This is the most singular book in the whole of the Sacred Code: though written by the same inspiration, and in reference to the same end, the salvation of men, it is so different from every other book of the Bible, that it seems to possess nothing in common with them, for even the language, in its construction, is dissimilar from that in the Law, the Prophets, and the historical books. But on all hands it is accounted a work that contains “the purest morality, the sublimest philosophy, the simplest ritual, and the most majestic creed.” Except the two first chapters and the ten last verses, which are merely prose, all the rest of the book is poetic; and is every where reducible to the hemistich form, in which all the other poetic books of the Bible are written: it is therefore properly called a Poem; but whether it belongs to the dramatic or epic species has not been decided by learned men. To try it by those rules which have been derived from Aristotle, and are still applied to ascertain compositions in these departments of poetry, is, in my opinion, as absurd as it is ridiculous. Who ever made a poem on these rules? And is there a poem in the universe worth reading that is strictly conformable to these rules? Not one. The rules, it is true, were deduced from compositions of this description: - and although they may be very useful, in assisting poets to methodize their compositions, and to keep the different parts distinct; yet they have often acted as a species of critical trammels, and have cramped genius. Genuine poetry is like a mountain flood: it pours down, resistless, bursts all bounds, scoops out its own channel, carries woods and rocks before it, and spreads itself abroad, both deep and wide, over all the plain. Such, indeed, is the poetry which the reader will meet with in this singular and astonishing book. As to Aristotle himself, although he was a keen-eyed plodder of nature, and a prodigy for his time; yet if we may judge from his poetics, he had a soul as incapable of feeling the true genie createur, as Racine terms the spirit of poetry, as he was, by his physics, metaphysics, and analogies, of discovering the true system of the universe.
As to the book of Job, it is most evidently a poem, and a poem of the highest order; dealing in subjects the most grand and sublime; using imagery the most chaste and appropriate; described by language the most happy and energetic; conveying instruction, both in Divine and human things, the most ennobling and useful; abounding in precepts the most pure and exalted, which are enforced by arguments the most strong and conclusive, and illustrated by examples the most natural and striking.
All these points will appear in the strongest light to every attentive reader of the book; and to such its great end will be answered: they will learn from it, that God has way every where: that the wicked, though bearing rule for a time, can never be ultimately prosperous and happy; and that the righteous, though oppressed with sufferings and calamities, can never be forgotten by Him in whose hands are his saints, and with whom their lives are precious; that in this world neither are the wicked ultimately punished, nor the righteous ultimately rewarded; that God’s judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out; but the issues of all are to the glory of his wisdom and grace, and to the eternal happiness of those who trust in him. This is the grand design of the book, and this design will be strikingly evident to the simplest and most unlettered reader, whose heart is right with God, and who is seeking instruction, in order that he may glorify his Maker, by receiving and by doing good.
Notwithstanding all this, there is not a book in Scripture on the subject of which more difficulties have been started. None, says Calmet, has furnished more subjects of doubt and embarrassment; and none has afforded less information for the solution of those doubts. On this subject the great questions which have been agitated refer, principally,
1. To the person of Job.
2. To his existence.
3. To the time in which he lived.
4. To his country.
5. To his stock or kindred.
6. To his religion.
7. To the author of the book.
8. To its truth.
9. To its authenticity; and,
10. To the time and occasion on which it was written.
With respect to the first and second, several writers of eminent note have denied the personality of Job; according to them, no such person ever existed; he is merely fabulous, and is like the Il penseroso, or sorrowful man of Milton; sorrow, distress, affliction, and persecution personified, as the name imports. According to them, he is a mere ideal being, created by the genius of the poet; clothed with such attributes, and placed in such circumstances, as gave the poet scope and materials for his work.
Thirdly, as to the time in which those place him who receive this as a true history, there is great variety. According to some, he flourished in the patriarchal age; some make him contemporary with Moses; that he was in the captivity in Egypt, and that he lived at the time of the exodus. Some place him in the time of the Israelitish judges; others in the days of David; others, in those of Solomon; and others, in the time of the Babylonish captivity, having been teacher of a school at Tiberias in Palestine, and, with the rest of his countrymen, carried away into Babylon; and that he lived under Ahasuerus and Esther. Fourthly, as to his country: some make him an Arab; others, an Egyptian; others, a Syrian; some an Israelite; and some, an Idumean. Fifthly, as to his origin: some derive him from Nachor, and others from Esau, and make him the fifth in descent from Abraham. Sixthly, as to his religion: some suppose it to have been Sabaeism; others, that it was patriarchal; and others, that he was bred up in the Jewish faith. Seventhly, as to the author of the work, learned men are greatly divided: some suppose the author to have been Elihu; others, Job; others, Job and his friends; others, Moses; some, Solomon; others, Isaiah; and others, Ezra, or some unknown Jew, posterior to the captivity. Eighthly, as to the book: some maintain that it is a history of fact, given by one best qualified to record it; and others, that it is an instructive fiction-facts, persons, dialogues and all, being supposititious; given, however, by the inspiration of God, in a sort of parabolic form, like those employed in the Gospel; and similar to that of the rich man and Lazarus. Ninthly, as to its authenticity: while some, and those not well qualified to judge, have asserted it to be a mere human production, of no Divine authority; others have clearly shown that the book itself, whatever questions may arise concerning the person, author, time, place, etc., was ever received by the Jewish Church and people as authentic, genuine, and divinely inspired; and incorporated, with the highest propriety, among the most instructive, sublime, and excellent portions of Divine revelation. Tenthly, as to the occasion on which it was written, there are considerable differences of opinion: some will have it to be written for the consolation of the Hebrews in their peregrinations through the wilderness; and others, for the comfort and encouragement of the Israelites in the Babylonish captivity: these state that Job represents Nehemiah, and that his three professed friends, but real enemies, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, represent Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian! and that the whole book should be understood and interpreted on this ground; and that, with a little allowance for poetic colouring, all its parts perfectly harmonize, thus understood; showing, in a word, that into whatsoever troubles or persecutions God may permit his people to be brought, yet he will sustain them in the fire, bring them safely through it, and discomfit all their enemies: and that whatsoever is true on this great scale, is true also on that which is more contracted; as he will equally support, defend, and finally render conqueror, every individual that trusts in him.
I shall not trouble my readers with the arguments which have been used by learned men, pro and con, relative to the particulars already mentioned: were I to do this, I must transcribe a vast mass of matter, which, though it might display great learning in the authors, would most certainly afford little edification to the great bulk of my readers. My own opinion on those points they may naturally wish to know; and to that opinion they have a right: it is such as I dare avow, and such as I feel no disposition to conceal. I believe Job to have been a real person, and his history to be a statement of facts.
As the preface to this book (I mean the first chapter) states him to have lived in the land of Uz, or Uts, I believe, with Mr. Good and several other learned men, this place to have been “situated in Arabia Petraea, on the south-western coast of the lake Asphaltites, in a line between Egypt and Philistia, surrounded with Kedar, Teman, and Midian; all of which were districts of Arabia Petraea; situated in Idumea, the land of Edom or Esau; and comprising so large a part of it, that Idumea and Ausitis, or the land of Uz, and the land of Edom, were convertible terms, and equally employed to import the same region: thus,Lam 4:21 : ‘Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.”’ See Mr. Good’s Introductory Dissertation; who proceeds to observe: “Nothing is clearer than that all the persons introduced into this poem were Idumeans, dwelling in Idumea; or, in other words, Edomite Arabs. These characters are, Job himself, dwelling in the land of Uz; Eliphaz of Teman, a district of as much repute as Uz, and (upon the joint testimony of Jer 49:7 , Jer 49:20 ; Eze 25:13 ; Amo 1:11 , Amo 1:12 , and Oba 1:8 , Oba 1:9 ) a part, and a principal part, of Idumea; Bildad of Shuah, always mentioned in conjunction with Sheba and Dedan, all of them being uniformly placed in the vicinity of Idumea; Zophar of Naamah, a city whose name imports pleasantness, which is also stated, in Jos 15:21 , Jos 15:41 , to have been situated in Idumea, and to have lain in a southern direction towards its coast, or the shores of the Red Sea; and Elihu of Buz, which as the name of a place occurs but once in sacred writ, but is there ( Jer 25:22 , Jer 25:23 ) mentioned in conjunction with Teman and Dedan; and hence necessarily, like themselves, a border city upon Ausitis, Uz, or Idumea. It had a number of names: it was at first called Horitis, from the Horim or Horites, who appear to have first settled there. Among the descendants of these, the most distinguished was Seir; and from him the land was known by the name of the Land of Seir. This chief had a numerous family, and among the most signalized of his grandsons was Uz, or Uts; and from him, and not from Uz the son of Nahor, it seems to have been called Ausitis, or the Land of Uz. The family of Hor, Seir, or Uz, were at length dispossessed of the entire region by Esau, or Edom; who strengthened himself by his marriage with one of the daughters of Ishmael; and the conquered territory was denominated Idumea, or the land of Edom.” I think this is conclusive as to the country of Job and his friends. See Mr. Good as above.
The man and his country being thus ascertained, the time in which he lived is the point next to be considered.
I feel all the difficulties of the various chronologies of learned men: all that has been offered on the subject is only opinion or probable conjecture; and, while I differ from many respectable authors, I dare not say that I have more to strengthen my opinion than they have to support theirs.
I do not believe that he lived under the patriarchal dispensation; nor in any time previous to the giving of the Law, or to the death of Moses. I have examined the opposite arguments, and they have brought no conviction to my mind. That he lived after the giving of the Law appears to me very probable, from what I consider frequent references to the Mosaic institutions occurring in the book, and which I shall notice in their respective places. I know it has been asserted there are no such references; and I am astonished at the assertion: the reader will judge whether a plain case is made out where the supposed references occur. An obstinate adherence to a preconceived system is like prejudice; it has neither eyes nor ears.
With this question, that relative to the author of the book is nearly connected. Were we to suppose that Job himself, or Elihu, or Job and his friends, wrote the work, the question would at once be answered that regards the time; but all positive evidence on this point is wanting: and while other suppositions have certain arguments to support them, the above claimants who are supported only by critical conjecture, must stand where they are for want of evidence. The opinions that appear the most probable, and have plausible arguments to support them, are the following:
1. Moses was the author of this book, as many portions of it harmonize with his acknowledged writings.
2. Solomon is the most likely author, as many of the sentiments contained in it are precisely the same with those in the Proverbs; and they are delivered often in nearly the same words.
3. The book was written by some Jew, in or soon after the time of the Babylonish captivity.
1. That Moses was the author has been the opinion of most learned men; and none has set the arguments in support of this opinion in so strong a light as Mr. Mason Good, in his Introductory Dissertation to his translation and notes on this book. Mr. G. is a gentleman of great knowledge, great learning, and correct thinking; and whatever he says or writes is entitled to respect. If he have data, his deductions are most generally consecutive and solid. He contends, “that the writer of this poem must in his style have been equally master of the simple and of the sublime; that he must have been minutely and elaborately acquainted with Astronomy, Natural History, and the general science of his age; that he must have been a Hebrew by birth and native language, and an Arabian by long residence and local study; and, finally, that he must have flourished and composed the work before the exodus.” And he thinks that “every one of these features is consummated in Moses, and in Moses alone; and that the whole of them give us his complete lineaments and portraiture. Instructed in all the learning of Egypt, it appears little doubtful that he composed it during some part of his forty years’ residence with the hospitable Jethro, in that district of Idumea which was named Midian.” In addition to these external proofs of identity, Mr. Good thinks, “a little attention will disclose to us an internal proof, of peculiar force, in the close and striking similarity of diction and idiom which exists between the book of Job and those pieces of poetry which Moses is usually admitted to have composed. This point he proceeds to examine; and thinks that the following examples may make some progress toward settling the question, by exhibiting a very singular proof of general parallelism.
“The order of creation, as detailed in the first chapter of Genesis, is precisely similar to that described in Job 38:1-20, the general arrangement that occupied the first day; - the formation of the clouds, which employed the second; - the separation of the sea, which took up a part of the third; - and the establishment of the luminaries in the skies, which characterized the fourth.
“In this general description, as given in Genesis, the vapor in the clouds, and the fluid in the sea, are equally denominated waters: thus,Gen 1:5-7 , ‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.’
“Let us compare this passage withJob 26:8-10 : -
“These are, perhaps, the only instances in the Bible in which the cloudy vapors are denominated waters, before they become concentrated into rain; and they offer an identity of thought, which strongly suggests an identity of person. The following is another very striking peculiarity of the same kind, occurring in the same description, and is perhaps still more in point. The combined simplicity and sublimity ofGen 1:3 , ‘And God said, Be light! and light was,’ has been felt and praised by critics of every age, Pagan and Mohammedan, as well as Jewish and Christian; and has by all of them been regarded as a characteristic feature in the Mosaic style. In the poem before us we have the following proof of identity of manner, Job 37:6 : -
“This can hardly be regarded as an allusion, but as an instance of identity of manner. In the psalmist we have an allusion: and it occurs thus,Psa 33:9 , הוא אמר ויהי hu amar vaiyehi, ‘He spake, and it existed;’ and I copy it that the reader may see the difference. The eulogy of Longinus upon the passage in Genesis is a eulogy also upon that in Job; and the Koran, in verbally copying the psalmist, has bestowed an equal panegyric upon all of them: -
Dixit, ‘Esto;’ et fuit. - He said, Be Thou; and it Was.
“With reference to the description of the creation, in the book of Genesis, I shall only farther observe, that the same simplicity of style, adapted to so lofty a subject, characteristically distinguishes the writer of the book of Job, who commonly employs a diction peculiarly magnificent, as though trusting to the subject to support itself, without the feeble aid of rhetorical ornaments. Of this the description of the tribunal of the Almighty, given in the first and second chapters of the ensuing poem, is a striking example, as indeed I have already remarked; and that of the midnight apparition in the fourth chapter is no less so.
“The following instances are of a more general nature, and lead, upon a broader principle, to the same conclusion: -
“In this specimen of comparison it is peculiarly worthy of remark, that not only the same train of ideas is found to recur, but in many instances the same words, where others might have been employed, and perhaps have answered as well; the whole obviously resulting from the habit of thinking upon subjects in the same manner, and by means of the same terms which is common to every one, and which distinguishes original identity from intentional imitation. I will only advert to one instance: the use of the very powerful, but not very common verbשש sis, ‘to exult,’ exulto, glorior, γαυριαω, which occurs in the last verse of both the above passages, and is in each instance equally appropriate: ישיש יהוה yasis Yehovah - הוא משוש hu mesos.
“The same term is again employed,Job 39:21 , to express the spirited prancing of the high mettled war-horse.
“The above passage fromJob 8:1-9 has not been generally understood, and has been given erroneously in the translations.” Mr. Good, in his notes, p. 101-103, enters at large into a defense of his version of this passage.
“The fine pathetic elegy of the ninetieth psalm has been usually ascribed to Moses; and Dathé imagines it was written by him a little before his death.
“Kennicott and Geddes have some doubt upon this point, chiefly because the ultimate period assigned in it to the life of man is fourscore years; while Moses was at his death a hundred and twenty years old, yet ‘his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;’Deu 34:7 .
“The following comparison will, perhaps, have a tendency to confirm the general opinion, by rendering it probable that its author and the author of the Book of Job were the same person.
“The strictly and decidedly acknowledged productions of Moses are but few; and in the above examples I have taken a specimen from by far the greater number. It is, indeed, not a little astonishing that, being so few, they should offer a resemblance in so many points.
“There may at times be some difficulty in determining between the similarity of style and diction resulting from established habit, and that produced by intentional imitation; yet, in the former case, it will commonly, if I mistake not, be found looser, but more general; in the latter, stricter, but more confined to particular words or idioms; the whole of the features not having been equally caught, while those which have been laid hold of are given more minutely than in the case of habit. The manner runs carelessly through every part, and is perpetually striking us unawares; the copy walks after it with measured but unequal pace, and is restless in courting our attention. The specimens of resemblance now produced are obviously of the former kind: both sides have an equal claim to originality, and seem very powerfully to establish a unity of authorship.”
Thus far Mr. Good; who has, on his own side of the question, most certainly exhausted the subject. The case he has made out is a strong one: we shall next examine whether a stronger cannot be made out in behalf of Solomon, as the second candidate for the authorship of this most excellent book.
2. That this book was the work of Solomon was the opinion of some early Christian writers, among whom was Gregory Nazianzen; and of several moderns, among whom were Spanheim and Hardouin. The latter has gone so far as to place the death of Job in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of David; and he supposes that Solomon wrote the work in question, about the second or third year of his reign. On this last opinion no stress whatever should be placed.
As the argument for Moses has been supported by supposed parallelisms between his acknowledged works and the Book of Job, so has that which attributes the latter to Solomon. That Solomon, from his vast learning and wisdom, was capable of such a work, none can deny. His knowledge in astronomy, natural history, politics, theology, languages, and the general science of his age, must have given him at least equal qualifications to those possessed by Moses. And if he was the author of the Song of Solomon, which most men believe, he had certainly a poetic mind, equal, if not superior, to all the writers who had existed previously to his time. The Book of Proverbs and that of Ecclesiastes are almost universally attributed to him: now, in the Book of Job, there are a multitude of sentiments, sentences, terms, and modes of speech, which are almost peculiar to Solomon, as will appear from the whole books.
In both we find the most exalted eulogium of wisdom. SeeJob 28:12 ; Pro 8:11 , etc. Job says, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding;” Job 28:28 . Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction;” Pro 1:7 .
Job speaks of the state of the dead nearly in the same terms as Solomon: compareJob 21:33 ; Job 12:22 ; Job 36:5 , with Pro 9:18 .
Job says,Job 26:6 , “Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.” Solomon says, Pro 15:11 , “Hell and destruction are before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of men?” Job says, “Man drinketh iniquity like water;” Job 15:16 . And Elihu charges him with “drinking up scorning like water;” Job 34:7 . The same image occurs in Solomon, Pro 26:6 : “He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool drinketh damage.”
InJob 15:34 it is said, “Fire shall consume the tabernacle of bribery.” The same turn of thought occurs Pro 15:27 : “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.”
Both speak of weighing the spirits or winds. SeeJob 28:25 ; Pro 16:2 But to me the parallelism in these cases is not evident, as both the reason of the saying, and some of the terms in the original, are different. Job tells his friends, “If they would hold their peace, it would be their wisdom;” Job 13:5 . Solomon has the same sentiment in nearly the same words, Pro 17:28 : “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
Solomon represents the rephaim or giants as in hell, or the great deep;Pro 2:18 ; Pro 9:18 ; Pro 7:27 . The like sentiment is in Job 26:5 . See the Hebrew.
InJob 27:16 , Job 27:17 , it is said that “If the wicked heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.” The like sentiment is found, Pro 28:8 : “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather for him that will pity the poor.” Solomon says, Pro 16:18 : “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall:” and, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honor is humility;” Pro 18:12 : and, “A man’s pride shall bring him low; but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.” The same sentiment is expressed in Job 22:29 : “When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is a lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.”
Both speak nearly in the same way concerning the creation of the earth and the sea. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? - Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had issued from the womb?”Job 38:4-8 . This seems a reference to the flood. In Pro 8:22-29 Wisdom says: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way - when as yet he had not made the earth - when he gave to the sea his decree that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth.” These are precisely the same kind of conceptions, and nearly the same phraseology.
InJob 20:7 it is said, “The wicked shall perish for ever, like his own Dung.” And in Pro 10:7 it is said, “The name of the wicked shall Rot.”
It would not be difficult to enlarge this list of correspondences by a collation of passages in Job and in Proverbs; but most of them will occur to the attentive reader. There is, however, another class of evidence that appears still more forcible, viz.: There are several term used frequently in the Book of Job and in the books of Solomon which are almost peculiar to those books, and which argue an identity of authorship. The nounתשיה tushiyah, which may signify essence, substance, reality, completeness, occurs in Job and Proverbs. See Job 5:12 ; Job 6:13 ; Job 11:6 ; Job 12:16 ; Job 26:3 , and Job 30:22 ; Pro 2:7 ; Pro 3:21 ; Pro 8:14 , and Pro 18:1 . And it occurs only twice, as far as I can recollect, in all the Bible besides; viz., Isa 28:29 , and Mic 6:9 . The word הוה havvah, used in the sense of misfortune, ruinous downfall, calamity, occurs Job 6:2 , Job 6:30 ; Job 30:13 , and in Pro 10:3 ; Pro 11:6 ; Pro 17:4 ; Pro 19:13 . It occurs nowhere else, except once in Eze 7:26 , once in Mic 7:3 , and a few times in the Psalms, Psa 5:9 ; Psa 52:2 , Psa 52:7 ; Psa 55:12 ; Psa 91:3 ; Psa 94:20 ; Psa 37:12 ; Psa 62:3 .
The wordתחבלות tachbuloth, wise counsels, occurs only in Job 37:12 , and in Pro 1:5 ; Pro 11:14 ; Pro 12:5 ; Pro 20:18 ; Pro 24:6 ; and nowhere else in the Bible in this form. And פתה potheh, the silly one, simpleton, fool, is used precisely in the same sense in Job 5:2 ; Pro 19:7 , and in various other parts of the same book. The word אבדון, abaddon, destruction, Job 26:6 ; Job 28:22 ; Job 31:12 , connected sometimes with שאול sheol, hell, or the grave; and מות maveth, death, occurs as above, and in Pro 15:11 ; Pro 27:20 .
Calmet, who refers to several of the above places, adds: It would be easy to collect a great number of similar parallel passages; but it must make a forcible impression in favor of this opinion when we observe in Job and Proverbs the same principles, the same sentiments, the same terms, and some that are found only in Job and Solomon. We may add farther, the beauty of the style, the sublimity of the thoughts, the dignity of the matter, the form and order in which the materials of this writer are laid down, the vast erudition and astonishing fecundity of genius, all of which perfectly characterize Solomon.
Besides the above, we find many forms of expression in this book which prove that its author had a knowledge of the law of God, and many which show that he was acquainted with the Psalms of David, and a few very like what we find in the writings of the prophets. I shall insert a few more: -
The remarkable sentiment that “God, as Sovereign of the world, does treat the righteous and the wicked, independently of their respective merits, with a similar lot in this life, and that like events often happen to both,” is maintained in the Book of Job and the Ecclesiastes of Solomon.Job 9:22-24 : “He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where and who is he?” Job 10:15 : “If I be wicked, wo unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.” Job 9:15 : “Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer; I would make supplication to my Judge.” Job 12:6 : “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.” Job 21:7-9 : “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.”
Similar sentiments, with a great similarity of expression, are found in the following passages from Solomon.Ecc 6:8 : “For what hath the wise more than the fool?” Ecc 8:14 : “There be just men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked. Again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous.” Ecc 9:2 : “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not. As is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.” Ecc 7:15 : “There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness; and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.”
I may conclude this with the words of a learned translator of the book of Job, and apply in reference to Solomon what he applies to Moses: “The specimens of resemblance now produced have an equal claim to originality, and seem very powerfully to establish a unity of authorship.” I think the argument much stronger in favor of Solomon as its author than of Moses: and while even here I hesitate, I must enter my protest against the conclusions drawn by others; and especially those who profess to show where David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., have copied and borrowed from Job! Some of them, in all probability, never saw the book; and those who did had an inspiration, dignity, manner, and power of their own, that rendered it quite unnecessary to borrow from him. Such plagiarism would appear, in common cases, neither requisite nor graceful. I have a high opinion of the book of Job, but God forbid that I should ever bring it on a level with the compositions of the sweet singer of Israel, the inimitable threnodies of Jeremiah, or the ultra-sublime effusions of the evangelical prophet. Let each keep his place, and let God be acknowledged as the inspirer of all.
Thus, by exactly the same process, we come to different conclusions; for the evidence is now as strong that Job lived posterior to the days of Moses; that he was acquainted with the Law and the Prophets; that either he took much from the Psalms and Proverbs, or that David and Solomon borrowed much from him; or that Solomon, the son of David, wrote the history; as it is that he lived in the days of Moses.
For my own part, I think the later date by far the most probable; and although I think the arguments that go to prove Solomon to be the author are weightier than those so skilfully brought forth by learned men in behalf of Moses, yet I think if possible that it was the work of neither, but rather of some learned Idumean, well acquainted with the Jewish religion and writers; and I still hold the opinion which I formed more than thirty years ago, when I read over this book in the Septuagint, and afterwards in the Hebrew, that it is most probable the work was originally composed in Arabic, and afterwards translated into Hebrew by a person who either had not the same command of the Hebrew as he had of the Arabic, or else purposely affected the Arabic idiom, retaining many Arabic words and Arabisms; either because he could not find appropriate expressions in the Hebrew, or because he wished to adorn and enrich the one language by borrowing copiously from the other. The Hebrew of the book of Job differs as much from the pure Hebrew of Moses and the early prophets, as the Persian of Ferdoosy differs from that of Saady. Both these were Persian poets; the former wrote in the simplicity and purity of his elegant native language, adopting very few Arabic words; while the latter labors to introduce them at every turn, and has thus produced a language neither Persian nor Arabic. And so prevalent is this custom become with all Persian writers, both in prose and verse, that the pure Persian becomes daily more and more corrupted, insomuch that there is reason to fear that in process of time it will be swallowed up in the language of the conquerors of that country, in which it was formerly esteemed the most polished language of Asia. Such influence has the language of a conqueror on the country he has subdued; witness our own, where a paltry French phraseology, the remnant of one of the evils brought upon us by our Norman conqueror and tyrant, has greatly weakened the strong current of our mother tongue; so that, however amalgamated, filed, and polished by eminent authors, we only speak a very tolerable jargon, enriched, as we foolishly term it, by the spoils of other tongues. The best specimen of our ancient language exists in the Lord’s prayer, which is pure English, or what is called Anglo-Saxon, with the exception of three frenchified words, trespasses, temptation, and deliver.
But to return to the book of Job. The collections of Mr. Good, Dr. Magee, and others, if they do not prove that Moses was the author of the book, prove that the author was well acquainted with the Mosaic writings; and prove that he was also acquainted with the ninetieth Psalm; and this last circumstance will go far to prove that he lived after the days of David, for we have no evidence whatever that the ninetieth Psalm was published previously to the collection and publication of the Psalms now generally termed the Psalms of David, though many of them were written by other hands, and not a few even after the Babylonish captivity. And, as to the inscription to this Psalm,תפלה משה איש האלהים tephillah Mosheh ish haelohim, “A prayer of Moses, the man of God;”
1. We know not that Moses the Jewish lawgiver is meant: it might be another person of the same name.
2. And even in that case it does not positively state that this Moses was the author of it.
3. The inscriptions to the Psalms are of dubious, and many of them of no authority: some of them evidently misplaced; and others either bearing no relation to the matter of the Psalms to which they are prefixed, or evidently contradictory to that matter.
Hence our translators have considered these inscriptions as of no authority; and have not admitted them, in any case, into the body of their respective Psalms. The parallelism, therefore, drawn from this Psalm, will not help much to prove that Moses was the author of the book of Job; but it will go far to prove, as will be seen in other cases, that the author of this book was acquainted with the book of Psalms, as several of the preceding collections testify; and that there is a probability that he had read the prophets that lived and wrote in the time, and after the time, of the Babylonish captivity, which appears to me the only thing that shakes the argument in favor of Solomon; unless we take the converse of the question, and say that Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah, all knew and borrowed from the book of Job. But this supposition will, in its turn, be shaken by the consideration that there are several things in the book of Job which evidently refer to the law as already given, and to some of the principal occurrences in the Israelitish history, if such references can be made out. These considerations have led me to think it probable that the book was written after the captivity by some unknown but highly eminent and inspired man. We may wonder, indeed, that the author of such an eminent work has not been handed down to posterity; and that the question should be left at the discretion of the whole limbus of conjecture; but we find, not only several books in the Bible, but also other works of minor importance and a later date, similarly circumstanced. We have no certain evidence of the author of the books of Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, or Esther; we can, in reference to them, make probable conjectures, but this is all. Even in the New Testament the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is still unknown; though a pretty general tradition, and strong internal evidence, give it to St. Paul; yet this point is not so proved as to exclude all doubt.
The finest poems of heathen antiquity, the Iliad and Odyssey, cannot be certainly traced to their author. Of the person called Homer, to whom they have been attributed, no one knows any thing. He is still, for aught we know, a fabulous person; and the relations concerning him are entitled to little more credit than is due to the Life of Aesop by Planudes. Seven different cities have claimed the honor of being his birth-place. They are expressed in the following distich: -
Ἑπτα πολεις διεριζουσι περι ριζας Ὁμηρου,
Σμυρνα, Ῥοδος, Κολαφον, Σαλαμις, Χιος, Αργος, Αθηναι.
Smyrna, Rhodos, Colophon, Salamis, Chios, Argos, Athenae, Orbis de Patria certat, Homere, tua.
Nor have these claims ever been adjusted. Some have gone so far as to attribute the work to Solomon, king of Israel, composed after his defection from the true religion to idolatry! that the word Homer,Ὁμηρος Homeros, is merely Hebrew, אמרים omerim, with a Greek termination, signifying the sayings or discourses, from אמר amar, he spoke; the whole work being little more than the dialogues or conversations of the eminent characters of which it is composed. Even the battles of Homer are full of parleys; and the principal information conveyed by the poem is through the conversation of the respective chiefs.
The Makamaton, or assemblies, of the celebrated Arabic author Hariri, show us how conversations were anciently carried on among the Arabs, and even in the same country in which the plan of the poem of Job is laid; and were we closely to compare the sex concessus of that author, published by Schultens, we might find many analogies between them and the turn of conversation in the book of Job. But the uncertainty relative to the author detracts nothing from the merit and excellency of the poem. As it is the most singular, so it is the best, as a whole, in the Hebrew canon. It exhibits a full view of the opinions of the eastern sages on the most important points; not only their religion and system of morals are frequently introduced, but also their philosophy, astronomy, natural history, mineralogy, and arts and sciences in general; as well those that were ornamental, as those which ministered to the comforts and necessities of life. And on a careful examination, we shall probably find that several arts, which are supposed to be the discoveries of the moderns, were not unknown to those who lived in a very remote antiquity, and whom it is fashionable to consider as unlettered and uncultivated barbarians.
As the person, family, time, and descendants of Job are so very uncertain, I shall not trouble my readers with the many genealogical tables which have been constructed by chronologists and commentators; yet it might be considered a defect were I not to notice what is inserted at the end of the Greek and Arabic Versions relative to this point; to which I shall add Dr. Kennicott’s Tables, and the substance of a letter which contains some curious particulars.
“And he (Job) dwelt in the land of Ausitis, in the confines of Idumea and Arabia; and his former name was Jobab. And he took to wife Arabissa, and begat a son whose name was Ennon. And his (Jobab’s) father’s name was Zarith, one of the sons of the children of Esau; and his mother’s name was Bosora; and thus he was the fifth from Abraham.”
“And these are the kings who reigned in Edom; which region he also governed; the first was Balak, the son of Beor, the name of whose city was Dennaba. And after Balak reigned Jobab, who is also called Job. And after him Assom, the governor of the country of the Temanites. After him Adad, the son of Basad, who cut off Madian in the plain of Moab; and the name of his city was Gethaim.”
“The friends who came to visit him were Eliphaz, son of Sophan, of the children of Esau, king of the Temanites. Baldad, the son of Amnon, of Chobar, tyrant of the Sauchites. Sophar, king of the Minaites. Thaiman, son of Eliphaz, governor of the Idumeans.”
“This is translated from the Syriac copy. He dwelt in the land of Ausitis, on the borders of the Euphrates; and his former name was Jobab; and his father was Zareth, who came from the east.” This is verbatim from the Codex Alexandrinus.
The Arabic is not so circumstantial, but is the same in substance. “And Job dwelt in the land of Auz, between the boundaries of Edom and Arabia; and he was at first called Jobab. And he married a strange woman, and to her was born a son called Anun. But Job was the son of Zara, a descendant of the children of Esau; his mother’s name was Basra, and he was the sixth from Abraham. Of the kings who reigned in Edom, the first who reigned over that land was Balak, the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Danaba. And after him Jobab, the same who is called Job. And after Job, he (Assom) who was prince of the land of Teman. And after him (Adad) the son of Barak, he who slew and put to flight Madian, in the plains of Moab; and the name of his city was Jatham. And of the friends of Job who visited him was Eliphaz, the son of Esau, king of the Temanites.”
Dr. Kennicott says, When Job lived seems deducible from his being contemporary with Eliphaz, the Temanite, thus: -
The late Miss Mary Freeman Shepherd, well known for her strong masculine genius, and knowledge of various languages, sent me the following genealogy and remarks, which she thought would clearly ascertain the time of Job. I faithfully transcribe them from her letter to me, a short time before her death.
“Shem was the father of Aram, who gave his name to the Aramites, i.e., the Syrians; and he was the father of Uz, who gave his name to the land of Uz, in which Job dwelt, not was born, for the text says, There was a man in the land of Uz, called Job.
“InGen 46:13, one of the sons of Issachar is named Job. In the genealogies of Num 26:24, and in 1Ch 7:1, he is called Jashub. It is remarkable that there is no mention in Chronicles of the sons of Jashub, or of any of the sons of Issachar, among the thousands of Israel, sons of Tola, where, might not Job be called Jashub? Mitzraim, i.e., Egypt, was a son of Ham; Uz and Aram, sons of Shem; Ishmael by Hagar, and Midian by Keturah, both sons to Abram. How well does this account for the nearness of the languages of these people, being scions from the same mother tongue!
“Ishmael, the father of the tribes of Arabia; Arabic was, therefore, not their mother tongue. The roots of these languages germinated from the Hebrew roots, and so a new language sprang up, afterwards formed according to grammatic rules, and enriched as arts and sciences, and cultivated genius, added new inventions. Things new and unknown before gave rise to new words or names. Nouns, and the action, operation, and effects of arts and sciences, produced verbs or roots. Thus the Arabic become so copious and rich, and has roots not in the pure original Hebrew. All this considered, might not Moses have written the book of Job, as parts of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel were written, after the captivity, in a mixed language, in order that it might be the better understood by those for whom it was written; those of the people who, being left in Jerusalem, had retained their native Hebrew; and those who had, by long residence in Babylon, corrupted and mingled it with the Chaldaic, which is a dialect of the Hebrew, like the modern language of Italy when compared with that of ancient Rome, or our modern Latin when compared with that of the Augustan age.
“By the influence of climate upon the organs of speech, the different avocations, usages, diet, turn of mind, and genius of men, the dialects which all streamed from one language, and pronounced in one and the same speech, confounded, (not annihilated, troubled, but not dried up), no new language then created, yet so confounded in utterance that they understood not one another’s speech. The operation was upon the ear of the heart, as in the day of pentecost: one man spoke, and all, though of different tongues, understood; the ear suggested the various sounds to the tongue, and from thence the varied pronunciations of one and the same language often makes it misunderstood.
“Shem, who lived five hundred and two years after the deluge, being still alive, and in the three hundred and ninety-third year of his life, when Abram was born, therefore the Jewish tradition that Shem was the Melchisedek, (my righteous king of Salem), an epithet, or title of honor and respect, not a proper name, and, as the head and father of his race, Abraham paid tithes to him; this seems to me well founded, and the idea confirmed by these remarkable words,Psa 110:4, Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, אתה כהן לעולם על דברתי מלכי-צדק atah cohen leolam al dibrathi malki-tsedek. As if he had said, Thou, my only-begotten Son, first-born of many brethren; not according to the substituted priesthood of the sons of Levi, who, after the sin of the golden calf, stood up in lieu of all the first-born of Israel, invested with their forfeited rights of primogeniture of king and priest; the Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, (change), Thou art a priest for ever after the (my order of Melchisedek, my own original primitive) order of primogeniture; even as Shem the man of name, the Shem that stands the first and foremost of the sons of Noah. The righteous prince and priest of the most high God meets his descendant Abraham after the slaughter of the kings, with refreshments; blessed him as the head and father of his race, and as such, he receives from Abraham the tithe of all the spoil.
“How beautifully does Paul of Tarsus, writing to the Hebrews, point through Melchisedek, - Shem, the head and father of their race, invested in all the original rights of primogeniture, priest of the most high God, blessing Abraham as such, as Levi even had existence, and as such receiving tithe from Abraham, and in him from Levi yet in the loins of his forefathers, when Moses on this great and solemn occasion records simply this: Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, sine genealogia; his pedigree not mentioned, but standing, as Adam in St. Luke’s genealogy, without father and without mother, Adam of God,Luk 3:38; - how beautifully, I say, doth St. Paul point through Melchisedek to Jehoshua our great High Priest and King, whose eternal generation who shall declare! Hammashiach, the Lord’s Anointed, Priest, and King, after the order of Melchisedek, only begotten first-born Son! The Levitical priesthood that arose from the sin of the golden calf and the forfeited rights of the first-born, in whose stead stood the sons of Levi, (the reward of their zeal for God, on that sad occasion). This right of primogeniture, as the streams of Jordan at the presence of God, conversus est retrorsum, to its fountain head; and Judah was his sanctuary, Psa 114:2. Reuben forfeited by incest his excellence; Simeon and Levi, the right in priority of birth, theirs; and Judah, he to whom his brethren should bow down as their head. From the time of Abraham, who married a sister of Haran, prince of the tribe of Judah, to the time of Jesus, the tribes of Levi and Judah intermarried: thus was incorporated the source and streams in one. And the very names of all the sons of the tribes of Israel lost in one, that of Jehudah, from which they call themselves Jehudim.
“Theshebit, tribe, not scepter, the rod or ensign of the chief of a tribe. ‘The tribe, genealogy, shall not recede from Jehudah until Shiloh come;’ for whose genealogy they subsist. Ten, by the schism of Jeroboam, may be carried away beyond the river, and heard of no more; but Jehudah, Levi, and Benjamin, shall be tribes; and their registers shall be clear and unbroken until the temple and city and all the registers of genealogy are destroyed. The people are one; one people worshipping one God. ‘I have prayed,’ said Jehoshua Mashiach, ‘that ye might be one in me, as I and my Father are one.’
“Ham, the son of Noah, begat Cush, and Cush begat Nimrod, and Saba, and others. Nimrod began a monarchy, and founded Babel. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh. Nimrod was therefore contemporary with Peleg. CompareGen 2:8, Gen 2:9, with Genesis 9:10-25.
“Thus, in about two hundred and ten or twenty years after the deluge, by the confusion of tongues, was the earth divided; as its inhabitants, dispersing no doubt in families together formed themselves into nations, people, and tribes and kindreds, and from thence into tongues.
“From the knowledge I have of the Hebrew, I have caught a glance of the genius, spirit, and tone of the general march of the oriental tongues, and even of the expression of their character. To me the book of Job seems to have much of the Chaldee, both in words and idiom, and much of the sublimity and spirit of the writings of Moses. His grand descriptions of the Most High, his wondrous works, his power, wisdom, justice, and truth, all speak the historian of Genesis, the legislator of Israel, the unconsumed fire of the burning bush, the loud thunders of Sinai, and the shinings of the light of God. That pointed exactness and conciseness of narration that distinguish Moses, are also conspicuous in the book of Job. If Moses did indeed write this book, he wrote it for the nations, as well as for Israel; and took, as the best vehicle of a general conveyance, a language most generally understood. At this day, for the facilitating of intercourse in the Levant, Mediterranean, Archipelago, etc., there is a language called Lingua Franca, the language of the Franks. To Israel Moses conveyed the pure language of their fathers; but rather than the nations should be famished for bread, or die for thirst, he put manna in their coarse earthen vessels, and wine in their wooden cups.
“You see, my dear sir, how strong is female obstinacy; I struggle and contend for the body of Moses. I admire Moses; I admire Job. God, by the prophet Ezekiel and the apostle St. James, ascertains the history of Job to be a fact, not a fiction. And thus inspiration sustains its inspiration.
“Will you, dear sir, think it worth while to collect and put together these scattered scraps, as little pegs to better shelves, which you must furbish, smooth, and point; - too hard a work for Mary the aged? Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God: and in him see all truth.” - M. F. S.
Miss Shepherd is a strong auxiliary to Mr. Good; still I remain unconvinced. My readers must choose for themselves.
The history of Job, but strangely disguised, is well known among the Asiatics. He is called by the Arabic and Persian historiansAyoub, which is exactly the same as the Hebrew איוב Ayoub, which Europeans have strangely metamorphosed into Job. In the Tareekh Muntekheb his genealogy is given thus: Ayoub the son of Anosh, the son of Razakh, the son of Ais, (Esau), the son of Isaac. He was a prophet, and was afflicted by a grievous malady three years, or according to others, seven years; at the end of which, when eighty years of age, he was restored to perfect health, and had a son named Bash ben Ayoub. Other writers say he had five sons, with whom he made war on a brutal people called Dsul Kefel, whom he exterminated because they refused to receive the knowledge of the true God, whom he preached to them. Khondemir, who entitles him Job the patient, gives us his history in the following manner: -
“Job, by his father’s side, was descended from Esau, and by his mother from Lot. Abou Giaffer al Tabary relates that God sent him to preach to the inhabitants of Thaniah, a people who dwelt between Remla and Damascus; but three persons only received the truth. Nevertheless, as he was very zealous in the service of God, he rewarded his faith and obedience by heaping riches upon him, and giving him a numerous family. This excited the envy of the devil, who, presenting himself before God, accused Job as one who was selfish in his devotion; and, were it not for the temporal blessings which he received from his Maker, he would not worship even once in the day. God having given Satan permission to spoil Job of his goods, and deprive him of his children, he gave the same proofs of his piety, worshipping God as before, and patiently bearing his great losses. Satan, enraged to be thus baffled, presented himself once more before God, and asserted that Job continued thus faithful because he knew that God would reward his constancy with an equal or even greater portion of earthly blessings: but if he would afflict his body by some grievous disease, he would soon abandon his service, and be at the end of his patience. In order fully to show the piety of this exemplary man, God permitted Satan to afflict his body as he pleased, with the exception of his eyes, his ears, and his tongue. The devil, having received this permission, blew up the nostrils of Job such a pestilential heat as immediately turned his whole mass of blood into corruption, so that his whole body became one ulcer, the smell of which was so offensive that his greatest intimates could not approach him; and he was obliged to be carried out of the city, and laid in a distant place entirely by himself. Notwithstanding, Job continued both his patience and piety. His wife, Rosina, never forsook him, but continued daily to bring him the necessaries of life. Satan observing this, stole from her the provision she had made for her husband; and when reduced to the lowest ebb, he appeared to her under the form of an old bald woman, and told her, that if she would give her the two tresses of hair that hung down on her neck, she would provide her daily with what was necessary for her husband’s support. This offer appearing so very advantageous in behalf of her afflicted husband, she accepted the offer, and gave the two tresses to the old woman.
“Satan, overjoyed at the success of his plots, went to Job, told him that his wife had been caught in the act of adultery, and that her tresses had been cut off, and here was the proof of the fact. Job, seeing this, and finding his wife without her tresses, not supposing that he was deceived by the devil, lost his patience, and bound himself by an oath, that if he should ever recover his health he would inflict on her the most exemplary punishment. Satan, supposing he had now gained his end, transformed himself into an angel of light, and went throughout the country as a messenger of God, informing the people that Job, who was counted a prophet, had fallen from his piety and brought the wrath of God upon him; that they should no more listen to his preaching, but banish him from among them, lest the curse of God should fall on the whole country.
“Job, coming to understand how the matter stood, had recourse to God by faith and prayer, and said these remarkable words, which are found in the Koran: ‘Distress closes me in on every side: but thou, O Lord, art more merciful than all those who can feel compassion.’ On this all his pains and sufferings immediately ceased; for Gabriel, the faithful servant of the Most High, descended from heaven, took Job by the hand, and lifting him up from the place where he lay, stamped on the ground with his foot, and immediately a spring of water rose up from the earth, out of which Job having drunk, and washed his body, he was instantly cleansed of all his ulcers, and restored to perfect health.
“God, having thus restored him, greatly multiplied his goods, so that the rain and the snow which fell around his dwelling were precious; and his riches became so abundant, as if showers of gold had descended upon him.”
This is the sum of the account given by the oriental historians, who, forsaking the truth of the sacred history, have blended the story with their own fables. The great facts are however the same in the main; and we find that with them the personality, temptation, and deliverance of Job, are matters of serious credibility. Abul Faragius says that the trial of Job happened in the twenty-fifth year of Nahor, son of Serug; thus making him prior to Abraham. He calls himAyoub assadeek, Job the righteous. See Abul Faragius, Ebn Batric, D’Herbelot, etc.
Commentators have considered this book as being divided into distinct parts. Mr. Good, who considers it a regular Hebrew epic, divides it into six parts or books, which he considers to be its natural division, and unquestionably intended by the author. These six parts are, an opening or exordium, containing the introductory history or decree concerning Job; three distinct series of arguments, in each of which the speakers are regularly allowed their respective turns; the summing up of the controversy; and the close of the catastrophe, consisting of the suffering hero’s grand and glorious acquittal, and restoration to prosperity and happiness.
Taken from "Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible" by Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)