The Book of Job

Arend Remmers

42 chapters

1. Author and Time of Writing

The book of Job does not mention any indications of data and only very few indications of places. This is why this so very special book cannot be arranged in precise historical order.

During the course of time the following authors have been supposed: Job himself, Moses, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Baruch. But all these suppositions are uncertain. The oldest supposition dates the book as far back as the time of Moses or even before Moses. In any case the events occurring in the book would indicate a very early time of origin. The following facts mainly suggest so:

  • Job's high age (chap. 42:16)
  • The people of Israel are not mentioned.
  • The habit to offer at home (only meat offering!).
  • The mentioning of the "kesitah"-coin (Job 42:11), which is else mentioned in Gen. 33:19 and Joshua 24:32 only (JND-Translation).
  • Job and his friends knew God as "the Almighty" as did Abraham.

These and further details would suggest the times of the patriarchs.

The land of Uz (chap. 1:1) is generally suggested eastwards of river Jordan towards the border to Arabia in the land of Edom (compare Lam. 4:21) or its vicinity. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) Job is even identified with Jobab, the second king of the Edomites (Gen. 36:33).

The Holy Spirit confirms Job's history by being mentioned as a historical person in the Old Testament (Ez. 14:14+20) as well as in the New Testament (James 5:11).

2. Purpose of Writing

The book of Job is considered being part of the poetic books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs) in today's Bible editions. It belongs to the "writings" (hebr. ketubim) in the Hebrew Bible, which is the third part of the OT.

The book of Job is a "link and frame story". The beginning (chap. 1+2) and the end (chap. 42:7-17) are written in prose whereas the speeches in between are written in the form of poems. Hebrew poetry is very different to the western poetry. Hebrew poetry is not marked by metre and end-rhyme but by pictorial language, parallelisms and partly by rhythm and alliteration or stave rhyme (compare "The Psalms", paragraph 3a "Hebrew Poetry"). The subject of the book of Job is God's dealings with mankind in His governmental ways in a world in which Satan, the adversary of God, has introduced sin, suffering and death. Nevertheless these ways of God with mankind have always a good purpose (Romans 8:28).

Job was a wealthy but righteous and God-fearing man. God allowed Satan to take away from Job his wealth, his family, and his health. With his three friends Job discussed the problem why a righteous God allows that a righteous man has to suffer innocently. Job's three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were not able to understand these ways of God. They thought God was punishing Job for any sins and could not see that God uses suffering also to refine and to teach believers.

Eliphaz bases on human experience in all three speeches (chap. 4:8).

Bildad who addresses Job three times also gives reasons for his philosophical statements with tradition (chap. 8:8).

Finally Zophar in a haughty and legal way traces Job's sufferings back to lack of obedience in respect to God's demands (chap. 11:5-16).

But Job desperately sticks to his righteousness and sincerity. He thinks that God treats him in an unrighteous way and yet hopes that God will finally accept him.

Then Elihu appears. He is the messenger and type of the Lord (chap. 32:8; 33:4). He points out that God chastises man to refine him and bring him nearer to Himself. By this Elihu brings light into the darkness and brings Job into the presence of God. The reason for Job's wrong conclusions was that he did not understand that God wanted him to go into a deep trial.

When God finally Himself speaks to Job he has to confess: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye sees thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (chap. 42: 5-6) Now God can bless Job again.

The book of Job is a timeless book in which the ever present problem of human suffering - and especially in the case of believers - is treated. The fact that it is no matter connected to time or place is underlined by the lack of dates in this book.

The book of Job has times and times again been numbered amidst the best works of this world's literature. Martin Luther shall have termed it "great and exalted as no other book of Scripture". Many a sufferer has found consolation and strength in it in his distress.

3. Peculiarities

a) The Redeemer

We know today that the answer to Job's question is given in the New Testament only: "How should man be just with God?" (chap. 9:2;25:4). It is very remarkable however that there are distinct hints as to the coming redeemer in the book of Job:

  • Chapter 9:33 the Umpire or Mediator
  • Chapter 16:19 the Witness
  • Chapter 19:25 the Redeemer
  • Chapter 33:23 the Messenger and Interpreter

b) The Adversary

Satan, the adversary of God and men, appears several times in chapters 1 and 2. As fallen prince of the angels he has yet admittance to the throne of God in heaven (Is. 14:12-25; Ez. 28:14-19). This is where he is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). The cross of Calvary, however, has broken Satan's power (Heb. 2:14). He will be bound during the Millennium and at the end he will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev. 20:1-3.10). The only other references to the name Satan in the OT are 1 Chron. 21:1 and Zech. 3:1-2.

4. Overview of Contents

I. Job 1-2: Job's Trial

Chapter 1 Job Loses Everything

Chapter 2 Job Falls Ill

II. Job 3-31: Job and his Three Friends

1) Chapter 3-14 The First Speech

    Chapter 3 Job's First Speech

    Chapter 4-5 Eliphaz' First Speech

    Chapter 6-7 Job's Reply

    Chapter 8 Bildad's First Speech

    Chapter 9-10 Job's Reply

    Chapter 11 Zophar's First Speech

    Chapter 12-14 Job's Reply


2) Chapter 15-21 The Second Speech

    Chapter 15 Eliphaz' Second Speech

    Chapter 16-17 Job's Reply

    Chapter 18 Bildad's Second Speech

    Chapter 19 Job's Reply

    Chapter 20 Zophar's Second Speech

    Chapter 21 Job's Reply

3) Chapter 22-31 The Third Speech

    Chapter 22 Eliphaz' Third Speech

    Chapter 23-24 Job's Reply

    Chapter 25 Bildad's Third Speech

    Chapter 26 Job's Reply

    Chapter 27-31 Job's Self-Justification

III. Job 32-42: Job's Humiliation

1) Chapter 32-37 Elihu's Speech

    Chapter 32 Elihu's Introduction

    Chapter 33 Elihu's Criticism

    Chapter 34-35 Elihu's Refutation of Job's Lamentations

    Chapter 36-37 The Grandeur of God

2) Chapter 38:1-42:6 Gods reply

    Chapter 38-39 The Grandeur of Creation

    Chapter 40-41 The Grandeur of God

    Chapter 42:1-6 Job's Self-Judgment

3) Chapter 42:7-17 Job's Blessings