His substance also was seven thousand sheep
For which he must have a large pasturage to feed them on, as well as these would produce much wool for clothing, and flesh for food; this part of his substance or possessions is mentioned first, as being the largest, and most useful and profitable:
and three thousand camels; and five hundred yoke of oxen; and five hundred she asses; and a very great household: so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east;
creatures fit to carry burdens, and travel with, and were greatly valued on that account, especially in the deserts of Arabia, near to which Job lived; and that not only because they were strong for this purpose, but because they could endure much thirst and want of water for a long time; (See Gill on Leviticus 11:4), it seems by this that Job carried on a commerce, and traded in distant parts, whither he sent the produce of his lands and cattle, and trafficked with them: these camels might not only be he, but she camels also, according to the Septuagint version, which might be kept for breeding, and for their milk: Aristotle observes F26, some of the inhabitants of the upper Asia used to have camels, to the number of 3000, the exact number here mentioned; and by the number of these creatures the Arabians estimated their riches and possessions F1; and so sheep are by the Greeks called (mhla) , as it is thought, from the Arabic word
to plough his land with, of which he must have a large quantity to employ such a number in, see ( 1 Kings 19:19 )
which must be chiefly for their milk; and no doubt but he had a considerable number of he asses also, though not mentioned, which, as well as the others, were used to ride on, and also to plough with, in those countries; it may be rendered only asses as by some, and so may include both: Aristaeus, Philo, and Polyhistor F4 give the same account of Job's substance in the several articles as here:
this must be understood of his servants only, since his children are before taken notice of; and the same phrase is rendered "great store of servants", ( Genesis 26:14 ) and in the margin, "husbandry" or "tillage", large fields and farms; and the sense comes to much the same, whether it is taken the one way or the other; if great store of servants, he must have large farms and many fields to employ them in; and if a large husbandry, and much ground for tillage, he must have many servants to manure and cultivate them: now these several articles are mentioned, because, in those times and countries, as has been observed, the substance of men chiefly lay in them, and according to them they were reckoned more or less rich; not but that they had gold and silver also, as Abraham had, ( Genesis 13:1 ) , and so had Job, ( Job 31:24 ) , but these were the principal things:
that lived in Arabia, Chaldea, and other eastern countries; that is, he was a man of the greatest wealth and riches, and of the greatest power and authority, and was had in the greatest honour and esteem: now these temporal blessings are observed, to show that grace and earthly riches are compatible, that they may, and sometimes do, meet in the same person; as also to point at the goodness of God, in bestowing such blessings on this good man, thereby fulfilling the promise made to godliness and godly men, which respects this life, and that which is to come; and they are mentioned chiefly for the sake of the loss of these things after related, whereby the greatness of his loss and of his afflictions would be the more easily perceived, and his patience in bearing them appear the more illustrious; for by how much the greater was his substance, by so much the greater were his losses and trials, and the more remarkable his patience under them.
F26 Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 50.
F1 Leo African. Descript. Africae, l. 9. p. 745.
F2 Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alkoran.
F3 Vid. Homer. Odyss. 14. ver. 100 Virgil. Aeneid. l. 7. ver. 537. Justin e Trogo, l. 44. c. 4. Theocrit. Idyll. 11. ver. 34. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 17. & l. 13. Fab. 8.
F4 Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 25. p. 430.
and five hundred yoke of oxen;
and five hundred she asses;
and a very great household:
so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east;