JOB (jōb, Heb. ’îyôv, meaning uncertain)
The main character of the Book of Job (see nodetitle; see also Ezek.14.14, Ezek.14.20; Jas.5.11).A son of Issachar (Gen.46.13).
, LXX ̓Ιώβ
). The Eng. form derives from the Gr., which is not very close to the Heb. form. Earlier attempts at an etymology of the name have given way to the force of evidence from the newer sources. It is now well attested as a W Sem. name in the 2nd millennium from the Amarna Letters, Egyptian Execration Texts, Mari, Alalakh and Ugaritic documents. The original form of the name was Ayyab (um) which can mean “Where is (my) father” or possibly just “no father.” Either form might suggest an orphan or illegitimacy. The rather common ’iy
from original ’ay
) was often connected with other relatives such as brother
) instead of father
). In the Heb. ’iyyôb
there was a dropping out of a weak letter (glottal stop) between vowels. For fuller explanation see Anchor Bible
15, pp. 5, 6. Job is the main character of the canonical book which bears his name. An analysis of the book follows.
Archeological and linguistic background.
The uniqueness of the nodetitle derives from the depth and thoroughness with which it deals with subjects of human suffering and theodicy. Numerous documents from the ancient Biblical world touch upon these matters but none so eloquently and so fully as Job. There was “The First Job” (History Begins at Sumer, pp. 114-118), a man who in his affliction complained to his “personal” god in the course of his wailing for mercy:
My companion says not a true word to me,
My friend gives the lie to my righteous word...
My God...how long will you neglect me, leave me unprotected?
This “Job,” like the Biblical Job, was restored. “His god harkened to his bitter tears and weeping” which “soothed the heart of his god.”
Another poetic monologue also written in the 2nd millennium b.c. is commonly called “I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom” (ANET pp. 434-437). This Babylonian “Job” is not unlike the Sumer., for as a righteous sufferer he reckons with the thought that Marduk his god rules the world and allows him to suffer but that by means of ritual piety he will obtain mercy. But he had his doubts; “Oh that I only knew that these things are well pleasing to a god” (II, 33). But he too is restored and ends with a thanksgiving hymn and offerings which “make happy the mood” of the gods and “gladden their hearts” (IV, 40).
These documents deal with suffering but in a very simple way. Others more remote touch on some aspects of the Book of Job but are hardly to be compared. For example in “A Dispute over Suicide” (ANET pp. 405-407) a man of Egypt debates with his KA (soul?) over suicide because times are so bad (between Old and Middle Kingdoms) and there is no justice or love anymore. He finally decides death is better because men then become like gods in the nether world. As Job longed for an advocate (9:33; 16:19, 21; 19:25-27) so this man pleads for the advocacy of the gods and feels he is presenting his case before a divine tribunal (ibid. p. 405, n. 2). A somewhat superficial but striking likeness to the Book of Job is the A-B-A literary format in this document which begins, as does Job, with a short prose prologue, then follows a long poetic section and finally an epilogue in prose. This pattern finds expression in other ancient Near Eastern documents.
The only document dealing with the subject of theodicy which is so much a part of the Biblical book is “A Dialogue about Human Misery” (ANET p. 438). This is more like Job, being a dialogue involving a friend who accuses the sufferer of imbecility and evil thoughts and suggests he put aside such thoughts and seek the gracious favor of a god. The sufferer complains that animals do not have to make offerings, and even men who get rich quickly do so without paying attention to the gods while he who has done all this from his youth suffers. The friend warns him that “The mind of the god, like the center of the heavens, is remote; his knowledge is difficult, men cannot understand it” (lines 256, 257). The friend’s view seems to be that the gods have made men perverse and there is nothing that can be done about it. “Falsehood and untruth, they (the gods) conferred upon them forever” (line 280). The sufferer finally appeals to the gods for mercy and here the dialogue ends on a fatalistic note. The text comes from not earlier than about 1000 b.c. Hence, we see that while the literary genre and overall format of the Job lit. comes from the world of which it was a part, there is really nothing extant that compares with the Biblical book in its philosophical and theological profundity. Moreover, the Book of Job cannot be forced into any single classification as to its literary form. It is generally called Wisdom Literature, which was common in the Biblical world, but it has other elements such as drama and epic. The Book being largely poetry (the dialogues) and poetry being the most difficult and the most archaic form of a language, Job abounds in hapax legomena. The syntax and orthography tend to represent a dialect other than the substratum of Judaic Heb. found in most other parts of the OT. For the language of Job, therefore, one must turn to the cognates which have an extensive lit. like Arab. and Aram. for help in vocabulary and elements of grammar. Job has a strong Aram. flavor which had led some to view the Book as originally written in Aram. and later tr. into Heb. (Tur-Sinai, The Book of Job), but few agree. The mythological texts from Ugarit, a large corpus being poetry (q.v.), have shed a great amount of light on both the language and text of Job. There are those who feel the book is possibly some form of Edomite, Job being called “a son of the East” (Job 1:3); but there are no Edomite literary documents to test this view. All of these languages were a part of the NW branch of Sem. tongues and are closely related. The famous Moabite Stone which throws little light on Job, being prose, does show how the eastern phase of NW Sem. languages was closely related to Heb.
Authorship and literary unity.
Is the book of single or composite authorship? The typical higher critical approach would make it a gradual aggregation of materials on an original base. Among the dialogues, the Wisdom Poem of ch. 28, the Elihu speeches in 32 to 37 and the divine discourses in 38 to 41 are said to be additions. Much has been made of the supposed incongruities between the Prologue, Epilogue and the Dialogues of the Book of Job. In the former Job is presented as a saint of God who will not curse God and die, while in the latter his complaints are bitter to the point of being shocking, while his friends seem to be saying all the right things. Then comes the unexpected rebuke of the friends and the commendation of Job in the Epilogue. This appears to destroy the unity of the book and when added to the different literary form (prose vs. poetry) and such things as Job’s ritual piety in the Prologue-Epilogue which is missing in the Dialogues, some have concluded the Prologue-Epilogue came from a different source. Usually the claim is made that the Prologue-Epilogue represents an old epic tale which was used as a framework by the author of the Dialogues. This tale about a legendary figure whose name was Job (Ezek 14:14, 20) was used to give more advanced concepts about theodicy a proper hoary antiquity. Ewald, who advances this view (Commentary on the Book of Job, pp. 17-21) says that it is not fully legitimate to ask “whether the work of the poet as we possess it contains history or fiction, as if a third thing were not possible...” (p. 20). The idea here is that the book is an artistic masterpiece put together skillfully by a great poet who used materials available to him. While it is true that the book does not claim to be written by Job (the Prologue-Epilogue is about him), nevertheless the discourses do claim to be from the lips of the same sufferer and the integrity of the book is impaired if this is not so.
Returning to the problem of the apparent incongruities mentioned above, the Israeli scholar Y. Kaufmann in The Religion of Israel (p. 335) explains God’s rebuking the friends and not Job by suggesting that they were guilty of conventional clichés and empty phrases, while Job had challenged God out of a moral duty to speak only the truth before him. This is much more satisfactory than assuming, as some do, that the Book has lost a large portion in which the friends like his wife told Job to curse God and die. Job himself accused his friends of saying things they did not believe to curry favor with God (13:7, 8). Without assuming there are no deletions or interpolations at all in Job, a fair mind must see the singular organic unity of this sizeable piece of lit. from OT times.
The brevity of Bildad’s speech and the omission of Zophar in chs. 24-27, added to Job’s suddenly taking up his friend’s argument, may indicate such a deletion and interpolation; but the complaints against the first divine speech (ch. 38) on the basis that God seems indifferent to man’s predicament is simply a modern rejection of one of the book’s most profound teachings regarding the sovereignty of God.
The date and canonicity.
It is possible that the Book of Job existed outside of Israel for some time in oral form or even was partially written until an unknown Israelite author under divine inspiration put it into its present literary form. This would account for the non-Israelite flavor of the book but also account for its unquestioned place in the canon of Heb. inspired books. It seems likely that Job himself lived in the second millennium b.c. (2000-1000) and shared a tradition not far removed from the patriarchs. Job’s longevity of 140 years and his position as a man whose wealth was measured in cattle possessions, and the picture of roving Sabean and Chaldean tribesmen fits the 2nd millennium better than the first. The book, however, may not have reached its final form until the 1st millennium, perhaps in the Solomonic Age or somewhat later when Heb. Wisdom Literature was at its height. Attempts to put the authorship of Job in postexilic times, or even down to as late as the 2nd cent. b.c. have been dealt a decisive blow by the discovery of fragments of Job written in paleo-Heb. script among the Dead Sea materials.
It is most amazing that a book with nothing distinctively Israelite about it should find a place as part of the Heb. canon and never be seriously challenged. This proves that the Hebrews recognized the superior spiritual message of this book from the earliest times. Since inspiration was the test for canonicity and a major test for inspiration was the acceptance of the book by the community of God’s people, the Hebrews included Job in their third section of the canon of holy inspired books called The Writings (Hagiographa). The place of the book with relationship to Psalms and Proverbs has varied. Our Eng. Bible follows the Heb. tradition reflected in the LXX, while printed editions of the Heb. Bible follow the order Psalms, Proverbs, Job.
Place of origin.
Studies in the LXX of Job have revealed that the oldest Gr. text is shorter than the MT. This pre-Origen Gr. VS shows that the tr. omitted difficult lines (Anchor Bible 15, p. XL). Origen filled in the missing lines from Theodotian’s tr. from the Heb. The Gr. text is also somewhat of a paraphrase showing according to some a theological bias in places (ibid.).
Among other VSS the most helpful is the Syr. where the meaning of rare Heb. words can be detected. A Lat. tr. comes directly from the Heb. by Jerome in the 4th cent. a.d. Jerome was strongly influenced by the rabbis who taught him Heb. but also by Origen’s VS of the LXX which he also tr. into Latin. The MT is still the best source for the text of Job. Several pieces of a lost Targum of Job were found among the Dead Sea materials (The Ancient Library of Qumran, etc., F. M. Cross, Jr., p. 26).
Purpose and teaching.
The author of the Book of Job purposes to show how the theological position of Job’s friends represents a shallow and only partial observation of life; that is, that man’s suffering is always proportionate to his sins. There is no studied attempt to justify God with regard to the innocent suffering, but the author does show God has higher purposes, and far from abandoning the sufferer communicates with him at the proper time. A subsidiary purpose is to show that though men are often sinful, weak and ignorant, they can, like Job, be relatively pure and upright even when in the midst of emotional turmoil and spiritual testing. Satan was permitted to test Job sorely, through the instrumentality of would-be helpers who used all the words of traditional piety. Job’s problem was the vexing question of theodicy; that is, the justice of God in relation to the innocent suffering. The book pursues a middle way between fatalism where divine power originates evil as in the Babylonian Theodicy and a view of human freedom which would ignore the sovereignty of God. There is no attempt to give a rational or philosophical solution to the problem of evil. The picture is the same as that given in Genesis where the accuser (Satan), as a creature of God, subject to His will, yet in rebellion, bears the responsibility for Job’s trouble, although, indeed, he is permitted to do so by God. The problem of theodicy is left on the note that God is a sovereign Deity who made and sustains all that is, who in His omnipotence and omniscience can and does use secondary means to bring about His higher and perfect purposes. One of these higher purposes in Job’s suffering is to prove to Satan that Job did not live righteously only that he might prosper. Satan challenges God to prove that Job’s devotion is pure not only by removing his wealth but also by destroying his health.
Initially Job stands the test even when his wife says, “Curse God, and die” (2:9). But as his troubles multiply Job has second thoughts and in his dialogues with his counselors he wrestles with God, challenges God, sinks into depths of despair and rises to peaks of trust and confidence in God. Throughout the book Job defends his own essential innocence (not sinlessness) in rejecting the view of his friends, which rarely moves from the single theme that suffering is the immediate corollary of sin, and that because Job has grievously sinned God has become his enemy. Their view Job emphatically rejects but his own view seems to be in a state of flux, for he says many unfortunate things. Yet in it all, he does not do what Satan said he would; he does not curse God to His face (2:5).
Some have suggested the OT sometimes shares in this erroneous view. As, for example, Psalm 1:3 says of the righteous, “In all that he does, he prospers,” and Psalm 37:25 says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.” This discrepancy is superficial because the Psalms are not making specific applications, as were the counselors of Job, but are expressing general principles. Perhaps the point where Job was agonizing the most was how to integrate those valid parts of what the friends said with his own experience. Job had no answer because God has not seen fit to give man a reason for everything He does. So Job blows hot and cold. Sometimes he blames the Lord for tormenting him and wishes God would leave him alone (7:17-21; 10:20; 19:22). At other times he yearns for God to communicate with him (14:15) and that he might see God. This emotional instability of Job in all likelihood arose from an internal conflict based on his intellectual acceptance of this false view of suffering (so much for so much sin) which conflicted with his experience.
The question arises as to whether the purpose of the book is to formulate an exact rational answer to the problem of theodicy, the justice of God in innocent suffering. In all Job’s dialogues he nowhere calls for such, nor does the Lord give such an answer when He appears to speak to Job and his friends. What Job does call for is a vindication of the fact that he has not committed heinous sins for which he is being punished. When God does rebuke Job it is for his ignorance (38:2, 13) and presumption (42:2), not for a profligate life. God is apparently telling Job in chs. 38-41 that neither he nor his friends know enough about His ways to make judgments concerning the rightness of His dealings with men. This impugns esp. the strictness of the friends and their whole theory of suffering which implicitly laid claim to complete knowledge of God’s ways.
Even though in His appearance God does not deal with the problem of theodicy and gives no rational explanation or excuse for Job’s suffering, nevertheless Job is not crushed, only rebuked, and even that not as severely as his friends (42:7). Job now realizes God does not need man’s advice to control the world and that no extreme of suffering gives man the right to question God’s wisdom or justice and on this he repents (42:2-6). On seeing the power and glory of God Job’s rebellious attitude dissolves and his resentment disappears. Job now gets at least part of what he sought for, his friends do not see him pronounced guilty and therefore the idea that suffering is proof of sin is refuted.
Nowhere does God impugn the basic integrity of Job’s character, and hence Satan has failed and Job’s testing has come to an end. He has not demanded restoration, only vindication of his character; but God, having achieved His higher purpose through Job, now restores him who in his suffering, despite moments of weakness, surpassed in righteousness those who had not suffered as he had. After all his doubts and bitterness Job arrived at that point of spiritual maturity where he could pray for those who abused him (42:10; Luke 6:28). The issues raised in this book are indeed among the most profound and difficult of human existence. The answer was already on Job’s lips in the Prologue when he said, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21b); and “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10). The truth Job knew was that God must be God, and that of all values and all existence only God and His glory must ultimately prevail.
Outline and content.
Outline and content
Summary of contents:
The prologue (1:1-2:13)
The prologue presents Job as a man of singular character and very prosperous. For reasons about which the reader is informed but which Job does not know, Job’s wealth and health are taken from him while his character remains intact. The writer uses great restraint in the choice of details giving no extraneous information but in typical Sem. style he uses repetition skillfully for emphasis and effect (1:1, 8; 2:3 and 1:22; 2:10 and 1:14-19).
Job was a man from the land of Uz which land was somewhere E of Pal. on the edge of the desert (1:19) but where farming was carried on (1:14) and also near a town (29:7). Job’s wealth is given in terms similar to those used of the patriarchs, that is, animal possessions, sons and servants. Job is perfect (tām) and upright (yāšār). These terms do not mean sinless but complete and straight in character.
There are two scenes in heaven (1:6-11 and 2:1-5) each followed by a series of happenings which result from these encounters between the Lord and Satan. In the first scene Satan questions Job’s motives in his religious devotion. Is it for nothing that Job serves God? (1:9). If God would remove the hedge about Job and his house and let Satan smite him, Job would curse God to His face. After Job’s children and wealth are taken away under the permissive will of God still Job maintains his integrity toward God. Satan then calls on the Almighty to permit him to smite Job’s body. For “all that a man has he will give for his life” (2:4). Satan then proceeds to afflict Job with a horrible disease. At this point even Job’s wife advises, “Curse God, and die” (2:9); “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (v. 10).
It is at this point that his would-be comforters arrive. They sit with him seven days and nights mourning his affliction, and finally Job breaks the silence with the opening words of the so-called dialogues. Job utters a lengthy soliloquy cursing the day of his birth (ch. 3).
The dialogues (3:1-41:34).
A. Job curses the day of his birth. Job, now in a state of despondency, damns the day of his birth. The theme continues throughout the chapter. He wishes this day had never dawned (vv. 4, 9) or that there might have been an eclipse of the sun (v. 5) or that it never would have been numbered among the days of the year (v. 6). He yearns that the diviners might have put a curse on it so that the rays of that dawn never would have come up. Would that he had been a stillbirth, for then Job imagines he might now be at rest or even in the company of the illustrious dead (v. 14) rather than a blighted man lying in squalor.
Job questions the wisdom of God in prolonging life for those who are in misery (v. 20) and who long for death (v. 21). He ends his sad soliloquy on the mournful thought that the thing he feared most has happened to him; that is, he is in a state of complete torment physically and emotionally and there is no deliverance, no end in sight.
The state of mind Job displays in this ch. marks his lowest ebb, the nearest he ever came to fulfilling Satan’s prediction that he would curse God to His face. This attitude resulted from the repeated question, why? (3:11, 20). Although not cursing God he is certainly questioning God’s sovereignty and wisdom and for this he was finally rebuked and repents (40:1, 2; 42:1-6).
The first cycle.
Eliphaz employs an age old means used to impress others with one’s religious authority. He tells of an occult experience, a vision in the night which was so frightening that his hair stood up (4:15) and he heard a spirit announce in a hushed voice the message of vv. 17-21 regarding the otherness of God as One so far removed from His creatures of clay that they are like fragile moths whose lives meaninglessly pass away forever (4:20).
Eliphaz continues in ch. 5 to describe the lot of foolish sinners who never prosper and who always have trouble (vv. 1-7), but he presents himself as one who commits his way to God (vv. 8-16). By implication Eliphaz admonishes Job to “despise not the chastening of the Almighty” (vv. 17-27). If Job will only do this he will soon find that he is prospering again (vv. 19, 24-26, etc.). Eliphaz finishes with the admonition that his great wisdom has come from his own research and therefore deserves close attention (27).
Job does not bother to answer Eliphaz specifically but continues to give vent to his anguish. How great his anguish is! If weighed against his words his vexation would be heavier than the sand of the sea. That is why he complains so vehemently for he has ample unsalted food; worse, they are putrid. Job pleads again for death (6:8-13). He complains that his flesh is not made of stone or bronze; it would be a comfort for him to die. Job chides his friends for their lack of pity. A sick man should have the pity of his friends even if he renounced the fear of God, but his friends have betrayed him. They have seen him in this awful condition and have panicked even when he was asking for nothing but honest words. This, he says, is exactly what they have failed to say (v. 25).
Job challenges them to prove their contention that he has grievously sinned. They are callous enough to cast lots over an orphan or barter over a friend (v. 27). He pleads that they soften up and see that what he says is right.
Job’s reply continues in ch. 7 where addressing God Job laments man’s plight and hardship on earth (vv. 1, 2). He describes in detail his own sad condition. “My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; and my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh” (v. 5). He laments man’s predicament in death where man seems simply to evaporate and vanish. “He who goes down to Sheol does not come up” (v. 9). At this Job says he will not restrain his tongue any longer (v. 11) but will complain with all the bitterness of his soul. He then begins to accuse God of tormenting him with dreams and nightmares, of being like a watchman over his soul, inspecting him every morning and testing him every moment. He asks God to leave him alone, please to forgive him and let him lie down and die (vv. 12-21).
Bildad the Shuhite now speaks. He charges Job with producing nothing but a big wind. If Job’s children have sinned they have been punished for it and Job himself could be delivered if only he were pure and upright. Surely Job should study what the ancients have said and find out what happens to people who forget God. The wicked wither as plants do when they are deprived of water (vv. 11-13) and their confidence is like a spider’s web (v. 14) that can be brushed away in a second (v. 18) but Job should realize God never rejects the upright (v. 20).
Perhaps with sarcasm Job agrees with what Bildad has said but he cannot see how man ever can be justified before God. He goes on to tell what he means by this statement, that is, in argumentation God always wins because God is too wise and powerful for man no matter how clever or mighty the man may be. Beginning in v. 5 Job describes God as the great controller of all the universe. “How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?” (v. 14). Here Job seems to accuse God of being callous, as one who destroys both the guiltless and wicked (v. 22), and who laughs at the calamity of the innocent. Job continues to complain that God allows the earth to be controlled by the wicked, there is no justice on earth, and God is to blame (v. 24). Job’s days are fleeing by and he has no hope because he feels God holds him guilty (v. 28). Even if he were clean (v. 30) God would plunge him in the muck so that his own clothes would abhor him. Moreover, the sufferer cannot even challenge God because the latter is so great. Job wishes for an arbiter who could equalize the situation (v. 33). He calls on God to put aside His club so that Job could speak to Him without fear (v. 35).
But now, Job says he is sick of life (10:1) and he is going to continue to give vent to his bitterness. He addresses God by asking if it is right that He should oppress and despise the creatures of His own hands while He favors the wicked (10:3). Job questions whether God can really sympathize with man’s predicament (10:4-7). God will not let him alone even though He made man out of clay. Now He seeks to destroy him (10:8, 9). Even though God fashioned his flesh and bones in the womb and granted him a time of happiness (10:10-12), yet God did it while planning to let him come to this horrible situation. Job sees himself as a victim whom God is oppressing as a lion stalks its prey (10:10). Why then did God allow him to be born? Would it not be better if God would let him alone for the few days he has left before he goes down to the land of darkness and gloom (10:20-22).
Despite Job’s failure to see the love of God and his feeling of God-forsakenness, it is obvious he is still wrestling with God and is by no means ready to curse God to His face.
Zophar takes up the challenge of Job lest it go unanswered. He will not allow Job’s babbling to silence him. If God were to speak He would tell Job how guilty he is. God is greater than all; He sees and knows all the evil of men. If only Job will reach out a hand toward God and put away his evildoing God would lift him up and he would be restored and soon forget all his troubles (vv. 13-19). Let Job keep in mind that the wicked have no refuge and no hope (v. 20).
Job requests they keep quiet while he boldly speaks. Taking his life in his hand he bravely declares that even if God slays him he has the confidence that he will yet (after death) maintain the basic integrity of his ways before God (vv. 13-16). He pleads with God to let him set out his case and is confident he will be justified (vv. 17-19). Two things Job requests of God, to withdraw His hand and cease terrifying him and to communicate with him (vv. 20-22). Then Job confesses his sins and pleads that God hide not His face nor become his enemy (vv. 23-28).
In ch. 14 Job laments man’s predicament, “few days, and full of trouble.” God knows how pathetically short Job’s days are. Why will He not forbear and let man enjoy his day (vv. 1-6). Job compares man to a tree which though cut down can be revived by “the scent of water” (9). Poor man, he dies and does not rise for ages on end. Again Job yearns for death, but this time he suggests that man too may live again. In a moment of supreme tranquility, Job confesses he will gladly suffer “all the days of his warfare” and wait patiently for his release to come when he will hear God call and have a happy relationship with God again (vv. 14, 15). But Job sinks back again into despondency. He feels at the end of this discourse that God will not forgive him (v. 16), that he has no hope (v. 19) and must look for more pain (v. 22) and final death (v. 20).
The second cycle of speeches.
This time Eliphaz is not courteous toward Job. He frankly labels Job’s speech as hot air and charges him as guilty of the worst kind of impiety because he talks as if he were the first man who ever lived, who has a monopoly on wisdom, esp. the counsels of God. Does Job not know that his counselors are older than Job’s father? Does he not know how unrighteous man is? For even the angels and heaven itself are impure in God’s sight (vv. 11-16). “The wicked are always tormented” and “his ruin is always sure.” From vv. 17-35 Eliphaz gives a lengthy harangue about the troubles which come on wicked man (meaning Job, of course), who stretches out his hands against God (v. 25).
Job is sick of their prattle. If the tables were turned and they were suffering he could harangue them with words and shake his head at them (vv. 1-5). At this Job begins to use figures of speech to describe what he thinks are God’s actions against him. God is as one gnashing upon him with His teeth. God has set him up like a target for the archers and warriors breach him like the wall of a city is breached (vv. 9-14). His miserable condition is such that his face is red with weeping and his eyelids are covered with darkness (v. 16). There is no justification for this because there has been no violence in his hands and his prayers have not been hypocritical.
Moreover, Job claims to have an advocate in heaven, one who pleads his cause before God, as a man pleads for his friend. This is the umpire of 9:33 and the vindicator of 19:25.
These advocate passages in the Book of Job are an amazing insight into man’s deep need of a mediator between himself and God. Job, with all his complaining, reached an understanding of the mystery of godliness which the counselors did not even approach. Theirs was an ad nauseam repetition of a defective view of suffering. When Job called for an advocate who could put his hand on God and on man he was touching in a prophetic way on man’s need for a Reconciler who would be both human and divine. The forensic aspect of the mediatorial work of Christ (Rom 5:1-5) fulfilled the great need of sinful man who stands in the presence of the Almighty overwhelmed and condemned. As a believer Job felt this need. How much he understood is open to question.
After this moment of hope Job sinks back into despair. His spirit is broken, his days are spent, he looks only for the grave (17:1-3). He has no plans, no desires, no hope (17:11-16).
Bildad has no patience with what he calls Job’s word snares and he cannot understand why Job thinks they are stupid as beasts. Does Job expect the world to stop for him (v. 4)? From v. 5 on he dwells on the horrible fate of wicked men, obviously meaning Job. Such men may expect to have terrors on every side and to be afflicted with fatal disease and plucked from their home to face the king of terrors, death itself. Nor may they expect to have any posterity or remembrance in the earth.
Job’s foolish words have made Zophar angry. Does Job not know one of the oldest facts of history (v. 4), that the wicked prosper only for a moment and then always perish forever like dung never to be seen again (vv. 7-9)? Even their children are reduced to poverty (v. 10) and the evil that seemed sweet becomes venom within the wicked (vv. 11-16). He never gets to enjoy the riches which he gained by oppression and robbery (vv. 12-22) because God always punishes the wicked with His wrath (vv. 23-26). Even the heavens and the earth testify against the wicked and the loss of everything is his portion from God (vv. 27-29).
Man cannot benefit God by being righteous. On the other hand, does Job think God is reproving him for his righteousness? Indeed not, it is because his wickedness is great (vv. 1-5). Eliphaz now gives a detailed catalogue of the kinds of sin Job has prob. committed. He has oppressed the poor, the widow and the orphan (vv. 5-9). God may be far away in heaven but He sees and He will surely punish (vv. 12-20). So why does not Job yield to Him and repent and take delight in Shaddai who will surely hear and restore Job and even enable him to intercede for others (vv. 21-30).
Some feel that beginning at 24:18 Job takes up the argument of his counselors, that is, that the wicked do not prosper. Therefore the words, “you say,” which are not found in the Heb. text are added, making vv. 18-25 a quotation by Job of their argument (see RSV). Others feel this is a misplaced portion and belongs to one of the counselors (Anchor Bible 15, p. xviii).
Bildad now gives a short speech in which he dwells on the majesty of God whom he feels rules with terror (vv. 2, 3) and before whom man, a mere maggot or worm, cannot possibly be pure (vv. 4-6).
Those who claim Zophar had a third speech usually begin it at about 27:8 and assume that an introductory line was lost or taken out by an overzealous scribe who wanted to tone down Job’s argument. But it is just as likely that Job awaited Zophar’s reply and when none came he then took up again the discourse (27:1) and for the first time he uses a solemn oath (v. 2) to declare his integrity and their deceit in accusing him (v. 5).
It is said that either Job himself or the Israelite writer who composed the book at this point inserted a poem on the inscrutable wisdom of God. If this is Job speaking, how do his words fit into the rest of his argument and how could a man having such a disturbed state of mind give a poem so full of meditative tranquility? On the latter point it is well known that people who are disturbed sometimes produce poems or hymns in unexplained moments of extreme tranquility. Nor dare one ignore the influence of the Spirit of God on Job. Many of the things he has said were his own fallible reasoning. Now, near the end of his rope and still without a satisfactory answer to the conflict raging within him of how to reconcile his sufferings with his own integrity of life, he turns his mind to the wisdom of God. Man’s ability to find and extract precious metals and gems from the earth is amazing, but man cannot find wisdom so easily (v. 12). After a grand comparison of these achievements of man (vv. 1-11) with the wisdom of the Almighty (vv. 12-27), man is reminded that his true wisdom is to fear the Lord and obey Him.
Job begins his final remarks by recalling his former happy and prosperous condition, when everyone poor and rich, young and old respected him (29:1-10). Those were the days when he was a champion of the poor, the orphan and the widow. He was “eyes to the blind” and “feet to the lame” and he resisted the wicked (29:11-17). Surely he thought, he would continue a strong man into ripe old age (29:18-20). Instead boys whose fathers were beneath him are now deriding him (30:1-7) and even worse he has become a gibe to vile hoodlums (30:15-23). Job laments that he who once wept for the needy and the poor now finds himself forsaken, lonesome, diseased and dying (30:24-31).
The first six prose vv. introduce a new character, Elihu, who was standing on the side listening to the debate. When the three failed to answer Job’s oaths, an arrogant spirit of self-righteousness made the anger of this young man flare up. He injects himself into the discourse apologizing for his presumption while pointing out that wisdom is a gift of God and does not come automatically with age (vv. 7-9). He will speak without flattery nor be partial to any (vv. 21, 22).
I sinned, and perverted what was right,
and it was not requited to me.
He has redeemed my soul from going down into the Pit,
and my life shall see the light.
This evidence of grace God displays not once but often twice and thrice with a man (v. 29). Elihu has shown the chastening aspect of suffering and how it is a work of God’s grace. Job has no reply (vv. 31-33).
The exact meaning of Elihu is somewhat elusive at the beginning of this ch. but it becomes clear from v. 3 that he opposes Job in his idea that righteousness does not pay. This would mean that God is not just. Elihu uses an argument already used by Eliphaz (22:2-4), that man cannot add or detract from God by his righteousness or evil (35:5-7) and therefore God’s administration of justice is always fair. If it appears to sinful men that God is indifferent to human virtue or wickedness, it is only because of the pride of their heart, because they do not seek God aright, to praise Him as God (vv. 9-13). Job should not be so impatient for in God’s own time He will administer justice (vv. 14-16).
Elihu’s ministry, far from being an interpolation, forms a unique transition between the speeches of Job and his friends and the theophany of chs. 38-42. Since there is no rebuke of Elihu by God in ch. 42 one may safely assume that his words do not partake of the hypocritical spirit common to the three counselors. He has concentrated on the disciplinary nature of suffering and has checked Job where he sometimes lost sight of divine majesty and fell into accusing God of acts contrary to his nature. Elihu has prepared the way for the appearance of the Lord in the whirlwind, esp. by his lengthy description of God’s creation and control over the forces of nature.
The Lord concludes this first discourse by calling on Job to give up his contention with the Almighty (40:2) and let God be God.
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer thee? I lay my hand on my mouth” (v. 4). Job had uttered some proud words, he had desired to approach God like a prince (31:37), but now he sees how far from wisdom his attitude was. He will be silent and listen to his Creator (40:5).
Applying the figure of the ancient belt-wrestler (2 Sam 2:14-16) God calls on Job to gird his loins like a hero and prepare again to grapple with the words of the Lord. Can Job deck himself with majesty and glory and put to nought his proud adversaries? If so, God will not fail to acknowledge his superiority (40:6-14). But rather let Job consider Behemoth the great bovine (?) monster whose bones are like tubes of bronze and limbs like bars of iron (vv. 15-18). As one of God’s primeval works his habitat and prowess are described. The surging river cannot overcome him nor can man capture him (vv. 19-24).
Earlier Job was humbled and silenced (40:3-5), now he has reached the place of repentance as a direct result of the convicting power of the Word of God. Job quotes God’s words (38:2, 3b; 40:7) and abhors his own false words. No purpose of God can be thwarted and Job has spoken as if it were within his power to do that very thing. He has talked glibly about things too wonderful for his finite mind to comprehend. He had heard about God, but now after a direct confrontation with Him Job despises himself and repents in dust and ashes. His questions have not been answered, but he is assured God cares and does only right.
The Epilogue (42:7-17).
The Lord calls Job “my servant” whose prayer “I will accept.” No dearer words could have reached the patriarch’s ears, for this is full proof of his vindication and of Satan’s defeat (1:8; 2:3). The friends, on the other hand, are clearly rebuked. “You have not spoken of me what is right” (7c). God refers here to the gradual growth in understanding seen in Job’s discourses as contrasted the clodhopping repetition of the friends, and esp. the final repentant words of the sufferer. The Heb. of v. 7c can be read, “you have not spoken of me....” If anything the friends in their hypocritical way had tried to say all the right things about God, but failed to say anything to Him. Moreover, the friends in inventing charges against Job had told lies to uphold their false view of God’s relationship to human suffering. Job had spoken right, that is truthfully, even though he had been an impatient protester.
Job who had grown spiritually was asked to prove his newly found strength by praying for his adversaries (Matt 5:44), and they who needed to repent are warned to do so and to solemnize it with the proper blood offerings. They brought the sacrifices to Job who performed this ceremony which taught the truth of God’s redemptive provision for sin.
Some critics have questioned whether Job’s restoration does not prove Satan’s point when he questioned “Does Job serve God for nought?” or the friends’ point when they maintained that the righteous only suffer briefly and must ultimately prosper (cf. ICC p. lxii). Job had not demanded nor even asked for restoration, only vindication of his character. Restoration came after the test was over and Job had received his vindication. His repentance was for an attitude acquired during his suffering, not for sins that caused his suffering. It would have been meaningless for Job to continue suffering after God’s purpose for the suffering had been accomplished.
Despite the friends’ misinterpretations and misapplications there is a righteousness-prosperity and sin-suffering relationship under the sovereign purposes of God. The righteous shall ultimately inherit the earth; “...yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken” (Ps 37:24, 25) is not contrary to the teaching of the Book of Job. When Job had demonstrated faithful obedience in praying for those who abused him, the Lord restored Job’s property double for all he had lost, and he begat a new family with three very beautiful daughters whose names mean, in the order given, Turtledove, Cinnamon and Jar of Eyepaint. Their unique treatment in receiving inheritance along with their brothers reflects the high status of women in this patriarchal society (cf. Gordon, HUCA 26, pp. 76-82). Job’s 140 years reflect patriarchal longevity, and if he was 70 when afflicted this would fit the pattern of double restitution of his fortunes. So Job died full of days having experienced the “purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).
A special problem. Mythology and the Book of Job.
How do the mythological allusions in Job fit with an evangelical view of the origin of the book as the Word of God? There is a rather limited number of categories or subjects where mythological terminology is employed. The most frequent usage is when the speaker deals with the forces of nature, the storm, fire, the sea, etc. A second category has to do with creatures, cosmic or otherwise. A third with cosmography and a fourth with heathen cultic practices. Only one passage has the latter which may be dealt with summarily.
“Let those curse it who curse the day,
who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan,”
(Job 3:8). Job calls for the enchanters to curse his day. This is usually taken as the rousing of the sea monster who according to primitive notions was supposed to swallow the sun or moon and bring about an eclipse. This would fit the context, for Job has wished the day of his birth were indeed blotted out or made dark. Verse 5b seems to be a reference to the eclipse. This presents no special problem since Job’s whole mood here is erroneous: he is using a common forceful expression as he yields to his anguish of soul, even though he undoubtedly knew that use of enchanters was forbidden by the Lord. His real sin for which he can scarcely be excused was in damning the day of his birth, questioning the sovereign purpose of God.
Job and his friends were theologically confused esp. in the matter of theodicy. In some places, therefore, they could be mouthing contemporaneous notions. However, one would not expect this in the words of God, as for example, in the theophany of chs. 38-41, and may well ask, “Are there clear cut mythological assumptions here?”
The tendency of the naturalistic critic to see mythology everywhere results in more misinterpretation than the well-meant but misdirected attempt to rule out all mythological expression. Reading primitive meaning into a piece of monotheistic lit. where the idiom can be viewed as a result of simple observation or the use of quaint expressions is poor methodology. On the other hand one must be cautioned against the rejection of all mythological usage in a strained attempt to remove the writers of Scripture from such contamination.
There are references where the language of mythology appears as borrowed metaphors, use of names, etc. This is like the NT use of the heathen deity name Baalzebub for Satan. In a time of religious vitality and verbal fluency such idiom was used without necessarily a thought given to polytheistic usage. The Canaanite linguistic substratum was a readily available vehicle through which the prophets and poets could communicate the truth.
Job 26 is said to present a primitive cosmography. Verses 9 and 10 read:
He covers the face of the moon,
And spreads over it his cloud.
He has described a circle upon the face of the waters
At the boundary between light and darkness.
How can it be affirmed that this represents a primitive cosmography when v. 7 says “he hangs the earth upon nothing”? Verse 10 may mean that when one is on the water out of the sight of land, everywhere he turns one sees only horizon. Verse 9 is said to picture God seated on a throne above a solid firmament, conceived as a dome sitting on the pillars of heaven (v. 11). In v. 9 the RSV saw correctly that Kissēh is not throne but Keseh meaning “the full moon” as in Psalm 81:3 and Proverbs 7:20. So Job 26:9 reads:
“He covers the face of the moon,
And spreads over it his cloud.”
It may be quaint but it is highly poetic to speak of the mountains as pillars which support the low clouds (26:11).
No one has ever satisfactorily explained how v. 7 fits into any primitive cosmography:
“He stretches out the north over the void,
And hangs the earth upon nothing.”
Buttenweiser’s famous comment to the effect that it is not surprising to meet with such a view in the Book of Job in the light of advanced ideas of astronomy in Babylonia, Egypt and Greece cannot be summarily dismissed when those who do so make no attempt to interpret this verse. Nor does Job 38:4-6 necessarily contradict this conclusion. God may be questioning Job as to whether the earth was indeed built like a house with foundations.
Buttenweiser also contends “the north” in 26:7a is the celestial pole formed by the seven stars of Ursa Minor from which the movement of the universe was believed to proceed.
One cannot ignore what Ugaritic tells about Mount Zaphon as being the Canaanite Olympus (actually Mons Casius, Jebel el ’Aqra) where it was thought Baal built his marvelous palace. This explains why Zaphon means N in Heb. It is to be understood here as the celestial place where God dwells using the available Canaanite expression just as Isaiah does (Isa 14:13, 14).
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far north;
I will ascend above the heights of
I will make myself like the Most High.”
Furthermore the verb nātāh often is used for the stretching out or arching of the heavens (Ps 104:2) and this concept parallels antithetically the other side of the bicolon “The earth he hangs on nothing.”
In Job 26:12-14 the terms used are again mythological, but the meaning is of God’s powerful control over the raging force of the sea. We tr. following Tur-Sinai’s Commentary on Job in v. 12, 13.
By his strength he stirred up (or stilled) the sea,
By his understanding he smites Rahab
By his wind he puts Sea in a bag
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
“The Sea is stilled” parallels “Sea is put in a bag.” And “Rahab is smitten” parallels “the fleeing serpent is pierced.” Job says such dominion over the sea is only a bit of His dominion, only a whisper. Who can understand the real thunder of His mighty acts. Similarly, in Job 9:13 the cohorts of Rahab are mentioned as those who grovel beneath the Almighty who shakes the earth and removes mountains. God stretched out the heavens alone and made the constellations and treads on the back of Yam (the Sea). The Ugaritic “treading on the back” is a well-known Near Eastern symbol of overcoming one’s foes (Isa 63:6). The metaphor pictures God’s complete control of the sea. Likewise in Job 7:12, Job complains of imagined harassment by God when he says “Am I the sea (Yam) or a sea monster (Tanin), that thou settest a guard over me?” In Heb. monotheism God created and controls the Taninîm (pl.) while in northwestern Sem. mythology the uncreated monsters of chaos were slain by hero gods and only then creation begins when land and sea are made from pieces of the slain monster. There is none of this when one might expect to see it in ch. 38 where the sea is again personified and its birth pictured (8-11). Shutting the sea within doors is what the Babylonian god Marduk did after slaying Tiamat and creating the sea from her. Both here and there it merely refers to the limitations of the seas’ boundaries.
There appears also the use of swaddling bands as in the birth of the Ugaritic bovine monsters called Eaters and Devourers (Anchor Bible 15, p. 251) but both figures are borrowed from events of human birth and the Biblical account is tied closely to natural phenomena; swaddling bands of thick darkness and clouds.
In Job 38:12b “morning” and “dawn” are personified just as Dawn and Dusk were a divine pair in Ugaritic (ibid.) but in v. 13 “earth” is personified with coming of day likened to the snatching off of her skirts and shaking the wicked out of it. Apart from personification no other mythological distinctive is employed in these verses.
Just as Zaphon was a word originally meaning the abode of the gods but in Heb. was used for the habitation of the only true God, so the terms Yam and Rahab are derived from the Canaanite Sea God and his monstrous cohort and is used for the sea as part of God’s creation. It cannot be demonstrated that in a strong monotheistic context like the Book of Job these personifications were more than rich linguistic expressions of the powers of nature. Even when viewed as Canaanite gods part of their function was to describe and explain natural phenomena. Even if Job and his friends did know the mythology, this in itself would not prove they believed the myth anymore than my reference to Gr. deities proves I believe them. This view is strengthened by Job 31:26, 27 where the patriarch by oath with sanctions denies ever being tempted to participate in heathen worship of sun or moon.
Turning to ch. 5 one reads in 5:7 “But man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (RSV).
“Man, indeed, is born to trouble
And Resheph’s sons wing high” (Anchor Bible).
Here is another clear case where the name of a northwestern Sem. deity is used to refer to forces in nature with which the particular deity was identified in mythology. In the Ugaritic pantheon Resheph is equated with Nergal, the Mesopotamian god of pestilence and the nether world; in the OT the word is used of pestilence in Deuteronomy 32:25 and Habakkuk 3:5. The pl. is used of lightning in Psalm 78:48. In Psalm 76:3, however, “the reshephs (arrows) of the bow are in apposition to the shield, the sword and the battle.” In Ugaritic Resheph is called “Lord of the arrow.”
Just as Death had a first-born in Job 18:13 who devours wicked men’s bodies, so here the sons of Resheph may be various forms of trouble or pestilence or flames which soar aloft.
The word Behemoth seems to be an intensive pl. of Behemah, “beast,” “cattle” hence the beast par excellence. Behemoth is called in Job 40:19a “the first of the ways of God.” Pope tr. this “a primordial production of God” but Dahood says “He is the finest manifestation of God’s power” (ibid. p. 272). In Ugaritic the goddess Anat conquered the seven-headed leviathan along with a bovine creature called “the monstrous, ferocious bullock” (ibid. p. 269).
Behold his expectation is false
(Though) the angels are hurled down at his appearance
(And) he is fierce when one arouses him.
(Yet) who can stand before me (God).
Who can confront me and survive
For everything under the heavens is mine.
Will not I silence his boastings
His proud (high) talk and his fair array of words?
And vv. 18-21:
His sneezings flash forth light
His eyes are like the glow (eyelids) of dawn.
Out of his mouth go torches
And sparks of fire leap forth.
His nostrils smoke,
Out of a seething pot and burning brushwood.
His breath kindles coals
And a flame goeth pours out of his mouth.”
And vv. 33, 34,
Upon earth there is not his like,
A creature without fear.
He beholds everything that is high;
He is king over all the sons of pride.
The studied conclusion is that this is not a mere crocodile, but is to be understood in the light of Isaiah 27:1 etc. (cf. the dragon symbol of Rev 12).
The prologue of Job pictures the heavenly council before God and in 5:1 Eliphaz says to Job, “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?”
“To which of the holy ones will you turn?” Eliphaz is taunting Job that it is hopeless for him to appeal to the qedōšîm (holy ones). Critics take them to be the lesser divine beings who according to Mesopotamian concept were available as personal intercessors in the divine assembly. It should be noted that whether here or in the prologue or in Psalm 89:5 “the assembly of the holy ones” is most assuredly made up of created beings. Even in Mesopotamian concepts the lesser divine beings were created, whether in the progress of revelation Eliphaz had made the clear-cut monotheistic distinction we cannot tell, but one can be certain that neither the author of the Book of Job nor the Psalms attribute to these “holy ones” any of the pagan concepts of deity.
In Job 15:8 Eliphaz, condemning Job for self-exaltation, questions his ability to sit in and eavesdrop on the divine council. And in 33:23, 24 Elihu speaks of mediation by an angel. The Mesopotamian belief in a personal god who looked after the interest of his mortal client in the divine assembly may be a related concept but it could represent a retrogression rather than a stage in the development of Heb. religion. These “holy ones” among whom a man might find a defender should be tied to Job’s appeal for an Arbiter to argue his case (9:33) or Witness to testify of his integrity (16:19-21) or Vindicator or Redeemer to stand in his behalf (19:25-27). In a most prophetic way Job is touching on that mystery of godliness which says there must be one who can stand between God and man who must share in the nature of each. As Job says in 9:33 “who (he) might lay his hand upon us both.” This concept finds further expression in the OT teaching regarding the suffering vicarious expiator.
Job 38:31a provides an example of how the KJV was influenced by the earlier Jewish interpretation taken over by Christian exegetes. Nachmanides and others understood the v. in an astrological sense, the “sweet influences” of Pleiades being the astrological forces which produce pleasure, flowers and fruits in the spring. It is likely the key word should be rendered “fetters” parallel with “bands” of Orion following (1 Sam 15:32) where Agag stands before Samuel, not delicately but in fetters (ICC).
Nor should v. 33 be taken astrologically, “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule in the earth?” Some take these words to be pre-Newtonian allusions to the forces of gravity. The word huggōt “statutes” is parallel with mištār “a writing.” The stars in Akkad. are called šitir samē “heavenly writing.” I believe Tur-Sinai has come closest to understanding the v. by connecting it with Psalm 19 where the heavens write a message of God’s glory (Archiv Orientalni 17, 11 ).
An example of a forced attempt to read mythology into the text is found in the Anchor Bible where Pope following Dhorme renders 38:36
“Who put wisdom in Thoth
Who gave Sekwi understanding.”
The RSV takes these difficult words as “clouds” and “mist” with some philological support. Since the vv. before and after are dealing with the clouds, the rain and lightning, Thoth and Sekwi are completely out of context since they are gods of wisdom and writing.
On this general subject W. F. Albright has said some cogent things in his History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism. Remarking how the OT is a masterpiece of empirical logic not expressed in formal categories, Albright claims the OT has demythologized the poems on which some Heb. lit. is based. I would prefer to say that the OT writers demythologized not the lit. but only the language. “Old words are kept but with new meanings, divested of all clear mythological connotations.” (ibid. p. 94). Albright notes how the Puritan John Milton drew heavily on Gr. mythology to enrich his poetic imagery even in his picture of creation (ibid.).
For example, the use of pl. ĕlōhîm and ’âdōnay may have come from polytheistic usage, but in Heb. came to mean the totality of all the manifestations and attributes of deity which polytheism broke down into single elements. Even in some documents a high god is referred to with the pl. ending, the so-called pl. of majesty (Amarna and Ugaritic). Nothing sounds more polytheistic to some ears than the words used by the Chronicler “for our God is greater than all gods” (2 Chron 2:5).
Albright observes “much of the onslaught on early Israelite monotheism comes from scholars who represent certain theological points of view with reference to monotheism; i.e., who deny that orthodox trinitarian Christianity...or orthodox Judaism or orthodox Islam are monotheistic. I do not need to stress the fact that neither of the last two religions can be called monotheistic by a theologian who insists that this term applies only to Unitarian Christianity or liberal Judaism. But no dictionary definition of monotheism was ever intended to exclude orthodox Christianity” (ibid. p. 155).
In conclusion, the distinguishing mark of a mythology is not reference to gods or the use of anthropomorphism and various descriptive metaphors which describe deity in concrete terminology, but rather the narration of the actions of numerous gods who have the same limitations and sins common to man, including esp. sexual relations. Neither the Book of Job nor any of the OT has the slightest hint of belief in any such mythology.
F. Delitzsch, The Book of Job (1876); A. B. Davidson, The Book of Job (1886); A. S. Peake, Job (The New Century Bible, 1904); S. R. Driver and G. B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job, 2nd ed. (1920); M. Buttenwieser, The Book of Job (1922); E. Dhorme, A Commentary on the Book of Job (1926, tr. in Eng. 1967); B. D. Eerdmans, Studies in Job (1939); E. G. Kraeling, The Book of the Ways of God (1939); V. E. Reichert, Job: with Hebrew Text and English Translation (1946); E. J. Kissane, The Book of Job (1946); W. B. Stevenson, The Poem of Job (1947) and Critical Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Poem of Job (1951); L. Waterman, “Note on Job 19:23-27: Job’s Triumph of Faith,” JBL, Dec. 1950, 380; A. R. King, The Problem of Evil: Christian Concepts and the Book of Job (1952); S. Terrien, The Book of Job, Introduction and Exegesis (The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 3, 1954); T. H. Robinson, Job and His Friends (1954); J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (1955), 405, 434-440; W. S. Taylor, “Theology and Therapy in Job,” ThT, 12 (1955-1956), 451-463; G. R. Driver, “Mythical Monsters in the Old Testament,” Studi Orientalistici in onore di Giorgio Levi Della Vida I (1956), 234-249; S. N. Kramer, History Begins at Sumer (1956), 114-118; R. J. Williams, “Theodicy in the Ancient Near East,” Canadian Journal of Theology 2 (1956), 14-26; D. S. Shapiro, “The Problem of Evil and the Book of Job,” Judaism 5 (1956), 46-52; N. H. Tur-Sinai, The Book of Job: A New Commentary (1957); N. M. Sarna, “Epic Substratum in the Prose of Job,” JBL (March 1957), 13-25; M. Stockhammer, “The Ri ghteousness of Job,” Judaism 7 (1958), 64-71; H. H. Rowley, “The Book of Job and Its Meaning,” BJRL, 41 (1958), 167-207; L. J. Kuyper, “The Repentance of Job,” Vet Test 9 (1959), 91-94; R. A. F. MacKenzie, “The Purpose of the Yahweh Speeches in the Book of Job,” Biblica 40 (1959), 435-445; K. T. Thompson, “Out of the Whirlwind. The Sense of Alienation in the Book of Job,” INT 14 (1960), 51-63; M. Noth and D. W. Thomas, eds., Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Supplements to Vet Test 3 ); J. Paterson, The Wisdom of Israel: Job and Proverbs (Bible Guides, No. 11, 1961); P. W. Skehan, “Strophic Patterns in the Book of Job,” CBQ 23 (1961), 129-143; A. Guillaume, “The Arabic Background of the Book of Job,” Promise and Fulfillment, ed. F. F. Bruce (1963); J. Baker, “Commentaries on Job,” Theology 66 (May 1963), 179-185; M. H. Pope, Job (Anchor Bible 15 ); J. K. Zink, “Impatient Job,” JBL (June 1965), 147-152; R. Gordis, The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job (1966).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The titular hero of the nodetitle, 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 (Eze 14:14,20) 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.
John Franklin Genung