Who is Job?

Job is one of the poetic portions of the Old Testament of which very little is confirmed. Ancient Jewish scholars cite Moses as the author, but that Job himself is the true author is a more widely agreed speculation. Some scholars even propose two different unknown authors.

As for the actual dating of Job’s life, most believe it predates everyone after Adam and Eve, supposing Job to be among the people of the land of Nod (Gen. 4:16). But the first two places Job’s name is found (aside from the book of Job) is in Ezekiel There the prophet stated:

“Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness, says the Lord God” – Ezek. 14:14, 20.

Ezekiel’s point in both verses was that the ungodly conditions in the land were such that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that city, no one else would be saved. Ezekiel spoke of all three of these men as being real, historical people, not legendary characters.

As to his genealogy, neither Job nor his ancestors are ever mentioned in any of the original Hebrew biblical genealogies. However, as time progressed and newer translations became available new information appeared.

Some Greek and mostly Latin versions of the Book of Job state that Job dwelt in Ausitis on the confines of Idumea and Arabia. Further, his original name was Johab. He married an Arabian woman and fathered Ennon. Job’s father was Zerah who was from the lineage of Esau – five generations from Abraham. They were natives of Bozrah. The Latin text continues that Job reigned in Edom succeeding Balak, the son of Beor.  But in the Hebrew Bible, Balaam is the son of Beor.

The Latin continues to report that after Job were Husham and then Hadad, who was the son of Bedad and who defeated the Midianites in the fields of Moab. His city was named Arith. His three friends were Eliaphaz, a descendant of Esau and king of Teman, Bildad, king of the Shuhites, and Zophar, king of the Naamathites. Those that attest to the reliability of this are exclusively catholic scholars.

Other theological scholars suggest that Job was contemporaneous with Moses (1300 BC). In the Pseudepigrapha, one finds The Testament of Job. It claims Job was a king in Egypt. It also tells us the name of his wife, Sitidos. One Talmudic Tractate claims the Book of Job was written by Moses. Another claims it dates back to the time of Jacob,  and that Job is the son of Uz who was the son of Nahor, who was the brother of Abraham.

Still others claim that Job was one of the advisors to Pharaoh during the time of Moses; indeed, he was present when Pharaoh decreed that all the male Hebrew infants should be drowned. Even though he did not agree with the decree, he said nothing to dissuade Pharaoh from implementing it. This was, presumably, the sin for which he would be punished – the sin of silence.

According to the book that bears his name, Job was a uniquely righteous man, yet he was subject to all forms of distress. Because of this many have thought that Job was introduced as an Old Testament ‘parable’ similar to the New Testament parables of Christ, where the characters (the Good Samaritan, the Rich Young Ruler, etc.) were fictitious., rather than actual persons. As a work of fiction, like Christ’s parables, the story promotes the moral of faithfulness in spite of all opposition.

It should be obvious that scholars are not in agreement on any of these possible records.

Warning should also be heeded wherever characters mentioned with Scripture are further referred to in extra-biblical texts or nefarious newer translations. Perhaps it is best to accept the deliberate anonymity presented by the author of Job and to acknowledge that certain things cannot be known. Certainly, to postulate that any story is sufficient for sound doctrine is naïve at best.

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3 thoughts on “Who is Job?

  1. This was good stuff. Thank you. If nothing else perhaps we can all agree that Job is the personification of all of us. At least in what he endured. Aside from Job, of course is also the role of Satan who at least at that time had access to the throne. To me, the final irony is that where his complaining wife was restored to him, his children were killed. Allowing that our Father is a righteous ruler, his sons must have been really bad to permit them to be killed. The moral is a good one and that is that God is God and what he does is good in spite of all the bad around us. I will admit I would never have passed this test and that Job was a far better man than I could ever be. I think to that effect he is a man pointed to that we should at least attempt to follow along with the example of the perfection of our savior, the Christ. Thank you for this insight into a most intriguing episode of people of faith. We are in there somewhere as well. Thank you again.

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    • T.F. – Thank you for your reply. I hope the Lord provides continual illumination through His written Word, whether by direct reading of it, or through anointed commentary of it under the guidance of His Spirit.

      The specific purpose of my posting this Article was originally in response to a request by another reader for clarification on certain points regarding the various theories that were, quite frankly, not adequately elaborated upon here.

      I appreciate your interest and commendation: “This was good stuff.”

      Allow me to ask you to consider this, regarding your statement: “his sons must have been really bad to permit them to be killed.”

      While no specific passage within the narrative recorded in Scripture clearly declares that Job’s sons (and daughters) were killed because they were ‘bad’, the lack of such definitive information does allow for speculation, which is ironically the cumulative point of the entire book – there are more unanswered questions about Job, than concrete evidence that establishes indisputable fact. Therefore, the book has been considered by some as NOT Divinely inspired, chose NOT to include it in the cannon of their Bibles.

        The New Jerusalem Version

      , a Catholic translation, Includes several books in their Old Testament ruled non-inspired by Protestant reformers. They are Tobit, Judith, 1&2Maccabees, Baruch.

      Even more numerous are the ‘deuterocanonical’ books included in the Eastern Orthodox Bible: Enoch, Jubilees, 1&2 Esdras, Rest of the Words of Baruch and 3 books of Meqabyan.

      Theological scholars, especially experts in the field of ancient etymology and linguistics have concluded that the above lists are Not consistent with the over-all theme of Scripture (the scarlet thread of Redemption) and have relegated them to the ‘Apocrypha’ – coined by Catholic translator Jerome in the 5th century. He suggested that these books as ‘secret’, containing esoteric truth to be communicated ONLY to the ‘initiated’ and hidden from the ‘outside’ world.

      What is important to take from the text is that what Job had in the beginning, although it was ALL taken from him, was returned and increased in the end. Nowhere in the story is there ANY proof that Job’s calamity was due to the fact that he or his children were ‘bad’. In fact, the moral of the story is contrary to THAT assumption. ‘Bad’ things often happen to good people, but God is faithful to assure that their end is better than the sum of their loss.Excluding the Apostle John, EVERY other of Christ’s original disciples were martyred – NOT because they were ‘bad’. The epitome of this is the Passion of Christ – who died NOT for ANY sin of His doing.

      Jesus admonished His followers to believe this principle regarding the character of GOD. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” – Mt. 19:29.

      In Job 42:13 the SAME seven sons and three daughters that were referred to in Job1:2 are included in the restoration narrative AFTER God “turned the captivity of Job” (vs. 42:10).

      May God continue to richly prosper you.

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  2. I realize the scriptures say nothing about the character of Job’s son, but it doesn’t mean that portion wasn’t there. No, you cannot replace replaces sons as they were say a used car. It’s not so much that what Job says, as Job says so very much. But there is a lot NOT in there that speaks tons.
    For one: Satan is not a bad guy here. No, he is not a good guy, but good enough to speak with the creator and even engage in a bet. Even here, I’m sure there’s more to it than what was written.
    Second: the nagging wife. If God were to bump someone off, I think it should have been her. Too, she gave Job bad counsel the same as the others except the young man.
    I do like and appreciate you putting this into historical settings as once there I think it is both a real even but at times spoken in allegorical overtones. Where, if Job were alive today we’s ALL agree together of the goodness of God.

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