Studies on the Old Testament

By Frédéric Louis Godet

Chapter 5



"For the last twelve years we have possessed the book of Job in French in its original beauty, or very nearly so. The translation by Perret-Gentil had already shewed a marked improvement in the rendering of this master-piece of Semitic genius into our language. The same task has just been taken up again by M. Renan, and accomplished by him in a manner which, as it seems to us, reaches the perfection of that style of writing. The severest faithfulness to the original is throughout combined with naturalness, fluency, and purity of form. Our language, in its nature so stiff and formal, seems to have gained flexibility under the hand of the translator, and to have opened to him the secret of resources hitherto unknown. By the help of the perfect malleability of the medium so put into our hands, we have now this monument of antiquity before us in all its majestic grandeur, together with the finish of the smallest details, perfectly preserved. The reader will be able to judge for himself by the quotations we shall have to make, and which we shall generally borrow from M. Renan's version.

We wish we could give equal praise to the Essay on the origin and character of the book of Job, with which the author has prefaced his translation. It is needless to praise the clearness of the thought, the charm of the exposition, the solidity of the learning in this work. But the essential point, in our view, is this:—will this work further by a single step our apprehension of the idea which is the soul and central light of the hook we are studying? We doubt it much. "We should even be inclined to say, that the preliminary essay is a step backward rather than forward in the interpretation of the book as a whole, did we not know that every defective effort, by bringing into relief one side of error, serves at the same time to bring into light some new aspect of the truth.

For this essay of M. Renan's, we should wish in the following pages to substitute a new one, more fair in its results, and more fitted to place the reader at the true point of view from which to contemplate this sublime work in all its internal harmony and height of holiness. Would that, in carrying out this design, we could borrow the pen of M. Renan himself!


We have, in the first place, to enquire into the origin of the book of Job. From the point of view of tradition, this is lost in the most complete obscurity. An ancient opinion, Jewish and Christian, but which seems nothing more than a conjecture, refers its composition to a time as far back as the Mosaic, or even ante-Mosaic, age. Many attribute the book of Job to Moses himself, who, according to this theory, composed it at the time when, as an exile and a fugitive, he tended the flocks of Hs father-in-law in the neighbourhood of Sinai.

This opinion is not so baseless as many suppose. For, in fact, we cannot but ask ourselves how it would have been possible for any Jewish writer posterior to Moses so completely to abstract himself from all the institutions of the law, and to transport himself artificially—without ever once betraying himself in the whole course of his writings—into historic circumstances so completely passed away. And again, it may be asked, whether the state of oppression of the children of Israel, in that land of Egypt which they had entered free and prosperous, did not supply the mind of the author with the historical groundwork of which he was in need in order to state the problem he treats and to find its solution. The language itself suggests an argument in favour of this view. Does not this Hebrew, saturated with Arabic like that of no other book in the Bible, belong to some far distant age, when the Semitic dialects, not yet entirely distinct, resembled branches scarcely separated as yet from the parent stem P Lastly, if, as M. Renan himself observes: "a multitude of traits indicate the author's intimate acquaintance with Egypt, where he would seem to have travelled, and with Mount Sinai, where no doubt he must have witnessed the working of mines which he describes in such detail," what other writer than Moses could such characteristics more exactly fit?

Nevertheless, two reasons prevent us from adopting this view of the origin of the book of Job. In the first place, the absence of those numerous archaisms which distinguish in such a remarkable manner the books of the Pentateuch, and which give them a position by themselves in the Hebrew literature; in the second place, the very advanced stage of development of philosophical thought which such a treatise presupposes. The book of Job is nothing less than a theodicy1. The being who is brought to the bar of judgment is in reality not Job, it is Jehovah. The point in debate is not only the virtue of Job; it is at the same time and in a still higher degree, the justice of God. The problem of the book is to discover how this justice is to be reconciled with the fact of the righteous suffering. How it is not in every age of the world that such a question could have suggested itself. Doubtless we must guard ourselves against asserting with M. Renan, that facts of the kind which furnish the theme of the book of Job never took place "till towards B.C. 1000," that "it was then that the wicked were seen in prosperity, and tyrants rewarded. . . . righteous men despoiled and driven to beg their bread." As if the dead body of Abel had not lain on the very threshold of Eden itself! As if the age before the Deluge had witnessed no scenes of violence and extortion! As if the sight of virtue oppressed had not been part of the daily lot of fallen mankind! But for such experiences to become the object of philosophical speculation, which should take shape in a literary work ad hoc, there was needed, beyond a doubt, an age predisposed to this kind of reflection and mental labour. And, unless we are mistaken, we must come down as far as the reign of Solomon to find such an age. It was then—not indeed that the cry of oppressed innocence first ascended to heaven—but that endeavours were made earnestly and philosophically to understand why it ascended, and how a fact so abnormal can be reconciled with the Divine Omnipotence and Justice—the two foundations of Jewish Monotheism.

It is beyond dispute, that under the influence of the genius of Solomon, there grew up in his court a school of wisdom, or of moral philosophy, and that this phenomenon was in Israel a fact of an altogether new kind. Whilst the Levitical institutions performed their functions regularly, and the Mosaic ordinances were more and more impressing their stamp upon the life of the people, the leading minds, with the king himself at their head, were feeling the necessity of searching more deeply into the knowledge of things divine and human. Beneath the Israelite they tried then to find the man; beneath the Mosaic system, that universal principle of the moral law, of which it is the perfect expression. Thus they reached to that idea of Wisdom which is the common feature of the three books, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. The Divine "Wisdom, in the idea of which are included the notions of intelligence, justice, and goodness, is personified as the supreme object of Divine love, and as the spirit which gives existence and order to the world; this Wisdom has marked with her stamp everything that exists in the universe; her delight is not in the Jews only, hut in the children of men2 To conform to her laws is, for man, wisdom; to act against them is folly.

This was the altogether new intuition awakened in the mind of man by the genius of Solomon—the element, intellectual and moral, which his mighty spirit called into being. He was not alone in working in this direction. All genius seems to possess the gift of electrifying its age, and of calling unto being a multitude of talents of a nature akin to itself. Just as the great personalities of Alexander and Napoleon evoked a whole generation of generals of the highest order, so Solomon, the "Wise Man par excellence, soon found himself surrounded by a kind of college of thinkers and writers who were the best ornament of his court, and who shared his high aims and noble labours. The names of some among them have been preserved. There were Ethan and Heman, two friends and fellow-labourers of the father of Solomon; Chalcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol3. "Within this circle the object was to humanise Judaism, to spiritualise the precepts of the Law, while guarding against the danger of undermining their authority. Thought was sending down its roots into that fundamental stratum of moral being in which the Jewish law and the human conscience find their unity. Hence the totally different impression produced upon us now by the Mosaic ordinances and the precepts contained in the book of Proverbs.

Is it not from out of this Solomonian workshop, (if I may be allowed to use such an expression,) that this monumental book of Job issued, in which Semitic thought seems to have taken, in every sense, its grandest proportions? The purity and brilliancy of the language, the spirit of sympathy with mankind in general which pervades it throughout, the finish, of a somewhat artificial character, which marks it as a literary work,—all these features seem to demand such an origin as we have indicated. Our very ignorance of the name of the author is only intelligible on the supposition that this book springs from a time when such a genius was lost amongst a constellation of sages his peers, not less distinguished than himself, and was eclipsed by the fame of the monarch which outshone everything around it. M. Renan, however, has not given way to this reasoning. He thinks we must come down to a still later age. He assigns the book of Job to the time of Hosea, about B.C. 770. But how weak is the only argument he urges:—that in the prologue, the Chaldeans (Kasdim) are mentioned as a people living by rapine, whereas the Chaldeans were not known to the Jews in this character till about the time of Hosea. But why should not the contemporaries of Solomon, who seem to have known more than we do of the Eastern nations, have known that the Chaldeans were robbers two centuries before the date of those indications of the fact which have come to our knowledge? These are very slender grounds on which to rest the solution of a problem such as this.

As to the hypotheses which bring down the composition of the book of Job to a still later age—to the time of Jeremiah, or even to that of the Persian conquest (Vatke)—M. Renan seems to us to have treated them as they deserved. It would be difficult to commit a grosser literary anachronism. "The language of the book of Job is the most lucid, concise, and classical Hebrew," and yet we are to make it the work of an age of decadence!

Having thus connected the book of Job, in a general way, with the time of Solomon, may I be allowed to hazard a more precise conjecture? The question is as to the individuality of the author. Now among the wise men who formed the Round Table of that order of intellectual knighthood, of which King Solomon was the head, is mentioned Heman, one of David's three "chief singers." And we have from this very Heman a Psalm, the eighty-eighth, which presents some very remarkable points of likeness with the book of Job; so much so, that after one's attention has been once drawn to it, one cannot help asking whether the author, whose name is appended to the lesser, is not also the anonymous author of the greater of the two compositions. The Psalmist sings thus:—

"For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: . . . Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves4."

"Who would not think lie was reading one of Job's complaints, in his moments of tender melancholy and submissive sadness? The Psalmist adds:—

"Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me;
Thou hast made me an abomination unto them."

This is but the summing up of the sad and heart-piercing discussions of Job with his friends.

"Why hidest thou thy face from me?
While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
Thy fierce wrath goeth over me. . . .
They compassed me about together. . . ."

Just so does Job express himself in the critical moments when his spirit is troubled within him.

Once more, the concluding words of the Psalm give strong confirmation to this identification for which we are contending:—

My lovers and friends hast thou put away from me.
And hid mine acquaintance out of my sight."

As we read such words, do we not feel the author we are looking for near at hand? This Psalm is a book of Job in brief. It is like the sketch after which the great picture was afterwards drawn. What the forty-fifth Psalm is to the Song of Songs, that this Psalm is to that other great production of the Solomonian wisdom, upon which we are now occupied.

Whatever may be thought of this conjecture, one thing seems now clear to all critics; it is that we are not to look for the author of the book of Job outside the Jewish people. This is proved by the classical Hebrew in which it is written, and by the purely Jewish name of Jehovah which is used in the historical parts, in the prologue and epilogue, and in the connecting narratives in the body of the book5; whilst in the discourses of the friends and of Elihu, God is designated by the names El Shaddai, and Eloah, which are equally in use among other Semitic nations.

It is true that M. Renan, while attributing the composition to a Jewish author, sees nevertheless "in these precious pages, an echo of the ancient wisdom of Theman/' He seems to forget that from the point of view of the author of the book, the ancient Idumean wisdom speaks through the friends, and especially through Eliphaz, and that in the end this wisdom is charged with folly.

Far, then, from seeing in these pages an echo, we should find in them rather a criticism of the much-vaunted wisdom of Theman. This wisdom, with its commonplaces about the Divine justice, comes into conflict with a problem which nothing but the living Monotheism of Israel—Jehovahism, if I may so say—
can solve.


The second preliminary question which comes before us is that of the character of this ancient document.

In its substance, is it history or fiction?

In its form, is it epic or dramatic?

With regard to the first point, most critics are agreed now in thinking that the story of the sufferings and struggles of Job is neither pure history nor mere fiction.

Poetry among the ancients was never wholly a creation. As M. Ewald observes: "An entire invention either of a person, or of a history, is a thing unknown in the earliest antiquity of all nations." Generally speaking, poetry prefers to make use of known facts and persons, and to elevate them to the height and transparent character of the ideal.

But neither, on the other hand, could one take the narrative of the book of Job for a literal history. The stamp of poetry is visible upon all parts of the book. The name Job, which means the attacked, is probably symbolical; the celestial scene in the prologue can scarcely be taken in a literal sense; the symbolical numbers 3 and 7 predominate in the picture of Job's possessions before his misfortunes; the interview between Job and his friends is carried on with too great a regularity, (the discussion having been opened by the first discourse of Job, each friend answers him three times; and he himself, replying directly to all three, thus speaks, in all, nine times,) to be strictly historical. Elihu speaks three times like each of the friends, then a fourth time to assert the defeat of Job; the appearance of Jehovah could not in this place be a literal fact; in the picture of the prosperity of Job after his misfortunes, there occur only the same, or multiples of the same figures as in the prologue, (the same number of sons and of daughters; 14,000 sheep instead of 7,000, &c.)

True history does not move with such regularity. This kind of sustained rhythm is an indication, or note of poetry.

It is, then, probable that the Jewish author possessed himself of some ancient Idumean narrative, in order to append to it, by the help of very free handling, the discussion of the great religious problem which it was his purpose to solve.

The words of Ezekiel6, however, presuppose in the mind of that prophet a conviction of the historic reality of the person of Job.

Between the two kinds of poetry under which the book of Job might be classed, it seems to me that the choice admits of no doubt. Led astray, perhaps, by the serious and melancholy aspect of the subject, and by the preponderance of dialogue in its treatment, some critics have looked at the book of Job as a dramatic composition, a tragedy7. But the two passages, purely historical, which form the opening and close of the poem, are against this view. So are also the connecting narratives and historical passages in the body of the book8 The action of the story developes itself much more umder the form of an epic* The point 04 which it turns is not indeed the possession of a captive, as in the Iliad, but the conquest of the truth upon a vital point of Monotheism. The winged arrows, in such a contest, are words; the single combat, on this ' battle-field, is the dialogue.

Would it be a sin against the reverence due to the sacred book, to go so far as to draw the following parallel: Achilles, governed at first by his resentment, obstinately resists the supplications of the other chiefs; he begins, however, to yield, under the gentle reproaches of Patroclus; and finally, when Jupiter interposes with the blow of the death of his friend, he surrenders; and throwing himself into the schemes of Destiny, he takes arms and makes the cause of Greece to triumph. Just so does Job at first harden himself against the exhortations of his Mends, who presume to explain the inexplicable at his expense. The sweet music of the discourses of Elihu begins to soften his heart; he does not yet adore, but he makes no more accusations, nor does he even reply. At length, when the majesty of Jehovah appears and reveals to him his own nothingness, offering up his grief unreservedly upon the altar of faith, he gives glory to the God whom he cannot comprehend, and makes His cause to triumph over that of Satan.

If this comparison is not forced, it proves sufficiently to what class of literary work the book of Job belongs. There is one dramatic work in the Bible, but only one—the Song of Songs. There are two epics; that of the human conscience in conflict with the Justice of God,—the book of Job; and that of the kingdom of Satan in conflict with the kingdom of God,—the Apocalypse.


Let us now study more closely the course of the action. The narrative is composed of five parts: the prologue, the discussion of Job with his friends, the speeches of Elihu, the appearance and the discourses of Jehovah, and the epilogue.

1. In the prologue, three persons are on the scene: —Job, the Almighty, Satan.

The country of Job is the land of Uz, the situation of which is determined by some passages in other parts of the Bible9 It was a district of the desert of Arabia, adjacent to the eastern part of Idumea.

The age in which Job lived is nowhere directly stated; but several features of the book prove that it was the author's intention to place it in very remote times. The only piece of money mentioned in the whole book is the kesita, a coin which belongs to the patriarchal period10. The only instruments of music alluded to, the tambourine, the guitar, and the hautboy, (according to M. Renan's version,) are precisely those mentioned in Genesis11. The 140 years of prosperity added to the years which preceded his misfortunes (he was probably about seventy at that time) correspond to what is told ns in Genesis as to the longevity of the patriarchs.

As to the social position of Job, M. Pierre Leronx, in his fanciful essay on the book before us (an essay which contains, however, here and there observations worth consideration), remarks that we must not think of Job as a nomadic Arab, but as a rich proprietor, even more settled than was Abraham at Beersheba, or at any other place during his peregrinations. It is in a house and not under a tent that his sons and daughters are assembled when death overtakes them. His oxen are ploughing when the Sabeans carry them off12. Job invokes the curse of God upon himself "if his land cries against him; if he has eaten the fruits thereof without money; and if the furrows of his fields have been watered with the tears of his labourers "deprived of their wages. These are the concluding words of his imprecation: '' Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley13." It is evident that, in addition to the wealth of the powerful nomad, consisting in flocks of all kinds. Job has bendes that of a great landed proprietor.

In the prologue, God is not only the Almighty, the Supreme Being, (Shaddai) or the mysterious Being, Lord of all the forces of Nature, and feared by all (Eiohim). He is the Absolute Being, unique, before whom all is as nothing— He who revealed Himself to Israel as their national God under the name of Jehovah. Unknown still to all other nations, He stands nevertheless in relations with them, looking with complacency upon every one" in every nation, who feareth Him and worketh righteousness," as says S. Peter14. The use of the name Jehovah both in the prologue and epilogue, as well as the appearance and revelation of Jehovah Himself15—prelude of his future revelation to the nations outside the theocracy—indicate a very decided humanitarian tendency in this book.

Satan appears here with all the traits which characterise him in the Hebrew Monotheism, a high dignity of origin, a perfidious malignity, a spirit of timid dependence, considerable power, but strictly limited by the Will of Him Who entrusts him with it. M. Renan himself acknowledges it: "This is quite a different person from the Ahriman of the Avesta. It is not the spirit of evil existing and acting for himself...; he does nothing but by the command of God." It would seem that it was from this picture of the prologue in Job, that S. James derived that striking saying: " The devils believe and tremble16." To this scene, more than to any other, apply the words of a modem Christian writer: "Satan can only go to the end of his chain17." Hence we may see what is to be thought of that common rationalistic assertion, that the Jews borrowed their ideas of good and evil angels from the Persian religion. M. Renan says very aptly: " This part of the theology of the book of Job, (the theory of angels and devils,)—excepting, perhaps, the speech of Elihu—does not overpass the circle of the beliefs which we find among the Hebrews before they came into contact with Assyria and Persia."

Here, then, are the three personages. Into what relation are they entering with each other? God, the Author, Judge, and Rewarder of good in the universe, declares before the heavenly assembly, His satisfaction in the piety of Job. Satan, the representative of scepticism as to all virtue that has not passed through trial, does not give way to this judgment of God. God, instead of forcibly suppressing his insinuations, Himself draws forth the expression of them:—

''Hast thou considered my servant Job?''

Satan, having no accusation to make against the outward conduct of Job, calls in question the purity of his secret motives:—

"Doth Job fear God for nought?"

There is no great merit in faithfully serving a master who heaps benefits upon you, and pays you so highly for your services. Satan seems to say that, in case of need, he would do as much himself.

This malignant insinuation seems at first sight to strike Job alone, but in reality it is an attack upon God Himself. For if the most pious of mankind is incapable of loving God gratuitously—that is, really, —it follows that God has Dot the power to make Himself loved. Now, as it is the perfection of a being to love, so it is his glory to be loved. It is in this sense that S. Paul says, " The woman is the glory of the man18." The being who is unable to excite an emotion of disinterested love, were he the most powerful of all beings, is nevertheless the neediest and the most humiliated. The most telling blow, therefore, which can be inflicted upon the Divine honour, is to assert that even the most devout worshipper of God upon earth only serves Him with this arrière-pensée: "what shall I gain by it?" If it be so, God is nothing more than a potentate flattered by cowards; He has no friends, no children, nothing but mercenaries and slaves. The lamp of God's glory dies in this impure breath. The Seraphim must change their hymn and say, " Heaven and earth are empty of thy glory."

Satan has then discovered the vulnerable point in God Himself. The instinct of hatred has served him well. NO ONE IS HONOURED EXCEPT SO FAR AS  HE IS LOVED; he knows this well himself by the opposite experience. While shooting that fiery dart, which reduces to ashes the piety of Job, it is in reality at the heart of God that he has aimed. . . . and he has hit his mark.

From that moment the position of God becomes a strange one. It is like that of a father having an exemplary and devoted son, upon whom he delights to heap tokens of his affection. Suddenly, some suspicious guest throws out a hint that the good conduct of his son springs only from the speculations of self-interest, and that in reality this young man is rather making gain out of him than serving him. What is to be done? Merely put aside the accusation?—But there is a law which says that ''there is nothing hidden that shall not be brought to light." Now that which brings into full light the hidden nature of each thing, is trial, trial only. . . . The father accepts the challenge which is contained in the stranger's insinuation; he takes away from his son all that constituted his joy and happiness, and inflicts upon him, without apparent reason, the severest treatment and most grievous mortifications. So does God decide to act with regard to Job; and it is thus the action begins. It is really a kind of solemn wager between God and Satan, from which disgrace must ensue to one or the other. Satan, confident of the goodness of his cause, and of the weakness of Job, God's champion, proposes this form of trial:—

"Put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."

God accepts the proposal, while reserving on His part the safety of Job's person. The blows of the invisible foe fall, one after another, upon the property and upon the family of the patriarch. In a few hours Job finds himself destitute, reduced to beggary, deprived of his children. Nevertheless he will not deny God, but prostrates himself, and adores the Hand which, after having given so much, has thought good to take all away.

Satan does not yet consider himself defeated. So long as the person of Job is untouched, the trial in his opinion is not decisive:—

"Put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face."

Jehovah agrees to this aggravation of the trial, but still reserving on His part the life of Job. And now we see God's faithful servant smitten with leprosy,—that malady which more than any other is accounted a sign of the Divine displeasure; and he sits, weeping, among the ashes. To this accumulation of calamity, his wife^s faith gives way:—

"Curse God and die."

But that of Job still holds firm:—

"Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?"

Nevertheless, the limits of the trial are not yet reached, nor is the victory finally gained.

2. In front of the curtain, which hides from earth the scene which has just taken place in the invisible world, there are men; there is one being consumed by suffering—others who are spectators of this boundless grief. All alike are believers in the omnipotence and justice of Jehovah. "What will they think of the blows which His Hand has struck? Perhaps in this, there lies for Job an aggravation of grief and trial. He has stood firm against the voice of coarse unbelief which spoke through the mouth of his wife. But if piety itself takes up arms against his faith, will it be able to withstand this new assault? Will it pass unscathed through this last fiery ordeal? Satan will certainly not own himself vanquished, and the cause of God will not really have triumphed in the person of its martyr, until, in a desperate struggle with the traditional belief of his age, Job shall have upheld the rights of God without surrendering those of his own conscience, and the rights of his conscience without denying those of God, even should the most irreconcilable of conflicts seem to oppose one of these to the other.

The three friends who come to visit Job, form together with him, (as is well shewn by M. Schlottmann,) a kind of confraternity or social aristocracy, intellectual and religious, in the midst of surrounding tribes, who seem to have belonged to a stage of civilisation far less high than their own. They are rich, practised in the art of speech, Monotheists and Semites, while the inhabitants of those regions are poor, rude, idolaters, and probably Hamites. They might be compared to those Dutch farmers, who, under the name of Boers, have formed in our modem times a well-known state in the south of Africa. rich, powerful, armed in European style, attached to the Christian faith and civilisation, these colonists are united with each other in a formidahle association, and they hold under their sway entire countries and numerous African populations. Just such as these appear to have been Job—before he was cast into the abyss of misery, Eliphaz the Temanite, (the name of a country in Idumea,) Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, (these two last countries are unknown to us).

For seven days and seven nights, the friends of Job sit by him in silence. At length Job, as if he felt there was something ill-omened in this long-continued stillness, himself breaks it. And his words are like a flash of lightning in a heavy and oppressive atmosphere:—

"Let the day perish in which I was born,
And the night in which it was said. There is a man child conceived!"

The contrast between the tone of this exclamation and the last words of Job in the prologue, is evidently due to the manner, so offensive to him and so full of secret accusations, of his three friends.

After the first discourse of Job, each friend, as we have said, speaks three times; Job replies at once to each. But at his last turn, Zophar, the third of the friends, foregoes his speech, as a sign of his inability to convince Job; and the latter then speaks three times consecutively, as if to shew that he is left in possession of the field.

The principal thoughts which, uttered at first with reserve, and then spoken out by degrees more and more clearly, form the theme of the discourses of the friends, are these:—

First, God is just—He does not dispense happiness and misery arbitrarily.

Secondly, (a corollary of the first): Your extraordinary ill-fortune is a certain proof of hidden and exceptional crimes, of which you are guilty.

Thirdly, (and this is the consolation which they think to bring him): If, by a sincere repentance, you do honour to the truth, God will pardon and restore you.

The author varies and graduates, in an admirable manner, the development of these theses which he puts into the mouth of the three friends. They are set forth by Eliphaz with sacerdotal pathos, by Eildad with a moderation less rich in ideas, and by Zophar with a kind of passionateness.

In the first cycle (as far as the fourteenth chapter), the accusation of the friends comes out only with much reserve, and in ambiguous words. They still hope to gain over Job to their way of looking at things, and to bring him to confess his secret faults. In the second cycle (to the twenty-first chapter), their language assumes a character more and more severe and threatening. By his proud demeanour, Job produces upon them increasingly the impression that he is a real malefactor. His pride at once repels and astounds them. Finally, in the third cycle (to the thirty-first chapter), Eliphaz gives definite expression to the accusation till then withheld; and adds to it a final and vigorous appeal to the conscience of Job; Bildad confines himself to rejecting haughtily his answers. The third friend, concluding that nothing can be done with so hardened a being, gives up his turn of speaking altogether19.

It is clear that in reasoning in this manner, the friends are only giving expression to the received theory of their time, which admits of no other law, for the distribution of human suffering, than the quantum of the sins of each person. Poor Job! To extol in this sense the Divine Justice before him, is to stab him—to annihilate him.

And how does he bear himself in this terrible crisis? Upon the ground of mere reason he is defeated. For he knows of no theology different from that of his friends, under which he might shelter himself against the blows with which they transfix him. In order to make a victorious answer, he must know that scene in the prologue, which alone gives the clue to the dispensation of which he is the object. But he knows it not. He is in the position of the son of whom we were just now speaking, at the time when his brothers, noticing the sudden severity with which his father treats him, ask him in terror, "What hast thou done?'' and with a mixture of compassion and horror, urge him to confess the fault which has brought upon him the anger of so just a being. The poor youth can make but one answer: "I know nothing—absolutely nothing. But our father is just. It is true I no longer understand his conduct. I appeal to himself better informed."

And his brothers misunderstand him more than ever, and add to their former insinuations the charge of an insurmountable pride.

Just so, Job has no answer to make to the reasoning of his Mends. He has only the witness of his own conscience. But that is enough for him. For here is the rock against which all the charges made against him will be shattered, and even the very principle upon which they are based—that of strict retribution. We must not then look for a complete logical force in his speeches, like that which pervades the speeches of his friends. There are, from his point of view, two conflicting elements: the theory of retribution, which seems to him inseparable from faith in the justice of God,—and the unwavering testimony of his conscience, which, in his present circumstances, protests against this theory. Hence his perplexity. The conflict within him is not between good and evil, but between good and good—between the justice of God affirmed by his conscience, and his relative innocence, no less firmly attested by that inner and sacred voice; so much so, that he feels himself driven logically either to give the lie to his conscience, if he would still uphold the justice of God, or deny God, if he would maintain the truth of his conscience. Terrible position! which constitutes precisely the climax of the trial of which he is unconsciously the subject. This moral situation is also a master-piece of epic art What was the wrath of Achilles at the abduction of a captive, compared to this inward conflict of Job, whose distracted conscience can no longer do homage to God without contradicting itself!

Accordingly, his discourses are like the broken utterances of one in a fever. But in the midst of these apparent incoherences, one may observe, nevertheless, a succession of touches of admirable psychological truth.

In the first cycle he gives expression to the grief caused him by the attitude which his friends had taken; he compares them to a brook in the desert, in whose water a caravan had trusted, but which is found dried up when its banks are reached; then he acknowledges that he shares the general infirmity:—

"How should man be just with God?
If he will contend with him,
He cannot answer him one of a thousand."

But what a difference between that and the crimes of which they suspect him I Besides, facts do not agree with this dogmatic assertion—that the righteous man is always fortunate, and the wicked always unhappy. And now, in the place of the abstract God Whom his friends offer to him, Who seems but to play the part of a lifeless weighing machine, on one scale of which should be written vice, on the other, misery—he sets a living personal God; but One who carries liberty even to caprice, and Who, sheltered Himself behind His rampart of clouds, shoots forth His arrows as it pleases Him, without giving account to any one of what He does. Sometimes he seems even to border on blasphemy, and to deny all moral character to the use which the Almighty makes of His power. He appeals from the God who smites him. . . . But to Whom? To no other than to God Himself; he appeals from the traditional God of his friends—from that iron mask which their pitiless hand would force upon him, to that new God Whom his own heart foreshadows, and Whose advent he invokes:—

He will laugh at the trial of the innocent:
The earth is given into the hands of the wicked. . .
The tabernacles of robbers prosper,
They that provoke God are secure;
Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly20.

"Neither is there any daysman betwixt us,
That might lay his hand upon us both. . .
If I be wicked, woe unto me;
And if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
But I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause;
I know that I shall be justified. . . 
Withdraw thine hand far from me:
And let not thy dread make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer:
Or let me speak, and answer thou me".21

This infinite unfathomable freedom of the personal and living God, which he transforms at times into absolute caprice,—it is upon that that he casts himself for refuge when he knows not where to find shelter against the inexorable logic of his friends. In these bold appeals to a God Who appears to be hiding Himself as in cowardice, and Whom he summons in a manner to the bar in the name of his aggrieved conscience, is contained really the grandest homage to that holiness of the Divine character which passes all human understanding.

The second cycle sets before us, as says Schultz, Job drawing steadily nearer to God, as his friends withdraw themselves from him. Doubtless it is by means of a violent conflict that this intimacy is formed and strengthened. But the more clearly he sees himself delivered up, friendless and helpless, to a doom to him inexplicable, the more does he rise to the triumphant conviction that God will be his avenger, the witness to his innocence. No, whatever may happen, he shall not perish; leprosy may eat up his flesh, and even consume his bones; his friends may bring against him the gravest charges... but what does it matter? It is to God alone that he will for the future carry his appeal. He is sure of God—yes sure of Him even at the very time when this God seems to be doing everything to ruin him:—

"My witness is in heaven,
And my record is on high.
My friends scorn me:
But mine eye poureth out tears unto God.
Oh that my words were now written!
Oh that they were printed in a book!
That they were graven with an iron pen
And lead in the rock for ever!
For I know that my redeemer liveth.
And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body.
Yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself,
And mine eyes shall behold, and not another

This is the passage in which Job attains to the culminating point of his hope in God. Does he express in these words his hope of a mere cure, when it shall please God to suspend the ravages of leprosy, and to say to that incurable disease, ''Thus far and no farther?" Or does he, despairing of all cure here below, cast himself upon the certainty of a resurrection, properly so called? Between these two interpretations which have divided commentators, would not Job perhaps have himself hesitated? Does he not feel his ignorance as to how God will dispose of this body, this living skeleton, in which he is still suffering and groaning? But what he does know for certain is that, whether by means of a cure, or else by means of a resurrection, LIVE HE SHALL—for his redeemer lives. All the truths that Jesus draws, in Matt. xxii. 32, from the expression ''the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," are comprehended in this cry of faith from the patriarch: "My Redeemer liveth!"

After this supreme effort, in the third cycle the heart of Job is softened; and his speech, always splendid in its magnificence, expresses pain of a more contrite and gentle character. He pictures to his friends the insoluble problem of human existence; ha makes them understand that the wisdom which can solve riddles such as these is not given to man. He retraces once more, in a burst of poetry never surpassed, the picture of his past greatness; he sets alongside of his present misery that life free from all the crimes with which they charge him; and resuming the tone of a consciousness of innocence which no fear, even in presence of the Most High, can weaken, he cries at last:—

"Oh that one would hear me!
Behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me,
And that mine adversary had written a book23".

I do not hesitate to say that this is the most admirable section of the whole book. Although much the hardest to interpret, it is nevertheless the most accessible to the afflicted spirit.

3. A younger man than the friends of Job had been present at the interview. Seeing the champions of Divine justice put to silence, and Job left in possession of the field of battle, Elihu, whom a feeling of deference had hitherto kept silent, now opens his mouth and gives vent to the feelings which oppress him. As Œhler so well said, he is indignant with Job, "because he could only justify himself by accusing God; and indignant with the friends, because they could only justify God by accusing Job."

The four discourses which are put into his mouth are the development of two great thoughts.

First, what the friends ought to have said to Job and what Job ought to have remembered^ is that there are pains, which, without being a retribution for any actual faults, are fitted for purifying man from the seeds of sin contained in his heart, and to save him from falls to which he might be exposed:—

God speaketh once, yea twice.
Yet man perceiveth it not.
In a dream, in a vision of the night.
When deep sleep falleth upon men:
Then he openeth the ears of men.
And sealeth their instruction,
That he may withdraw man from his purpose,
And hide pride from man. . . .
He is chastened also with pain upon his bed.
And the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
So that his life abhorreth bread.
And his soul dainty meat.
His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen;
And his bones that were not seen stick out . . . .
If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter,
One among a thousand.
To shew unto man his uprightness:
Then he is gracious unto him . . . . .
His flesh shall be fresher than a child's:
He shall return to the days of his youth24."

The application of these words to Job is evident. In addition to the internal warnings which God gives to men to save them from sin, particularly from the pride which so easily accompanies prosperity, He has given Job external trials,—especially that of sickness. But let Job find a heavenly friend who will reveal to him the reason of his trial, and his restoration will not be delayed.

The second thought is: Even if we do not arrive at understanding the ways of God, He shews Himself too great and too wise in all nature to allow us to entertain a doubt of His perfection. God is not a mere " satrap/' tempted to abuse a power only lent him for a time. He is the Sovereign; and we may therefore depend upon His justice.

To accept suffering as a purifying ordeal or as a preventive warning, in which conscience cannot recognise a punishment, and to submit entirely, looking to God with the docility of faith—even to such as we can in no degree understand either as punishment or as trial—this is the whole wisdom of Elihu. It is slightly common-place, it may be said; but its originality consists in the contrast between it and the spurious wisdom of the friends and the rash language of Job. It is not the complete explanation of the mystery,—Elihu knows nothing of the scene in the prologue,—but until the veil is lifted, this is, and remains the true wisdom. Accordingly, Job does not answer. He does not yet confess himself defeated; but he no longer argues. It is the beginning of his complete submission.

The authenticity of the speeches of Elihu has been strongly attacked; so much so, that it requires now some courage to undertake their defence. Are they then missing in any manuscript? No. The following are the reasons alleged:—

There is no mention of this fourth friend, either in the prologue or epilogue. His appearance upon the scene, and his speeches are, therefore, it is said, a later interpolation. £ut this argument is weak. Elihu is not a fourth friend. It is expressly said that ''his wrath was kindled against Job and against his three friends25."He was too young to take up such a position; besides, his presence had not the same formal character as that of the friends; it was not a visit, properly so called, as theirs was. There is here a very ingenious stroke of art. For by. this means his intervention is made to take the form of a surprise, and the author ingeniously takes up the thread of the narrative, just when it seemed at the point of breaking. As to the silence on the subject of Elihu in the epilogue, that is natural. He can neither be praised as having solved the problem, nor blamed as having spoken wrongly. He has said nothing but the truth, though not the whole truth.

Elihu speaks four times; this, it is said, indicates the touch of a later hand. But does not Job do the same in his last discourse? The orator pauses a moment each time to let his adversary answer if he thinks fit. The fact that he himself resumes his speech after each of these pauses, amounts therefore to nothing more than a repeated avowal of powerlessness on the part of Job.

The difference of style is next alleged. "The style of Elihu," says M. Renan, "is cold and pretentious." Every one knows how often such judgments are a mere result of individual taste. But what seems to us, in this case, to take away all force from the argument drawn from a difference of style, is that M. Benan concludes by attributing the so-called interpolated passage to the author of the book himself, who, he thinks, must have completed his work "at a time when he had lost his vigour." M. Renan gives us back with one hand what he had taken away with the other. We gather from this avowal a sure testimony to the identity of the author; and that, it seems to us, sufficiently settles the question of authenticity.

Finally, we are told that these discourses of Elihu are a mere repetition of those of Jehovah, and bring confusion into the plan of the poem. The two last speeches of Elihu treat, it is true, of the same theme as those of Jehovah—the greatness of God in Nature. But the two first set forth quite a different idea, and one which is essential to the complete treatment of the subject—the idea of suffering as a means of purification. By this means Elihu begins to soften the heart of Job, so much wounded by the cruelty of his friends; he thus prepares the way for that complete submission which is to be consummated by the appearance of Jehovah. Nothing is abler, better managed, and in some respects more indispensable, psychologically speaking, than this intermediate part. As the gentle exhortation of Elihu forms the transition from the hard words of the friends to the solemn revelation of Jehovah, so does the silence of Job before Elihu form the transition between his haughty answers to his friends, and his humble and complete self-humiliation before Jehovah.

Far, then, from being a mere by-play in the plan of the book, this passage is an indispensable feature of it. It is like the gentle exhortation of a younger and religious -minded brother, intended to recal to the mind of that elder brother, of whom we have before spoken, the character of their common father, and what may be the blessed consequences of the trial, if accepted with a docile mind. Let the father himself afterwards come in and speak in the same sense, but with the authority of his position, and the work will be thereby completed.

4. More than once Job had called upon God to shew Himself. Elihu had had a presentiment of, and had announced His approach:—

"At this also my heart trembleth.
And is moved out of his place.
Hear attentively the noise of his voice.
And the sound that goeth out of his mouth26."

More than this, he had by degrees prepared the heart of Job to receive this visitation in a spirit of profound self-abasement. Elihu was, as it were, the forerunner of Jehovah.

Jehovah appears; twice over He overwhelms Job with the majesty of His words. In the first discourse He treats of this question: Thou who pretendest to be able to judge My ways, canst thou understand this universe? The second turns upon this: Wilt thou try to govern the world in My place, and to do so better than I? This is the development of the second of the two subjects treated by Elihu, but with a more magnificent richness of language, and a more triumphant power. The inferiority of Elihu's speeches, which M. Renan uses as an argument against their authenticity, is explained precisely by this fact, that the author was reserving the fulness of his power to make Jehovah speak in a manner worthy of Himself. It is remarkable that the first subject drawn out by Elihu—the purifying effect of affliction—is nowhere reproduced in these discourses of Jehovah. The dignity of God did not allow Him even to enter upon self-justification. It is still more evident that He would not condescend to acquaint Job with the scene narrated in the prologue. For this would be to violate the very conditions of that kind of contest in which He had thought fit to engage. What had passed behind the veil must remain hidden from Job till the end of the trial appointed for him; the champion of God must win, not by sight, but by faith; by moral conviction with no help from the light of reason. And in the end, this victory of faith is completely reached:—

"I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth."

This is Job's reply to the first discourse of the Eternal.

"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear. But now mine eye seeth thee: Wherefore I abhor myself. And repent in dust and ashes."

This is his confession at the end of the second discourse.

The words which Job retracts in this manner, are by no means such a denial of Jehovah as Satan had expected, and which he had predicted in those insulting words, "See if he will not curse thee to thy face." During his long debate with his friends, Job never for a moment thought of renouncing God, or of seeking help from the superstitions of the idolatrous religions around. He was only seeking to free himself from too narrow a conception of God and of His ways, and so to rise to a loftier point of view from which to overlook a wider horizon. His complaints were the cries of one in misery, driven to extremity, rebelling against a fictitious God—a true Medusa's head, the very look of which tamed him to stone—and carrying his appeal to another God Whom he was unable to define, but without Whom he felt he could not live.

5. The victory having now been gained, a double crown is placed upon the conqueror's head. This is the subject of the epilogue.

Whilst God denounces His anger against Eliphaz and his two friends, because the common-places they had uttered so magisterially, were destitute, if so applied, of all moral truth, Job receives from the mouth of God a striking declaration of His satisfaction, because amidst all the exaggerations which have escaped him, he has himself always spoken sincerely, A heterodoxy which is frank and true-hearted finds more favour in the sight of God than a strict and cold orthodoxy. Eliphaz and his friends, as the climax of their humiliation, only obtain pardon on condition that Job, whom suffering has now consecrated to be God's priest, shall accompany with his intercessions the expiatory sacrifice which they are to be called upon to offer.

Thus God gives Job an opportunity of adding to his submission to Himself, an act of sublime generosity towards the friends who have treated him so cruelly. This is the seal set to the complete moral, victory he has won. But this is only the first half of Job's triumph. He is afterwards raised to a position of earthly splendour, not only equal to that which had preceded his trials, but superior to it.

Just as the father of whom we spoke, after he was assured of the complete submission of his son, casts upon the stranger whose suspicions have introduced a temporary disturbance into the internal relations of the family, an indignant and expressive look, and then, pressing to his heart with redoubled tenderness the son who had suffered so cruelly for him and through him, heaps upon him thenceforth his favours and endearments; so does God pour out upon Job all the tokens of His love, as if to make up to him for the extreme anguish which he had gone through for the manifestation of His glory both in heaven and in hell.


Such is the plan of the narrative. This analysis seems to us sufficiently to demonstrate the unity of the book, and the harmony of its different parts. It remains now to draw out the central idea of it, and for that purpose to get a firmer grasp of the problem proposed, and of the solution offered.

Every reader of the Bible who was asked what is the question treated in the book of Job, would answer without hesitation—the problem of human suffering. But this answer is too vague. The question which occupies the mind of the author is not—why does man suffer? but why should even the innocent be called upon to do so? The problem is to account for that disproportion between the amount of the sin of any individual man and his suffering, which is apparent in so many cases. This difficulty would be especially pressed upon the minds of the Israelites under the influence of the lex talionis proclaimed with such energy in the Mosaic code; but it might also suggest itself in all countries, and to all nations, since, even outside of the discipline of law, the conscience of mankind is offended at the sight of the sufferings of the righteous, and is compelled to. ask itself how such facts can be reconciled with the justice of God.

Such, without doubt, is the problem which the author sets before himself. What is the solution of it which he offers? And is this solution put before us with such characteristics of lucidity and truth, as can satisfy us perfectly?

1. M. Renan thinks not. According to his view, the author has very clearly perceived the weakness of the old patriarchal theory, according to which the wicked are always punished, and the righteous always rewarded here on earth. He rejects, with good reason, the crying injustice which this superficial interpretation of the Divine dispensations involves. But he seeks in vain to substitute for it any better explanation. He finds no way out of the circle in which Jewish thought is imprisoned, and out of which man can only effect his escape by a bold appeal to the future. There are moments when Job seems to draw aside the veil which hides from us the mystery of the future life; he prophesies that he will be avenged, and that in his flesh he shall see God. £ut these gleams of light are each time followed by a darkness still more profound. The old patriarchal idea still weighs down the author's spirit. The sight of the misery of the righteous plunges him once more into deep trouble of mind; and, in the epilogue, he returns to that bare and naked theory of retribution which he had for a moment tried to throw off; for it is on this earth that Job is avenged, and that his fortune is restored to him. So that the book ends with that same doctrine of temporal rewards and punishments, which it seemed at one time intended to combat and eradicate.

Were the book of Job really nothing more than such a tissue as this of inconsistencies and contradictions, it would be difficult to understand the extraordinary power which it has had in all ages over the minds of men, and how it could deserve the title of "the ideal of a Semitic poem," which M. Renan assigns to it. Unless we attribute to the author a mind most inconsistent, as well as most sublime, we must say that the theory of exact retribution for sin by suffering, is absolutely and conclusively refuted in the interview between Job and his friends, and that after having received this decisive blow, it could not be raised again in the remainder of the buck.

2. Accordingly, a certain number of interpreters, De Wette, for instance, attribute to this poem no other purpose but that of combating the doctrine of retribution on earth, as it was taught by the Mosaic law. But in that case, we should have to confess that the epilogue is in direct contradiction with the idea of the book; and should have no choice left but to suppress it altogether by one of those arbitrary decrees which critics, in our day, allow themselves so freely. Besides, Wisdom among the Israelites never set herself in opposition to Mosaicism. She sought foundations for the law in the nature of things, and in the moral constitution of man; she followed oat its applications in all the details of life; but never did she set herself in antagonism with it; she always respected it as the highest expression of the Divine "Will. The explanation of De "Wette is liable to the objection that it would in some sort reduce the whole book to chapters iv—xxxi.

3. M. Jules Sandoz27 struck especially with the former of the two theses unfolded in the speeches of Elihu, thinks that the author after having, in the discussions of Job and his friends, definitively put aside the theory of suffering as retributive and punitive, wishes to substitute for it that of suffering as a means of the purification and education of man in his moral nature. From this point of view, "pain," he says, " takes a new meaning and name; it is called trial. It is to the moral nature of man what the refining-pot is to the metal, and at the bottom of the bitterest cup, he who can drink it without repining, will find happiness." It is in this light also that Hengstenberg understands the object of the book of Job. According to him, it is the mission of this book to initiate the believer into the sanctifying use of the cross, and to teach him so to suffer as to draw from trial the blessings which it is intended to bring him. The characteristic idea of the book, from this point of view, would be found in ch. xxxii. and xxxiii., which contain the first discourses of Elihu. "We have affirmed without hesitation the authenticity of this part of the book, and have proved, we hope, its importance, and even necessity. But if we are to look there for the solution proposed by the author, what would be the use of the discourse of Elihu which follows, upon the incomprehensibility of the Divine decrees? what would be the object of those of Jehovah upon the same subject? And what, above all, would be the aim of the epilogue, which nowhere describes the spiritual blessings found by Job at the bottom of the bitter cup, but tells of a restoration altogether temporal? After Elihu has spoken, the book ought to end with the declaration of Jehovah, that he has spoken well and that Eternal Wisdom has found in him a fit interpreter.

4. It is this which has led Hupfeld and Knobel to think that the theory of the author, in face of the terrible problem he had set himself, is simply that of blind submission. Man, being unable to understand, must meekly resign himself. This is the position of Elihu in the second part of his discourses, and it is also the theme of those of Jehovah. "We shall not certainly deny the relative truth of this solution; only we affirm that the author, while assigning it some place in the views of the believer, yet thinks he is in possession of a light superior to that dim twilight of passive resignation, to rest in which would be simply to give up the attempt to find any solution at all. Even the first part of Elihu's speech leads us to expect something more satisfying to the understanding. From the prologue and epilogue we may evidently gather a solution worthy of the name.

We may make the same answer to the explanation of M. Schlottmann, who thinks the object of the book is only to describe the moral conflict of the believer in the midst of trial. So understood, the book of Job becomes a treatise on morals, whereas it really is a theodicy. Looked at closely, it is to the conduct of God much more than to that of man, that the attention of the author is directed. The question with him is not how Job acts towards God, but why God acts in this particular manner towards this faithful servant. And if the author did not believe himself to have any ray of light with which to penetrate this abyss of darkness, and if the sum and substance of his book were but commensurate with the thought unfolded in ch. xxxiv—xli., his treatise would be a failure, and the bold attempt of the author must be regarded as a noble but futile effort.

5. M. Yolk has recently set forth a very original idea29. According to him, the author of the book of Job wished to express this fundamental idea:—that man can never find consolation and peace in what comes to Him only from man; he needs under trial the revelation of a God Who appears and speaks to him personally. Thus this ingenious attempt makes the whole hook to consist, in some sort, in the Divine appearance described in ch. xxxviii—xli. But according to this view, the important feature of this part would he the actual fact of the appearing and speaking of Jehovah^ and the contents of his long discourses would he comparatively indifferent. Now that is certainly not the author's idea. The pictures in which he unfolds the proofs of the wisdom and power of the Creator, have in his eyes a value as great as that of the appearance itself.

6. M. Pierre Leroux has made a powerful effort to overcome the difficulty. The poem of Job, according to his view, is the most ancient revelation of the supreme doctrine of philosophy—that of the progress of mankind. The author would contrast with this the stability of sacerdotalism. The great idea of perfectibility is set forth in these beautiful words30:—

"Who is this that darkeneth counsel
By words without knowledge?"

Counsel, plan—everything is included in that word. Here we have the law of progress enunciated. As to hierarchical conservatism, that is represented by the three friends as well as by the monster Leviathan—that type of the theocracy—of which it is said, ''His scales are his pride31." Pride—from this word M. Leroux concludes that the author is treating of a moral monster. He does not seem to have any idea that the poet is here describing the erect and magnificent crest which is formed by the scales on the back of the crocodile. He is blind also to the fact that the Biblical idea of a Divine plan overruling all creation and history, while it does not shut out the idea of the progress of mankind as he understands it, goes infinitely beyond it. Attaching his favourite theory to two or three words very superficially interpreted, he thus succeeds in making the book of Job a socialistic work, to be classed with the writings of Fourier. Poor Job! This is the climax of his martyrdom!

7. Many ancient theologians have thought that the author of this book seeks for the justification of the Divine government in the promise of rewards after this life; the sufferings of the righteous here below were to find their compensation in the glories and joys of the future life, represented in the epilogue. But though it is doubtless true that once or twice in the course of the book the brilliant perspectives of the heavenly rewards shed their light over the darkness of present pain, yet it cannot be denied that it is on this earth that the epilogue places the restoration of Job's happiness, and that to spiritualise this last part of the book, so as to see in it a picture of the celestial happiness which is granted to the righteous who suffer, is to run contrary to the natural meaning of this passage, and to set oneself in opposition to the true thought of the author. How are we to see in the ''fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses " restored to Job, types of the glory to come? "We must then also give up the idea of finding in ch. xlii. the key to the book.

Must we, then, after all, despair of a solution? That would be to forget the opening scene. It is there, in fact, that the solution is found. And it is difficult to conceive how anything so clearly expressed should have been so obstinately misunderstood.

As we have seen, the attacks of Satan are aimed primarily at the honour of God. And he knows perfectly well that the most telling blow he can inflict upon it is, to deny that God is ever disinterestedly B3rved and sincerely loved by any being whatsoever. The object of the trial of Job is precisely to demonstrate to him the contrary. Here is the key to the mystery. And it is clearly given in the prologue; we need not look for any other. The remainder of the book can neither add nor take away from its clearness, and can only serve one purpose,—to remove the false ideas, the dangerous misconceptions, the rash judgments passed upon the Divine government, which may spring up in the minds of men when they have to witness facts of this kind without possessing the key to the mystery of them.

The author of the book does not by any means take upon himself to deny the portion of truth contained in the argument of Job's friends. Assuredly there is a close connection between sin and suffering, and the latter is often the wages of the former. Much leas does he think of rejecting the explanation offered by Elihu in the first part of his discourse, viz., that suffering is, even for the righteous. a salutary discipline which serves to purify him from inward stains, known only to God, and above all to preserve him from pride. Only he establishes the fact that there are some cases to which neither of these solutions apply. Deduct all the sufferings which have the character either of just chastisement or of instruments of education, there still remain in human life a certain number which belong to a third category. This is what the author felt called upon to bring clearly into notice; and with good reason. For to widen, on this point, the narrow horizon of our natural thoughts, is the only means of completely rooting out that unfair prejudice which leads us instinctively to make of every afflicted being an object of suspicion, or one whose case is settled, and to calculate the degree of his guilt by the amount of his suffering. If we did but apply this method of judging to ourselves, the danger would perhaps not be great. But, urged by a secret malignity, and by a perverted feeling of justice, we find a pleasure in dissecting the conduct of our neighbour in order to discover in it the cause of his misfortunes. Our sympathy hardens itself against him just at the very moment when he has most need of it in all its fulness; and instead of lifting him up by the force of love, we complete his misery by the cruel suspicions which arise in our minds, and which he perceives even through the silence in which we wrap them. To break through that iron band by which our compassion is stifled, and to labour at rooting out from the earth the odious race of vexatious comforters, is the special object of that part of the book which follows immediately upon the prologue,—the conversations of the suffering hero with his three pretended friends. But in order completely to break the link of connection which our minds are inclined to form between suffering and sin, would it be enough to add, as Elihu does, to the class of punitive chastisements, that of purifying sufferings? This distinction is no doubt an important one, and it is profoundly, true. But it still leaves in existence the fatal principle—so much pain for so much sin in each individual. For if on the one hand punishment is proportioned to guilt, so on the other must the means of purification be to the amount of defilement to be removed. He, then, who is the most tried must be considered also as the greatest sinner, in intention if not in fact, in inward disposition if not in actual conduct. And the fatal epithet, deserved, still attaches, do what one will, to the word misfortune. It is absolutely necessary to find an outlet from this prison, in which charity is stifled; and the book of Job is there in the Bible to provide it for us.

There are cases in which God inflicts suffering upon man, not on account of sins committed which need expiation, nor yet in view of his moral character needing improvement, and of faults into which he might fall which need to be prevented, but for His own sake. and for the vindication of His own honour. It is then given to man to play a noble part in the universe,—that of avenging the outraged honour of his Creator, and of making His glory shine forth even into spheres above that of humanity. The weakly child, about to quit this life after having known nothing of it but its pains; the mother, confined to her bed of suffering for twenty years, deprived of the happiness of bringing up her* young family herself; the honest and hardworking father, who feels his strength giving way under the influence of some incurable disease, and that at the very moment when his labour was most necessary for his children; the upright merchant who, because he would not consent to some base act, sees himself and his family exposed to the shame of bankruptcy, and to all the privations of poverty—they will, no doubt, in the first place, take account of their own ways, and probe their own hearts; they will humble themselves, if there is cause, at the memories of the past and at the sight of the stains they find in their own hearts. But if, after all this, they still find in their misfortunes something that cannot be explained, let them guard against being led, as Job was at times, into doubting the wisdom and the justice of God, and let them say to themselves, "God wills to give me, a sinner, an opportunity of shewing that I love Him for Himself, not for the good things which He has given me to enjoy—that I love Him notwithstanding all the trials with which He overwhelms me. To suffer gladly for His sake is the worship I now offer Him. Perhaps, at this moment, my pains meekly borne, may be a sacrifice whose sweet-smelling savour shall rise to the Heaven of heavens, and God is about to obtain, through me—worm of the earth, fit only to be trodden under His foot—a glorious victory over His enemy and mine." To consent to play this part is the highest act of man—heroism in its holiest form; to enact it as Job did, is to realise the highest destiny of the creature such as is described in Ps. viii., that admirable picture of the greatness of man, and particularly ver. 2:—

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
Hast thou ordained strength because of thine adversaries;
That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger,''

This thought was one of those which used to sustain the Apostles in their painful career: ''God hath set forth us the Apostles last," says St. Paul, "as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men32." The theme of the book of Job, from this point of view, was, as it were, formally stated by Jesus Himself in the answer which He made to the question of His disciples on the reason of the blindness of the man born blind.

"Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him33"

"With the two former explanations of suffering (punishment and trial) ''one can indeed," said an invalid, shattered by pains both of body and soul, ''reach submission and peace; but one needs the third to rise to joy."

I know well that this highest consolation is not within the reach of all men, nor of any man at all times. As it was not accessible to Job so long as the secret of heaven was not revealed to him, and he had to win the victory in total darkness, without the help of the light of God; so does the want of light or of faith deprive many a sufferer of that illumination, even with the help of the Holy Scriptures and the real in g of the book of Job. This gleam of light upon the Divine decrees is ever veiling itself afresh in the spirit of man—for hours in the history of any one individual, for centuries in that of mankind—as if it had never been offered to us. The position of the believer under trial becomes then exactly like that of Job, who was in ignorance of all. It is for these times of darkness that the last discourses of Elihu, and those of Jehovah, upon the absolute submission due from short-sighted man, in every condition of things, to the dispensations of the Most High, were written. To him who cannot understand, there offers itself, even in this very ignorance, a sublime mission, that of drinking the bitter cup solely because of the Hand which offers it. "God shews Himself everywhere to be the wisest and the most powerful of beings. He must be also consequently the best. That is enough for me. I have searched for the accursed thing in my tent, I have put it far from me; I no longer can discern the reason why He keeps me in His crucible, and even heats it more and more intensely. But what signifies it to me? He it is Who kindles the furnace. With this thought I embrace my cross, with all that it contains of mysterious and inexplicable; and with this precious burden I throw myself, with closed eyes, into the arms of God, Whose Name, imprinted upon all His works, is Wisdom." This is the path sketched out by Elihu and by Jehovah Himself; it is the way of simple faith. Even the brilliant light which shines in the prologue has not rendered this superfluous.

But the epilogue? Does not this final and altogether earthly triumph of Job bring us back to the idea which the author has been endeavouring to combat—that of earthly retribution assured to the righteous? No, The prologue was, as it were, an appeal to human love which had been under unworthy suspicions. The epilogue is the manifestation of Divine love which had been momentarily hidden.

The theism of revelation rests upon one fact—the love of God for man; and aims at one fact—the love of man for God. In the relation to one another of two living creatures who love each other tenderly, do we not see how every grief suffered by one in presence of the other strengthens the link of affection which unites them, and calls forth a still more lively manifestation of it? And does not every new act of devotion make the flame of satisfied and even grateful love, on the part of the being so faithfully loved, break forth into view? It is no question of so much salary for so much service—payment of what has been earned; it is a necessary moral consequence.

It is as when a river, stopped for a minute by some unexpected obstruction, resumes its course with additional strength. It is love called forth by love exhibited, and answering to it with eagerness. "So the Lord blessed (not rewarded) the latter end of Job more than the beginning." The restoration of Job does not then rest upon any servile notion of works of merit, but upon the value which love sets upon love. Love appreciates love above all things,—loves essentially only it. If God is Love, and if, being such, He has willed to be loved, how should He not in His turn, having found what He seeks, manifest Himself emphatically as the loving God? "Were He to act otherwise. His creature would be better than Himself.

As for the gods of the heathen, the heroes in whose persons they glorified themselves were but instruments. After using them they destroyed them. The God of the Bible cares for the love which He receives; for this love of His creatures is the noblest of His claims to glory. It is His will, then, that in advancing His honour, we should at the same time gain honour for ourselves, and that in serving Him we should also serve ourselves. He who in former days commanded His people in harvest-time not to muzzle the ox which in the time of heavy labour had faithfully toiled at the plough, would not fail, in His own day of triumph, to set the crown upon the head of the man who had suffered in winning the victory for Him. A charge of Eudemonism34 has been brought against the epilogue. If this conclusion were wanting, the whole book would be open to the charge of fatalism. Man would then be nothing more than an instrument in God's hand. God could not thus degrade His faithful and loving servant. In making God his end, man rises to the dignity of being himself an end. The honour which he gains for God is reflected upon himself, and becomes his own glory. This result is in harmony with the first principle of Scriptural theism,—fee love, in God and in man.

Should any one insist further, and say that the author should have placed this final restoration in Heaven, we shall answer that the author of the book of Job could not go beyond the limits of the revelations which had been granted up to his time. No doubt such a fact as the translation of Enoch contained some hints of a happy immortality; and some words, such as those in Gen. xxv. 8, 9, "And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him,"—by distinguishing definitely between the gathering of the patriarch to his fathers and his burial, implied even then the doctrine of immortality. But it is none the less true that revelation had not as yet cast its light upon the life beyond the grave. The theocratic promises related rather to the future kingdom of God upon earth than to the state of the individual after death. And that is the reason why the author of the book of Job, while putting into the mouth of his hero, at the moment when he reaches the culminating point of his faith, the affirmation of the future life—to meet the case of his Redeemer not manifesting Himself in this life—does not feel justified in making this hope an essential element in the solution of the problem he has set himself. He feels himself bound to solve the riddle without over-passing the limits of revelations that had been received; for he does not write as a philosopher. Clear then as it is that the restoration described in the epilogue could not be omitted in this book without inflicting, by the omission, the most serious injury upon the moral truth of its statement of the relations between God and man; it is equally true that in the circumstances under which the author was writing, he was bound to make of this restoration a scene on earth, not in Heaven.

We have placed this book in the context of circumstances in which it seems to have been composed; we have brought into light the connection between its several parts, and extracted from the narratives the central idea round which they group themselves; we have formulated the problem and its solution. What is wanting, we would ask in conclusion, to this book to claim for it a place amongst those Divinely-inspired writings in which has been deposited the theocratic revelation The problem of the sufferings of the righteous, solved by the help of a cause up to that time unknown; the false solutions of this great problem set aside; the rights of compassion vindicated; those of reverence towards God no less rigorously maintained; the consolations of faith poured into the heart of him who suffers, without his being able to explain to himself the fearful mystery which oppresses him; the ways of God justified; man exalted to the full height of his calling as the champion of God; the little history of mankind on this earth connected with, and, as it were, encased in the drama of the great history of the universe; the ideal Job, the Cross-bearer, prefigured in a historical type—full of infirmities no doubt, just because he was only a type, but through whose weakness there already shines something of Divine virtue; our earth—like that little peninsula in which of late the armies of Europe met—splaying the part of a battle-ground, in which the greatest of all questions is being fought out, that of the honour of God; Satan put to silence; God victorious; man, the free instrument of His victory, exalted and glorified with Him;—where shall we find a grander conception, a holier wisdom? Could our own century have done better? Could M. Renan have discovered in his cold and stoical doctrine of duty, any more healing balm to pour into the wounds of faithfulness suffering? And it is from a period of. ten centuries before Christ that these pages date! Written at the time of the siege of Troy, their ink seems scarcely dry even in our day. Is it that the tears of suffering generations have ceaselessly watered these lines? No, it is because they are instinct with a thought, Divine and therefore eternal. This is the reason of their enduring freshness. It is not possible that mankind should ever cease to make the book of Job its confidant and counsellor in sorrow, till the time when it shall reach the epilogue of its own history.



1) Justification of the Divine government.

2) Prov. viii. 31.

3) 1 Kings iv. 31,

4) Ps. lxxxviii 8, 4, 6, 7.

5) Job xxxviii. 1; xl. 1; xlii. 1.

6) xiv. 14.

7) See the remarkable work of M. Jules Sandoz, Revue Chretienne, 1859, No. 2.

8) See Job iii 1; iv. 1, &c,; and above all, xxxii. 1-8.

9) Jer. xxv. 20; Lam. iv. 21.

10) Compare Job xlii. 11 with Gen. xxxiii. 19.

11) Compare Job xxi. 12; xxx. 81, with Gen. iii. 21; xxv. 27.

12) Job 1 18 and 15.

13) Job xxxi. 38-40.

14) Acts x. 85.

15) Job xxxviii—xli.

16) James ii 18.

17) John Newton.

18) 1 Cor. xi. 7.

19) See the beautiful exposition of this gradation in Schultz: Sechs Beden zu den Kirchlichen Fragen der Gegenwartf 1869, (in the essay upon Job).

20) Who recognise no God but their own violence (Renan).

21) Job ix. 23, 24; xii. 6; ix. 33; x. 15; xiii. 15, 18, 21, 22.

22) Job xvi. 19, 20; xix. 23-27.

23) Job xxxi. 35.

24) Job xxxiii. 14-21, 23, 25.

25) Job xxxii. 8.

26) Job xxxvii. 1, 2.

27) In the article quoted above, p. 194.

29) Volk Gulielmus de summâ carminia Jobi sententid disputavit Dorpat, 1869.

30) Job xxxviii.

31) Job xli. l5.

32) 1 Cor. iv. 9.

33) John ix. 8.

34) The system which teaches that good is to be done for the sake of the enjoyment it brings.