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Written by Moses, according to both Jewish and early Christian scholars. Its poetry, language, and style indicate that it was originally written in Hebrew. The many similarities to the Pentateuch in the prose portion of the book tend to point to Moses as the writer. During his 40-year stay in Midian, Moses could have had access to the facts about Job’s trial, and he likely learned of the outcome of Job’s life when Israel came near Uz on the way to the Promised Land, in 1473 B.C.E.
Arrangement. The book of Job is unique in that it consists largely of a debate between a true servant of Jehovah God and three others who claimed to serve God but who erred in doctrine in their attempts to correct Job. Job, they mistakenly thought, was being punished by God for some grievous hidden sin. Thus, arguing on this basis, they actually became Job’s persecutors. (Job 19:1-5, 22) The debate consists of a series of three rounds of speeches, in which all four speakers participate, except that Zophar does not speak in the last round having been silenced by Job’s argument. Thereafter all are corrected by Jehovah’s spokesman Elihu and finally by God himself.
It is clear, therefore, that one has to bear in mind when reading or quoting from the book that the arguments presented by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are erroneous. At times these three companions of Job state true facts, but in a setting and with an application that is wrong. Satan used this tactic against Jesus Christ when he “took him along into the holy city, and he stationed him upon the battlement of the temple and said to him: ‘If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down; for it is written, “He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him: ‘Again it is written, “You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.”’”—Mt 4:5-7.
The companions of Job said that God punishes the wicked. This is true. (2Pe 2:9) But they concluded that all suffering a person undergoes is a result of sins on his part—that God is thereby administering punishment to him. Suffering, they said, is an evidence that an individual has specially sinned. They spoke untruthfully concerning God. (Job 42:7) They slandered Him. As they presented God, he was lacking in mercy. Their claim was that God has no delight in the integrity-keeping man and that he has no trust in His servants, even in angels. This denies the many Scriptural statements revealing Jehovah’s love for his intelligent servants. An example of God’s confidence and trust in his faithful worshipers is seen in his conversations with Satan, in which he called attention to Job and expressed the greatest confidence in Job’s loyalty when giving the Devil permission to test Job. Note, however, that he protected Job’s life. (Job 2:6) The Christian writer James says of God’s dealings with Job: “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.”—Jas 5:11.
Importance. The book of Job is essential, in conjunction with Genesis 3:1-6 and other scriptures, in revealing the great issue of the righteousness of God in his exercise of sovereignty as well as the manner in which the integrity of God’s earthly servants is involved in the issue. This issue Job did not understand, but he, nevertheless, did not allow his three companions to make him doubt that he had been a man of integrity. (Job 27:5) He did not understand why his calamity came upon him, since he was no practicer of sin. He was off balance on the matter of self-justification, no doubt being pushed farther in that direction by the constant charges of his three companions. He was also mistaken in insisting on receiving an answer from God as to why he was suffering, when he should have realized that no one can rightly say to Jehovah: “Why did you make me this way?” (Ro 9:20) Nevertheless, Jehovah mercifully answered Job, both through his servant Elihu and by speaking to Job from the windstorm. The book therefore strongly drives home the wrongness of attempting to justify oneself before God.—Job 40:8.
Authenticity and Value. Ezekiel refers to Job, and James makes mention of him. (Eze 14:14, 20; Jas 5:11) Arguing powerfully for the book’s canonicity is the fact that the Jews accepted it as of equal authority with the other inspired books of the Hebrew Scriptures, even though Job was not an Israelite.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of the book’s genuineness exists in its harmony with the rest of the Bible. It also reveals much about the beliefs and customs of patriarchal society. More than that, it greatly helps the Bible student to get a better understanding of Jehovah’s purposes through a comparison with other Bible statements. There are a remarkable number of points that are parallel in thought with other Bible passages, and some of these are listed on the accompanying chart.
[Box on page 82]
HIGHLIGHTS OF JOB
The account of Job’s experiences when Satan challenged his integrity before Jehovah
Likely recorded by Moses during Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, although the trial of Job must have occurred some years before Moses’ birth
Job’s prosperity and well-being end when Jehovah grants Satan permission to test Job (1:1–2:10)
Satan claims that Job’s uprightness is motivated simply by self-interest
Job loses cattle, flocks, and his ten children all in one day, but he keeps integrity
He is then afflicted with a loathsome, painful disease but refuses to curse God; thus, Job remains faithful
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, three companions of Job, come together by appointment to “sympathize” with him (2:11–3:26)
The three so-called comforters debate at length with Job (4:1–31:40)
They contend that he is suffering because of his sins, arguing that Job must be in the wrong since God is treating him as an enemy
They try to persuade Job of this by resorting to false reasoning and slander and by appealing to tradition and visions they claim to have seen
The three companions urge Job to confess his wrongdoing and change his ways; then, they say, he will regain his former prosperity
Job insists that he is upright; he does not understand why Jehovah allows him to suffer, but he silences the false counsel of his three companions
In his final words, Job contrasts his former days as a respected elder with his present period of affliction and humiliation; he points out how careful he has been to avoid sin
Elihu, a young bystander, corrects Job and his companions (32:1–37:24)
He shows that Job was in the wrong when he justified himself rather than God, and he upbraids Job’s three companions for failing to answer Job correctly
Elihu upholds Jehovah’s justice, impartiality, glory, and almightiness
Jehovah himself now speaks out of a windstorm (38:1–42:6)
Jehovah asks where Job was when the earth was created, and whether he understands the wonderful ways of wild things, thus demonstrating man’s littleness in comparison with God’s greatness
Job admits that he spoke without a proper understanding; he repents “in dust and ashes”
Job’s trial ends, and his integrity is rewarded (42:7-17)
Jehovah expresses displeasure to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar because they spoke untruthfully; he directs them to make sacrifices and to ask Job to pray on their behalf
He comes to be blessed with twice as much in flocks and herds as formerly, as well as with ten more children, seven sons and three daughters
[Chart on page 83]
Book of Job
Point of comparison
Other Bible references
Ec 9:5, 10; Joh 11:11-14; 1Co 15:20
10:8, 9, 11, 12
God lets the nations grow powerful and even unite against him so that he can justly destroy them at one stroke
Re 17:13, 14, 17
Ps 51:5; Ro 5:12
Ro 3:24; 1Co 1:30
Ec 9:2, 3
2Co 6:4-10; 11:24-27
Those seeing “visions” of own heart, not from God, utter vain things
De 6:10, 11; Pr 13:22
Man cannot find the true wisdom from ‘book of divine creation,’ only from God and fear of him
Ec 12:13; 1Co 2:11-16
30:1, 2, 8, 12
Ps 104:29, 30; Isa 64:8; Ac 17:25, 28
Da 2:21; 4:25
Isa 55:9; Ro 11:33
Other noteworthy comparisons are: Job 7:17 and Ps 8:4; Job 9:24 and 1Jo 5:19; Job 10:8 and Ps 119:73; Job 26:8 and Pr 30:4; Job 28:12, 13, 15-19 and Pr 3:13-15; Job 39:30 and Mt 24:28.