In reference to no part of the Scriptures have so many questions arisen as to the Book of Job. The time of its composition; the author; the country where the scene was laid; the question whether Job was a real person; the nature and design of the poem; have been points on which a great variety of opinion has been entertained among expositors, and on which different views still prevail. It is important, in order to have a correct understanding of the book, that all the light should be thrown on these subjects which can be; and though amidst the variety of opinion which prevails among men of the highest distinction in learning absolute certainty cannot be hoped for, yet such advances have been made in the investigation that on some of these points we may arrive to a high degree of probability.
Section 1. The Question whether Job Was a Real Person
The first question which presents itself in the examination of the book is, whether Job had a real existence. This has been doubted on such grounds as the following:
(1) The book has been supposed by some to have every mark of an allegory. Allegories and parables, it is said, are not uncommon in the Scriptures where a case is supposed, and then the narrative proceeds as if it were real. Such an instance, it has been maintained, occurs here, in which the author of the poem designed to illustrate important truths, but instead of stating them in an abstract form, chose to present them in the more graphic and interesting form of a supposed case - in which we are led to sympathize with a sufferer; to see the ground of the difficulty in the question under discussion in a more affecting manner than could be presented in an abstract form; and where the argument has all to interest the mind which one has when occurring in real life.
(2) it has been maintained that some of the transactions in the book must have been of this character, or are such as could not have actually occurred. Particularly it has been said that the account of the interview of Satan with yahweh –Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7 must be regarded merely as a supposed case, it being in the highest degree improbable that such an interview would occur, and such a conversation be held.
(3) the same conclusion has been drawn from the artificial character of the statements about the possessions of Job, both before and after his trials - statements which appear as if the case were merely supposed, and which would not be likely to occur in reality. Thus, we have only round numbers mentioned in enumerating his possessions - as 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she-asses. So, also, there is something artificial in the manner in which the sacred numbers seven and three are used. He had 7,000 sheep, 7 sons - both before and after his trials; his three friends came and sat down 7 days and 7 nights without saying a word to condole with himJob 2:13; and both before and after his trials he had three daughters. The same artificial and parabolical appearance, it is said, is seen in the fact that after his recovery his possessions were exactly doubled, and he had again in his old age exactly the same number of 7 sons and 3 daughters which he had before his afflictions.
(4) that the whole narration is allegorical or parabolical has been further argued from the conduct of the friends of Job. Their sitting down 7 days and 7 nights without saying anything, when they had come expressly to condole with him, it is said, is a wholly improbable circumstance, and looks as if the whole were a supposed case.
(5) the same thing has been inferred from the manner in which the book is written. It is of the highest order of poetry. The speeches are most elaborate; are filled with accurate and carefully prepared argument; are arranged with great care; are expressed in the most sententious manner; embody the results of long and careful observation, and are wholly unlike what would be uttered in unpremeditated and extemporary debate. No men, it is said, talk in this manner; nor can it be supposed that beautiful poetry and sublime argument, such as abound in this book, ever fell in animated debate from the lips of men. See Eichorn, Einleitung in das Alte Tes. V. Band. 129-131. From considerations such as these the historical character of the book has been doubted, and the whole has been regarded as a supposed case designed to illustrate the great question which the author of the poem proposed to examine.
It is important, therefore, to inquire what reasons there are for believing that such a person as Job lived, and how far the transactions referred to in the book are to be regarded as historically true.
(1) the fact of his existence is expressly declared, and the narrative has all the appearance of being a simple record of an actual occurrence. The first two chapters of the book, and a part of the last chapter, are simple historical records. The remainder of the book is indeed poetic, but these portions bare none of the characteristics of poetry. There are not to be found in the Bible more simple and plain historical statements than these; and there are none which, in themselves considered, might not be as properly set aside as allegorical. This fact should be regarded as decisive, unless there is some reason which does not appear on the face of the narrative for regarding it as allegorical.
(2) the account of the existence of such a man is regarded as historically true by the inspired writers of the Scriptures. Thus, inEze 14:14, God says, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it (the land), they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.” Compare Eze 14:16, Eze 14:20. Here Job is referred to as a real character as distinctly as Noah and Daniel, and all the circumstances are just such as they would be on the supposition that he had a real existence. They are alike spoken of as real “men;” as having souls - “they should deliver but their own souls by their own righteousness;” as having sons and daughters - “they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, they only shall be delivered” Eze 14:16; and are in all respects mentioned alike as real characters. Of the historic fact that there were such men as Noah and Daniel there can be no doubt, and it is evident that Ezekiel as certainly regarded Job as a real character as he did either of the others.
A parallel passage, which will illustrate this, occurs inJer 15:1 : “Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people.” Here Moses and Samuel are spoken of as real characters, and there is no doubt of their having existed. Yet they are mentioned in the same manner as Job is in the passage in Ezekiel. In either case it is incredible that a reference should have been made to a fictitious character. The appeal is one that could have been made only to a real character, and there can be no reasonable doubt that Ezekiel regarded Job as having really existed; or rather, since it is God who speaks and not Ezekiel, that he speaks of Job as having actually existed. The same thing is evident from a reference to Job by the apostle James: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy” Jam 5:11; that is, the happy issue to which the Lord brought all his trials, showing that he was pitiful to those in affliction, and of great mercy.
There can be no doubt that there is reference here to the sufferings of a real man, as there is to the real compassion which the Lord shows to one in great trials. It is incredible that this sacred writer should have appealed in this instance to the case of one whom he regarded as a fictitious character; and if the views of Ezekiel and James are to be relied on, there can be no doubt that Job had a real existence. Ezekiel mentions him just as he does Noah and Daniel, and James mentions him just as he does ElijahJam 5:17; and so far as this historical record goes there is the same evidence of the actual existence of the one as of the other.
(3) the specifications of places and names in the book are not such as would occur in an allegory. Had it been merely a “supposed case,” to illustrate some great truth, these specifications would have been unnecessary, and would not have occurred. In the acknowledged parables of the Scripture, there are seldom any very minute specifications of names and places. Thus, in the parable of the prodigal son, neither the name of the father, nor of the sons, nor of the place where the scene was laid, is mentioned. So of the nobleman who went to receive a kingdom; the unjust steward; the ten virgins, and of numerous others. But here we have distinct specifications of a great number of things which are in no way necessary to illustrate the main truth in the poem. Thus, we have not only the name of the sufferer, but the place of his residence mentioned, as if it were well known. We have the names of his friends, and the places of their residence mentioned - “Eliphaz the Temanite,” and “Bildad the Shuhite,” and “Zophar the Naamathite.” and Elihu “the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram.” Why are the places of residence of these persons mentioned unless it be meant to intimate that they were real persons, and not allegorical characters?
In like manner we have express mention of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans - specifications wholly unnecessary if not improbable if the work is an allegory. The single word “robbers” would have answered all the purpose, and would have been such as an inspired writer would have used unless the transaction were real, for an inspired writer would not have charged this offence on any class of men, thus holding them up to lasting reproach, unless an event of this kind had actually occurred. When the Savior, in the parable of the good Samaritan, mentions a robbery that occurred between Jerusalem and Jericho, the word “thieves,” or more properly “robbers”, is the only word used. No names are mentioned, nor is any class of men referred to, who would by such a mention of the name be held up to infamy. Thus, also we have the particular statement respecting the feasting of the sons and daughters of Job; his sending for and admonishing them; his offering up special sacrifices on their behalf; the account of the destruction of the oxen, the sheep, the camels, and the house where the sons and daughters of Job were - all statements of circumstances which would not be likely to occur in an allegory.
They are such particular statements as we expect to find respecting the real transactions, and they bear on the face of them the simple impression of truth. This is not the kind of information which we look for in a parable. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, almost the only one spoken by the Saviour where a name is mentioned, we have not that of the rich man; and though the name Lazarus is mentioned, yet that is all. We have no account of his family, of his place of residence, of his genealogy, of the time when he lived; and the name itself is so common that it would be impossible even to suspect whom the Savior had in his eye, if he had any real individual at all. Far different is this in the account of Job. It is true that in a romance, or in an extended allegory like the Pilgrim’s Progress, we expect a detailed statement of names and places; but there is no evidence that there is any such extended fictitious narrative in the Bible, and unless the Book of Job be one there is no such extended allegory.
(4) the objections urged against this view are not such as to destroy the positive proof of the reality of the existence of Job. The objections which have been urged against the historical truth of the narrative, and which have already been in part alluded to, are principally the following:
The first is, the account of the interview between God and Satan in Job 1 andJob 2:1-13. It is alleged that this is so improbable a transaction as to throw an air of fiction over all the historical statements of the book. In reply to this, it may be observed, first, that even if this were not to be regarded as a literal transaction, it does not prove that no such man as Job lived, and that the transactions in regard to him were not real. He might have had an existence, and been stripped of his possessions, and subjected to these long and painful trials of his fidelity, even if this were a poetic ornament, or merely a figurative representation.
But, secondly, it is impossible to prove that no such transaction occurred. The existence of such a being as Satan is everywhere recognized in the Scriptures; the account which is here given of his character accords entirely with the uniform representation of him; he exerts no power over Job which is not expressly conceded to him; and it is impossible to prove that he does not even now perform the same things in the trial of good men, which it is said that he did in the case of Job. And even if it be admitted that there is somewhat of poetic statement in the form in which he is introduced, still this does not render the main account improbable and absurd. The Bible, from the necessity of the case, abounds with representations of this sort; and when it is said that God “speaks” to men, that he conversed with Adam, that he spake to the serpent Gen. 3, we are not necessarily to suppose that all this is strictly literal, nor does the fact that it is not strictly literal invalidate the main facts. There were results, or there was a series of facts following, as if this had been literally true; see the notes atJob 1:6-12.
A second objection to the historical truth of the transactions recorded in the book is, the poetic character of the work, and the strong improbability that addresses of this kind should ever have been made in the manner here represented. See Eichhorn, Einleit. v. 123, 124. They are of the highest order of poetry; they partake not at all of the nature of extemporaneous effusions; they indicate profound and close thinking, and are such as must have required much time to have prepared them. Especially it is said that it is in the highest degree improbable that Job, in the anguish of his body and mind, should have been capable of giving utterance to poetry and argument of this highly finished character. In regard to this objection, it may be observed,
(1) that even if this were so, and it were to be supposed that the arguments of the various speakers have a poetic character, and were in reality never uttered in the form in which we now have them, still this would not invalidate the evidence which exists of the historic truth of the facts stated about the existence and trials of Job. It might be true that he lived and suffered in this manner, and that a discussion of this character actually occurred, and that substantially these arguments were advanced, though they were afterward wrought by Job himself or by some other hand into the poetic form in which we now have them. Job himself lived after his trials 140 years, and, in itself considered, there is no improbability in the supposition, that when restored to the vigorous use of his powers, and in the leisure which he enjoyed, he should have thought it worthy to present the argument which he once held on this great subject in a more perfect form, and to give to it a more poetic cast. In this case, the main historic truth would be retained, and the real argument would in fact be stated - though in a form more worthy of preservation than could be expected to fall extemporaneously from the lips of the speakers. But
(2) all the difficulty may be removed by a supposition which is entirely in accordance with the character of the book and the nature of the case. It is, that the several speeches succeeded each other at such intervals as gave full time for reflection, and for carefully framing the argument. There is no evidence that the whole argument was gone through with “at one sitting;” there are no proofs that one speech followed immediately on another, or that a sufficient interval of time may not have elapsed to give opportunity for preparation to meet the views which had been suggested by the previous speaker. Everything in the book bears the marks of the most careful deliberation, and is as free as possible from the hurry and bustle of an extemporaneous debate. The sufferings of Job were evidently of a protracted nature. His friends sat down “seven days and seven nights” in silence before they said anything to him.
The whole subject of the debate seems to be arranged with most systematic care and regularity. The speakers succeed each other in regular order in a series of arguments - in each of these series following the same method, and no one of them out of his place. No one is ever interrupted while speaking; and no matter how keen and sarcastic his invectives, how torturing his reproaches, how bold or blasphemous what he said was thought to be, he is patiently heard until he has said all that he designed to say; and then all that he said is carefully weighed and considered in the reply. All this looks as if there might have been ample time to arrange the reply before it was uttered, and this supposition, of course, would relieve all the force of this objection. If this be so, then there is no more ground of objection against the supposition that these things were spoken, as it is said they were, than there is about the genuineness of the poems of the Grecian Rhapsodists, composed with a view to public recitation, or to the Iliad of Homer or the History of Herodotus, both of which, after they were composed, were recited publicly by their authors at Athens. No one can prove certainly that the several persons named in the book - Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zolphar, and Elihu - were incompetent to compose the speeches which are severally assigned to them, or that all the time necessary for such a composition was not taken by them.
Unless this can be done, the objection of its improbability, so confidently urged by Eichhorn (Einleit. v. 123ff.), and defended by Noyes (Intro. pp. xxi., xxi.), where he says that “the supposition that so beautiful and harmonious a whole, every part of which bears the stamp of the highest genius, was the casual production of a man brought to the gates of the grave by a loathsome disease, of three or four friends who had come to comfort him in his affliction, all of them expressing their thoughts in poetical and measured language; that the Deity was actually heard to speak half an hour in the midst of a violent storm; and that the consultations in the heavenly world were actual occurrences, is too extravagant to need refutation,” is an objection really of little force.
A third objection has been derived from the round and doubled numbers which occur in the book, and the artificial character which the whole narrative seems to assume on that account. It is alleged that this is wholly an unusual and improbable occurrence; and that the whole statement appears as if it were a fictitious narrative. Thus Job’s possessions of oxen and camels and sheep are expressed in round numbers; one part of these is exactly the double of another; and what is more remarkable still, all these are exactly doubled on his restoration to health. He had the same number of sons and the same number of daughters after his trial which he had before, and the number of each was what was esteemed among the Hebrews as a sacred number.
In regard to this objection, we may observe:
(1) That as to the round numbers, this is no more than what constantly occurs in historical statements. Nothing is more common in the enumeration of armies, of the people of a country, or of herds and flocks, than such statements.
(2) in regard to the fact that the possessions of Job are said to have been exactly “doubled” after his recovery from his calamities, it is not necessary to suppose that this was in all respects literally true. Nothing forbids us to suppose that, from the gifts of friends and other causes, the possessions of Job came so near to being just twice what they were before his trials, as to justify this general statement. In the statement itself, there is nothing improbable. Job lived 140 after his trials. If he had then the same measure of prosperity which he had before, and with the assistance of his friends to enable him to begin life again, there is no improbability in the supposition that these possessions would be doubled.
These are substantially all the objections which have been urged against the historical character of the book, and if they are not well founded, then it follows that it should be regarded as historically true that such a man actually lived, and that he passed through the trials which are here described. A more extended statement of these objections, and a refutation of them, may be found in the following works: - Warburton’s Divine Legation of Moses, Vol. V. p. 298ff. ed. 8vo, London, 1811; Prof. Lee on Job, Intro. Section 11; and Magee on atonement and Sacrifice, p. 212, following, ed. New York, 1813. It should be said, however, that not a few writers admit that such a man as Job lived, and that the book has an historical basis, while they regard the work itself as in the main poetic. In the view of such critics, the poet, in order to illustrate the great truth which he proposed to consider, made use of a tradition respecting the sufferings of a well-known person of distinction, and gave to the whole argument the high poetic cast which it has now. This supposition is in accordance with the methods frequently adopted by epic and tragic poets, and which is commonly followed by writers of romance. This is the opinion of Eichhorn, Einleitung V. Section 638.
Section 2. The Question on Where Job Lived
InJob 1:1, it is said that Job dwelt “in the land of Uz.” The only question, then, to be settled in ascertaining where he lived, is, if possible, to determine where this place was. From the manner in which the record is made (“the land of Uz”) it would seem probable that this was a region of country of some considerable extent, and also that it derived its name from some man of that name who had settled there. The word Uz (עוּץ ‛ûts), according to Gesenius, means a light, sandy soil; and if the name was given to the country with reference to this quality of the soil, it would be natural to fix on some region remarkable for its barrenness - a waste place or a desert. Gesenius supposes that Uz was in the northern part of Arabia Deserta - a place lying between Palestine and the Euphrates, called by Ptolemy Αἰσῖται Aisitai. This opinion is defended by Rosenmuller (Prolegomena); and is adopted by Spanheim, Bochart, Lee, Umbreit, Noyes, and the authors of the Universal History. Dr. Good supposes that the Uz here referred to was in Arabia Petraea, on the southwestern coast of the Dead Sea, and that Job and all his friends referred to in the poem were Idumeans. Introductory Dissertation, Section 1.
Eichhorn also supposes that the scene is laid in Idumea, and that the author of the poem shows that he had a particular acquaintance with the history, customs, and productions of Egypt. Einleit. Section 638. Bochart (in Phaleg et Canaan), Michaelis (Spicileg. Geog. Hebraeo.), and Ilgen (Jobi, Antiquis. carminis Hebrew natura et indoles, p. 91), suppose that the place of his residence was the valley of Guta near Damascus, regarded as the most beautiful of the four Paradises of the Arabians. For a description of this valley, see Eichhorn, Einleit. V. s. 134. The wordעוּץ ‛ûts (Uz) occurs only in the following places in the Hebrew Bible: Gen 10:23; Gen 22:21; Gen 36:28, and 1Ch 1:17, 1Ch 1:42; in each of which places it is the name of a man; and in Jer 25:20; Lam 4:21, and in Job 1:1, where it is applied to a country. The only circumstances which furnish any probability in regard to the place where Job lived, are the following:
(1) Those which enable us to determine with some probability where the family of Uz was settled, who not improbably gave his name to the country - as Sheba, and Seba, and Tema, and Cush, and Misraim, and others, did to the countries where they settled. InGen 10:23; Uz עוּץ ‛ûts, is mentioned as a grandson of Shem. In Gen 22:21; an Uz (English Bible, “Huz”) is mentioned as the son of Nahor, brother of Abraham, undoubtedly a different person from the one mentioned in Gen 10:23. In Gen 36:28, an individual of this name is mentioned among the descendants of Esau. In 1Ch 1:17, the name occurs among the “sons of Shem;” and in 1Ch 1:42, the same name occurs among the descendants of Esau. So far, therefore, as the name is concerned, it may have been derived from one of the family of Shem, or from one who was a contemporary with Abraham, or from a somewhat remote descendant Esau. It will be seen in the course of this introduction, that there is strong improbability that the name was given to the country because it was settled by either of the two latter, as such a supposition would bring down the time when Job lived to a later period than the circumstances recorded in his history will allow, and it is therefore probable that the name was conferred in honor of the grandson of Shem. This fact, of itself, will do something to determine the place.
Shem lived in Asia, and we shall find that the settlements of his descendants originally occupied the country somewhere in the vicinity of the Euphrates;Gen 10:21-30. In Gen 10:23; Uz is mentioned as one of the sons of Aram, who gave name to the country known as Aramea, or Syria, and from whom the Arameans descended. Their original residence, it is supposed, was near the river Kir, or Cyrus, from where they were brought, at some period now unknown, by a deliverance resembling that of the children of Israel from Egypt, and placed in the regions of Syria; see Amo 9:7. The inhabitants of Syria and Mesopotamia are always called by Moses “Arameus”: as they had their seat in and near Mesopotamia, it is probable that Uz was located also not far from that region. We should, therefore, naturally be led to look for the country of Uz somewhere in that vicinity. In Gen 10:30; it is further said of the sons of Shem, that “their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East;” a statement which corresponds with what is said of Job himself, that he was “the greatest of all the men of the East” Job 1:8; manifestly implying that he was an inhabitant of the country so called.
Various opinions have been entertained of the places where Mesha and Sephar were. The opinion of Michaelis is the most probable (Spicileg. pt. 11, p. 214), “that Mesha is the region around Passora, which the later Syrians called Maishon, and the Greeks Mesene. Under these names they included the country on the Euphrates and the Tigris, between Seleucia and the Persian Gulf. Abulfeda mentions in this region two cities not far from Passora, called Maisan, and Mushan. Here, then, was probably the northeastern border of the district inhabited by the Joktanites. The name of the opposite limit, Sephar, signifies in the Chaldee shore or coast, and is probably the western part of Yemen, along the Arabian Gulf, now called by the Arabs Tchiainah. The range of high and mountainous country between these two borders, Moses calls “the Mount of the East,” or eastern mountains. It is also called by the Arabs, Djebal, i. e., “mountains,” to the present day. See Rosenmuller’s Alterthumskunde, iii. 163, 164.
The supposition that some portion of this region is denoted by the country where Uz settled, and is the place where Job resided is strengthened by the fact, that many of the persons and tribes mentioned in the book resided in this vicinity. Thus, it is probable that Eliphaz the Temanite had his residence there; see the notes atJob 2:11. The Sabeans probably dwelt not very remote from that region (see the notes at Job 1:15); the Chaldeans we know had their residence there (notes, Job 1:17), and this supposition will agree well with what is said of the tornado that came from the “wilderness,” or desert; see the notes at Job 1:19. The residence of Job was so near to the Chaldeans and the Sabeans that he could be reached in their usual predatory excursions; a fact that better accords with the supposition that his residence was in some part of Arabia Deserta, than that it was in Idumea.
(2) this country is referred to in two places by Jeremiah, which may serve to aid us in determining its location;Lam 4:21 :
“Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
That dwellest in the land of Uz;
The cup shall pass through unto thee:
Thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.”
At first view, perhaps, this passage would indicate that the land of Uz was a part of Edom, yet it more properly indicates that the land of Uz was not a part of that land, but that the Edomites or Idumeans had gained possession of a country which did not originally belong to them. Thus, the prophet speaks of the “daughter of Edom,” not as dwelling in her own country properly, but as dwelling “in the land of Uz” - in a foreign country, of which she had somehow obtained possession. The country of Edom, properly, was Mount Seir and the vicinity, south of the Dead Sea; but it is known that the Edomites subsequently extended their boundaries, and that at one period Bozrah, on the east of the Dead Sea, in the country of Moab, was their capital; see the Analysis of Isa. 34, and the notes atIsa 34:6. It is highly probable that Jeremiah refers to the period when the Idumeans, having secured these conquests, and made this foreign city their capital, is represented as dwelling there. If so, according to this passage in Lamentations, we should naturally look for the land of Uz somewhere in the countries to which the conquests of the Edomites extended - and these conquests were chiefly to the east of their own land. A similar conclusion will be derived from the other place where the name occurs in Jeremiah. It is in Jer 25:20 ff. “And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Askelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, and Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,” etc. Two things are apparent here. One is, that the country of Uz was distinct from the land of Edom, since they are mentioned as separate nations; the other is, that it was a country of some considerable extent, since it is mentioned as being under several “kings.” There is, indeed, in this reference to it no allusion to its situation; but it is mentioned as being well known in the time of Jeremiah.
(3) the same thing is evident from the manner in which the residence of Job is spoken of inJob 1:8. He is there said to have been the “greatest of all the men of the east.” This implies that his residence was in the land which was known familiarly as the country of the East. It is true, indeed, that we have not yet determined where the poem was composed, and of course do not know precisely what the author would understand by this phrase, but the expression has a common signification in the Scriptures, as denoting the country east of Palestine. The land of Idumea, however, was directly south; and we are, therefore, naturally led to look to some other place as the land of Uz; compare the notes at Job 1:3. The expression “the East,” as used in the Bible, would in no instance naturally lead us to look to Idumea.
(4) the Septuagint renders the word Uz inJob 1:1. by Ασίτις Asitis - a word which seems to have been formed from the Hebrew עוּץ ‛ûts, Utz, or Uz. Of course, their translation gives no intimation of the place referred to. But Ptolemy (Geog. Lib. v.) speaks of a tribe or nation in the neighborhood of Babylon, whom he calls Αὐσίται Ausitai, Ausitae (or as it was perhaps written Αἰσίται Aisitai), the same word which is used by the Septuagint in rendering the word Uz. These people are placed by Ptolemy in the neighborhood of the Cauchebeni - ὑπὸ υὲν τοῖς Καυχαβηνοις hupo men tois Kauchabēnois - and he speaks of them as separated from Chaldea by a ridge of mountains. See Rosenm. Prolegomena, p. 27. This location would place Job so near to the Chaldeans, that the account of their making an excursion into his country Job 1:17 would be entirely probable. - It may be added, also, that in the same neighborhood we find a town called Sabas (Σάβας Sabas) in Diodorus Sic. Lib. iii. Section 46. Prof. Lee, p. 32. These circumstances render it probable that the residence of the patriarch was west of Chaldea, and somewhere in the northern part of Arabia Deserta, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphratcs.
(5) the monuments and memorials of Job still preserved or referred to in the East, may be adduced as some slight evidence of the fact that such a man as Job lived, and as an indication of the region in which he resided. It is true that they depend on mere tradition; but monuments are not erected to the memory of any who are not supposed to have had an existence, and traditions usually have some basis in reality. Arabian writers always make mention of Job as a real person, and his pretended grave is shown in the East to this day. It is shown indeed in six different places: but this is no evidence that all that is said of the existence of such a man is fabulous, anymore than the fact that seven cities contended for the honor of the birth of Homer is an evidence that there was no such man. The most celebrated tomb of this kind is that of the Trachonitis, toward the springs of the Jordan. It is situated between the cities still bearing the names of Teman, Shuah, and Naama - (Wemyss); though there is every reason to believe that these names have been given rather with reference to the fact that that was supposed to be his residence, than that they were the names of the places referred to in the book of Job. One of these tombs was shown to Niebuhr. He says (Reisebeschreib, i. 466, “Two or three hours east of Saada is a great mosque, in which, according to the opinion of the Arabs who reside there, the sufferer Job lies buried.” “On the eastern limits of Arabia, they showed me the grave of Job, close to the Euphrates, and near the Helleh, one hour south from Babylon.” is of importance to remark here only that all of these tombs are outside the limits of Idumea. Among the Arabians there are numerous traditions respecting Job, many of them indeed stories that are entirely ridiculous, but all showing the firm belief prevalent in Arabia that there was such a man. See Sale’s Koran, vol. ii. pp. 174, 322; Magee on Atonement and Sacrifice, pp. 366, 367; and D’Herbelot, Bibli. Orient. tom. i. pp. 75, 432, 438, as quoted by Magee.
(6) the present belief of the Arabians may be referred to as corroborating the results to which we have approximated in this inquiry, that the residence of Job was not in Idumea, but was in some part of Arabia Deserta, lying between Palestine and the Euphrates. Eli Smith stated to me (November, 1840) that there was still a place in the Houran called by the Arabians, Uz; and that there is a tradition among them that that was the residence of Job. It is northeast of Bozrah. Bozrah was once the capital of Idumea (notes onIsa 34:6), though it was situated without the limits of their natural territory. If this tradition is well founded, then Job was not probably an Idumean. There is nothing that renders the tradition improbable, and the course of the investigation conducts us, with a high degree of probability, to the conclusion that this was the residence of Job. On the residence of Job and his friends, consult also Abrahami Peritsol Itinera Mundi, in Ugolin, Thes. Sac. vii. pp. 103-106.
Section 3. The Time When Job Lived
There has been quite as much uncertainty in regard to the time when Job lived, as there has been in regard to the place where he lived. It should be observed here, that this question is not necessarily connected with the inquiry when the book was composed, and will not be materially affected, whether we suppose it to have been composed by Job himself, by Moses, or by a later writer. Whenever the book was composed, if at a later period than that in which the patriarch lived, the author would naturally conceal the marks of his own time, by referring only to such customs and opinions as prevailed in the age when the events were supposed to have occurred.
On this question, we cannot hope to arrive at absolute certainty. It is remarkable that neither the genealogical record of the family of Job nor that of his three friends is given. The only record of the kind occurring in the book, is that of ElihuJob 32:2, and this is so slight as to furnish but little assistance in determining when he lived. The only circumstances which occur in regard to this question, are the following; and they will serve to settle the question with sufficient probability, as it is a question on which no important results can depend.
(1) the age of Job. According to this, the time when he lived, would occur somewhere between the age of Terah, the father of Abraham, and Jacob, or about 1,800 years before Christ, and about 600 years after the deluge. For the reasons of this opinion, see the notes atJob 42:16. This estimate cannot pretend to be entirely accurate, but, it has a high degree of probability. If this estimate is correct, he lived not far from 400 years before the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, and before the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; compare the notes at Act 7:6.
(2) as a slight confirmation of this opinion, we may refer to the traditions in reference to the time when he lived. The account which is appended to the Septuagint, that he was a son of Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and the fifth in descent from Abraham, may be seen in the notes atJob 42:16. A similar account is given at the close of the Arabic translation of Job, so similar that the one has every appearance of having been copied from the other, or of their having had a common origin. “Job dwelt in the land of Uz, between the borders of Edom and Arabia, and was before called Jobab. He married a foreign wife, whose name was Anun. Job was himself a son of Zare, one of the sons of Esau; and his mother’s name was Basra, and he was the sixth in descent from Abraham. But of the kings who reigned in Edom, the first who reigned over the land was Balak, the son of Beor; and the name of his city was Danaba. And after him Jobab, who is called Job; and after him the name of him who was prince of the land of Teman; and after him his son Barak, he who slew and put to flight Madian in the plain of Moab, and the name of his city was Gjates. And of the friends of Job who came to meet him, was Elifaz, of the sons of Esau, the king of the Temanites.” These traditions are worthless, except as they show the prevalent belief when these translations were made, that Job lived somewhere near the time of the three great Hebrew patriarchs.
A nearly uniform tradition also has concurred in describing this as about the age in which he lived. The Hebrew writers generally concur in describing him as living in the days of Isaac and Jacob. Wemyss. Eusebius places him about two “ages” before Moses. The opinions of the Eastern nations generally concur in assigning this as the age in which he lived.
(3) from the representations in the book itself, it is clear that he lived before the departure from Egypt. This is evident from the fact that there is no direct allusion either to that remarkable event, or to the series of wonders which accompanied it, or to the journey to the land of Canaan. This silence is unaccountable on any other supposition than that he lived before it occurred, for two reasons. One is, that it would have furnished the most striking illustration occurring in history, of the interposition by God in delivering his friends and in destroying the wicked, and was such an illustration as Job and his friends could not have failed to refer to, in defense of their opinions, if it were known to them; and the other is, that this event was the great storehouse of argument and illustration for all the sacred writers, after it occurred. The deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and the divine interposition in conducting the nation to the promised land, is constantly referred to by the sacred writers. They derive from those events their most magnificent descriptions of the power and majesty of Yahweh. They refer to them as illustrating his character and government. They appeal to them in proof that he was the friend and protector of his people, and that he would destroy his foes. They draw from them their most sublime and beautiful poetic images, and are never weary with calling the attention of the people to their obligation to serve God, on account of his merciful and wonderful interposition. The very point of the argument in this book is one that would be better illustrated by that deliverance, than by any other event which ever occurred in history; and as this must have been known to the inhabitants of the country where Job lived, it is inexplicable that there is no allusion to these transactions, if they had already occurred.
It is clear, therefore, that even if the book was written at a later period than the exode from Egypt, the author of the poem meant to represent the patriarch as having lived before that event. He has described him as one who was ignorant of it, and in such circumstances, and with such opinions, that he could not have failed to refer to it, if he was believed to have lived after that event. It is equally probable that Job lived before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This event occurred in the vicinity of the country where he lived, and he could not have been ignorant of it. It was, moreover, a case not less in point in the argument than the deliverance from Egypt was; and it is not conceivable that a reference to so signal a punishment on the wicked by the direct judgment of the Almighty, would have been omitted in an argument of the nature of that in this book. It was the very point maintained by the friends of Job, that God interposed by direct judgments to cut off the wicked; and the world never furnished a more appropriate illustration of this than had occurred in their own neighborhood, on the supposition that the calamities of Job occurred after that event.
(4) the same thing is apparent also from the absence of all allusion to the Jewish rites, manners, customs, religious ceremonies, priesthood, festivals, fasts, sabbaths, etc. There will be occasion in another part of this introduction (Section 4) to inquire how far there is in fact such a lack of allusion to these things. All that is now meant is, that there is an obvious and striking lack of such allusions as we should expect to find made by one who lived at a later period, and who was familiar with the customs and religious rites of the Jews. The plan of the poem, it may be admitted, indeed, did not demand any frequent allusion to these customs and rites, and may be conceded to be adverse to such an allusion, even if they were known; but it is hardly conceivable that there should not have been some reference to them of more marked character than is now found. Even admitting that Job was a foreigner, and that the author meant to preserve this impression distinctly, yet his residence could not have been far from the confines of the Jewish people; and one who manifested such decided principles of piety toward God as he did, could not but have had a strong sympathy with that people, and could not but have referred to their rites in an argument so intimately pertaining to the government of yahweh. The representation of Job, and the allusions in the book, are in all respects such as would occur on the supposition that he lived before the special Jewish polity was instituted.
(5) the same thing is manifest from another circumstance. The religion of Job is of the same kind which we find prevailing in the time of Abraham, and before the institution of the Jewish system. It is a religion of sacrifices, but without any officiating priest. Job himself presents the offering, as the head of the family, in behalf of his children and his friends;Job 1:5; Job 42:8. There is no priest appointed for this office; no temple, tabernacle, or sacred place of any kind; no consecrated altar. Now this is just the kind of religion which we find prevailing among the patriarchs, until the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; and hence, it is natural to infer that Job lived anterior to that event. Thus, we find Noah building an altar to the Lord, and offering sacrifices, Gen 8:20; Abraham offering a sacrifice himself in the same manner, Gen 15:9-11; compare Gen 12:1-13; and this was undoubtedly the earliest form of religion. Sacrifices were offered to God, and the father of a family was the officiating priest.
These circumstances combined leave little doubt as to the time when Job lived. They concur in fixing the period as not remote from the age of Abraham, and there is no other period of history in which they will be found to unite. No question of great importance, however, depends on settling this question; and these circumstances determine the time with sufficient accuracy for all that is necessary, in an exposition of the book.
Section 4. The Author of the Book
A question of more vital importance than those which have been already considered, relates to the authorship of the book. As the name of the author is nowhere mentioned, either in the book itself or elsewhere in the Bible, it is of course impossible to arrive at absolute certainty; and after all that has been written on it, it is still and must be a point of mere conjecture. Still the question, as it is commonly discussed, opens a wide range of inquiry, and claims an investigation. If the name of the author cannot be discovered with certainty, it may be possible at least to decide with some degree of probability at what period of the world it was committed to writing, and perhaps with a degree of probability that may be sufficiently satisfactory, by whom it was done.
The first inquiry that meets us in the investigation of this point is, whether the whole book was composed by the same author, or whether the historical parts were added by a later hand. The slightest acquaintance with the book is sufficient to show, that there are in it two essentially different kinds of style - the poetic and prosaic. The body of the work, Job 3–42:6, is poetry; the other portion, Job 1;Job 2:1-13 and Job 42:7-17, is prose. The genuineness of the latter has been denied by many eminent critics, and particularly by DeWette, who regard it as the addition of some later hand. Against the prologue and the epilogue DeWette urges, “that the perfection of the work requires their rejection, because they solve the problem which is the subject of the discussion, by the idea of trial and compensation; whereas it was the design of the author to solve the question through the idea of entire submission on the part of man to the wisdom and power of God;” see Noyes, Intro. pp. xxi., xxii.
To this objection it may be replied:
(1) That we are to learn the view of the author only by all that he has presented to us. It may have been a part of his plan to exhibit just this view - not to present an abstract argument, but such an argument in connection with a real case, and to make it more vivid by showing an actual instance of calamity falling upon a pious man, and by a state of remarkable prosperity succeeding it. The presumption is, that the author of the poem designed to throw all the light possible on a very obscure and dark subject; and in order to that, a statement of the facts which preceded and followed the argument seems indispensable.
(2) without the statement in the conclusion of the prosperity of Job after his trials, the argument of the book is incomplete. The main question is not solved. God is introduced in the latter chapters, not as solving by explicit statements the questions that had given so much perplexity, but as showing the duty of unqualified submission. But when this is followed by the historical statement of the return of Job to a state of prosperity, of the long life which he afterward enjoyed, and of the wealth and happiness which attended him for nearly a century and a half, the objections of his friends and his own difficulties are abundantly met, and the conclusion of the whole shows that God is not regardless of his people, but that, though they pass through severe trials, still they are the objects of his tender care.
(3) besides, the prologue is necessary in order to understand the character, the language, and the arguments of Job. In the harsh and irreverent speeches which he sometimes makes, in his fearful imprecations in Job 3 on the day of his birth, and in the outbreaks of impatience which we meet with, it would be impossible for us to have the sympathy for the sufferer which the author evidently desired we should have, or to understand the depth of his woes, unless we had a view of his previous prosperity, and of the causes of his trials, and unless we had the assurance that he had been an eminently pious and upright man. As it is, we are prepared to sympathize with a sufferer of eminent rank, a man of previous wealth and prosperity, and one who had been brought into these circumstances or the very purpose of trial. We become at once interested to know how human nature will act in such circumstances, nor does the interest ever flag.
Under these sudden and accumulated trials, we admire, at first, the patience and resignation of the sufferer; then, under the protracted and intolerable pressure, we are not surprised to witness the outbreak of his feelings in Job 3; and then we watch with great interest and without weariness the manner in which he meets the ingenious arguments of his “friends” to prove that he had always been a hypocrite, and their cutting taunts and reproaches. It would be impossible to keep up this interest in the argument unless we were prepared for it by the historical statement in the introductory chapters. It should be added, that any supposition that these chapters are by a later hand, is entirely conjectural - no authority for any such belief being furnished by the ancient versions, manuscripts, or traditions. These remarks, however, do not forbid us to suppose, that, if the book were composed by Job himself, the last two verses in Job 42, containing an account of his age and death, were added by a later hand - as the account of the death of MosesDeu 34:1-12 must be supposed not to be the work of Moses himself, but of some later inspired writer.
If there is, therefore, reason to believe that the whole work, substantially as we have it now, was committed to writing by the same hand, the question arises, whether there are any circumstances by which it can be determined with probability who the author was. On no question, almost, pertaining to sacred criticism, have there been so many contradictory opinions as on this. Lowth, Magee, Prof. Lee, and many others, regard it as the work of Job himself. Lightfoot and others ascribe it to Elihu; some of the rabbinical writers, as also Kennicott, Michaelis, Dathe, and Good, to Moses; Luther, Grotius, and Doederlin, to Solomon; Umbreit and Noyes to some writer who lived not far from the period of the Jewish captivity; Rosenmuller, Spanheim, Reimar, Stauedlin, and C. F. Richter, suppose that it was composed by some Hebrew writer about the time of Solomon; Warburton regards it as the production of Ezra; Herder (Hebrew Poetry, i. 110) supposes that it was written by some ancient Idumean, probably Job himself, and was obtained by David in his conquests over Idumea. He supposes that in the later writings of David he finds traces of his having imitated the style of this ancient book.
It would be uninteresting and profitless to go into an examination of the reasons suggested by these respective authors for their various opinions. Instead of this, I propose to state the leading considerations which have occurred in the examination of the book itself, and of the reasons which have been suggested by these various authors, which may enable us to form a probable opinion. If the investigation shall result only in adding one more conjecture to those already formed, still it will have the merit of stating about all that seems to be of importance in enabling us to form an opinion in the case.
I. The first circumstance that would occur to one in estimating the question about the authorship of the book, is the foreign cast of the whole work - the fact that it differs from the usual style of the Hebrew compositions. The customs, allusions, figures of speech, and modes of thought, to one who is familiar with the writings of the Hebrews, have a foreign air, and are such as evidently show that the speakers lived in some other country than Judea. There is, indeed, a common Oriental cast diffused over the whole work, enough to distinguish it from all the modes of composition in the Occidental world; but there is, also, scarcely less to distinguish it from the compositions which we know had their origin among the Hebrews. The style of thought, and the general cast of the book, is Arabian. The allusions; the metaphors; the illustrations; the reference to historical events and to prevailing customs, are not such as an Hebrew would make; certainly not, unless in the very earliest periods of history, and before the character of the nation became so formed as to distinguish it characteristically from their brethren in the great family of the East. Arabian deserts; streams failing from drought; wadys filled in the winter and dry in the summer; moving hordes and caravans that come regularly to the same place for water; dwellings of tents easily plucked up and removed; the dry and stinted shrubbery of the desert; the roaring of lions and other wild beasts; periodical rains; trees planted on the verge of running streams; robbers and plunderers that rise before day, and make their attack in the early morning; the rights, authority, and obligation of theגאל gô'el, or avenger of blood; the claims of hospitality; the formalities of an Arabic court of justice, are the images which are kept constantly before the mind.
Here the respect due to an Emir; the courtesy of manners which prevails among the more elevated ranks in the Arabic tribes; the profound attention which listens to the close while one is speaking, and which never interrupts him (Herder i. 81), so remarkable among well-bred Orientals at the present day, appear everywhere. It is true, that many of these things may find a resemblance in the undoubted Hebrew writings - for some of them are the common characteristics of the Oriental people - but still, no one can doubt that they abound in this book more than in any other in the Bible, and that, as we shall see more particularly soon, they are unmixed as they are elsewhere, with what is indubitably of Hebrew origin. In connection with this, it may be remarked that there are in the book an unusual number of words, whose root is found now only in the Arabic, and which are used in a sense not common in the Hebrew, but usual in the Arabic. Of this all will be convinced who, in interpreting the book, avail themselves of the light which Gesenius has thrown on numerous words from the Arabic, or who consult the Lexicon of Castell, or who examine the Commentaries of Schultens and Lee. That more importance has been attached to this by many critics than facts will warrant, no one can deny; but as little can it be denied that more aid can be derived from the Arabic language in interpreting this book, than in the exposition of any other part of the Bible. On this point Gesenius makes the following remarks “Altogether there is found in the book much resemblance to the Arabic, or which can be illustrated from the Arabic; but this is either Hebrew, and pertains to the poetic diction, or it is at the same time Aramaish, and was borrowed by the poet from the Aramaean language, and appears here not as Aramaean but as Arabic. Yet there is not here proportionably more than in other poetic books and portions of books. It would be unjust to infer from this that the author of this book had any immediate connection with Arabia, or with Arabic literature.” Geschichte der hebr. Sprache und Schrift, S. 88. The fact of the Arabic cast of the work is conceded by Gesenius in the above extract; the inferences in regard to the connection of the book with Arabia and with Arabic literature which may be derived from this, is to be determined from other circumstances; compare Eichhorn, Einleitung, v. S. 163ff.
II. A second consideration that may enable us to determine the question respecting the authorship of the book is, the fact that there are in it numerous undoubted allusions to events which occurred before the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and the establishment of the Jewish institutions. The point of this remark is, that if we shall find such allusions, and also that there are no allusions to events occurring after that period, this is a circumstance which may throw some light on the authorship. It will at least enable us to fix, with some degree of accuracy, the time when the book was committed to writing. Now that there are manifest allusions to events occurring before that period, the following references will show;Job 10:9, “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay, and wilt thou bring me to dust again?” Here there is an allusion in almost so many words to the statements in Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19, respecting the manner in which man was formed - showing that Job was familiar with the account of the creation of man, Job 27:3, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;” Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life;” Job 32:8, “But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
Here there are undoubted allusions, also, to the manner in which man was formed - (compareGen 2:7) - allusions which show that the fact must have been made known to the speakers by tradition, since it is not such a fact as man would readily arrive at by reasoning. The imbecility and weakness of man also, are described in terms which imply an acquaintance with the manner in which he was created. “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth;” Job 4:19. In Job 31:33, there is probably an allusion to the fact that Adam attempted to hide himself from God when he had eaten the forbidden fruit. “If I covered my transgressions as Adam.” For the reasons for supposing that this refers to Adam, see the notes at the verse. In Job 22:15-16, there is a manifest reference to the deluge. “Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood?”
See the notes on that passage. In connection with this we may refer also to the fact that the description of the modes of worship, and the views of religion, found in this book, show an acquaintance with the form in which worship was offered to God before the exode from Egypt. They are of precisely such a character as we find in the time of Abel, Noah, and Abraham. These events are not such as would occur to one who was not familiar with the historical facts recorded in the first part of the book of Genesis. They are not such as would result from a train of reasoning, but could only be derived from the knowledge of those events which would be spread over the East at that early period of the world. They demonstrate that the work was composed by one who had had an opportunity to become acquainted with what is now recorded as the Mosaic history of the creation, and of the early events of the world.
III. There are no such allusions to events occurring after the exode from Egypt, and the establishment of the Jewish institutions. As this is a point of great importance in determining the question respecting the authorship of the book, and as it as been confidently asserted that there are such allusions, and as they have been made the basis of an argument to prove that the book had an origin as late as Solomon or even as Ezra, it is of importance to examine this point with attention. The point is, that there are no such allusions as a Hebrew would make after the exode; or in other words, there is nothing in the book itself which would lead us to conclude that it was composed after the departure from Egypt. A few remarks will show the truth and the bearing of this observation.
The Hebrew writers were remarkable above most others for allusions to the events of their own history. The dealings of God with their nation had been so special, and they were so much imbued with the conviction that the events of their own history furnished proofs of the divine favor toward their nation, that we find in their writings a constant reference to what had happened to them as a people. Particularly the deliverance from Egypt, the passage of the Red Sea, the giving of the law on Sinai, the journey in the wilderness, the conquest of the land of Canaan, and the destruction of their enemies, constituted an unfailing depository of argument and illustration for their writers in all ages. All their poetry written subsequent to these events, abounds with allusions to them. Their prophets refer to them for topics of solemn appeal to the nation; and the remembrance of these things warms the heart of piety, and animates the song of praise in the temple-service. Under the sufferings of the “captivity,” they are cheered by the fact that God delivered them once from much more galling oppression; and in the times of freedom, their liberty is made sweet by the memory of what their fathers suffered in the “house of bondage.”
Now it is as undeniable as it is remarkable, that in the book of Job there are no such allusions to these events as a Hebrew would make. There is no allusion to Moses; no indisputable reference to their bondage in Egypt, to the oppressive acts of Pharaoh, to the destruction of his army in the Red Sea, to the rescue of the children of Israel, to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, to the perils of the wilderness, to their final settlement in the promised land. There is no reference to the tabernacle, to the ark, to the tables of the law, to the institution and the functions of the priesthood, to the cities of refuge, or to the special religious rites of the Hebrew people. There is none to the theocracy, to the days of solemn convocation, to the great national festivals, or to the names of the Jewish tribes. There is none to the special judicial laws of the Hebrews, and none to the administration of justice but such as we should find in the early patriarchal times.
These omissions are the more remarkable, as has been already observed, because many of these events would have furnished the most apposite illustrations of the points maintained by the different speakers of any which had ever occurred in history. Nothing could have been more in point, on numerous occasions in conducting the argument, than the destruction of Pharaoh, the deliverance and protection of the people of God, the care evinced for them in the wilderness, and the overthrow of their enemies in the promised land. So obvious do these considerations appear, that they seem to settle the question on one point in regard to the authorship of the book, and to show that it could not have been composed by a Hebrew after the exode. For several additional arguments to prove that the book was written before the exode, see Eichhorn, Einleit, section 641. As, however, notwithstanding these facts, it has been held by some respectable critics - as Rosenmuller, Umbreit, Warburton, and others - that it was composed as late as the time of Solomon, or even the captivity, it is important to inquire in what way it is proposed to set this argument aside, and by what considerations they propose to defend its composition at a later date than the exode. They are, briefly, the following:
(1) One is, that the very design of the poem, whenever it was composed, required that there should be no such allusion. The scene, it is said is laid, not in Palestine, but in a foreign country; the time supposed is that of the patriarchs, and before the exode; the characters are not Hebrew, but are Arabian or Idumean, and the very purpose of the author required that there should be no allusion to the unique history or customs of the Hebrews. The same thing, it is said, occurred which would in the composition of poem or romance now in which the scene is laid in a foreign land, or in the time of the Crusades or the Caesars. We should expect that the characters, the costume, the habits of that foreign country or those distant times, would be carefully observed. “As they (the characters and the author of the work) were Arabians who had nothing to do with the institutions of Moses, it is plain that a writer of genius would not have been guilty of the absurdity of putting the sentiments, eats of a Jew into the mouth of an Arabian, at least so far as relates to such tangible matters as institutions, positive laws, ceremonies, and history. The author has manifested abundant evidence of genius and skill in the structure and execution of the work, to account for his not having given to Arabians the obvious peculiarities of Hebrews who lived under the institutions of Moses, at whatever period it may have been written.
Even if the characters of the book had been Hebrews, the argument under consideration would not have been perfectly conclusive, for, from the nature of the subject, we might have expected as little in it that was Levitical or grossly Jewish, as in the Book of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.” Noyes, Introduction p. 28. This supposition assumes that the work was written in a later age than that of Moses. It furnishes no evidence, however, that it was so written. It can only furnish evidence that the author had genius and skill so to throw himself back into a distant age and into a foreign land, as completely to conceal his own uniqueness of country or time, and to represent characters as living and acting in the supposed country and period, without betraying his own. So far as the question about the author, and the time when the work was composed, is concerned, the fact here admitted, that there are no allusions to events after the exode, is quite as strong certainly in favor of the supposition that it was composed before as after that event.
There are still some difficulties on the supposition that it was written by a Hebrew of a later age, who designedly meant to give it an Arabic dress, and to make no allusion to anything in the institutions and history of his own country that would betray its authorship, One is, the intrinsic difficulty of doing this. It requires rare genius for an author so to throw himself into past ages, as leave nothing that shall betray his own times and country. We are never so betrayed as to imagine that Shakespeare lived in the time of Coriolanus or of Caesar; that Johnson lived in the time and the country of Rasselas; or that Scott lived in the times of the Crusaders. Instances have been found, it is admitted, where the concealment has been effectual, but they have been exceedingly rare. Another objection to this view is, that such a work would have been especially impracticable for a Hebrew, who of all men would have been most likely to betray his time and country.
The cast of the poem is highly philosophical. The argument is in many places exceedingly abstruse. The appeal is to close and long observation; to the recorded experience of their ancestors; to the observed effects of devine judgments on the world. A Hebrew in such circumstances would have appealed to the authority of God; he would have referred to the terrible sanctions of the law rather than to cold and abstract reasoning; and he could hardly have refrained from some allusion to the events of his own history that bore so palpably on the case, It may be doubted, also, whether any Hebrew ever had such versatility of genius and character as to divest himself wholly of the proper costume of his country, and to appear throughout as an Arabic Emir, and so as never in a long argument to express anything but such as became the assumed character of the foreigner. It should be remembered, also, that the language which is used in this poem is different from that which prevailed in the time of Solomon and the captivity.
It has an antique cast. It abounds in words which do not elsewhere occur, and whose roots are now to be found only in the Arabic. It has much of the peculiarities of a strongly marked dialect - and would require all the art necessary to keep up the spirit of an ancient dialect. Yet in the whole range of literature there are not probably half a dozen instances where such an expedient as this has been resorted to - where a writer has made use of a foreign or an antique dialect for the purpose of giving to the production of his pen an air of antiquity. Aristophanes and the tragedians, indeed, sometimes introduce persons speaking the dialects of parts of Greece different from that in which they had been brought up (Lee), and the same is occasionally true of Shakespeare; but except in the case of Chatterton, scarcely one has occurred where the device has been continued through a production of any considerable length. There is a moral certainty that a Hebrew would not attempt it.
(2) a second objection to the supposition that the work was composed before the exode, or argument that it was composed by a Hebrew who lived at a much later period of the world, is derived from the supposed allusions to the historical events connected with the Jewish people, and to the unique institutions of Moses. It is not maintained that there is any direct mention of those events or those institutions, but that the author has undesignedly “betrayed” himself by the use of certain words and phrases such as no one would employ but a Hebrew. This argument may be seen at length in Warburton’s Divine Legation of Moses, vol. v. pp. 306-319, and a full examination of it may be seen in Peters’ Critical Dissertation on the Book of Job, pp. 22-36. All that can be done here is to make a very brief reference to the argument. Even the advocates for the opinion that the book was composed after the exode, have generally admitted that the passages referred to contribute but little to the support of the opinion. The passages referred to by Warburton are the following:
(a) The allusion to the calamities which the wickedness of parents brings upon their children. “He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail;”Job 17:5. “God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and they shall know it;” Job 21:19. Here it is supposed there is a reference to the principle laid down in the Hebrew Scriptures as a part of the divine administration, that the iniquities of the fathers should be visited upon their children. But it is not necessary to suppose that there was any particular acquaintance with the laws of Moses, to understand this. Observation of the actual course of events would have suggested all that is alleged in the Book of Job on this point. The poverty, disease, and disgrace which the vicious entail on their offspring in every land, would have furnished to a careful observer all the facts necessary to suggest this remark. The opinion that children suffer as a consequence of the sins of wicked parents was common all over the world. Thus, in a verse of Theocritus, delivered as a sort of oracle from Jupiter, Idyll. xxvi.
Εὐσεβέων παίδεσσι τὰ λώια, δυσσεβέων δ ̓ οὐEusebeōn paidessi ta lōia dussebeōn d' ou.
“Good things happen to children of the pious, but not to those of the irreligious.”
(b) Allusion to the fact that idolatry is an offence against the state, and is to be punished by the civil magistrate. “This also (idolatry) were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I should have denied the God that is above;”Job 31:28. This is supposed to be such a sentiment as a Hebrew only would have employed, as derived from his special institutions, where idolatry was an offence against the state, and was made a capital crime. But there is not the least evidence that in the patriarchal times, and in the country where Job lived, idolatrous worship might not be regarded as a civil offence; and whether it were so or not, there is no reason for surprise that a man who had a profound veneration for God, and for the honor due to his name, such as Job had, should express the sentiment, that the worship of the sun and moon was a heinous offence, and that pure religion was of so much importance that a violation of its principles ought to be regarded as a crime against society.
(c) Allusions to certain PHRASES such as only a Hebrew would use, and which would be employed only at a later period of the world than the exode. Such phrases are referred to as the following: “He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter;”Job 20:17. “Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart;” Job 22:22. “O that I were in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;” Job 29:4. It is maintained that these are manifest allusions to facts referred to in the books of Moses: that the first refers to the common description of the holy land; the second, to the giving of the law on Sinai; and the third, to the dwelling of the Shekinah, or visible symbol of God, on the tabernacle. To this we may reply, that the first is such common language as was used in the East to denote plenty or abundance, and is manifestly a proverbial expression. It is used by Pindar, Nem. εἰδ. γ; and is common in the Arabic writers. The second is only such general language as anyone would use who should exhort another to be attentive to the law of God, and has in it manifestly no particular allusion to the method in which the law was given on Sinai. And the third can be shown to have no special reference to the Shekinah or cloud of glory as resting on the tabernacle, nor is it such language as a Hebrew would employ in speaking of it. That cloud is nowhere in the Scripture called “the secret of God,” and the fair meaning of the phrase is, that God came into his dwelling as a friend and counselor, and admitted him familiarly to communion with him; see the notes at Job 29:4. It was one of the privileges, Job says, of his earlier life that he could regard himself as the friend of God, and that he had clear views of his plans and purposes. Now, those views were withheld, and he was left to darkness and solitude.
(d) Supposed allusions to the miraculous history of the Jewish people. “Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars;”Job 9:7. Here it is supposed there is allusion to the miracle performed by Joshua in commanding the sun and moon to stand still. But assuredly there is no necessity for supposing that there is a reference to anything miraculous. The idea is, that God has power to cause the sun, the moon, and the stars to shine or not, as he pleases. He can obscure them by clouds, or He can blot them out altogether. Besides, in the account of the miracle performed at the command of Joshua, there is no allusion to the stars. “He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud;” Job 26:12. Here it is supposed there is an allusion to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. But the language does not necessarily demand this interpretation, nor will it admit of it.
The word improperly rendered “divideth,” means to awe, to cause to cower, or tremble, and then to be calm or still, and is descriptive of the power which God has over a tempest. See the notes at the verse. There is not the slightest evidence that there is any allusion to the passage through the Red Sea. “He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;”Job 12:24. “Who can doubt,” says Warburton, “but that these words alluded to the wandering of the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness, as a punishment for their cowardice and diffidence in God’s promises?” But there is no necessary reference to this. Job is speaking of the control which God has over the nations. He has power to frustrate all their counsels, and to defeat all their plans. He can found all the purposes of their princes, and throw their affairs into inextricable confusion.
In the original, moreover, the word does not necessarily imply a “wilderness” or desert. The word isתהוּ tôhû a word used in Gen 1:2, to denote “emptiness,” or “chaos,” and may here refer to the “confusion” of their counsels and plans; or if it refer to a desert, the allusion is of a general character, meaning that God had power to drive the people from their fixed habitations, and to make them wanderers on the face of the earth. “I will show thee; hear me; and what I have seen will I declare; which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it;” Job 15:17-18. “The very way,” says Warburton, “in which Moses directs the Israelites to preserve the memory of the miraculous works of God.” And the very way, also, it may be replied, in which all ancient history, and all the ancient wisdom from the beginning of the world, was transmitted to posterity. There was no other method of preserving the record of past transactions, but by transmitting the memory of them from father to son; and this was and is, in fact, the method of doing it all over the East. It was by no means confined to the Israelites. “Unto whom alone the earth was given, AND NO STRANGER PASSED AMONGST THEM;” Job 15:19. “A circumstance,” says Warburton, “agreeing to no people whatever but to the Israelites settled in Canaan.” But there is no necessary allusion here to the Israelites. Eliphaz is speaking of the golden age of his country; of the happy and pure times when his ancestors dwelt in the land without being corrupted by the intermingling of foreigners.
He says that he will state the result of their wisdom and observation in those pure and happy days, before it could be pretended that their views were corrupted by any foreign admixture; see the notes on the passage. These passages are the strongest instances of what has been adduced to show that in the Book of Job there are allusions to the customs and opinions of the Jews after the exode from Egypt. It would be tedious and unprofitable to go into a particular examination of all those which are referred to by Dr. Warburton. The remark may be made of them all, that they are of so general a character, and that they apply so much to the prevailing manners and customs of the East, that there is no reason for supposing that there is a special reference to the Hebrews. The remaining passages referred to, areJob 22:6; Job 24:7, Job 24:9-10; Job 33:17 ff; Job 34:20; Job 36:7-12; and Job 37:13. A fu l examination of these may be seen in Peters’ Critical Dissertation, pp. 32-36.
(3) A third objection to the supposition that the book was composed before the time of the exode, is derived from the use of the word yahweh. This word occurs several times in the historical part of the bookJob 1:6-9, Job 1:12, Job 1:21; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6; Job 42:1, Job 42:10, Job 42:12, and a few times in the body of the poem. The objection is founded on what God says to Moses, Exo 6:3; “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; but by my name yahweh was I not known to them.” At the burning bush, when he appeared to Moses, he solemnly assumed this name, and directed him to announce him as “I am that I am,” or as yahweh. From this it is inferred that, as the name occurs in the book of Job, that book must have been composed subsequently to the time when God appeared to Moses. But this conclusion does not follow, for the following reasons:
(a) It might be true that God was not known to “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” by this name, and still the name might have been used by others to designate him.
(b) The name yahweh was actually used before this by God himself and by others;Gen 2:7-9, Gen 2:15-16, Gen 2:18-19, Gen 2:21; Gen 3:9, et al; Gen 12:1, Gen 12:4,Gen 12:7-8, Gen 12:17; Gen 13:10, Gen 13:13-14; Gen 15:6, Gen 15:18; Gen 16:9-10, Gen 16:13, et saepe al. If the argument from this, therefore, be valid to prove that the book of Job was not composed before the exode, it will demonstrate that the book of Genesis was also a subsequent production.
(c) But the whole argument is based on a misapprehension ofExo 6:3. The meaning of that passage, since the name yahweh was known to the patriarchs, must be
(1) that it was not by this name that he had promulgated his existence, or was publicly and solemnly known. It was a name used in common with other names by them, but which He had in no special way appropriated to Himself, or to which He had affixed no special sacredness. The name which He had Himself more commonly employed was another. Thus when He appeared to Abraham and made Himself known, he said, “I am the ALMIGHTY GOD; walk before me, and be thou perfect;”Gen 17:1. So He appeared to Jacob: “I am GOD be fruitful and multiply;” Gen 35:11; compare Gen 28:3; Gen 43:14.
(2) at the bush Exo. 3;Exo 4:3, God publicly and solemnly assumed the name yahweh. He affixed to it a special sacredness. He explained its meaning, Exo 3:14. He said it was the name by which He intended especially to be known as the God of His people. He invested it with a solemn sacredness, as that by which He chose ever afterward to be known among His people as their God. Other nations had their divinities with different names; the God of the children of Israel was to be known by the special and sacred name yahweh. But this solemn assumption of the name is by no means inconsistent with the supposition that He might have used it before, or that it might have been used before in the composition of the Book of Job.
(4) a fourth objection to the supposition that the book was composed before the time of the exode, is, that the name Satan, which occurs in this book, was not known to the Hebrews at so early a date, and that in fact it occurs as a proper name only at a late period of their history. See Warburton’s Divine Legation, vol. v. 353ff. In reply to this it may be observed,
(a) that the doctrine of the existence of an evil spirit of the character ascribed in this book to Satan, was early known to the Hebrews. It was known in the time of Ahab, when, it is said, the Lord had put a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets,1Ki 22:22-23, and the belief of such an evil spirit must have been early prevalent to explain in any tolerable way the history of the fall. On the meaning of the word, see the notes at Job 1:6.
(b) The word “Satan” early occurs in history in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and it was natural to transfer this word to the great adversary. SeeNum 22:22. In Zec 3:1-2, it is used in the same sense as in Job, to denote the great adversary of God appearing before him; see the notes at Job 1:6. Here Satan is introduced as a being whose name and character were well known.
(c) It is admitted by Warburton himself (p. 355), that the notion of “an evil demon,” or a “fury,” was a common opinion among the pagan, even in early ages, though he says it was not admitted among the Hebrews until a late period of their history. But if it prevailed among the pagan, it is possible that the same sentiment might have been understood in Arabia, and that this might at a very early period have been incorporated into the Book of Job. See this whole subject examined in Peters’ Critical Dissertation, pp. 80-92. I confess, however, that the answers which Peters and Magee (pp. 322, 323) give to this objection, are not perfectly satisfactory; and that the objection here urged against the composition of the book before the exode, is the most forcible of all those which I have seen. A more thorough investigation of the history of opinions respecting a presiding evil being than I have had access to, seems to be necessary to a full removal of the difficulty.
The real difficulty is, not that no such being is elsewhere referred to in the Scriptures; not that his existence is improbable or absurd - for the existence of Satan is no more improbable in itself than that of Nero, Tiberius, Richard III, Alexander VI, or Caesar Borgia, than either of whom he is not much worse; and not that there are no traces of him in the early account in the Bible; - but it is, that while in the Scriptures we have, up to the time of the exode, and indeed long after, only obscure intimations of his existence and character - without any particular designation of his attributes, and without any name being given to him, in the Book of Job he appears with a name apparently in common use; with a definitely formed character; in the full maturity of his plans - a being evidently as well defined as the Satan in the latest periods of the Jewish history. I confess myself unable to account for this, but still do not perceive that there is any impossibility in supposing that this maturity of view in regard to the evil principle might have prevailed in the country of Job at this early period, though no occasion occurred for its statement in the corresponding part of the Jewish history. There may have been such a prevalent belief among the patriarchs, though in the brief records of their opinions and lives no occasion occurred for a record of their belief.
(5) a fifth objection has been derived from the fact that in the Book of Job there is a strong resemblance to many passages in the Psalms, and in the Book of Proverbs, from which it is inferred that it was composed subsequently to those books. Rosenmuller, who has particularly urged this objection, appeals to the following instances of resemblance;Psa 107:40; compare with 16:18; Psa 18:12; Psa 29:1-11 :23; Job 22:29; Pro 8:26-29; Pro 30:4; Job 38:4-8; Pro 10:7; Job 20:7. It is unnecessary to go into an examination of these passages, or to attempt to disprove their similarity. There can be no doubt of their very strong resemblance, but still the question is fairly open, which of these books was first composed, and which, if one has borrowed from another, was the original fountain. Warburton has himself well remarked, that “if the sacred writers must needs have borrowed trite moral sentences from one another, it may be as fairly said that the authors of the Psalms borrowed from the book of Job, as that the author of Job borrowed from the book of Psalms.” Works, vol. v. 320. The supposition that the Book of Job was first composed will meet the whole difficulty, so far as one was derived from the other. It should be added, also, that many of these sentiments consist of the common maxims that must have prevailed among a people accustomed to close observation, and habituated to expressing their views in a proverbial form.
I have now noticed at length all the objections which have been urged, which seem to me to have any force, against the supposition that the Book of Job was composed before the exode from Egypt, and have stated the arguments which lead to the supposition that it had so early an origin. The considerations suggested are such as seem to me to leave no rational doubt that the work was composed before the departure from Egypt. The train of thought pursued, therefore, if conclusive, will remove the necessity of all further inquiry into the opinion of Luther, Grotius, and Doederlin, that Solomon was the author; of Umbreit and Noyes, that it was composed by some unknown writer about the period of the captivity; of Warburton, that it was the production of Ezra; and of Rosenmuller, Spanheim, Reimer, Staeudlin, and Richter, that it was composed by some Hebrew writer about the time of Solomon. It remains then to inquire whether there are any circumstances which can lead us to determine with any degree of probability who was the author. This inquiry leads us,
IV. In the fourth place, to remark that there are no sufficient indications that the work was composed by Elihu. The opinion that he was the author was held, among others, by Lightfoot. But, independently of the want of any positive evidence which would lead to such a conclusion, there are objections to this opinion which render it in the highest degree improbable. They are found in the argument of Elihu himself. He advances, indeed, with great modesty, but still with extraordinary pretensions to wisdom. He lays claim to direct inspiration, and professes to be able to throw such light on the whole of the perplexed subject as to end the debate. But in the course of his addresses, he introduces but one single idea on the point under discussion which had not been dwelt on at length by the speakers before. That idea is, that afflictions are designed, not to demonstrate that the sufferer was eminently guilty, as the friends of Job held, but that intended for the benefit of the sufferer himself, and might, therefore, be consistent with true piety.
This idea he places in a variety of attitudes; illustrates it with great beauty, and enforces it with great power on the attention of Job; compare Job 33:14-30, notes;Job 34:31-32, notes; Job 35:10-15, notes; Job 36:7-16, notes. But in his speeches Elihu shows no such extraordinary ability as to lead us to suppose that he was the author of the work. He does not appear to have understood the design of the trials that came upon Job; he gives no satisfactory solution of the causes of affliction; he abounds in repetition; his observation of the course of events had been evidently much less profound than that of Eliphaz, and his knowledge of nature was much less extensive than that of Job and the other speakers; and he was evidently as much in the dark in the great question which is discussed throughout the book as the other speakers were. Besides, as Prof. Lee has remarked (p. 44), the belief that Elihu wrote the book is inconsistent with the supposition that the first two chapters and the last chapter were written by the same author who composed the body of the work. He who wrote these chapters manifestly “saw through the whole affair,” and understood the reasons why these trials came upon the patriarch. Those reasons would have been suggested by Elihu in his speech, if he had known them.
V. The supposition that Job himself was the author of the book, though it may have been slightly modified by some one subsequently, will meet all the circumstances of the case. This will agree with its foreign cast and character; with the use of the Arabic words now unknown in Hebrew; with the allusions to the nomadic habits of the times, and to the modes of living, and to the illustrations drawn from sandy plains and deserts; with the statements about the simple modes of worship prevailing, and the notice of the sciences and the arts (see the introduction, Section 5), and with the absence of all allusion to the exode, the giving of the law, and the special customs and institutions of the Hebrews. In addition to these general considerations for supposing that Job was the author of the work, the following suggestions may serve to show that this opinion is attended with the highest degree of probability.
(1) Job lived after his calamities 140 years, affording ample leisure to make the record of his trials.
(2) the art of making books was known in his time, and by the patriarch himself,Job 19:23-24; Job 31:35. In whatever way it was done, whether by engraving on stone or lead, or by the use of more perishable materials, he was not ignorant of the art of making a record of thoughts to be preserved and transmitted to future times. Understanding this art, and having abundant leisure, it is scarcely to be conceived, that he would have failed to make a record of what had occurred during his own remarkable trials.
(3) the whole account was one that would furnish important lessons to mankind, and it is hardly probable that a man who had passed through so unusual a scene would be willing that the recollection of it should be entrusted to uncertain tradition. The strongest arguments which human ingenuity could invent, had been urged on both sides of a great question pertaining to the divine administration; a case of a strongly marked character had happened, similar to what is constantly occurring in the world, in which similar perplexing and embarrassing questions would arise; God had come forth to inculcate the duty of man in this case, and had furnished instruction that would be invaluable in all similar instances; and the result of the whole trial had been such as to furnish the strongest proof that however the righteous are afflicted, their sufferings are not proof that they are deceivers or hypocrites.
(4) the record of his own imperfections and failures is just such as we should expect from Job, on the supposition that he was the author of the book. Nothing is concealed. There is the most fair and full statement of his impatience, his murmuring, his irreverence, and of the rebuke which he received of the Almighty. Thus Moses, too, records his own failings, and, throughout the Scriptures, the sacred writers never attempt to conceal their own infirmities and faults.
(5) Job has shown in his own speeches that he was abundantly able to compose the book. In everything he goes immeasurably beyond all the other speakers, except God; and he who was competent, in trials so severe as his were, to give utterance to the lofty eloquence, the argument, and the poetry now found in his speeches, was not incompetent to make record of them in the long period of health and prosperity which he subsequently enjoyed. Every circumstance, therefore, seems to me to render it probable that Job was the compiler, or perhaps we should rather say, the editor of this remarkable book, with the exception of the record which is made of his own age and death. The speeches were undoubtedly made substantially as they are recorded, and the work of the author was to collect and edit those speeches, to record his own and that of the Almighty, and to furnish to the whole the proper historical notices, that the argument might be properly understood.
VI. But one other supposition seems necessary to meet all the questions which have been raised in regard to the origin of the work. It is, that Moses adopted it and published it among the Hebrews as a part of divine revelation, and entrusted it to them, with his own writings, to be transmitted to future times. Several circumstances contribute to render this probable.
(1) Moses spent forty years in various parts of Arabia, mostly in the neighborhood of Horeb; and in a country where, if such a work had been in existence, it would be likely to be known.
(2) his talents and previous training at the court of Pharaoh were such as would make him likely to look with interest on any literary document; on any work expressive of the customs, arts, sciences, and religion of another land: and especially on anything having the stamp of uncommon genius.
(3) the work was eminently adapted to be useful to his own countrymen, and could be employed to great advantage in the enterprise which he undertook of delivering them from bondage. It contained an extended examination of the great question which could not but come before their minds - why the people of God were subjected to calamities; it inculcated the necessity of submission without murmuring, under the severest trials; and it showed that God was the friend of his people, though they were long afflicted, and would ultimately bestow upon them abundant prosperity. There is every probability, therefore, that if Moses found such a book in existence, he would have adopted it as an important auxiliary in accomplishing the great work to which he was called. It may be added
(4) that there is every reason to think that Moses was not himself the author of it. This opinion rests on such considerations as these:
(a) The style is not that of Moses. It has more allusion to proverbs, and maxims, and prevailing views of science, than occur in his poetic writings; see Lowth, Prae. Hebr. xxxii.; Michaelis, Nat. et Epim. p 186, as quoted by Magee, p. 328, and Herder, Hebrew Poetry, vol. i. pp. 108, 109.
(b) Moses in his poetry almost invariably used the word yahweh as the name of God, rarely that of the Almighty (שׁדי shadday); in Job, the word yahweh rarely occurs in the body of the poem, some other name for the Deity being almost uniformly employed.
(c) In the book of Job there are numerous instances of words, the roots of which are now obsolete, or which are found only in the Arabic or Chaldee. See Prof. Lee, Intro. p. 50.
(d) The allusions to Arabic customs, opinions, and manners, are not such as would have been likely to be familiar to the mind of Moses. All that he could have learned of them would have been what he acquired, when over forty years of age, in keeping the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro; and though it might be said with plausibility that the forty years which he spent with him might have made him familiar with the habits of Arabia, still, in a poem of this length, we should have expected that these would not have been the only allusions. The most vivid and permanent impressions on the mind are those made in youth; and on the mind of Moses, those impressions had been received in Egypt. the work had been composed by him we should, therefore, bare expected that there would have been frequent allusions that would have betrayed Egyptian origin. But of these there are none, or if there are any which have such an origin, they are such as might have been readily learned from the common reports of travelers. But with all that pertained to the desert, to the keeping of flocks and herds, to the nomadic mode of life, to the poor and needy wanderers there, to the methods of plunder and robbery, the author of the poem shows himself to be perfectly familiar. It seems to me, therefore, that by this train of remarks, we are conducted to a conclusion tended with as much certainty as can be hoped for in the nature of the case, that the work was composed by Job himself in the period of rest and prosperity which succeeded his trials, and came to the knowledge of Moses during his residence in Arabia, and was adopted by him to represent to the Hebrews, in their trials, the duty of submission to the will of God, and to furnish the assurance that he would yet appear to crown with abundant blessings his own people, however much they might be afflicted.
Section 5. The State of the Arts and Sciences in the Time of Job
There is one important aspect still in which the book of Job may be contemplated. It is as an illustration of the state of the acts and sciences of the period of the world when it was composed. We are not indeed, in a poem of this nature, to look for formal treatises on any of the arts or sciences as then understood, but all that we can expect to find must be incidental allusions, or hints, that may enable us to determine with some degree of accuracy what advances society had then made. Such allusions are also of much more value in determining the progress of society, than extended descriptions of conquests and sieges would be. The latter merely change the boundaries of empire; the former indicate progress in the condition of man. Inventions in the arts and discoveries in science are fixed points, from which society does not go backward. I propose, then, as an illustration of the progress which society had made in the time of Job, as well as to prepare the mind to read the book in the most intelligent manner, to bring together the scattered notices of the state of the arts and sciences contained in this poem. No exact order can be observed in this; nor is there anything in the poem to indicate which of the things specified had the priority in point of time, or when the invention or discovery was made. The order of the arrangement chosen will have some reference to the importance of the subjects, and also some to what may be supposed to have first attracted attention. For a more full view of the various points that will be referred to, reference may be made to the notes on the various passages adduced.
The stars were early observed in Chaldea, where the science of astronomy had its origin. A pastoral people always have some knowledge of the heavenly bodies. The tending of flocks by night, under a clear Oriental sky, gave abundant opportunity for observing the motions of the heavenly bodies, and names would soon be given to the most important of the stars; the difference between the planets and the fixed stars would be observed, and the imagination would be employed in grouping the stars into fanciful resemblances to animals and other objects. In like manner, as caravans traveled much at night through the deserts, on account of the comparative coolness then, they would have an opportunity of observing the stars, and some knowledge of the heavenly bodies became necessary to guide their way. The notices of the heavenly bodies in this poem show chiefly that names were given to some of the stars; that they were grouped together in constellations; and that the times of the appearance of certain stars had been carefully observed, and their relation to certain aspects of the weather had been marked. There is no express mention of the planets as distinguished from the fixed stars; and nothing to lead us to suppose that they were acquainted with the true system of astronomy.
He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not,
And he sealeth up the stars.
He alone stretcheth out the heavens
And walketh upon the high waves of the sea.
He maketh Arcturus, Orion,
The Pleiades, and the secret chambers of the south.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,
Or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season,
Or lead forth the Bear with her young?
Knowest thou the laws of the heavens,
Or hast thou appointed their dominion over the earth?
It would seem from these passages, that the allusion to the clusters of stars here, is made to them as the harbingers of certain seasons. “It is well known, that, in different regions of the earth, the appearance of certain constellations before sunrise or after sunset, marks the distinction of seasons, and regulates the labors of the farmer.” Wemyss. It is also known that the appearance of certain constellations - as Orion - was regarded by mariners as denoting a stormy and tempestuous season of the year. See Job 9:7-9, notes; and Job 38:31-33, notes. This seems to be the knowledge of the constellations referred to here, and there is no certain evidence that the observation of the heavens in the time of Job had gone beyond this.
A somewhat curious use has been made of the reference to the stars in the book of Job, by an attempt to determine the time when he lived. Supposing the principal stars here mentioned to be those of Taurus and Scorpio, and that these were the cardinal constellations of spring and autumn in the time of Job, and calculating their positions by the precession of the equinoxes, the time referred to in the book of Job was found to be 818 years after the deluge, or 184 years before the birth of Abraham. “This calculation, made by Dr. Brinkley of Dublin, and adopted by Dr. Hales, had been made also in 1765 by M. Ducontant in Paris, with a result differing only in being forty-two years less.” The coincidence is remarkable, but the proof that the constellations referred to are Taurus and Scorpio, is too uncertain to give much weight to the argument.
The intimations about the structure, the size, and the support of the earth, are also very obscure, and the views entertained would seem to have been very confused. Language is used, doubtless, such as would express the popular belief, and it resembles that which is commonly employed in the Scriptures. The common representation is, that the heavens are stretched out as a curtain or tent, or sometimes as a solid concave sphere in which the heavenly bodies are fixed (see the notes atIsa 34:4), and that the earth is an immense plain, surrounded by water, which reached the concave heavens in which the stars were fixed. Occasionally, the earth is represented as supported by pillars, or as resting on a solid foundation; and once we meet with an intimation that it is globular, and suspended in space.
In the following passages the earth and the sky are represented as supported by pillars:
He shaketh the earth out of her place,
And the pillars thereof tremble.
The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at his rebuke.Job 31:11.
In the latter passage the reference is to mountains, which seem to uphold the sky as pillars, in accordance with the common and popular representation among the ancients. Thus Mount Atlas, in Mauritania, was represented as a pillar on which heaven was suspended:
“Atlas’ broad shoulders prop th’ incumbent skies,
Around his cloud-girt head the stars arise,”
In the following passage the earth is represented as suspended on nothing, and there would seem to be a slight evidence that the true doctrine about the form of the earth was then known:
He stretcheth out the North over the empty space,
And hangeth the earth upon nothing.
See particularly the notes on that passage. Though the belief seems to nave been that the earth was thus “self-balanced,” yet there is no intimation that they were acquainted with the fact that it revolves on its axis, or around the sun as a center.
There are few intimations of the prevalent knowledge of geography in the time of Job. In one instance foreign regions are mentioned, though there is no certainty that the countries beyond Palestine are there referred to:
Have ye not inquired of the travelers?
And will ye not hear their testimony?
In the close of the book, in the mention of the hippopotamus and the crocodile, there is evidence that there was some knowledge of the land of Egypt, though no intimation is given of the situation or extent of that Country.
The cardinal points are referred to, and there is evidence in this book, as well as elsewhere in the Scriptures, that the geographer then regarded himself as looking toward the East. The South was thus the “right hand,” the North the left hand, and the West the region “behind:”
Behold, I go to the East, and he is not there;
And to the West, but I cannot perceive him;
To the North, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him;
He hideth himself on the South, that I cannot see him.
See the notes on this verse for an explanation of the terms used; compare the following places, where similar geographical terms occur; Jdg 18:12; Deu 11:24; Zec 14:8; Exo 10:19; Jos 17:7; 2Ki 23:13; 1Sa 23:24; Gen 14:15; Jos 19:27.
Whatever was the form of the earth, and the manner in which it was sustained, it is evident from the following passage that the land was regarded as surrounded by a waste of waters, whose outer limit was deep and impenetrable darkness:
He hath drawn a circular bound upon the waters,
To the confines of the light and darkness.
Yet the whole subject is represented as one with which man was then unacquainted, and which was beyond his grasp:
Hast thou observed the breadths of the earth?
Declare, if thou knowest it all.
For a full illustration of this passage, and the views of geography which then prevailed, the reader is referred to the notes. It is evident that the knowledge of geography, so far as is indicated by this book, was then very limited, though it should also be said that in the argument of the poem there was little occasion to refer to knowledge of this kind, and that few intimations are to be expected on the subject.
There are much more frequent intimations of the state of knowledge on the various subjects embraced under this head, than of either astronomy or geography. These intimations show that these subjects had excited much attention, and had been the result of careful observation; and in regard to some of them there are indications of a plausible theory of their causes, though most of them are appealed to as among the inscrutable things of God. The facts excited the wonder of the Arabian observers, and they clothed their conceptions of them in the most beautiful language of poetry; but they do not often attempt to explain them. On the contrary, these obvious and undisputed facts, so inscrutable to them, are referred to as full proof that we cannot hope to comprehend the ways of God, and as reason why we should bow before him with profound adoration. Among the things referred to are the following:
(a) The Aurora Borealis, or Northern lights. Thus the magnificent description of the approach of the Almighty to close the controversyJob 37:21-23, seems to have been borrowed by Elihu from the beautiful lights of the North, in accordance with the common opinion that the North was the seat of the Divinity:
And now - man cannot look upon the bright splendor that is
On the clouds:
For the wind passeth along and maketh them clear.
golden splendor approaches from the North:
How fearful is the majesty of God!
The Almighty! we cannot find him out!
Great in power and in justice, and vast in righteousness!
CompareIsa 14:13, notes; and Job 23:9, notes.
(b) Tornadoes, whirlwinds, and tempests, were the subject of careful observation. The sources from where they usually came were attentively marked, and the various phenomena which they exhibited were so observed that the author of the poem was able to describe them with the highest degree of poetic beauty:
With his hands be covereth the lightning
And commandeth it where to strike.
He pointeth out to it his friends -
The collecting of his wrath is upon the wicked.
At this also my heart palpitates,
And is moved out of its place.
Hear, O hear, the thundrer of his voice!
The muttering thunder that goes forth from his mouth!
He directeth it under the whole heaven,
And his lightning to the ends of the earth.
He thundereth with the voice of his majesty,
And he will not restrain the tempest when his voice is heard.
Job 36:32-33; Job 37:1-4.
Terrors come upon him like waters,
In the night a tempest stealeth him away.
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth,
And it sweeps him away from his place.Job 27:20-21.
(c) The dew had been carefully observed, yet the speakers did not understand its phenomena. How it was produced; whether it descended from the atmosphere, or ascended from the earth, they did not profess to be able to explain. It was regarded as one of the things which God only could understand; yet the manner in which it is spoken of shows that it had attracted deep attention, and led to much inquiry:
Hath the rain a father?
And who hath begotten the drops of the dew?
(d) The same remarks may be made of the formation of the hoar frost, of snow, of hail, and of ice. There is no theory suggested to account for them but they are regarded as among the things which God alone could comprehend, and which evinced his wisdom. There had been evidently much careful observation of the facts, and much inquiry into the cause of these things but the speakers did not profess to be able to explain them. To this day, also, there is much about them which is unexplained, and the farther the investigation is carried, the more occasion is there to admire the wisdom of God in the formation of these things, See the notes on the passages that will now be referred to:
From whose womb came the ice;
The hoar-frost of heaven, who gave it birth?
By the breath of God frost is produced,
And the broad waters become compressed.Job 37:10 (note).
For he saith to the snow, “Be thou on the earth.”Job 37:6 (note).
Hast thou been into the storehouses of snow?
Or seen the storehouses of hail, that and Which I have reserved until the time of trouble,
To the day of battle and war?Job 38:22-23 (note).
(e) The dawning of the morning is described with great beauty, and is represented as wholly beyond the power of man to produce or explain:
Hast thou, in thy life, given commandment to the morning?
Or caused the dawn to know His place?
That it may seize on the far corners of the earth,
And scatter the robbers before it?
It turns itself along like clay under the seal,
And all things stand forth as if in gorgeous apparel.
NOTE: For the meaning of this uncommonly beautiful imagery, see the notes on this place.
(f) So all the phenomena of light are represented as evincing the wisdom of God, and as wholly beyond the ability of man to explain or comprehend them; yet so represented as to show that it had been a subject of careful observation and reflection:
Where is the way to the dwelling-place of light?
And the darkness, where is its place?
That thou couldest conduct it to its limits,
And that thou shouldest knorr the path to its dwelling?
(g) The clouds and rain also had been carefully observed, and the laws which governed them were among the inscrutable things of God:
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
And who can empty the bottles of heaven?
The clouds seem to have been regarded as a solid substance capable of holding rain like a leather bottle, and the rain was caused by their emptying themselves on the earth. Yet the whole phenomena were considered to beyond the comprehension of man. The laws by which the clouds suspended in the air, and the reason why the rain descended in small drops, instead of gushing floods, were alike incomprehensible:
Who also can understand the outspreading of the clouds,
And the fearful thunderings in his pavilion?
For he draweth up the drops of water;
They distil rain in his vapor,
Which the clouds pour down;
They pour it upon man in abundance.Job 36:27-28.
He bindeth up the waters in the thick clouds,
And the cloud is not rent under them.Job 26:8.
(h) The sea had also attracted the attention of these ancient observers and there were phenomena there which they could not explain:
Who shut up the sea with doors,
In its bursting forth as from the womb?
When I made the cloud its garment,
And swathed it in thick darkness?
I measured out for it its limits.
And fixed its bars and doors,
And said, Thus far shalt thou come, but no farther.
And here shall thy proud waves be stayed!
There is a reference here, undoubtedly, to the creation; but as this is the language of God describing that event, it cannot be determined with certainty that a knowledge of the method of creation had been communicated to them by tradition. But language like this implies that there bad been a careful observation of the ocean, and that there were things in regard to it which were to them incomprehensible. The passage is a most sublime description of the creation of the mighty mass of waters, and while it is entirely consistent with the account in Genesis, it supplies some important circumstances not recorded there.
V. Mining Operations
Job 28 - one of the most beautiful portions of the Bible - contains a statement of the method of mining then practiced, and shows that the art was well understood. The mechanical devices mentioned, and the skill with which the process was carried on, evince considerable advance in the arts:
Truly there is a vein for silver,
And a place for gold where they refine it.
Iron is obtained from the earth,
And ore is fused into copper.
Man putteth an end to darkness,
And completely searches every thing -
The rocks, the thick darkness, and the shadow of death
He sinks a shaft far from a human dwelling;
They, unsupported by the feet, hang suspended;
Far from men they swing to and fro.
The earth - out of it cometh bread;
And when turned up beneath, it resembles fire.
Its stones are the places of sapphires,
And gold dust pertains to it.
The path thereto no bird knoweth,
And the vulture’s eye hath not seen it.
The fierce wild beasts have not trodden it,
And the lion hath not walked over it.
Man layeth his hand upon the flinty rock;
He overturneth mountains from their foundations;
He cutteth out canals among the rocks,
And his eye seeth every precious thing.
He restraineth the streams from trickling down,
And bringeth hiddden things to light.
The operation of mining must have early attracted attention, for the art of working metals, and of course their value, was understood in a very early age of the world. Tubal Cain is described as an “instructor of every artificer in brass and iron;”Gen 4:22. The description in Job shows that this art had received much attention, and that in his time it had been carried to a high degree of perfection; see the notes at Job 28:1-11.
VI. Precious Stones
There is frequent mention of precious stones in the book of Job, and it is evident that they were regarded as of great value, and were used for ornament. The following are mentioned, as among the precious stones, though some of them are now ascertained to be of little value. There is evidence that they judged, as was necessarily the case in the early age of the world, rather from appearances than from any chemical knowledge of their nature. The onyx and sapphire:
It (wisdom) cannot be estimated by the gold of Ophir
By the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
Coral, crystal, and rubies:
No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
For the price of wisdom is above rubies.Job 28:18.
The topaz found in Ethiopia, or Cush:
The topaz of Cush cannot equal it,
Nor can it be purchased with pure gold.Job 28:19.
These were found as the result of the processes of mining, though it is not known that the art of engraving on them was known. It is, moreover, not entirely easy to fix the signification of the original words used here. See the notes at Job 28.
VII. Coining, Writing Engraving
It is not quite certain, though there is some evidence, that the art of coining was known in the days of Job. The solution of this question depends on the meaning of the word rendered “a piece of money,” inJob 42:11. For an examination of this, the reader is referred to the notes on that verse. There is the fullest evidence that the art of writing was then known:
O that my words were now written!
O that they were engraved on a tablet!
That with an iron graver, and with lead,
They were engraven upon a rock forever.
O that He would hear me!
Behold my defense! May the Almighty answer me!
Would that he who contends with me would write down his charge!
Truly upon my shoulder would I bear it;
I would bind it upon me as a diadem.Job 31:35-36.
The materials for writing are not indeed particularly mentioned, but it is evident that permanent records on stone were made; that this was done sometimes by making use of lead; and also that it was common to make use of portable materials, and as would seem of flexible materials, since Job speaks Job 31 of binding the charge of his adversary, when written down, around his head like a turban or diadem; compareIsa 8:1, note; Isa 30:8, note. Though the papyrus, or “paper reed,” of Egypt, seems to be once alluded to (see the notes at Job 8:11), yet there is no evidence that it was known as a material for writing.
VIII. The Medical Art
Physicians are once mentioned.
For truly are ye forgers of fallacies;
Physicians of no value, all of you.
But there is no intimation of the methods of cure, or of the remedies that were applied. It is remarkable that, so far as appears, no methods were taken to cure the extraordinary malady of Job himself. He excluded himself from society, sat down in dust and ashes, and merely attempted to remove the offensive matter that the disease collected on his person;Job 2:8. So far as appears from the Scriptur early times were chiefly external applications. See Isa 1:6, note; Isa 38:21-22, note. “Physicians” are mentioned in Gen 50:2, but only in connection with embalming, where it is said that “Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel.”
Musical instruments are mentioned in the book of Job in such a manner as to show that the subject of music had attracted attention, though we may not be able now to ascertain the exact form of the instruments which were employed:
They excite themselves with the tabor and the harp,
And rejoice at the sound of the pipe.
My harp also is turned to mourning,
And my pipes to notes of grief.Job 30:31 (note).
For an explanation of these terms, the reader is referred to the notes on these passages. We have evidence that music was cultivated long before the time in which it is supposed Job livedGen 4:21, though there is no certainty that even in his time it had reached a high degree of perfection.
One of the earliest arts practiced in society would be that of taking and destroying wild beasts, and we find several allusions to the methods in which this was done, in the book of Job. Nets, gins, and pitfalls, were made use of for this purpose, and in order to drive the wild beasts into the nets or pitfalls, it was customary for a number of persons to extend themselves in a forest, enclosing a large space, and gradually drawing near to each other and to the center:
His strong steps shall be straitened,
And his own plans shall cast him down.
For he is brought into his net by his own feet,
And into the pitfall he walks.
The snare takes him by the heel,
And the gin takes fast hold of him.
A net is secretly laid for him in the ground,
And a trap for him in the pathway.
The howling of dogs, and the shouts of the hunters, are represented as filling the wild animal with dismay, and as harassing him as he attempts to escape:
Terrors alarm him on every side,
And harass him at his heels.
While spent with hunger and fatigue, he is entangled in the spread nets, and becomes an easy prey for the hunter:
His strength shall be exhausted by hunger,
And destruction shall seize upon his side.
It shall devour the vigour of his frame,
The first-born of Death shall devour his limbs.
Compare Psa 140:4-5; Eze 19:6-9.
XI. Methods of Husbandry
The customs of the pastoral life, one of the chief employments of early ages, are often referred to;Job 1:3,Job 1:16; Job 42:12.
He shall never look upon the rivulets -
The streams of the valleys - of honey and butter.
When I washed my steps with cream,
And the rock poured me out rivers of oil.Job 29:6.
Plowing with oxen is mentioned,Job 1:14.
So alsoJob 31:38-40 :
If my land cry out against me,
And the furrows likewise complain;
If I have eaten its fruits without payment,
And extorted the living of its owners;
Let thistles grow up instead of wheat,
And noxious weeds instead of barley.
The cultivation of the vine and the olive, and the pressure of grapes and olives, is mentioned:
He shall cast his unripe fruit as the vine,
And shed his blossoms like the olive.
They reap their grain in the field (of others),
And they gather the vintage of the oppressor.Job 24:6.
They cause them to express oil within their walls;
They tread their wine-presses, and yet they suffer thirst.
It is remarkable that in the book of Job there is no mention of the palm, the pomegranate, or any species of flowers. In a country like Arabia, where the date now is so important an article of food, it would have been reasonable to anticipate that there would have been some allusion known, from what is said, of the implements of husbandry, and nothing forbids us to suppose that they were of the rudest sort.
XII. Modes of Traveling
From the earliest period in the East the mode of traveling to any distance appears to have been by caravans, or companies. Two objects seem to have been contemplated by this in making long journeys across pathless deserts that were much infested by robbers; the one was the purpose of selfdefense, the other mutual accommodation. For the purposes of those traveling companies, camels are admirably adapted by nature, alike from their ability to bear burdens, from the scantiness of food which they require, and for their being able to travel far without water. Caravans are first mentioned inGen 37:25, “And they sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.” A beautiful notice of this mode of traveling occurs in Job Job 6:15-20, as being common in his time:
My brethren are faithless as a brook,
Like the streams of the valley that pass away;
Which are turbid by means of the (melted) ice,
In which the snow is hid (by being dissolved).
In the time when they become warm they evaporate.
When the heat cometh, they are dried up from their place;
The channels of their way wind round about;
They go into nothing, and are lost.
The caravans of Tema look;
The traveling companies of Sheba expect to see them.
They are ashamed that they have relied on them,
They come even to the place, and are confounded.
There is, in one place in Job, a slight intimation that runners or carriers were employed to carry messages when extraordinary speed was demanded, though there is no evidence that this was a settled custom, or that it was regulated by law:
And my days are swifter than a runner;
They flee away, and they see no good.
Connected with the subject of traveling, we may remark, that the art of making light boats or skiffs from reeds appears to have been known, though there is no mention of ships, or of distant navigation:
They pass on like the reed-skiffs;
As the eagle darting on its prey.
XIII. The Military Art
There are in the book of Job frequent allusions to weapons of war, and to modes of attack and defense, such as to show that the subject had attracted much attention, and that war then was by no means unknown. In the poem we find the following allusions to the weapons used, and to the methods of attack and defense.
To poisoned arrows:
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,
Their poison drinketh up my spirit;
The terrors of God set themselves in array against me.
To the shield:
He runneth upon him with outstretched neck,
With the thick bosses of his shields.
To the methods of attack, and the capture of a walled town:
He set me up for a mark,
His archers came around me;
He transfixed my reins, and did not spare;
My gall hath he poured out upon the ground.
He breaketh me with breach upon breach;
He rusheth upon me like a mighty man.
To the iron weapon and the bow of brass:
He shall flee from the iron weapon,
But the bow of brass shall pierce him through.
To the works cast up by a besieging army for the annoyance of a city by their weapons of war:
His troops advanced together against me;
They throw up their way against me,
And they encamp round about my dwelling.
In this connection, also, should be mentioned the sublime description of the war-horse inJob 39:19, following The horse was undoubtedly used in war and a more sublime description of this animal caparisoned for battle, impatient for the contest, does not occur in any language:
Hast thou given the horse his strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Dost thou make him to leap as the locust?
How terrible is the glory of his nostrils!
He paweth in the valley; he exulteth in his strength;
He goeth forth into the midst of arms.
He laugheth at fear, and is nothing daunted;
And he turneth not back from the sword.
Upon him rattleth the quiver;
The glittering spear and the lance.
In his fierceness and rage he devoureth the ground,
And will no longer stand still when the trumpet sounds.
When the trumpet sounds, he saith,
And from afar be snuffeth the battle -
The war-cry of the princes, and the battle-shout.
The references to zoology in this book, which are numerous, and which show that the habits of many portions of the animated creation had been observed with great care, may be ranked under the heads of insects, reptiles, birds, and beasts.
1. Of insects, the only two that are mentioned are the spider and the moth:
His hope shall rot,
And his trust shall be the building of the spider.
He shall lean upon his dwelling, and it shall not stand;
He shall grasp it, but it shall not endure.
Behold, in his servants he putteth no confidence,
And his angels he chargeth with frailty;
How much more true is this of those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust;
They are crushed before the moth-worm!Job 4:18-19.
He buildeth his house like the moth,
Or like a shed which the watchman maketh.Job 27:18.
2. Of reptiles, we find the asp and the viper mentioned:
He shall suck the poison of asps;
The viper’s tongue shall destroy him.
3. The birds or fowls that are mentioned in this book, are much more numerous. They are the following, nearly all so mentioned as their habits had been the subject of careful observation.
The path thereto no bird knoweth,
And the vulture’s eye hath not seen it.
Who provideth for the raven his food,
When his young ones cry unto God,
And wander for lack of food?
The stork and the ostrich:
A wing of exuiting fowls moves joyfully!
Is it the wing and plumage of the stork?
For she leaveth her eggs upon the ground,
And upon the dust she warmeth them,
And forgetteth that her foot may crush them,
And that the wild beast may break them.
She is hardened toward her young, as it they were not hers;
In vain is her travail, and without solicitude;
Because God hath withheld wisdom from her,
And hath not imparted to her understanding.
In the time when she raiseth herself up on high,
She laugheth at the horse and his rider.
The eagle and the hawk:
Is it by thy understanding that the hawk flieth,
And spreadeth his wings toward the south?
Is it at thy command that the eagle mounteth up,
And that he buildeth his nest on high?
He inhabiteth the rock and abideth there -
Upon the crag of the rock, and the high fortress.
From thence he spieth out his prey,
His eyes discern it from afar.
His young ones greedily gulp down blood;
And where the slain are, there is he.
4. The beasts that are mentioned are, also, quite numerous, and the description of some of them constitutes the most magnificent part of the poem. The descriptions of the various animals are also more minute than any thing else referred to, and but a few of them can be copied without transcribing whole chapters. The beasts referred to are the following.
The camel, sheep, ox, and she-ass:Job 1:3; Job 42:12.
The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion (are silenced),
And the teeth of young lions are broken out.
The old lion perishes for want of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness are scattered abroad.
The wild ass:
Doth the wild donkey bray in the midst of grass?
Or loweth the ox over his fodder?
Who hath sent forth the wild donkey free;
Or who hath loosed the bonds of the wild ass?
Whose home I have made the wilderness,
And his dwellings the barren land.
He scorneth the uproar of the city;
The cry of the driver he heedeth not.
The range of the mountains is his pasture:
He searcheth after every green thing.
But now they who are younger than I have me in derision,
Whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the
Dogs of my flock.
I am become a brother to the jackal,
And a companion to the ostrich.
The mountain-goat and the hind:
Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth?
Or canst thou observe the birth-throes of the hind?
Canst thou number the months that they fulfil?
Knowest thou the season when they bring forth?
They bow themselves; they give birth to their young;
They cast forth their sorrows.
Their young ones increase in strength,
They grow up in the wilderness,
They go from them, and return no more.Job 39:1-4.
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee?
Will he abide through the night at thy crib?
Wilt thou bind him with his band to the furrow?
And will he harrow the valleys after thee?
Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?
Or wilt thou commit thy labor to him?
Wilt thou have confidence in him to bring in thy grain?
Or to gather it to thy threshing-floor?
The war-horse, in a splendid passage already quoted,Job 39:19-25 (notes). And, finally, the behemoth or hippopotamus, and the leviathan or crocodile, in Job 40:15-24 (notes); Job 40:21 (note) - perhaps the most splendid descriptions of animals to be found any where in poetry. For the nature and habits of the animals there described, as well as of those already referred to, the reader is referred to the notes.
Such is a mere reference to the various topics of science and the arts referred to in the book of Job. Though brief, yet they furnish us with an invaluable account of the progress which society had then made; and in order to obtain an estimate of the state of the world on these subjects at an early period, there is no better means now at command than a careful study of this book. The scene of the book is laid in the vicinity of those portions of the earth which had made the greatest progress in science and the arts, and from this poem we may learn with considerable accuracy, probably, what advances had then been made in Babylon and in Egypt.
Outline and General Analysis of the Book of Job
First Part - The Historical Introduction, in Prose, Job 1–2
Second Part - The Argument, or Controversy, in Verse, Job 3–42:6
I. The first series in the controversy, Job 3–14
(1.) Job opens the discussion by cursing his birth-day, and by a bitter complaint of his calamity, Job 3
(2.) Speech of Eliphaz, Job 4–5
(3.) Answer of Job, Job 5–6
(4.) Speech of Bildad, Job 8
(5.) Answer of Job, Job 9–10
(6.) Speech of Zophar, Job 11
(7.) Answer of Job, Job 12–14
II. The second series in the controversy, Job 15–21
(1.) Speech of Eliphaz, Job 15
(2.) Answer of Job, Job 16–17
(3.) Speech of Bildad, Job 18
(4.) Answer of Job, Job 19
(5.) Speech of Zophar, Job 20
(6.) Answer of Job, Job 21
III. The third series in the controversy, Job 22–31
(1.) Speech of Eliphaz Job 22
(2.) Answer of Job, Job 23–24
(3.) Speech of Bildad,
(4.) Answer of Job, Job 26–31
IV. Speech of Elihu, Job 32–37
V. The close of the discussion, Job 38–42:6
(1.) The speech of the Almighty, Job 38–41
(2.) The response and penitent confession of Job,
Third Part - The Conclusion, in Prose,Job 42:7-17