Book of Job



General Information

The Book of Job, in the Old Testament of the Bible, is a complex wisdom writing that uses a blend of prose and poetry in dramatic form to explore the perennial problem of innocent suffering and God's justice. The principal figure of the book is Job, a pious Jew afflicted with disease and stripped of all his goods. The free and imaginative transformations of the Job figure are literarily and intellectually comparable to Shakespeare's treatment of Hamlet and Goethe's use of Faust. The identity of the author, usually dated 600 - 400 BC, is completely unknown.

Throughout the drama, Job asserts his innocence of wrong, thereby rejecting the traditional view that suffering is the result of sin. The humble and patient Job who bears his sufferings as proofs of piety, however, becomes the raging and insistent Job pressing relentlessly for divine vindication in the dialogue that forms the main part of the book (chaps. 3 - 31). The argument is pursued through three cycles of speeches in which Job's three friends - Eliphaz, Bilbad, and Zophar - chide the hero and he, in answering them, challenges God. Job's final self defense and call upon the deity is answered by God's speech from a whirlwind in which Job is invited to trust in the divine omniscience and power.

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This direct experience of the mysteries of God leaves Job at peace with himself. Although no final solution to the problem is offered, the author clearly rejects traditional explanations of suffering. It is a moot point whether he offers a positive answer to questions about suffering and divine justice.

The unity of the book is debated. Many interpreters assign the prologue and epilogue to an earlier or later hand, and it is widely assumed that the poem on wisdom (chap. 28) and the speeches (chaps. 32 - 37) of a fourth friend (Elihu) inserted after the dialogues were added later, because they interrupt the flow of the argument.

Norman K Gottwald

R Gordis, The Book of God and Man (1965); L D Johnson, Out of the Whirlwind: The Major Message of Job (1971); H Morris, Remarkable Record of Job (1988).

Book of Job

Brief Outline

  1. Prologue (1-2)
  2. Job's complaint (3)
  3. Debates between Job and three friends (4-31)
  4. Speech of Elihu (32-37)
  5. Voice of God (38-41)
  6. Job's submission and restoration (42)


Advanced Information

Job, 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 (Ezek. 14:14, 20) and of submissive patience under the sorest calamities (James 5:11). His history, so far as it is known, is recorded in his book.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Book of Job

Advanced Information

A great diversity of opinion exists as to the authorship of this book. From internal evidence, such as the similarity of sentiment and language to those in the Psalms and Proverbs (see Ps. 88 and 89), the prevalence of the idea of "wisdom," and the style and character of the composition, it is supposed by some to have been written in the time of David and Solomon. Others argue that it was written by Job himself, or by Elihu, or Isaiah, or perhaps more probably by Moses, who was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). He had opportunities in Midian for obtaining the knowledge of the facts related. But the authorship is altogether uncertain. As to the character of the book, it is a historical poem, one of the greatest and sublimest poems in all literature. Job was a historical person, and the localities and names were real and not fictious. It is "one of the grandest portions of the inspired Scriptures, a heavenly-replenished storehouse of comfort and instruction, the patriarchal Bible, and a precious monument of primitive theology.

It is to the Old Testament what the Epistle to the Romans is to the New." It is a didactic narrative in a dramatic form. This book was apparently well known in the days of Ezekiel, B.C. 600 (Ezek. 14:14). It formed a part of the sacred Scriptures used by our Lord and his apostles, and is referred to as a part of the inspired Word (Heb. 12:5; 1 Cor. 3:19). The subject of the book is the trial of Job, its occasion, nature, endurance, and issue. It exhibits the harmony of the truths of revelation and the dealings of Providence, which are seen to be at once inscrutable, just, and merciful. It shows the blessedness of the truly pious, even amid sore afflictions, and thus ministers comfort and hope to tried believers of every age.

It is a book of manifold instruction, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). It consists of, (1.) An historical introduction in prose (ch. 1,2). (2.) The controversy and its solution, in poetry (ch. 3-42:6). Job's desponding lamentation (ch. 3) is the occasion of the controversy which is carried on in three courses of dialogues between Job and his three friends. The first course gives the commencement of the controversy (ch. 4-14); the second the growth of the controversy (15-21); and the third the height of the controversy (22-27). This is followed by the solution of the controversy in the speeches of Elihu and the address of Jehovah, followed by Job's humble confession (42:1-6) of his own fault and folly. (3.) The third division is the historical conclusion, in prose (42:7-15). Sir J. W. Dawson in "The Expositor" says: "It would now seem that the language and theology of the book of Job can be better explained by supposing it to be a portion of Minean [Southern Arabia] literature obtained by Moses in Midian than in any other way. This view also agrees better than any other with its references to natural objects, the art of mining, and other matters."

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Catholic Information

One of the books of the Old Testament, and the chief personage in it. In this article it is primarily the book which is treated. As opportunity, however, occurs, and so far as is permissible, Job himself will be considered. The subject will be discussed under the following heads:


In the Hebrew Bible Psalms, Proverbs, and Job are always placed together, the Psalms coming first, while Job is put between the other two or, at times, comes last. The three books form a part of the Hagiographa (Kethubim), having sometimes the first place among the Hagiographa, while again they may be preceded by Ruth, or Paralipomenon, or Paralipomen with, Ruth (cf. lists in Ginsburg, "Introduction to Heb. Bible", London, 1897, 7). In the Greek Bible and the Vulgate Job now stands before Psalms and follows directly after the historical books. The old Greek and the Latin manuscripts, however, assign it the most varied positions; see, for exemple, the list of Melito of Sardis, and that of Origen as given by Eusebius, "Hist. Eccle.", IV, iv, 26, and vi, 25 (in P.G., XX., 398, 582). In the Syriac Bible Job is placed directly after the Pentateuch and before Josue (cf. the lists in Hodius, "De Bibliorum textibus", Oxford, 1705, 644 sqq.; Samuel Berger, "Hist. de la Vulgate", Paris, 1893, 331-39).


(1) Historical Accuracy

Many look upon the entire contents of the book as a freely invented parable which is neither historical nor intended to be considered historical; no such man as Job ever lived. Catholic commentators, however, almost without exception, hold Job to have actually existed and his personality to have been preserved by popular tradition. Nothing in the text makes it necessary to doubt his historical existence. The Scriptures seem repeatedly to take this for granted (cf. Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11; Tobit 2:12-15, according to the Vulgate - in the Greek text of Tobias there is no mention of Job). All the Fathers considered Job an historical person; some of their testimonies may be found in Knabenbauer, "Zu Job" (Paris, 1886), 12-13. The Martyrology of the Latin Church mentions Job on 10 May, that of the Greek Church on 6 May (cf. Acta SS.' II, May, 494). The Book of Job, therefore, has a kernel of fact, with which have been united many imaginative additions that are not strictly historical. What is related by the poet in the prose prologue and epilogue is in the main historical: the persons of the hero and his friends; the region where be lived; his good fortune and virtues; the great misfortune that overwhelmed him and the patience with which lie bore it; the restoration of his Prosperity. It is also to be accepted that Job and his friends discussed the origin of his sufferings, and that in so doing views were expressed similar to those the poet puts into the mouths of his characters. The details of the execution, the poetic form, and the art shown in the arrangement of the arguments in the dispute are, however, the free creation of the author. The figures expressive of the wealth of Job both before and after his trial are imaginatively rounded. Also in the narrative of the misfortunes it is impossible not to recognize a poetic conception which need not be considered as strictly historical. The scene in heaven (i, 6; ii, 1) is plainly an allegory which shows that the Providence of God guides the destiny of man (cf. St. Thomas, "In Job"). The manifestation of God (xxxviii, 1) generally receives a literal interpretation from commentators. St. Thomas, however, remarks that it may also be taken metaphorically as an inner revelation accorded to Job.

(2) Divine Authority of the Book

The Church teaches that the book was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thus all that its author gives as historical fact or otherwise guarantees possesses unfailing Divine truth. The question, however, arises, what does the book guarantee? (a) Everything in prologue or epilogue that is the comment of the author is Divine truth; nevertheless, what is perhaps poetic ornament must not be confounded with historical verity or objective dogmatic precepts. The same authority is possessed by the utterances assigned by the poet to God. The like is true of the speeches of Eliu. Some think the speeches of Eliu are to be judged just as are those of Job and his friends. (b) The speeches of Job and his three friends have in themselves no Divine authority, but only such human importance as Job and his three friends are Personally entitled to. They have, however, Divine authority when, and in as far as, they are approved by the author expressly or tacitly. In general, such tacit approbation is to be understood for all points concerning which the disputants agree, unless the author, or God, or Eliu, shows disapproval. Thus the words of Job have in large degree Divine authority, because the view be maintains against the three friends is plainly characterized by the author as the one relatively correct. Yet much that the three friends say is of equal importance, because it is at least tacitly approved. St. Paul argues (1 Corinthians 3:19) from a speech of Eliphaz (Job 5:13) as from an inspired writing. (c) In particular places, especially where descriptions of nature are given or other secular matters are referred to, the caution prescribed by the rules of hermeneutics should be observed.


Apart from the prologue and epilogue, the Book of Job consists of a succession of speeches assigned to distinct persons. There are six speakers: Yahweh, Eliu, Job, and Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar.

(1) Job

The chief personage is Job.

(a) Name

He is called the "persecuted one", that is, the one tempted by (personified) suffering, the one hard beset, the patient sufferer. persecuted one", stand to XXX.--> It is no longer possible to decide whether the name was originally different and was later changed into the expressive form in folklore on account of Job's fate. Many commentators do not accept this explanation of the name.

(b) Age in which Job lived

According to the usual and well-founded assumption, Job lived long before Moses. This is shown by the great age he attained. He was no longer young when overtaken by his great misfortune (xii, 12; xxx, 1); after his restoration he lived one hundred and forty years longer (xlii, 16). His wealth like that of the Patriarchs, consisted largely in flocks and herds (i, 3; xlii, 12). The kesitah or piece of money mentioned in xlii, 11, belongs to patriarchal times; the only other places in which the expression occurs are Gen., xxxiii, 19, and Jos., xxiv, 32. The musical instruments referred to (xxi, 12; xxx, 31) are only those mentioned in Genesis (Gen. iv, 21; xxxi, 27): organ, harp, and timbrel. Job himself offers sacrifice as the father of the family (i, 5), as was also the custom of the Patriarchs. An actual offering for sin in the Mosaic sense he was not acquainted with; the holocaust took its place (i, 5; xlii, 8).

(c) Religion of Job

Job evidently did not belong to the chosen people. He lived, indeed, outside of Palestine. He and the other characters betray no knowledge of the specifically Israelitic institutions. Even the name of God peculiar to the chosen people, Yahweh, is carefully avoided by the speakers in the poetic part of the book, and is only found, as if accidentally, in xii, 9, and according to some manuscripts in xxviii, 28. The sacrifice in xlii, 8, recalls the sacrifice of Balaam (Numbers 23:1), consequently a custom outside of Israel. For the solution of the problem of suffering the revelations made to the Patriarchs or even Moses are never referred to. Nevertheless Job and his friends venerated the one true God. They also knew of the Flood (xxii, 16), and the first man (15:7, and Hebrews 31:33).

(d) Country in which Job lived

Job belonged to the "people of the East" (i, 3). Under this name were included the Arabian (Genesis 25:6) and Aramaean (Numbers 33:7) tribes which lived east of the Jordan basin and in the region of the Euphrates (Genesis 29:1). Job seems to have been an Aramaean, for he lived in the land of Hus (i, I; Ausitis). Hus, a man's name in Genesis, is always used there in close connection with Aram and the Aramaean (Genesis 10:23; 22:21; 36:28). His home was certainly not far from Edom where Eliphaz lived, and it must be sought in Eastern Palestine, not too far north, although in the region inhabited by the Aramaeans. It was located on the border of the Syro-Arabian desert, for it was exposed to the attacks of the marauding bands which wandered through this desert: the Chaldeans (i, 17) of the lower Euphrates and the Sabeans (i, 15), or Arabs. Many. following an old tradition, place the home of Job in the Hauran, in the district of Naiwa (or Neve), which is situated about 36° East of Greenwich and in almost the same latitude as the northern end of Lake Genesareth. The location is possible, but positive proof is lacking. Some seek the home of Job in Idumea, others in the land of the Ausitai, who, according to Ptolemy (Geogr., V, xix, par. 18, 2), lived in Northern Arabia near the Babylon. The land of Hus is also mentioned in Jer., xxv, 20, and Lam., iv, 21. In the first reference it is used in a general sense for the whole East; in the latter it is said that the Edomites live there.

(e) The Standing of Job

Job was one of the most important men of the land (i, 3; xxix, 25) and had many bondsmen (xxxi, 39). The same is true of the friends who visited him; in the Book of Tobias these are called "kings" (Tob., ii, 15, in Vulgate). In the Book of Job also Job seems to be described as a king with many vassals under him (xxix). That he had brothers and relations is seen in xix and in the epilogue.

(f) Job and Jobab

An appendix to the Book of Job in the Septuagint identifies Job with King Jobab of Edom (Gen. xxxvi, 33). Nothing in the book shows that Job was ruler of Edom; in Hebrew the two names have nothing in common.

(2) Eliphaz, Baldad and Sophar

The most important of Job's three friends was Eliphaz of Theman. The name shows him to be an Edomite (Genesis 36:11, 15). The Themanites of Edom were famous for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 5; Baruch 3:22 sq.). Eliphaz was one of these sages (xv, 9). He was far advanced in years (xv, 10), and much older than the already elderly Job (xxx, 1). The second of Job's friends was Baidad the Suhite, who seems to have belonged to Northern Arabia, for Sue was a son of Abraham by Cetura (Genesis 25:2, 6). He may have been of the same age as Job. The third friend, Sophar, was probably also an Arabian. The Hebrew text calls him a Naamathite. Naama was a small town in the territory belonging to Juda (Joshua 15:41), but Sophar hardly lived there. Perhaps the preferable reading is that of the Septuagint which calls Sophar always a Minaean; the Minaeans were an Arabian tribe. Sophar was far younger than Job (cf. Job's reply to Sophar, 12:11-12; 13:1-2).

(3) Eliu

Like Job, Eliu the Buzite was an Aramean; at least this is indicated by his native country, Buz, for Buz is closely connected (Genesis 22:21) with Hus. Eliu was much younger than Sophar (xxxii, 6).

(4) Listeners

Besides the speakers a large number of listeners were present at the discussion (xxxiv, 2, 34); some maintained a neutral position, as did Eliu at first.


The Book of Job consists of (1) a prologue in prose (1-2), (2) a poetic, main division (3-42:6), and (3) an epilogue also in prose (42:7-17).

(1) The prologue narrates how, with the permission of God, a holy man Job is tried by Satan with severe afflictions, in order to test his virtue. In succession Job bears six great temptations with heroic patience, and without the slightest murmuring against God or wavering in loyalty to him. Then Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar, come to console him. Their visit is to become the seventh and greatest trial.

(2) The poetical, main division of the book presents in a succession of speeches the course of this temptation. The three friends are fully convinced that trouble is always a result of wrongdoing. They consider Job, therefore, a great sinner and stigmatize his assertions of innocence as hypocrisy. Job is hurt by the suspicion of his friends. He protests that he is no evil-doer, that God punishes him against his deserts. In the course of his speech he fails in reverence towards God, Who appears to him not unrighteous, but more as a severe, hard, and somewhat inconsiderate ruler than as a kind Father. Taking into consideration that the language is poetic, it is true that his expressions cannot be pushed too far, but the sharp reproofs of Eliu (xxxiv, 1-9, 36-37; xxxv, 16) and of Yahweh (Xxxviii, 2; xl, 3-9) leave no doubt of his sin. In answering his friends Job emphasizes that God indeed is accustomed to reward virtue and to punish wickedness (xxvii, 7-23; xxxi). He even threatens his friends with the judgment of God on account of their unfriendly suspicion (vi, 14; xiii, 7-12; xvii, 4; xix, 29). He rightly proves, however violently, that in this world the rule has many exceptions. Almost universally, he says, the wicked triumph and the innocent suffer (ix, 22-24, xxi, xxiv). Yet for all this Job, like his friends, regards all suffering as a punishment for personal sins, although he does not, as his friends, consider it a punishment of gross sin. Job looks upon the sufferings of the righteous as an almost unjust severity of God, which he inflicts for the slightest mistakes, and which the most virtuous man cannot escape (vii, 21; ix 30-21; X, 6, 13-14). The expressions of depression and irreverence uttered by Job are, besides, only venial sins, which human beings can never fully avoid. Job himself says that his words are not to be taken too exactly, they are almost the involuntary expression of his pain (vi, 2-10, 26-27). Many of his utterances the character of temptations in thought which force themselves out almost against the will, rather than of voluntary irreverence towards God, although Job's error was greater than he was willing to acknowledge. Thus Job bore all the tests triumphantly, even those caused by his friends. No matter how terrible the persecutions of God might be, Job held fast to Him (vi, 8-10) and drew ever closer to Him (xvii, 9). In the midst of his sufferings he lauds God's power (xxvi, 5-14) and wisdom (xxviii). Satan, who had boasted that he could lead Job into sin against God (i, 11; ii, 5), is discredited. The epilogue testifies expressly to Job's faithfulness (xlii, 7-9). After much discourse (iii-xxii) Job finally succeeds in silencing the three friends, although he is not able to convince them of his innocence. In a series of monologues (xxiii-xxxi), interrupted only by a short speech by Baldad (xxv), he once more renews his complaints (xxiii-xxiv), extols the greatness of God (xxvi-xxviii), and closes with a forcible appeal to the Almighty to, examine his case and to recognize his innocence (xxix-xxxi). At this juncture Eliu, a youth who was one of the company of listeners, is filled by God with the spirit of prophecy (xxxii, 18-22; xxxvi, 2-4). In a long discourse he solves the problem of suffering, which Job and his friends had failed to explain. He says that suffering, whether severe or light, is not always a result of sin; it is a means by which God tries and promotes virtue (xxxvi, 1-21), and is thus a proof of God's love for his friends. The sufferings of Job are also such a testing (xxxvi, 16-21). At the same time Eliu emphasizes the fact that the dispensations of God remain inexplicable and mysterious (xxxvi, 22; xxxvii, 24). Yahweh speaks at the end (xxxviii-xlii, 6). He confirms the statements of Eliu, carrying further Eliu's last thought of the inexplicability of the Divine decrees and works by a reference to the wonder of animate and inanimate nature. Job is severely rebuked on account of his irreverence; he confesses briefly his guilt and promises amendment in the future.

(3) In the epilogue Yahweh bears witness in a striking manner to the innocence of His servant, that is to Job's freedom from gross transgression. The three friends are commanded to obtain Job's intercession, otherwise they will be severely punished for their uncharitable complaints against the pious sufferer. Yahweh forgives the three at the entreaty of Job, who is restored to double his former prosperity.

In his lectures on "Babel und Bibel" Delitzsch says that the Book of Job expresses doubt, in language that borders on blasphemy, of even the existence of a just the God. These attacks arise from an extreme view of expressions of despondency. Further, the assertions often heard of late that the book contains many mythological ideas prove to be mere imagination.


(1)The poetic portion of the book may be divided into two sections: chs. iii-xxii and xxiii-xlii, 6. The first section consists of colloquies: the three friends in turn express their views, while to each speech Job makes a rejoinder. In the second section the three friends are silent, for Baldad's interposition (xxv) is as little a formal discourse as Job's brief comments (xxxix, 34-35 and xlii, 2-6). Job, Eliu, and Yahweh speak successively, and each utters a series of monologues. The length of the two sections is exactly, or almost exactly, the same, namely 510 lines each (cf. Hontheim "Das Buch Job", Freiburg im Br., 1904, 44). The second division begins with the words: "Now also my words are in bitterness" (xxiii, 2; A.V.: "Even today is my complaint bitter"). This shows not only that with these words a new section opens, but also that the monologues were not uttered on the same day as the colloquies. The first monologue is evidently the opening of a new section, not a rejoinder to the previous speech of Eliphaz (xxii).

(2) The colloquies are divided into two series: chs. iii-xiv and xv-xxii. In each series Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar speak in turn in the order given (iv-v, viii, xi, and xv, xviii, xx), while Job replies to each of their discourses (vi-vii, ix-x, xii-xiv, xvi-xvii, xix, xxi). The first series, furthermore, is opened by a lament from Job (iii), and the second closes with a speech by Eliphaz in which he weakly reproaches Job (xxii - it is generally held that this chapter begins a new series), who rightly leaves this address unanswered. Each series contains seven speeches. In the first the friends try to convince Job of his guilt and of the necessity and good results of amendment. Eliphaz appeals to Revelation (iv, 12-21), Baldad to the authority of the Fathers 8-10), Sophar to understanding or philosophy (xi, 5-12). Eliphaz lays weight on the goodness of God (v, 9-27), Baldad on His justice (viii, 2-7), Sophar on His all-seeing power and wisdom, to which Job's most secret sins were plain, even those which Job himself had almost forgotten (xi, 5-12). In the second series of speeches the friends try to terrify Job: one after the other, and in much the same form of address, they point out the terrible punishment which overtakes hidden sin. During the first series of speeches Job's despondency continually increases, even the thought of the future bringing him no comfort (xiv, 7-22); in the second series the change to improvement has begun, and Job once more feels joy and hope in the thought of God and the future life (xvi, 18-22; xix, 23-28).

(3) The monologues may also be divided into two series. The first includes the monologues of Job, seven in number. First Job repeats is complaint to God (xxiii-xxiv), asserts, however, in three speeches his unchangeable devotion to God by lauding in brilliant discourse the power (xxvi), justice (xxvii), and wisdom (xxviii) of the Almighty. Finally in three further speeches be lays his case before God, imploring investigation and recognition of his innocence: How happy was I once (xxix), how unhappy am I now (xxx), and I am not to blame for this change (xxxi). The second series contains the discourses of Eliu and Yahweh, also seven in number. In three speeches Eliu explains the sufferings which befall men. Trouble is often a Divine instruction, a warning to the godless to reform (xxxii-xxxiii, 30), thus revealing the goodness of God; it is often simply a punishment of the wicked who are perhaps in no way bettered by it (xxxiii, 31-xxxv), thus revealing the justice of God.

(4) Finally, troubles can also overtake the just as a trial which purifies and increases their virtue (xxxvi-xxxvii), thus revealing God's unfathomable wisdom. The following four utterances of Yahweh illustrate the inscrutableness, already touched upon by Eliu, of the Divine wisdom by dwelling upon the wonders of inanimate nature (xxxviii, 1-38), of the animal world (xxxviii, 39-xxxix), and especially by referring to the great monsters of the animal world, the hippopotamus and the crocodile (xl, 10-xli). He then closes with a rebuke to Job for expressing himself too despondently and irreverently concerning his sufferings, upon which Job confesses his guilt and promises amendment (xxxix, 31-xl, 9 and xlii, 1-6); it appears that xxxix, 31-xl, 9, should be inserted after xli.


The Book of Job is intended to give instruction. What it lays special stress on is that God's wisdom and Providence guide all the events of this world (cf. xxviii, xxxviii-xii). The main subject of investigation is the problem of evil and its relation to the Providence of God; particularly considered is the suffering of the upright in its bearing on the ends intended in the government of the world. The Book of Job is further intended for edification, for Job is to us an example of patience. It is, finally, a book of consolation for all sufferers. They learn from it that misfortune is not a sign of hatred, but often a proof of special Divine love. For the mystical explanation of the book, especially of Job as a type of Christ, cf. Knabenbauer, "In Job", 28-32.


In his sufferings Job abandoned all hope for the restoration of health and good fortune in this world (xvii, 11-16; xxi). If he were to continue to hold to the hope of reward here Satan would not be defeated. In the complete failure of all his earthly hopes, Job fastens his gaze upon the future. In the argument of the first series of speeches Job in his depression regards the future world only as the end of the present existence. The soul indeed lives on, but all ties with the present world so dear to us are forever broken. Death is not only the end of all earthly suffering (ii, 13-19), but also of all earthly life (vii, 6-10), and all earthly joys (x, 21-22), with no hope of a return to this world (xiv, 7-22). It is not until the second series that Job's thoughts on the future life grow more hopeful. However, he expects as little as in the first discussion a renewal of the life here, but hopes for a higher life in the next world. As early as chapter xvi (19-22) his hope in the recognition of his virtue in the next world is strengthened. It is, however, in xix (23-28) that Job's inspired hope rises to its greatest height and he utters his famous declaration of the resurrection of the body. Notwithstanding this joyous glimpse into the future, the difficult problem of the present life still remained: "Even for this life how can the wisdom and goodness of God be so hard towards His servants?" Of this the complete solution, so far as such was possible and was included in the plan of the book, does not appear until the discourses of Eliu and Yahweh are given. Great efforts have been made by critics to alter the interpretation of ch. xix, and to remove from it the resurrection of the body; the natural meaning of the words, the argument of the book, and the opinion of all early commentators make this attempt of no avail (cf. commentaries, as those of Knabenbauer, Hontheim, etc.; also the article "Eine neue Uebersetzung von Job xix, 25-27" in the "Zeitschrift f롴h. Theologie", 1907, 376 sqq.). See the commentaries for the doctrines of the Divine wisdom (xxviii), etc.


Prologue and epilogue (i-ii; xlii, 7 sqq.) are regarded by many as not parts of the original work. The prologue, though, is absolutely essential. Without it the colloquies would be unintelligible, nor would the reader know the end whether to believe the assertion of Job as to his innocence or not. Upon hearing the rebukes of Eliu and Yahweh, he might be exposed to the danger of siding against Job. Without the epilogue the close of the work would be insatisfactory, an evident humiliation of the righteous. For detailed treatment of this and kindred questions see Hontheim, op. cit.

(2) Many also regard ch. xxvii, 7-23, as a later addition; in this passage Job maintains that the wicked suffer in this world, while elsewhere he has declared the contrary. The answer is: Job teaches that God is accustomed even in this world to reward the good in some measure and to punish the wicked. In other passages he does not deny this rule, but merely says it has many exceptions. Consequently there is no contradiction. [See above, IV (2).] Besides it may be conceded that Job is not always logical. At the beginning, when his depression is extreme, he lays too much emphasis on the prosperity of the godless; gradually he becomes more composed and corrects earlier extreme statements. Not everything that Job says is the doctrine of the book. [See above, II (2).]

(3) Many regard ch. xxviii as doubtful, because it has no connection with what goes before or follows and is in no way related to the subject-matter of the book. The answer to this is that the poet has to show how the suffering of Job does not separate him from God, but, against the intent of Satan, drives him into closer dependence on God. Consequently he represents Job, after his complaints (xxiii-xxv), as glorifying God again at once, as in xxvi-xxvii, in which Job lauds God's power and righteousness. The praise of God is brought to a climax in xxviii, where Job extols God's power and righteousness. After Job has thus surrendered himself to God, he can with full confidence, in xxix-xxxi, lay his sorrowful condition before God for investigation. Consequently xxviii is in its proper place, connects perfectly with what precedes and follows, and harmonizes with the subject-matter of the book.

(4) Many regard the description of hippopotamus and crocodile (xl, 10-xli) as later additions, because they lack connection with xxxix, 31-xl, 9, belonging rather to the description of animals in xxxix. In reply it may be said that this objection is not without force. Who ever agrees with the present writer in this opinion need only hold that xxxix, 31-xl, 9, originally followed xli. The difficulty is then settled, and there is no further reason for considering the splendid description of the two animals as a later insertion.

(5) There is much disagreement as to the speeches of Eliu (xxxii-xxxvii). With the exception of Budde, nearly all Protestant commentators regard them as a later insertion, while the great majority of Catholic investigators rightly defend them as belonging to the original work. The details of this discussion cannot be entered upon here, and the reader is referred to the commentaries of Budde and Hontheim. The latter sums up his long investigation in these words: "The section containing the speeches of Eliu has been carefully prepared by the poet and is closely and with artistic correctness connected with the previous and following portions. It is united with the rest of the book by countless allusions and relations. It is dominated by the same ideas as the rest of the poem. It makes use also of the same language and the same method of presentation both in general and in detail. All the peculiarities exhibited by the author of the argumentative speeches are reproduced in the addresses of Eliu. The content of this portion is the saving of the honour of Job and is essential as the solution of the subject of discussion. Consequently there is no reason whatever for assuming that it is an interpolation; everything is clearly against this" (Hontheim, op. cit., 20-39. Cf. also Budde, "Beitr䧥 zur Kritik des Buches Hiob", 1876; Knabenbauer, "In Job"). Anyone who desires to consider the speeches of Eliu as a later addition must hold, by the teaching of the Church, that they are inspired.

(6) There is in general no reason whatever for considering any important part of the book either large or small as not belonging to the original text. Equally baseless is the supposition that important portions of the original composition are lost.


The most important means for judging the Massoretic Text are the old translations made directly from the Hebrew: the Targum, Peshito, Vulgate, Septuagint, and the other Greek translations used by Origen to supplement the Septuagint. with the exception of the Septuagint, the original of all these translations was essentially identical with the Massoretic Text; only unimportant differences can be proved. On the other hand, the Septuagint in the form it had before Origen, was about four hundred lines, that is one-fifth shorter than the Massoretic Text. Origen supplied what was lacking in the Septuagint from the Greek translations and marked the additions by asterisks. Copyists generally omitted these critical signs, and only a remnant of them, mixed with many errors, has been reserved in a few manuscripts. Consequently knowledge of the old form of the Septuagint is very imperfect. The best means now of restoring it is the Copto-Sahidic translation which followed the Septuagint and does not contain Origen's additions. This translation was published by Ciasca, "Sacrorum Bibliorum fragments Copto-Sahidica" (2 vols., Rome, 1889), and by Amelineau in "Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archeology", IX (1893), 409-75. Hatch and Bickell claim that the shorter text of the Septuagint is in general the earlier one, consequently that the present Massoretic Text is an expansion of a shorter original. Nearly all other investigators hold the opposite, that the Septuagint was produced by cutting down an original which varied but little from the Massoretic Text. This was also Bickell's view in earlier years, and is the real state of the case. To avoid repetition and discursive statements, the translators of the Septuagint omitted much, especially where the reading seemed doubtful, translation difficult, the content anthropomorphic, unworthy of Job, or otherwise objectionable. In doing this the translation frequently disregards the fundamental principle of Hebrew poetry, the parallelism of the lines. In brief the critical value of the Septuagint is not great; in almost all instances the Massoretic Text is to be preferred. Taken altogether, the Massoretic has preserved the original form of the consonantal text fairly well, and needs but a moderate amount of critical emendation. The punctuation (vowel signs and accents), it is true, frequently requires correction, for the punctuators did not always lightly understand the often difficult text; at times also words are not properly divided.


Chapters iii-xlii, 6, are poetical in form. This part of the book consists of about 102O lines. The verses, which do not always correspond with the Massoretic verses of our editions, are generally divided into two clauses or lines which are parallel in content. There are also a number of verses, about sixty, of three clauses each, the so-called triplets. It is an unjustifiable violence to the text when a critic by removing one clause changes these triplets into couplets. The verses form the twenty-eight speeches of the book which, as already stated, make four series of seven speeches each. The speeches are divided, not directly into lines, but into strophes. It is most probable that the speeches formed from strophes often, perhaps always follow the law of "choral structure" discovered by Father Zenner. That is, the speeches often or always consist of pairs of strophes, divided by intermediate strophes not in pairs. The two strophes forming a pair are parallel in content and have each the same number of lines. For a further discussion of this subject see Hontheim, op. cit. Investigators are not agreed as to the construction of the line. Some count the syllables, others only the stresses, others again the accented words. It would seem that the last view is the one to be preferred. There are about 2100 lines in the Book of Job, containing generally three, at times two or four, accented words. Besides the commentaries, cf. Gietmann, "Parzival, Faust, Job" (Freiburg im Br., 1887); Baumgartner, "Gesch. d. Weltliteratur", I (Freiburg im Br., 1901), 24 sqq. One peculiarity of the author of Job is his taste for play upon words; for example, ch. xxi contains a continuous double meaning.


The author of the book is unknown, neither can the period in which it was written be exactly determined. Many considered the book the work of Job himself or Moses. It is now universally and correctly held that the book is not earlier than the reign of Solomon. On the other hand it is earlier than Ezechiel (Ezekiel 14:1-20). For it is the natural supposition that the latter gained his knowledge of Job from the Book of Job, and not from other, vanished, sources. It is claimed that allusions to Job have also been found in Isaias, Amos, Lamentations, some of the Psalms, and especially Jeremias. Many Catholic investigators even at the present time assign the book to the reign of Solomon; the masterly poetic form points to this brilliant period of Hebrew poetry. The proofs, however, are not very convincing. Others, especially Protestant investigators, assign the work to the period after Solomon. They support this position largely upon religious historical considerations which do not appear to have much force.

Publication information Written by Joseph Hontheim. Transcribed by F. Gilles Beaudet, f.s.c.. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


Full bibliographies are to be found in CORNELY, Introductio in U. T. libros sacros, II (2nd ed., 1897), ii, 71 sqq., and in the commentaries of DILLMANN and BUDDE, cf. also the various Introductions to the Scripture, as GIGOT (1906); TROCHON (1886); KAULEN (4th ed., 1899); CORNELY (2nd ed., Paris, 1897); further the articles on Job in the theological and Biblical encyclopedias. Of the large number of commentaries on Job the following may be mentioned. Catholic: WELTE (1849); KNABENBAUER (Paris, 1886), HONTHEIM (1904). Non-Catholic: DELITZSCH (2nd ed., 1876); DILLMANN (4th ed., 1891); DAVIDSON in Cambridge Bible (1895); BUDDE (1896); DUHM (1897); WIGHT AND HIRSCH, A Commentary on the Book of Job from a Hebrew Manuscript in the University Library, Cambridge (1905). Among special works mention may be made of: BICKELL, De indole ac ratione versionis Alexandrinae in interpretando libro Jobi (1862); IDEM, Carmina Vet. Test. metrice (18S2); GIETMANN, De re Metrica Hebraeorum (1880); VETTER, Die Metrik des Buches Job (1897); BEER, Text des Buches Hiob untersucht (1897); ROGER, Eschatologie des Buches Job (1901); POSSELT, Der Verfasser der Eliureden (1909).

Book of Job

Jewish Perspective Information


Complaint and Rejoinders.

-Biblical Data:

Speeches of Elihu.

-Critical View:

The Doctrine of Retribution.

Job's Replies.

Composition of the Book.

Second and Third Dialogues.

Later Additions and Changes in the Text.

Textual Criticism.


Complaint and Rejoinders.

-Biblical Data:

A dramatic poem in forty-two chapters, the characters in which are Job, his wife (mentioned only once, ii. 9), his three friends-Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar-Elihu, and God (see Drama, Hebrew). Ch. i.-ii.: Prologue, describing Job's prosperity, its disappearance,and the calamities sent upon him at the suggestion of Satan. Ch. iii.: Job's complaint. He curses the day he was bron; wishes he had died immediately after birth; thinks death preferable to a life of misfortune. Ch. iv.-v.: Reply of Eliphaz. He declares that a truly righteous man is never afflicted; that a man sometimes thinks himself just, though he is unjust: hence his complaint. He exhorts Job to turn to God in sincerity, who will surely restore him to well-being. Ch. vi.-vii.: Job resumes his complaint. His afflictions are greater than he can bear; his sole desire is to die at once, all his friends having deserted him. He relates his sufferings, and reproaches God, who takes delight in torturing him. Ch. viii.: Reply of Bildad. He reproaches Job for his injustice toward God, declaring that if he were really upright, God would not have so afflicted him, and that the prosperity of the wicked, of which Job complains, is unstable. Ch. ix.-x.: Job represents God as a capricious tyrant, who lets His hand fall on both the just and the unjust. He maintains that God knows that he is not wicked, and yet tortures him. Ch. xi.: Zophar, in reply, accuses Job of wickedness, for which he is being punished, and exhorts him to repent. Ch. xii-xiv.: Job declares that he is as wise as his friends and that he needs not their counsel. God is ruler, and therefore he complains directly to Him of the prosperity of the wicked and of the suffering of the righteous. God, the Omnipotent, ought not to bring under judgment so frail a creature as man. Ch. xv.: Eliphaz replies; Job's own words prove his guilt. He repeats the assertion that the prosperity of the wicked is not of long duration.

Ch. xvi-xvii.: Job again accuses God of injustice. Ch. xviii.: Bildad confirms his friends' assertion that the wicked, in spite of present prosperity, will come to a bad end. Ch. xix.: Job accuses his friends of being unjust toward him, laments that now he has none to whom he may go for comfort: God persecutes him, his friends and acquaintances have abandoned him, even his wife turns against him. Ch. xx.: Zophar makes the same reply as Bildad in ch. xviii., but in other words. Ch. xxi.: Job refutes his friends' assertions, maintaining that only the wicked prosper, that they spend their lives in pleasure and pass swiftly to the grave. Even if misfortune overtakes their children, the wicked have departed, and will know it not. Ch. xxii.: Eliphaz asserts that God has no profit in man's righteousness, only man himself profits by it; that Job is being punished for his manifold sins. He again exhorts Job to repentance, telling him that therein he will prosper at last.

Ch. xxiii.-xxiv.: Job complains that, not knowing the abode of God, he can not bring his case directly before Him. Then, changing his theme, he describes the perverseness of the wicked and marvels that God, who sees everything, does not check them. Ch. xxv.: Bildad rejoins that man has no right to complain, as he can not be perfect. Ch. xxvi.-xxxi.: Job, after declaring to Bildad that he knows well that God is omnipotent and omniscient, cites a parable, maintaining that he is upright and a stranger to wickedness. The wicked are destined to destruction, and will not profit in their great wealth. In ch. xxviii. he exalts wisdom, and contrasts, in the two following chapters, his present condition with his former prosperity. Formerly, he was respected and beloved by all for his generosity and his charitable deeds, and the wicked feared his power. Now, he is mocked by the meanest, by the outlawed; he again speaks harshly against God. He describes his generosity and his uprightness, calling upon God to witness it.

Speeches of Elihu.

Ch. xxxii.-xxxvii.: Elihu's speeches. Seeing that Job's three friends remained silent, unable to answer him, Elihu takes their place. He had remained silent because the others were older; but being now convinced that wisdom is not in years, he assumed the duty of replying to Job. The chief points of Elihu's speeches are that God is never wrong, that calamity is a warning from God to man to repent, that God, who neither profits in man's righteousness nor suffers in his sins, always chastises the wicked and rewards the righteous.

Ch. xxxviii.-xxxix. are theophanous; they present a cosmographical sketch and take the form of questions addressed to Job by God, who speaks to him out of the whirlwind. They tell of the creation of earth, seas, light, darkness, snow, hail, rain, the heavens, and the celestial bodies; the habits of the wild goat, the unicorn, the peacock, the ostrich, the horse, and the eagle are spoken of in passages of great beauty. Ch. xl.-xli.: Continuation of God's address with a brief reply from Job. These two chapters describe the nature and habits of the hippopotamus ("behemoth") and the whale ("leviathan"). Ch. xlii.: Epilogue; after a short speech from Job declaring his repentance, an account of his restoration to his former state of prosperity is given. The sublime grandeur of the final theophany, the simple directness of the narrative portions, and the imaginative coloring of the soul-problems raised in the book make it, regarded merely as literature, the most striking production of the Hebraic genius. See Job, Biblical Data.E. C. M. Sel.

-Critical View:

The poem which is contained in Job iii. 1-xlii. 6, exclusive of later interpolations, discusses a religious problem which could scarcely have been formulated in the early period of the Israelitic people; for it presupposes a high spiritual development and a maturity of judgment which are acquired by a people only after great trials and sore tribulations. This view excludes all the earlier opinions which assign the date of the composition of the poem either to the patriarchal age (so Eichhorn, Jahn, Bertholdt, Haneberg, and others), or to the time of Moses (B. B. 15a), of David (Herder), of Solomon (Schlottmann, Haevernick, and Hahn), and even of Hezekiah (Ewald).

The special problem discussed in Job concerns the justice of the divine government of the world. It could have been formulated only after the principles of that justice had been announced in Deuteronomy; according to which earthly happiness was promised as a reward to the faithful followers of the Law and of Yhwh, and earthly misfortune was heldup as a punishment to the recalcitrant (Deut. xxviii.-xxx.). Hence the poem must have been composed after the promulgation of the Deuteronomic code. And the question as to God's dealings with His world must have become paramount at a time when experience directly contradicted the principles laid down in that code. After the reforms of Josiah (622 B.C.) Israel undoubtedly had a right to unalloyed happiness. Instead there came a succession of catastrophes: the defeat of Megiddo (609), and the Babylonian exile (587), by which the congregation of the Lord in Israel in particular was most deeply smitten.

Merx, Stickel, Reuss, Dillmann, Hirzel, Hitzig, and Ley (in "Studien und Kritiken," 1898, pp. 34-70) assume the seventh century B.C. as the date of composition; Gesenius, Vatke ("Biblische Theologie," i. 563), and Duhm ("Das Buch Hiob," p. ix.) place it as late as the fifth century; while Budde ("Das Buch Hiob," p. xiv.) assigns it even to the year 400. But the question involved in the poem must have become imperative, not when righteous Israel was pitted against the heathen evil-doers (as in Hab. i. 2-5, ii. 4), but when the oppressed Israelitic congregation presented a violent contrast to its wicked oppressors who were joined by traitors to their own religion and people. This contrast is found in the Exile, but still more markedly perhaps at the time of the Maccabees, when Israel was persecuted by Antiochus Epiphanes (2d cent. B.C.). The same designations are applied to him in the Book of Job as are found, according to advanced critical views, in the Psalms. On the one hand there are the "resha'im" (Job xx. 5 et seq., xxi. 7 et seq., 16 et seq.); the "po'ale awen" (xxxi. 3); the "'ariẓim" (xxvii. 13); the "ḥanef" (xxvii. 8); the "'awwal" (xxix. 17); the "'ashir" (xxvii. 19), etc.; on the other, the "ẓaddiḳim" (xxii. 19); the "ebyonim" (xxiv. 4); and the "'aniyye areẓ" (xxiv. 4b); comp. "'ani weebyon" (xxiv. 14 et seq.); "yashar" (xxiii. 7); "naḳi" (xxvii. 17), etc. Many catastrophes had been recently witnessed falling upon great nations (xii. 23); e.g., when the Assyrians were vanquished by the Babylonians, and the latter in turn by the Persians. It had indeed become a matter of daily occurrence to witness countries given into the hands of evil-doers, and to see Yhwh mock at the despair of the innocent (ix. 23, 24) and to behold the triumph of the wicked (xxi. 7 et seq.). The doom of the evil-doer (xv. 20 et seq.) is described in terms which seem to allude to the fate of Alexander Jannæus. The language of the speeches in the Book of Job, the late Hebraic words recurring in it (comp. Barth, "Beiträge zur Erklärung des Buches Hiob," 1876, p. 4; Stade, "Lehrbuch der Hebr. Grammatik," 1879, p. 12), and the many Aramaisms (comp. Budde, "Beiträge zur Kritik des Buches Hiob," 1876, p. 141) and Arabisms (comp. Stade, l.c. pp. 12 et seq.) all point to a comparatively late time.

From the references to many Egyptian matters, Hitzig has assumed that Egypt was the home of the poet; but the passages referring to the hippopotamus and crocodile may be suspected to be later interpolations. The Egyptian mines (xxviii. 1-11) were known in Palestine, as were also the swift ships of the Nile (ix. 26), the papyrus-rolls (xxxi. 36; comp. viii. 11), the war-horse (xxxix. 19), and the pyramids (A. V. "desolate places"; iii. 14). From "them that go by the way" (xxi. 29), also, much may have been learned of foreign countries. The poet himself may have joined caravans (vi. 15-19); the descriptions of the sufferings of the pious in Israel indicate that he also had suffered (xi. 15, 19a; vii. 1-3). He wrote his poem with his heart's blood (Duhm).

The Doctrine of Retribution.

It had become necessary to assail the popular doctrine that obedience to the Law would be rewarded, and its transgression punished. For both of these principles were interpreted in an entirely external way: reward meaning a long and pleasant life (Ex. xx. 12; Lev. xxvi. 3 et seq.), and punishment misfortune and an early death (Deut. xxviii. 20 et seq.; Lev. xxvi. 15 et seq.; Gen. ii. 17 et seq.). The leper especially was considered to be smitten by God; hence the term "nega'" (= "blow"; Lev. xiii. 22) for leprosy. The sufferings of the law-abiding Israelite or of the righteous seemed therefore irreconcilable with Yhwh's justice and truthfulness; for He smote him who deserved praise, and punished where He had promised a reward.

The ancient doctrine of retribution is developed at great length by Job's three friends. According to it God shows His anger by inflicting suffering; He turns from man as from an enemy (xiii. 24, xix. 11); looks at him angrily (vii. 19a, xiv. 6a, xvi. 9); smites him with His hand (xiii. 21b, xix. 21); makes him afraid by His terrors (ix. 34, xiii. 21b, xxiii. 16); covers him with darkness (xix. 8b); stands in his way (iii. 23); overwhelms him with His power (ix. 12, 13, 19a; xxiii. 6); pierces him with His arrows (vi. 4, xvi. 14); punishes him with His scourge (ix. 23). The poet introduces also the imagery of the prison (vii. 12, xiii. 27, xiv. 16), the net (xix. 6), the storm (ix. 17, xxx. 22), and an army assailing an unfortunate captive (x. 17, xvi. 13, xix. 12), who in the end succumbs (xxx. 12 et seq.). He vainly questions how he may have incurred the inscrutable anger of God (x. 2, xiii. 23). The burning pain will not let him rest (xxx. 17). Imagery from the animal world is also used (x. 16). God's hostility calls up fear of further visitation (ix. 18, x. 13-15, xxx. 23) and despair because of the unending misery (ix. 11 et seq., xxiii. 15 et seq.), so that the prayer for a short respite (vii. 16-19, x. 20, xiv. 6) is interwoven with the cry for death (vi. 9, 10; vii. 15).

Added to all these sufferings of the stricken one is the bitterness of seeing that his enemies as well as his friends heartlessly consider him to be a sinner branded by God (xvii. 6). His enemies snatch at the opportunity to vent their malice on him (xvi. 10 et seq., xxx. 1-14); his servants and followers refuse him obedience (xix. 15, 16); his wife and children, as well as relatives and friends, abandon him (xii. 4; xix. 13-14, 17-19, 21 et seq.). His guilt is assumed as a matter of course, and no one thinks of doubting it; otherwise God would have to be accused of injustice-an accusation that would be the most grievous blasphemy (iv. 7, viii. 3). Hence it becomes the imperative duty of the sufferer to find out, by a frank examination of his past life and thoughts, inwhat way he has sinned. For there must be some guilt (iv. 18-19, xv. 14-16, xxv. 4-6)-this must be assumed a priori in order to explain the suffering (viii, 11, xxii. 5 et seq.). If the sufferer admits his guilt God will forgive him (v. 17-27, viii. 5-7, xi. 13-19, xxii. 21-30); but if he obstinately persists in declaring that he is innocent he adds another grievous sin to his former guilt, and his punishment will increase accordingly (xi. 4, xv. 13, xxii. 3-4).

Job's Replies.

In answer to all these arguments of his friends Job insists, in the first place, that the sufferer has the right to complain (vi. 5-7). He points out the heartlessness to which their doctrine leads; for instead of comforting the sufferer in his pain, they reprove him for his alleged sins (vi. 14-22). But it is cheap wisdom to repeat the ancient doctrine of divine retribution in all sorts of variations and to apply these to an unfortunate man (xii. 2-3, xiii. 2, xix. 2-5). Although the supreme power of God makes it impossible to rebel against His blows, the justice of His decrees is not thereby proved (ix. 2-21, 30-35; x. 15-17; xii. 14; xiii. 3; xix. 6 et seq.; xxi. 31). Experience shows that in the catastrophes of nature the perfect and the wicked are alike smitten by God (ix. 22-23); and it often happens that the wicked live prosperously to the end of their days (xii. 6; xxi. 7-15, 32 et seq.), being made the judges of right and wrong (ix. 24), although occasionally the ancient doctrine of retribution brought them to the bar of justice (xix. 29).

But no power on earth can take away the feeling of innocence from the sinless sufferer, or force him to declare himself guilty against his better convictions (x. 6, 7; xiii. 18 et seq.; xvi. 17; xxvii. 5, 6; xxxi. 1 et seq.). He has the right to appeal to God's judgment, as being superior to the condemnation his friends pretend to see in his present misfortunes (xii. 4, xiii. 7-10, xvi. 18-20, xix. 17). It is useless to say that no man is clean in the eyes of God (xiv. 4); for even according to that argument it is incomprehensible why the comparatively just person should be most heavily stricken and the worst evil-doers go unpunished (vii. 21, xiii. 26, xiv. 17).

The negative result reached by these arguments of the Book of Job may be stated as follows: What hitherto has been called divine justice is merely the display of the omnipotence of God. His decisions are devoid of all moral qualities, and are pronounced indifferently, as blessings or as curses, upon all men, upon the good and the bad alike. In the same way men are prosperous or unhappy according to the fortuitous events of their lives, quite independently of their ethical qualities. The gifts of fortune and the strokes of calamity are in no wise connected either with God's justice or with man's moral nature.

But as these arguments deprived the divine omnipotence, as manifested in the world, of all ethical quality the danger arose of excluding this quality altogether from the divine nature, and of actually destroying the attribute of justice in God. Hence the poet attempted to rehabilitate the latter in a round-about way, succeeding, however, only by means of a postulate. He declares that many of the phenomena of nature are indeed the manifestations of an omnipotence that overwhelms man by the terrors of its sublimity (xxvi. 6-14), but that this is not the only thing that nature declares of God. The marvelous law and order of those phenomena, of nature and the multiplicity and curious modes of life of her creatures, are also the manifestations of a hidden wisdom, to which man simply must submit.

Composition of the Book.

The author of the Book of Job incorporated the folk book into his work in a manner still showing traces of the component parts. The use of this preexisting material very cleverly placed the problem outside of Palestine, thereby excluding the possible objection of orthodox theology that such a case-a perfectly righteous man persecuted by Yhwh-could not occur in Israel. Yhwh, moreover, did not inflict the suffering; it was inflicted by Satan with Yhwh's permission. The problem is discussed in a disputation between Job-who like a leper sits on the dust-heap (Ar. "mazbalah") outside the nomad village (on the separation of lepers see II Chron. xxvi. 21)-and his three friends who, according to the folk-book, come to comfort him (ii. 11). In the body of the book, however, they bring no comfort, but heap the bitterest accusations upon Job. Job opens the discussion with the ancient cry of all sufferers (iii., Hebr.): "O, that I had never been born! and since I was brought into the world, why could I not, even in the hour of birth, have found the eternal rest of Sheol" (comp. Sophocles, "(Edipus Coloneus," line 1225: τὸ μὴ φῦναι τὸν ἅπαντα νικᾷ λόγον; Eccl. iv. 2-3); and in his questionings at the end of this monologue (iii. 26 et seq.) he formulates the problem as to the cause of this inexplicable suffering. The friends defend the views of the orthodox doctrine of retribution, according to which all suffering is a punishment for some sin; while Job defends the views of the clear conscience, which knows itself to be free from sin, and declares his suffering to be inexplainable from the Old Testament point of view. The discussion is held in a threefold series of dialogues (iv.-xxxi.), in each of which Job alternates once with each of the three friends. Hence arises the following scheme, aside from the additions to be discussed later on: First series of dialogues: Eliphaz (iv.-v.); Job (vi-vii.); Bildad (viii.); Job (ix.-x.); Zophar (xi.); Job (xii-xiv.). Second series: Eliphaz (xv.); Job (xvi.-xvii.); Bildad (xviii.); Job (xix.); Zophar (xx.); Job (xxi.). Third series: Eliphaz (xxii.); Job (xxiii.-xxiv.); Bildad (xxv.-xxvi. 5-14); Job (xxvi. 1-4, xxvii. 2-23, xxviii.-xxxi.); Zophar; Job (not in Hebrew text in the Masoretic arrangement). The third series of dialogues especially has been altered by interpolations. The beginning of Bildad's speech (xxv. 1-6) has been separated from the portion continuing it (xxvi. 5-14). It is followed by Job's answer (xxvi. 1-4; xxvii. 2-6; xxix. 1-6, 19, 20, 7-11, 21-23, 12, 13, 15-17, 24, 25, 14, 18; xxx. 1-24, 26-31; xxxi. 1-20; xxx. 25; xxxi. 21-23, 38-40, 24-37, 40; for this arrangement see C. Siegfried," The Book of Job," critical ed., especially pp 42 et seq., Leipsic and Baltimore, 1893).

These speeches do not present a direct, continuous train of thought developing or elaborating some central idea. The art and power of Semitic rhetoric consistrather in the rich elaboration of a single thought expressing the same idea in a varied profusion of imagery (comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] i. 5-10; Franz Delitzsch, "Gesch. der Jüdischen Poesie," pp. 21 et seq., Leipsic, 1836). In general it may be said that Eliphaz represents on the whole the proof of authority, basing his arguments on a vision (iv. 12-21). Bildad appeals chiefly to experience, which proves the truth of the doctrine of divine retribution (viii. 8 et seq., xviii. 5-21). Zophar argues with all the fervor of religious conviction and appeals to the divine decision (xi. 5 et seq.).

It appears from Job's speeches that, overawed by the veneration clinging to the old sacred doctrine of retribution (xii. 12), he at first does not dare to proclaim his innocence, of which he is so firmly convinced. He begs his friends to grant him the right to complain (vi. 2-13); not to refuse him the comfort he had expected from them (vi. 14-21), nor to attack him so mercilessly (vi. 24-27). He points out that experience shows only that the misfortunes befalling men are manifestations of God's omnipotence, and that because His decisions are strong enough to overcome all resistance it does not necessarily follow that they are just (ix., xii. 7-25). He therefore boldly asks the reason for his suffering (xiii. 18-23).

Second and Third Dialogues.

In the second dialogue Job develops the thought that while in some cases God's judgment is in accordance with the old doctrine of retribution (xxi. 16-21), very frequently just the opposite happens, as appears in the undisturbed good fortune of the wicked (xxi. 7-15, 22-34). He persists, moreover, even more strongly in declaring his innocence, appealing to the judgment of God, who apparently is so hostile to him, but whose justice will ultimately induce Him to become the avenger (go'el) of that innocence (xvi. 17-19, xix. 25-27).

In the third dialogue, as the friends begin to weaken in their attacks, Job emphasizes the impossibility of contending with such an opponent as God. Of course Job must outwardly succumb; but even against God he will maintain his right, and is willing to prove it, if God will appear and answer (xxvii. 1-6, xxxi.). The discussion is ended by Yhwh's appearance in the storm (xxxviii.-xxxix. 30, xl. 1-5). Yhwh reminds Job of the limitations of human nature, and Job, humbly admitting them, no longer seeks an answer to his question.

Later Additions and Changes in the Text.

In the course of time various interpolations were made in the text of the poem. These comprise: (1) a number of passages that have been placed among the foot-notes in the edition by Siegfried mentioned above; (2) the parallel texts, so called because they are parallel developments of the corresponding passages in the genuine text; e.g., as vii. 1-10; x. 18-22; xii. 4-6; xiv. 1, 2; xiii. 28; xiv. 5, 7-12, 14, 18-22; xvii. 11-16; xl. 6-32; xli. 1-26, xlii. 1-6; (3) corrections and revisions of Job's speeches made for the purpose of harmonizing them with the orthodox doctrine of retribution (these revisions include xii. 7-10 [11, 12 as glosses], 13-25; xiii. 11; xxi. 16-18; xxiv. 13-24; xxvii. 7-23); (4) passages containing a polemic against the ideas expressed in the poem (xxviii. 1-28 and the so-called speeches of Elihu, xxxii.-xxxvii.). Ch. xxviii. rejects the effort to fathom the divine wisdom and to discover the rule of its workings, these being regions into which human understanding and empiric knowledge can not penetrate. Speculation here must give way to faith. The fear of Yhwh ("yir'at Adonai"; xxviii. 28), that is, religion, and the departure from evil ("sur me-ra'"), that is, morality, take the place of science, which here has reached the end of its resources.

The speeches of Elihu contradict the fundamental teachings of the genuine poem of Job, according to which it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin. Elihu, however, assumes that suffering may be decreed for the righteous for pedagogic reasons, as a protection against greater sin, and for moral betterment (xxxiii. 17 et seq., 28-30). How little these Elihu speeches come into the general scheme of the poem is shown by the fact that Elihu is not mentioned either in the prologue or in the epilogue, being entirely ignored by Yhwh in the latter. They have been defended as genuine by Umbreit, Stickel, Schlottmann, and Budde (1876; and in his commentary [1896], especially pp. xxxv.-xxxviii.). On Studer's criticism in "Jahrb. für Protestantische Theologie" (1875, pp. 688 et seq.; 1877, pp. 545 et seq.) and in "Das Buch Hiob für Geistliche und Gebildete Laien" (1881) comp. Budde, "Beiträge zur Kritik des Buches Hiob," pp. 77 et seq.

Textual Criticism.

The textual criticism of Job must rest on the Masoretic text (see Baer, "Liber Jobi," 1875). As Lagarde has pointed out ("Anmerkungen zur Griechischen Uebersetzung der Proverbien," 1863, pp. 1 et seq.), that text goes back to a single original manuscript, so that nothing in regard to textual corrections is gained by a collation of manuscripts. The recently discovered Babylonian Bible manuscripts are important only for the history of the vocalization and accentuation of the Biblical text (comp. Harkavy and Strack, "Katalog der Hebräischen Bibelhandschriften der K. Bibliothek in St. Petersburg," 2 parts, 1875). Jerome, who in his version of Job closely followed the Hebrew, calls for little notice (comp. Hupfeld, "Beleuchtung Dunkler Stellen in der Alttestamentlichen Textgesch." in "Studien und Kritiken," 1830, pp. 1571 et seq.; Nowack, "Die Bedeutung des Hieronymus für die Alttestamentliche Textkritik," Göttingen, 1875).


The Septuagint version, being a very free rendering of the Book of Job (comp. Bickell, "De Indole ac Ratione Versionis Alexandrinæ in Interpretando Libro Jobi," 1862), must be used very cautiously; yet it can not be denied that it contains many traces of the correct reading (comp. A. Merx, "Das Gedicht von Hiob," 1891; C. Siegfried, "The Book of Job," 1893). For the Targum of Job see W. Bacher in "Monatsschrift," xx. 208-223. The Syriac translation ("Peshiṭta") may also be consulted, but as it was corrected after the Septuagint, its agreement with the latter does not mean much textually. For the Arabic translation of the poem by Saadia Gaon see I. Cohn, Altona, 1889; "ŒuvresComplètes de R. Saadia Gaon," v. (ed. Bacher), Paris, 1899. Emendations of the poem must often be based on conjecture.

Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, M. Seligsohn, Emil G. Hirsch, Carl Siegfried

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


Commentaries: For the earlier exegesis, Rosenmüller, Scholia in Vetus Testamentum, v.; and the commentaries and introductions to the O. T. For modern views compare especially H. Ewald, 1836; 2d ed. 1854; L. Hirzel, 1839; 2d ed. by I. Olshausen, 1852; 3d ed. 1869; 4th ed. by A. Dillmann, 1891; Ferdinand Hitzig, 1874; A. Klostermann, Hiob, in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. viii. 97-126; K. Budde, 1896; B. Duhm, 1897. Translations with commentaries: A. Merx, 1871; G. Studer, 1881; E. Reuss, Das Alte Testament, 1892-1894; idem, Vortrag über das Buch Hiob, 1888; G. Hoffmann, 1891; F. Baethgen, in Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift des Alten Testaments, 2d ed.; idem, Hiob: Deutsch mit Anmerkungen für Ungelehrte, 1898; Friedrich Delitzsch, Das Buch Hiob, Leipsic, 1902. For problems in the Book of Job, J. Meinhold, Das Problem des Buches Hiob, in Neue Jahrb. für Deutsche Theologie, 1892, pp. 63 et seq.; I. Ley, Die Probleme im Buche Hiob, in Neue Jahrb. für Philologie und Pädagogik, 1896, pp. 125 et seq. For special questions on composition, I. Grill, Zur Kritik der Composition des Buches Hiob, Tübingen, 1890; T. K. Cheyne, Job and Solomon, 1887; Duhm, as above; L. Laue, Die Composition des Buches Hiob, 1895.

For textual criticism, G. Bickell, Kritische Bearbeitung des Jobdialogs, in Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunde des Morgenlandes, vi. 137-147, 241-257, 327-334; vii. 1-20, 153-168; idem, Dichtungen der Hebräer, ii., 1882; idem, Das Buch Job nach Anleitung der Strophik und der Septuaginta, Vienna, 1894; P. Vetter, Die Metrik des Buches Hiob, in Biblische Studien, ed. Bardenhewer, ii. 4, Freiburg, 1897; H. Grimme, Metrisch-Kritische Emendationen zum Buche Hiob, in Theol. Quartalschrift, lxxx. 295-304, 421-432; lxxxi. 112-118, 259-277; O. Voigt, Einige Stellen des Buches Hiob, 1895; I. Ley, in Studien und Kritiken, 1895, pp. 635 et seq.; G. Bär, Der Text des Buches Hiob, 1895; idem, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1896, pp. 297 et seq.E. G. H. C. S.

The Prophet Job

Orthodox Perspective Information

Commemorated May 6

The righteous Job (whose name means "persecuted"), God's faithful servant, was the perfect image of every virtue. The son of Zarah and Bossorha (Job 42), Job was a fifth-generation descendent of Abraham. He was a truthful, righteous, patient, and pious man who abstained from every evil thing. Job was very rich and blessed by God in all things, as was no other son of Ausis (his country, which lay between Idoumea and Arabia). However, divine condescension permitted him to be tested.

Job lost his children, his wealth, his glory, and every consolation all at once. His entire body became a terrible wound covered with boils. Yet he remained steadfast and patient in the face of his misfortune for seven years, always giving thanks to God.

Later, God restored his former prosperity, and he had twice as much as before. Job lived for 170 years after his misfortune, completing his earthly life in 1350 B.C. at the age of 240. Some authorities say that Job's afflictions lasted only one year, and that afterwards he lived for 140 years, reaching the age of 210.

Job's explanations are among the most poetic writings in the Old Testament book, which bears his name. It is one of the most edifying portions of Holy Scripture. Job teaches us that we must endure life's adversities patiently and with trust in God. As St Anthony the Great (commemorated January 17) says, without temptations, it is impossible for the faithful to be saved.

The Orthodox Church reads the book of Job, the first of the seven wisdom books of the Old Testament, during Holy Week, drawing a parallel between Job and Christ as righteous men who suffered through no fault of their own. God allowed Satan to afflict Job so that his faithfulness would be proven. Christ, the only sinless one, suffered voluntarily for our sins. The Septuagint text of Job 42:17 says that Job "will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up". This passage is read on Great and Holy Friday, when the composite Gospel at Vespers speaks of the tombs being opened at the moment the Saviour died on the Cross, and the bodies of the saints were raised, and they appeared to many after Christ's Resurrection (Matt 27:52).

Dismissal (First Tone)

On beholding the riches of Job's virtues, the enemy of the righteous contrived to ruin them; and though he cast down the tower of the Saint's body, he could not plunder the wealth of his spirit, for he found the soul of that blameless one to be fully armed; but as for me, he hath stripped me and led me captive away. Hasten, then, before the end, rescue me from the wily one, O Saviour, and save me.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

You were shown forth as blameless, true, God-fearing, just, and sanctified, O you much-suffering Prophet, all-glorious servant of God, most righteous Job; by your valiant endurance and your patience you gave instruction to the world. For this cause we all honour and praise your all-holy memory.


Jewish Perspective Information


-Biblical Data:

Opinions as to Date.

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Job's Generosity.

-Critical View:

Composite Nature of Book of Job.

-Biblical Data:

Titular hero of the Book of Job. He was a native of Uz, rich, very pious, and upright, and he had seven sons and three daughters. His sons used to make a feast in their houses, one each day; and at the end of the week Job would bring seven holocausts, according to the number of his sons, thinking perhaps that the latter, while feasting, had committed sins (Job i. 1-5).

One day in the heavenly council, in consequence of a question asked by God, Job's piety was discussed by the accuser Satan, who maintained that if Job should be stricken with calamity he would certainly sin. Satan, having received permission to deal with Job as he pleased, first brought poverty on him by causing all his cattle to be stolen; then he caused the death of all Job's children. But Job did not sin. On the contrary, he declared God's act to be just, saying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away" (ib. i. 6-22). At a second gathering of the "sons of God" Satan obtained permission to afflict Job's own person. He accordingly smote him with a most painful disease (elephantiasis ?); still Job did not complain. Even when his wife advised him to curse God and die, he replied that he had to accept evil at His hands, just as he had received good (ib. ii. 1-10). Three friends came to condole with him, and stayed with him seven days and seven nights in silence (ib. ii. 11-13), after which began the colloquies between him and his friends that form the text of the Book of Job.

Finally, God restored Job to his former state, giving him twice as much as he had before, even fourteen sons. The daughters, however, born to him after his restoration were only three in number. Job lived 140 years after this and saw four generations (ib. xlii. 10-17). He is mentioned by Ezekiel (Ezek. xiv. 14, 20) with Noah and Daniel as among the three most righteous men. See Job, Book of.E. G. H. M. Sel.

Opinions as to Date.

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Owing to the importance of the Book of Job, the Talmudists occupied themselves frequently with its chief character. One of the amoraim expressed his opinion in the presence of Samuel b. Naḥmani that Job never existed and that the whole story was a fable (B. B. 15a). An opinion couched in similar words and pronounced by Simeon ben Laḳish was interpreted to mean that such a person as Job existed, but that the narratives in the drama are inventions (Gen. R. lvii.). Apart from these utterances all of the rabbis took it for granted that Job existed, but they differed widely as to the epoch in which he lived and as to his nationality, two points of discussion closely connected. Every one of the Talmudists inferred Job's epoch and nationality from an analogy between two Biblical words or sentences. According to Bar Ḳappara, Job lived in the time of Abraham; according to Abba b. Kahana, in the time of Jacob, he having married Dinah, Jacob's daughter (ib.; B. B. 15b; comp. additions in Targ. Yer. to Job ii. 9). R. Levi said that Job lived in the time of Jacob's sons; and he also said, in the name of Jose b. Ḥalafta, that Job was born when Jacob and his children entered Egypt and that he died when the Israelites left that country. Job consequently lived 210 years (comp. Rashi on Ex. xii. 40). When Satan came to accuse the Israelites of being idolaters, God set him against Job, whence Job's misfortunes (Gen. R. l.c.). This opinion is supported by the statement that Job with Jethro and Balaam was consulted by Pharaoh as to the means of reducing the number of the children of Israel and that Job was stricken with calamity because he had remained silent (Sanh. 106a; Soṭah 11a). It may be mentioned that this legend is narrated differently in the "Sefer ha-Yashar" (section "Shemot," p. 110a, ed. Leghorn, 1870) as follows: At first Job, who was one of Pharaoh's eunuchs and counselors, advised Pharaoh to have every male child murdered (Ex. i. 16). Afterward Pharaoh, having had a dream which prognosticated the birth of a helper, again consulted Job. The latter answered evasively: "Let the king do as he pleases" ("Sefer ha-Yashar," l.c. p. 111a). Levi b. Laḥma also held that Job lived in the time of Moses, by whom the Book of Job was written. Some of the rabbis even declare that the one servant of Pharaoh who feared the word of God (Ex. ix. 20) was Job (Ex. R. xii. 3). Raba, specifying the time more accurately, said Job lived in the time of the spies who were sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (B. B. 15a). According to these rabbis, Job was a Gentile-an opinion which is elsewhere expressed more fully, in that Job is said to have been a pious Gentile or one of the prophets of the Gentiles (ib. 15b; Seder 'Olam R. xxi.). Other tannaim place Job variously in the reign of Saba, in that of the Chaldees, and in that of Ahasuerus. R. Johanan and R. Eleazar both declared that Job was one of those who returned from the Captivity and that his bet ha-midrash was at Tiberias (Yer. Soṭah v. 8; B. B. l.c.; Gen. R. l.c.). It is said in B. B. (ib.) that these tannaim necessarily considered Job an Israelite; but R. Hananeel (ad loc.) has in his text, "All the Tannaim and Amoraim, with the exception of the one who placed Job in the time of Jacob, were of opinion that Job was an Israelite" (comp. also Gen. R. l.c.).

Job is prominent in haggadic legends. His prosperity is thus described: Samuel b. Isaac said: "He who received a 'peruṭah' from Job prospered in his affairs." Jose b. Ḥanina inferred from Job i. 10 that Job's goats could kill wolves; and R. Johanan inferred from Job i. 14 that God gave Job a foretaste of the bliss of paradise (B. B. 15b). Satan, seeing Job's extraordinary prosperity, was filled with envy and therefore began in the councils of heaven to disparage Job's piety.

According to the Targum Yerushalmi (Job i. 6, ii. 1) the two councils of heaven took place respectively on Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. When the messenger told Job that the Sabeans had seized his oxen, he armed his men and prepared to make war upon them. But the second messenger came, telling him that a fire from heaven had destroyed his sheep, and he then said: "Now I can do nothing" (Lev. R. xvii. 4). The wind that blew down his house was one of the three great winds whose power was sufficient to destroy the world (Gen. R. xxiv. 4). Job was stricken by Satan with fifty different plagues (Ex. R. xxiii. 10). His house was filled with a bad smell, and Job sat down on a dunghill. His flesh was filled with worms which made holes in his body and began to quarrel with one another. Job thereupon placed every worm in a hole, saying: "It is my flesh, yet you quarrel about it' (Ab. R. N., ed. Schechter, p. 164; comp. Kohler, Testament of Job, v. 6-8, in Kohut Memorial Volume, pp. 264-295). Job's sufferings lasted twelve months ('Eduy. ii. 10; comp. Testament of Job, v. 9, where the number of years is given as seven); then God, yielding to the prayer of the angels, healed him and restored to him twofold what he had before (Ab. R. N. l.c.). Only the number of Job's daughters was not doubled. Nevertheless their beauty was doubled, and therefore their names (Job xlii. 14), indicating their extraordinary charms, are given (B. B. 16b). The legendary accounts of Job extend also to his three friends. These entered his house simultaneously, though they lived 300 miles apart. Each had a crown or, according to another statement, a tree on which the images of the three friends were carved; and when a misfortune befell any one of them his image was altered (ib.; comp. Targ. to Job ii. 11). It has been said that Job lived 210 years; this is inferred from Job xlii. 16, where it is said that he lived 140 years after his recovery (Gen. R. lviii. 3, lxi. 4; comp. Yalḳ., Kings, 243, and Testament of Job, xii. 8). It is said also that the whole world mourned Job's death (Soṭah 35a).

Job's Generosity.

But it was chiefly Job's character and piety that concerned the Talmudists. He is particularly represented as a most generous man. Like Abraham, he built an inn at the cross-roads, with four doors opening respectively to the four cardinal points, in order that wayfarers might have no trouble in finding an entrance, and his name was praised by all who knew him. His time was entirely occupied with works of charity, as visiting the sick and the like (Ab. R. N., ed. Schechter, pp. 33-34, 164; Midrash Ma'yan Gannim, ed. Buber, p. 92; comp. Gen. R. xxx. 9). Still more characteristic is the conclusion of Raba that Job used to take away, ostensibly by force, a field which belonged to orphans, and after making it ready for sowing would return it to the owners (B. B. l.c.). Job was also of exemplary piety. Like Abraham he recognized God by intuition (Num. R. xiv. 7). Nothing in his possession had been acquired by rapacity, and therefore his prayer was pure (Ex. R. xii. 4). He, Melchizedek, and Enoch were as spotless as Abraham (Midr. Teh. to Ps. xxxvii.). He took the greatest care to keep himself aloof from every unseemly deed (Ab. R. N. ch. ii., Recension B, ed. Schechter, p. 8).

According to Targ. Sheni to Esth. i. Job's name was one of the seven engraved on the seven branches of the golden candlestick.

But these features of Job's character made the Rabbis apprehend that he might eclipse Abraham; and some of them therefore depreciated Job's piety. Johanan b. Zakkai used to say that Job's piety was only the result of his fear of punishment (Soṭah 27a; Yer. Soṭah v. 5). In Ab. R. N., Recension A, p. 34, where the generosity of Job is so much praised, it is concluded that when he, after having been afflicted, complained that he was inadequately rewarded, God said to him: "Thy generosity has not yet attained to the half of that of Abraham." R. Levi even went as far as to exculpate Satan, declaring that he had the same apprehension that God might forget the piety of Abraham (B. B. 16a). Still even among the Tannaim Job had his defenders, e.g., Joshua b. Hyrcanus, whose opinion was that Job worshiped God out of pure love (Soṭah l.c.). This difference of opinion existed with regard to Job's attitude at the time of his misfortune. R. Eliezer said that Job blasphemed God (the Talmudic expression being "he desired to upset the dish"), but R. Joshua considered that Job spoke harsh words against Satan only (B. B. 16a). This discussion was continued by Abaye and Raba, of whom the former pleaded for Job, while Raba followed R. Eliezer's opinion. Raba's (according to another text, Rab's) expression was "dust into the mouth of Job." He inferred from the passage "and yet Job sinned not with his lips" (Job ii. 10) that Job sinned in his heart (ib.). In the Talmudic literature it is generally assumed that Job sinned or, as the expression is, "he rebelled" ("ba'aṭ"; Midr. Teh. xxvi.). It is further said that if Job had not sinned people would recite in prayer "and the God of Job," just as they recite "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," but he rebelled (Pesiḳ. R. Aḥare Mot, ed. Friedmann, p. 190a; comp. Ex. R. xxx. 8). Job's chief complaint was, according to Raba, that although man is driven to sin by the seducer ("yeẓer ha-ra'"), whom God Himself has created, yet he is punished (comp. Job x. 7). But Eliphaz answered him: "Thou castest off fear" (ib. xv. 4), meaning, if God created the seducer, He also created the Torah, by which a man can subdue the seducer (B. B. l.c.). Raba concluded also that Job denied resurrection (ib.). A more picturesque treatment of Job's bitternessagainst God is recorded by Rabbah (according to B. B. 16a), or Raba (according to Niddah 52a): Job blasphemed God by using the term "tempest" when he said, "For he breaketh me with a tempest" (Job ix. 17), which passage is interpreted by the Rabbis to mean, "Perhaps a tempest passed before Thee which caused the confusion between [= "Job"] and [= "enemy"]" (comp. also Ecclus. [Sirach] xlix. 9, the Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac versions, and the commentaries ad loc.). God therefore answered him out of the tempest (ib. xxxviii.-xxxix., which are interpreted as a refutation of Job's charge). Still, Rabbi's opinion was that Job spoke in praise of God more than Elihu did (Ex. R. xxxiv. 1).

It has already been said that the Book of Job was ascribed by the Rabbis to Moses. Its place in the canon is between Psalms and Proverbs (B. B. 14b). The high priest read the Book of Job for diversion before Yom Kippur (Yoma i. 4 [18b]). According to the Talmudists, he who sees the Book of Job in a dream may anticipate a misfortune (Ber. 57b). There was an ancient Targum to Job which was regarded by the Talmudists as a dangerous work (comp. Tosef., Shab. xiv.).


Israel Schwarz, Tikwat Enosh, Berlin, 1868; Wiernikowsky, Das Buch Hiob, Breslau, 1902.S. S. M. Sel.

-Critical View:

The hero whose name has furnished the title of the Book of Job appears only as a legendary figure. It is idle to inquire whether the story has any historical basis, since nothing definite relating to Job can be ascertained. The story originated in the land of Edom-a background that has been retained in the Hebrew poem. The names of Job and his three friends have been partly Hebraized. "Iyyob," the Hebrew form of "Job," is either passive, meaning the person attacked [by Satan]" (comp. "yillod" = "the born one"; Ex. i. 22; Josh. v. 5; "shilloaḥ" in Job ix. 7 = ἀπεσταλ μήνος), or active, meaning "the attacker [i.e., of the ancient doctrine of retribution]" (comp. Merx, "Das Gedicht von Hiob," 1871, pp. xvii., xxxv.), like "yissor," Job xl. 2 = "the reprover"; the Arabic etymologies given in Ewald, "Das Buch Ijob" (2d ed., 1854, pp. 19 et seq.: "the returning, repenting"), and in Hitzig, "Das Buch Hiob" (1874, pp. xix. et seq.: from the Arabic tribe "banu Awwab" = "sons of the evening star," i.e., "of the returning one"), are doubtful. Eliphaz the Temanite (Job ii. 11) appears also in Gen. xxxvi. 4, 11, 15, as Esau's eldest son. Bildad the Shuhite is mentioned only in the Book of Job. According to Nöldeke (in "Z. D. M. G." xlii. 479), the name means "Bel has loved" (comp. "Eldad"). In Gen. xxv. 2 "Shuah" is the name of a tribe, not of a place. "Zophar" also occurs only in the Book of Job. His home, Naamah, is mentioned in Josh. xv. 41 as a city within the Judaic "shefelah." Job's home, Uz (Χώρα Αὐσίτις in the Septuagint), is mentioned in Lam. iv. 21 as being in Edom; according to Wetzstein (in Delitzsch, "Hiob," pp. 576 et seq.) it was in Hauran, east of the Jordan. For other opinions see Budde, "Das Buch Hiob," 1896, pp. x. et seq.

Composite Nature of Book of Job.

The poem of Job as found in the Old Testament is a combination from two sources. The earlier of these, a folk-book, comprises the prologue (Job i. and ii.) and the epilogue (ib. xlii. 7-17). According to this source Job was a rich Edomite sheik, of irreproachable piety (ib. i. 1, 3, 8), as is shown especially by his punctiliousness in ritual observances (ib. i. 5) according to the customs of the time. The accusing angel Satan (ib. i. 6) in the presence of God casts reflections on the causes of Job's piety (ib. i. 9-11), and, in agreement with the conceit that the evil upon earth is not caused by God directly, but is brought by one or many intermediary angels, receives permission to test Job by misfortune (Gen. xix.; II Sam. xxiv. 16 et seq.; Ezek. ix. 4 et seq.; comp. κολαστικὴ δύναμις in Philo, "Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres Sit," § 34 [ed. Mangey. i. 496]; "middat ha-din" in the Jewish midrash, Gen. R. xii.).

The first trial consists in the destruction of Job's possessions (Job i. 12-19), in which he is the victor through his resignation (ib. i. 20-22). Satan declares this trial to have been insufficient, and demands another to consist in personal bodily suffering. This also is granted, and Job is again victorious (ib. ii. 1-10). Job's wife (ib. ii. 9, 10) here shows how great in such cases is the temptation to do wrong. That the friends of Job, who come to comfort him (ib. ii. 11-13), also sin on this occasion is evidenced in Job xlii. 7-10a, where Job, who alone remains guiltless, has to intercede for them when they bring the burnt offerings. The nature of their sin does not appear, since the folk-book is interrupted at this point by the interpolation of the poem of Job (ib. iii. 1-xlii. 6).

The folk-book is further differentiated from the poem by its employment of the name of Yhwh, which it naively puts into the mouth of the Edomites (ib. i. 7, 21b; xlii. 7). Here again Job refrains from sinning with his lips (ib. ii. 10), even in his deepest suffering, and says to Yhwh only what is just ("nekonah"; ib. xlii. 7b, 8b), whereas in the poem he utters the most offensive sentiments against God, beginning by cursing the day of his birth.

In the folk-book the sins consist mainly in unseemly speeches to and about God (ib. i. 10; xlii. 7, 8; comp. ib. i. 22, "natan tiflah"). He who refrains, like Job, is 'sar me-ra'" (="one who escheweth evil") and "yere Elohim" (= "who feareth God") (ib. i. 1). In other respects piety here, as among the Patriarchs (Gen. xxii. 3), is a matter of ritual, consisting in burnt offerings (Job i. 5). Job's dress is that worn by the Patriarchs; his flocks are reminiscent of Gen. xii. 16, xxxii. 5; his servants ("'abuddah"), of Gen. xxvi. 14. According to Duhm ("Das Buch Hiob," 1897, p. viii.) Ezek. xiv. 14 et seq. indicates that the writer of that passage knew the folk-book.E. G. H. C. S.

Emil G. Hirsch, M. Seligsohn, Solomon Schechter, Carl Siegfried

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

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