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Reference: Job


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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persecuted, an Arabian patriarch who resided in the land of Uz (q.v.). While living in the midst of great prosperity, he was suddenly overwhelmed by a series of sore trials that fell upon him. Amid all his sufferings he maintained his integrity. Once more God visited him with the rich tokens of his goodness and even greater prosperity than he had enjoyed before. He survived the period of trial for one hundred and forty years, and died in a good old age, an example to succeeding generations of integrity (Eze 14:14,20) and of submissive patience under the sorest calamities (Jas 5:11). His history, so far as it is known, is recorded in his book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONSTRUCTION. The artificial construction of the poem appears in the oft recurring sacred numbers three and seven. Job had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, and three daughters, both before and after his trials. His three friends sit with him seven days and nights. "Job" in Arabic means repentance, the name given him in after life from his experiences. His personal reality appears f

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1. The man Job.

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

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

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(persecuted), the third son of Issachar,

Ge 46:13

called in another genealogy JASHUB.

See Jashub

1Ch 7:1

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JOB, a patriarch celebrated for his patience, and the constancy of his piety and virtue. That Job was a real, and not a fictitious, character, may be inferred from the manner in which he is mentioned in the Scriptures. Thus, the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of him: "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God," Eze 14:14. Now since Noah and Daniel were unquestionably real characters, we must conclude the same of Job. "Behold," says the Apostle James, "we count them happy which endure: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy," Jas 5:11. It is scarcely to be believed that a divinely inspired Apostle would refer to an imaginary character as an example of patience, or in proof of the mercy of God. But, beside the authority of the inspired writers, we have the strongest internal evidence, from the book itself, that Job was a real person; for it expressly specifies the names of persons, places, facts, and other circumstances usually related in true histories. Thus, we have the name, country, piety, wealth, &c, of Job described, Job i; the names, number, and acts of his children are mentioned; the conduct of his wife is recorded as a fact, Job ii; his friends, their names, countries, and discourses with him in his afflictions are minutely delineated, Job 2:11, &c. Farther: no reasonable doubt can be entertained respecting the real existence of Job, when we consider that it is proved by the concurrent testimony of all eastern tradition: he is mentioned by the author of the book of Tobit, who lived during the Assyrian captivity; he is also repeatedly mentioned by Arabian writers as a real character. The whole of his history, with many fabulous additions, was known among the Syrians and Chaldeans; and many of the noblest families among the Arabs are distinguished by his name, and boast of being descended from him.

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

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