect much light on the economy of God's moral government; and every admirer of sacred antiquity, every inquirer after religious instruction, will seriously rejoice that the enraptured sentence of Job,  Job 19:23 , is realized to a more effectual and unforeseen accomplishment; that while the memorable records of antiquity have mouldered from the rock, the prophetic assurance and sentiments of Job are graven in Scriptures that no time shall alter, no changes shall efface.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Age, and relation to the canon. The book has a unique position in the canon. It is unconnected with Israel, God's covenant people, with whom all the other scriptures are associated. "The law" ( Towrah ),the Magna Charta of the rest, occurs but once, and then not in its technical sense ( Job 22:22). The Exodus is never alluded to, though the miraculous events connected with it in Egypt and the desert, with both of which Job shows his acquaintance, would have been appropriate to his and the friends' argument. The destruction of the guilty by the flood ( Job 22:15), and that of Sodom and Gomorrah ( Job 18:15) possibly, are referred to; but no later facts. The inference seems natural that the book was of an age anterior to Israel. Job's own life was of patriarchal length, 200 years. The only idolatry alluded to is the earliest, Sabeanism, the worship of the sun, moon, and seba or heavenly hosts ( Job 31:26-28).

Job sacrifices as priest for his family according to patriarchal usage, and alludes to no exclusive priesthood, temple, or altar. Lastly, the language is Hebrew with an Arabic and Syriac infusion found in no other sacred book, answering to an age when Hebrew still retained many of the elements of the original common Semitic, from which in time branched off Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic, carrying with them severally fragments of the common stock. The obscurity of several phrases, the obsolete words and forgotten traditions (e.g. that of the bushmen,  Job 30:4-7), all mark a remote antiquity. The admission of the book into the Hebrew canon, notwithstanding the absence of reference to Israel, is accounted for if Let's theory be adopted that Moses became acquainted with it during his stay in Arabia, near Horeb, and added the prologue and epilogue. To the afflicted Israelites Job's patience and restoration were calculated to be a lesson of special utility.

The restriction of "Jehovah" (the divine name revealed to Moses in its bringing the fulfillment of the promise to God's covenant people just at that time:  Exodus 6:3) mostly to the prologue and epilogue favors this view. The Holy Spirit directed him to canonize the oriental patriarch's inspired book, just as he embodies in the Pentateuch the utterances of Balaam the prophet from the mountains of the East. The grand theme of the book is to reconcile the saint's afflictions with God's moral government in this present world. The doctrine of a future life in which the seeming anomalies of the present shall be cleared up would have given the main solution to the problem. But as yet this great truth was kept less prominent until "the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Job plainly refers to the resurrection, but not with that persistent prominence with which the New Testament saints rest on it as their continual hope; Job does not make it his main solution.

Even still we need something in addition, to clear off the clouds which hang over God's present government of this fallen earth. The first consideration suggested in this sublime history and poem is, "an enemy hath done this." The veil which hides the world of spirits is drawn aside, and Satan, the accuser of the brethren, appears as the mediate cause of Job's afflictions. Satan must be let do his worst to show that his sneer is false that religion is but selfishness," doth Job fear God for naught?" ( Job 1:9). The patience and the final perseverance of the saints ( Job 1:21;  Job 2:10;  Job 13:15), notwithstanding temporary distrust under Satan's persecutions which entailed loss of family, friends, possessions, and bodily health, are illustrated in Job's history.

God's people serve Him for His own sake, not merely for the temporary reward His service generally brings; they serve Him even in overwhelming trial ( Genesis 15:1). Herein Job is a type though imperfectly of Him who alone, without once harbouring a distrustful thought, endured all this as well as death in its most agonizing, humiliating form, and, worse than all, the hiding of even God's countenance from Him. Job's chief agony was not so much his accumulated losses and sufferings, not even his being misunderstood by friends, but that God hid His face from him, as these calamities too truly seemed to prove ( Job 23:9). Yet conscience told him he was no hypocrite, nay though God was slaying him he still trusted in God ( Job 23:10-15;  Job 13:15; compare Abraham, Genesis 22). Job's three trials are progressive:

1. His sudden loss of all blessings external to himself, possessions, servants, and sons; he conquers this temptation: "naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord."

2. His loss of bodily health by the most loathsome sickness; still he conquers: "shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"

3. His mental conflict brought on by the three friends' suspicion of his insincerity, which he felt untrue, but which seemed justified by his trials from God; this was the poignant sting to his soul, for he accepted their premises, that great suffering proved great sin.

Here he failed; yet amidst his impatient groans he still clung desperately to his faith and followed hard after God, and felt sure God would yet vindicate him ( Job 23:10;  Job 19:25-27). His chief error was his undue self justification before God, which he at last utterly renounces ( Job 30:25 to Job 31;  Job 32:1;  Job 33:9;  Job 9:17;  Job 10:7;  Job 16:17;  Job 27:5;  Job 29:10-17;  Job 40:4-5;  Job 42:5-6). After fretfully demanding God's interposition (23) to vindicate his innocence he had settled down into the sad conviction that God heeds not, and that His ways of providence are as a theory inexplicable to man while practical wisdom is the fear of the Lord ( Job 28:31:35). Elihu gives a leading solution of the problem. God not only hereafter shall judge the world, but even now providentially and morally controls all its affairs.

Even the righteous have sin which needs correction. God speaks to them by chastisement; He is not really silent ( Job 16:21;  Job 23:3;  Job 31:35), as Job had complained ( Job 33:14, etc.); He teaches them humility, and prepares them for pardon and life through the mediating Angel of the covenant (of whom Elihu is the type:  Job 33:6-7;  Job 33:23-30). To Job's charge against God of injustice Elihu answers that God's omnipotence ( Job 34:35-36), upholding man in life when He could destroy him, and His universal government, exclude the idea of injustice in Him. To Job's charge that God's providence is unsearchable, Elihu answers that suffering is to teach humility and adorntion of His greatness. Affliction to the saint is justice and mercy in disguise; he is thereby led to feel the heinousness of sin ( Via Crucis Via Salutis ), and not being permitted by God's love to fall away for ever he repents of the impatience which suffering betrayed him into for a time.

Then, justifying God and condemning himself, he is finally delivered from temporal afflictions. Now already the godly are happier amidst afflictions than the ungodly ( Mark 10:29-30). Even these considerations do not exhaust the subject; still difficulties remain. To answer these, God Himself (Job 38) appears on the scene, and resolves all that remains uncleared into the one resting thought of faith, the sovereignty of God. We must wait for His solution hereafter of what we know not now ( John 13:7). Elihu is the preacher appealing to Job's reason and conscience. God alone, in His appearing, brings home the truth experimentally to Job's heart: "Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning Providence He hides a smiling face. Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan God's work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain."

CONSTRUCTION . The artificial construction of the poem appears in the oft recurring sacred numbers three and seven. Job had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, and three daughters, both before and after his trials. His three friends sit with him seven days and nights. "Job" in Arabic means repentance, the name given him in after life from his experiences. His personal reality appears from his being named with "Noah and Daniel," real persons, in  Ezekiel 14:14;  Ezekiel 14:16-20. James ( James 5:11) refers to Job as an example of patience, which he would hardly do were Job an imaginary person. Persons and places are specified as they would not be in an allegory. The exact doubling of his possessions after restoration is probably the nearest round number given, as is often the case in books undoubtedly historical. The arguments of the speeches were substantially those given, the studied number and poetic form were given by the sacred writer under the Holy Spirit.

Job lived 140 years after his trials; and nothing is more natural than that he should at leisure mould into form the arguments of the momentous debate for the edification of the church. The debate occupied several sittings with intervals of a day or more between them. The number of speeches assigned to each was arranged by preconcerted agreement, so that none spoke out of his turn. Uz means "a light sandy soil" (Gesenius). (See UZ.) It was probably N. of Arabia Deserta, between Palestine and the Euphrates; called Ausitai by Ptolemy (Geogr. 19). In  Genesis 22:21 Uz is son of Nahor, Abraham's brother. Another Uz in  Genesis 10:23 was grandson of Shem and son of Aram; the latter is probably the source of the name, as the Aramaeaus dwelt between the Euphrates and Tigris. The sons of Shem dwelt in "a mount of the East" ( Genesis 10:30), answering to "men of the East" ( Job 1:3).

Rawlinson says Uz is the prevailing name of the country at the Euphrates' mouth, where the Chaldees mentioned in Job 1 resided. The Idumean quarter however, and Arabia, would agree better with Moses' finding it during his exile in Midian. Moreover, Eliphaz is an Idumean name so is "Temanite" ( Genesis 36:4;  Genesis 36:15). "Shuhite" answers to Sycca in Arabia Deserta. Eusebius fixes Job's time as being two ages before Moses. Besides the arguments for this above, others are the number of oxen and rams sacrificed seven, as in Balaam's case; this agrees with a time before the law defined God's will otherwise. Also the writing he speaks of is the most ancient, sculpture ( Job 20:23-24); "printed" means engraven, "pen" a graver, Riches were then cattle. The Hebrew "piece of money" is rather a lamb.

'''The Writer''' . The thought, imagery, and manners accord with what we should expect from an Arab emir. Job in his speeches shows himself more competent to compose the book than Elihu, to whom Lightfoot attributes it. The style is distinct from that of Moses. Its inspiration is attested by Paul under the Spirit quoting it with the formula "it is written" ( Job 5:13). Our Lord in  Matthew 24:28 refers to  Job 29:30; compare also  James 4:10;  1 Peter 5:6, with  Job 22:29;  Romans 11:34-35 with  Job 15:8;  Jeremiah 20:14-15, endorses  Job 3:3;  Isaiah 19:5;  Job 14:11; Psalm 37; Psalm 73, discuss the same problem as Job. Proverbs 8 develops Job's description of wisdom in Job 28. It stands among the hagiographa ( Ketuwbim , "sacred writings") in the threefold division "the law, the prophets, and the psalms," or hagiographa, of which the Psalms are a leading book ( Luke 24:44).

Divisions . To each of the three friends three speeches are assigned; Job is allowed a reply to each of the three. Eliphaz the oldest leads; Zophar at his third turn fails to speak, virtually owning himself defeated (Job 27). Therefore, Job continues his reply which forms three speeches: Job 26; Job 27; Job 28; Job 29-31. Elihu (Job 32-37) is allowed four speeches. Jehovah makes three addresses (Job 38-41). Thus throughout there is a tripartite division. The whole consists of three parts: the prologue, poem, and epilogue. The poem three: (1) Job's dispute with his three friends; (2) Elihu's address; (3) Jehovah's. The epilogue has three parts: Job' s justification, reconciliation with his friends, and restoration. The speakers regularly advance from less to greater vehemence. The explicitness ( Job 14:14;  Job 19:25) of Job's anticipation of the resurrection, as contrasted with the obscurity on the subject in the early books of Old Testament, is due to Job's enjoyment of the divine vision ( Job 38:1;  Job 42:5).

The revelations outside of Israel, being few, needed to be the more explicit. Balaam's prophecy ( Numbers 24:17) was clear enough to lead the wise men of the East by the star (Matthew 2). In the age before the written law God left not Himself without witnesses, e.g. Melchizedek, Job, Jethro. Job only dimly realized the Spirit-designed significancy of his own words ( 1 Peter 1:11-12). Even Asaph, who had in David's psalms ( Psalms 16:10;  Psalms 17:15) plain prophecies of a future retribution in the body to the righteous and to the wicked, still felt the difficulty as regards God's government here in this present time (Psalm 73). "Prosperity is the blessing of Old Testament, adversity that of N. T. ... Yet even in Old Testament the pencil of the Holy Spirit has laboured more in describing Job's afflictions than Solomon's felicities" (Bacon). Elihu showed how God can be just, and yet the righteous be afflicted; Jehovah's address shows that He must be just, because He is God. God reprimands the three friends, but not Elihu. The simpler and less artificial forms of poetry prevail in Job, a mark of the early age. The Orientals used to preserve their sentiments in a terse, proverbial, poetic form, called mashal; to this form Job's poetry is related. (See Jobab .)

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

The Old Testament book of Job is among the group of writings known as the wisdom books. In ancient Israel people recognized wisdom writings as being different from other writings. Wisdom teachers were a category distinct from other religious guides and leaders.

Wisdom teachers did not teach the law as did the priests, nor bring revelations from God as did the prophets. Rather they looked at the practical affairs of life and, as those who feared God and knew his law, gave advice for living. Sometimes they gave common sense instruction based on their observations of the experiences of life in general. Other times they investigated the puzzles of life when the facts of experience seemed to contradict the generally accepted beliefs. The book of Proverbs gives an example of the former kind of teaching, the book of Job an example of the latter. (See also Wisdom Literature .)

Understanding the book

There is no certainty concerning who wrote the book of Job or when it was written. The book takes its name from the chief person in the story.

Job was a wealthy, intelligent, God-fearing man who lived in Uz, somewhere in the region east of Palestine. When a series of disasters ruined his prosperity, destroyed his family and struck him down with a terrible disease, his friends argued that his troubles must have resulted from his secret sins. Job denied this, even though it was the commonly held traditional belief. Job knew he was not perfect, but he also knew that the traditional belief did not explain everything. The long and bitter argument that followed takes up most of the book.

The reader of the book, however, knows what neither Job nor his friends knew. Satan had made the accusation that people serve God only because of the benefits they can get from him. If, instead, they receive only hardship and suffering, they will curse him ( Job 1:9-11;  Job 2:4-5). God allowed disasters to fall upon Job to prove the genuineness of Job’s faith and at the same time enrich Job’s experience of God. Job’s sufferings were not a sign of God’s judgment on him, but proof of God’s confidence in him ( Job 1:8;  Job 2:3).

As the friends persisted with their unjust and cruel accusations, Job increasingly lost patience with them. Job’s frustration drove him to protest to God, whom he saw as his only hope. In making his protests, Job may have been guilty of rash language, but at least he took his protests to the right person ( Job 7:11-21;  Job 13:13-28;  Job 14:13-17;  Job 17:3-4). He was finally satisfied, not through having all his questions answered, but through meeting the God to whom he had cried. God is not answerable to Job or any other human being, and he gave Job no explanation of his sufferings. Yet Job was content. He realized now that the unseen God was in control of all events and his wisdom was perfect ( Job 42:1-6).

God then declared that the friends, in accusing Job of great sin, were wrong ( Job 42:7). He also showed the error of the commonly held belief that suffering was always the result of personal sin. In addition he proved Satan to be wrong in his accusation that people worship God because of what they can get from him. Job had remained true to God even though he had lost everything. God now blessed Job with greater blessings than he had ever had before ( Job 42:10).

Outline of contents

The book opens with a narrative section that recounts Satan’s challenge to God and his attack on Job (1:1-2:13). The remainder of the book, except for the closing narrative, is in poetry. It starts with a complaint from Job (3:1-26) and this begins a long debate between Job and his three friends.

Eliphaz, the first of the friends to speak, states that Job’s suffering must be because of his sin. Therefore, if Job repents he will have good health and prosperity again (4:1-5:27). Job rejects Eliphaz’s accusations and complains to God about his unjust suffering (6:1-7:21). Bildad heartlessly reminds Job of his misfortunes, pointing out that they are a fitting punishment. He emphasizes that the traditional teaching is all-important (8:1-22). In his response, Job again complains to God about the injustice he suffers (9:1-10:22). Zophar, the shallowest thinker and most hot tempered of the three friends, then attacks Job (11:1-20), to which Job gives a lengthy and at times sarcastic reply (12:1-14:22).

The second round of argument follows the same sequence as the first. Eliphaz speaks and Job replies (15:1-17:16), Bildad speaks and Job replies (18:1-19:29), then Zophar speaks and Job replies (20:1-21:34). The third round begins in the same fashion, with Eliphaz speaking, followed by Job (22:1-24:25). Bildad speaks only briefly, followed by Job (25:1-26:14), but Zophar does not speak at all. Job therefore proceeds to give a summary of his position (27:1-31:40).

A young man named Elihu, having listened to the debate in silence, now decides to speak. Angry that the friends have not convinced Job of his wrongdoing, Elihu claims he will answer Job with different arguments. But he adds little to what the other three have said (32:1-37:24).

As a fierce storm breaks, God himself now speaks to Job. He reminds Job, through chapter after chapter, of his divine wisdom in controlling all things, and he challenges Job to take the place of the Almighty and govern the moral order of the universe (38:1-41:34). Job cannot accept God challenge; he realizes he has been conquered. At last he submits, and in doing so he finds peace (42:1-6). God then rebukes the friends and expresses his approval of Job (42:7-17).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

A patriarch distinguished for his integrity and piety, his wealth, honors, and domestic happiness, whom God permitted, for the trial of his faith, to be deprived of friends, property, and health, and at once plunged into deep affliction. He lived in the land of Uz, lying, it is generally thought, in Eastern Edom, probably not far from Bozrah.

THE Book Of Job has originated much criticism, and on many points a considerable diversity of opinion still exists. Sceptics have denied its inspiration, and called it a mere philosophical romance; but no one who respects revelation can entertain this notion, or doubt that Job was a real person. Inspired writers testify to both. See  Ezekiel 14:14   James 5:11 , and compare  1 Corinthians 3:19 with   Job 5:13 . The book itself specifies persons, places, and circumstances in the manner of true history. Moreover, the name and history of Job are spread throughout the East; Arabian writers mention him, and many Mohammedan families perpetuate his name. Five different places claim the possession of his tomb.

The precise period of his life cannot be ascertained, yet no doubt can exist as to its patriarchal antiquity. The book seems to allude to the flood,  Job 22:15-17 , but not to the destruction of Sodom, to the exodus from Egypt, or the giving of the Law. No reference is made to any order of priesthood, Job himself being the priest of his household, like Noah and Abraham. There is allusion to the most ancient form of idolatry, star-worship, and to the earliest mode of writing,  Job 19:24 . The longevity of Job also places him among the patriarchs. He survived his trial one hundred and forty years, and was an old man before his trial began, for his children were established each at the head of his own household,  Job 1:4   42:16 . The period of long lives had not wholly passed away,  Job 15:10 . Hales places the trial of Job before the birth of Abraham, and Usher, about thirty years before the exodus, B. C. 1521.

As to the authorship of the book, many opinions have been held. It has all the freedom of an original composition, bearing no marks of its being a translation; and if so, it would appear that its author must have been a Hebrew, since it is written in the purest Hebrew. It exhibits, moreover, the most intimate acquaintance with both Egyptian and Arabian scenery, and is in the loftiest style of oriental poetry. All these circumstances are consistent with the views of those who regard Moses as its probable author. It has, however, been ascribed to various other persons. IT presents a beautiful exhibition of patriarchal religion. It teaches the being and perfections of God, his creation of all things, and his universal providence; the apostasy and guilt of evil spirits and of mankind; the mercy of God, on the basis of a sacrifice, and on condition of repentance and faith,  Job 33:27-30   42:6,8; the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body,  Job 14:7-15   19:25-27 .

The main problem discussed in Job is the justice of God in suffering the righteous to be afflicted, while the wicked prosper. It is settled, by showing that, while the hand of a just God is manifest in his providential government of human affairs, it is his sovereign right to choose his own time and mode of retribution both to the evil and the good, and to subject the graces of his people to whatever trials he deems best.

The conference of Job and his friends may be divided into three parts. In the first, Eliphaz addresses Job, and Job replies; then Bildad and Job, and Zophar and Job speak, in turn. In the second part, the same order is observed and in the third also, except that after Job's reply to Bildad, the three friends have no more to urge, and instead of Zophar, a fourth friend named Elihu takes up the word; and the whole is concluded by the decision of Jehovah himself. The friends of Job argue that his remarkable afflictions must have been sent in punishment of highly aggravated transgressions, and urge him to confession and repentance. The pious patriarch, conscious of his own integrity and love to God cast down and bewildered by his sore chastisements, and pained by the suspicions of his friends, warmly vindicates his innocence, and shows that the best of men are sometimes the most afflicted; but forgets that his inward sins merit far heavier punishment, and though he still maintains faith in God, yet he charges Him foolishly. Afterwards he humbly confesses his wrong, and is cheered by the returning smile of God, while his uncharitable friends are reproved. The whole book is written in the highest style of Hebrew poetry, except the two introductory chapters and part of the last, which are prose. As a poem, it is full of sublime sentiments and bold and striking images.

The Disease of Job is generally supposed to have been the elephantiasis, or black leprosy. The word rendered "boils" does not necessarily mean abscesses, but burning and inflammation; and no known disease better answers to the description given,  Job 2:7,8   7:5,13,13   19:17   30:17 , than the leprosy referred to above. See Leper .

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [6]


Job is named by Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 14:14;  Ezekiel 14:20)-in the 6th cent. b.c., probably about two centuries before the writing of the Book of Job-along with Noah and Daniel as a proverbially righteous man. After the publication of the great drama, it was natural that he should be regarded rather as a model of patience in affliction (ὑπόδειγμα τῆς κακοπαθείας καὶ μακροθυμίας,  James 5:10-11). While the profound speculations of the book regarding the problems of pain and destiny, as well as the theological doctrine which the poet intended to teach, might be beyond the grasp of the ordinary reader, the moral appeal of the simple opening story came home to all suffering humanity. ‘Ye have heard of the patience (τὴν ὑπομονήν) of Job’ ( Job 5:11). Similarly the conclusion of the tale, which revealed God’s final purpose in regard to His servant (τὸ τέλος κυρίου), proving Him to be full of pity and merciful (πολύ σπλαγχνος καὶ οἰκτίρμων), presented a situation which all readers might be asked to observe. The imperative ἴδετε, which is as well supported as εἴδετε, calls their attention to a surprising fact, which they might well mark, learn, and inwardly digest. The Qur’ân repeats the admonition and the lesson. ‘And remember Job; when he cried unto the Lord, saying, Verily evil hath afflicted me: but thou art the most merciful of all those who show mercy. Wherefore we [God] heard him and relieved him from the evil which was upon him, and we restored unto him his family,’ etc. ( sûra 21). ‘Verily we found him a patient person: how excellent a servant was he’ ( sûra 38).

James Strahan.

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): ( v. i.) To seek private gain under pretense of public service; to turn public matters to private advantage.

(2): ( v. t.) To strike or stab with a pointed instrument.

(3): ( v. t.) To buy and sell, as a broker; to purchase of importers or manufacturers for the purpose of selling to retailers; as, to job goods.

(4): ( n.) A situation or opportunity of work; as, he lost his job.

(5): ( n.) A public transaction done for private profit; something performed ostensibly as a part of official duty, but really for private gain; a corrupt official business.

(6): ( n.) Any affair or event which affects one, whether fortunately or unfortunately.

(7): ( v. t.) To hire or let by the job or for a period of service; as, to job a carriage.

(8): ( n.) The hero of the book of that name in the Old Testament; the typical patient man.

(9): ( v. i.) To carry on the business of a jobber in merchandise or stocks.

(10): ( n.) A piece of chance or occasional work; any definite work undertaken in gross for a fixed price; as, he did the job for a thousand dollars.

(11): ( n.) A sudden thrust or stab; a jab.

(12): ( v. t.) To thrust in, as a pointed instrument.

(13): ( v. t.) To do or cause to be done by separate portions or lots; to sublet (work); as, to job a contract.

(14): ( v. i.) To do chance work for hire; to work by the piece; to do petty work.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Job. (Persecuted).

1. The third son of Issachar,  Genesis 46:13, called, in another genealogy, Jashub .  1 Chronicles 7:1.

2. Job, the patriarch, from whom one of the books of the Old Testament is named. His residence in the land of Uz, marks him as belonging to a branch of the Aramean race, which had settled in the lower part of Mesopatamia, (probably to the south or southeast of Palestine, in Idumean Arabia), adjacent to the Sabeans and Chaldeans.

The opinions of Job and his friends are, thus, peculiarly interesting as exhibiting an aspect of the patriarchal religion, outside of the family of Abraham, and as yet, uninfluenced by the legislation of Moses. The form of worship belongs essentially, to the early patriarchal type; with little of ceremonial ritual, without a separate priesthood, it is thoroughly domestic in form and spirit. Job is represented as a chieftain of immense wealth and high rank, blameless in all the relations of life. What we know of his history, is given in the book that bears his name.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Job ( Jôb ). 1. The patriarch, from whom one of the poetical books of the Old Testament is named. He lived in the land of Uz and belonged to the Aramean race, which had settled in the lower part of Mesopotamia (probably to the south or south-east of Palestine, in Idumean Arabia), adjacent to the Sabeans and Chaldeans. The opinions of Job and his Mends are thus interesting as showing a phase of patriarchal religion outside of the family of Abraham, and not controlled by the legislation of Moses. The form of worship is similar to the early patriarchal type; with little of ceremonial ritual, without a separate priesthood. Job is represented as a chieftain of immense wealth and high rank, blameless in all the relations of life, subjected to special trials, which he endured with humility, and finally was rewarded by marked blessings and great prosperity. 2. Son of Issachar, called Jashub.  Genesis 46:13;  1 Chronicles 7:1.

King James Dictionary [10]

JOB, n. of unknown origin, but perhaps allied to chop, primarily to strike or drive.

1. A piece of work any thing to be done, whether of more or less importance. The carpenter or mason undertakes to build a house by the job. The erection of Westminster bridge was a heavy job and it was a great job to erect Central wharf, in Boston. The mechanic has many small jobs on hand. 2. A lucrative business an undertaking with a view to profit.

No cheek is known to blush nor heart to throb,

Save when they lose a question or a job.

3. A sudden stab with a pointed instrument. This seems to be nearly the original sense.

To do the job for one, to kill him.

JOB, To strike or stab with a sharp instrument.

1. To drive in a sharp pointed instrument.

JOB, To deal in the public stocks to buy and sell as a broker.

The judge shall job, the bishop bite the town,

and mighty dukes pack cards for half a crown.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

The man of Uz. His name signifies, what he himself was, one that weePs His name is quoted with great honour by the Lord himself. ( Ezekiel 14:14) and his patience recommended very forcibly by an Apostle. ( James 5:11)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [12]

 Ezekiel 14:14 (a) An example of one who can and did pray the prayer of faith which moved GOD to perform miracles. (See also  James 5:11).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [13]

1. The 'perfect and upright man' whose history is given in the book of Job.

2. Son of Issachar.  Genesis 46:13 . See JASHUB.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [14]

 Ezekiel 14:14,20 James 5:11

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

jōb ( איּוב , 'ı̄yōbh , meaning of name doubtful; some conjecturing "object of enmity," others "he who turns," etc., to God; both uncertain guesses; Ἰώβ , Iōb ): The titular hero of the Book of Job, represented as a wealthy and pious land-holder who lived in patriarchal times, or at least conditions, in the land of Uz, on the borders of Idumea. Outside of the Book of Job he is mentioned by Ezekiel (  Ezekiel 14:14 ,  Ezekiel 14:20 ) as one of 3 great personages whose representative righteousness would presumably avail, if that of any individuals could, to redeem the nation; the other two being Noah, an ancient patriarch, and Daniel, a contemporary of the prophet. It is difficult to determine whether Job was an actual personage or not. If known through legend, it must have been on account of some such experience as is narrated in the book, an experience unique enough to have become a potent household word; still, the power and influence of it is due to the masterly vigor and exposition of the story. It was the Job of literature, rather than the Job of legend, who lived in the hearts of men; a character so commanding that, albeit fictitious, it could be referred to as real, just as we refer to Hamlet or Othello. It is not the way of Hebrew writers, however, to evolve literary heroes from pure imagination; they crave an authentic basis of fact. It is probable that such a basis, in its essential outlines, existed under the story of Job. It is not necessary to suppose, however, that the legend or the name was known to Israel from ancient times. Job is introduced ( Job 1:1 ) as if he had not been known before. The writer, who throughout the book shows a wide acquaintance with the world, doubtless found the legend somewhere, and drew its meanings together for an undying message to his and all times.