Introduction to Job
In reference to no part of the Scriptures have so many questions arisen as to the Book of Job. The time of its composition; the author; the country where the scene was laid; the question whether Job was a real person; the nature and design of the poem; have been points on which a great variety of opinion has been entertained among expositors, and on which different views still prevail. It is important, in order to have a correct understanding of the book, that all the light should be thrown on these subjects which can be; and though amidst the variety of opinion which prevails among men of the highest distinction in learning absolute certainty cannot be hoped for, yet such advances have been made in the investigation that on some of these points we may arrive to a high degree of probability.
Section 1. The Question whether Job Was a Real Person
The first question which presents itself in the examination of the book is, whether Job had a real existence. This has been doubted on such grounds as the following:
(1) The book has been supposed by some to have every mark of an allegory. Allegories and parables, it is said, are not uncommon in the Scriptures where a case is supposed, and then the narrative proceeds as if it were real. Such an instance, it has been maintained, occurs here, in which the author of the poem designed to illustrate important truths, but instead of stating them in an abstract form, chose to present them in the more graphic and interesting form of a supposed case - in which we are led to sympathize with a sufferer; to see the ground of the difficulty in the question under discussion in a more affecting manner than could be presented in an abstract form; and where the argument has all to interest the mind which one has when occurring in real life.
(2) it has been maintained that some of the transactions in the book must have been of this character, or are such as could not have actually occurred. Particularly it has been said that the account of the interview of Satan with yahweh -Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7 must be regarded merely as a supposed case, it being in the highest degree improbable that such an interview would occur, and such a conversation be held.
(3) the same conclusion has been drawn from the artificial character of the statements about the possessions of Job, both before and after his trials - statements which appear as if the case were merely supposed, and which would not be likely to occur in reality. Thus, we have only round numbers mentioned in enumerating his possessions - as 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she-asses. So, also, there is something artificial in the manner in which the sacred numbers seven and three are used. He had 7,000 sheep, 7 sons - both before and after his trials; his three friends came and sat down 7 days and 7 nights without saying a word to condole with him Job 2:13; and both before and after his trials he had three daughters. The same artificial and parabolical appearance, it is said, is seen in the fact that after his recovery his possessions were exactly doubled, and he had again in his old age exactly the same number of 7 sons and 3 daughters which he had before his afflictions.
(4) that the whole narration is allegorical or parabolical has been further argued from the conduct of the friends of Job. Their sitting down 7 days and 7 nights without saying anything, when they had come expressly to condole with him, it is said, is a wholly improbable circumstance, and looks as if the whole were a supposed case.
(5) the same thing has been inferred from the manner in which the book is written. It is of the highest order of poetry. The speeches are most elaborate; are filled with accurate and carefully prepared argument; are arranged with great care; are expressed in the most sententious manner; embody the results of long and careful observation, and are wholly unlike what would be uttered in unpremeditated and extemporary debate. No men, it is said, talk in this manner; nor can it be supposed that beautiful poetry and sublime argument, such as abound in this book, ever fell in animated debate from the lips of men. See Eichorn, Einleitung in das Alte Tes. V. Band. 129-131. From considerations such as these the historical character of the book has been doubted, and the whole has been regarded as a supposed case designed to illustrate the great question which the author of the poem proposed to examine.
It is important, therefore, to inquire what reasons there are for believing that such a person as Job 54ed, and how far the transactions referred to in the book are to be regarded as historically true.
(1) the fact of his existence is expressly declared, and the narrative has all the appearance of being a simple record of an actual occurrence. The first two chapters of the book, and a part of the last chapter, are simple historical records. The remainder of the book is indeed poetic, but these portions bare none of the characteristics of poetry. There are not to be found in the Bible more simple and plain historical statements than these; and there are none which, in themselves considered, might not be as properly set aside as allegorical. This fact should be regarded as decisive, unless there is some reason which does not appear on the face of the narrative for regarding it as allegorical.
(2) the account of the existence of such a man is regarded as historically true by the inspired writers of the Scriptures. Thus, in Ezekiel 14:14, God says, "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it (the land), they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God." Compare Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:20. Here Job is referred to as a real character as distinctly as Noah and Daniel, and all the circumstances are just such as they would be on the supposition that he had a real existence. They are alike spoken of as real "men;" as having souls - "they should deliver but their own souls by their own righteousness;" as having sons and daughters - "they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, they only shall be delivered" Ezekiel 14:16; and are in all respects mentioned alike as real characters. Of the historic fact that there were such men as Noah and Daniel there can be no doubt, and it is evident that Ezekiel as certainly regarded Job as a real character as he did either of the others.
A parallel passage, which will illustrate this, occurs in Jeremiah 15:1 : "Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people." Here Moses and Samuel are spoken of as real characters, and there is no doubt of their having existed. Yet they are mentioned in the same manner as Job is in the passage in Ezekiel. In either case it is incredible that a reference should have been made to a fictitious character. The appeal is one that could have been made only to a real character, and there can be no reasonable doubt that Ezekiel regarded Job as having really existed; or rather, since it is God who speaks and not Ezekiel, that he speaks of Job as having actually existed. The same thing is evident from a reference to Job by the apostle James: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy" James 5:11; that is, the happy issue to which the Lord brought all his trials, showing that he was pitiful to those in affliction, and of great mercy.
There can be no doubt that there is reference here to the sufferings of a real man, as there is to the real compassion which the Lord shows to one in great trials. It is incredible that this sacred writer should have appealed in this instance to the case of one whom he regarded as a fictitious character; and if the views of Ezekiel and James are to be relied on, there can be no doubt that Job had a real existence. Ezekiel mentions him just as he does Noah and Daniel, and James mentions him just as he does Elijah James 5:17; and so far as this historical record goes there is the same evidence of the actual existence of the one as of the other.
(3) the specifications of places and names in the book are not such as would occur in an allegory. Had it been merely a "supposed case," to illustrate some great truth, these specifications would have been unnecessary, and would not have occurred. In the acknowledged parables of the Scripture, there are seldom any very minute specifications of names and places. Thus, in the parable of the prodigal son, neither the name of the father, nor of the sons, nor of the place where the scene was laid, is mentioned. So of the nobleman who went to receive a kingdom; the unjust steward; the ten virgins, and of numerous others. But here we have distinct specifications of a great number of things which are in no way necessary to illustrate the main truth in the poem. Thus, we have not only the name of the sufferer, but the place of his residence mentioned, as if it were well known. We have the names of his friends, and the places of their residence mentioned - "Eliphaz the Temanite," and "Bildad the Shuhite," and "Zophar the Naamathite." and Elihu "the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram." Why are the places of residence of these persons mentioned unless it be meant to intimate that they were real persons, and not allegorical characters?
In like manner we have express mention of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans - specifications wholly unnecessary if not improbable if the work is an allegory. The single word "robbers" would have answered all the purpose, and would have been such as an inspired writer would have used unless the transaction were real, for an inspired writer would not have charged this offence on any class of men, thus holding them up to lasting reproach, unless an event of this kind had actually occurred. When the Savior, in the parable of the good Samaritan, mentions a robbery that occurred between Jerusalem and Jericho, the word "thieves," or more properly "robbers", is the only word used. No names are mentioned, nor is any class of men referred to, who would by such a mention of the name be held up to infamy. Thus, also we have the particular statement respecting the feasting of the sons and daughters of Job; his sending for and admonishing them; his offering up special sacrifices on their behalf; the account of the destruction of the oxen, the sheep, the camels, and the house where the sons and daughters of Job were - all statements of circumstances which would not be likely to occur in an allegory.
They are such particular statements as we expect to find respecting the real transactions, and they bear on the face of them the simple impression of truth. This is not the kind of information which we look for in a parable. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, almost the only one spoken by the Saviour where a name is mentioned, we have not that of the rich man; and though the name Lazarus is mentioned, yet that is all. We have no account of his family, of his place of residence, of his genealogy, of the time when he lived; and the name itself is so common that it would be impossible even to suspect whom the Savior had in his eye, if he had any real individual at all. Far different is this in the account of Job. It is true that in a romance, or in an extended allegory like the Pilgrim's Progress, we expect a detailed statement of names and places; but there is no evidence that there is any such extended fictitious narrative in the Bible, and unless the Book of Job be one there is no such extended allegory.
(4) the objections urged against this view are not such as to destroy the positive proof of the reality of the existence of Job. The objections which have been urged against the historical truth of the narrative, and which have already been in part alluded to, are principally the following:
The first is, the account of the interview between God and Satan in Job 1 and Job 2:1-13. It is alleged that this is so improbable a transaction as to throw an air of fiction over all the historical statements of the book. In reply to this, it may be observed, first, that even if this were not to be regarded as a literal transaction, it does not prove that no such man as Job 54ed, and that the transactions in regard to him were not real. He might have had an existence, and been stripped of his possessions, and subjected to these long and painful trials of his fidelity, even if this were a poetic ornament, or merely a figurative representation.
But, secondly, it is impossible to prove that no such transaction occurred. The existence of such a being as Satan is everywhere recognized in the Scriptures; the account which is here given of his character accords entirely with the uniform representation of him; he exerts no power over Job which is not expressly conceded to him; and it is impossible to prove that he does not even now perform the same things in the trial of good men, which it is said that he did in the case of Job. And even if it be admitted that there is somewhat of poetic statement in the form in which he is introduced, still this does not render the main account improbable and absurd. The Bible, from the necessity of the case, abounds with representations of this sort; and when it is said that God "speaks" to men, that he conversed with Adam, that he spake to the serpent Genesis 3, we are not necessarily to suppose that all this is strictly literal, nor does the fact that it is not strictly literal invalidate the main facts. There were results, or there was a series of facts following, as if this had been literally true; see the notes at Job 1:6-12.
A second objection to the historical truth of the transactions recorded in the book is, the poetic character of the work, and the strong improbability that addresses of this kind should ever have been made in the manner here represented. See Eichhorn, Einleit. v. 123, 124. They are of the highest order of poetry; they partake not at all of the nature of extemporaneous effusions; they indicate profound and close thinking, and are such as must have required much time to have prepared them. Especially it is said that it is in the highest degree improbable that Job, in the anguish of his body and mind, should have been capable of giving utterance to poetry and argument of this highly finished character. In regard to this objection, it may be observed,
(1) that even if this were so, and it were to be supposed that the arguments of the various speakers have a poetic character, and were in reality never uttered in the form in which we now have them, still this would not invalidate the evidence which exists of the historic truth of the facts stated about the existence and trials of Job. It might be true that he lived and suffered in this manner, and that a discussion of this character actually occurred, and that substantially these arguments were advanced, though they were afterward wrought by Job himself or by some other hand into the poetic form in which we now have them. Job himself lived after his trials 140 years, and, in itself considered, there is no improbability in the supposition, that when restored to the vigorous use of his powers, and in the leisure which he enjoyed, he should have thought it worthy to present the argument which he once held on this great subject in a more perfect form, and to give to it a more poetic cast. In this case, the main historic truth would be retained, and the real argument would in fact be stated - though in a form more worthy of preservation than could be expected to fall extemporaneously from the lips of the speakers. But
(2) all the difficulty may be removed by a supposition which is entirely in accordance with the character of the book and the nature of the case. It is, that the several speeches succeeded each other at such intervals as gave full time for reflection, and for carefully framing the argument. There is no evidence that the whole argument was gone through with "at one sitting;" there are no proofs that one speech followed immediately on another, or that a sufficient interval of time may not have elapsed to give opportunity for preparation to meet the views which had been suggested by the previous speaker. Everything in the book bears the marks of the most careful deliberation, and is as free as possible from the hurry and bustle of an extemporaneous debate. The sufferings of Job were evidently of a protracted nature. His friends sat down "seven days and seven nights" in silence before they said anything to him.
The whole subject of the debate seems to be arranged with most systematic care and regularity. The speakers succeed each other in regular order in a series of arguments - in each of these series following the same method, and no one of them out of his place. No one is ever interrupted while speaking; and no matter how keen and sarcastic his invectives, how torturing his reproaches, how bold or blasphemous what he said was thought to be, he is patiently heard until he has said all that he designed to say; and then all that he said is carefully weighed and considered in the reply. All this looks as if there might have been ample time to arrange the reply before it was uttered, and this supposition, of course, would relieve all the force of this objection. If this be so, then there is no more ground of objection against the supposition that these things were spoken, as it is said they were, than there is about the genuineness of the poems of the Grecian Rhapsodists, composed with a view to public recitation, or to the Iliad of Homer or the History of Herodotus, both of which, after they were composed, were recited publicly by their authors at Athens. No one can prove certainly that the several persons named in the book - Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zolphar, and Elihu - were incompetent to compose the speeches which are severally assigned to them, or that all the time necessary for such a composition was not taken by them.
Unless this can be done, the objection of its improbability, so confidently urged by Eichhorn (Einleit. v. 123ff.), and defended by Noyes (Intro. pp. xxi., xxi.), where he says that "the supposition that so beautiful and harmonious a whole, every part of which bears the stamp of the highest genius, was the casual production of a man brought to the gates of the grave by a loathsome disease, of three or four friends who had come to comfort him in his affliction, all of them expressing their thoughts in poetical and measured language; that the Deity was actually heard to speak half an hour in the midst of a violent storm; and that the consultations in the heavenly world were actual occurrences, is too extravagant to need refutation," is an objection really of little force.
A third objection has been derived from the round and doubled numbers which occur in the book, and the artificial character which the whole narrative seems to assume on that account. It is alleged that this is wholly an unusual and improbable occurrence; and that the whole statement appears as if it were a fictitious narrative. Thus Job's possessions of oxen and camels and sheep are expressed in round numbers; one part of these is exactly the double of another; and what is more remarkable still, all these are exactly doubled on his restoration to health. He had the same number of sons and the same number of daughters after his trial which he had before, and the number of each was what was esteemed among the Hebrews as a sacred number.
In regard to this objection, we may observe:
(1) That as to the round numbers, this is no more than what constantly occurs in historical statements. Nothing is more common in the enumeration of armies, of the people of a country, or of herds and flocks, than such statements.
(2) in regard to the fact that the possessions of Job are said to have been exactly "doubled" after his recovery from his calamities, it is not necessary to suppose that this was in all respects literally true. Nothing forbids us to suppose that, from the gifts of friends and other causes, the possessions of Job came so near to being just twice what they were before his trials, as to justify this general statement. In the statement itself, there is nothing improbable. Job 54ed 140 after his trials. If he had then the same measure of prosperity which he had before, and with the assistance of his friends to enable him to begin life again, there is no improbability in the supposition that these possessions would be doubled.
These are substantially all the objections which have been urged against the historical character of the book, and if they are not well founded, then it follows that it should be regarded as historically true that such a man actually lived, and that he passed through the trials which are here described. A more extended statement of these objections, and a refutation of them, may be found in the following works: - Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, Vol. V. p. 298ff. ed. 8vo, London, 1811; Prof. Lee on Job, Intro. Section 11; and Magee on atonement and Sacrifice, p. 212, following, ed. New York, 1813. It should be said, however, that not a few writers admit that such a man as Job 54ed, and that the book has an historical basis, while they regard the work itself as in the main poetic. In the view of such critics, the poet, in order to illustrate the great truth which he proposed to consider, made use of a tradition respecting the sufferings of a well-known person of distinction, and gave to the whole argument the high poetic cast which it has now. This supposition is in accordance with the methods frequently adopted by epic and tragic poets, and which is commonly followed by writers of romance. This is the opinion of Eichhorn, Einleitung V. Section 638.
Section 2. The Question on Where Job 54ed
In Job 1:1, it is said that Job dwelt "in the land of Uz." The only question, then, to be settled in ascertaining where he lived, is, if possible, to determine where this place was. From the manner in which the record is made ("the land of Uz") it would seem probable that this was a region of country of some considerable extent, and also that it derived its name from some man of that name who had settled there. The word Uz (עוּץ ‛ûts), according to Gesenius, means a light, sandy soil; and if the name was given to the country with reference to this quality of the soil, it would be natural to fix on some region remarkable for its barrenness - a waste place or a desert. Gesenius supposes that Uz was in the northern part of Arabia Deserta - a place lying between Palestine and the Euphrates, called by Ptolemy Αἰσῖται Aisitai. This opinion is defended by Rosenmuller (Prolegomena); and is adopted by Spanheim, Bochart, Lee, Umbreit, Noyes, and the authors of the Universal History. Dr. Good supposes that the Uz here referred to was in Arabia Petraea, on the southwestern coast of the Dead Sea, and that Job and all his friends referred to in the poem were Idumeans. Introductory Dissertation, Section 1.
Eichhorn also supposes that the scene is laid in Idumea, and that the author of the poem shows that he had a particular acquaintance with the history, customs, and productions of Egypt. Einleit. Section 638. Bochart (in Phaleg et Canaan), Michaelis (Spicileg. Geog. Hebraeo.), and Ilgen (Jobi, Antiquis. carminis Hebrew natura et indoles, p. 91), suppose that the place of his residence was the valley of Guta near Damascus, regarded as the most beautiful of the four Paradises of the Arabians. For a description of this valley, see Eichhorn, Einleit. V. s. 134. The word עוּץ ‛ûts (Uz) occurs only in the following places in the Hebrew Bible: Genesis 10:23; Genesis 22:21; Genesis 36:28, and 1 Chronicles 1:17, 1 Chronicles 1:42; in each of which places it is the name of a man; and in Jeremiah 25:20; Lamentations 4:21, and in Job 1:1, where it is applied to a country. The only circumstances which furnish any probability in regard to the place where Job 54ed, are the following:
(1) Those which enable us to determine with some probability where the family of Uz was settled, who not improbably gave his name to the country - as Sheba, and Seba, and Tema, and Cush, and Misraim, and others, did to the countries where they settled. In Genesis 10:23; Uz עוּץ ‛ûts, is mentioned as a grandson of Shem. In Genesis 22:21; an Uz (English Bible, "Huz") is mentioned as the son of Nahor, brother of Abraham, undoubtedly a different person from the one mentioned in Genesis 10:23. In Genesis 36:28, an individual of this name is mentioned among the descendants of Esau. In 1 Chronicles 1:17, the name occurs among the "sons of Shem;" and in 1 Chronicles 1:42, the same name occurs among the descendants of Esau. So far, therefore, as the name is concerned, it may have been derived from one of the family of Shem, or from one who was a contemporary with Abraham, or from a somewhat remote descendant Esau. It will be seen in the course of this introduction, that there is strong improbability that the name was given to the country because it was settled by either of the two latter, as such a supposition would bring down the time when Job 54ed to a later period than the circumstances recorded in his history will allow, and it is therefore probable that the name was conferred in honor of the grandson of Shem. This fact, of itself, will do something to determine the place.
Shem lived in Asia, and we shall find that the settlements of his descendants originally occupied the country somewhere in the vicinity of the Euphrates; Genesis 10:21-30. In Genesis 10:23; Uz is mentioned as one of the sons of Aram, who gave name to the country known as Aramea, or Syria, and from whom the Arameans descended. Their original residence, it is supposed, was near the river Kir, or Cyrus, from where they were brought, at some period now unknown, by a deliverance resembling that of the children of Israel from Egypt, and placed in the regions of Syria; see Amos 9:7. The inhabitants of Syria and Mesopotamia are always called by Moses "Arameus": as they had their seat in and near Mesopotamia, it is probable that Uz was located also not far from that region. We should, therefore, naturally be led to look for the country of Uz somewhere in that vicinity. In Genesis 10:30; it is further said of the sons of Shem, that "their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East;" a statement which corresponds with what is said of Job himself, that he was "the greatest of all the men of the East" Job 1:8; manifestly implying that he was an inhabitant of the country so called.
Various opinions have been entertained of the places where Mesha and Sephar were. The opinion of Michaelis is the most probable (Spicileg. pt. 11, p. 214), "that Mesha is the region around Passora, which the later Syrians called Maishon, and the Greeks Mesene. Under these names they included the country on the Euphrates and the Tigris, between Seleucia and the Persian Gulf. Abulfeda mentions in this region two cities not far from Passora, called Maisan, and Mushan. Here, then, was probably the northeastern border of the district inhabited by the Joktanites. The name of the opposite limit, Sephar, signifies in the Chaldee shore or coast, and is probably the western part of Yemen, along the Arabian Gulf, now called by the Arabs Tchiainah. The range of high and mountainous country between these two borders, Moses calls "the Mount of the East," or eastern mountains. It is also called by the Arabs, Djebal, i. e., "mountains," to the present day. See Rosenmuller's Alterthumskunde, iii. 163, 164.
The supposition that some portion of this region is denoted by the country where Uz settled, and is the place where Job resided is strengthened by the fact, that many of the persons and tribes mentioned in the book resided in this vicinity. Thus, it is probable that Eliphaz the Temanite had his residence there; see the notes at Job 2:11. The Sabeans probably dwelt not very remote from that region (see the notes at Job 1:15); the Chaldeans we know had their residence there (notes, Job 1:17), and this supposition will agree well with what is said of the tornado that came from the "wilderness," or desert; see the notes at Job 1:19. The residence of Job was so near to the Chaldeans and the Sabeans that he could be reached in their usual predatory excursions; a fact that better accords with the supposition that his residence was in some part of Arabia Deserta, than that it was in Idumea.
(2) this country is referred to in two places by Jeremiah, which may serve to aid us in determining its location; Lamentations 4:21 :
"Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
That dwellest in the land of Uz;
The cup shall pass through unto thee:
Thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked."
At first view, perhaps, this passage would indicate that the land of Uz was a part of Edom, yet it more properly indicates that the land of Uz was not a part of that land, but that the Edomites or Idumeans had gained possession of a country which did not originally belong to them. Thus, the prophet speaks of the "daughter of Edom," not as dwelling in her own country properly, but as dwelling "in the land of Uz" - in a foreign country, of which she had somehow obtained possession. The country of Edom, properly, was Mount Seir and the vicinity, south of the Dead Sea; but it is known that the Edomites subsequently extended their boundaries, and that at one period Bozrah, on the east of the Dead Sea, in the country of Moab, was their capital; see the Analysis of Isaiah 34, and the notes at Isaiah 34:6. It is highly probable that Jeremiah refers to the period when the Idumeans, having secured these conquests, and made this foreign city their capital, is represented as dwelling there. If so, according to this passage in Lamentations, we should naturally look for the land of Uz somewhere in the countries to which the conquests of the Edomites extended - and these conquests were chiefly to the east of their own land. A similar conclusion will be derived from the other place where the name occurs in Jeremiah. It is in Jeremiah 25:20 ff. "And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Askelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, and Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon," etc. Two things are apparent here. One is, that the country of Uz was distinct from the land of Edom, since they are mentioned as separate nations; the other is, that it was a country of some considerable extent, since it is mentioned as being under several "kings." There is, indeed, in this reference to it no allusion to its situation; but it is mentioned as being well known in the time of Jeremiah.
(3) the same thing is evident from the manner in which the residence of Job is spoken of in Job 1:8. He is there said to have been the "greatest of all the men of the east." This implies that his residence was in the land which was known familiarly as the country of the East. It is true, indeed, that we have not yet determined where the poem was composed, and of course do not know precisely what the author would understand by this phrase, but the expression has a common signification in the Scriptures, as denoting the country east of Palestine. The land of Idumea, however, was directly south; and we are, therefore, naturally led to look to some other place as the land of Uz; compare the notes at Job 1:3. The expression "the East," as used in the Bible, would in no instance naturally lead us to look to Idumea.
(4) the Septuagint renders the word Uz in Job 1:1. by Ασίτις Asitis - a word which seems to have been formed from the Hebrew עוּץ ‛ûts, Utz, or Uz. Of course, their translation gives no intimation of the place referred to. But Ptolemy (Geog. Lib. v.) speaks of a tribe or nation in the neighborhood of Babylon, whom he calls Αὐσίται Ausitai, Ausitae (or as it was perhaps written Αἰσίται Aisitai), the same word which is used by the Septuagint in rendering the word Uz. These people are placed by Ptolemy in the neighborhood of the Cauchebeni - ὑπὸ υὲν τοῖς Καυχαβηνοις hupo men tois Kauchabēnois - and he speaks of them as separated from Chaldea by a ridge of mountains. See Rosenm. Prolegomena, p. 27. This location would place Job so near to the Chaldeans, that the account of their making an excursion into his country Job 1:17 would be entirely probable. - It may be added, also, that in the same neighborhood we find a town called Sabas (Σάβας Sabas) in Diodorus Sic. Lib. iii. Section 46. Prof. Lee, p. 32. These circumstances render it probable that the residence of the patriarch was west of Chaldea, and somewhere in the northern part of Arabia Deserta, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphratcs.
(5) the monuments and memorials of Job still preserved or referred to in the East, may be adduced as some slight evidence of the fact that such a man as Job 54ed, and as an indication of the region in which he resided. It is true that they depend on mere tradition; but monuments are not erected to the memory of any who are not supposed to have had an existence, and traditions usually have some basis in reality. Arabian writers always make mention of Job as a real person, and his pretended grave is shown in the East to this day. It is shown indeed in six different places: but this is no evidence that all that is said of the existence of such a man is fabulous, anymore than the fact that seven cities contended for the honor of the birth of Homer is an evidence that there was no such man. The most celebrated tomb of this kind is that of the Trachonitis, toward the springs of the Jordan. It is situated between the cities still bearing the names of Teman, Shuah, and Naama - (Wemyss); though there is every reason to believe that these names have been given rather with reference to the fact that that was supposed to be his residence, than that they were the names of the places referred to in the book of Job. One of these tombs was shown to Niebuhr. He says (Reisebeschreib, i. 466, "Two or three hours east of Saada is a great mosque, in which, according to the opinion of the Arabs who reside there, the sufferer Job lies buried." "On the eastern limits of Arabia, they showed me the grave of Job, close to the Euphrates, and near the Helleh, one hour south from Babylon." is of importance to remark here only that all of these tombs are outside the limits of Idumea. Among the Arabians there are numerous traditions respecting Job, many of them indeed stories that are entirely ridiculous, but all showing the firm belief prevalent in Arabia that there was such a man. See Sale's Koran, vol. ii. pp. 174, 322; Magee on Atonement and Sacrifice, pp. 366, 367; and D'Herbelot, Bibli. Orient. tom. i. pp. 75, 432, 438, as quoted by Magee.
(6) the present belief of the Arabians may be referred to as corroborating the results to which we have approximated in this inquiry, that the residence of Job was not in Idumea, but was in some part of Arabia Deserta, lying between Palestine and the Euphrates. Eli Smith stated to me (November, 1840) that there was still a place in the Houran called by the Arabians, Uz; and that there is a tradition among them that that was the residence of Job. It is northeast of Bozrah. Bozrah was once the capital of Idumea (notes on Isaiah 34:6), though it was situated without the limits of their natural territory. If this tradition is well founded, then Job was not probably an Idumean. There is nothing that renders the tradition improbable, and the course of the investigation conducts us, with a high degree of probability, to the conclusion that this was the residence of Job. On the residence of Job and his friends, consult also Abrahami Peritsol Itinera Mundi, in Ugolin, Thes. Sac. vii. pp. 103-106.
Section 3. The Time When Job 54ed
There has been quite as much uncertainty in regard to the time when Job 54ed, as there has been in regard to the place where he lived. It should be observed here, that this question is not necessarily connected with the inquiry when the book was composed, and will not be materially affected, whether we suppose it to have been composed by Job himself, by Moses, or by a later writer. Whenever the book was composed, if at a later period than that in which the patriarch lived, the author would naturally conceal the marks of his own time, by referring only to such customs and opinions as prevailed in the age when the events were supposed to have occurred.
On this question, we cannot hope to arrive at absolute certainty. It is remarkable that neither the genealogical record of the family of Job nor that of his three friends is given. The only record of the kind occurring in the book, is that of Elihu Job 32:2, and this is so slight as to furnish but little assistance in determining when he lived. The only circumstances which occur in regard to this question, are the following; and they will serve to settle the question with sufficient probability, as it is a question on which no important results can depend.
(1) the age of Job. According to this, the time when he lived, would occur somewhere between the age of Terah, the father of Abraham, and Jacob, or about 1,800 years before Christ, and about 600 years after the deluge. For the reasons of this opinion, see the notes at Job 42:16. This estimate cannot pretend to be entirely accurate, but, it has a high degree of probability. If this estimate is correct, he lived not far from 400 years before the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, and before the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; compare the notes at Acts 7:6.
(2) as a slight confirmation of this opinion, we may refer to the traditions in reference to the time when he lived. The account which is appended to the Septuagint, that he was a son of Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and the fifth in descent from Abraham, may be seen in the notes at Job 42:16. A similar account is given at the close of the Arabic translation of Job, so similar that the one has every appearance of having been copied from the other, or of their having had a common origin. "Job dwelt in the land of Uz, between the borders of Edom and Arabia, and was before called Jobab. He married a foreign wife, whose name was Anun. Job was himself a son of Zare, one of the sons of Esau; and his mother's name was Basra, and he was the sixth in descent from Abraham. But of the kings who reigned in Edom, the first who reigned over the land was Balak, the son of Beor; and the name of his city was Danaba. And after him Jobab, who is called Job; and after him the name of him who was prince of the land of Teman; and after him his son Barak, he who slew and put to flight Madian in the plain of Moab, and the name of his city was Gjates. And of the friends of Job who came to meet him, was Elifaz, of the sons of Esau, the king of the Temanites." These traditions are worthless, except as they show the prevalent belief when these translations were made, that Job 54ed somewhere near the time of the three great Hebrew patriarchs.
A nearly uniform tradition also has concurred in describing this as about the age in which he lived. The Hebrew writers generally concur in describing him as living in the days of Isaac and Jacob. Wemyss. Eusebius places him about two "ages" before Moses. The opinions of the Eastern nations generally concur in assigning this as the age in which he lived.
(3) from the representations in the book itself, it is clear that he lived before the departure from Egypt. This is evident from the fact that there is no direct allusion either to that remarkable event, or to the series of wonders which accompanied it, or to the journey to the land of Canaan. This silence is unaccountable on any other supposition than that he lived before it occurred, for two reasons. One is, that it would have furnished the most striking illustration occurring in history, of the interposition by God in delivering his friends and in destroying the wicked, and was such an illustration as Job and his friends could not have failed to refer to, in defense of their opinions, if it were known to them; and the other is, that this event was the great storehouse of argument and illustration for all the sacred writers, after it occurred. The deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and the divine interposition in conducting the nation to the promised land, is constantly referred to by the sacred writers. They derive from those events their most magnificent descriptions of the power and majesty of Yahweh. They refer to them as illustrating his character and government. They appeal to them in proof that he was the friend and protector of his people, and that he would destroy his foes. They draw from them their most sublime and beautiful poetic images, and are never weary with calling the attention of the people to their obligation to serve God, on account of his merciful and wonderful interposition. The very point of the argument in this book is one that would be better illustrated by that deliverance, than by any other event which ever occurred in history; and as this must have been known to the inhabitants of the country where Job 54ed, it is inexplicable that there is no allusion to these transactions, if they had already occurred.
It is clear, therefore, that even if the book was written at a later period than the exode from Egypt, the author of the poem meant to represent the patriarch as having lived before that event. He has described him as one who was ignorant of it, and in such circumstances, and with such opinions, that he could not have failed to refer to it, if he was believed to have lived after that event. It is equally probable that Job 54ed before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This event occurred in the vicinity of the country where he lived, and he could not have been ignorant of it. It was, moreover, a case not less in point in the argument than the deliverance from Egypt was; and it is not conceivable that a reference to so signal a punishment on the wicked by the direct judgment of the Almighty, would have been omitted in an argument of the nature of that in this book. It was the very point maintained by the friends of Job, that God interposed by direct judgments to cut off the wicked; and the world never furnished a more appropriate illustration of this than had occurred in their own neighborhood, on the supposition that the calamities of Job occurred after that event.
(4) the same thing is apparent also from the absence of all allusion to the Jewish rites, manners, customs, religious ceremonies, priesthood, festivals, fasts, sabbaths, etc. There will be occasion in another part of this introduction (Section 4) to inquire how far there is in fact such a lack of allusion to these things. All that is now meant is, that there is an obvious and striking lack of such allusions as we should expect to find made by one who lived at a later period, and who was familiar with the customs and religious rites of the Jews. The plan of the poem, it may be admitted, indeed, did not demand any frequent allusion to these customs and rites, and may be conceded to be adverse to such an allusion, even if they were known; but it is hardly conceivable that there should not have been some reference to them of more marked character than is now found. Even admitting that Job was a foreigner, and that the author meant to preserve this impression distinctly, yet his residence could not have been far from the confines of the Jewish people; and one who manifested such decided principles of piety toward God as he did, could not but have had a strong sympathy with that people, and could not but have referred to their rites in an argument so intimately pertaining to the government of yahweh. The representation of Job, and the allusions in the book, are in all respects such as would occur on the supposition that he lived before the special Jewish polity was instituted.
(5) the same thing is manifest from another circumstance. The religion of Job is of the same kind which we find prevailing in the time of Abraham, and before the institution of the Jewish system. It is a religion of sacrifices, but without any officiating priest. Job himself presents the offering, as the head of the family, in behalf of his children and his friends; Job 1:5; Job 42:8. There is no priest appointed for this office; no temple, tabernacle, or sacred place of any kind; no consecrated altar. Now this is just the kind of religion which we find prevailing among the patriarchs, until the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; and hence, it is natural to infer that Job 54ed anterior to that event. Thus, we find Noah building an altar to the Lord, and offering sacrifices, Genesis 8:20; Abraham offering a sacrifice himself in the same manner, Genesis 15:9-11; compare Genesis 12:1-13; and this was undoubtedly the earliest form of religion. Sacrifices were offered to God, and the father of a family was the officiating priest.
These circumstances combined leave little doubt as to the time when Job 54ed. They concur in fixing the period as not remote from the age of Abraham, and there is no other period of history in which they will be found to unite. No question of great importance, however, depends on settling this question; and these circumstances determine the time with sufficient accuracy for all that is necessary, in an exposition of the book.
Section 4. The Author of the Book
A question of more vital importance than those which have been already considered, relates to the authorship of the book. As the name of the author is nowhere mentioned, either in the book itself or elsewhere in the Bible, it is of course impossible to arrive at absolute certainty; and after all that has been written on it, it is still and must be a point of mere conjecture. Still the question, as it is commonly discussed, opens a wide range of inquiry, and claims an investigation. If the name of the author cannot be discovered with certainty, it may be possible at least to decide with some degree of probability at what period of the world it was committed to writing, and perhaps with a degree of probability that may be sufficiently satisfactory, by whom it was done.
The first inquiry that meets us in the investigation of this point is, whether the whole book was composed by the same author, or whether the historical parts were added by a later hand. The slightest acquaintance with the book is sufficient to show, that there are in it two essentially different kinds of style - the poetic and prosaic. The body of the work, Job 3-42:6, is poetry; the other portion, Job 1; Job 2:1-13 and Job 42:7-17, is prose. The genuineness of the latter has been denied by many eminent critics, and particularly by DeWette, who regard it as the addition of some later hand. Against the prologue and the epilogue DeWette urges, "that the perfection of the work requires their rejection, because they solve the problem which is the subject of the discussion, by the idea of trial and compensation; whereas it was the design of the author to solve the question through the idea of entire submission on the part of man to the wisdom and power of God;" see Noyes, Intro. pp. xxi., xxii.
To this objection it may be replied:
(1) That we are to learn the view of the author only by all that he has presented to us. It may have been a part of his plan to exhibit just this view - not to present an abstract argument, but such an argument in connection with a real case, and to make it more vivid by showing an actual instance of calamity falling upon a pious man, and by a state of remarkable prosperity succeeding it. The presumption is, that the author of the poem designed to throw all the light possible on a very obscure and dark subject; and in order to that, a statement of the facts which preceded and followed the argument seems indispensable.
(2) without the statement in the conclusion of the prosperity of Job after his trials, the argument of the book is incomplete. The main question is not solved. God is introduced in the latter chapters, not as solving by explicit statements the questions that had given so much perplexity, but as showing the duty of unqualified submission. But when this is followed by the historical statement of the return of Job to a state of prosperity, of the long life which he afterward enjoyed, and of the wealth and happiness which attended him for nearly a century and a half, the objections of his friends and his own difficulties are abundantly met, and the conclusion of the whole shows that God is not regardless of his people, but that, though they pass through severe trials, still they are the objects of his tender care.
(3) besides, the prologue is necessary in order to understand the character, the language, and the arguments of Job. In the harsh and irreverent speeches which he sometimes makes, in his fearful imprecations in Job 3 on the day of his birth, and in the outbreaks of impatience which we meet with, it would be impossible for us to have the sympathy for the sufferer which the author evidently desired we should have, or to understand the depth of his woes, unless we had a view of his previous prosperity, and of the causes of his trials, and unless we had the assurance that he had been an eminently pious and upright man. As it is, we are prepared to sympathize with a sufferer of eminent rank, a man of previous wealth and prosperity, and one who had been brought into these circumstances or the very purpose of trial. We become at once interested to know how human nature will act in such circumstances, nor does the interest ever flag.
Under these sudden and accumulated trials, we admire, at first, the patience and resignation of the sufferer; then, under the protracted and intolerable pressure, we are not surprised to witness the outbreak of his feelings in Job 3; and then we watch with great interest and without weariness the manner in which he meets the ingenious arguments of his "friends" to prove that he had always been a hypocrite, and their cutting taunts and reproaches. It would be impossible to keep up this interest in the argument unless we were prepared for it by the historical statement in the introductory chapters. It should be added, that any supposition that these chapters are by a later hand, is entirely conjectural - no authority for any such belief being furnished by the ancient versions, manuscripts, or traditions. These remarks, however, do not forbid us to suppose, that, if the book were composed by Job himself, the last two verses in Job 42, containing an account of his age and death, were added by a later hand - as the account of the death of Moses Deuteronomy 34:1-12 must be supposed not to be the work of Moses himself, but of some later inspired writer.
If there is, therefore, reason to believe that the whole work, substantially as we have it now, was committed to writing by the same hand, the question arises, whether there are any circumstances by which it can be determined with probability who the author was. On no question, almost, pertaining to sacred criticism, have there been so many contradictory opinions as on this. Lowth, Magee, Prof. Lee, and many others, regard it as the work of Job himself. Lightfoot and others ascribe it to Elihu; some of the rabbinical writers, as also Kennicott, Michaelis, Dathe, and Good, to Moses; Luther, Grotius, and Doederlin, to Solomon; Umbreit and Noyes to some writer who lived not far from the period of the Jewish captivity; Rosenmuller, Spanheim, Reimar, Stauedlin, and C. F. Richter, suppose that it was composed by some Hebrew writer about the time of Solomon; Warburton regards it as the production of Ezra; Herder (Hebrew Poetry, i. 110) supposes that it was written by some ancient Idumean, probably Job himself, and was obtained by David in his conquests over Idumea. He supposes that in the later writings of David he finds traces of his having imitated the style of this ancient book.
It would be uninteresting and profitless to go into an examination of the reasons suggested by these respective authors for their various opinions. Instead of this, I propose to state the leading considerations which have occurred in the examination of the book itself, and of the reasons which have been suggested by these various authors, which may enable us to form a probable opinion. If the investigation shall result only in adding one more conjecture to those already formed, still it will have the merit of stating about all that seems to be of importance in enabling us to form an opinion in the case.
I. The first circumstance that would occur to one in estimating the question about the authorship of the book, is the foreign cast of the whole work - the fact that it differs from the usual style of the Hebrew compositions. The customs, allusions, figures of speech, and modes of thought, to one who is familiar with the writings of the Hebrews, have a foreign air, and are such as evidently show that the speakers lived in some other country than Judea. There is, indeed, a common Oriental cast diffused over the whole work, enough to distinguish it from all the modes of composition in the Occidental world; but there is, also, scarcely less to distinguish it from the compositions which we know had their origin among the Hebrews. The style of thought, and the general cast of the book, is Arabian. The allusions; the metaphors; the illustrations; the reference to historical events and to prevailing customs, are not such as an Hebrew would make; certainly not, unless in the very earliest periods of history, and before the character of the nation became so formed as to distinguish it characteristically from their brethren in the great family of the East. Arabian deserts; streams failing from drought; wadys filled in the winter and dry in the summer; moving hordes and caravans that come regularly to the same place for water; dwellings of tents easily plucked up and removed; the dry and stinted shrubbery of the desert; the roaring of lions and other wild beasts; periodical rains; trees planted on the verge of running streams; robbers and plunderers that rise before day, and make their attack in the early morning; the rights, authority, and obligation of the גאל gô'el, or avenger of blood; the claims of hospitality; the formalities of an Arabic court of justice, are the images which are kept constantly before the mind.
Here the respect due to an Emir; the courtesy of manners which prevails among the more elevated ranks in the Arabic tribes; the profound attention which listens to the close while one is speaking, and which never interrupts him (Herder i. 81), so remarkable among well-bred Orientals at the present day, appear everywhere. It is true, that many of these things may find a resemblance in the undoubted Hebrew writings - for some of them are the common characteristics of the Oriental people - but still, no one can doubt that they abound in this book more than in any other in the Bible, and that, as we shall see more particularly soon, they are unmixed as they are elsewhere, with what is indubitably of Hebrew origin. In connection with this, it may be remarked that there are in the book an unusual number of words, whose root is found now only in the Arabic, and which are used in a sense not common in the Hebrew, but usual in the Arabic. Of this all will be convinced who, in interpreting the book, avail themselves of the light which Gesenius has thrown on numerous words from the Arabic, or who consult the Lexicon of Castell, or who examine the Commentaries of Schultens and Lee. That more importance has been attached to this by many critics than facts will warrant, no one can deny; but as little can it be denied that more aid can be derived from the Arabic language in interpreting this book, than in the exposition of any other part of the Bible. On this point Gesenius makes the following remarks "Altogether there is found in the book much resemblance to the Arabic, or which can be illustrated from the Arabic; but this is either Hebrew, and pertains to the poetic diction, or it is at the same time Aramaish, and was borrowed by the poet from the Aramaean language, and appears here not as Aramaean but as Arabic. Yet there is not here proportionably more than in other poetic books and portions of books. It would be unjust to infer from this that the author of this book had any immediate connection with Arabia, or with Arabic literature." Geschichte der hebr. Sprache und Schrift, S. 88. The fact of the Arabic cast of the work is conceded by Gesenius in the above extract; the inferences in regard to the connection of the book with Arabia and with Arabic literature which may be derived from this, is to be determined from other circumstances; compare Eichhorn, Einleitung, v. S. 163ff.
II. A second consideration that may enable us to determine the question respecting the authorship of the book is, the fact that there are in it numerous undoubted allusions to events which occurred before the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and the establishment of the Jewish institutions. The point of this remark is, that if we shall find such allusions, and also that there are no allusions to events occurring after that period, this is a circumstance which may throw some light on the authorship. It will at least enable us to fix, with some degree of accuracy, the time when the book was committed to writing. Now that there are manifest allusions to events occurring before that period, the following references will show; Job 10:9, "Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay, and wilt thou bring me to dust again?" Here there is an allusion in almost so many words to the statements in Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19, respecting the manner in which man was formed - showing that Job was familiar with the account of the creation of man, Job 27:3, "All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;" Job 33:4, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life;" Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."
Here there are undoubted allusions, also, to the manner in which man was formed - (compare Genesis 2:7) - allusions which show that the fact must have been made known to the speakers by tradition, since it is not such a fact as man would readily arrive at by reasoning. The imbecility and weakness of man also, are described in terms which imply an acquaintance with the manner in which he was created. "How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth;" Job 4:19. In Job 31:33, there is probably an allusion to the fact that Adam attempted to hide himself from God when he had eaten the forbidden fruit. "If I covered my transgressions as Adam." For the reasons for supposing that this refers to Adam, see the notes at the verse. In Job 22:15-16, there is a manifest reference to the deluge. "Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood?"
See the notes on that passage. In connection with this we may refer also to the fact that the description of the modes of worship, and the views of religion, found in this book, show an acquaintance with the form in which worship was offered to God before the exode from Egypt. They are of precisely such a character as we find in the time of Abel, Noah, and Abraham. These events are not such as would occur to one who was not familiar with the historical facts recorded in the first part of the book of Genesis. They are not such as would result from a train of reasoning, but could only be derived from the knowledge of those events which would be spread over the East at that early period of the world. They demonstrate that the work was composed by one who had had an opportunity to become acquainted with what is now recorded as the Mosaic history of the creation, and of the early events of the world.
III. There are no such allusions to events occurring after the exode from Egypt, and the establishment of the Jewish institutions. As this is a point of great importance in determining the question respecting the authorship of the book, and as it as been confidently asserted that there are such allusions, and as they have been made the basis of an argument to prove that the book had an origin as late as Solomon or even as Ezra, it is of importance to examine this point with attention. The point is, that there are no such allusions as a Hebrew would make after the exode; or in other words, there is nothing in the book itself which would lead us to conclude that it was composed after the departure from Egypt. A few remarks will show the truth and the bearing of this observation.
The Hebrew writers were remarkable above most others for allusions to the events of their own history. The dealings of God with their nation had been so special, and they were so much imbued with the conviction that the events of their own history furnished proofs of the divine favor toward their nation, that we find in their writings a constant reference to what had happened to them as a people. Particularly the deliverance from Egypt, the passage of the Red Sea, the giving of the law on Sinai, the journey in the wilderness, the conquest of the land of Canaan, and the destruction of their enemies, constituted an unfailing depository of argument and illustration for their writers in all ages. All their poetry written subsequent to these events, abounds with allusions to them. Their prophets refer to them for topics of solemn appeal to the nation; and the remembrance of these things warms the heart of piety, and animates the song of praise in the temple-service. Under the sufferings of the "captivity," they are cheered by the fact that God delivered them once from much more galling oppression; and in the times of freedom, their liberty is made sweet by the memory of what their fathers suffered in the "house of bondage."
Now it is as undeniable as it is remarkable, that in the book of Job there are no such allusions to these events as a Hebrew would make. There is no allusion to Moses; no indisputable reference to their bondage in Egypt, to the oppressive acts of Pharaoh, to the destruction of his army in the Red Sea, to the rescue of the children of Israel, to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, to the perils of the wilderness, to their final settlement in the promised land. There is no reference to the tabernacle, to the ark, to the tables of the law, to the institution and the functions of the priesthood, to the cities of refuge, or to the special religious rites of the Hebrew people. There is none to the theocracy, to the days of solemn convocation, to the great national festivals, or to the names of the Jewish tribes. There is none to the special judicial laws of the Hebrews, and none to the administration of justice but such as we should find in the early patriarchal times.
These omissions are the more remarkable, as has been already observed, because many of these events would have furnished the most apposite illustrations of the points maintained by the different speakers of any which had ever occurred in history. Nothing could have been more in point, on numerous occasions in conducting the argument, than the destruction of Pharaoh, the deliverance and protection of the people of God, the care evinced for them in the wilderness, and the overthrow of their enemies in the promised land. So obvious do these considerations appear, that they seem to settle the question on one point in regard to the authorship of the book, and to show that it could not have been composed by a Hebrew after the exode. For several additional arguments to prove that the book was written before the exode, see Eichhorn, Einleit, section 641. As, however, notwithstanding these facts, it has been held by some respectable critics - as Rosenmuller, Umbreit, Warburton, and others - that it was composed as late as the time of Solomon, or even the captivity, it is important to inquire in what way it is proposed to set this argument aside, and by what considerations they propose to defend its composition at a later date than the exode. They are, briefly, the following:
(1) One is, that the very design of the poem, whenever it was composed, required that there should be no such allusion. The scene, it is said is laid, not in Palestine, but in a foreign country; the time supposed is that of the patriarchs, and before the exode; the characters are not Hebrew, but are Arabian or Idumean, and the very purpose of the author required that there should be no allusion to the unique history or customs of the Hebrews. The same thing, it is said, occurred which would in the composition of poem or romance now in which the scene is laid in a foreign land, or in the time of the Crusades or the Caesars. We should expect that the characters, the costume, the habits of that foreign country or those distant times, would be carefully observed. "As they (the characters and the author of the work) were Arabians who had nothing to do with the institutions of Moses, it is plain that a writer of genius would not have been guilty of the absurdity of putting the sentiments, eats of a Jew into the mouth of an Arabian, at least so far as relates to such tangible matters as institutions, positive laws, ceremonies, and history. The author has manifested abundant evidence of genius and skill in the structure and execution of the work, to account for his not having given to Arabians the obvious peculiarities of Hebrews who lived under the institutions of Moses, at whatever period it may have been written.
Even if the characters of the book had been Hebrews, the argument under consideration would not have been perfectly conclusive, for, from the nature of the subject, we might have expected as little in it that was Levitical or grossly Jewish, as in the Book of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes." Noyes, Introduction p. 28. This supposition assumes that the work was written in a later age than that of Moses. It furnishes no evidence, however, that it was so written. It can only furnish evidence that the author had genius and skill so to throw himself back into a distant age and into a foreign land, as completely to conceal his own uniqueness of country or time, and to represent characters as living and acting in the supposed country and period, without betraying his own. So far as the question about the author, and the time when the work was composed, is concerned, the fact here admitted, that there are no allusions to events after the exode, is quite as strong certainly in favor of the supposition that it was composed before as after that event.
There are still some difficulties on the supposition that it was written by a Hebrew of a later age, who designedly meant to give it an Arabic dress, and to make no allusion to anything in the institutions and history of his own country that would betray its authorship, One is, the intrinsic difficulty of doing this. It requires rare genius for an author so to throw himself into past ages, as leave nothing that shall betray his own times and country. We are never so betrayed as to imagine that Shakespeare lived in the time of Coriolanus or of Caesar; that Johnson lived in the time and the country of Rasselas; or that Scott lived in the times of the Crusaders. Instances have been found, it is admitted, where the concealment has been effectual, but they have been exceedingly rare. Another objection to this view is, that such a work would have been especially impracticable for a Hebrew, who of all men would have been most likely to betray his time and country.
The cast of the poem is highly philosophical. The argument is in many places exceedingly abstruse. The appeal is to close and long observation; to the recorded experience of their ancestors; to the observed effects of devine judgments on the world. A Hebrew in such circumstances would have appealed to the authority of God; he would have referred to the terrible sanctions of the law rather than to cold and abstract reasoning; and he could hardly have refrained from some allusion to the events of his own history that bore so palpably on the case, It may be doubted, also, whether any Hebrew ever had such versatility of genius and character as to divest himself wholly of the proper costume of his country, and to appear throughout as an Arabic Emir, and so as never in a long argument to express anything but such as became the assumed character of the foreigner. It should be remembered, also, that the language which is used in this poem is different from that which prevailed in the time of Solomon and the captivity.
It has an antique cast. It abounds in words which do not elsewhere occur, and whose roots are now to be found only in the Arabic. It has much of the peculiarities of a strongly marked dialect - and would require all the art necessary to keep up the spirit of an ancient dialect. Yet in the whole range of literature there are not probably half a dozen instances where such an expedient as this has been resorted to - where a writer has made use of a foreign or an antique dialect for the purpose of giving to the production of his pen an air of antiquity. Aristophanes and the tragedians, indeed, sometimes introduce persons speaking the dialects of parts of Greece different from that in which they had been brought up (Lee), and the same is occasionally true of Shakespeare; but except in the case of Chatterton, scarcely one has occurred where the device has been continued through a production of any considerable length. There is a moral certainty that a Hebrew would not attempt it.
(2) a second objection to the supposition that the work was composed before the exode, or argument that it was composed by a Hebrew who lived at a much later period of the world, is derived from the supposed allusions to the historical events connected with the Jewish people, and to the unique institutions of Moses. It is not maintained that there is any direct mention of those events or those institutions, but that the author has undesignedly "betrayed" himself by the use of certain words and phrases such as no one would employ but a Hebrew. This argument may be seen at length in Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, vol. v. pp. 306-319, and a full examination of it may be seen in Peters' Critical Dissertation on the Book of Job, pp. 22-36. All that can be done here is to make a very brief reference to the argument. Even the advocates for the opinion that the book was composed after the exode, have generally admitted that the passages referred to contribute but little to the support of the opinion. The passages referred to by Warburton are the following:
(a) The allusion to the calamities which the wickedness of parents brings upon their children. "He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail;" Job 17:5. "God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and they shall know it;" Job 21:19. Here it is supposed there is a reference to the principle laid down in the Hebrew Scriptures as a part of the divine administration, that the iniquities of the fathers should be visited upon their children. But it is not necessary to suppose that there was any particular acquaintance with the laws of Moses, to understand this. Observation of the actual course of events would have suggested all that is alleged in the Book of Job on this point. The poverty, disease, and disgrace which the vicious entail on their offspring in every land, would have furnished to a careful observer all the facts necessary to suggest this remark. The opinion that children suffer as a consequence of the sins of wicked parents was common all over the world. Thus, in a verse of Theocritus, delivered as a sort of oracle from Jupiter, Idyll. xxvi.
Εὐσεβέων παίδεσσι τὰ λώια, δυσσεβέων δ ̓ οὐ Eusebeōn paidessi ta lōia dussebeōn d' ou.
"Good things happen to children of the pious, but not to those of the irreligious."
(b) Allusion to the fact that idolatry is an offence against the state, and is to be punished by the civil magistrate. "This also (idolatry) were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I should have denied the God that is above;" Job 31:28. This is supposed to be such a sentiment as a Hebrew only would have employed, as derived from his special institutions, where idolatry was an offence against the state, and was made a capital crime. But there is not the least evidence that in the patriarchal times, and in the country where Job 54ed, idolatrous worship might not be regarded as a civil offence; and whether it were so or not, there is no reason for surprise that a man who had a profound veneration for God, and for the honor due to his name, such as Job had, should express the sentiment, that the worship of the sun and moon was a heinous offence, and that pure religion was of so much importance that a violation of its principles ought to be regarded as a crime against society.
(c) Allusions to certain PHRASES such as only a Hebrew would use, and which would be employed only at a later period of the world than the exode. Such phrases are referred to as the following: "He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter;" Job 20:17. "Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart;" Job 22:22. "O that I were in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;" Job 29:4. It is maintained that these are manifest allusions to facts referred to in the books of Moses: that the first refers to the common description of the holy land; the second, to the giving of the law on Sinai; and the third, to the dwelling of the Shekinah, or visible symbol of God, on the tabernacle. To this we may reply, that the first is such common language as was used in the East to denote plenty or abundance, and is manifestly a proverbial expression. It is used by Pindar, Nem. εἰδ. γ; and is common in the Arabic writers. The second is only such general language as anyone would use who should exhort another to be attentive to the law of God, and has in it manifestly no particular allusion to the method in which the law was given on Sinai. And the third can be shown to have no special reference to the Shekinah or cloud of glory as resting on the tabernacle, nor is it such language as a Hebrew would employ in speaking of it. That cloud is nowhere in the Scripture called "the secret of God," and the fair meaning of the phrase is, that God came into his dwelling as a friend and counselor, and admitted him familiarly to communion with him; see the notes at Job 29:4. It was one of the privileges, Job says, of his earlier life that he could regard himself as the friend of God, and that he had clear views of his plans and purposes. Now, those views were withheld, and he was left to darkness and solitude.
(d) Supposed allusions to the miraculous history of the Jewish people. "Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars;" Job 9:7. Here it is supposed there is allusion to the miracle performed by Joshua in commanding the sun and moon to stand still. But assuredly there is no necessity for supposing that there is a reference to anything miraculous. The idea is, that God has power to cause the sun, the moon, and the stars to shine or not, as he pleases. He can obscure them by clouds, or He can blot them out altogether. Besides, in the account of the miracle performed at the command of Joshua, there is no allusion to the stars. "He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud;" Job 26:12. Here it is supposed there is an allusion to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. But the language does not necessarily demand this interpretation, nor will it admit of it.
The word improperly rendered "divideth," means to awe, to cause to cower, or tremble, and then to be calm or still, and is descriptive of the power which God has over a tempest. See the notes at the verse. There is not the slightest evidence that there is any allusion to the passage through the Red Sea. "He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;" Job 12:24. "Who can doubt," says Warburton, "but that these words alluded to the wandering of the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness, as a punishment for their cowardice and diffidence in God's promises?" But there is no necessary reference to this. Job is speaking of the control which God has over the nations. He has power to frustrate all their counsels, and to defeat all their plans. He can found all the purposes of their princes, and throw their affairs into inextricable confusion.
In the original, moreover, the word does not necessarily imply a "wilderness" or desert. The word is תהוּ tôhû a word used in Genesis 1:2, to denote "emptiness," or "chaos," and may here refer to the "confusion" of their counsels and plans; or if it refer to a desert, the allusion is of a general character, meaning that God had power to drive the people from their fixed habitations, and to make them wanderers on the face of the earth. "I will show thee; hear me; and what I have seen will I declare; which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it;" Job 15:17-18. "The very way," says Warburton, "in which Moses directs the Israelites to preserve the memory of the miraculous works of God." And the very way, also, it may be replied, in which all ancient history, and all the ancient wisdom from the beginning of the world, was transmitted to posterity. There was no other method of preserving the record of past transactions, but by transmitting the memory of them from father to son; and this was and is, in fact, the method of doing it all over the East. It was by no means confined to the Israelites. "Unto whom alone the earth was given, AND NO STRANGER PASSED AMONGST THEM;" Job 15:19. "A circumstance," says Warburton, "agreeing to no people whatever but to the Israelites settled in Canaan." But there is no necessary allusion here to the Israelites. Eliphaz is speaking of the golden age of his country; of the happy and pure times when his ancestors dwelt in the land without being corrupted by the intermingling of foreigners.
He says that he will state the result of their wisdom and observation in those pure and happy days, before it could be pretended that their views were corrupted by any foreign admixture; see the notes on the passage. These passages are the strongest instances of what has been adduced to show that in the Book of Job there are allusions to the customs and opinions of the Jews after the exode from Egypt. It would be tedious and unprofitable to go into a particular examination of all those which are referred to by Dr. Warburton. The remark may be made of them all, that they are of so general a character, and that they apply so much to the prevailing manners and customs of the East, that there is no reason for supposing that there is a special reference to the Hebrews. The remaining passages referred to, are Job 22:6; Job 24:7, Job 24:9-10; Job 33:17 ff; Job 34:20; Job 36:7-12; and Job 37:13. A fu l examination of these may be seen in Peters' Critical Dissertation, pp. 32-36.
(3) A third objection to the supposition that the book was composed before the time of the exode, is derived from the use of the word yahweh. This word occurs several times in the historical part of the book Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12, Job 1:21; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6; Job 42:1, Job 42:10, Job 42:12, and a few times in the body of the poem. The objection is founded on what God says to Moses, Exodus 6:3; "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; but by my name yahweh was I not known to them." At the burning bush, when he appeared to Moses, he solemnly assumed this name, and directed him to announce him as "I am that I am," or as yahweh. From this it is inferred that, as the name occurs in the book of Job, that book must have been composed subsequently to the time when God appeared to Moses. But this conclusion does not follow, for the following reasons:
(a) It might be true that God was not known to "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," by this name, and still the name might have been used by others to designate him.
(b) The name yahweh was actually used before this by God himself and by others; Genesis 2:7-9, Genesis 2:15-16, Genesis 2:18-19, Genesis 2:21; Genesis 3:9, et al; Genesis 12:1, Genesis 12:4,Genesis 12:7-8, Genesis 12:17; Genesis 13:10, Genesis 13:13-14; Genesis 15:6, Genesis 15:18; Genesis 16:9-10, Genesis 16:13, et saepe al. If the argument from this, therefore, be valid to prove that the book of Job was not composed before the exode, it will demonstrate that the book of Genesis was also a subsequent production.
(c) But the whole argument is based on a misapprehension of Exodus 6:3. The meaning of that passage, since the name yahweh was known to the patriarchs, must be
(1) that it was not by this name that he had promulgated his existence, or was publicly and solemnly known. It was a name used in common with other names by them, but which He had in no special way appropriated to Himself, or to which He had affixed no special sacredness. The name which He had Himself more commonly employed was another. Thus when He appeared to Abraham and made Himself known, he said, "I am the ALMIGHTY GOD; walk before me, and be thou perfect;" Genesis 17:1. So He appeared to Jacob: "I am GOD be fruitful and multiply;" Genesis 35:11; compare Genesis 28:3; Genesis 43:14.
(2) at the bush Exodus 3; Exodus 4:3, God publicly and solemnly assumed the name yahweh. He affixed to it a special sacredness. He explained its meaning, Exodus 3:14. He said it was the name by which He intended especially to be known as the God of His people. He invested it with a solemn sacredness, as that by which He chose ever afterward to be known among His people as their God. Other nations had their divinities with different names; the God of the children of Israel was to be known by the special and sacred name yahweh. But this solemn assumption of the name is by no means inconsistent with the supposition that He might have used it before, or that it might have been used before in the composition of the Book of Job.
(4) a fourth objection to the supposition that the book was composed before the time of the exode, is, that the name Satan, which occurs in this book, was not known to the Hebrews at so early a date, and that in fact it occurs as a proper name only at a late period of their history. See Warburton's Divine Legation, vol. v. 353ff. In reply to this it may be observed,
(a) that the doctrine of the existence of an evil spirit of the character ascribed in this book to Satan, was early known to the Hebrews. It was known in the time of Ahab, when, it is said, the Lord had put a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets, 1 Kings 22:22-23, and the belief of such an evil spirit must have been early prevalent to explain in any tolerable way the history of the fall. On the meaning of the word, see the notes at Job 1:6.
(b) The word "Satan" early occurs in history in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and it was natural to transfer this word to the great adversary. See Numbers 22:22. In Zechariah 3:1-2, it is used in the same sense as in Job, to denote the great adversary of God appearing before him; see the notes at Job 1:6. Here Satan is introduced as a being whose name and character were well known.
(c) It is admitted by Warburton himself (p. 355), that the notion of "an evil demon," or a "fury," was a common opinion among the pagan, even in early ages, though he says it was not admitted among the Hebrews until a late period of their history. But if it prevailed among the pagan, it is possible that the same sentiment might have been understood in Arabia, and that this might at a very early period have been incorporated into the Book of Job. See this whole subject examined in Peters' Critical Dissertation, pp. 80-92. I confess, however, that the answers which Peters and Magee (pp. 322, 323) give to this objection, are not perfectly satisfactory; and that the objection here urged against the composition of the book before the exode, is the most forcible of all those which I have seen. A more thorough investigation of the history of opinions respecting a presiding evil being than I have had access to, seems to be necessary to a full removal of the difficulty.
The real difficulty is, not that no such being is elsewhere referred to in the Scriptures; not that his existence is improbable or absurd - for the existence of Satan is no more improbable in itself than that of Nero, Tiberius, Richard III, Alexander VI, or Caesar Borgia, than either of whom he is not much worse; and not that there are no traces of him in the early account in the Bible; - but it is, that while in the Scriptures we have, up to the time of the exode, and indeed long after, only obscure intimations of his existence and character - without any particular designation of his attributes, and without any name being given to him, in the Book of Job he appears with a name apparently in common use; with a definitely formed character; in the full maturity of his plans - a being evidently as well defined as the Satan in the latest periods of the Jewish history. I confess myself unable to account for this, but still do not perceive that there is any impossibility in supposing that this maturity of view in regard to the evil principle might have prevailed in the country of Job at this early period, though no occasion occurred for its statement in the corresponding part of the Jewish history. There may have been such a prevalent belief among the patriarchs, though in the brief records of their opinions and lives no occasion occurred for a record of their belief.
(5) a fifth objection has been derived from the fact that in the Book of Job there is a strong resemblance to many passages in the Psalms, and in the Book of Proverbs, from which it is inferred that it was composed subsequently to those books. Rosenmuller, who has particularly urged this objection, appeals to the following instances of resemblance; Psalm 107:40; compare with 16:18; Psalm 18:12; Psalm 29:1-11 :23; Job 22:29; Proverbs 8:26-29; Proverbs 30:4; Job 38:4-8; Proverbs 10:7; Job 20:7. It is unnecessary to go into an examination of these passages, or to attempt to disprove their similarity. There can be no doubt of their very strong resemblance, but still the question is fairly open, which of these books was first composed, and which, if one has borrowed from another, was the original fountain. Warburton has himself well remarked, that "if the sacred writers must needs have borrowed trite moral sentences from one another, it may be as fairly said that the authors of the Psalms borrowed from the book of Job, as that the author of Job borrowed from the book of Psalms." Works, vol. v. 320. The supposition that the Book of Job was first composed will meet the whole difficulty, so far as one was derived from the other. It should be added, also, that many of these sentiments consist of the common maxims that must have prevailed among a people accustomed to close observation, and habituated to expressing their views in a proverbial form.
I have now noticed at length all the objections which have been urged, which seem to me to have any force, against the supposition that the Book of Job was composed before the exode from Egypt, and have stated the arguments which lead to the supposition that it had so early an origin. The considerations suggested are such as seem to me to leave no rational doubt that the work was composed before the departure from Egypt. The train of thought pursued, therefore, if conclusive, will remove the necessity of all further inquiry into the opinion of Luther, Grotius, and Doederlin, that Solomon was the author; of Umbreit and Noyes, that it was composed by some unknown writer about the period of the captivity; of Warburton, that it was the production of Ezra; and of Rosenmuller, Spanheim, Reimer, Staeudlin, and Richter, that it was composed by some Hebrew writer about the time of Solomon. It remains then to inquire whether there are any circumstances which can lead us to determine with any degree of probability who was the author. This inquiry leads us,
IV. In the fourth place, to remark that there are no sufficient indications that the work was composed by Elihu. The opinion that he was the author was held, among others, by Lightfoot. But, independently of the want of any positive evidence which would lead to such a conclusion, there are objections to this opinion which render it in the highest degree improbable. They are found in the argument of Elihu himself. He advances, indeed, with great modesty, but still with extraordinary pretensions to wisdom. He lays claim to direct inspiration, and professes to be able to throw such light on the whole of the perplexed subject as to end the debate. But in the course of his addresses, he introduces but one single idea on the point under discussion which had not been dwelt on at length by the speakers before. That idea is, that afflictions are designed, not to demonstrate that the sufferer was eminently guilty, as the friends of Job held, but that intended for the benefit of the sufferer himself, and might, therefore, be consistent with true piety.
This idea he places in a variety of attitudes; illustrates it with great beauty, and enforces it with great power on the attention of Job; compare Job 33:14-30, notes; Job 34:31-32, notes; Job 35:10-15, notes; Job 36:7-16, notes. But in his speeches Elihu shows no such extraordinary ability as to lead us to suppose that he was the author of the work. He does not appear to have understood the design of the trials that came upon Job; he gives no satisfactory solution of the causes of affliction; he abounds in repetition; his observation of the course of events had been evidently much less profound than that of Eliphaz, and his knowledge of nature was much less extensive than that of Job and the other speakers; and he was evidently as much in the dark in the great question which is discussed throughout the book as the other speakers were. Besides, as Prof. Lee has remarked (p. 44), the belief that Elihu wrote the book is inconsistent with the supposition that the first two chapters and the last chapter were written by the same author who composed the body of the work. He who wrote these chapters manifestly "saw through the whole affair," and understood the reasons why these trials came upon the patriarch. Those reasons would have been suggested by Elihu in his speech, if he had known them.
V. The supposition that Job himself was the author of the book, though it may have been slightly modified by some one subsequently, will meet all the circumstances of the case. This will agree with its foreign cast and character; with the use of the Arabic words now unknown in Hebrew; with the allusions to the nomadic habits of the times, and to the modes of living, and to the illustrations drawn from sandy plains and deserts; with the statements about the simple modes of worship prevailing, and the notice of the sciences and the arts (see the introduction, Section 5), and with the absence of all allusion to the exode, the giving of the law, and the special customs and institutions of the Hebrews. In addition to these general considerations for supposing that Job was the author of the work, the following suggestions may serve to show that this opinion is attended with the highest degree of probability.
(1) Job 54ed after his calamities 140 years, affording ample leisure to make the record of his trials.
(2) the art of making books was known in his time, and by the patriarch himself, Job 19:23-24; Job 31:35. In whatever way it was done, whether by engraving on stone or lead, or by the use of more perishable materials, he was not ignorant of the art of making a record of thoughts to be preserved and transmitted to future times. Understanding this art, and having abundant leisure, it is scarcely to be conceived, that he would have failed to make a record of what had occurred during his own remarkable trials.
(3) the whole account was one that would furnish important lessons to mankind, and it is hardly probable that a man who had passed through so unusual a scene would be willing that the recollection of it should be entrusted to uncertain tradition. The strongest arguments which human ingenuity could invent, had been urged on both sides of a great question pertaining to the divine administration; a case of a strongly marked character had happened, similar to what is constantly occurring in the world, in which similar perplexing and embarrassing questions would arise; God had come forth to inculcate the duty of man in this case, and had furnished instruction that would be invaluable in all similar instances; and the result of the whole trial had been such as to furnish the strongest proof that however the righteous are afflicted, their sufferings are not proof that they are deceivers or hypocrites.
(4) the record of his own imperfections and failures is just such as we should expect from Job, on the supposition that he was the author of the book. Nothing is concealed. There is the most fair and full statement of his impatience, his murmuring, his irreverence, and of the rebuke which he received of the Almighty. Thus Moses, too, records his own failings, and, throughout the Scriptures, the sacred writers never attempt to conceal their own infirmities and faults.
(5) Job has shown in his own speeches that he was abundantly able to compose the book. In everything he goes immeasurably beyond all the other speakers, except God; and he who was competent, in trials so severe as his were, to give utterance to the lofty eloquence, the argument, and the poetry now found in his speeches, was not incompetent to make record of them in the long period of health and prosperity which he subsequently enjoyed. Every circumstance, therefore, seems to me to render it probable that Job was the compiler, or perhaps we should rather say, the editor of this remarkable book, with the exception of the record which is made of his own age and death. The speeches were undoubtedly made substantially as they are recorded, and the work of the author was to collect and edit those speeches, to record his own and that of the Almighty, and to furnish to the whole the proper historical notices, that the argument might be properly understood.
VI. But one other supposition seems necessary to meet all the questions which have been raised in regard to the origin of the work. It is, that Moses adopted it and published it among the Hebrews as a part of divine revelation, and entrusted it to them, with his own writings, to be transmitted to future times. Several circumstances contribute to render this probable.
(1) Moses spent forty years in various parts of Arabia, mostly in the neighborhood of Horeb; and in a country where, if such a work had been in existence, it would be likely to be known.
(2) his talents and previous training at the court of Pharaoh were such as would make him likely to look with interest on any literary document; on any work expressive of the customs, arts, sciences, and religion of another land: and especially on anything having the stamp of uncommon genius.
(3) the work was eminently adapted to be useful to his own countrymen, and could be employed to great advantage in the enterprise which he undertook of delivering them from bondage. It contained an extended examination of the great question which could not but come before their minds - why the people of God were subjected to calamities; it inculcated the necessity of submission without murmuring, under the severest trials; and it showed that God was the friend of his people, though they were long afflicted, and would ultimately bestow upon them abundant prosperity. There is every probability, therefore, that if Moses found such a book in existence, he would have adopted it as an important auxiliary in accomplishing the great work to which he was called. It may be added
(4) that there is every reason to think that Moses was not himself the author of it. This opinion rests on such considerations as these:
(a) The style is not that of Moses. It has more allusion to proverbs, and maxims, and prevailing views of science, than occur in his poetic writings; see Lowth, Prae. Hebr. xxxii.; Michaelis, Nat. et Epim. p 186, as quoted by Magee, p. 328, and Herder, Hebrew Poetry, vol. i. pp. 108, 109.
(b) Moses in his poetry almost invariably used the word yahweh as the name of God, rarely that of the Almighty (שׁדי shadday); in Job, the word yahweh rarely occurs in the body of the poem, some other name for the Deity being almost uniformly employed.
(c) In the book of Job there are numerous instances of words, the roots of which are now obsolete, or which are found only in the Arabic or Chaldee. See Prof. Lee, Intro. p. 50.
(d) The allusions to Arabic customs, opinions, and manners, are not such as would have been likely to be familiar to the mind of Moses. All that he could have learned of them would have been what he acquired, when over forty years of age, in keeping the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro; and though it might be said with plausibility that the forty years which he spent with him might have made him familiar with the habits of Arabia, still, in a poem of this length, we should have expected that these would not have been the only allusions. The most vivid and permanent impressions on the mind are those made in youth; and on the mind of Moses, those impressions had been received in Egypt. the work had been composed by him we should, therefore, bare expected that there would have been frequent allusions that would have betrayed Egyptian origin. But of these there are none, or if there are any which have such an origin, they are such as might have been readily learned from the common reports of travelers. But with all that pertained to the desert, to the keeping of flocks and herds, to the nomadic mode of life, to the poor and needy wanderers there, to the methods of plunder and robbery, the author of the poem shows himself to be perfectly familiar. It seems to me, therefore, that by this train of remarks, we are conducted to a conclusion tended with as much certainty as can be hoped for in the nature of the case, that the work was composed by Job himself in the period of rest and prosperity which succeeded his trials, and came to the knowledge of Moses during his residence in Arabia, and was adopted by him to represent to the Hebrews, in their trials, the duty of submission to the will of God, and to furnish the assurance that he would yet appear to crown with abundant blessings his own people, however much they might be afflicted.
Section 5. The State of the Arts and Sciences in the Time of Job
There is one important aspect still in which the book of Job may be contemplated. It is as an illustration of the state of the acts and sciences of the period of the world when it was composed. We are not indeed, in a poem of this nature, to look for formal treatises on any of the arts or sciences as then understood, but all that we can expect to find must be incidental allusions, or hints, that may enable us to determine with some degree of accuracy what advances society had then made. Such allusions are also of much more value in determining the progress of society, than extended descriptions of conquests and sieges would be. The latter merely change the boundaries of empire; the former indicate progress in the condition of man. Inventions in the arts and discoveries in science are fixed points, from which society does not go backward. I propose, then, as an illustration of the progress which society had made in the time of Job, as well as to prepare the mind to read the book in the most intelligent manner, to bring together the scattered notices of the state of the arts and sciences contained in this poem. No exact order can be observed in this; nor is there anything in the poem to indicate which of the things specified had the priority in point of time, or when the invention or discovery was made. The order of the arrangement chosen will have some reference to the importance of the subjects, and also some to what may be supposed to have first attracted attention. For a more full view of the various points that will be referred to, reference may be made to the notes on the various passages adduced.
The stars were early observed in Chaldea, where the science of astronomy had its origin. A pastoral people always have some knowledge of the heavenly bodies. The tending of flocks by night, under a clear Oriental sky, gave abundant opportunity for observing the motions of the heavenly bodies, and names would soon be given to the most important of the stars; the difference between the planets and the fixed stars would be observed, and the imagination would be employed in grouping the stars into fanciful resemblances to animals and other objects. In like manner, as caravans traveled much at night through the deserts, on account of the comparative coolness then, they would have an opportunity of observing the stars, and some knowledge of the heavenly bodies became necessary to guide their way. The notices of the heavenly bodies in this poem show chiefly that names were given to some of the stars; that they were grouped together in constellations; and that the times of the appearance of certain stars had been carefully observed, and their relation to certain aspects of the weather had been marked. There is no express mention of the planets as distinguished from the fixed stars; and nothing to lead us to suppose that they were acquainted with the true system of astronomy.
He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not,
And he sealeth up the stars.
He alone stretcheth out the heavens
And walketh upon the high waves of the sea.
He maketh Arcturus, Orion,
The Pleiades, and the secret chambers of the south.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.There was a man - This has all the appearance of being a true history. Many have regarded the whole book as a fiction, and have supposed that no such person as Job ever lived. But the book opens with the appearance of reality; and the express declaration that there was such a man, the mention of his name and of the place where he lived, show that the writer meant to affirm that there was in fact such a man. On this question see the Introduction, Section 1.
In the land of Uz - On the question where Job 54ed, see also the Introduction, Section 2.
Whose name was Job - The name Job (Hebrew איוב 'ı̂yôb, Gr. Ἰώβ Iōb means properly, according to Gesenius, "one persecuted," from a root (איב 'âyab) meaning to be an enemy to anyone, to persecute, to hate. The primary idea, according to Gesenius, is to be sought in breathing, blowing, or puffing at, or upon anyone, as expressive of anger or hatred, Germ. "Anschnauben." Eichhorn (Einleit. section 638. 1,) supposes that the name denotes a man who turns himself penitently to God, from a sense of the verb still found in Arabic "to repent." On this supposition, the name was given to him, because, at the close of the book, he is represented as exercising repentance for the improper expressions in which he had indulged during his sufferings. The verb occurs only once in the Hebrew Scriptures, Exodus 23:22 : But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then "I will be an enemy" אויב 'ôyêb "unto thine enemies" אויב את 'êth 'ôyêb.
The participle איב 'oyēb is the common word to denote an enemy in the Old Testament, Exodus 15:6, Exodus 15:9; Leviticus 26:25; Numbers 35:23; Deuteronomy 32:27, Deuteronomy 32:42; Psalm 7:5; Psalm 8:2; Psalm 31:8; Lamentations 2:4-5; Job 13:24; Job 27:7; Job 33:10, "et soepe al." If this be the proper meaning of the word "Job," then the name would seem to have been given him by anticipation, or by common consent, as a much persecuted man. Significant names were very common among the Hebrews - given either by anticipation (see the notes at Isaiah 8:18), or subsequently, to denote some leading or important event in the life; compare Genesis 4:1-2, Genesis 4:25; Genesis 5:29; 1 Samuel 1:20. Such, too, was the case among the Romans, where the "agnomen" thus bestowed became the appellation by which the individual was best known. Cicero thus received his name from a wart which he had on his face, resembling a "vetch," and which was called by the Latins, "cicer." Thus also Marcus had the name "Ancus," from the Greek word ανκὼν ankōn, because he had a crooked arm; and thus the names Africanus, Germanicus, etc., were given to generals who had distinguished themselves in particular countries; see Univer. Hist. Anc. Part ix. 619, ed. 8vo, Lond. 1779. In like manner it is possible that the name "Job" was given to the Emir of Uz by common consent, as the man much persecuted or tried, and that this became afterward the appellation by which he was best known. The name occurs once as applied to a son of Issachar, Genesis 46:13, and in only two other places in the Bible except in this book; Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11.
And that man was perfect - (תמם tâmam). The Septuagint have greatly expanded this statement, by giving a paraphrase instead of a translation. "He was a man who was true (ἀληθινός alēthinos), blameless (ἄμεμπτος amemptos), just (δίκαιος dikaios), pious (θεοσεβής theosebēs), abstaining from every evil deed." Jerome renders it, "simplex - simple," or "sincere." The Chaldee, שׁלם shālam, "complete, finished, perfect." The idea seems to be that his piety, or moral character, was "proportionate" and was "complete in all its parts." He was a man of integrity in all the relations of life - as an Emir, a father, a husband, a worshipper of God. Such is properly the meaning of the word תם tâm as derived from תמם tâmam, "to complete, to make full, perfect" or "entire," or "to finish." It denotes that in which there is no part lacking to complete the whole - as in a watch in which no wheel is missing. Thus, he was not merely upright as an Emir, but he was pious toward God; he was not merely kind to his family, but he was just to his neighbors and benevolent to the poor. The word is used to denote integrity as applied to the heart, Genesis 20:5 : לבבי בתם betām lebābı̂y, "In the honesty, simplicity, or sincerity of my heart (see the margin) have I done this." So 1 Kings 22:34, "One drew a bow לתמוּ letumô in the simplicity (or perfection) of his heart;" that is, without any evil intention; compare 2 Samuel 15:11; Proverbs 10:9. The proper notion, therefore, is that of simplicity. sincerity, absence from guile or evil intention, and completeness of parts in his religion. That he was a man absolutely sinless, or without any propensity to evil, is disproved alike by the spirit of complaining which he often evinces, and by his own confession, Job 9:20 :
If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me;
If I say I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse.
So also Job 42:5-6 :
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
But now mine eye seeth thee;
Wherefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.
Compare Ecclesiastes 7:20.
And upright - The word ישׁר yâshâr, from ישׁר yâshar, to be straight, is applied often to a road which is straight, or to a path which is level or even. As used here it means upright or righteous; compare Psalm 11:7; Psalm 37:14,; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4.
And one that feared God - Religion in the Scriptures is often represented as the fear of God; Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 1:29; Proverbs 2:5; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 14:26-27; Isaiah 11:2; Acts 9:31, "et soepe al."
And eschewed evil - "And departed from (סוּר sûr) evil." Septuagint, "Abstaining from every evil thing." These then are the four characteristics of Job's piety - he was sincere; upright; a worshipper of God; and one who abstained from all wrong. These are the essential elements of true religion everywhere; and the whole statement in the book of Job shows Job was, though not absolutely free from the sins which cleave to our nature, eminent in each of these things.
And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters - The same number was given to him again after these were lost, and his severe trials had been endured; see Job 42:13. Of his second family the names of the daughters are mentioned, Job 42:14. Of his first, it is remarkable that neither the names of his wife, his sons nor his daughters are recorded. The Chaldee, however, on what authority is unknown, says that the name of his wife was דינה dı̂ynâh, Job 2:9.
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.His substance - Margin, or "cattle." The word used here מקנה mı̂qneh is derived from קנה qânâh, to gain or acquire, to buy or purchase, and properly means anything acquired or purchased - property, possessions, riches. The wealth of nomadic tribes, however, consisted mostly in flocks and herds, and hence the word in the Scripture signifies, almost exclusively, property in cattle. The word, says Gesenius, is used "strictly" to denote sheep, goats, and neat cattle, excluding beasts of burden (compare Greek κτῆνος ktēnos, herd, used here by the Septuagint), though sometimes the word includes asses and camels, as in this place.
Seven thousand sheep - In this verse we have a description of the wealth of an Arab ruler or chief, similar to that of those who are at this day called "Emirs." Indeed the whole description in the book is that which is applicable to the chief of a tribe. The possessions referred to in this verse would constitute no inconsiderable wealth anywhere, and particularly in the nomadic tribes of the East. Land is not mentioned as a part of this wealth; for among nomadic tribes living by pasturage, the right to the soil in fee simple is not claimed by individuals, the right of pasturage or a temporary possession being all that is needed. For the same reason, and from the fact that their circumstances require them to live in movable tents, houses are not mentioned as a part; of the wealth of this Emir. To understand this book, as well as most of the books of the Old Testament, it is necessary for us to lay aside our notions of living, and transfer ourselves in imagination to the very dissimilar customs of the East. The Chaldee has made a very singular explanation of this verse, which must be regarded as the work of fancy, but which shows the character of that version: "And his possessions were seven thousand sheep - a thousand for each of his sons; and three thousand camels - a thousand for each of his daughters; and five hundred yoke of oxen - for himself; and five hundred she-asses - for his wife."
And three thousand camels - Camels are well-known beasts of burden, extensively used still in Arabia. The Arabs employed these animals anciently in war, in their caravans, and for food. They are not unfrequently called "ships of the desert," particularly valuable in arid plains because they go many days without water. They carry from three to five hundred pounds, in proportion to the distance which they have to travel. Providence has adapted the camel with wonderful wisdom to sandy deserts, and in all ages the camel must be an invaluable possession there. The driest thistle and the barest thorn is all the food that he requires, and this he eats while advancing on his journey without stopping or causing a moment's delay. As it is his lot to cross immense deserts where no water is found, and where no dews fall, he is endowed with the power of laying in a store of water that will suffice him for days - Bruce says for thirty days.
To effect this, nature has provided large reservoirs or stomachs within him, where the water is kept pure, and from which he draws at pleasure as from a fountain. No other animal is endowed with this power, and were it not for this, it would be wholly impracticable to cross those immense plains of sand. The Arabians, the Persians, and others, eat the flesh of camels, and it is served up at the best tables in the country. One of the ancient Arab poets, whose hospitality grew into a proverb, is reported to have killed yearly, in a certain month, ten camels every day for the entertainment of his friends. In regard to the hardihood of camels, and their ability to live on the coarsest fare, Burckhardt has stated a fact which may furnish an illustration. In a journey which he made from the country south of the Dead Sea to Egypt, he says, "During the whole of this journey, the camels had no other provender than the withered shrubs of the desert, my dromedary excepted, to which I gave a few handfuls of barley each evening." Trav. in Syria, p. 451; compare Bruce's Travels, vol. iv. p. 596; Niebuhr, Reise-beschreibung nach Arabien, 1 Band, s. 215; Sandys, p. 138; Harmer's Obs. 4:415, ed. Lond. 1808, 8vo; and Rob. Cal.
And five hundred yoke of oxen - The fact that Job had so many oxen implies that he devoted himself to the cultivation of the soil as well as to keeping flocks and herds; compare Job 1:14. So large a number of oxen would constitute wealth anywhere.
And five hundred she-asses - Bryant remarks (Observations, p. 61) that a great part of the wealth of the inhabitants of the East often consisted of she-asses, the males being few and not held in equal estimation. She-asses are early mentioned as having been in common use to ride on; Numbers 22:25; Judges 5:10. 2 Kings 4:24 (Hebrew). One reason why the ass was chosen in preference to the horse, was that it subsisted on so much less than that animal, there being no animal except the camel that could be so easily kept as the ass. She-asses were also regarded as the most valuable, because, in traversing the deserts of the country they would furnish travelers with milk. It is remarkable that "cows" are not mentioned expressly in this enumeration of the articles of Job's wealth, though "butter" is referred to by him subsequently as having been abundant in his family, Job 29:6. It is possible, however, that "cows" were included as a part of the "five hundred yoke of בקר bâqâr." here rendered "oxen;" but which would be quite as appropriately rendered "cattle." The word is in the common gender, and is derived from בקר bâqar, in Arabic to cleave, to divide, to lay open, and hence, to plow, to cleave the soil. It denotes properly the animals used in plowing; and it is well known that cows are employed as well as oxen for this purpose in the East; see Judges 14:18; Hosea 4:10; compare Deuteronomy 32:14, where the word בקר bâqâr is used to denote a cow - "milk of kine," Genesis 33:13 (Hebrew).
And a very great household - Margin, "husbandry." The Hebrew word here (עבדה ‛ăbûddâh)ambiguous. - It may denote service rendered, that is, work, or the servants who performed it; compare Genesis 26:14, margin. The Septuagint renders it ὑπηρεσία hupēresia, Aquila δουλεία douleia, and Symmachus, οἰκετία oiketia; all denoting "service," or "servitude," or that which pertained to the domestic service of a family. The word refers doubtless to those who had charge of his camels, his cattle, and of his husbandry; see Job 1:15. It is not implied by the word here used, nor by that in Job 1:15, that they were "slaves." They may have been, but there is nothing to indicate this in the narrative. The Septuagint adds to this, as if explanatory of it, "and his works were great in the land."
So that this man was the greatest - Was possessed of the most wealth, and was held in the highest honor.
Of all the men of the East - Margin as in Hebrew "sons." The sons of the East denote those who lived in the East. The word "East" קדם qedem is commonly employed in the Scriptures to denote the country which lies east of Palestine. For the places intended here, see the Introduction, Section 2, (3). It is of course impossible to estimate with accuracy the exact amount of the value of the property of Job. Compared with many persons in modern times, indeed, his possessions would not be regarded as constituting very great riches. The Editor of the Pictorial Bible supposes that on a fair estimate his property might be considered as worth from thirty to forty thousand pounds sterling - equivalent to some 200,000 (circa 1880's). In this estimate the camel is reckoned as worth about 45.00 dollars, the oxen as worth about five dollars, and the sheep at a little more than one dollar, which it is said are about the average prices now in Western Asia. Prices, however, fluctuate much from one age to another; but at the present day such possessions would be regarded as constituting great wealth in Arabia. The value of the property of Job may be estimated from this fact, that he had almost half as many camels as constituted the wealth of a Persian king in more modern times.
Chardin says, "as the king of Persia in the year 1676 was in Mesandera, the Tartars fell upon the camels of the king and took away three thousand of them which was to him a great loss, for he had only seven thousand." - Rosenmuller, Morgenland, "in loc." The condition of Job we are to regard as that of a rich Arabic Emir, and his mode of life as between the nomadic pastoral life, and the settled manner of living in communities like ours. He was a princely shepherd, and yet he was devoted to the cultivation of the soil. It does not appear, however, that he claimed the right of the soil in "fee simple," nor is his condition inconsistent with the supposition that his residence in any place was regarded as temporary, and that all his property might be easily removed. "He belonged to that condition of life which fluctuated between that of the wandering shepherd, and that of a people settled in towns. That he resided, or had a residence, in a town is obvious; but his flocks and herds evidently pastured in the deserts, between which and the town his own time was probably divided. He differed from the Hebrew patriarchs chiefly in this, that he did not so much wander about "without any certain dwelling place."
This mixed condition of life, which is still frequently exhibited in Western Asia, will, we apprehend, account sufficiently for the diversified character of the allusions and pictures which the book contains - to the pastoral life and the scenes and products of the wilderness; to the scenes and circumstances of agriculture; to the arts and sciences of settled life and of advancing civilization." - Pict. Bib. It may serve somewhat to illustrate the different ideas in regard to what constituted wealth in different countries, to compare this statement respecting Job with a remark of Virgil respecting an inhabitant of ancient Italy, whom he calls the most wealthy among the Ausonian farmers:
Dum paci medium se offert; justissimus unus
Qui fuit, Ausoniisque olim ditissimus arvis:
Quinque greges illi balantum. quina redibant
Armenta, et terram centurn vertebat aratris.
Among the rest, the rich Galaesus lies;
A good old man, while peace he preached in vain,
Amid the madness of the unruly train:
Five herds, five bleating flocks his pasture filled,
His lands a hundred yoke of oxen tilted.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.And his sons went and feasted in their houses - Dr. Good renders this, "and his sons went to hold a banquet house." Tindal renders it, "made bankertea." The Hebrew means, they went and made a "house-feast;" and the idea is, that they gave an entertainment in their dwellings, in the ordinary way in which such entertainments were made. The word used here (משׁתה mı̂shteh) is derived from שׁתה shâthâh, "to drink;" and then to drink together, to banquet. Schultens supposes that this was merely designed to keep up the proper familiarity between the different branches of the family, and not for purposes of revelry and dissipation; and this seems to accord with the view of Job. He, though a pious man, was not opposed to it, but he apprehended merely that they might have sinned in their hearts, Job 1:5. He knew the danger, and hence, he was more assiduous in imploring for them the divine guardianship.
Every one his day - In his proper turn, or when his day came round. Perhaps it refers only to their birthdays; see Job 3:1, where the word "day" is used to denote a birthday. In early times the birthday was observed with great solemnity and rejoicing. Perhaps in this statement the author of the Book of Job means to intimate that his family lived in entire harmony, and to give a picture of his domestic happiness strongly contrasted with the calamities which came upon his household. It was a great aggravation of his sufferings that a family thus peaceful and harmonious was wholly broken up. - The Chaldee adds, "until seven days were completed," supposing that each one of these feasts lasted seven days, a supposition by no means improbable, if the families were in any considerable degree remote from each other.
And sent and called for their three sisters - This also may be regarded as a circumstance showing that these occasions were not designed for revelry. Young men, when they congregate for dissipation, do not usually invite their "sisters" to be with them; nor do they usually desire the presence of virtuous females at all. The probability, therefore, is, that this was designed as affectionate and friendly family conversation. In itself there was nothing wrong in it, nor was there necessarily any danger; yet Job felt it "possible" that they might have erred and forgotten God, and hence, he was engaged in more intense and ardent devotion on their account; Job 1:5.
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about - Dr. Good renders this, "as the days of such banquets returned." But this is not the idea intended. It is, when the banquets had gone round as in a circle through all the families, "then" Job sent and sanctified them. It was not from an anticipation that they "would" do wrong, but it was from the apprehension that they "might" have sinned. The word rendered "were gone about" (נקף nâqaph) means properly to join together, and then to move round in a circle, to revolve, as festivals do; see the notes at Isaiah 29:1 : "Let the festivals go round." Here it means that the days of their banqueting had gone round the circle, or had gone round the several families. Septuagint "When the days of the entertainment (or drinking, πότου potou) were finished." A custom of feasting similar to this prevails in China. "They have their fraternities which they call the brotherhood of the months; this consists of months according to the number of the days therein, and in a circle they go abroad to eat at one another's houses by turns. If one man has not conveniences to receive the fraternity in his own house, he may provide for them in another; and there are many public houses well furnished for this purpose." See Semedo's History of China, i chapter 13, as quoted by Burder in Rosenmuller's Morgenland. "in loc."
That Job sent - Sent for them, and called them around him. He was apprehensive that they might have erred, and he took every measure to keep them pure, and to maintain the influence of religion in his family.
And sanctified them - This expression, says Schultens, is capable of two interpretations. It may either mean that he "prepared" them by various lustrations, ablutions, and other ceremonies to offer sacrifice; or that he offered sacrifices for the purpose of procuring expiation for sins which they might actually have committed. The former sense, he remarks, is favored by the use of the word in Exodus 19:10; 1 Samuel 16:5, where the word means to prepare themselves by ablutions to meet God and to worship him. The latter sense is demanded by the connection. Job felt as every father should feel in such circumstances, that there was reason to fear that God had not been remembered as he ought to have been, and he was therefore more fervent in his devotions, and called them around him, that their own minds might be affected in view of his pious solicitude. What father is there who loves God, and who feels anxious that his children should also, who does not feel special solicitude if his sons and his daughters are in a situation where successive days are devoted to feasting and mirth? The word here rendered "sanctified" (קדשׁ qâdash) means properly to be pure, clean, holy; in Pihel, the form used here, to make holy, to sanctify, to consecrate, as a priest; and here it means, that he took measures to make them holy on the apprehension that they had sinned; that is, he took the usual means to procure for them forgiveness. The Septuagint renders it ἐκάθαριζεν ekatharizen, he purified them.
And rose up early in the morning - For the purpose of offering his devotions, and procuring for them expiation. It was customary in the patriarchal times to offer sacrifice early in the morning. See Genesis 22:3; Exodus 32:6.
And offered burnt-offerings - Hebrew "and caused to ascend;" that is, by burning them so that the smoke ascended toward heaven. The word rendered "burnt-offerings" (עולה ‛ôlâh) is from עלה ‛âlâh, "to ascend" (the word used here and rendered "offered"), and means that which was made to ascend, to wit, by burning. It is applied in the Scriptures to a sacrifice that was wholly consumed on the altar, and answers to the Greek word ὁλόκαυστον holokauston, "Holocaust." See the notes at Isaiah 1:11. Such offerings in the patriarchal times were made by the father of a family, officiating as priest in behalf of his household. Thus, Noah officiated, Genesis 8:20; and thus also Abraham acted as the priest to offer sacrifice, Genesis 12:7-8; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 22:13. In the earliest times, and among pagan nations, it was supposed that pardon might be procured for sin by offering sacrifice. In Homer there is a passage which remarkably corresponds with the view of Job before us; Iliad 9:493:
The gods (the great and only wise)
Are moved by offerings, vows, and sacrifice;
Offending man their high compassion wins,
And daily prayers atone for daily sins.
According to the number of them all - Sons and daughters. Perhaps an additional sacrifice for each one of them. The Septuagint renders this, "according to their numbers, καί μόσχον ἕνα περὶ ἁμαπτίας περὶ τῶν ψυχῶν αὐτῶν kai moschon hena peri hamartias peri tōn psuchōn autōn - a young bullock for sin or a sin-offering for their souls."
It may be that my sons have sinned - He had no positive or certain proof of it. He felt only the natural apprehension which every pious father must, that his sons might have been overtaken by temptation, and perhaps, under the influence of wine, might have been led to speak reproachfully of God, and of the necessary restraints of true religion and virtue.
And cursed God in their hearts - The word here rendered curse is that which is usually rendered "bless" ברך bārak. It is not a little remarkable that the same word is used in senses so directly opposite as to "bless" and "to curse." Dr. Good contends that the word should be always rendered "bless," and so translates it in this place, "peradventure my sons may have sinned, "nor" blessed God in their hearts," understanding the Hebrew prefix ו (v) as a disjunctive or negative participle. So too in Job 2:9, rendered in our common translation, "curse God and die," he translates it, "blessing God and dying." But the interpretation which the connection demands is evidently that of cursing, renouncing, or forgetting; and so also it is in Job 2:9. This sense is still more obvious in 1 Kings 21:10 : "Thou didst "blaspheme" ברך bārak God and the king." So also 1 Kings 21:13 of the same chapter - though here Dr. Good contends that the word should be rendered "bless," and that the accusation was that Naboth "blessed" or worshipped the gods, even Moloch - where he supposes the word מלך melek, should be pointed מלך môlek and read "Molech." But the difficulty is not removed by this, and after all it is probable that the word here, as in Job 2:9, means to "curse." So it is understood by nearly all interpreters. The Vulgate indeed renders it singularly enough, "Lest perhaps my sons have sinned, and have blessed God (et benedixerint Deo) in their hearts." The Septuagint, "Lest perhaps my sons in their mind have thought evil toward God" - κακὰ ἐνεόησαν πρὸς Θεόν kaka enenoēsan pros Theon. The Chaldee, "Lest my sons have sinned and provoked yahweh (יהוה וארגיזדקדם) in their hearts." Assuming that this is the sense of the word here, there are three ways of accounting for the fact that the same word should have such opposite significations.
(1) One is that proposed by Taylor (Concor.), that pious persons of old regarded blasphemy as so abominable that they abhorred to express it by the proper name, and that therefore by an "euphemism" they used the term "bless" instead of "curse." But it should be said that nothing is more common in the Scriptures than words denoting cursing and blasphemy. The word אלה 'âlâh, in the sense of cursing or execrating, occurs frequently. So the word גדף gâdaph, means to blaspheme, and is often used; 2 Kings 19:6, 2 Kings 19:22; Isaiah 37:6, Isaiah 37:23; Psalm 44:16. Other words also were used in the same sense, and there was no necessity of using a mere "euphemism" here.
(2) A second mode of accounting for this double use of the word is. that this was the common term of salutation between friends at meeting and parting. It is then supposed to have been used in the sense of the English phrase "to bid farewell to." And then, like that phrase, to mean "to renounce, to abandon, to dismiss from the mind, to disregard." The words χαίρειν chairein, in Greek, and "valere" in Latin, are used in this way. This explanation is suggested by Schultens, and is adopted by Rosenmuller and Noyes, who refer to the following places as parallel instances of the use of the word. Virg. Ecclesiastes 8, 58. "Vivite Sylvoe" - a form, says the Annotator on Virgil (Delphin), of bidding farewell to, like the Greek χαίρετε chairete - "a form used against those whom we reject with hatred, and wish to depart." Thus, Catull. 11. 17: Cum suis vivat, valeatque moechis. So Aesch. Agam. 574:
Καὶ πολλὰ χαίρειν ξυμφοραῖς καταξιῶ
Kai polla chairein cumforais kataciō.
Thus, Plutarch, Dion. p. 975. So Cicero in a letter to Atticus (Psalm 8:8), in which he complains of the disgraceful flight of Pompey, applies to him a quotation from Aristophanes; πολλὰ χαίρειν εἰπὼν τῷ καλῷ polla chairein eipōn tō kalō - "bidding farewell to honour he fled to Brundusium;" compare Ter. And. 4:2. 14. Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. 44. According to this interpretation, it means that Job apprehended they had renounced God in their hearts. that is, had been unmindful of him, and had withheld from him the homage which was due. - This is plausible: but the difficulty is in making out the use of this sense of the word in Hebrew. That the word was used as a mode of "parting salutation" among the Hebrews is undoubted. It was a solemn form of invoking the divine blessing when friends separated; compare Genesis 28:3; Genesis 47:10. But I find no use of the word where it is applied to separation in the sense of "renouncing," or bidding farewell to "in a bad sense;" and unless some instances of this kind can be adduced, the interpretation is unsound, and though similar phrases are used in Greek, Latin, and other languages, it does not demonstrate that this use of the word obtained in the Hebrew.
(3) A third, and more simple explanation is that which supposes that the original sense of the word was "to kneel." This, according to Gesenius, is the meaning of the word in Arabic. So Castell gives the meaning of the word - "to bend the knees for the sake of honour;" that is, as an act of respect. So in Syriac, "Genua flexit̂ procubuit." So "Genu." the "knee." Then it means to bend the knee for the purpose of invoking God, or worshipping. In the Piel, the form used here, it means
(1) to bless God, to celebrate, to adore;
(2) to bless men - that is, to "invoke" blessings on them; to greet or salute them - in the sense of invoking blessings on them when we meet them; 1 Samuel 15:13; Genesis 47:7; 2 Samuel 6:20; or when we part from them; Genesis 47:10; 1 Kings 8:66; Genesis 24:60;
(3) to "invoke evil," in the sense of "cursing others." The idea is, that punishment or destruction is from God, and hence, it is "imprecated" on others. In one word, the term is used, as derived from the general sense of kneeling, in the sense of "invoking" either blessings or curses; and then in the general sense of blessing or cursing. This interpretation is defended by Selden, de jure Nat. et Gent. Lib. II.:100:11:p. 255, and by Gesenius, Lexicon. The idea here is, that Job apprehended that his sons, in the midst of mirth, and perhaps revelry, had been guilty of irreverence, and perhaps of reproaching God inwardly for the restraints of virtue and piety. What is more common in such scenes? What was more to be apprehended?
Thus did Job continually - It was his regular habit whenever such an occasion occurred. He was unremitted in his pious care; and his solicitude lest his sons should have sinned never ceased - a beautiful illustration of the appropriate feelings of a pious father in regard to his sons. The Hebrew is, "all day;" that is, at all times.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.Now there was a day - Dr. Good renders this, "And the day came." Tindal." Now upon a time." The Chaldee paraphrasist has presumed to specify the time, and renders it, "Now it happened in the day of judgment (or scrutiny, דדינא ביומא), "in the beginning of the year," that hosts of angels came to stand in judgment before yahweh, and Satan came." According to this, the judgment occurred once a year, and a solemn investigation was had of the conduct even of the angels. In the Hebrew there is no intimation of the frequency with which this occurred, nor of the time of the year when it happened. The only idea is, that "the sons of God" on a set or appointed day came to stand before God to give an account of what they had done, and to receive further orders in regard to what they were to do. - This is evidently designed to introduce the subsequent events relating to Job. It is language taken from the proceedings of a monarch who had sent forth messengers or ambassadors on important errands through the different provinces of his empire, who now returned to give an account of what they had observed, and of the general state of the kingdom. Such a return would, of course, be made on a fixed day when, in the language of the law, their report would be "returnable," and when they would be required to give in an account of the state of the kingdom. If it be said that it is inconsistent with the supposition that this book was inspired to suppose such a poetic fiction, Ireply,
(1) That it is no more so than the parables of the Savior, who often supposes cases, and states them as real occurrences, in order to illustrate some important truth. Yet no one was ever led into error by this.
(2) It is in accordance with the language in the Scripture everywhere to describe God as a monarch seated on his throne, surrounded by his ministers, and sending them forth to accomplish important purposes in different parts of his vast empire.
It is not absolutely necessary, therefore, to regard this as designed to represent an actual occurrence. It is one of the admissible ornaments of poetry; - as admissible as any other poetic ornament. To represent God as a king is not improper; and if so, it is not improper to represent him with the usual accompaniments of royalty, - surrounded by ministers, and employing angels and messengers for important purposes in his kingdom. This supposition being admitted, all that follows is merely in "keeping," and is designed to preserve the verisimilitude of the conception. - This idea, however, by no means militates against the supposition that angels are in fact really employed by God in important purposes in the government of his kingdom, nor that Satan has a real existence, and is permitted by God to employ an important agency in the accomplishment of his purposes toward his people. On this verse, however, see the Introduction, Section 1, (4).
The sons of God - Angels; compare Job 38:7. The whole narrative supposes that they were celestial beings.
Came to present themselves - As having returned from their embassy, and to give an account of what they had observed and done.
Before the Lord - Before יהוה yehovâh. On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isaiah 1:2. A scene remarkably similar to this is described in 1 Kings 22:19-23. Yahweh is there represented as "sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left." He inquires who would go and persuade Ahab that he might go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? "And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him." This he promised to do by being "a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."
And Satan came also among them - Margin, "The adversary" came "in the midst of them." On the general meaning of this passage, and the reasons why Satan is introduced here, and the argument thence derived respecting the age and authorship of the book of Job, see the Introduction, Section 4, (4). The Vulgate renders this by the name "Satan." The Septuagint: ὁ διάβολος ho diabolos - the devil, or the accuser. The Chaldee, סטנא saṭenā', "Satan." So the Syriac. Theodotion, ὁ ἀντικείμενος ho antikeimenos - "the adversary." The word rendered "Satan" שׂטן śâṭân is derived from שׂטן śâṭan "Satan," to lie in wait, to be an adversary, and hence, it means properly an adversary, an accuser. It is used to denote one who "opposes," as in war 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; 1 Samuel 29:4; onc who is an adversary or an accuser in a court of justice Psalm 109:6, and one who stands in the way of another; Numbers 22:22, "And the angel of yahweh stood in the way for an adversary against him" לה לשׂטן leśâṭân lôh, "to oppose him."
It is then used by way of eminence, to denote the "adversary," and assumes the form of a proper name, and is applied to the great foe of God and man - the malignant spirit who seduces people to evil, and who accuses them before God. Thus, in Zechariah 3:1-2, "And he showed me Joshua the priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Loan said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan;" compare Revelation 12:10, "Now is come salvation - for the accuser ὁ κατηγορῶν ho katēgorōn - that is, Satan, see Revelation 12:9) of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." - The word does not often occur in the Old Testament. It is found in the various forms of a verb and a noun in only the following places. As a verb, in the sense of being an adversary, Psalm 71:13; Psalm 109:4, Psalm 109:20, Psalm 109:29; Zechariah 3:1; Psalm 38:20; as a noun, rendered "adversary" and "adversaries," 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; Numbers 22:22, Numbers 22:32; 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; rendered "Satan," 1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalm 109:6; Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6-7; Zechariah 3:2; and once rendered "an accusation," Ezra 4:6.
It was a word, therefore, early used in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and was applied to anyone who sustained this character, until it finally came to be used as a proper name, to denote, by way of eminence, the prince of evil spirits, as the adversary or accuser of people. An opinion has been adopted in modern times by Herder, Eichhorn, Dathe, Ilgen, and some others, that the being here referred to by the name of Satan is not the malignant spirit, the enemy of God, the Devil, but is one of the sons of God, "a faithful, but too suspicious servant of yahweh." According to this, God is represented as holding a council to determine the state of his dominions. In this council, Satan, a zealous servant of yahweh, to whom had been assigned the honorable office of visiting different parts of the earth, for the purpose of observing the conduct of the subjects of yahweh, makes his appearance on his return with others.
Such was the piety of Job, that it had attracted the special attention of yahweh, and he puts the question to Satan, whether in his journey be had remarked this illustrious example of virtue. Satan, who, from what he has observed on earth, is supposed to have lost all confidence in the reality and genuineness of the virtue which man may exhibit, suggests that he doubts whether even Job serves God from a disinterested motive; that God had encompassed him with blessings, and that his virtue is the mere result of circumstances; and that if his comforts were removed he would be found as destitute of principle as any other man. Satan, according to this, is a suspicious minister of yahweh, not a malignant spirit; he inflicts on Job only what he is ordered to by God, and nothing because he is himself malignant. Of this opinion Gesenius remarks (Lexicon), that it "is now universally exploded."
An insuperable objection to this view is, that it does not accord with the character usually ascribed to Satan in the Bible, and especially that the disposition attributed to him in the narrative before us is wholly inconsistent with this view. He is a malignant being; an accuser; one delighting in the opportunity of charging a holy man with hypocrisy, and in the permission to inflict tortures on him, and who goes as far in producing misery as he is allowed - restrained from destroying him only by the express command of God. - In Arabic the word Satan is often applied to a serpent. Thus, Gjauhari, as quoted by Schultens, says, "The Arabs call a serpent Satan, especially one that is conspicuous by its crest, head, and odious appearance." It is applied also to any object or being that is evil. Thus, the Scholiast on Hariri, as quoted by Schultens also, says, "Everything that is obstinately rebellious, opposed, and removed from good, of genii, human beings, and beasts, is called Satan." - The general notion of an adversary and an opponent is found everywhere in the meaning of the word. - Dr. Good remarks on this verse, "We have here another proof that, in the system of patriarchal theology, the evil spirits, as well as the good, were equally amenable to the Almighty, and were equally cited, at definite periods, to answer for their conduct at his bar."
Rosenmuller remarks well on this verse, "It is to be observed, that Satan, no less than the other celestial spirits, is subject to the government of God, and dependent on his commands (compare Job 2:1) where Satan equally with the sons of God (אלהים בן bên 'ĕlohı̂ym) is said to present himself before God (לחהיצב lehı̂tyatsēb; that is, λειτουργεῖν leitourgein), to minister. Yahweh uses the ministry of this demon (hujus daemonis) to execute punishment, or when from any other cause it seemed good to him to send evil upon men. But he, although incensed against the race of mortals, and desirous of injuring, is yet described as bound with a chain, and never dares to touch the pious unless God relaxes the reins. Satan, in walking round the earth, could certainly attentively consider Job, but to injure him he could not, unless permission had been given him."
And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? - This inquiry does not appear to have been made as if it was improper that Satan should have appeared there, for no blame seems to have been attached to him for this. He came as a spirit that was subject to the control of yahweh; he came with others, not to mingle in their society, and partake of their happiness, but to give an account of what he had done, and of what he had observed. The poetic idea is, that this was done periodically, and that "all" the spirits employed by yahweh to dispense blessings to mortals, to inflict punishment, or to observe their conduct, came and stood before him. Why the inquiry is directed particularly to "Satan," is not specified. Perhaps it is not meant that there was any "special" inquiry made of him, but that, as he was to have so important an agency in the transactions which follow, the inquiry that was made of him only is recorded In respect to the others, nothing occurred pertaining to Job, and their examination is not adverted to. Or it may be, that, as Satan was known to be malignant, suspicious, and disposed to think evil of the servants of God, the design was to direct his attention particularly to Job as an illustrious and indisputable example of virtue and piety.
From going to and fro in the earth - Dr. Good renders this, "from roaming round." Noyes, "from wandering over." The word which is here used (שׁוּט shûṭ) means properly,
(1.) to whip, to scourge, to lash;
(2.) to row, that is, to lash the sea with oars;
(3.) to run up and down, to go here and there, or to and fro, so as to lash the air with one's arms as with oars, and hence, to travel over a land, or to go through it in order to see it, 2 Samuel 24:2, 2 Samuel 24:8.
Dr. Good, in conformity with the interpretation proposed by Schultens, says that "the word imports, not so much the act of going forward and backward, as of making a circuit or circumference; of going round about. The Hebrew verb is still in use among the Arabic writers, and in every instance implies the same idea of gyration or circumambulation." In Arabic, according to Castell, the word means "to heat, to burn, to cause to boil, to consume:" then to propel to weariness, as e. g. a horse, and then to make a circuit, to go about at full speed, to go with diligence and activity. Thus, in Carnuso, as quoted by Schultens, "a course made at one impulse to the goal is called שׁוט shôṭ. In 2 Samuel 24:2, the word is used in the sense of passing around through different places for the purpose of taking a census. "Go now (Margin, "compass") through all the tribes of Israel." In Numbers 11:8, it is applied to the Israelites going about to collect manna, passing rapidly and busily in the places where it fell for the purpose of gathering it.
In Zechariah 4:10, it is applied to "the eyes of Yahweh," which are said to "run to and fro through the earth," that is, he surveys all things as one does whose eye passes rapidly from object to object. The same phrase occurs in 2 Chronicles 16:9. In Jeremiah 5:1, it is applied to the action of a man passing rapidly through the streets of a city. "Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem "compare Jeremiah 49:3. From these passages it is clear that the idea is not that of going "in a circuit" or circle, but it is that of passing rapidly; of moving with alacrity and in a hurry; and it is not improbable that the "original" idea is that suggested in the Arabic of "heat" - and thence applied to a whip or scourge because it produces a sensation like burning, and also to a rapid journey or motion, because it produces heat or a glow. It means that Satan had been active and diligent in passing from place to place in the earth to survey it. The Chaldee adds to this, "to examine into the works of the sons of men."
And from walking - That is, to investigate human affairs. On this verse it is observed by Rosenmullcr, that in the life of Zoroaster (see Zendavesta by John G. Kleukner, vol. 3: p. 11,) the prince of the evil demons, the angel of death, whose name is "Engremeniosch," is said to go far and near through the world for the purpose of injuring and opposing good people.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?Hast thou considered my servant Job? - Margin, "Set thine heart on." The margin is a literal translation of the Hebrew. Schultens remarks on this, that it means more than merely to observe or to look at - since it is abundantly manifest from the following verses that Satan "had" attentively considered Job, and had been desirous of injuring him. It means, according to him, to set himself against Job, to fix the heart on him with an intention to injure him, and yahweh means to ask whether Satan had done this. But it seems more probable that the phrase means to consider "attentively," and that God means to ask him whether he had carefully observed him. Satan is represented as having no confidence in human virtue, and as maintaining that there was none which would resist temptation, if presented in a form sufficiently alluring. God here appeals to the case of Job as a full refutation of this opinion. The trial which follows is designed to test the question whether the piety of Job was of this order.
That there is none like him in the earth - That he is the very highest example of virtue and piety on earth. Or might not the word כי kı̂y here be rendered "for?" "For there is none like him in the earth." Then the idea would be, not that he had considered "that" there was none like him, but God directs his attention to him "because" he was the most eminent among mortals.
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?Doth Job fear God for nought? - "Is his religion disinterested? Would not anyone be willing to worship God in such circumstances?" The idea is that there was nothing genuine about his piety; that religion could not be tried in prosperity; that Job had an abundant compensation for serving God, and that if the favors conferred on him were taken away, he would be like the rest of mankind. Much of the apparent virtue and religion of the world is the result of circumstances, and the question here proposed "may," it is to be feared, be asked with great propriety of many professors of religion who are rich; it "should" be asked by every professed friend of the Most High, whether his religion is not selfish and mercenary. Is it because God has blessed us with great earthly advantages? Is it the result of mere gratitude? Is it because he has preserved us in peril, or restored us from sickness? Or is it merely because we hope for heaven, and serve God because we trust he will reward us in a future world? All this may be the result of mere selfishness; and of all such persons it may be appropriately asked, "Do they fear God for nought?" True religion is not mere gratitude, nor is it the result of circumstances. It is the love of religion for its own sake - not for reward; it is because the service of God is right in itself, and not merely because heaven is full of glory; it is because God is worthy of our affections and confidence, and not merely because he will bless us - and this religion will live through all external changes, and survive the destruction of the world. It will flourish in poverty as well as when surrounded by affluence; on a bed of pain as well as in vigorous health; when we are calumniated and despised for our attachment to it, as well as when the incense of flattery is burned around us, and the silvery tones of praise fall on our ear; in the cottage as well as the palace; on the pallet of straw as well as on the bed of down.
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.Hast thou not made an hedge about him? - Dr. Good remarks, that to give the original word here its full force, it should be derived from the science of engineering, and be rendered, "Hast thou not raised a "palisado" about him?" The Hebrew word used here (שׂוּך śûk) properly means "to hedge"; to hedge in or about; and hence, to protect, as one is defended whose house or farm is hedged in either with a fence of thorns, or with an enclosure of stakes or palisades. The word in its various forms is used to denote, as a noun, "pricks in the eyes" Numbers 33:55; that is, that which would be like thorns; "barbed irons" Job 41:7, that is, the barbed iron used as a spear to take fish; and a hedge, and thorn hedge, Micah 7:4; Proverbs 15:19; Isaiah 5:5. The idea here is, that of making an enclosure around Job and his possessions to guard them from danger. The Septuagint renders it περιέφραξας periephracas, to make a defense around," to "circumvallate" or inclose, as a camp is in war. In the Syriac and Arabic it is rendered, "Hast thou not protected him with thy hand? The Chaldee, "Hast thou protected him with thy word? The Septuagint renders the whole passage, "Hast thou not encircled the things which are without him" (τὰ ἔξω αὐτοῦ ta exō autou) that is, the things abroad which belong to him, "and the things within his house." The sense of the whole passage is, that he was eminently under the divine protection, and that God had kept himself, his family, and property from plunderers, and that therefore he served and feared him.
Thou hast blessed the work of his hands - Thou hast greatly prospered him.
And his substance is increased in the land - His property, Job 1:3. Margin, "cattle." The word "increased" here by no means expresses the force of the original. The word פרץ pârats means properly to break, to rend, then to break or burst forth as waters do that have been pent up; 2 Samuel 5:20, compare Proverbs 3:10, "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses "shall burst out" פרץ pârats with new wine;" that is, thy wine-fats shall be so full that they shall overflow, or "burst" the barriers, and the wine shall flow out in abundance. The Arabians, according to Schultens, employ this word still to denote the mouth or "embouchure" - the most; rapid part of a stream. So Golius, in proof of this, quotes from the Arabic writer Gjanhari, a couplet where the word is used to denote the mouth of the Euphrates:
"His rushing wealth o'er flowed him with its heaps;
So at its mouth the mad Euphrates sweeps."
According to Sehultens, the word denotes a place where a river bursts forth, and makes a new way by rending the hills and rocks asunder. In like manner the flocks and herds of Job had burst, as it were, every barrier, and had spread like an inundation over the land; compare Genesis 30:43; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Exodus 1:7; Job 16:14.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.But put forth thine hand now - That is, for the purpose of injuring him, and taking away his property.
And touch all that he hath - Dr. Good renders this, "and smite." The Vulgate and the Septuagint, "touch." The Hebrew word used here נגע nâga‛ means properly to "touch;" then to touch anyone with violence Genesis 26:11; Joshua 9:19, and then to smite, to injure, to strike; see Genesis 32:26, 33; 1 Samuel 6:9; Job 19:21; compare the notes at Isaiah 53:4. Here it means evidently to smite or strike; and the idea is, that if God should take away the property of Job, he would take away his religion with it - and the trial was to see whether this effect would follow.
And he will curse thee to thy face - He will do it openly and publicly. The word rendered "curse" here ברך bārak is the same as that used in Job 1:5, and which is usually rendered "bless;" see the notes at Job 1:5. Dr. Good contends that; it should be rendered here "bless," and translates it as a question: "Will he then, indeed, bless thee to thy face?" But in this he probably stands alone. The evident sense is, that Job would openly renounce God, and curse him on his throne; that all his religion was caused merely by his abundant prosperity, and was mere gratitude and selfishness; and that if his property were taken away, he would become the open and avowed enemy of him who was now his benefactor.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.All that he hath is in thy power - Margin, as in Hebrew "hand." That is, all this is now committed to thee, for it is manifest that hitherto Satan had no power to injure even his property. He complained that God had made a hedge around all that Job possessed. Now it was all entrusted to him in order that he might make full trim of the faith of Job. The grant extended to his sons and daughters as well as to his property.
Only upon himself put not forth thine hand - Job himself was not to be visited with sickness nor was his life to be taken. The main accusation of Satan was, that Job was virtuous only because God encompassed him with so many blessings, and especially because he had endowed him with so much property. The trial, therefore, only required that it should be seen whether his piety was the mere result of these blessings.
So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord - That is from the council which had been convened; see the notes at Job 1:6.
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:And there was a day - That is, on the day on which the regular turn came for the banquet to be held in the house of the older brother; compare the notes at Job 1:4.
And drinking wine - This circumstance is omitted in Job 1:4. It shows that wine was regarded as an essential part of the banquet, and it was from its use that Job apprehended the unhappy results referred to in Job 1:5.
And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:And there came a messenger unto Job - Hebrew מלאך mal'âk; the word usually rendered "angel," appropriately rendered "messenger" here. The word properly means "one who is sent."
The oxen were plowing - Hebrew "the cattle" (בקר bâqâr) including not merely "oxen," but probably also "cows;" see the notes at Job 1:3.
And the asses - Hebrew אתון 'âthôn "she-asses." The "sex" is here expressly mentioned and Dr. Good maintains that it should be in the translation. So it is in the Septuagint αἱ θήλειαι ὄνοι hai thēleiai onoi. So Jerome, "asinoe." The reason why the sex is specified is, that female asses, on account of their milk, were much more valuable than males. On this account they were preferred also for traveling; see the notes at Job 1:3.
Beside them - Hebrew "By their hands," that is, by their sides, for the Hebrew יד yâd is often used in this sense; compare the notes at Isaiah 33:21.
And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.And the Sabeans - Hebrew שׁבא shebâ', Vulgate, "Suboei." The Septuagint gives a paraphrase, καὶ ἐλθόντες οἱ αἰχμαλωτεύοντες ἠχμαλώτευσαν kai elthonia hoi aichmalōteuontes ēchmalōteusan, "And the plunderers coming, plundered them," or made them captive. On the situation of Sheba and Seba, see Isaiah 43:3, note; Isaiah 45:14, note; Isaiah 9:6, note. The people here referred to were, undoubtedly, inhabitants of some part of Arabia Felix. There are three persons of the name of Sheba mentioned in the Scriptures.
(1) A grandson of Cush; Genesis 10:7.
(2) A son of Joktan; Genesis 10:28.
(3) A son of Jokshan, the son of Abraham by Keturah.
"Calmet." The Sheba here referred to was probably in the southern part of Arabia, and from the narrative it is evident that the Sabeans here mentioned were a predatory tribe. It is not improbable that these tribes were in the habit of wandering for purposes of plunder over the whole country, from the banks of the Euphrates to the outskirts of Egypt. The Bedawin Arabs of the present day resemble in a remarkable manner the ancient inhabitants of Arabia, and for many centuries the manners of the inhabitants of Arabia have not changed, for the habits of the Orientals continue the same from age to age. The Syriac renders this simply, "a multitude rushed" upon them;" omitting the word "Sabean."
Fell upon them - With violence; or rushed unexpectedly upon them. This is the way in which the Arab tribes now attack the caravan, the traveler, or the village, for plunder.
And took them away - As plunder. It is common now to make such sudden incursions, and to carry off a large booty.
They have slain the servants - Hebrew נערים na‛arı̂ym, "the young men." The word נער na‛ar, properly means a "boy," and is applied to an infant just born, Exodus 2:6; Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; or to a youth, Genesis 34:19; Genesis 41:12. It came then to denote a servant or slave, like the Greek παῖς pais; Genesis 24:2; 2 Kings 5:20; compare Acts 5:6. So the word "boy" is often used in the Southern States of North America to denote a slave. Here it evidently means the servants that were employed in cultivating the lands of Job, and keeping his cattle. There is no intimation that they were slaves. Jerome renders it "pueros, boys;" so the Septuagint τοῦς παὶδας tous paidas.
And I only am escaped alone - By myself, בד bad. There is no other one with me. It is remarkable that the same account is given by each one of the servants who escaped, Job 1:16-17, Job 1:19. The Chaldee has given a very singular version of this - apparently from the desire of accounting for everything, and of mentioning the "names" of all the persons intended. "The oxen were plowing, and Lelath, queen of Zamargad, suddenly rushed upon them, and carried them away."
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.While he was yet speaking - All this indicates the rapidity of the movement of Satan, and his desire to "overwhelm" Job with the suddenness and greatness of his calamities. The. object seems to have been to give him no time to recover from the shock of one form of trial before another came upon him. If an interval had been given him he might have rallied his strength to bear his trials; but afflictions are much more difficult to be borne when they come in rapid succession. - It is not a very uncommon occurrence, however, that the righteous are tried by the rapidity and accumulation as well as the severity of their afflictions. It has passed into a proverb that "afflictions do not come alone."
The fire of God. - Margin, "A great fire;" evidently meaning a flash of lightning, or a thunderbolt. The Hebrew is "fire of God;" but it is probable that the phrase is used in a sense similar to the expression, "cedars of God," meaning lofty cedars; I or "mountains of God," meaning very high mountains. The lightning is I probably intended; compare Numbers 16:35; see the note at Isaiah 29:6.
From heaven - From the sky, or the air. So the word heaven is often used in the Scriptures; see the notes at Matthew 16:1.
And hath burnt up the sheep - That lightning might destroy herds and men no one can doubt; though the fact of their being actually consumed or burned up may have been an exaggeration of the much affrighted messenger. - The narrative leads us to believe that these things were under the control of Satan, though by the permission of God; and his power over the lightnings and the winds Job 1:19 may serve to illustrate the declaration, that he is the "Prince of the power of the air," in Ephesians 2:2.
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.The Chaldeans - The Septuagint translates this, αἱ ἱππεῖς hai hippeis), "the horsemen." Why they thus expressed it is unknown. It may be possible that the Chaldeans were supposed to be distinguished as horsemen, and were principally known as such in their predatory excursions. But it is impossible to account for all the changes made by the Septuagint in the text. Tho Syriac and the Chaldee render it correctly, "Chaldeans." The Chaldeans (Hebrew כשׂדים kaśdı̂ym) were the ancient inhabitants of Babylonia. According to Vitringa (Commentary in Isa. tom. i. p. 412, c. xiii. 19), Gesenius (Commentary zu Isaiah 23:13), and Rosenmailer (Bib. Geog. 1, 2, p. 36ff), the Chaldees or Casdim were a warlike people who orignally inhabited the Carduchian mountains, north of Assyria, and the northern part of Mesopotamia. According to Xenophon (Cyrop. iii. 2, 7) the Chaldees dwelt in the mountains adjacent to Armenia and they were found in the same region in the campaign of the younger Cyrus, and the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks. Xen. Anaba. iv. 3, 4; v. 5, 9; viii. 8, 14.
They were allied to the Hebrews, as appears from Genesis 22:22, where כשׂד keśed (whence "Kasdim") the ancestor of the people is mentioned as a son of Nabor, and was consequently the nephew of Abraham. And further, Abraham himself emigrated to Canaan from Ur of the Chaldees כשׂדים אוּר 'ûr kaśdı̂ym, "Ur of the Kasdim"), Genesis 11:28; and in Judith 5:6, the Hebrews themselves are said to be descended from the Chaldeans. The region around the river Chaboras, in the northern part of Mesopotamia, is called by Ezekiel EZechariah 1:3 "the land of the Chaldeans;" Jeremiah Jer 5:15 calls them "an ancient nation;" see the notes at Isaiah 23:13. The Chaldeans were a fierce and warlike people, and when they were subdued by the Assyrians, a portion of them appear to have been placed in Babylon to ward off the incursions of the neighboring Arabians. In time "they" gained the ascendency over their Assyrian masters, and grew into the mighty empire of Chaldea or Babylonia. A part of them, however, appear to have remained in their ancient country, and enjoyed under the Persians some degree of liberty. Gesenius supposes that the Kurds who have inhabited those regions, at least since the middle ages, are probably the descendants of that people. - A very vivid and graphic description of the Chaldeans is given by the prophet Habakkuk, which will serve to illustrate the passage before us, and show that they retained until his times the predatory and fierce character which they had in the days of Job; Job 1:6-11 :
For lo I raise up the Chaldeans,
A bitter and hasty nation,
Which marches far and wide in the earth.
To possess the dwellings which are not theirs.
They are terrible and dreadful,
Their judgments proceed only from themselves.
Swifter titan leopards are their horses,
And fiercer than the evening wolves.
Their horsemen prance proudly around;
And their horsemen shall come from afar and fly,
Like the eagle when he pounces on his prey.
They all shall come for violence,
In troops their glance is ever forward!
They gather captives like the sand!
And they scoff at kings,
And princes are a scorn unto them.
They deride every strong hold;
They cast up mounds of - earth and take it.
This warlike people ultimately obtained the ascendency in the Assyrian empire. About the year 597 B.C. Nabopolassar, a viceroy in Babylon, made himself independent of Assyria, contracted an alliance with Cyaxares, king of Media, and with his aid subdued Nineveh, and the whole of Assyria. From that time the Babylonian empire rose, and the history of the Chaldeans becomes the history of Babylon. - "Rob. Calmet." In the time of Job, however, they were a predatory race that seem to have wandered far for the sake of plunder. They came from the North, or the East, as the Sabeans came from the South.
Made out three bands - literally, "three heads." That is, they divided tbemselves, for the sake of plunder, into three parties. Perhaps the three thousand camels of Job JObadiah 1:3 occupied three places remote from each other, and the object of the speaker is to say that the whole were taken.
And fell upon the camels - Margin, "And rushed." The word is different from that which in Job 1:15 is rendered "fell." The word used here פשׁט pâshaṭ means to spread out, to expand. It is spoken of hostile troops, 1 Chronicles 14:9, 1 Chronicles 14:13; of locusts which spread over a country, Nahum 3:15; and of an army or company of marauders. Judges 9:33, Judges 9:44; 1 Samuel 27:8. This is its sense here.
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:Eating and drinking wine - ; the notes at Job 1:4, Job 1:13.
And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.There came a great wind - Such tornadoes are not less common in Oriental countries than in the United States. Indeed they abound more in regions near the equator than they do in those which are more remote; in hot countries than in those of higher latitude.
From the wilderness - Margin, "From aside." That is, from aside the wilderness. The word here rendered "from aside" in the margin (מדבר mı̂dbâr ) means properly "from across," and is so rendered by Dr. Good. The word עבר ‛âbar means literally a region or country beyond, or on the other side, sc. of a river or a sea, which one must "pass;" Judges 11:18; Genesis 2:10-11; Deuteronomy 1:1, Deuteronomy 1:5. Then it means on the other side, or beyond; see the notes at Isaiah 18:1. Here it means that the tornado came sweeping across the desert. On the ample plains of Arabia it would have the opportunity of accumulating its desolating power, and would sweep everything before it. The Hebrew word here rendered "wilderness," מדבר mı̂dbâr, does not express exactly what is denoted by our word. We mean by it usually, a region wholly uncultivated, covered with forests, and the habitation of wild beasts. The Hebrew word more properly denotes a "desert;" an uninhabited region, a sterile, sandy country, though sometimes adapted to pasture. In many places the word would be well translated by the phrases "open fields," or "open plains;" compare Joel 2:22; Psalm 65:13; Jeremiah 23:10; Isaiah 42:11; Genesis 14:6; Genesis 16:7; Exodus 3:1; Exodus 13:18; Deuteronomy 11:24; compare Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 35:1-2.
And smote the four corners of the house - Came as a tornado usually does, or like a whirlwind. It seemed to come from all points of the compass, and prostrated everything before it.
And it fell upon the young men - The word here rendered" young men" is the same which is rendered in Job 1:15, Job 1:17, servants הנערים hana‛arı̂ym. There can be no reasonable doubt, however, that the messenger by the word here refers to the children of Job. It is remarkable that his daughters are not particularly specified, but they may be included in the word used here נערים na‛arı̂ym, which may be the same in signification as our phrase "young people," including both sexes. So it is rendered by Etchhorn: Es sturtzo tiber den jungen Leuten zusammen.
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,Then Job arose - The phrase to arise, in the Scriptures is often used in the sense of beginning to do anything. It does not necessarily imply that the person had been previously sitting; see 2 Samuel 13:13.
And rent his mantle - The word here rendered "mantle" מעיל me‛ı̂yl means an upper or outer garment. The dress of Orientals consists principally of an under garment or tunic - not materially differing from the "shirt" with us - except that the sleeves are wider, and under this large and loose pantaloons. Niebuhr, Reisebescreib. 1. 157. Over these garments they often throw a full and flowing mantle or robe. This is made without sleeves; it reaches down to the ankles; and when they walk or exercise it is bound around the middle with a girdle or sash. When they labor it is usually laid aside. The robe here referred ire was worn sometimes by women, 2 Samuel 13:18; by men of birth and rank, and by kings, 1 Samuel 15:27; 1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel 24:5, 1 Samuel 24:11; by priests, 1 Samuel 28:14, and especially by the high priest under the ephod, Exodus 28:31. See Braun de vest Sacerd. ii. 5. Schroeder de vest. muller.
Hebrew p. 267; Hartmann Ilcbraerin, iii. p. 512, and Thesau. Antiq. Sacra. by Ugolin, Tom. i. 509, iii. 74, iv. 504, viii. 90, 1000, xii. 788, xiii. 306; compare the notes at Matthew 5:40, and Niebuhr, as quoted above. The custom of rending the garment as an expression of grief prevailed not only among the Jews but also among the Greeks and Romans 54y i. 13. Suetonius, in "Jul. Caes." 33. It prevailed also among the Persians. Curtius, B. x. c. 5, section 17. See Christian Boldich, in Thesau. Antiq. Sacra. Tom. xii. p. 145; also Tom. xiii. 551, 552, 560, xxx. 1105, 1112. In proof also that the custom prevailed among the Pagan, see Diod. Sic. Lib. i. p. 3, c. 3, respecting the Egyptians; Lib. xvii. respecting the Persians; Quin. Curt. iii. 11; Herod. Lib. iii. in Thalia, Lib. viii. in Urania, where he speaks of the Persians. So Plutarch in his life of Antony, speaking of the deep grief of Cleopatra, says, περίεῤῥηξατο τοῦς πέπλους επ ̓ αὐτῷ perierrēcato tous piplous ep' autō. Thus, Herodian, Lib. i.: καῖ ῥηξαμένη εσθῆτα kai rēcamenē esthēta. So Statius in Glaucum:
Tu mode fusus humi, lucem aversaris iniquam,
Nunc torvus pariter vestes, et pectora rumpis.
Tune pins Aeneas humeris abscindere vestem,
Auxilioque vocare Deos, et tendere palmas.
Aeneid v. 685.
Demittunt mentes; it scissa veste Latinus,
Conjugis attonitus fatis, urbisque ruina,
So Juvenal, Sat. x.:
ut primos edere planctus
Cassandra inciperet, scissaque Polyxena palla.
Numerous other quotations from the Classical writers, as well as from the Jewish writings, may be seen in Ugolin's Sacerdotium Hebraicum, cap. vi. Thesau. Antiq. Sacrar. Tom. xiii. p. 550ff.
And shaved his head - This was also a common mode of expressing great sorrow. Sometimes it was done by formally cutting off the hair of the head; sometimes by plucking it violently out by the roots, and sometimes also the beard was plucked out, or cut off. The idea seems to have been that mourners should divest themselves of that which was usually deemed most ornamental; compare Jeremiah 7:29; Isaiah 7:20. Lucian says that the Egyptians expressed their grief by cutting off their hair on the death of their god Apis, and the Syrians in the same manner at the death of Adonis. Olympiodorus remarks on this passage, that the people among whom long hair was regarded as an ornament, cut it off in times of mourning; but those who commonly wore short hair, suffered it on such occasions to grow long. See Rosenmuller, Morgenland, "in loc." A full description of the customs of the Hebrews in times of mourning, and particularly of the custom of plucking out the hair, may be seen in Martin Geier, de Hebraeorum Luctu, especially in chapter viii.
Thesau. Antiq. Sacra. xxxiil. p. 147ff. The meaning here is that Job was filled with excessive grief, and that he expressed that grief in the manner that was common in his day. Nature demands that there should be "some" external expression of sorrow; and religion does not forbid it. He pays a tribute to the nature with which God has endowed him who gives an appropriate expression to sorrow; he wars against that nature who attempts to remove from his countenance, conversation, dress, and dwelling, everything that is indicative of the sorrows of his soul in a time of calamity. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus; and religion is not designed to make the heart insensible or incapable of grief. Piety, like every kind of virtue, always increases the susceptibility of the soul to suffering. Philosophy and sin destroy sensibility; but religion deepens it. Philosophy does it on principle - for its great object is to render the heart dead to all sensibility; sin produces the same effect naturally. The drunkard, the licentious man, and the man of avarice, are incapable of being affected by the tender scenes of life. Guilt has paralyzed their feelings and rendered tthem dead. But religion allows people to feel, and then shows its power in sustaining the soul, and in imparting its consolations to the heart that is broken and sad. It comes to dry up the tears of the mourner, not to forbid those tears to flow; to pour the balm of consolation into the heart, not to teach the heart to be unfeeling.
And fell down upon the ground - So Joshua in a time of great calamity prostrated himself upon the earth and worshipped, Joshua 7:6. - The Orientals were then in the habit, as they are now, of prostrating themselves on the ground as an act of homage. Job seems to have done this partly as an expression of grief, and partly as an act of devotion - solemnly bowing before God in the time of his great trial.
And worshipped - Worshipped God. He resigned himself to his will. A pious man has nowhere else to go in trial; and he will desire to go nowhere else than to the God who has afflicted him.
And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.And said, Naked came I out - That is, destitute of property, for so the connection demands; compare 1 Timothy 6:7; "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." A similar expression also occurs in Pliny, "Hominem natura tanturn nudism." Nat. Hist. proem. L. vii. Job felt that he was stripped of all, and that he must leave the world as destitute as he entered it.
My mother's womb - The earth - the universal mother. That he refers to the earth is apparent, because he speaks of returning there again. The Chaldee adds קבוּרתא לבית lebēyt qebûratā' - "to the house of burial." The earth is often called the mother of mankind; see Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 26; compare Psalm 139:15. Dr. Good remarks, that "the origin of all things from the earth introduced, at a very early period of the world, the superstitious worship of the earth, under the title of Dameter, or the "Mother-goddess," a Chaldee term, probably common to Idumea at the time of the existence of Job himself. It is hence the Greeks derive their Δημήτνρ Dēmētēr (Demeter), or as they occasionally wrote it Γημήτηρ Gēmētēr (Ge-meter), or Mother Earth, to whom they appropriated annually two religious festivals of extraordinary pomp and solemnity. Thus, Lucretius says,
Linquitur, ut merito materhum nomen adepta
Terra sit, e terra quoniam sunt cuneta creata.
- "Whence justly earth
Claims the dear name of mother, since alone
Flowed from herself whate'er the sight enjoys."
For a full account of the views of the ancients in regard to the "marriage" (ἱερός γάμος gamos hieros)of the "heaven" and the "earth," from which union all things were supposed to proceed, see Creuzer's Symbolik und Mythologie der alt. Volk. Erst. Theil, p. 26, fg.
And naked - Stripped of all, I shall go to the common mother of the race. This is exceedingly beautiful language; and in the mouth of Job it was expressive of the most submissive piety. It is not the language of complaint; but was in him connected with the deep feeling that the loss of his property was to be traced to God, and that he had a right to do as he had done.
The Lord gave - Hebrew יהוה yehovâh. He had nothing when he came into the world, and all that he had obtained had been by the good providence of God. As "he" gave it, he had a right to remove it. Such was the feeling of Job, and such is the true language of submission everywhere. He who has a proper view of what he possesses will feel that it is all to be traced to God, and that he has a right to remove it when he pleases.
And the Lord hath taken away - It is not by accident; it is not the result of haphazard; it is not to be traced to storms and winds and the bad passions of people. It is the result of intelligent design, and whoever has been the agent or instrument in it, it is to be referred to the overruling providence of God. Why did not Job vent his wrath on the Sabeans? Why did he not blame the Chaldeans? Why did he not curse the tempest and the storm? Why did he not blame his sons for exposing themselves? Why not suspect the malice of Satan? Why not suggest that the calamity was to be traced to bad fortune, to ill-luck, or or to an evil administration of human affairs? None of these things occurred to Job. He traced the removal of his property and his loss of children at once to God, and found consolation in the belief that an intelligent and holy Sovereign presided over his affairs, and that he had removed only what he gave.
Blessed be the name of the Lord - That is, blessed be yahweh - the "name" of anyone in Hebrew being often used to denote the person himself. The Syriac, Arabic, and some manuscripts of the Septuagint here adds "forever." - "Here," says Schmid, "the contrast is observable between the object of Satan, which was to induce Job to renounce God, and the result of the temptation which was to lead Job to bless God." Thus, far Satan had been foiled, and Job had sustained the shock of the calamity, and showed that he did not serve God on account of the benefits which be had received from him.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.In all this - In all his feelings and expressions on this occasion.
Job sinned not - He expressed just the feelings and manifested just the submission which he ought to do.
Nor charged God foolishly - Margin, "Attributed folly to God." Vulgate, "Neither did he speak any foolish thing against God." The Septuagint renders it, "and he did not impute (or give, ἐδωκεν edōken) folly (ἀφροσύνην aphrosunēn) (indiscretion, 'Thompson') to God." Good renders this, "nor vented a murmur against God;" and remarks that the literal rendering would be, "nor vented froth against God. Tindal renders it, "nor murmured foolishly against God." The Hebrew word תפלה tı̂phlâh is derived from the obsolete root תפל tâphêl, "to spit out;" and hence, to be insipid, tasteless, not seasoned. The noun, therefore, means properly that which is spit out; then that which is insipid or tasteless; and then folly. Wit and wisdom are represented by Oriental writers as pungent and seasoned; compare the expression among the Greeks of "Attic salt," meaning wit or wisdom. The word "folly" in the Scriptures often means wickedness, for this is supreme folly. Here it has this sense, and means that Job did not say anything "wrong." Satan was disappointed and had borne a false accusation before God. He did "not" charge God foolishly, and he did "not" curse him to his face.
From this instructive narrative of the manner in which Job received afflictions, we may learn
(1) That true piety will bear the removal of property and friends without murmuring. Religion is not based on such things, and their removal cannot shake it. It is founded deeper in the soul, and mere external changes cannot destroy it.
(2) When we are afflicted, we should not vent our wrath on winds and waves; on the fraud and perfidy of our fellow-men; on embarrassments and changes in the commercial world; on the pestilence and the storm. Any or all of these may be employed as instruments in taking away our property or our friends, but we should trace the calamity ultimately to God. Storms and winds and waves, malignant spirits and our fellow-men, do no more than God permits. They are all restrained and kept within proper limits. They are not directed by chance, but they are under the control of an intelligent Being, and are the wise appointment of a holy God.
(3) God has a right to remove our comforts. He gave them - not to be our permanent inheritance, but to be withdrawn when he pleases. It is a proof of goodness that we have been permitted to tread his earth so long - though we should be allowed to walk it no more; to breathe his air so long - though we should be permitted to inhale it no more; to look upon his sun and moon and stars so long - though we should be permitted to walk by their light no more; to enjoy the society of the friends whom he has given us so long - though we should enjoy that society no longer. A temporary gift may be removed at the pleasure of the giver, and we hold all our comforts at the mere good pleasure of God.
(4) We see the nature of true resignation. It is not because we can always see the "reason" why we are afflicted; it consists in bowing to the will of a holy and intelligent God, and in the feeling that he has a "right" to remove what he has given us. It is his; and may be taken away when he pleases. It may be, and should be yielded, without a complaint - and to do this "because" God wills it, is true resignation.
(5) We see the true source of "comfort" in trials. It is not in the belief that things are regulated by chance and hap-hazard; or even that they are controlled by physical laws. We may have the clearest philosophical view of the mode in which tempests sweep away property, or the pestilence our friends; we may understand the laws by which all this is done, but this affords no consolation. It is only when we perceive an "intelligent Being" presiding over these events, and see that they are the result of plan and intention on his part, that we can find comfort in trial. What satisfaction is it for me to understand the law by which fire burns when my property is swept away; or to know "how" disease acts on the human frame when my child dies; or how the plague produces its effects on the body when friend after friend is laid in the grave? This is "philosophy;" and this is the consolation which this world furnishes. I want some higher consolation than that which results from the knowledge of unconscious laws. I want to have the assurance that it is the result of intelligent design, and that this design is connected with a benevolent end - and that I find only in religion.
(6) We see the "power" of religion in sustaining in the time of trial. How calm and submissive was this holy man! How peaceful and resigned! Nothing else but piety could have done this. Philosophy blunts the feelings, paralyses the sensibilities, and chills the soul; but it does not give consolation. It is only confidence in God; a feeling that he is right; and a profound and holy acquiescence in his will, that can produce support in trials like these. This we may have as well so Job; and this is indispensable in a world so full of calamity and sorrow as this is.