The Book of JobAuthorship
While there is no solid evidence as to the authorship of the book, three theories predominate.
The narrative occurs in the land of Uz. There are three different men named Uz in the Bible.
The Dating of Job
The story of Job is of great antiquity. Only the accounts of Genesis are of an earlier age. More exact dating however is in great question. Some place Job as a contemporary of Abraham (most certainly incorrect) others as being during the exodus of Israel (equally improbable.) There is internal evidence that allows us to make a fairly accurate estimate. A number of individuals and tribes are mentioned in the biblical account. The following genealogical table will enable us to notice when Jobs contemporaries lived.
* While Elihu is the son of Barachel (Job 32:2), Barachel is not necessarily the direct son of Buz. There may be generations in between.
Supporting Texts: (1) Gen. 46:13; (2) 1 Chron. 7:1; (3) Num. 26:24; (4) 1 Chron. 1:35, 36; (5) Gen. 25:1, 2; (6) Gen. 25:3; (6) Gen 22:20-22
From the above chart, it is evident that it cannot be before the fourth generation after Abraham when the story of Job occurs. In fact, the specific mention of Eliphaz and Zophar (Zephi) almost demands that it be in the fourth generation. However, the question is open as to how long of a period should be assigned to a generation. One might reason from Gen. 15:16 that the fourth generation is the generation of the return from Egypt. However, a weakness to this is that Moses is the sixth generation from Abraham (Abraham-Issac-Jacob-Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses [see Exod. 6:16-18.])
We can also infer with certainty that Job lived before the Exodus since the sacrifices of the last chapter are performed by Job, rather than by a priest. According to patriarchal practice, the firstborn son was the priest of the family. However Tola, not Job, is listed as the firstborn of the family of Issachar. This implies that either Jobs two older brothers had died or that they had not joined him in his immigration to Uz.
The above chart also makes it a
reasonable assumption that the Job of our narrative is the same Job who was the son of
Issachar (Gen. 46:13).
There are five primary actors in the book of Job:
(1) Job Living in the land of Uz, descendents of Nahor, the religion of one God was probably predominant. If he was indeed the third son of Issachar, he must have moved northeast to Uz before Jacob took the rest of the family to Egypt. Perhaps he went there because of the famine which spread along the western and southern shores of the Mediterranean. He is called Jashub in Num. 26:24 and 1 Chron. 7:1. There we learn that he fathered a tribe called the Jashubites. If Jobs double blessing included life span, then he would have been 70 years old at the time of the narrative (Job 42:16).
(2) Eliphaz The Temanite. From the fact that Teman was his son, rather than his father, we gather that the oldest son had already become the patriarch of the family. This would place Eliphaz at an advanced age, perhaps in his mid-eighties, since he was a generation earlier than Job. This is also implied in the fact that another of the comforters, Zophar, was his grandson. His name means my God is fine gold, implying either materialistic parents or that he came from the gold mining region of Ophir in Arabia.
(3) Bildad A Shuhite. As the son of a concubine of Abraham, Keturah, Shuah was sent away after the death of Abraham into the east country (Gen. 25:6). Although Abraham was his ancestor, it is questionable whether he followed after the Hebrew religious beliefs. The meaning of his name is unkown for sure, though some trace it to mean confusing love or disputant, son of contention. However, if John Genung is right in the International Standard Bible Encylopedia, it means Bel has loved, thus indicating that his parents were idolaters and followers of the god Bel.
(4) Zophar A Naamathite. Naamath was a city in northwest Arabia. The Septuagint calls Zophar the King of the Minaeans. These people are identified in the Bible as either the Maonites (Jud. 10:12) or the Mehunims (2 Chron. 26:7). They apparently dwelt just south of the Seir, on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea. The meaning of his name is uncertain, various lexicographers giving it as leaping, departing, and sparrow. Being the grandson of Eliphaz, he must have been the youngest of the three, perhaps in his forties.
(5) Elihu A Buzite. As a descendent
of a Abrahams brother, it is likely that he still held to the pure religion of one
God. This is evident in his speech as well. He apparently was very young since two of the
other comforters were Eliphaz and Zophar, a grandfather with his grandson. Elihu states
clearly that he is younger, probably considerably younger, than the other comforters in
Job 32:4, Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than
he. This might indicate a man in his twenties. He is spoken on as of the
kindred of Ram. This may be a shortened form of Aram or Aramea. Aram was a grandson
of Nahor and therefore of the same kinship as Elihu. Some of the rabbis, however, take Ram
as a shortened form for Abraham. In either case, he would have been from the same family
The Purpose of the Book
The Book of Job has one central purpose, though there are additional benefits that accrue from its study. The main reason for the entire book is to answer one simple question, Doth Job fear God for nought? It is a companion query to that mystery which plagued Solomon throughout his life, and in search of which he wrote three booksSong of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. It is in the final words of this last book that he summarizes his answer, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Eccl. 12:13, 14).
These questions are all embodied in a larger question for which virtually all people have searched for an answer: Why does a loving God permit evil? To phrase it in the words of a popular book title of today, Why do bad things happen to good people?
En route to the answer, the book also
provides valuable insights into both the history and the customs of patriarchal times.
Job was a wealthy man. His goods included some eleven to twelve thousand animals (Job 1:3). In addition, he maintained some land in grain or vegetable crops, as is indicated by the fact that his oxen were used for plowing (Job 1:14). He is not spoken of as owning land, for the people of that time considered the land available to any for temporary pasturage. However, figuring one acre per animal, his restored possessions would require 24,000 acres. The maintenance of such a large number of animals would require a considerable number of servants (Job 1:15). It is worth noting that of his animals only the sheep were used for food, except perhaps some of the oxen. Camels were rarely eaten and asses never. Nothing is said about his owning cattle (unless oxen included cattle).
Jewish tradition says that he had seven thousand sheep, one thousand for each of his seven sons; three thousand camels, a thousand for each of his daughters; five hundred yoke of oxen for himself; and five hundred she-asses for his wife.
Since, except for the sheep, Jobs livestock were not for eating, they must have been for trade. The following quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives an idea of the location of the main trade routes of the time: There was no exit to the West from the great caravan center Damascus, there was virtually no exit landward from the great maritime centers Tyre and Sidon, and there was no exit to the North and Northeast from Egypt without crossing Palestine In particular, the only good road connecting Tyre (and Sidon) with Damascus lay directly across Northern Palestine, skirting the Sea of Galilee.
Damascus was thus the center of the
trade traffic. Josephus mentions that Uz founded Trachonitis and Damascus.
Therefore it is likely that the holdings of Job may have been near that city, and the
trade routes between India and Egypt would purchase his goods for resale in the two great
lands of the East and the West.
The Style of the Book
The book of Job is written in classical Hebrew poetry. While it is difficult to translate poetry into another language and maintain its original beauty, the New International Version of the Bible attempts to capture the flavor of the poetry. Only the first two chapters, which form the prologue, and the last ten verses of the final chapter, containing the epilogue, break from this poetic style. While a true history, except perhaps for the discussion in the heavenly courts recorded in the first two chapters, the account is also allegorical in nature. As an allegory, it expresses truths far deeper than those that affect only the man Job.
The fact that the book is allegorical does not take away from its historical accuracy, just as the allegory of Abraham does not dilute its factualness. The prophet Ezekiel cites Job as being one of three men whose witness saved none but themselves (Ezek. 14:14, 20). James, in the New Testa-ment calls attention to the patience of Job (James 5:11).
The book naturally divides into five
parts: prologue (chapters 1 and 2; dialog, chapters 3-31; the monologue of Elihu, chapters
32-37; the speech of Jehovah, chapters 38-41; and the epilogue, chapter 42. The prologue
and epilogue may have been added by a later editor in order to complete the account. They
are written as prose in contrast with the poetry of the body of the book.
The PrologueChapters 1-2
The first five verses of the book give us a thumbnail sketch of Job. We see the authors evaluation of him as perfect (mature) and upright. His wealth and stature in the community are briefly outlined. An example of his integrity is given in his offering a prayer for his sons, even though he was not aware of any particular sin which they may have committed (see Job 1:13).
Most of the balance of the first two chapters deal with an allegorical scene, probably a morality tale by the author to give substance to the rest of the book. It is doubtful whether it discusses an actual historic event, since obviously there was no earthly being which would be privy to the doings of an heavenly council (unless, of course, the author was given the information as part of his inspiration).
Satan is pictured as challenging God over the righteousness of Job. He is first given permission to remove all of Jobs earthly wealth, taking away even the lives of his sons and daughters. With all this hardship, the record is In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:22). Carrying the challenge a degree further Satan asks, and is given permission, to remove the health of the patriarch. Beset with a plague of boils and the temptation from his wife to curse God and die, Job once again proved faithful and did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10).
The stage is then set for the dialogs that are to follow. Three of Jobs compatriots had heard of his misfortune and arranged to go from their separate cities together to speak with him. They were appalled at his physical appearance and, adopting the custom of their time, showed their grief by loud wails, the tearing of their garments, and the strewing of dust around them.
This custom was carried to such an extent in ancient times that some individuals even made their living by being professional mourners. An interesting non-Biblical confirmation of this practice is found in the Iliad by Homer where he tells us of the grief of Hercules over the death of Patroclus:
A sudden horror shot through all
The extent of their grief is showing in
the touching revelation that they sat for one full week, day and night, with Job without
uttering a word (Job 2:13). See also Gen. 50:10; 1 Sam. 31:13; 1Chron. 10:12; Ezek. 3:15.
Counting Jobs opening speech, the Dialog consists of seventeen parts; three arguments for Eliphaz; three for Bildad; two for Zophar and an initial statement and eight rebuttals by Job. As the discussion progresses between Job and his comforters, there is a classic example of the wedge theory of argumentation. The more insistent the three friends get in their accusations, the more defensive Job becomes. Job, in fact moves from a position where he sins not with his lips to actual accusations against God for the injustice of his situation.
While the points made by the three visitors are very similar, there are subtle differences. Eliphaz, as the oldest, speaks first in each of the trilogies. Perhaps, tempered by age, his voice is the softest of the three. His central argument, fitting to the definition of his name, my god is gold, is that one can measure his relationship with his God by the quantity of his possessions. There is a tone of crass materialism in his remarks. Yet, they are not totally without merit, for God would shortly announce to the nation of Israel that their obedience would be blessed in basket and in store (Deut. 28:1-5). His message is parallel to that of didactic materialism, which holds that the change in either personal or national forms of behavior is driven by economic goals.
Bildad, somewhat harsher, uses a questioning approach, challenging Job to investigate his past life for sins against God. His foundation points, as borne out by his name meaning either confused love or loved by Bel, show the influence of paganism on his thought pattern. His approach is the classical Socratic approach of the advancement of these by a series of increasingly challenging the integrity of his subject. In that respect, his approach befits the other suggested meaning of his name, disputant, or son of contention.
Zophar, the youngest of the trio, is also the
most cutting in his criticisms of Job. Perhaps is was defensive of Jobs rebuttal to
his grandfather, Eliphaz. His main contribution to the dialog is his constant resorting to
theme, Who are you to question God? From the probable connection of his name
to the word sparrow, some expositors have drawn the extension of his name to
mean twitterer, or vain babbler, from the repetitiveness of the
sparrows song. His refusal to seek for a meaning to Jobs dilemma other than
stating the superiority of God to man amounts to a failure to reason together
with the Almighty (Isa. 1:26). Zophar is the only one of the friends who does not speak in
the third round of the dialog, as though he is put to silence and has no further answers
to offer. Some have taken from his speeches a representation of the clergy of Christendom
with their escape from reason into their unwillingness to seek a more definitive answer to
such questions as the permission of evil.|
The Speeches of Job
An outline of the rebuttals of Job can be seen from the following chart:
|JOB||Opening Speech||Chapter 3|
|ELIPHAZ||Speech Chapters 4, 5||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 6, 7|
|BILDAD||Speech Chapter 8||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 9-10|
|ZOPHAR||Speech Chapter 11||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 12-14|
|ELIPHAZ||Speech Chapter 15||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 16, 17|
|BILDAD||Speech Chapter 18||Jobs Rebuttal Chapter 19|
|ZOPHAR||Speech Chapter 20||Jobs Rebuttal Chapter 21|
|ELIPHAZ||Speech Chapter 22||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 23, 24|
|BILDAD||Speech Chapter 25||Jobs Rebuttal Chapters 27-31|
| Job's First SpeechChapter 3
The sorrows of the afflicted pour out in a steady stream from his mouth. He regrets the fact that he was born. He desires death. Apparently he feared such calamities even in the heights of his prosperity and health (v. 25, 26). Despite his negative feelings, there is no thought of a lack of a resurrection hope. Later comments show his belief in an after-life. Here he utters the fact that if he had been as "an untimely birth" or "an infant that had not seen life"a stillbornhe would go to a place of rest and would sleep together with both "the small and the great."
The First DialogChapters 4-7
Eliphaz began his message diplomatically by calling attention to Jobs good works to others who are afflicted, and notices that the coin has now turned. Then he goes on the attack by asserting that the good man God protects; that a man reaps what he sowstherefore he challenges Job to repent for some evil he has sown that has reaped his present distress. Eliphaz recalls a terrifying dream he had one night that he could not bring to recall. His conclusion from this he was unclean and not in a position to question his maker. Therefore Job, in like fashion, should not attempt to understand his tribulations, but take them as a rebuke from the Almighty. Eliphaz does catch hold of one great principle in Job 5:17, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty."
The latter part of the speech of Eliphaz catches a great truth, summed up in the last verse of chapter 5, "Lo this, we have searched it, so it is, hear it, and know thou it for thy good." Although Eliphaz reasoning, on the surface, seem to be a foregleam of Rom. 8:28, "All things work together for good;" in reality it treats that concept from the negative. Since all things are not working together for your good, you, Job, should recognize your fault in the matter.
Job shows great displeasure at his friends remarks. He speaks of them as fair-weather friends, being loving to Job when his condition was fine, but critical when he had fallen on hard times. Instead of compassion, Job sees fear in his friends faces. He complains, through strong questions, whether he had summoned them for this kind of response. The core of his rebuttal lies in Job 6:24, 25, "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?" If they could not define his iniquity, what help were they? They might as well go home for they were not helping the situation.
In chapter 7, Job reveals the real cause of his distressthat he has lost hope (Job 7:6). The accusations of Eliphaz troubled Job even in his sleeping hours and brought on nightmares (verses 13-15). Once again Job reiterates his desires that his request that his friends go homebut the worst was yet to come.
The Second DialogChapters 8-10
Bildad immediately criticizes Job for his audacity to challenge Gods judgment. He repeats the concept of Eliphaz that Jobs dire conditions can only be accounted for as a severe judgment of God for past sins. Much of Bildads comments about prosperity are in the spirit of irony in order to get Job to acknowledge his supposed misdeeds. Bildad appears to press the urgency of age on Job, saying that he is in his latter years, that life at that time was but a shadow when compared with the ante-diluvian patriarchs who lived to 900 years and more. His closing words seem to be more of a prayer that God would lead Job to see and acknowledge his transgressions.
Job begins with a quick admission that Gods judgment are to be accepted as being superior to any a man might offer. He supports the supremacy of God by referring to some of the magnificent works of creation. Nevertheless, even though he acknowledges Gods judgments as just, he himself fails to see the justice to him. Rather than plead to God for a reversal of judgment, he requests a judge to explain to him why he must be so afflicted. In Job 9:20, 21 he speaks of his own words condemning him, even claiming such would be the case though he were perfect. What he really needs (and what mankind will have during the kingdom) is a "daysman"Mediator (Job 9:28). In chapter 10 he thrusts himself on the mercy of God, claiming that while he is aware that God knows his every sin, he also knows within himself that he (Job) is not wicked (10:7). Whether wicked or righteous, he sees himself as hunted of God. Herein lies his confusion. He is at such a low ebb he questions the resurrection in Job 10:21, though he regains faith in that in later chapters.
The Third DialogChapters 11-14
Zophar is by far the most critical, accusing Job of being an outright liar. His charge that Job claimed his "doctrine" to be pure is mistranslated. He is speaking of Jobs protestations of innocence as being from a pure and sincere heart. For such a presumed perfidy, Bildad says that Job is worthy of twice as much punishment. Unable to understand the real reason for Jobs problems, he challenged Jobs request for an explanation: "Canst thou by searching find out God?" (Job 11:7). His challenge that Job acknowledge unknown wrongs and thus secure divine favor is met by Jobs earlier prayer for his sons saying "It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts" (Job 1:5). This had been Jobs continual attitude, and that is now being challenged by the youngest of his comforters, Zophar.
Job lashes out at all three in his opening rebuttal, saying ironically, "No doubt ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you, (Job 12:2). Defensively he reminds them that he also has the power to reason and think, and is not inferior to them despite his afflictions. Most of chapter 12 is an acknowledgment of the superiority of God in all matters and is laced with many supporting illustrations. In Job 13:4 he asserts "ye are the forgers of lies, ye are physicians of no value." He begs for their silence and affirms his willingness to take whatever his ills and not charge God as their perpetrator: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him . . . He also shall be my salvation" (Job 13:15, 16). He is willing to stop his pleading and die unrequited if God will grant two requests:
(1) The knowledge of Gods abiding presence in his affliction (Job 13:21, 22)
(2) If God will reveal to Job for what sins he is suffering (Job 13:23-28)
The heart of Jobs message comes in chapter 14. Here he grasps with the question of life after death. Noting that a tree, though cut down, can rise and grow once again, he queries "Is man of less value than a tree?" After stating the assumption of his friends in Job 14:12 that man would not rise, even if the heavens were to pass away, he restates the question and testifies to his own hope.
"If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands."Job 14:14, 15
He compares the erosion of mans hopes in the face of old age and poor health with
the erosion of the earth over a period of time.
The Fourth DialogChapters 15-17
In the second round of speeches, Eliphaz drops his kindlier demeanor and adopts a harshly accusative tone. His argument centers around Jobs age, probably 70, and asks "are you the first man to be born?" (Job 15:7) and speaks of men who are older than Jobs father (v. 10). Eliphaz himself is probably considerably older than Job and perhaps feels that touting the wisdom of the aged is way of establishing his case. He accuses Job of turning his spirit against God (v. 13). He seeks to dismiss any hope that Job might have of death brining a soon ending to his sufferings by saying correctly that "the number of years is hidden to the oppressor" (v. 20). In verse 29 he also mentions correctly that the amount of a mans financial substance is no guarantee nor prolong his perfection here on earth.
Job cries out in anguish that his three friends have been "miserable comforters" instead of providing needed comfort in his misery. In Job 16:4 he asks, as it were, "how would you feel; if our positions were reversed." He assures them that he would seek to assuage their grief with truly comforting words. Job now begins for the first time to blame God for delivering him to the ungodly as a reproach. He again avers his innocence and the purity of his prayers. Once more, in Job 16:21 he pleads his need for a mediator to plead his cause. His faith in a resurrection appears to wane as he cries "I shall go the way whence I shall not return" (Job 16:22). He bemoans the fact that the righteous shall see him and assume he is a great transgressor. Once again his hopes seem to be lost as he awaits his time, and that of all, in the lonely grave.
The Fifth DialogChapters 18-19
Defensiveness marks Bildads second round of comments. His curse is that Jobs house and posterity were not only destroyed, but that they would no longer be remembered"brimstone would be scattered upon his habitations" (Job 18:15). He even spreads his curse to the family of Jobs brotherhis "nephew" not being longer remembered (verse 19).
The expression "ten times" in Job 19:3 is not to be taken literally, but indicating "many times" as in the expression of Jacob in Genesis 31:7. It is in this rebuttal of Job where we see the "wedge theory" beginning to work. Whereas at first he did not charge God as being his persecutor, now he says "God hath overthrown me, and compassed me with his net" (Job 19:6). We note the repetitiveness of the word "he" in verses 8 to 13 as he cries our his complaints about God and his unjust treatment of Job.
Job has come to the point of feeling completely isolated and rejectedby his own brothers, his other near kin, his maid, his other servants, even his own wife who says, as in the Hebrew, that he smells like a chicken house, young children, and even his most intimate friends (verses 13-19). It is interesting to note, though probably with little foundation in fact, that the Septuagint translates the last phrase of verse 17 as "the children of my concubines."
Then his hope returns, "I know that my redeemer liveth, and he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth" (Job 19:25). In the following verse his hope is not only set upon "the latter day," but revives to the extent that he expects even in his present fleshly condition to come to the point where he will again "see God" as he had in earlier happier days. In that hope he sees that there will be a final judgmentnot only for himself, but for his comforters (by now his enemies).
The Sixth DialogChapters 20-21
The tension ratchets higher in Zophars next (and last) remarks. He ridicules Jobs hopes, saying that "the triumph of the wicked is short, and the joy of a hypocrite but for a moment" (Job 20:5). Then, in one of the unkindest cuts of all, he accuses Job unjustly of living selfishly and not helping the poor and, in fact, was their oppressor (verse 19).
Job responds with his own observations of the wicked. He notes their prosperity, the productiveness of their cattle, their parties and their dancing. The rich are secure in their wealth, and "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job 21:14). The observations of Job continue that it is not often, at least not the rule, that the wicked are cut off. God "distributes" sorrow alike to the good and the bad (verse 17). He continues on this randomness of Gods dealings in verses 23 to 26 where he says that, while one is cut off who lives at ease and quietude, another who has never seen these pleasures suffers much the same fate. The implied question, once again, is "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The answer to this is not furnished until the New Testament, when Paul says that the same temptations suffered by the faithful are those that are common to all men (1 Cor. 10:13). These observations of Job are sufficient for him to dismiss the claim of the three that his pitiful condition is in itself significant to show that he must be the chief of all sinnershe discerns the fallacy of their arguments (verse 34).
The Seventh DialogChapters 22-24
Eliphaz begins his last words with nearly the same question asked by Satan in the prologue, "Doth Job serve God for naught?" Eliphaz queries, "Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous?" (Job 22:3). He then builds false charge against false charge against Job, accusing him of specific crimes against the poor. He claims that Job excuses his conduct, saying that since Job cannot see God, God cannot see Job, and therefore he will escape punishment. However, Eliphaz states, that if Job repent, then God will again greatly prosper him in material matters.
Job reaches the depths of his woe and the heights of his faith in the beautiful reasoning of chapter 23. "Oh," he cries, "that I knew were I could find him . . . Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him" (Verses 3, 8, 9). Then his faith in Gods judgments, even when they are hid from man, comes through: "But he knoweth the way that I take, when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (verse 10).
He pleads his innocence, both in deed and in word, but feels his pleas have gone unheeded, therefore he is now afraid of Gods justice because he cannot see the outcome. "Why," he asks, are the wicked who truly oppress the poor rewarded with such abundance and freedom from care." But then again, he more rationally realizes, these wicked wealthy also come alike into the grave. Their exaltation is but for a little while, but then they are brought low to the grave, removed as the husks of corn (Job 24:24).
In this final conversation we find that Bildad gives the shortest accusation and Job the longest defense. The central point of Bildads argument is found in Job 25:4, "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" In this he speaks a great truththe same which Kind David uttered in Psa. 51:5, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." With this short utterance of a verity Bildad ends, not only his words, but those of all three so-called comforters.
Job begins as man who is making a legal appeal of a decision that has gone against him. The New Living Translation of Job 27:2-6 appear to capture the sense of his opening statement. "I make this vow by the living God, who has taken away my rights, by the Almighty who has embittered [or, permitted this suffering to] my soul. As long as I live, while I have breath from God, my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies. I will never concede that you are right; until I die, I will defend my innocence. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live."
From verse eleven onward Job assumes the position of a teacher, instructing his three friends in what he feels are the ways of God. He completes the first chapter of his words by describing the end of the wicked, even though they be rich.
The 28th chapter is an ode to Gods wisdom in the planning of creation. After describing the value of wisdom, he queries as to where to may be found. His conclusion is the same as that arrived at by Solomon in the closing words of Ecclesiastes. "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28).
In chapter 29 he recalls his past, before trouble fell upon him. He speaks not only of his lost family and of his high position amongst his countrymen, but affirms that he did not abuse that position but that he helped othershe was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, a father to the poor but a harsh judge to the wicked (verses 15-17).
Chapter 30 marks the contrast of those earlier, happier days with his present condition. Now, when he is aged, the younger hold him in derision. His position in society has descended from the heights to the depths of the isolation of the leper. One of his saddest declarations is that found in Job 30:26, "When I looked for good, then evil came unto me; and when I waited for light, there came darkness."
Finally, in the last chapter of his response to the comforters he throws all of his life at the feet of his God. Claiming his innocence, he lists the crimes that have been hurled against him. "If," he says, "these charges are true, then find me guilty. But if not, proclaim my innocence."
Elihu Speaks to Jobs
The first five verses of chapter 32 are prose, as compared with the poetry of the dialogs. They furnish a preface to introduce Elihu and why he becomes involved in the discussion. Verse 1, explaining why the three stopped their arguments, is open to a variety of interpretations. Taken as written in the Authorized and most older versions, it appears that Job was self-righteous. Many of the newer translations suggest that they stopped because Job persisted in proclaiming his innocence and therefore their words were useless. On the somewhat weaker authority of the Septuagint, the Arabic, the Syriac, the Chaldaic and one 13th century manuscript, the last clause of the first verse should read "because he was righteous in their eyes," intimating that they were now convinced that he was a holy man and innocent of their charges. However verse two and the fact that Elihu was angry with both Job and the comforters, supports the thought that, at least in Elihus mind, Job had become self-righteous.
But it was much because the three had failed to provide a satisfactory answer as it was because of Jobs defensive position, that Elihu felt compelled to engage in the discussion. It is in this preface to Elihus remarks that we discover the age difference between this newest speaker and the previous three. He was perhaps in his early twenties when we speaks these words.
He gives four reasons for hesitating so long before uttering his opinion on the cause and remedy of Jobs sufferings:
1. Respect for their agenevertheless, he argues, it is not age but the "inspiration of the Almighty" that gives wisdom (Job 32:8). These words are reminiscent of Pauls admonition to Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth" (1 Tim. 4:12).
2. Respect for their position in societynevertheless, he rebuts, ones position in society is no guarantee of wisdom (verse 9). As Solomon later phrased it, "Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king" (Eccl. 4:13).
3. Attentive listeningrather than rushing in unasked, he waited and heeded their words, hoping in vain for a wise and satisfying answer. But, he sadly concludes, "there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words" (verse 12).
4. He noticed the "wedge"that as they spoke, they began emotionally reacting to the defensiveness of Job. "Now he hath not directed his words against me" . . . therefore he could answer objectively and unemotionally.
It is interesting to note that in verse 12, the author begins to write in the first person, using the pronoun "I." This may imply that Elihu was the writer of the entire book of Job, or at least of the portion attributed to his speech. He asserts that he must speak because, having digested their reasoning and noting Jobs pitiable plight, his heart is full of the matter. As Jeremiah, he was moved to speak the Lords words, "his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jer. 20:9). Finally, he argues that, inasmuch as we was not a party to the heated debate, he was free to be impartial and not "give flattering titles unto man" (verses 21, 22).
Elihus Preface to
Although he plans to criticize Job, Elihu is almost apologetic in approaching him. Before addressing the main problem, he makes clear to Job that he is coming as with constructive criticism and not to tear down. An analysis of this preface reveals seven rules to offering a rebuke or reproof to another.
1. Sincerity"I speak from the uprightness of my heart" (Job 33:3). He thus seeks to set himself apart from the passions and prejudices of the other three.
2. Willingness to see the other side"If thou canst answer me, set thine words in order, stand up" (verse 5). Be willing to realize that there are two sides to any disagreement. Be willing for the listener to "stand up" in his own defense.
3. Do not intrude where not wanted"I am according to thy wish in Gods stead" (verse 6). As Peter says of the Christian, he should not be "a busybody in other mens matters" (1 Peter 4:15).
4. Do not speak down to another"I also am formed out of the clay" (verse 6). A true friend walks with the other as his equal, not as one that asserts his superiority.
5. Be friendlymy hand "shall not be heavy upon thee" (verse 7). The successful critic speaks softly and does not seek to cast blame. He wants his words to be corrective and not condemnatory. "A soft answer turned away wrath" (Prov. 15:1).
6. Accept no hearsay evidence"Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words" (verse 8). This is a rule in the courts of most nations today and was a principle in Roman jurisprudence as voiced by Festus in the trial of Paul, "It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him." This is the basis for the advice of Jesus in adjudicating differences amongst brethren in Matt. 18:15-17.
7. Condemn the sin and not the sinnerAfter listing the specific words of Job which he felt were wrong, Elihu states "Behold, in this thou art not just." It was the action, in this case the defensive words, of Job which Elihu felt were not right, and not that Job himself was wicked.
The words of Job which he quotes as being unjust fall basically into three categories:
1. "I am clean . . . I am innocent" were probably a paraphrase of Jobs words in Job 16:17, "Nor any injustice in my hands, my prayer is pure."
2. "He counteth me for his enemy" Jobs words in Job 19:11.
3. "He putteth my feet in the stocks" is a quote of Job 13:27.
The term "God hath spoken once, yea twice" in verse 14 is a Hebrew expression for repeatedly, and not an actual numbering. It is ironic that, wrong as the comforters were both in their spirit and in their specific accusations, by the time they had finished they were right in that Job had come to the point of self-justification. In sharp contrast are the words of David after having been cursed by Shimei, the Benjaminite, "And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him" (2 Sam. 16:11).
Elihus claim is that there are times when God withholds his purpose from man and does not realize that certain hard experiences can be chastening from the Lord to reveal pride, and thus save a man from dying without adequate opportunity for repentance. He is thus recognizing that the effect of the prior conversations as been to move Job from his original innocence to a certain pride that charges God with unjust dealings in permitting evil.
Elihus Message of
These verses are the heart of the theological message of the book of Job. The Revised Version, as well as many other of the more accurate translations, renders verse 23, "If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him." This introduces a section which accurately describes the work of the Mediator in the Millennial Age work of reconciliation.
It is through the payment of the ransom that mankind will be delivered from going down to the pit. Then, in the resurrection of the dead, their flesh shall become fresher than a child. They will be then shown what is right for them and required just to do it, having the perfect ability to do so, with all influences to evil being restrained.
Thus mankind can properly pray to the Father, for they will be fully just when Christ renders unto man their righteousness. Because of that Mediator, any who will then unintentionally sin may pray for forgiveness, his soul shall be prevented from returning to the pitto the condition of non-existence in death.
Thus, being sheltered from instant judgment, he will learn through his faults and he will see the light and the wisdom of doing things Gods way, of following in the paths of righteousness. And this will not be a one-time for all chance, but God will work with man repeatedly throughout that thousand-year day (verses 29, 30).
Elihus Second Address to the
Elihiu now turns from Job and addresses the friends of Job, the self-presumed "wise men." Not trying to answer their accusations, even agreeing to a small extent with them, he says in essence, "This is not our judgment to make. Leave it to God. He will not pervert judgment" (Job 34:13). His words are similar to that of wise Gamaliel at the trial of Peter and John, "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:38, 39).
He finishes his extended ode to the justice of God by uttering a truism, "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble" (verse 29). Then, while condemning Job for his self-righteousness, he excuses him because his wrong position was a result of "his answers for wicked men" (verse 36), an obvious reference to the comforters for the rebellion they brought about in Job.
The first half of chapter 35 is further devoted to the judgments and the chastisements of God. To them will hearken he assurance a long life, to the wicked he predicts that their will be no deliverance from their suffering. If he is indeed including Job in the list of the wicked, as may be inferred, he would shortly be proven wrong by his own reasoningfor God would restore Job, and that twofold. Job would be among the poor delivered from their oppression (Job 36:15).
The Gathering StormJob
While Elihu appears to be continuing his preceding discourse in this section, the fact that an actual storm occurred is confirmed in Job 38:1. Therefore it is logical to treat these verses as describing the onsetting squall. While they accurately describe a thunderstorm coming in from the north, the words may also be typical of the time of trouble with which the present dispensation shall come to an end.
The soft early drops of rain and the distant sound of thunder are noticed first. The oncoming clouds obscure the sun and the cattle are discontent. Then the lightning flashes in the sky as the thunder become a crashing roar. He notices the beasts take cover and the cold turn the rain into sleet and hail. His sharp eye catches the balance of the cloudsthe one high and overhanging with the lower clouds filled with moisture. Contrasting the usual warm southerly winds, with this fast charging storm from the north, he is awestruck by the power and majesty of the scene.
Even so, in the times of harvest, it was the early rains of truth which foretold of Gods coming judgments. As the enlightenment from the Lord became more clear, the noise of the progressing trouble was distinctly heard. Men could not see this as the Lords dealings because these troublous time hid them from the Lord. Gods true message noted the contrast of the warm winds of Gods favor with the harsh north winds of his judgments. Both were necessary to accomplish their individual tasks. The Christian profits from both, as the wise man poetically said, "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out" (Cant. 4:16).
Jehovah SpeaksChapters 38-39
It is from the midst of the storm, now termed a whirlwind, that Jehovah reveals himself to Job. It is in similar manner that Christ, at his apokalupsis, reveals himself to Israel and mankind (2 Thess. 1:7).
While some feel that the recrimination in Job 38:2, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" refers to Elihu, the last speaker; and some to all the comforters combined; it is more likely, in view of verse 1, that it refers to Job himself.
The majestic beauties and manifest wisdom in the ordering of creation form the basis for these words of God. The fascinating consideration of the specifics, noting the degree of modern scientific knowledge revealed in these chapters, is a complete study in itself. A short catalog of these details might include:
1. The foundations of the earthprobably referring to the continrental rock massifs that connect the land surface of the globe with its central core (Job 38:4).
2. The careful balancing of the water and land area of the planet referred to in Job 38:8.
3. How the cloud and rings of water provided the earth a protective greenhouse covering during the creative process (Job 38:9)
4. The interesting comparison between the planets underground water supplies and ocean depths to the moral degradation and death itself (Job 38:16, 17).
5. The water reserves of the snows to provide year-round irrigation of the land, and how he uses these in times of trouble and battle, as in the flooding of the Kishon in the battle of Deborah and Barak against Sisera (Job 38:22, 23; Jud. 5:21).
6. The astronomical accuracy of the verbs used in the poetic descriptions of such stellar constellations as Orion, the Pleiades, Arcturus, and all the signs of the zodiac [Mazeroth in the Authorized Version] (Job 38:31, 32).
7. The provision of sustenance for the animals and the balancing of the food chain (Job 38: 41.
8. The varying gestation periods of all of the animals (Job 39:1, 2)
9. The ability of God to provide and use even such untamable animals as the rhinoceros, the unicorn of Job 39:9.
10. To provide the rich variety of plumage for the wild fowl (Job 39:13).
The list could go on, not even giving time for consideration of the possible symbol significance of many of the pictures used.
The question remainsHow does this description of the greatness of the Creator relate to the afflictions of Job and his enigma of understanding them. The answer lies in the beginning of chapter 40 where God ends his first discourse with the words, "Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it."
Jehovah is emphasizing that Job must learn to trust him for caring for him and that as he has shown adequate ability to care for all other elements of creation, both animate and inanimate, so he has the ability and will to care for Job as well. This a sharp reproof to Jobs becoming so defensive to the fallacious arguments of the comforters as to develop a self-righteous posture, even accusing God of finding occasions against him. This would make God petty and reactive to human style emotions, instead of proactive in arranging the affairs of all his creation.
Jobs First Response to
Job got the message. "Behold, I am vile" is his response. After hearing of the majesty of his Creator, what else could he say? He promises to raise his voice no longer in self-justification. "Once have I spoken," then ye adds, "yea, twice," but he vows not to do so again. One things is lacking, however. While there is a promise to not justify himself again, he does not yet repent for having done so previously. It takes Gods next discourse to accomplish that feat.
Immediately God calls attention to this omission by saying in Job 40:8, "Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?" He then asks him to look upon all who are proud and see how God controls them (verse 12). Then he chose two examples to demonstrate his point.
The balance of chapters 40 and 41 deal with two animals, the identity of which we cannot be certain. The first of these is called in the Authorized Version, "behemoth," and the latter "leviathan." Behemoth, debatably, has been identified with the hippopotamus and leviathan with the crocodile. Whether or not these identifications are accurate is a moot point. The important point is that which man cannot control is easily managed by God.
Jehovah concludes his discussion of these two by labeling the latter "a king over all the children of pride." This emphasizes his point.
The Restoration of JobChapter 42
This is sufficient for Job. Now he repents fully, saying in Job 42:6, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." He mentions that he had uttered things "too wonderful for me" (verse 3). The word here for "wonderful" is pala (Strongs 6381) and would be better translated "incomprehen-sible." Neither he nor his friends could comprehend a satisfactory reason for suffering.
Earlier in the dialog section of the book, Job had uttered the hope "yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:26); now he says, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee." Now he comprehends not only that Jehovah is the great Creator, but now he is the personal God of Job and all his people, overseeing their every experience and testing to see whether they will serve him "for naught" (1:9).
Yet there remains one more test for this patient patriarch. God commands Eliphaz, evidently the leader as well as the older of the three, to contact his friends and have them bring a peace offering to Job, "for him will I accept" (verse 8). It is worth noting that he does not charge them with speaking ill of Job, but because "they have not spoken of me the thing which is right" (verse 8). On the other hand he says that Job has so spoken. He does not refer to the comments of Job during the dialogs but after his repentance. He desires the same of them.
In verse 10 we read that it was only "when" Job prayed for his friends that his restoration began. He received double of all of his livestock, and had ten more childrenthree daughters and seven sonseven as he had originally. This, in itself, may hold a valuable point of truth. The livestock that were lost in the first chapter were lost forever, but he received twice as many back. The children who were killed at the beginning, however, will come back in the resurrection; therefore now he receives not twice the number of children, but the same as he had had. When the resurrec-tion is complete, he will have also a double number of offspring.
Not only did the three comforters have to come with their peace offerings, but all of Jobs brothers, sisters, and acquaintances had to come also and dine with him, showing their sorrow for his afflictions and each giving him two giftsa coin and a gold earring.
In contrast to other Old Testament accounts, where we often learn of the names of the males and not the females, in Jobs case it is the females whose names are recorded. Their names are rich in meaning: Jemima (a dove); Kezia (an aromatic herb, a sweet perfume); and Karen-hapuch (a horn of antimony, a cosmetic oil). All three were noted for their beauty (verses 14, 15).
The book closes with the information that lived for another 140 years (perhaps indicating his age at 70 when he was afflicted). This longevity permitted him to see his second set of children and their posterity until the fourth generation. Undoubtedly he could look back years later with the clear knowledge that his patience was well rewarded, that, hard as the experience was, it was not to be compared to his future life.
Perhaps the main importance of the book of Job is to answer the simple question as to why a loving God permits evil. Viewed from this standpoint, Job represents mankind grappling with the facts of sin and death around him. As representing man, Job can only be used in a limited sense. Mans condition is a direct result of his own sin. Job had done mostly noble deeds and lived an upright life when his evils befell him.
Job however, like all mankind, has been pushed into an ever more defensive posture by false arguments that has caused a measure of self-righteousness. Faultless as Job was at the beginning of the book, he was justifying himself by the conclusion of the debates.
The final remedy of a double restoration required five components:
1. The need for a ransom, as pointed out by Elihu (Job 33:24). Even then, there is always a possibility of sinning to such a degree, after being redeemed, that there is no more ransom available (Job 36:18).
2. The need for man to recognize the supremacy of God, and therefore his own sinful and undone condition (Job 40:4). As the Apostle Paul worded it, it is possible, even after knowing God, to glorify "him not as God" (Rom. 1:21).
3. The need to proceed beyond such a recognition of personal sin to a full repentance of that sin (Job 42:6).
4. The necessity for man to forgive and accept those who have been counted as their enemies (Job 42:10).
5. The need of man of full instruction in the laws of God so that he may do themrendering "unto man his righteousness" (Job 33:26).
Two other doctrinal points are worth mentioning in the book of Job.
1. The resurrection of the dead"If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands"Job 14:14, 15
2. Resurrection dependent upon redemption "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25, 26).
The Contrast of Job and Solomon
The lives of Job and Solomon yield a sharp contrast. Job was a righteous man who was afflicted through no direct cause of his own. Solomon was a man who often strayed far from God, and yet was a man of fabulous wealth. On the surface, Job was a good man who suffered bad things and Solomon was a bad man who enjoyed a majestic life style. Yet both had some things in commonboth desired to be servants of God, both had a relationship with the Creator, and both earnestly sought what it was that God desired of them.
Solomon writes three books on his search for this relationship. In his first writing, The Song of Solomon, he reveals his search for emotional security. In his second, Proverbs, he reveals the progress of his mental being. But it is final book, Ecclesiastes, that opens his heart as he notes the vanity of riches and discovers the true meaning of serving God: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Eccl. 12:13. 14).
The book of Job arrives at the same conclusion: "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28).
Job as an Allegory
In the allegory, Job represents natural Israel in the harsh experiences of their Diaspora. What happens to Israel is really a microcosm of the experiences of all mankind. Therefore the lessons are almost the samethe reason why God permits evil.
Allegorically the three comforters represent three different, though closely related, opinions as to why mans, or Israels, troubles have come. Eliphaz ("my god is gold") giving the materialistic or mercantile answer, prosperity is the indicator of divine favor; Bildad ("disputant, or son of contention") the philosophic explanation; and Zophar ("sparrow, or twitterer") the reply of organized religion. The young man Elihu, in contrast, gives the theologically sound answer of ransom and redemption, representing the answer of the true church.
Gods answer is given from the midst of the storm, even as he sends his breath upon Israel from amidst the four winds (Ezek. 37:9, 10). And as the vision of the dry bones (Ezek. 37) further shows, there is one series of developments that brings about a partial reconciliation with Israel (the gathering and putting on muscle and tissue) the full restoration begins after the further act of the "four winds."
The final restoration of Job 42 is replete with allegorical pictures of this rehabilitation, including:
1. Jobs enemies must come to Job, acting as their priest, to have him offer their sacrifice for them. The Gentiles must come through Israel to approach God. In this manner, he will be working with Israel as priests and Levites (Isa. 66:21).
2. As Jobs prosperity was not returned until he prayed for his comforters, so Israel will have to pray for those who have been their persecutors in order to receive their full blessing.
3. All Jobs acquaintance and kin must dine with him, bewail, and bemoan him, and give him two giftsa golden earring and a piece (literally "a lamb") of money. So all mankind must dine with, or make "a covenant of salt" with Israel, express their sympathies for Israels unjustified evil treatment, and bring two giftstheir "ears" by paying attention to the teachings of restored Israel and a "lamb" of money, the recognition of the value of what Christ, the "lamb of God," has done for Israel and for all mankind.
4. Jobs original count of 12,000 animals7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke (or 1,000 total) oxen, and 1000 asses (assuming each of the 500 "she" asses was accompanied by a "he" ass) was doubled to 24,000. So Israels original 12 tribes will be considered as "doubled," or duplicated when the kingdom work is complete and the Gentiles are all grafted in to the original "olive tree" (Rom. 11).
5. Jobs three named daughters may show three works of the holy spirit through Israel in the future since all three names are oft-used symbols of the spirit. Jemima (dove) showing the peace making work with Israel, Kezia (cassia, one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oilExod. 30:23-25) representing the anointing of Israel to a special work in the kingdom, and Karen-happuch (horn of cosmetic oil) the sweet aroma of the blessing that will come about through them.
6. As Jobs life was extended to the third and fourth generation, so Israel shall carry on their work among restored mankind until all men are brought back to full perfectioncovering mans sin unto "the third and fourth genration" (Exod. 34:7).
In addition to the doctrinal, allegorical, and historic lessons to be gained from a study of the book of Job, there are a number of important character attributes illustrated therein.
1. The patience of Jobbearing up over the removal of all our temporal possessions and even our health, still praising the Lord.
2. The dangers of the "wedge"allowing ourselves to react to criticism and thus seeking to defensively justify ourselves.
3. The danger of questioning Gods dealings with us, as Job so frequently did in the later part of the dialog with his friends.
4. The tact of Elihu in his kindly approach to Job before leveling his own criticisms.
5. The carefulness to seek always to speak, as Elihu did, in the "uprightness" and sincerity of our hearts.
6. The avoidance of the harsh spirit of superiority or judgment over our fellows, as was used by the three so-called comforters.
7. The appreciation of the greatness of God which he demonstrated in showing Job the power and wisdom that went into the creative process.
8. The recognition that when we condemn Gods people it is him that we are speaking ill of, and not just the person we criticize.
9. The necessity of praying, even for our enemies, before we can hope to obtain full divine favor. "Forgive us our debts we forgive our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).
Job, for all his natural faults and failings as a natural human being, is still a remarkable example of righteousness and faith. Though at times his faith faltered, it never failed. His hopes, even though dim for a season, became fully realized. He was a doer of righteousness. So we must do the same.