A patriarch distinguished for his integrity and piety, his wealth, honors, and domestic happiness, whom God permitted, for the trial of his faith, to be deprived of friends, property, and health, and at once plunged into deep affliction. He lived in the land of Uz, lying, it is generally thought, in Eastern Edom, probably not far from Bozrah.
THE BOOK OF JOB, has originated much criticism, and on many points a considerable diversity of opinion still exists. Sceptics have denied its inspiration, and called it a mere philosophical romance; but no one who respects revelation can entertain this notion, or doubt that Job was a real person. Inspired writers testify to both. See Ezekiel 14:14 James 5:11, and compare 1 Corinthians 3:19 with Job 5:13. The book itself specifies persons, places, and circumstances in the manner of true history. Moreover, the name and history of Job are spread throughout the East; Arabian writers mention him, and many Mohammedan families perpetuate his name. Five different places claim the possession of his tomb.
The precise period of his life cannot be ascertained, yet no doubt can exist as to its patriarchal antiquity. The book seems to allude to the flood, Job 22:15-17, but not to the destruction of Sodom, to the exodus from Egypt, or the giving of the Law. No reference is made to any order of priesthood, Job himself being the priest of his household, like Noah and Abraham. There is allusion to the most ancient form of idolatry, star-worship, and to the earliest mode of writing, Job 19:24. The longevity of Job also places him among the patriarchs. He survived his trial one hundred and forty years, and was an old man before his trial began, for his children were established each at the head of his own household, Job 1:4 42:16. The period of long lives had not wholly passed away, Job 15:10. Hales places the trial of Job before the birth of Abraham, and Usher, about thirty years before the exodus, B. C. 1521.
As to the authorship of the book, many opinions have been held. It has all the freedom of an original composition, bearing no marks of its being a translation; and if so, it would appear that its author must have been a Hebrew, since it is written in the purest Hebrew. It exhibits, moreover, the most intimate acquaintance with both Egyptian and Arabian scenery, and is in the loftiest style of oriental poetry. All these circumstances are consistent with the views of those who regard Moses as its probable author. It has, however, been ascribed to various other persons. IT presents a beautiful exhibition of patriarchal religion. It teaches the being and perfections of God, his creation of all things, and his universal providence; the apostasy and guilt of evil spirits and of mankind; the mercy of God, on the basis of a sacrifice, and on condition of repentance and faith, Job 33:27-30 42:6,8; the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body, Job 14:7-15 19:25-27.
The main problem discussed in Job is the justice of God in suffering the righteous to be afflicted, while the wicked prosper. It is settled, by showing that, while the hand of a just God is manifest in his providential government of human affairs, it is his sovereign right to choose his own time and mode of retribution both to the evil and the good, and to subject the graces of his people to whatever trials he deems best.
The conference of Job and his friends may be divided into three parts. In the first, Eliphaz addresses Job, and Job replies; then Bildad and Job, and Zophar and Job speak, in turn. In the second part, the same order is observed and in the third also, except that after Job’s reply to Bildad, the three friends have no more to urge, and instead of Zophar, a fourth friend named Elihu takes up the word; and the whole is concluded by the decision of Jehovah himself. The friends of Job argue that his remarkable afflictions must have been sent in punishment of highly aggravated transgressions, and urge him to confession and repentance. The pious patriarch, conscious of his own integrity and love to God cast down and bewildered by his sore chastisements, and pained by the suspicions of his friends, warmly vindicates his innocence, and shows that the best of men are sometimes the most afflicted; but forgets that his inward sins merit far heavier punishment, and though he still maintains faith in God, yet he charges Him foolishly. Afterwards he humbly confesses his wrong, and is cheered by the returning smile of God, while his uncharitable friends are reproved. The whole book is written in the highest style of Hebrew poetry, except the two introductory chapters and part of the last, which are prose. As a poem, it is full of sublime sentiments and bold and striking images.
The DISEASE of Job is generally supposed to have been the elephantiasis, or black leprosy. The word rendered "boils" does not necessarily mean abscesses, but burning and inflammation; and no known disease better answers to the description given, Job 2:7,8 7:5,13,13 19:17 30:17, than the leprosy referred to above. See LEPER.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'JOB'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".