Job

An introduction to the book of Job, it's purpose, and interesting facts about the book are covered.

Introduction

Job is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It touches on the ultimate question believers often struggle with: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The book revolves around a man named Job—hence the name of the book—who loses all of his blessings for seemingly no reason. Job enlists the help of his friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—to determine the cause of his misfortune to no avail. Eventually, the younger, but wise, Elihu sheds light on Job's situation. After a heart to heart with God, Job is blessed in even more abundance than before!
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Date and Authorship

Like most books of the Bible, this book is written anonymously with no clues as to who penned the text. To begin narrowing down who wrote the book of Job, we also need to estimate when it was written. The Books of History are ordered chronologically (for the most part), and follow the Books of Law chronologically. Job doesn't fit this pattern. Job is the first of the Books of Wisdom and immediately follows the Books of History, yet Job doesn't seem to be set after the exile.
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The Timeline of Job

Job is not referred to as an Israelite, nor does he reference the priesthood or Temple. Nothing from the Exodus is referenced either. This implies that Job was born before the Israelites became a nation. Elihu, one of the men who speaks to Job, is said to be a Buzite. Genesis 22:21 names Buz, a man who was a close relative of Abraham's. Could this man be related to Job? There is also a Buz spoken of in 1 Chronicles. This second Buz was from the tribe of Gad. Again, the lack of reference to the Israelites, tribes, or Exodus make it unlikely that that Job's story took place after the establishment of Israel.

Further, we are told that Job lives in the land of Uz. Uz is not mentioned in the Historical Books. If scholars are right, the land of Uz becomes Edom.[1] This would place Job somewhere in time before Jacob and Esau.

Job 42:16 informs us that Job lived to be 140 before he died. This confirms that Job lived after the flood, but before Abraham. Shem, the son of Noah, lives to be 600 years old, while Abraham only lives to 175. The life expectancy of mankind steadily decreased after the flood, marking eras by the how long people lived. The fact that Job lives another 140 years after his ordeal, which suggests he lived around the time of Abraham.
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The Time of Authorship

The book must have been written after the events took place. If the events of the book occurred during the time of Abraham, that would place the earliest possible date of authorship during that era as well. Some scholars suggest it was written shortly after Job's blessing were returned, while others suggest Moses authored the book, placing its date of authorship sometime after the Exodus. Personally, the poetry of the exchanges between Job and his friends causes me to think it was authored just wafter the events occurred. It would be difficult to remember exactly what and by whom was spoken. Of course, with divine inspiration, anything is possible. Because there is no consensus on who penned the book, the estimated date of authorship ranges from as early as 2100bc to as late as 100bc.[2]
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Authorship

As I mentioned earlier, some scholars believe Moses wrote the book of Job. This actually follows the Jewish tradition.[2] Moses' writings focus mostly on the law and the history of how the Israelites came to be. Job on the other hand, focuses on wisdom. Like the other books of wisdom, Job teaches us about how to cope with life. It seems odd, that Moses would have focused on such a issue. This is probably why scholars searched for other candidates they can attribute authorship to. Contenders for the attribution are Elihu, Ezra, Hezekiah, Job, and Solomon.[2]

The low hanging fruit on that list is Job himself. Job lives for quite some time after the events of the book take place. It isn't unreasonable to believe Job would document his experience to pass on the wisdom he and his friends gleaned from the situation. Job's autobiography probably spread and was eventually merged into writings of the Israelites. If Elihu's ancestor Buz really is the relative of Abraham, its easy to imagine the information propagating from Uz to the Israelites.

Solomon is also a logical author. As one of the wisest men of the Bible, Solomon was focused on the type of wisdom found in Job. Also, we know that Solomon was gifted with poetry; so was the author of Job.
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Purpose

Job is the go to book to explain why bad things happens to good people. Job also gives us a backstage pass to the dispute between God and the devil. We often forget that while God has ultimate authority, the devil is able to make things happen as well. Sometimes God withdraws his protection from even those who profess his name to teach the world a lesson. The devil uses these opportunities to try to steal us away from God. This is exactly what happened to Job.

Not only does Job provide us with wisdom on how to handle tragedy, Job is home to references to Jesus, many of our common sayings today, and examples of advanced science!

Reference to Jesus

One of the issues Job grabbles with the most is the need for a mediator between him and God. Throughout the book Job wants to plead his case before God but is worthy to do so. Is that not what Jesus does for us? We approach the Son and He intercedes to the Father on our behalf. Job even coins the phrase "my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).
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Common Sayings

In recent years, there's been this phenomena of people referring to themselves as "cultural Christians." Usually this refers to someone who doesn't believe in or follow Jesus and God, but takes part in the traditions associated with Christianity. I don't really want to get into this concept so much as show how pervasive the Bible is in our culture. The book of Job is the origin of many of the sayings we have today, most of which people don't even associate with the Bible. Below are just a few of the common sayings of today that can be found in Job.
  1. "the hair on my body stood up" -- Job 4:15
  2. "my life in my hands" -- Job 13:14
  3. "skin of my teeth" -- Job 19:20
  4. "the root of the matter" -- Job 19:28
  5. "put your hand over your mouth" -- Job 21:5
  6. "land of the living" -- Job 28:13
  7. "eyes to the blind" -- Job 29:15

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Science

Most people stick science and God on opposite sides of the spectrum. The history of the animosity between the church and science is quite interesting. When Christianity became a mainstream religion in Rome, a lot changed, and as Rome gained popularity as the epicenter of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church somehow became "thee Christian church." Suddenly, a Roman man was claiming infallibility and ultimate authority over God's church—this ushered in the dark ages.

The major issue is that man isn't infallible. Only those chosen by God can prophesy accurately and only those inspired by God can write down His truth accurately. When the Catholic Church declared the papacy to be infallible, the opened the door to criticism. The popes are not and were not infallible. Pioneers of astronomy and other sciences were quick to discover this truth. If the masses were discover that the papacy was not infallible, the church would lose their power. Thus science became an enemy of the church. God really is infallible, however. Science is not a threat to Him.

The book of Job is constantly reminding us that God created all things and thus is the possessor of all knowledge. God placed the sun in the center and set the Earth in rotation around it. God created hydrogen and oxygen, and bonded them together to make water. Despite many people believing the Bible teaches a Earth-centric universe or a flat Earth, it does not. Why? Because God created science. It is no surprise then, that science appears in Job.

There are 7 examples of the author of Job having knowledge of advanced science that we generally don't attribute to that time period. These 7 principles are the suspension of the Earth (Job 26), composition of the human body (Job 33), evaporation-precipitation cycle (Job 36), wind and weather directions (Job 37), cloud lightening relationship (Job 37), ocean bottom phenomena (Job 38), orbits and astronomy (Job 38). I will discuss each of these examples in detail when I come to them in the reading.

References

  1. "Land of Uz". Wikipedia; visited May 2017
  2. William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg. 513-515. 1995
  3. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 861-864. 2014

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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