We are once again reading together the marvellous book of Job. It is the only non-Jewish book of the Bible, and it is in all probability the oldest book of the Bible. Many eminent men -- both religious and non-religious -- have called it the supreme literary production in all the world's history. It is, from any point of view, a most remarkable piece of writing.


From the names of the characters and their ancestors, and the place names, the location of the story lies in the area between the Dead Sea and the desert, or somewhat to the north or south of that: the area of the descendants of Abraham other than through Jacob -- generally speaking, the Arabs. Job was one of the "Men of the East," a term applied to the Arabs: Ishmaelites, Edomites, etc. And the time seems most likely to be during the two hundred or so years Israel was in Egypt. All the background and customs and genealogy point to this place and time.

As to how the book of Job got into an otherwise wholly Jewish Bible, there is a strong and ancient Jewish tradition that Moses wrote it, or at least made it part of the Scriptures -- by the guidance of the Spirit of course. Moses would have been the logical one to do so. He may well have known Job himself, or Job's early descendants, during the forty years he was in Midian. Job was the greatest (and therefore best known) of the "Men of the East" (Job 1:3), and Midian would be included in that area. The history of Job would be well-known there.

It is remarkable that the great typical and exemplary patient sufferer of the Old Testament is not a Jew, but rather is of a race which -- though closely related -- was always, and still is, in deep antagonism to the Jews. He was a Gentile -- a non-Jew, that is -- of the seed of Abraham, adding to the beauty and fitness of the typical picture.


Here, in the midst of an otherwise Jewish book, is a perfect model of excellence for all time: a man who is not a Jew, not under the Law, who had nothing to do with the Law, nothing to do with Israel. He is referred to by Ezekiel (14:14), with Noah and Daniel, as three outstanding examples of righteousness. He is referred to by James (5:11) as the ultimate example of patient, faithful suffering.

The story opens with the simple picture of worshippers of God coming together before Him, and among them a bitter, jealous adversary making a travesty and mockery of it. Orthodoxy represents its Devil as having free access to God's heaven, and being God's agent and accomplice. One 'respectable' modern commentary, the "New Bible Commentary," says concerning this scene that the Devil is a "divine agent," and is the supreme cynic of the heavenly court." What a debased, pagan conception of God's holy dwelling-place! -- in perfect harmony with the crude gods and heavens of Greece and Rome, but certainly not with the Scriptures of Truth.

Bro Growcott - Doth Job Fear God For Nought?

The Oldest Book

—The oldest book in the Bible is undoubtedly Genesis. Not speaking now however of the time when the book was written, but with reference to the events of which it treats. The book of Job does not come into competition with it on the score of age; it is rather a book that may be said to have its genealogical roots in Genesis—for in Elihu the Buzite we have manifestly a descendent of Buz, the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Gen. 22:21); while in Eliphaz the Temanite we have evidently a descendant of Esau, in the line of Eliphaz and Teman (Gen. 36.)

Then in Bildad the Shuite we may possibly have a descendant of Shuah, the son of Abraham, by Keturah (Gen. 25:2); while in Uz, after whom the land was called, we have again either a grandson of Shem (Gen. 10:23), or a son of Nahor (Gen. 22:21), or a grandson of Seir (Gen. 36:28).

The period to which the book of Job relates is governed by these genealogical considerations, in the light of which it cannot go further back than the third generation of Esau's descendants, of which Eliphaz was the first, Teman the second, and of course in "Temanite" (such as Job's Eliphaz was) we have necessarily the third or some still remoter generation before us.

Esau and Jacob being twins, but Esau marrying a whole generation before Jacob, the third generation of Esau would be contemporary with the second generation of Jacob; this therefore takes us down to the initial period of Israel's sojourn in Egypt as the earliest time in which the scene in Job could have happened.

But as Job's three friends were evidently aged men, we may reckon that Esau's fourth generation were already middle-aged men. The conclusion is that Job's recorded experiences happened some time during the 225 years of Israel's sojourn in Egypt; 154 years of which measure the interval between the end of Genesis and the death of Joseph, and the exodus of the fourth generation under Moses.

Job therefore (we think) finds its proper chronological place between Genesis and Exodus. But its insertion here would have interfered with the connection of events, which requires Exodus to follow Genesis; and so just possibly for that reason the book has been assigned the more general place it now occupies.

Job was on the ground for 140 years after his trouble, and if we reckon him to have been forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, or eighty years of age when his trouble came upon him, he must have made a great hole into some 200 or "225" years of Bible history.

The Talmud (if that is worth mentioning) makes Job contemporary with Reuel the Midianite (Ex. 2:18), and with the 130th year of the sojourn in Egypt. The fact that the book of Job corresponds in so many particulars to the characteristic primitiveness of Genesis only suggests that it is a book of premosaic events, partly contemporary with Genesis, or supplementary to it, as Ruth to Judges or Esther to Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Christadelphian, Feb 1889