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Old Testament Notes

The Book of Job

Job - Although the Book of Job recounts the sufferings of Job, and his eventual vindication, the Book is not classed as History, but as one of the Books of Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament.

Job 1:1 - It is not known for certain where the land of Uz was situated, but it was probably east of Israel. Lamentations 4:21 says that the "daughter of Edom" lived in Uz; the Edomites, descendents of Esau settled to the East of the Dead Sea. This region would also fit with the accounts in Job 1:15 and 1:17 which describe attacks by the Sabeans (who lived in Arabia, to the south), and the Chaldeans (from Mesopotamia, to the east).
Job 1:6 - the "sons of God" here probably refers to the heavenly court of angels.
Job 1:6 - "Satan" in Hebrew means the "Accuser"
Job 2:9 - "Curse God, and die" Job's wife believed that if Job cursed God, God would strike him dead. She thought it would be better to be dead than to be suffering so much.
Job 2:10 - the Hebrews knew that God was ultimatley in control of everything. They did not necessarily think that God sent or caused bad things for them, but that He permitted such things to happen.
Job 2:11 - Eliphaz the Temanite was probably a descendent of Esau, whose eldest son had also been named Eliphaz, and who founded the clan of Teman (Gen 36:10-11 & 15). Bildad may also have been an Edomite ("dad" was the name of an Edomite god); the Shuhites may have been descended from Shuah, one of the sons Keturah bore Abraham (Gen. 25:1-2). Little is known about the family or the homeland of Zophar the Naamathite; the Septuagint (early Greek translation, dating from ca. 255 BC) refers to him as "Sophar the Minaean" - the Minaeans were a people who lived in Arabia and traded throught the Middle East (NB - NOT the same people as the Minoans of early Hellenic culture).
Job, chapters 3-11 - the first cycle of speeches - Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all reply in turn to Job's struggle with his circumstances.
Job, chapters 4 & 5 - the gist of Eliphaz' speech seems to be that Job needs to take some of the advice he has given to others in adversity (4:3-6); that Job must have sinned, because if he were innocent he would not be in trouble (4:7-9); that Job has probably not been seeking God (5:8), and that God is sending the troubles as a form of correction (5:17)
Job, chapters 6 & 7 - Job wishes that he were already dead (6:8-9), and tells Eliphaz that he doen't need correction but sympathy (6:14), that he isn't lying when he says he has not spoken iniquity (6:28-30), and that he wishes God would pardon whatever he may have done wrong (7:19-21)
Job, chapter 8 - Bildad tells Job that his children must have sinned, and that was why they were killed (Bildad thinks that God destroyed them) (8:4); he also says that if Job were to get right with God, then God would look after him (8:5-6)
Job, chapters 9 & 10 - Job tells Bildad that man by himself cannot get himself right with God (10:2), and then leads into a meditation on the mighty power of God and the great gulf between God's standards and man's estate.
Job, chapter 11 - Zophar calls Job a liar (11:3) who is claiming to be without sin (11:4), and tells him that he deserves even worse troubles than he already has (11:6). He tells Job that if he would only repent (11:13-14) and pray to God then everything would come out all right (11:16-19)
Job, chapters 12-20 - the second cycle of speeches, in which Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar repeat the mechanical view that trouble happens to people who are wicked, so therefore anyone in trouble must have done something bad.
Job, chapters 12, 13, & 14 - Job tells his friends that he knows as well as they do that good things should happen to good people and bad things to bad people, but points out that in practice sometimes bad people have a soft life, and good people a hard one. Job tells his friends that they would be wise just to stop arguing (13:5), and reproves them for saying that God automatically gives good for good and bad for bad (13:7-8). Then he declares that he will trust God no matter what befalls him (13:15), and that he wants to know what he did wrong (13:23). He reminds God how frail is mankind (14:1-5) and asks God to let him die (14:13)
Job, chapter 15 - Eliphaz says that Job's own words have condemned him (15:5-6), and that if people are in trouble then obviously they must be sinners getting their just deserts (15:20-35)
Job, chapter 16 & 17 - Job says that he's heard all their arguments before, and they are no comfort to anyone in trouble (16:2). He does not understand why bad things have happened to him, and wishes that he could plead with God as easily as he could plead with another man (16:21)
Job, chapter 18 - Bildad can only reiterate that the wicked will be punished, and so implies that anyone in trouble must automatically be counted as wicked.
Job, chapter 19 - Job asks if it isn't bad enough that God is allowing these things to happen to him, so why do his friends have to come and make things worse with their arguments and (false) accusations. Then he has an insight into God's provision of a Redeemer for mankind (19:25-27)
Job, chapter 20 - Zophar claims that the wicked will always come to a bad end, and implies that therefore those in trouble must be wicked.
Job, chapters 21-26 - the third cycle of speeches follows the general pattern of the previous two cycles as far as a reply by Eliphaz, but then only records a short reply by Bildad, and does not record any speech by Zophar. None of the Hebrew texts which we have, nor the early Greek translation (the Septuagint) shows any trace of a full third cycle of speeches. It may be that there had once been such a cycle but that it was dropped for some reason, or it may be that there never was a full third cycle because Job led into his long soliloquy and Zophar was unable to answer him.
Job, chapter 21 - Job replies that sometimes the wicked prosper up until the day they die, but even so, he will not take part in their schemes (21:16). He also says that his friends are making a wrong assumption when they claim that he must have done something wicked (21:27-34).
Job, chapter 22 - Eliphaz now starts to imagine what sort of wicked things he thinks Job must have done, to be in such trouble as he is. He claims that he must be righteous, because things are going well for him (22:18-20), and then he tells Job to repent and get back into a right repationship with God (22:21-28).
Job, chapters 23 & 24 - Job expresses his desire to come before God, although he is afraid of God's great majesty and power. He describes more of the bad things that the wicked seem to get away with, but then concludes that everyone is eventually going to die.
Job, chapter 25 - This short chapter may be all that remains of an original long speech by Bildad. There may also have been a speech for Zophar if there were three cycles of three speeches.
Job, chapters 27-31 - Job's soliloquy in which he maintains that he has done right, not wickedness (27:5-6), and declares that he knows that the wicked will eventually be dealt with by God (27:8-23); then he describes the wisdom of God, as shown in Creation (chapater 28). He wishes that he were once again under God's protection (chapter 29), and describes his present wretchedness (chapter 30), and then declares that he is innocent and not lying when he claims not to have done wicked things.
Job, chapters 32-37 - Elihu's debate with Job - Elihu's name is Hebrew ("El is my God"). As a younger man, Elihu had waited politely while his seniors debated with Job; when they were unable to answer Job satisfactorily Elihu lost patience and joined the debate. He even claimed to be speaking for God (36:2), but did not have much more to say than ob's friends.
Job, chapter3 38-41 - God speaks out of a whirlwind.
Job, chapter 42 - The concluding chapter. Job is restored and blessed by God.

The Septuagint version has some extra verses at the end of the Book of Job, said to be from a Syriac version (which no longer exists), which identify Job as being also called Jobab, a grandson of Esau, and say that he lived in the land of "Ausis, on the borders of Idumea and rabia"

Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved

Dr. Rollinson

Department of Religion
Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated: April 9, 2008

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