Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

General Editor:-J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.,

Dean of Peterborough.









London: C. J. CLAY & SON,




[All Rights reserved.]



The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.

Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.

Deanery, Peterborough.


  I.  Introduction

Chapter  I.  Contents of the Book

Chapter  II.  The nature of the Composition

Chapter  III.  The Idea and Purpose of the Book

Chapter  IV.  The Integrity of the Book

Chapter  V.  The Age and Authorship of Job

  II.  Notes


Additional Note on ch. Job 19:23-27Index

*** The Text adopted in this Edition is that of Dr Scrivener’s Cambridge Paragraph Bible. A few variations from the ordinary Text, chiefly in the spelling of certain words, and in the use of italics, will be noticed. For the principles adopted by Dr Scrivener as regards the printing of the Text see his Introduction to the Paragraph Bible, published by the Cambridge University Press.



Contents of the Book

The Book of Job is so called from the name of the man whose history and afflictions and sayings form the subject of it. As it now lies before us it consists of five parts:—

1. The prologue, written in prose, ch. 1–2. This introduces to us a man named Job, living in the land of Uz; and describes in rapid and dramatic touches his piety and wealth and the successive and extraordinary calamities that befell him. This man was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil”; and his piety was reflected in the great prosperity that attended him, in his family felicity and wide possessions. A trait from his ordinary life is given which illustrates the happiness and affection to one another of his children, and the father’s scrupulous godliness (ch. Job 1:1-5). Then the narrative describes how the disinterestedness of Job’s piety was called in question in the Council of Heaven by the Satan, or Adversary, that one of God’s ministers whose office is to try the sincerity of men, and oppose them in their pretensions to a right standing before God. This angel insinuated that Job’s religion was insincere, and only the natural return for the unprecedented blessings showered on him by God; if these blessings were withdrawn he would disown God to his face. The Satan receives permission to afflict Job, with the reservation that he must not touch him in his person. In one day Job is stripped of all his possessions and bereaved of his children: robber hordes carry away his asses and camels, and slay his servants with the sword; the fire of heaven falls on his flocks and consumes them; and his children are buried beneath the ruins of the house where they were feasting. When the calamitous tidings are brought to him, Job manifests the liveliest tokens of grief, but his reverent submission to God remains unshaken—“In all this Job sinned not nor ascribed wrong to God” (ch. Job 1:6-22).

Again the heavenly Council convenes, and again the Satan is present. The Lord speaks of His servant Job with approval and with compassion, and upbraids the Adversary with instigating Him to bring undeserved suffering upon him. The Satan’s answer is ready: the trial did not touch Job close enough; let the hand of God touch him in his own bone and flesh and he will disown Him to His face. The Adversary receives permission to afflict Job himself, with the reservation that he shall spare his life. Straightway Job is smitten with sore boils, the leprosy called Elephantiasis; and he flings himself down among the ashes, taking a potsherd to scrape himself withal. The deeper affliction only reveals greater deeps in Job’s reverent piety. In his former trial he blessed God who took away the good He had added to naked man; this was strictly no evil: now he bows beneath His hand when He inflicts positive evil: “We receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not also receive evil?” In all this Job sinned not with his lips: he let no sinful murmur against God escape him (ch. Job 2:1-10).

Then the narrative informs us how Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, having heard of his great misfortunes, come to condole with him. They are struck dumb at the sight of his terrible calamity, and sit with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, none of them speaking a word. Moved by the presence and the sympathising gestures of his friends, Job loses his self-control, and breaks out into a passionate cry for death (ch. Job 2:11—ch. 3).

2. The debate between Job and his friends, ch. 4–31, written in poetry. This comprises a series of speeches in which the problem of Job’s afflictions, and the relation of external evil to the righteousness of God and the conduct of men, are brilliantly discussed. The theory of the friends is that affliction implies previous sin on the part of the sufferer, though in the case of a good man such as Job it is chastisement meant to wean him from evil still cleaving to him; and they exhort him to repentance, and hold up a bright future before him. Job denies that his sufferings are due to sin, of which he is innocent; God wrongly holds him guilty and afflicts him. And, taught by his own history, he is led to look more narrowly at the course of providence in the world, and he fails to perceive that inseparable connexion in every instance between sin and suffering which the three friends insisted on: the providence of God is not in fact administered on such a principle. The discussion between Job and his friends consists of three circles of speeches, (1) ch. 4–14; (2) ch. 15–21; and (3) ch. 22–31. Each of these three circles comprises six speeches, one by each of the three friends in succession, with a reply from Job. In the last round, however, Zophar, the third speaker, fails to come forward. This is a confession of defeat; and Job, left victor in the strife, resumes his “parable,” and carries it through a series of chapters, in which, with a profound pathos, he contrasts his former greatness with his present humiliation, protests before heaven his innocence of all the offences that have been insinuated or may be suggested against him, and adjures God to reveal to him the cause of his afflictions.

3. The speeches of Elihu, ch. 32–37. A youthful bystander, named Elihu, who had been a silent listener to the debate hitherto, here intervenes, not without manifold apologies for presuming to let his voice be heard in the midst of such wise and venerable counsellers, and expresses his dissatisfaction both with Job and his friends. He is shocked at Job’s impious demeanour and the charges which he has made against God, and indignant with the three friends because they have allowed themselves to be brought to silence by Job, and failed to bring home to him the wrong against God of which he has been guilty. Job ought not to have been allowed to carry off the victory: he may be shewn to be in the wrong, though with different arguments from those employed by the three friends. Elihu then in a long discourse expresses his abhorrence of the sentiments uttered by Job, controverts his views in regard to God’s providence and the meaning of afflictions, and on this latter point suggests a theory in some respects different from that advanced by Job’s friends.

4. The speeches of the Lord out of the storm, ch. 38–42:6. In answer to Job’s repeated demand that God would appear and solve the riddle of his life, the Lord answers Job out of the storm. The answer is altogether unlike what Job had expected. The divine speaker does not condescend to refer to Job’s individual problem, He makes no charge of sin against his former life, and gives no account of his afflictions. The intellectual solution of problems can never be the question between Jehovah and His servants; the question is the state of their hearts towards Himself. He asks of Job, “Who am I?” and “What art thou?” In a series of splendid pictures from inanimate creation and the world of animal life He makes all the glory of His Being to pass before Job. Job is humbled and lays his hand upon his mouth in silence; such thoughts of God as he had never had before fill his heart; his former knowledge of Him was like that learned from hearsay, dim and imperfect, now he saw Him eye to eye, and he repents his former words and demeanour in dust and ashes.

5. The epilogue, also in prose, ch. Job 42:7-17. This describes how Job, having thus humbled himself before God, is restored to a prosperity double that which he enjoyed before; his former friends and acquaintances again gather around him; he is anew blessed with children; and dies, old and full of days.

With the exception of the discourses of Elihu, the connexion of which with the Poem in its original form may be liable to doubt, all these five parts appear essential elements of the work as it came from the hand of the author, although it is possible that the second and fourth divisions may betray in some parts traces of expansion by later writers.


The Nature of the Composition

Under the enquiry as to the nature of the composition two questions may be embraced: (1) the question, Is the Book historical, or is it a pure creation of the mind of the writer? and (2) the question, To what class of literature does the Poem belong? may we call it a drama, or assign it to any understood class of writing?

On the former question various opinions have prevailed and are still entertained. (1) The Book has been considered by some to be strictly historical, both in the narrative and poetical portions. (2) Others have maintained a view directly opposed, regarding the work as wholly unhistorical and in all its parts a creation of the Poet’s mind, and written with a didactic purpose. (3) And a third class assumes a middle position between these two extremes, considering that, though mainly a creation of the author’s own mind, the Poem reposes on a historical tradition, which the writer adopted as suitable for his moral purpose, and the outline of which he has preserved.

Among the Jews in early times the Book appears to have been considered strictly historical. This was probably the opinion of Josephus, who, though he does not quote Job in any of his works[1], appears to embrace it among the thirteen prophetical books forming one division of his Canon[2]. The same was the generally received opinion among the Rabbinical writers. There were exceptions, however, even anterior to the age of the Talmud. A certain Rabbi Resh Lakish sitting in the school before Samuel bar Nachmani gave expression to the opinion that “a Job existed not, and was not created; he is a parable.” To this Bar Nachmani replied, “Saith not the scripture, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job?” Resh Lakish answered, “But how is it then with that place 2 Samuel 12:3, The poor man had nothing, save one little ewe-lamb which he had bought, &c.? What is that but a common similitude? and so Job is a simple parable.” Bar Nachmani could but reply that not only the name of Job but that of his country was mentioned, an answer that probably did not go far to convince his opponent[3]. Resh Lakish was most likely not alone in his opinion, though his view appears to have given scandal to others. A later scholar, Rabbi Hai, the last who bore the title of Gaon (died 1037), maintains that the Talmudic passage reads, “Job existed not and was not created except in order to be a parable (or type, i. e. a model to the children of men), for that he actually existed the passage of scripture proves” (Ezekiel 14:14) [4]. With this view Rashi agrees, and Ibn Ezra in the beginning of his commentary refers to the passage in Ezekiel as evidence that Job was a real person. Maimonides (died 1204) refers to the difference of opinion existing on the question whether Job was “created,” that is, was a real person, and advances the opinion that “he is a parable meant to exhibit the views of mankind in regard to providence[5].” The historical existence of Job appears thus to have been to some extent an open question among the Jewish scholars, though probably up to recent times the belief that the Book was strictly historical continued to be the prevailing one.

[1] Bleek, Introduction, 2. p. 309.

[2] Contra Apion. Job 1:18.

[3] Talmud, Baba Bathra, fol. 15, in Magnus, Comm. on Job, p. 298.

[4] Ewald and Dukes, Beiträge, 2. p. 166.

[5] Moreh Nevochim, part 3. ch. 22.

The same appears to have been the general view of Christian writers up till the time of the Reformation, when Luther with his usual freedom and sound instincts expressed another opinion. The Reformer was far from denying the existence of Job himself, nor did he doubt that there was history in the Book; it was history, however, poetically idealised. In his Table-talk he expresses himself to that effect: “I hold the Book of Job to be real history; but that everything so happened and was so done I do not believe, but think that some ingenious, pious and learned man composed it as it is[6].” Even during the preceding centuries some dissentient voices had let themselves be heard. More than a thousand years before Luther’s day a much freer judgment than his had been passed upon the Book by Theodore bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia (died 428), a great name in the Antiochean school of Exegesis, and a man who resembled Luther in some points, especially his free handling of the Canon, though he was without the Reformer’s geniality and sound hermeneutical instincts. Theodore, equally with Luther, believed in the existence of Job himself, but he regarded the Book as a fiction, written in imitation of the dramas of the heathen by an author familiar with the Greek wisdom, and nothing short of a slander upon the godly Patriarch. The dialogue between the Almighty and Satan in the Prologue gave offence to Theodore; but much worse was what he found in the Epilogue, where according to the Sept., from which alone the bishop derived his knowledge of the Book, Job names his third daughter “Horn of Amalthea” (see on ch. Job 42:14). Such a name must have been invented by the author of the Book from love to the heathen mythology, for what could an Idumean like Job know of Jupiter and Juno and the heathen gods? And if he had known would he have bestowed upon a child given him in such circumstances by God a name borrowed from the history of the deities of Greece, or thought it any distinction to her? The whole cast of the Book, however, gave offence to Theodore, as injurious to Job, a godly man whose history was in every mouth and known far beyond the borders of Israel, and whose fame the Prophet (Ezekiel) had further enhanced. Hence he condemned alike the irreverent language put into Job’s mouth, the unjust attacks made on him by his friends, and the injurious and insulting speeches of Elihu. The whole, in his opinion, gave a distorted view of Job’s character, detracted from the moral value of his history, and gave occasion to blame not only the pious sufferer but also the Book[7]. Theodore, though not without insight, as his rejection of the headings to the Psalms indicates, was apt to be hasty and narrow in his judgments. His views naturally compelled him to remove the Book of Job from the Canon. Though condemned as a heretic after his death, the censure does not seem to have fallen upon him for his critical opinions; he fell under suspicion from his exegetical writings, in which the seeds of the Nestorian heresy were detected, as some of the chief adherents of that error were his pupils and friends.

[6] Works, Walch, xxii. p. 2093. The passage appears to exist under various forms.

[7] Kihn, Theodor von Mopsuestia, p. 68 seq.

The comparatively free judgment of Luther regarding the Book naturally gave a handle to the Catholics which they were not slow to seize, and was not appreciated by Protestant writers in the succeeding ages. In his Commentary concerning the Antiquity, &c. of the History of Job (1670) Fred. Spanheim maintains that if Job be not history it is a fraud of the writer, ni historia sit, fraus scriptoris. Such a judgment would condemn as wilful frauds not only the majority of modern compositions but the dramas and parabolic writings of all ages. It is hard to see even how an exception could be made in favour of the parables of our Lord. Happily a juster conception of the nature of scripture now prevails, and we are prepared to find in it any form of literary composition which it is natural for men to employ. The view of Spanheim was shared by Albert Schultens, and defended by him in various writings, particularly in his great Commentary on Job (1736). Schultens was prepared to accept even the speeches of Job and his friends as literal transcriptions of what was said, appealing to the remarkable skill in improvising at all times exhibited by the Arabs and other Eastern peoples. The same opinion was maintained by J. H. Michaelis, professor at Halle (died 1738). According to him Job was descended from Nahor, and everything narrated in the Book is literal history, as taught in James 5:11—notwithstanding the Talmud, the Rabbins and Luther. The Patriarch lived between the death of Joseph and the Exodus; and the Book was written by Moses in Midian[8].

[8] Adnotationes in Hagiog. Vet. Test. Libros, vol. ii. p. 5 seq.; comp. Diestel, Hist. of the O. T. in the Christian Church, p. 417.

Yet even those times were not left without a witness in favour of different views. Grotius (died 1645) reproduced the opinion of Luther that the history in Job was poetically handled, res vere gesta, sed poetice tractata. And another Michaelis, John David, grand nephew of John Henry and the most distinguished of his name, professor of Oriental Languages at Goettingen (1750), expressed a judgment regarding Job very different from that of his older relative, and one which shews that critical opinions are scarcely subject to the law of heredity. According to him Job is a pure poetical creation: “I feel very little doubt that the subject of the poem is altogether fabulous, and designed to teach us that ‘the rewards of virtue being in another state, it is very possible for the good to suffer afflictions in this life; but that, when it so happens, it is permitted by Providence for the wisest reasons, though they may not be obvious to human eyes[9].’ ” The rise in this age of the critical spirit, which indeed had been partially awakened to life in the preceding century by the publication of Richard Simon’s Critical History of the Old Testament (1678), naturally led to free discussion of the Book and prepared the way for the comparatively unanimous verdict regarding it of modern times. The history of this discussion need not be pursued here. There are perhaps few scholars now who consider the Book strictly historical in all its parts. The prevailing view, which is no doubt just, is that it reposes on a historical tradition, which the author has used and embellished, and made the vehicle for conveying the moral instruction which it was his object to teach. There are still some, however, who regard the Poem as wholly the creation of the author’s invention; and this view is not confined to any critical school, for it numbers among its adherents men so widely apart from one another in their critical positions as Hengstenberg and Reuss.

[9] See his note in Gregory’s Trans. of Lowth on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, Lect. 32. Lowth himself (1753) adhered to the view of Luther and Grotius.

That the Book is not literal history appears, (1) from the scenes in heaven exhibited in the Prologue (ch. 1, 2), and from the lengthy speeches put into the mouth of the Almighty (ch. 38. seq.). (2) From the symbolical numbers three and seven used to describe Job’s flocks and his children; and from the fact that his possessions are exactly doubled to him on his restoration, while he receives again seven sons and three daughters precisely as before. (3) From the dramatic and ideal nature of the account of the incidence of Job’s calamities (ch. Job 1:13 seq.), where the forces of nature and the violence of men alternate in bringing ruin upon him, and in each case only one escapes to tell the tidings. (4) From the nature of the debate between Job and his friends. Both the thought and the highly-wrought imagery of the speeches shew that, so far from possibly being the extemporaneous utterances of three or four persons casually brought together, they could only be the leisurely production of a writer of the highest genius.

On the other hand, it is probable that the Book is not wholly poetical invention, but that it reposes upon a historical tradition, some of the elements of which it has preserved. (1) The allusion of the prophet Ezekiel to Job, where he mentions Noah, Daniel and Job (ch. Job 14:14), appears to be to a tradition regarding him rather than to the present Book. The prophet’s knowledge of Daniel must have been derived from hearsay, for the present book of that name cannot have been known to him. And the manner of his allusion suggests that the fame for piety of the three men whom he names was traditional and widely celebrated. (2) Pure literary invention on so large a scale is scarcely to be looked for so early in Israel. Even considerably later the author of Ecclesiastes attaches his work to the name of Solomon; and later still the author of the book of Wisdom does the same. (3) The author of Job has a practical object in view. He does not occupy himself with discussing theories of providence that have only philosophic interest. He desires to influence the thought and the conduct of his generation. And this object would certainly have been better gained by making use of some history that lay slumbering in the popular mind, the lesson of which, when the story was awakened and set living before men, would commend itself more to the mind from not being altogether unfamiliar.

When we enquire, however, what elements of the Book really belong to the tradition, a definite answer can hardly be given. A tradition could scarcely exist which did not contain the name of the hero, and the name “Job” is no doubt historical. A mere name, however, could not be handed down without some circumstances connected with it; and we may assume that the outline of the tradition included Job’s great prosperity, the unparalleled afflictions that befell him, and possibly also his restoration. Whether more was embraced may be uncertain. A vague report may have floated down that the mystery of Job’s sufferings engaged the attention of the Wise of his country and formed the subject of discussion. It may also be argued that no reason can be suggested for making Uz the country of Job unless there was a tradition to that effect; and that the names of his friends, having nothing symbolical in them, must also belong to the story. This is doubtful. Eliphaz is an old Idumean name, and Teman was famed for wisdom; and “Eliphaz of Teman” might suggest literary combination. The other two names, not occurring again, do not awaken the same suspicions. They might be part of the tradition; but it is equally possible that they are names which the author had heard among the tribes outside of Israel. Even more liable to doubt is the episode of Job’s wife, and the malady under which the Patriarch suffered. We can observe three threads running through the Book. One is that of the original tradition; another is the poetical embellishment of this tradition in the Prologue and Epilogue, Job being still treated as an individual. To this belong, for example, the names of Job’s daughters, a touch of singular geniality from the hand of a writer who employs such sombre colours in the rest of the Book, and shewing that though crushed under the sorrows of his time he was not incapable on occasions of rising above them. In many places, however, Job appears to outgrow the limits of individual life; his mind and language reflect the situation and feelings of a class, or even of a people. He is the type either of the class of suffering righteous men, or of that afflicted, godly kernel of the people (Isaiah 6:13), to which the nationality of Israel was felt still to adhere, and which is known in the Exile under the name of the Servant of the Lord. The history of this suffering remnant under the trials of the Exile has not been written; but that it had a history, marked by great trials and great faith, commanding the attention and kindling the enthusiasm of prophetic men, appears abundantly from the latter part of the Book of Isaiah. It is not easy to say with any certainty to which of these three elements any particular episode or point in the Book ought to be referred. The story of Job’s wife may be thought to be just the kind of trait which the popular imagination would retain, or what is the same thing, which it would invent; the inference being that it should be considered part of the tradition. On the other hand, it is possible that her falling away under her sorrows may be but the reflection of the apostasy of many of the people under their trials, the sight of which put so severe a strain upon the faith of those still remaining true. And when we read in Deuteronomy, “The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt … the Lord shall smite thee in the knees and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head” (ch. Deuteronomy 28:27; Deuteronomy 28:35), and then in Job that Satan “went forth and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (ch. Job 2:7); and when further we find in Isaiah (ch. Isaiah 52-53) the Servant of the Lord represented as afflicted with leprous defilement, the impression can hardly be resisted that the three representations are connected together. Even in Deuteronomy the threat has ideal elements in it; in the Prophet the representation becomes wholly ideal; and the same is probably the case also in the Poet. In Deuteronomy the subject threatened is the people of Israel; in Isaiah the subject is the same, though with the modifications which history since the Exile had introduced, being the godly kernel of the people in captivity, to which the nationality and name and idea of Israel still belonged. And though we may not go so far as to say that Job is Israel or the Servant of the Lord under another name, it can scarcely be doubted that the sufferings of Israel are reflected in those of Job, and that the author designed that the people should see their own features in his, and from his history forecast the issue of their own. These are considerations that make us hesitate to regard Job’s malady as part of the tradition regarding him, even though that view be supported by names so distinguished as that of Ewald.

The Book of Job has been called an Epic by some, by others a Drama, or more specifically a Tragedy, and by others still a Didactic Poem. That the Poem has a didactic purpose is unquestionable. It is equally evident that it contains many elements of the drama, such as dialogue, and a plot with an entanglement, development and solution. The action, however, is internal and mental, and the successive scenes are representations of the varying moods of a great soul struggling with the mysteries of its fate, rather than trying external situations. Much in the action may rightly be called tragic, but the happy conclusion is at variance with the conception of a proper tragedy. Any idea of representing his work on a stage never crossed the author’s mind; his object was to instruct his countrymen and inspire them with hope in the future, and it is nothing to him that he detracts from the artistic effect of his work by revealing beforehand in the Prologue the real cause of Job’s afflictions, the problem which is the subject of the dialogue, and the cause of the successive tragic phases of Job’s feeling, in which the action chiefly consists. A more skilful artist according to western ideas might have concealed the explanation of Job’s afflictions till the end, allowing it to transpire perhaps in the speeches of the Almighty. If he had allowed God to explain to Job the meaning of the sufferings with which He afflicted him, whatever addition to his literary renown he might have won, the author would have shewn himself much less wise and true as a religious teacher, for the experience of men tells them that they do not reach religious peace through the theoretical solution of the problems of providence; the theoretical solution comes later, if it comes at all, through their own reflection upon their history and the way in which God has led them. And if Job ever knew the meaning of his afflictions he learned it in this way, or he learned it through the teaching of some other man wiser than himself, as we have learned it from the author of this Book.

The Book of Job can hardly be named a drama, though it may justly be called dramatic. The dramatic movement is seen in the varying moods of Job’s mind, and in his attitude towards Heaven. The dialogue with his friends partly occasions these moods and partly exhibits them. The progressive advance of the debate, however, is not to be considered as constituting the dramatic action. The commencement, culmination, and exhaustion of the debate do not run parallel with the rise, the increase and climax, and the composure of Job’s perplexity of mind and war with Heaven. It is in the latter that the dramatic movement lies, in which the debate is a mere episode, for the state of Job’s mind, twice signalised in the Prologue, lies before it, and the perfect composure to which he is brought by the divine speeches lies far behind it. Such a representation therefore as that of Delitzsch can hardly be accepted, who says “the Book of Job is substantially a drama, and one consisting of seven divisions: (1) ch. 1–3, the opening; (2) ch. 4–14, the first course of the controversy, or the beginning of entanglement; (3) ch. 15–21, the second course of the controversy, or the increasing entanglement; (4) ch. 22–26, the third course of the controversy, or the increasing entanglement at its highest; (5) ch. 27–31, the transition from the entanglement to the unravelling; (6) ch. 38–42:6, the consciousness of the unravelling; (7) ch. Job 42:7 seq., the unravelling in outward reality”.[10] This representation confuses two things quite distinct, and which do not move parallel to one another, namely the gradual thickening of the conflict between Job and his friends, ending at last in their directly imputing heinous offences to him, and the religious tension of Job’s mind under his trials. It is not till the last round that the climax of the debate is reached (ch. 22), but the perplexity and violence of Job attain their height in the first round (ch. 9–10). Already in ch. 14. the strain is considerably relieved, and it decreases still more in the speeches culminating in ch. 19, being wholly removed by the interposition of the Almighty.

[10] Trans, i. p. 15.


The Idea and Purpose of the Book

The Book of Job, as we possess it, conveys the impression that it is a finished and well-rounded composition. Its form, Prologue, Poem and Epilogue, suggests that the writer had a clear idea before his mind, which he started, developed and brought to an issue in a way satisfactory to himself. The Book has not the appearance of a mere fragment, or what might be called a contribution to the ventilation of a great problem, on which the author feels that he has something that may be useful to say, though nothing very definite or final; although this is a view of the Book that some have taken. The author being assumed, however, to have a distinct idea, this idea still remains so obscure, and the question, What is the purpose of the Book? has been answered in so many ways, that a judgment regarding it must be put forth with the greatest diffidence. Almost every theory that has been adopted has found itself in collision with one or more of the parts of which the Book now consists, and has been able to maintain itself only by sacrificing these parts upon its altar. With the exception of the speeches of Elihu there is no great division of the Book to which valid objections can be made, except on the ground that it does not harmonise with the idea of the Poem. The Elihu speeches occupy their right place between the discourses of the friends and the answer of Jehovah. They maintain the ground of the former, though they perhaps advance and refine upon it; and they prepare for the speeches of the Almighty, being the expression from the reverent religious consciousness of man of that which the Almighty expresses, if such language may be used, from His own consciousness of Himself. Whether, therefore, these speeches be held original or considered a later insertion they import no new principle into the Book, and may be neglected when the general conception of the Poem is being sought for. It seems fair, however, to take into account all the remaining divisions of the Book.

1. Though the author of the Book does not identify himself with Job, whom, on the contrary, he allows to assume positions which are extreme, and to utter language which is unbecoming, Job is undoubtedly the hero of the piece, and in the sentiments which he expresses and the history which he passes through combined, we may assume that we find the author himself speaking and teaching. Even the exaggerated sentiments which he allows Job to utter are not to be considered mere extravagances; they are not incoherencies which Job flings out in one line, and retracts in the next; they are excesses, which men under trials such as he suffered are driven to commit, and with which the author, amidst the questionings in regard to providence which the terrible sufferings of the time forced on men, was no doubt too familiar, if he had not himself perhaps fallen into them; and as we observe Job’s mind gradually and naturally approaching the state in which he commits them, so we see it naturally recovering its balance and effecting a retreat. The discussion of the question of suffering between Job and his friends runs through a large part of the Book (ch. 4–31), and in the direction which the author causes the discussion to take we may see revealed one of the chief didactic purposes of the Poem. When the three friends, the representatives of former theories of providence, are reduced to silence and driven off the ground by Job (ch. 21, 23, 24), we may assume that it was the author’s purpose to discredit the ideas which they support. The theory that sin and suffering are in all cases connected, and that suffering cannot be where there has not been previous sin to account for the measure of it, is a theory of providence which cannot be harmonised with the facts observed in the world. Job traverses this theory on both its sides. He himself is an instance of suffering apart from previous sin; and the world is full of examples of notoriously wicked men prospering and being free from trouble till the day of their death. Job offers no positive contribution to the doctrine of evil; his position is negative, and merely antagonistic to that of his friends. Now without doubt in all this he is the mouthpiece of the author of the Book.

Is it natural now to suppose that the author contemplated only this negative result? Would he have thought his task sufficiently fulfilled by pulling down the old fabric under which men had found friendly shelter and comfort for ages, and strewing its ruins on the ground, without supplying anything in its place, beyond perhaps the good advice which he is supposed to give in ch. 38 seq.? So far as the rest of the Poem is concerned no further light is cast on the question. Job is left in darkness, and the divine speeches do not touch the point. The author exhibits Job reaching the conclusion that the righteousness of God, as he in common with his friends had always understood it, cannot be detected in the world as God actually rules it. And he exhibits the terrible perplexity into which the discovery threw him. To miss God’s righteousness in the world was equivalent to missing it in God Himself, and Job’s idea of God threatened to become wholly transformed. He is filled with terror and despair, and in his wrestling with the question he forces his way across the confines of this world, and first demands (ch. Job 14:16-17) and then assures himself (ch. 19) that, if not in his life here, beyond his life here, God’s righteousness shall be manifested. By allowing Job to rise to such a thought the author probably meant to signalise it as one of the solutions to which men or himself had been forced. But the time was not yet come, and the darkness that overhung all beyond this life was too thick for men to find repose in this great thought. Hence Job is made to renew his demand for a solution in this life of the riddle of his sufferings (ch. Job 31:35-37). Does then the author offer no solution? He does not, and no solution is offered to us, unless the Prologue supplies it. This passage, however, when naturally read, teaches that Job’s sufferings were the trial of his righteousness. If then we bring the Prologue and the debate into combination we perceive that it was the author’s purpose to widen men’s views of God’s providence, and to set before them a new view of suffering. With great skill he employs Job as his instrument to clear the ground of the old theories, and he himself brings forward in their place his new truth, that sufferings may befall the innocent, and be not a chastisement for their sins but a trial of their righteousness.

This may be considered one great purpose of the Book. This purpose, however, was in all probability no mere theoretical one, but subordinate to some wider practical design. No Hebrew writer is merely a poet or thinker. He is always a teacher. He has men before him in their relations to God. And it is not usually men in their individual relations, but as members of the family of Israel, the people of God. It is consequently scarcely to be doubted that the Book has a national scope. The author considered his new truth regarding the meaning of affliction as of national interest, and to be the truth needful to comfort and uphold the heart of his people in the circumstances in which they were.

2. But the direct teaching of the Book is only half its contents. It presents also a history—deep and inexplicable affliction, a great moral struggle, and a victory. Must not this history also be designed to teach? Is it not a kind of apologue the purpose of which is to inspire new conduct, new faith, and new hopes? In Job’s sufferings undeserved and inexplicable to him, yet capable of an explanation most consistent with the goodness and faithfulness of God, and casting honour upon His faithful servants; in his despair bordering upon apostasy, at last overcome; in the higher knowledge of God and deeper humility to which he attained, and in the happy issue of his afflictions—in all these Israel may see itself, and from the sight take courage, and forecast its own history. What the author sets before his people is a new reading of their history, just as another new reading is set before them by the Prophet in the latter part of Isaiah. The two readings are different, but both speak to the heart of the people. Job, however, is scarcely to be considered Israel, under a feigned name. He is not Israel, though Israel may see itself and its history reflected in him. It is the elements of reality in his history common to him with Israel in affliction, common even to him with humanity as a whole, confined within the straitened limits set by its own ignorance; wounded to death by the mysterious sorrows of life; tortured by the uncertainty whether its cry finds an entrance into God’s ear; alarmed and paralysed by the irreconcileable discrepancies which it discovers between its necessary thoughts of Him and its experience of Him in his providence; and faint with longing that it might come unto His place, and behold Him not girt with His majesty but in human form, as one looketh upon his fellow—it is these elements of truth that make the history of Job instructive to the people of Israel in the times of affliction when it was set before them, and to men in all ages[11].

[11] Encyclop. Britann. Art. “Job.”

The manifold theories of the purpose of the Book that have been put forth cannot be mentioned here. The construction of Ewald, brilliant and powerful though it be, has not been accepted by any other writer. Bleek, unable to find any single idea giving unity to the Book, contents himself with stating three truths which the Book appears to teach. (1) That even a pious man may be visited by God with heavy and manifold afflictions without it being necessary to consider these as punishment on account of special sinfulness and as a sign of special divine displeasure; that it is wrong to reproach such a one with his sufferings as if they had their origin in the divine displeasure, seeing they may rather be inflicted or permitted by God in order that his piety may be tried and find suitable opportunity of approving itself (Prologue). (2) That it is foolish presumption on the part of men to strive with God on account of the sufferings befalling them, and to seek to call Him to a reckoning, seeing no man is in a position to fathom the wisdom and counsel of God, man’s true wisdom being rather to fear the Lord and eschew evil (Poem). (3) That Jehovah will at last surely have compassion on the pious sufferer and bless and glorify him, if he perseveres in his piety and cleaves to God, or if, having transgressed in his impatience, he repents (Epilogue) [12].

[12] Introduction, 4 Ed. p. 534, Trans. 2. p. 277.

An attractive theory, in some degree a modification of that of Hupfeld and others, has more recently been put forth by some acute writers in Holland. It is to the effect that the author’s design is merely to cast some light upon an acknowledged problem. The problem is the sufferings of the innocent—how they are to be reconciled with the righteousness of God. This problem is presented in the Prologue, which exhibits a righteous man subjected to great calamities. The Prologue gives no explanation of these calamities; Job’s demeanour under his successive troubles merely shews his rectitude: here is undoubtedly a righteous man. In Job’s person the problem is embodied and presented. Even the debate between him and his friends has no further effect or purpose than to set the problem in a strong light. The friends attempt an explanation of Job’s afflictions, and if they had succeeded the problem would have been at an end. By their failure it is only seen more clearly to be a problem. Job contributes no solution, but his perplexity and despair and danger of apostasy shew how terrible the problem is. The whole point of the Book, therefore, lies in the divine speeches. All the rest is mere fact, or brilliant exhibition of a fact, that there is a terrible problem. The divine speeches do not solve the problem, for the problem is insoluble, but they give some satisfaction: they teach why it is insoluble, namely, because God and His ways are inscrutable. They say in effect two things: man cannot do what God does; and he cannot understand why He does what He does. And the conclusion is that nothing remains for him but acquiescence in the unsearchable providence of God. This is the great lesson which the author designed to teach his generation and mankind[13].

[13] Kuenen, Onderzoek, III. 125. More fully and genially Matthes in his excellent commentary, Het Boek Job, Deel I.

There are difficulties in the way of this theory. 1. Besides that the line of thought found in the Book is rather modern, the reader has difficulty in believing that the author’s purpose went no further than to present a problem, pronounce it insoluble, and recommend resignation. 2. The reading of the Prologue which finds in its language no explanation of Job’s afflictions is unnatural; and this reading of it leaves the function of the Satan entirely unexplained, who becomes a mere “evil spirit”, in no connexion with the providence of God. 3. According to this theory Job’s afflictions narrated in the Prologue, and these are all his afflictions, have merely the purpose of shewing his righteousness, which only comes to light by them. But in this way the author becomes guilty of a strange inconsequence. He meant to put forward the terrible problem of the sufferings of a righteous man; but these sufferings were necessary to shew that the man was righteous, and thus they are explained, and there is no problem. 4. The reading of the divine speeches is narrow and not natural. 5. The epilogue is an irrelevancy, or hangs in the loosest way to the Poem. It is added merely because “poetic justice” demanded it, or because the author “could not” let his hero die in misery, or for some similar sentimental reason.


The Integrity of the Book

With the exception of the speeches of Elihu there is none of the five great divisions of the Book (Introd. ch. 1) against which, as a whole, serious objection can be brought, though some portions of the second and fourth divisions may be liable to doubt. The idea or purpose of the Poem has been very differently understood, and objections to particular parts of the Book have generally arisen from the feeling that these parts were not in harmony with the idea of the author as the main body of the Poem revealed it. One of the latest writers on the Book has found it necessary to amputate every limb from the Poem, leaving it a mere trunk, consisting of ch. 3–31, and even this trunk is so misshapen that its shoulders are found in the region of its bowels[14].

[14] Studer, who brings forward ch. 29, 30. to the beginning of the Poem.

1. The Prologue and Epilogue

It may be remarked in general that without some introduction the discussion between Job and his friends would not have been intelligible, just as without some conclusion such as the Epilogue the Poem would have been left in a condition very unsatisfactory and incomplete. Some introduction and conclusion must have accompanied the Poem, and there is no evidence or probability that any others, different from those now found, ever existed.

1. Several of the objections urged against the Prologue and Epilogue are of no weight, such as the following: that the Prologue and Epilogue are written in prose, while the body of the Book is poetry; that the name Jehovah is employed in the Prologue while other names are used in the Poem; and that sacrifices are referred to in the Prologue and Epilogue but never in the body of the Book.

All narrative in Hebrew is in prose. The author writes in prose when introducing the speakers even in the body of the Poem, e.g. ch. Job 38:1. Even in the episode of Elihu the passage of some length (ch. Job 32:1-5) which brings that speaker upon the stage is prose. As to the divine names, the author, an Israelite, employs the name usual in Israel; the speakers whom he introduces, belonging to the patriarchal time, use the divine names more current then. That this is part of the antique disguise maintained by the author appears from his allowing the name Jehovah to escape from Job’s mouth on more than one occasion (ch. Job 1:21, Job 12:9), and from his own use of this name even in the Poem when introducing a new speaker (ch. Job 38:1). The sacrifice referred to in the Prologue and Epilogue is the patriarchal burnt-offering, and that Job himself offers it is in keeping with the usages of that early time. There is no evidence that the Prologue has a more ritualistic colour than the Poem, for even in the Poem priests (ch. Job 12:19) and vows (Job 22:27) are referred to.

2. Hardly of more consequence is the averment that the Prologue and Epilogue are in disagreement with the Poem, first, in regard to Job’s children, whom the Prologue represents as perishing, while in the Poem they are spoken of as alive; and secondly, in regard to the Almighty’s treatment of Job, whom He commends in the Epilogue, but severely blames in the Poem.

Not only in the Prologue but twice in the Poem Job’s sons are referred to as having perished (ch. Job 8:4, Job 29:5). The passage ch. Job 19:17 is of doubtful meaning (see notes). Even if we felt compelled to assume that the children of Job’s body there referred to were his sons, the writer would merely be guilty of an inconsequence (no great matter in a Poem which is not strict history), no inference could be drawn against the originality of the Prologue, because the same argument would remove two chapters from the Poem.

The Lord blames Job in the Poem (ch. 38. seq.) and commends him in the Epilogue (ch. Job 42:7). But He does not blame and applaud him at once and for the same reason. In the speeches out of the storm Job is reproved for the irreverence towards God into which he had been betrayed; and in the Epilogue he is commended for perceiving that the theory upheld by the three friends was no true theory of God’s providence as it is in fact administered, and for maintaining at all hazards and under every obloquy what he perceived to be the truth. Neither is there any weight in the allegation that Job’s unsubmissive behaviour in the Poem contradicts what is said of his godly patience in the Prologue. Job is able to exhibit pious resignation to the will of God on the first incidence of his calamities, but under the prolonged agony of his sufferings and in the sympathising presence of his friends he loses his self-control and breaks out into a despairing cry for death. The transition from the one mood to the other is made in the most natural manner.

3. Of more importance is the objection that the doctrine of the Satan in the Prologue belongs to an age later than that to which the Poem can be referred.

It is very difficult to say to what age the Poem ought to be referred. It is true that the name, the Satan, occurs here for the first time; that in 1 Kings 22:19, where a scene in heaven somewhat similar to that in the Prologue is presented, mention is made only of “the spirit”; and that in Zechariah 3, a post-exile writing, where the name again occurs, the Adversary performs a part very similar to that which he plays in Job, and probably the two books do not stand at a very great distance from one another. There is, however, a certain difference between the representations in Job and Zechariah. In the prophet the Satan appears in somewhat darker colours, and in somewhat stronger opposition to the merciful purposes of God in regard to men; hence while in Job he is merely reproached by God for setting Him on against His servant, he is rebuked by Him in Zechariah. We must be careful not to impose upon the Book of Job or this prophet conceptions belonging to a more advanced period. The Satan of these books is no mere “evil spirit,” the real enemy of God though His unwilling subject. There is no antagonism between God and the Satan. The idea that the “attacks of Satan are aimed primarily at the honour of God”; that his purpose is to deny that God is “ever disinterestedly served and sincerely loved by any being whatever”; and that “the object of the trial of Job is precisely to demonstrate to him the contrary[15]”—such an idea is altogether at variance with Old Testament conceptions. The Satan is the servant of God, representing or carrying out His trying, sifting providence, and the opposer of men because he is the minister of God; hence Job’s afflictions, represented as inflicted by the Satan in one place, are spoken of as due to the hand of God in another, “thou hast set me on against him to destroy him” (ch. Job 2:3), just as Job’s friends “came to condole with him over all the evil which the Lord had brought upon him” (ch. Job 42:11), and of course everywhere in the Poem the Almighty is assumed to be the author of Job’s calamities both by the sufferer and his friends. The angels and Satan among them are the ministers of God’s providence. The Satan being the minister of God’s trying providence, which is often administered by means of afflictions, it was an easy step to take to endow him with the spirit of hostility to man which such afflictions seemed to reflect. This step is taken in the Book, though not very decidedly. It was another and natural step to take, though in a somewhat different direction, to represent him as acting in opposition to the gracious mind of God towards men. This is little more than if a conflict had been imagined between God’s attribute of mercy and His resolution to try. A movement towards this step is made in Job, and a certain further advance in the direction is observable in Zechariah. But all this is very far short of a conflict between God and Satan. The Satan is a mere instrument in the economy of God’s providence, and though represented as a person, his personal standing is only of the slightest consequence. Hence he does not appear in the Epilogue. His part was, in the service of God, to try Job; that done he disappears, having no place assigned to him among the dramatis personæ of the Poem. There is nothing, therefore, in this conception of the Satan which implies a very late age, or which brings the Prologue into disagreement with the Poem.

[15] Godet, Biblical Studies, p. 229.

4. It is objected to the Prologue that it gives an explanation of Job’s calamities, while no such explanation is known in the Poem, being alluded to neither in the divine speeches nor those of any other speaker, nor yet even in the Epilogue; and that in fact the idea of an explanation of calamities such as Job’s is opposed to the whole drift of the divine speeches, which teach that God’s ways are inscrutable, and instead of offering an explanation to man demand from him submission and faith.

It is evident that this objection hangs by a particular conception of the idea or purpose of the Book. This idea is assumed to be revealed in the speeches of the Almighty, for no doubt the author puts into the mouth of the highest speaker the ultimate truth; and this truth is considered to be that just stated, namely, that God’s ways are incomprehensible, and that man must believe in His righteousness though he cannot perceive it, and find refuge from his doubts in faith. But first, this reading of the meaning of the divine speeches is certainly not natural; they have a broader purpose than to teach that God’s providence is inscrutable, or what does Job mean when he says, “Now mine eye seeth thee”? Does he mean that now he saw Him to be wholly incomprehensible? Secondly, the fact that in the Epilogue, which no one has ever doubted to come from the same hand as the Prologue, no reference is made to the cause of Job’s calamities, is a warning against making much of the silence of Job or the other speakers. How could they refer to the cause of Job’s sufferings of which they were entirely ignorant, and when their ignorance was the very condition of their disputing the question? The explanation of Job’s calamities is the secret of the author alone, and is the truth which he erects on the ruins of the old theory of providence, which he causes Job to demolish. And if Job’s afflictions were a trial of his righteousness, it belongs to the very idea of a trial that he should be in perplexity why he is afflicted. And thirdly, it would have been altogether unbecoming that God should enter upon a discussion of His particular providences with Job, and contrary to His manner of teaching men, which is not to communicate immediate intellectual light to them, but to fill their minds with such a sense of Himself that even amidst the darkness they will take their right place before Him. The object of the divine speeches is not primarily to teach, but to impress. The panorama of creation brings before Job’s mind so vividly what God is that he feels he now “sees” Him, and the sight leads him back to the position which he had been able to maintain at the end of each of his first trials; or perhaps with his higher knowledge of God and his deeper humility now attained his position was securer than before.

5. It is objected to the Epilogue that it is in contradiction with the Poem, because in crowning Job with a double prosperity the author falls back into the old doctrine of retribution, the falsehood of which is demonstrated in the Poem.

The author, however, does not desire to question the general doctrine of retribution, but to shew that there are cases or at least one case which it does not explain. He desires to add another explanation of afflictions to those existing.

If the drama be the trial of the righteous, the author must bring it to some conclusion. Job’s faith projected a vindication for himself after death, but it was impossible for the author, even if he had wished, to bring this to view. Such an idea as that which we now possess of “heaven” did not exist in his day. In the consummation of the Church’s history, when God and His people are in perfect fellowship, they are not translated into heaven to be with God, God comes down to earth and abides with men. The author had no stage for concluding his drama on the “other side.” The most that the efforts of pious spirits had attained in his day was in occasional flights of faith to pierce the darkness beyond this life, and assure themselves that their life with God here should not be interrupted there. But there was no such clearness of knowledge as to afford room for a scene between God and the pious soul. Job presented such a scene to himself as a necessity, because he was assured that he should die under his malady. The religious truth contained in Job’s anticipation the author causes to be realized, though he does it on this side of death.

Moreover, though Job be an individual, he is more than an individual. The national history reflects itself in his. And his restoration, if it was to set forth that of the people, must be to worldly prosperity.

2. The Passage ch. Job 27:7—ch. 28

This passage has been the source of great perplexity to commentators. The difficulties in connexion with it are two: first, to reconcile the sentiments expressed by Job in these two chapters with those expressed by him both before this passage and after it; and secondly, to discover any link of connexion between chaps. 27 and 28. On the one hand, while no doubt the state of Job’s feeling towards God fluctuates, or rather gradually changes, he consistently maintains throughout the same view of providence and the same opinion as to the issue of his own afflictions, and to impute to him contradictory extravagances, or as one writer says even “incoherences,” on these two points is out of the question. On the other hand, the reader is very averse to entertain the idea of a later addition to the Book at this point; any way of overcoming the difficulties that is possible is to be preferred.

In ch. Job 27:11 seq. Job undertakes to teach his friends regarding the fate of the wicked what they had always affirmed; and in giving them this lesson he entirely retracts what he had formerly said in regard to the prosperity of the wicked till their death, and expresses himself in a way which implies that at the moment he takes a view of his own sufferings different from the view taken by him both before this chapter and after it.

Three solutions of the difficulty have been proposed: (1) It has been thought that the speeches in this part of the book have suffered some dislocation, and that the passage in ch. 27, now attributed to Job, is really the missing third speech of Zophar. (2) Others think that in this passage Job is not expressing his own sentiments, but parodying or representing those of his friends,—“Why are ye thus altogether vain, saying, This is the portion of the wicked man with God” &c. (ch. Job 27:12 seq.). (3) The passage is a later insertion into the Book.

It may be confidently said that if the passage do not express the proper sentiments of Job there is no alternative but to consider it a later addition, from ch. Job 27:7 onwards. For as to (1), although the argument that the party addressed here is spoken to in the plural while Job is always addressed in the singular[16], may not go for much, as the statement is not quite exact (ch. Job 18:2-3, Job 25:4), the brevity of the speech put into Bildad’s mouth (ch. 25) shews that the author designed to indicate that the arguments on the side of the friends were exhausted; and therefore another reply from Zophar is not to be expected. This natural exhaustion of the controversy is what brings it to an end, not any modification of his views by Job, without which it has been said that it might have gone on for ever[17]. The dispute on the side of the friends comes to an end because they can find nothing more to urge against Job—such at least Elihu understands to be the state of the case (ch. Job 32:5); and it comes to an end before Job makes the modification which he is understood to make, for the place left vacant by the missing reply of Zophar lies between chaps. 26 and 27.

[16] Kuenen, Onderzoek, III. 143.

[17] Umbreit, quoted with approval by Delitzsch.

Then as to (2). The assumption that Job is here reciting the theories of his friends is supposed both to remove the difficulty of the language ch. Job 27:13 seq., and to afford a connexion with ch. 28, which then attaches itself to the words, “I will teach you concerning the hand of God” (ch. Job 27:11-12). There is nothing, however, in the passage to suggest that the sentiments are not those of the speaker himself. On the contrary, when he undertakes to teach concerning the hand of God, it cannot be doubted that the following verses contain the lesson, namely, God’s way of dealing with the wicked. If vv. 11–12 be connected with ch. 28 the teaching must be sought in that chapter. But there is really no teaching regarding the “hand” of God in ch. 28, though much regarding the ingenuity of men. The intermediate passage, ch. Job 27:13-23, hides the incongruity of this view; but if these verses be removed and ch. 28 read in connexion with ch. Job 27:11-12, what Job says to his friends is this: “I will teach you regarding the hand of God!—It is simply incomprehensible”!

In regard to (3) these remarks may suffice:—

1. Job’s protestation of innocence, ch. Job 27:2-6, is quite in place, but the connexion between vv. 2–6 and v. 7 seq. appears loose, and the change of tone in the two passages is difficult to account for (see on ch. Job 27:7).

2. The meaning suggested by vv. 7–10 is difficult to reconcile with the condition of Job at this stage of his history, or with the view which he takes of the meaning of his afflictions, and of the certain issue of them, both before and after the present chapter (see on ch. Job 27:10-12).

3. The supposition is made by most writers that in ch. Job 27:13 seq. Job is modifying his former extravagant expressions regarding the wicked, and conceding that as a rule they come to a disastrous end at the hand of God. The limitation, however, “as a rule” under which the passage has to be read is conveyed into it; the language is as absolute as that of Zophar or any of the three. Besides, far too much is made of the extravagances of Job. He has really nothing to retract except his unbecoming words in regard to God (ch. Job 40:3-5, Job 42:1-6). He never said anything so absurd as that the wicked were always happy, it was enough for his purpose to give instances of their happiness. His contention from beginning to end, stated with perfect plainness, ch. Job 21:22 seq., and ch. Job 24:1 with the illustrations that follow, was that in God’s rule of the world no clear distinction was to be observed between the lot of the righteous and that of the wicked. And it is the undoubted purpose of the author to allow Job successfully to maintain this contention. The consideration urged so universally that Job, though here modifying his former extreme statements about the felicity of the wicked, abates not one jot of his own claim to rectitude, is rather beside the point. It is not Job altogether but the author of Job with whom we have to do. Job is merely his instrument, and he has used him with the advance of the dispute to raise a much more general question than that involved in his own case, namely, the question of God’s providence on the whole as it is observed in the lot of men. Job’s innocence is merely one key of the situation, the prosperity of the wicked is the other; and it is highly improbable that the author should allow Job to evacuate either of his positions, for it is the maintenance of these very positions to which he sets the seal of God’s approval in the Epilogue (ch. Job 42:7 seq.).

Even assuming that Job should desire to modify his former language in regard to the wicked, his modification is now more exaggerated on the one side than his former statements were on the other. He is to the full

as extreme in submission

As in offence.

Ewald puts in a caution against taking the words “too slavishly.” But this representation of Job as indulging first on one side in extravagant language, which he retracts only to indulge in language more extravagant on the opposite side, can scarcely be true to the author’s conception. In addition, the language of ch. Job 27:13 seq. presents what might be called a psychological difficulty. When describing the fate of the wicked at God’s hand, Job uses the same figures and even the same words as he employs when speaking of his own destruction by God (see on ch. Job 27:21 seq.). There is something unlikely in this.

On the other hand, two things must be remembered: first, there is nothing in the literary character of the passage which suggests another speaker than Job; and second, it was not the author’s design to deny the doctrine of the retributive righteousness of God out and out, and he might have allowed Job to modify his statements.

Ch. 28 suggests some points for reflexion, apart from its loose connexion with ch. 27.

1. The Poet appears more conscious of his art here than the author of the preceding chapters has hitherto shewn himself to be, and we have a daintier piece of work from his hand than any we have yet met with. Job’s fierce moral earnestness, too, seems to have deserted him; he is diverted by the activities and ingenuities of mankind, while before he was fascinated by the overwhelming thought of God, and spoke of man chiefly as God’s terrible power exhibited itself upon him (ch. 9, 12 and often).

2. The meaning of the speaker here can be no other than that stated in the notes, namely that to understand the principles that rule in the world and the histories of men is beyond the reach of man’s mind. Man has his wisdom, which is to fear the Lord; that Wisdom, which is comprehension of the world, is beyond him. This is very unlike the spirit of Job. He shews no such contentment in the face of the problems of his history. He demands knowledge. He is a chained eagle, who spreads his wings and dashes himself against the bars of his cage; he would soar unto God’s place and pluck the mystery out of the darkness (ch. Job 23:3). And, though with less of passion, this continues to be his temper to the end (ch. Job 31:35 seq.). That he should here acquiesce in the incomprehensibility of God’s way and a little further on again demand to comprehend it is very strange.

3. Such a subdued and reflective frame of mind at this stage anticipates the effect produced by the manifestation of God and His words on Job (ch. 38 seq.), and it is hardly to be thought that the author would have allowed him to descend from his previous agitation into such calm apart from the influence of the Almighty’s interposition. Besides, the passage seems to go beyond the teaching of the divine speeches, for these hardly contain the formal doctrine of the inscrutableness of God’s ways, though they teach that submission to God is due from men even when they cannot comprehend them. And there is another point. The ironical tone of the divine speeches is unsuitable if adopted towards one in the frame of the speaker in this chapter. This tone is hard enough to understand in any case, but it is doubly hard if assumed towards one who avows with such devoutness his intellectual bankruptcy.

After all the efforts that have been made to relieve the difficulties of these two chapters they still to a considerable extent remain.

3. The Speeches of Elihu

A brief review of these speeches is necessary in order to understand the reasons that have been adduced for believing that the passage does not belong to the original cast of the Book. There are three points that require to be looked at: (1) the motive which Elihu has for speaking; (2) the position which he takes towards the three friends and their doctrine; and (3) the position which he takes towards Job and his sentiments.

(1.) That which moves Elihu to speak and the purpose he has in his discourses are described by the writer who introduces him, and repeated by himself. The three friends left off speaking because Job was right in his own eyes: they could not move him from his assertion that God afflicted him wrongly. Therefore the anger of Elihu was kindled against both Job and his friends—against Job because he made himself in the right at the expense of the rectitude of God; and against the friends because they had allowed themselves to be silenced, and had failed to convict Job of the wrong of which he was guilty against God. In other words, indignation at the position towards God which Job had assumed was what moved Elihu to speak, and of course the purpose of his speech was to shew Job to be in the wrong. His anger against the friends arose simply from their failing to do what they ought to have done. He was disappointed in their arguments; he had looked for something better from their gray hairs. He does not appear to express dissatisfaction with them on any other ground. Hence, after giving vent to his indignation that “they found no answer to condemn Job” (ch. Job 32:3), that “there was no answer in the mouth of these three men” (ch. Job 32:5; Job 32:12), and his astonishment that they had allowed themselves to be silenced by Job (ch. Job 32:15), and after excusing himself for venturing to let his youthful voice be heard among such venerable counsellors (ch. Job 32:6 seq.) he no more alludes to them. His contention is with Job alone, and his purpose is to justify God against his unbecoming charges.

Elihu is of a very devout nature; his reverence of God and awe and fear before Him are very great. It is this feeling that makes him come forward to meet the assertions of Job: he “will ascribe right to his Maker” (ch. Job 36:3). The irreverence of Job shocks him; the hardihood with which he confronts the Almighty marks him out to his mind as the most godless of men—“who is a man like Job, drinking in scorning like water”? (ch. Job 34:5-7). This feeling is not strange, for undoubtedly the speeches of Job exceed in boldness almost anything that has ever been written (ch. 7, 9–10). To judge Job fairly, it is true, his other expressions of ineradicable faith in God must be taken into account. But these being allowed their due weight, his language still remains an offence to reverent feeling. How much it does so in our own day may be inferred from the painful assiduity with which it is toned down in modern commentaries. This reverent sensitiveness in regard to God constitutes the chief charm of Elihu’s speeches, and the Book would be decidedly poorer for the want of them. At the same time the contrast between it and the spirit of Job’s speeches, in which the human conscience asserts its equality with God or even its superiority over Him, may suggest a doubt whether both conceptions be the creation of the same author. It is in this spirit of reverence that Elihu addresses himself to the refutation of Job’s charges. Hence he usually meets them first by an appeal to that which is “becoming” God, to the common reverent thoughts of Him inherent in the human mind. To Job’s assertion that God displayed an arbitrary hostility to him, he replies, “Nay, God is greater than man”; “God is great and despiseth not any” (ch. Job 33:12; Job 36:5, cf. Job 36:24-25, Job 37:24). But his whole contention with Job is in defence of God’s righteousness against his imputations. Having this great general object before him, Elihu does not enter much into Job’s circumstances. He makes a general question out of Job’s complaints, which he argues on general considerations. This is particularly the case in his first three speeches (see the headings to ch. 33, 34, 35); it is only in the last that his argument assumes a more directly practical tone.

(2.) So far as Elihu’s relation to the three friends is concerned, it is not easy to find any great difference between his conceptions and theirs, or almost any difference whatever in principle; and when his sharp censure of the friends is considered this apparent agreement with them in principle suggests the question whether his speeches have yet been clearly understood. Perhaps the explanation may be that to the ancient mind different details, which we should refer to one principle, may have seemed as large and distinct as different principles now do to us. 1. Elihu agrees with the three comforters, in opposition to the Prologue and Epilogue, in referring all suffering or affliction to sin. He quotes Job’s claims to innocence with marks of admiration (ch. Job 33:9-10), and says that “he adds rebellion to his sin,” for which he was afflicted (ch. Job 34:37). Any sufferings not having reference to sin he does not recognise. God afflicts, and if in the midst of affliction there be an angel to shew man “what is right,” then He is gracious and says, “save from going down to the pit,” and the ransomed sinner sings before men and says, I sinned and perverted right (ch. Job 33:23-27). Again, in another passage on affliction, it is said that God “sheweth unto them their (evil) deed, and their transgressions, that they deal proudly” (ch. Job 36:9). 2. Elihu agrees with the friends further in insisting on the rectitude of God, and on the principle that His dealings with men everywhere illustrate it: “Far be it from God that He should do wickedness, for the work of a man shall He render unto him, and cause every one to find according to his ways” (ch. Job 34:10-11). And if the prayer of the righteous be not answered it is because sin impairs its effect: “None saith, Where is God my Maker”! “Surely God heareth not vanity” (ch. Job 35:10-13). And again: “He preserveth not the life of the wicked, but giveth his right to the poor” (ch. Job 36:6). Though Elihu be in these passages defending the rectitude of God in general, he nowhere gives any intimation that he considers affliction employed by God except in connexion with sin. 3. Elihu is certainly also at one with the friends in his judgment on Job. Though in the main directing his attention to Job’s demeanour under his trials, he goes behind these when he says that Job adds rebellion to his sin (ch. Job 34:37), and when he represents God’s chastisements as meant to allure him out of the jaws of distress (ch. Job 36:16). He no doubt drew Job’s afflictions, for he must have explained them in some way, under his general principle, enunciated in his last speech, “if men are bound in the cords of affliction He sheweth unto them their deed and their transgressions, that they deal proudly” (ch. Job 36:9). And he is equally in agreement with the friends in regard to the issue of afflictions, which depends upon the sufferer’s behaviour under them: “If they hear, they spend their days in prosperity; if they hear not, they perish by the sword” (ch. Job 36:8-12). 4. Finally, Elihu is in agreement with the friends in regarding afflictions as chastisement, inflicted with the gracious design of weaning the sufferer from his evil (ch. 4, 5). This is the great purpose of God when speaking to men by or in afflictions: “Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of life” (ch. Job 33:29-30; cf. v. 19 seq.). If men are bound in the cords of affliction, God is shewing them their transgressions, and commanding them that they return from iniquity (ch. Job 36:8-10). And this is the meaning of Job’s distresses (ch. Job 36:16 seq.) and of God’s purpose in them—“Who is a teacher like Him”? (ch. Job 36:20-22).

It is at this last point that whatever difference exists between the views of Elihu and those of the three friends begins to appear. The difference does not amount to much, and is apt to be exaggerated. Elihu in propounding his views has not the friends but Job present to his mind, and his theory of suffering is intended to be set in contrast with what he conceives to be the tenets of Job. The latter had complained that God persecuted him and counted him as His enemy (ch. Job 19:11; Job 19:22); that He tore him in His anger (ch. Job 16:9), and had resolved upon his death (ch. Job 23:14, Job 30:23); in other words he regarded his afflictions as the expression of the divine wrath and meant for his destruction. The theory of Elihu meets this view directly in the face: affliction is the expression of the divine goodness, designed to save man’s soul from the pit (ch. Job 33:29 seq.), into which but for God’s gracious interposition his sins would have cast him. This, however, though in distinct opposition to Job’s contention, is virtually what the friends had always maintained. Their exhortations to Job all proceeded on the supposition that God was shewing His mercy towards him, and smiting only in order to heal. It is true that the friends, more and more convinced of Job’s sins by his hardened demeanour under his afflictions, tend to drift away from this position, and begin to express the fear that God’s final judgment on him may be visible in his calamities; yet they do not altogether desert their first ground, to which Eliphaz returns in his last speech (ch. 22). It is possible, however, that in one or two points Elihu makes an advance on the doctrine of the three. They appear to regard afflictions as always following sins committed, while he perhaps regards them as sometimes divine warnings to men against sins into which they are in danger of falling. In the one case suffering would be exclusively curative, in the other it might be preventive. This would certainly widen the idea of the friends by multiplying the points in the sinner’s life at which the divine interposition through affliction might fall. The passage (ch. Job 33:17) may express this idea: “that he may withdraw man from his deed, and hide pride from man”—the deed being only meditated or in danger of being perpetrated. The words, however, might bear the sense, “that man may put away a deed”; and in all the other passages where Elihu’s view is stated, the evil against which the sinner is warned by God appears to be already at least begun. The term “pride” might suggest to the reader that Elihu has a more inward conception of evil than the three friends, that while they speak of “sins” he refers to “sinfulness” of heart, and spiritual self-confidence and presumption. There may be something in this, but when Old Testament phraseology is considered there is less than might be supposed. “Pride, in the Old Testament, stands as the distinctive characteristic of ungodliness, in opposition to humility, the distinctive trait of true piety, nor is there anything to shew that it is used otherwise here (ch. Job 33:17). To ‘deal proudly’ (ch. Job 36:9) is to manifest in daring acts of rebellion against God the inward spirit of resistance to His will, a very different thing from a vain conceit of perfect conformity to it”[18]. In all this, therefore, Elihu occupies in principle the same ground with the friends, and his views may be regarded as the legitimate expansion of theirs.

[18] Conant, Job, Introd. p. xxvi.

In another point Elihu may differ from Job’s friends. His great principle that afflictions are the expression of God’s goodness seems to be a universal theory of providence, embracing the incidence of evil both on the righteous and the wicked. This idea may be closely connected with his profoundly reverential and devout conceptions of God. The point is not very clear, but he does not anywhere refer to afflictions which are strictly penal and intended to destroy; they become destructive only when the sinner “lays up wrath,” that is, rebels against them. The three friends, while taking this view of the afflictions of the righteous (ch. 4–5), insist upon a kind of calamity which in its first purpose is penal and judicial.

(3.) It has been seen that Elihu agreed with the other speakers in explaining Job’s sufferings by his sins (ch. Job 34:7-8; Job 34:36-37). In his reply to Job there are two things to be noticed, his arguments in behalf of the divine rectitude, and his positive explanation of the sufferings that befall men. The former are given chiefly in ch. 34–35; and the latter in ch. 33, 36 (see the headings to these chapters). His explanation of afflictions, as stated above, is to the effect, that they are the expression of the divine goodness, designed to warn men from their sin and save them from death. Along with this principle has to be taken the very interesting passage in ch. 35, in which an answer is given to the difficulty that the righteous often cry to God in vain. The answer is, that sin in them or in their supplication impairs its efficacy, and there is none that answereth. If now the two questions be put, Is this theory of affliction and of unanswered prayer a theory that will admit of universal application and comprehend every particular? and, Is there anything in what Elihu advances that ought to bring Job to silence or compose the troubles of his heart? an affirmative answer can hardly be given. The sinfulness of man is such that in a multitude or in the majority of cases afflictions may be supposed due to it, but the Prologue teaches that the connexion is not invariable. In a multitude of instances prayer may be unanswered because the suppliant prays amiss. But to say that this is always the case is extremely harsh, and is to measure providence by a very narrow gauge. The arguments of Elihu just like those of the three friends are general principles of wide application; they are considerations which if a man would weigh them and apply them to himself would perhaps prevent such complaints as those into which Job fell. But when put forth, as they are here, as an all-sufficient measure of God’s providence, they are obviously defective. Again, although the prominence given by Elihu to the goodness of God when He afflicts might have given another turn to Job’s thoughts, there is no reason why he should have acquiesced in Elihu’s view more than in that of the friends. For both views agreed in connecting his sufferings with his sin, and Job instinctively felt that he was not afflicted for his sin. If Elihu differs from the friends in considering affliction an instance of preventing grace, while they regarded it as a medicine intended to cure, the difference is not essential. There was no reason to suppose that Job meditated evil or was in danger of falling into it more than to suppose that he was already guilty of it. He would have resented the one insinuation as equally unjust with the other.

The arguments that have been used to shew that the episode of Elihu did not form part of the original Poem are chiefly the following:

1. That Elihu is unknown both to the Prologue and Epilogue.

2. That Job makes no reply to him.

3. That he addresses Job by name, and that his citations from the Book are so minute as to betray a reader of the Poem rather than a listener to the debate.

4. That his speeches destroy the connexion between the challenge of Job and the reply of the Almighty, and weaken the dramatic effect of the divine manifestation.

5. That the language of the piece betrays signs of deterioration, marking a later age; and that both Elihu and his speeches are characterized by a mannerism too great to be the creation of the author of the rest of the Poem.

6. That Elihu virtually occupies the same ground with the friends, and there is no probability that the original author would have created a fourth speaker to say in effect what the three had already said. And further that where Elihu differs from the friends it is rather in deeper reverence and a somewhat more advanced view of sin, both things betraying a later age, and suggesting that the original Book perplexed pious minds by its extraordinary boldness.

Some of these arguments have little weight, while others are of considerable force.

1. The argument that Elihu does not appear in the Prologue has little value. The author introduces the speaker with ample details when he has need of him, and certainly at the right place. He was not one of Job’s friends, calling for mention along with them, but a bystander. On the other hand, it is remarkable that his name does not appear in the Epilogue. It is urged that there was nothing in his discourses calling for mention: he did not discover the truth, and could not therefore be praised; but his views being just so far as they went, he could not be included in the censure pronounced upon the three friends. The answer is not quite satisfactory, for on that point in regard to which the friends are condemned for not speaking “that which was right” Elihu shared their opinions.

2. The author of the speeches of Elihu certainly means them to be such an answer to Job that he cannot reply to them (ch. Job 33:32, Job 34:35, Job 35:16, Job 36:4). The question is, Would the author of the rest of the Poem have regarded them as a conclusive answer to Job? This question, however, runs into objection 6.

3. There is not much weight in the argument that Elihu addresses Job by name, though the name of “Job” is certainly so often in his mouth as to constitute a peculiarity of his manner (ch. Job 33:1; Job 33:31, Job 34:5; Job 34:7; Job 34:35-36 &c.). Elihu interposes as a third party and addresses Job or speaks of him in distinction from the three friends. The other speakers do not do so, for they have not the same reason; and although the Lord does not appeal to Job by name in addressing him from the storm, He speaks of “my servant Job” when He has to distinguish him from the three friends (ch. Job 42:7-8). On the other hand, the full and verbatim reproduction of Job’s words at the head of the several speeches of Elihu does suggest that he was the reader of a book rather than the listener to a debate, though the argument does not amount to much.

4. The words of the Lord, “Who then is obscuring counsel by words without knowledge?” addressed to Job without naming him, naturally suggest that Job had just been speaking, or that the divine voice broke in upon him before he had ceased; they are not natural if Job had been long silent, while another speaker had been proceeding with a discourse extending through six chapters. The feeling has been expressed by some thoughtful writers that it would not have been becoming for the Lord to reply to Job’s challenge without the intervention of some pause. This observation may be perfectly just, but it does not meet the point of the objection, which is that the words of the Almighty suggest that the connexion between His reply and Job’s challenge was immediate. And perhaps if the author allowed Jehovah to reply to Job in any manner, he might not have been sensible of any incongruity in His replying immediately.

5. The body of the Poem, though undoubtedly exhibiting some Aramaisms, is comparatively pure in language and lucid in expression, notwithstanding the obscurity of a few passages, in some of which the text may probably be corrupt. The style is terse, nervous and pointed, and hardly anywhere marked by such breadth as to be enfeebled or become prolix. The speeches of Elihu are marked by a deeper colouring of Aramaic; are frequently very obscure; and not seldom descend almost to the level of prose. The touches of the author’s hand in the other parts of the Poem, particularly in the divine speeches, are easy, vigorous and graphic; in the speeches of Elihu the figures are laboured and the thought strained. Renan says, not without truth, that “in the other parts of the Poem the obscurity arises from our own ignorance; here it arises from the style itself”[19], though his further remark, that we might almost believe that Elihu’s speeches belong to a time when Hebrew had become a dead language, goes rather far. The difficulties of other parts of the Poem arise from the occurrence of words which, owing probably to the small compass of the literature, are not found again, and from allusions which we have not the means of understanding, such as the astronomical references in the speeches from the storm, though it must be confessed that some parts of ch. 30 are obscure for other reasons. In Elihu’s speeches there are not only unknown words, there is an unknown use of known words, as well as a manner of joining familiar words together to form phrases which have no parallel—in short, the author speaks a language which in some parts is not quite that of any other Old Testament writer.

[19] Le Livre de Job, Étude, p. 54.

The deeper Aramæan colour has been supposed intentional on the part of the author, who makes Elihu, “of the family of Ram,” speak a more decidedly Aramæan dialect than the others. It is not certain, however, that Ram is the same as Aram; and even if it were so, it is to ascribe to the author a proficiency in the dramatic art scarcely probable in his age, to imagine that he makes Elihu talk Aramæan as Shakespeare makes Captain Jamy talk something supposed to be Scotch. If this were the case, however, the older dramatist would appear to have the advantage of the modern one.

The circumstantial way in which Elihu is introduced (ch. Job 32:2) is unlike the curt and general statements regarding the other three speakers (ch. Job 2:11), and his somewhat self-confident and boisterous manner of comporting himself differs greatly from the bearing of Job’s other antagonists. This dissimilarity is so great as to suggest that Elihu is the creation of a writer of less severe taste and feebler dramatic power than the author of the other characters manifests. Some of those, indeed, who consider Elihu the creation of the original author suppose that he intended the character for a burlesque. But this is altogether improbable. When we consider the devout nature of Elihu, the purpose which he sets before him in his speeches, “to ascribe right to his Maker,” and the many lofty thoughts to which he gives expression in regard to God, it is impossible to believe that the original Poet, unparalleled for religious boldness though he be, would have set such a character upon the stage to play a burlesque part and provoke ridicule. This would have been to mock religion, when his design went no further than to shew the insufficiency of certain religious opinions current among men. The conclusion to which these objections have led the majority of modern writers on the Book is, that the author of the Elihu speeches was one who was not endowed with the brilliant powers of the writer who composed the body of the Poem, or, to use the more appropriate language of Delitzsch, that he was “one whose charisma did not come up to that of the older poet.”

6. If the analysis given above of the general meaning of Elihu’s speeches be moderately correct, this objection has considerable force. It is natural to suppose that in the three speakers whom he introduces, whether the number three be his own creation or came down to him in the tradition, the author found sufficient means for expressing all that he desired to bring forward on the side opposed to Job. It may be said that the three friends all advance one and the same opinion. This would only shew that this opinion was what the author intended to set forth in its most persuasive form, with the view of proving that even when presented to the best advantage it could not be sustained. At all events, a fourth speaker would be introduced only if he were to occupy ground entirely distinct from the other three. And it cannot be said that Elihu does so. See above, p. xlvi.

Some positive arguments have been presented in favour of the originality of the speeches of Elihu. It is argued, for instance, that the close and natural connexion between the last speech of Elihu and the answer of the Lord from the storm appears in this, that the rising thunder-cloud which Elihu graphically describes, and at the sound from which his heart leaps up out of its place, is just the storm out of which Jehovah speaks. If this were the case it might merely indicate that the later writer skilfully took advantage of the elements of the original poem to make a frame to set his own piece within. It is not certain, however, that Elihu in referring to the storm, has any thought of the storm out of which Jehovah speaks. If he had he ought to have closed his speech with the description of it, but instead of doing this he passes away from it to other celestial marvels, such as the balancing of the cloud, the sultry stillness of the earth from the south wind, the burnished summer sky like a molten mirror, and the dazzling light in the clear heavens (ch. Job 37:16 seq.).

What is really the greatest difficulty in the way of considering these speeches a later insertion is just one of the facts which has been adduced to shew that they are an insertion, namely the opposition between them and the Prologue. If Elihu spoke like the three friends in ignorance of the Prologue and the cause of Job’s calamities which it reveals, his position is natural. But if he was a reader of the Book, the way in which he completely ignores the Prologue with its view of affliction and substitutes a theory radically different is extraordinary. In such a case his censure would extend to the whole cast of the Book[20]. The motive of this censure might be twofold, namely, partly his profound conviction of the sinfulness and presumption of the human mind (too well illustrated in Job’s demeanour under his afflictions), which made him dislike the conception of a perfectly “righteous” man presented in the Book; and partly his exalted idea of the goodness of God, which could not reconcile itself to the view that God might afflict a man merely to try his righteousness, and though He found no sinfulness in him.

[20] This is felt by Delitzsch, who characterizes his speeches as “less a criticism of Job than of the Book in general.” Art. “Hiob,” in Herzog.

The question certainly occurs to any reader of the Poem whether Job’s afflictions did not stand in some relation to his religious state. The Book itself suggests the question. When Job is represented as falling into sin, when he attains to a higher knowledge of God and a deeper humility, and when he is crowned with blessings twofold greater than he enjoyed before, all through his afflictions or in connexion with them, we can perceive that they served wider purposes than merely to try. The trials of the righteous are not mere barren experiments made on them by God for His own satisfaction, or that He may derive glory from their stedfastness to Him to the confusion of the powers of Evil, they are fruitful of good to the minds of those who are tried (Romans 5:3 seq., James 1:2; James 1:12). At the same time this view has not received much elaboration from the author of the Book, and, though it be the view to which our minds most readily turn, we must beware, when constructing a theory of the Book, of giving it greater prominence than the author has assigned it, and especially of allowing it to push his idea that Job’s afflictions were a trial altogether out of sight.

4. The Speeches of the Almighty

Objection has been taken to these speeches as a whole, and particularly to the long passage which describes Behemoth and Leviathan.

The passage referred to may raise some suspicions, but it may be said with certainty that the divine speeches belong to the original form of the Book, and that they come from the hand of the author of the Prologue. In fact, if we could obliterate from our minds the dialectical conflict between Job and his friends, and carry with us nothing but the general impression that under his prolonged sufferings Job had been betrayed into sinful murmuring against God and doubts of His righteousness and impatient demands to know the cause of his afflictions, we should be in the best position to understand the divine speeches, which would then follow the Prologue at an interval occupied by the impression produced on us by Job’s altered demeanour. At the end of his first trial the author says, “In all this Job Sinned not nor imputed wrong to God” (ch. Job 1:21). At the end of the second trial Job says, “We receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (ch. Job 2:10), and the author adds, “In all this Job sinned not with his lips.” Job’s reverent thought of God was such that amidst his complete darkness he let no murmur against Him escape his lips. This is what the author demands of men in the name of religion. This is the idea of true religion suggested by the suspicion of the Satan, namely, that men should cleave to God, from their sense of what God Himself is, though receiving nothing from His hand. As another sufferer expresses himself in circumstances similar to those of Job, “Nevertheless I am continually with thee. Whom have I in heaven? and on earth I desire nought beside thee” (Psalm 73:23-25). The following chapters exhibit Job drifting away from this position maintained on the first incidence of his calamities, wrestling with doubts of God’s righteousness, and ready to disown Him, though ever coming back to Him, and assured that His righteousness will yet reveal itself. It is the object of the divine speeches to bring Job back to that position which he was able to occupy at the beginning. Obviously, according to the author’s view of religion, this could be effected by nothing but a revelation of God, filling Job’s mind with such a sense of Him that he should quiet his heart before Him, even amidst the intellectual darkness that remained around him. Such a revelation of God is given in the divine speeches: “Now mine eye seeth thee!”

The objections that have been made to the long passage ch. Job 40:15 to Job 41:34, describing Behemoth and Leviathan, are briefly such as these: that the description of these animals would have been in place in the first divine speech beside the other animal pictures, but is out of harmony with the idea of the second speech; that the description swells the second speech to a length unsuitable to its object, which is fully expressed in ch. Job 40:6-14; and that the minuteness and heaviness of the representation betray a very different hand from that which drew the powerful sketches in ch. 38, 39.

The last-mentioned point is not without force. The rapid, light and expressive lines of the former pictures make them without parallel for beauty and power in literature; the two latter belong to an entirely different class. They are typical specimens of Oriental poems, as any one who has read an Arab poet’s description of his camel or horse will feel. These poets do not paint a picture of the object for the eye, they schedule an inventory of its parts and properties. So the poet of Leviathan says, “I will not be silent concerning his parts” (ch. Job 41:12). There is a certain awkwardness in these words, coming from the mouth of the divine speaker, which has led some scholars to miss here the artistic power and dexterity of the former poet. Other writers, however, are at a loss to find language to express their admiration of the beauty and poetical grace of these descriptions. The maxim, De gustibus, absolves from the obligation of arguing the point.


The Age and Authorship of Job

As there is nothing in the Book which fixes its date at once with certainty, a great variety of opinion has prevailed upon the question. There is almost no age of the world, from the patriarchal times down to the period after the Captivity, to which the Book has not been assigned. The juster conceptions, however, which now prevail regarding the history of Israel and the advancement in the ideas of the people, occasioned in part by the progress of this history and accompanying it, have considerably narrowed the limits within which such a work can reasonably be supposed to have appeared. And a more careful examination of the allusions which, in spite of the antique and patriarchal colour thrown over the Book, may be detected in it to the circumstances and events of later times, has still further reduced the range of plausible conjecture. The Book can hardly have been written before the decline and fall of the northern kingdom, nor later than the return of the exiles of Judah from Babylon.

The question of the age of the Book must not be confounded with that of the age of Job himself. Job is represented as living in the patriarchal times. The author has skilfully thrown the colours of this age over his composition and preserved its general features. Thus, though employing the Israelitish name Jehovah himself, he allows the speakers in the Book to use the divine names peculiar to patriarchal times, as El, Elóah (Arab. iláh, God), Almighty. No doubt he betrays his own nationality, which he has no desire to conceal, by letting the name Jehovah escape two or three times from the mouth of Job, in current formulas into which the name entered (ch. Job 1:21, Job 12:9; cf. Job 28:28). Again, like the great forefathers of Israel, Job is represented as rich in cattle and flocks (ch. Job 1:3, Job 42:12, comp. Genesis 12:16; Genesis 24:35; Genesis 26:13; Genesis 30:43). In like manner Job, the head of the family, is also its priest and offers sacrifice (ch. Job 1:5, Job 42:8; comp. Genesis 22:13; Genesis 31:54), although in another place he is made to say of God that “He leadeth priests away stripped” (ch. Job 12:19). Further, the sacrifice in use is the “burnt-offering”, as in ancient times, before the more developed ritual in Israel came into operation. The great age, too, to which Job attains is patriarchal (ch. Job 42:16; comp. Genesis 25:7; Genesis 35:28), though Bildad speaks as if the age of men of his day was greatly reduced in comparison with former standards (ch. Job 8:8). The money referred to is the ancient kesitah (ch. Job 42:11; comp. Genesis 33:19, Joshua 24:32); and the musical instruments named are the simple ones of primitive times (ch. Job 21:12, Job 30:31; comp. Genesis 4:21; Genesis 31:27). And, to mention no more, historical allusions of any directness are usually to the great events of the patriarchal world (ch. Job 18:15, Job 22:15 seq.).

Nevertheless, the features of the author’s own time may often be perceived beneath this patriarchal disguise. Job betrays familiarity with the Law, or at least with the social customs and moral ideas of Israel. When he refers in his speeches to pledges (ch. Job 24:9, see on Job 22:6), and to landmarks (ch. Job 24:2; comp. Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17, Hosea 5:10, Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:10); or when he alludes to judicial procedure against those guilty of special forms of idolatry, such as adoration of the sun and moon (ch. Job 31:26, comp. Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3-7, Ezekiel 8:16), or against those guilty of adultery (ch. Job 31:9, comp. Deuteronomy 22:22), the voice is the voice of a godly child of Israel although the hands may be those of a son of Edom. The allusions to judicial practices found only as legal enactments in Deuteronomy are remarkable. There is even verbal coincidence in the two passages, ch. Job 31:26 and Deuteronomy 4:19; and those who consider Deuteronomy a late book might feel justified in fixing the eighteenth year of Josiah (620) as the point above which the composition of Job cannot be carried[21]. At all events there is abundant evidence to shew that the age assigned to Job and the age of the author of the Book lie widely apart. The statements of Renan that “not one allusion is made to Mosaic customs, nor to beliefs peculiar to the Jews,” that “the atmosphere of the Book is not more specially Hebrew than Idumean or Ishmaelite,” and that “in a very real sense these precious pages have transmitted to us an echo of the ancient wisdom of Teman[22]”, are exaggerations and part of the romance with which this brilliant writer delights to invest the sacred subjects which he treats. The author of Job is a true Israelite, and betrays himself to be so at every turn, however wide his sympathies be with the life of other peoples, and however great his power of reanimating the past. The idea that the Poem is a production of the Desert, written in another tongue and translated into Hebrew, is more than destitute of a shadow of probability, it is absurd. The Book is the genuine outcome of the religious life and thought of Israel, the product of a religious knowledge and experience possible among no other people.

[21] Comp. Job 2:7 with Deuteronomy 28:35; Job 5:14 with Deuteronomy 28:29; Job 5:18 with Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 7:4 with Deuteronomy 28:67; Job 8:8 with Deuteronomy 4:32; Job 20:4 with Deuteronomy 4:32.

[22] Le Livre de Job, Étude, p. 16, 27.

The date of such a Book as Job, which deals only with religious ideas and general questions of providence, and contains no direct allusions to the events of history, can be fixed only approximately. Any conclusion on the subject can be reached only by an induction founded on matters that do not afford perfect certainty, such as the comparative development of certain moral ideas in different ages; the pressing claims of certain problems for solution at particular epochs of the history of the people; points of contact which the Book may offer with other writings the age of which may with more certainty be determined; and indirect allusions which may betray a condition of the national life known to be that of a particular period of its history. These are all lines of reasoning more or less precarious. Only when several of them unite in pointing to the same result can we feel much confidence in its justness. The comparison of passages in different books is apt to be rather barren of fruit. There is such a general unity of thought and language pervading the books of Scripture that similar expressions or even identical phraseology in two writers cannot in all cases be held evidence of literary dependence. The writers of Scripture are for the most part men of the people and speak the popular language, and the same phrase in several books may be original in them all. And even when we cannot escape the conviction that there is dependence, it is usually very difficult to decide which is the original and which the imitator. The argument, on the other hand, founded on the connexion of the thought and literature of Israel with the successive developments of its history, though still a delicate one, is more solid. The mind of the people was intensely national, and the spirit of its literature is for the most part national rather than individual. This is no doubt less true of the poetry and the wisdom. But the truth holds even of a very great part of the poetry, it reflects the consciousness of the nation; and it holds of the wisdom to this extent, that the vicissitudes of the people’s history suggested the successive aspects under which the questions reflected on by the Wise presented themselves to their minds.

The opinion expressed in the Talmud, and followed by some writers, that Moses was the author of Job is unworthy of any attention. The thin antique colour of the Book suggested to uncritical minds that it was an ancient composition, and such minds, impatient of uncertainty, everywhere seek to satisfy themselves by ascribing any great anonymous work to some well-known name. But the conjecture is more than improbable. It is the part of the founder of a constitution like Moses to project principles and ideas which are of general truth, and to sketch an outline which succeeding ages may be left to fill up; it is scarcely his part to subject the general principles upon which his constitution is founded to questionings which would undermine them, or to introduce alongside of them the modifications which future generations or society in altered conditions may find needful to make on them. Neither the author of the Law which describes God as “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 20:5), nor any of his contemporaries was likely to have written the words of Job (ch. Job 21:19),

God (say ye) layeth up his iniquity for his children.—

Let Him recompense it unto himself that he may know it;

Let his own eyes see his destruction.

The principle enunciated in the Law may have raised difficulties in some minds at an early time, but the first expression of dissatisfaction with it in any composition to which we can assign a date appears in the prophecies of Jeremiah (ch. Job 31:29; comp. Ezekiel 18:2).

The centuries after the Exodus down to the end of the reign of David, times of stirring enterprize and warfare and conquest, were not favourable for the production of a work of deep reflection like Job. Nor, in spite of the repeated humiliations to which the nation was subjected in those ages, can the spirit of the people ever have sunk to that state of exhaustion and despair which appears in this Book. There is evidence too in the Poem that the author was familiar with some of the writings usually ascribed to the Davidic age. There is a distorted reflection of the ideas of Psalms 8 in the passage ch. Job 7:17, which is scarcely due to coincidence.

The earliest period to which the Book can be assigned with any propriety is the age of Solomon. A good many general considerations suggest this period. Unless history and tradition are to be alike discredited (1 Kings 4:29 seq.) a strong current of thought sprang up in this age in the direction of reflexion upon human life and the laws of man’s well-being, upon God and the ways in which His providence rules the destinies of men. These are the questions which, in a particular form, are discussed in Job. Again, it was at this period that Israel became to some extent a commercial people, and entered into relations with distant lands, with Egypt, the farther East and even the West; and these relations might seem reflected in many allusions in the Book, the author of which is familiar with foreign countries and their products, with the arts and customs of many strange peoples, and draws his illustrations from many distant sources. These considerations have led a number of writers of distinction, such as Delitzsch, to conclude that the Book is a production of this age; and such appears to have been the view of Luther.

If, however, we examine the Book of Proverbs, much in which may be referred to the age of Solomon, particularly the sayings in ch. 10–22, though much even in this division may be later, we find scarcely a trace of the problems and questionings that fill the Book of Job. The same general subjects are treated in both books, but in Job they have entered upon a new phase. In Proverbs the teaching on God’s providence is still entirely positive. The law stated with such beauty and simplicity in Psalms 1, that it is well with the righteous and ill with the wicked, is insisted on in a thousand forms, but not once subjected to doubt. In the settled, well-ordered life of Israel in this peaceful time the general principles of man’s well-being were receiving their brightest illustration, and it was the delight of the wise to recognise them and give them expression in compressed and polished aphorisms. Such problems as burn in the pages of Job, the miseries of the just, the prosperity and peaceful end of the ungodly, appear unknown. They were not likely to attract men’s attention at such a time. Only later, when the state began to stagger under the blows which it received from without, and when through revolution and civil discord at home great and unmerited sufferings befell the best citizens in the state, would such problems arise, or at least present themselves with an urgency which demanded some solution. It is only in those parts of Proverbs which are later than the great central division that we find allusion to disquietude occasioned to the righteous by the prosperity of the ungodly, and even these references are slight; the difficulty hardly engages a moment’s attention (Proverbs 3:11; Proverbs 3:31; Proverbs 23:17 seq.; Job 24:19).

The relation of Job to most parts of the Book of Proverbs is close[23]. The elements of that Book probably belong to different ages. Part of it at least was not published earlier than the days of Hezekiah (ch. 25 seq.); and the first division, ch. 1–9, though its date may be difficult to determine with exactness, can hardly be earlier than this age, if so early. But even this division as well as the central portion, ch. 10–22, appears to be anterior to the Book of Job. A pair of instances may suffice as examples. In Proverbs 13:9 we read, “the lamp of the wicked shall be put out”; and the same formula appears again in another division, ch. Job 24:20. The principle is stated in all its generality, and nowhere modified in the Book. In this form it continues to be upheld by Bildad, the representative in Job of theories of Providence which the author considers cannot any longer be maintained (ch. Job 18:6). Job, therefore, comes clean athwart it with his demand (ch. Job 21:17),

[23] Comp. Job 5:17 with Proverbs 3:11; Job 11:8 with Proverbs 9:18; Job 15:7 with Proverbs 8:25; Job 18:6 and Job 21:17 with Proverbs 13:9 and Proverbs 24:20; Job 22:28 with Proverbs 4:18; Job 28:18 with Proverbs 3:14 and Proverbs 8:11; Job 28:28 with Proverbs 1:7; Job 38:10 with Proverbs 8:29. There are also some peculiar terms common to the two books; see Davidson’s Introduction, Vol. II. p. 193.

How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?

And how often cometh their destruction upon them?

Again in Proverbs 1-9. Wisdom earnestly presses herself upon men: she loves them that love her. Even when she rises to the highest conception of herself as architect of the world she still offers herself to men and may be embraced by them (ch. Proverbs 8:32). But the speaker in Job 28 despairs of wisdom: it can nowhere be found, neither in the land of the living nor in the place of the dead, neither by man nor by any creature. The divine thought in creation, the world-plan, effectuating itself in nature and human life, lies beyond the intellectual reach of man. Two such opposing representations can hardly be contemporaneous; that in Job shews an approach towards the position taken by the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and is no doubt the later of the two. Great difficulty, it is true, has been felt in fitting ch. 28 into the Book, and it may belong to a time somewhat further down. But even in Job 15:8 seq. the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 seems alluded to, or at least there is allusion to personifications similar. Such personifications mark the highest point to which Hebrew thought on the world rose, and cannot belong to an early age. Wisdom, pausing in the work of expounding providence and the laws of human happiness, which she had long instinctively pursued with self-forgetful fascination in her task, becomes self-conscious, and, turning her eyes upon herself, displays her own graces and beauty before the eyes of men. They who attain to her and live as she directs attain to the thought of God Himself and fulfil His purpose; human thought and life coincides with or even coalesces in the divine thought and will. In Proverbs the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, in Job 28 it is all the wisdom possible to man.

The conclusion to which the remarks just made would lead is that the Book of Job cannot be assigned to an earlier date than the 7th century. The coincidences between the Book and the earlier prophets are not very conclusive, though perhaps they confirm the inference just drawn. The phraseology in several passages is so similar to that in Amos that some have concluded that the author like this prophet was a native of the south of Judah[24]; but the similarities hardly justify any inference as to the priority of either book. The same may be said of most of the coincidences between Job and the prophets Hosea and Isaiah. The passage Isaiah 19:5, however, compared with Job 14:11, perhaps affords some evidence of the priority of Isaiah. In Job the verse reads,

[24] Stickel, Hiob, p. 263. Comp. Job 9:8 with Amos 4:13; Amos 9:9 with Job 5:8; Job 12:15 with Job 9:6; Job 18:16 with Job 2:9; Job 30:31 with Job 8:10.

The waters fail from the sea,

And the stream decayeth and drieth up;

and in Isaiah, “and the waters shall fail from the sea, and the stream shall decay and dry up.” In the prophet the “sea” is the Nile, and the “stream” the same or its larger branches, and the verse is closely connected with the context, which contains a threat against Egypt. In Job the term “sea” is used of any inland water, and the words are made to express a general fact of experience, which finds a parallel in the complete extinction of the life of man. In Isaiah the term rendered “fail” is somewhat unusual, while in Job there stands for “fail” a word which, though not greatly more in use in the Bible, would certainly be much more common in the mouths of the people in the later period of their history[25].

[25] Other similarities are Job 12:24 with Isaiah 19:13; Isaiah 17:12 with Job 5:20.

The most weighty arguments, however, for assigning the Book to an age not earlier than the 7th century are the two facts, closely related together, first, that questions of providence have entered upon a new phase: its laws are no longer calmly expounded but subjected to doubt; from being principles securely acquiesced in they have become problems painfully agitated; and secondly, that a condition of great disorder and misery forms the background of the Poem. These two circumstances naturally go together, and they both point to the same comparatively late period. Even in some of the Psalms which treat of these questions the “ungodly” oppressor, whose felicity occasions disquietude to the religious mind (comp. Job 12:6), is probably the heathen conqueror. But these shorter pieces in all likelihood preceded in time the more elaborate treatment to which such problems are subjected in Job. But the situation reflected in these pieces and in Job alike is one of suffering and despondency. When we read such words as, “Wherefore giveth He life to the bitter in soul, who long for death and it cometh not, and search for it more than for hid treasures?” (ch. Job 3:20); “Is there not a time of hard service to man upon the earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” (ch. Job 7:1); “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof” (ch. Job 9:24); “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, they who carry their god in their hand” (ch. Job 12:6; cf. Habakkuk 1:11; Habakkuk 1:16); “Out of the city the dying groan, and the soul of the wounded crieth out, yet God regardeth not the wrong” (ch. Job 24:12)—we feel that the points in the picture are too distinct and in too full relief to be the mere reflection of the gloom that hangs over the mind of the sufferer even in an ordinary condition of society. The passage ch. Job 12:17 seq. is remarkable,

He leadeth counsellers away stripped,

And maketh the judges fools.

He looseth the bond of kings,

And girdeth their loins with a girdle.

He leadeth priests away stripped,

And overthroweth the long-established caste, &c.

Such a passage might have been written by an eyewitness of the captivity, or as Job says that he learned such details from “ancient” men (ch. Job 12:12), it might have been written by one who had heard the harrowing events of that time described by one who had himself seen them. Behind the author’s time there probably lay some great public calamity, which reduced multitudes of men to a wretchedness more unendurable than death, and forced the questions of evil and the righteousness of God upon men’s minds with an urgency that could not be resisted. Such a calamity could be nothing short of deportation or exile. The question remains whether it was the exile of the northern nation or of Judah.

Some writers, as Hitzig, think that the author of Job, from his bold handling of questions of providence, must have belonged to the northern kingdom, where the attitude of men’s minds towards religion was freer. There is not, perhaps, much in this; but some of the ablest writers on the Book, such as Ewald, connect it more or less closely with the fall of the northern state. This judgment might be acquiesced in at once were there not several things which suggest the question whether the Book may not rather reflect the circumstances of the Babylonian Captivity. These points briefly are: (1) the extremely developed form both of the morality and the doctrine of God in the Book; (2) the points of contact which it presents with Jeremiah and the ideas of his age; and (3) the strange parallel existing between Job and the “Servant of the Lord” in the second part of Isaiah.

The first point can hardly be drawn out in detail, but the teaching of Eliphaz regarding human nature (ch. Job 4:17 seq.) and the inwardness of the moral conceptions of Job (ch. 31) are very surprising. The doctrine of God is much the same in principle throughout the whole Old Testament, the later writers differing from the earlier more in the breadth with which they express the common conceptions. In Job these conceptions are expressed with a breadth and loftiness without parallel, except in the second part of Isaiah and some of the later psalms (e.g. Psalms 139). It is true it is chiefly what might be called the natural attributes of God that are dwelt upon, and this has created in some minds the feeling that the God of the Book of Job is not the God of the Old Testament[26]. He is certainly without some of the attributes ascribed to Him in such prophets as Hosea and the later chapters of Isaiah. He is God and not man—so entirely not man that He seems not altogether God. The author’s conception of God is austere and lofty, and we readily understand how its features in a particular light cast that spectral shadow before Job’s eye which he calls God and which he is in danger of renouncing.

[26] Luzzatto, quoted in Del.

Apart from the Psalms, the date of which is uncertain, the problems discussed in Job first shew themselves in the prophets of the Chaldean age. Jeremiah says, “Let me talk with thee of thy judgments: wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?” (ch. Job 12:1; cf. Habakkuk 1:13 seq.). Similarly, the other question of visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children occupies the minds of the people (Jeremiah 31:29; Ezekiel 18). The history of the nation and its sufferings forced these questions on the attention, and there is a certain probability that a Book like Job devoted to their discussion is the creation of this time. The parallels in thought and language between Job and Jeremiah are numerous, but they strike different minds very differently. Most writers have felt that Job 3 and Jeremiah 20:14 seq. are not altogether independent of one another, but the question of priority is difficult to settle. The argument that the passage in Job is fresher, more vivid and powerful, and therefore the original has little force. The author of Job was certainly a greater literary artist than Jeremiah, as Shakespeare was superior to the earlier dramatists whose materials he used, but the possible analogy neutralizes the argument for priority. If the author of Job used Isaiah 19:5, as is probable, he has recast some of the expressions into the more strict poetical form, and he may have dealt with the language of the other prophet in the same way. Job 3 is highly elaborate and finished, while the impression which the passage in Jeremiah makes on the reader, just on account of its disjointed character and defect in literary grace, is that it is independent. The strong positive statements in Ezekiel that “the soul that sinneth shall die”, and that the children shall no more be visited for their fathers’ iniquity, might seem to imply that the question had advanced a stage beyond that of debate in which it appears in Job. This is less certain, because it is the peculiarity of the Book of Job that all its new truths are presented through the medium of controversial dialogue[27].

[27] Comp. Job 3 with Jeremiah 20:14; Job 6:15 with Jeremiah 15:18; Job 9:19 with Jeremiah 49:19 (Isaiah 50:8); Job 12:4 with Jeremiah 20:7; Job 19:23 with Jeremiah 17:1; Job 19:18 with Lamentations 3:15; Job 16:9 with Lamentations 3:46; Job 16:13 with Lamentations 3:12; Job 19:8 with Lamentations 3:7; Job 30:9 with Lamentations 3:14.

The affinity of the Book of Job to Is. ch. 40 seq. is remarkable, and appears in two points, coincidences of expression and thought, and the parallel between the figure of Job and that of the Servant of the Lord. Thus the same lofty conception of God is expressed in both in identical words, who spreadeth out the heavens alone (ch. Job 9:8, Isaiah 44:24; cf. Isaiah 45:12). Again comp. ch. Job 26:12-13, “He quelleth the sea with His power, and by His understanding He smiteth through Rahab,” with Isaiah 51:9, “Art thou not it which hath cut Rahab and pierced the dragon?” Compare also Job 13:28 with Isaiah 50:9; Job 15:35 with Isaiah 59:4; Job 30:21 with Isaiah 63:10. These similarities of phraseology might be due to dependence of the one writer upon the other. There are, however, many conceptions common to the two writers not expressed in the same phraseology, and the more probable explanation is that they lived surrounded by the same atmosphere of thought.

The similarities between the figure of Job and that of the Servant are numerous and striking. Both are innocent sufferers—“my servant Job, a perfect and upright man” (Job 1:8), “my righteous servant” (Isaiah 53:11); both are afflicted in a way that strikes horror into the beholders, and causes them to deem them smitten of God (Isaiah 52:14; Isaiah 53:4, Job passim); both are forsaken of men and subjected to mockery and spitting (Job 19:4 seq., Job 16:10, Job 30:9 seq.; Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:3); both are restored and glorified and receive “double”, as they both continued faithful, assured that He was near that should justify them (Job 13:18; Job 16:19; Job 19:25; Isaiah 50:8). The points of agreement might be greatly multiplied[28], and, notwithstanding the important differences in the two representations, they suggest some relation between the two figures. The difficulty is to ascertain whether the relation be one of similarity merely or of identity. If Job were the type of the righteous individual sufferer or of the class of individuals, and the servant the suffering righteous Israel, that is, the godly remnant to which the nationality and name belonged, seeing these two subjects are virtually the same under different conceptions, the author of the one picture might have transferred some features from the canvas of his predecessor to his own[29]. The probability is as great that the two authors worked up common conceptions into independent creations; and there are many parts of Job that appear to reflect national feeling and conditions, though of course the author could not allow the formal conception of the nation to appear.

[28] See Dr Cheyne’s interesting Essay, Isaiah, II. p. 244. Kuenen has an exhaustive paper on the subject in the Theolog. Tijds., 1873.

[29] This is the later opinion of Kuenen, who considers that the collective or national representation in Isaiah has served in some respects as the model of the individual portrait in Job. In this case Job would be later than the Restoration. It is difficult, however, to believe that the solution of the problem of suffering innocence given in Job could be posterior to the more profound solution found in the prophet.

The question enters a region here which is not that of argument but of impressions; but upon the whole probabilities point to the age of the captivity of Judah as that to which the Book belongs.

As to the Author of the Book we are in complete ignorance. He has been supposed to be Job himself, Elihu, Moses, Solomon, Heman the Ezrahite, author of Psalms 88, Isaiah, Hezekiah, author of the hymn Isaiah 38, Baruch the friend of Jeremiah, and who not? There are some minds that cannot put up with uncertainty, and are under the necessity of deluding themselves into quietude by fixing on some known name. There are others to whom it is a comfort to think that in this omniscient age a few things still remain mysterious. Uncertainty is to them more suggestive than exact knowledge. No literature has so many great anonymous works as that of Israel. The religious life of this people was at certain periods very intense, and at these periods the spiritual energy of the nation expressed itself almost impersonally, through men who forgot themselves and were speedily forgotten in name by others.

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