Job 1

Prologue

1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
2 He had seven sons and three daughters,
3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
6 One day the angels[a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan[b] also came with them.
7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.
10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,
14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,
15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,
19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship
21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.[c]The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This book is so called from Job, whose prosperity, afflictions, and restoration, are here recorded. He lived soon after Abraham, or perhaps before that patriarch. Most likely it was written by Job himself, and it is the most ancient book in existence. The instructions to be learned from the patience of Job, and from his trials, are as useful now, and as much needed as ever. We live under the same Providence, we have the same chastening Father, and there is the same need for correction unto righteousness. The fortitude and patience of Job, though not small, gave way in his severe troubles; but his faith was fixed upon the coming of his Redeemer, and this gave him stedfastness and constancy, though every other dependence, particularly the pride and boast of a self-righteous spirit, was tried and consumed. Another great doctrine of the faith, particularly set forth in the book of Job, is that of Providence. It is plain, from this history, that the Lord watched over his servant Job with the affection of a wise and loving father.

The piety and prosperity of Job. (1-5) Satan obtains leave to try Job. (6-12) The loss of Job's property, and the death of his children. (13-19) Job's patience and piety. (20-22)

Verses 1-5 Job was prosperous, and yet pious. Though it is hard and rare, it is not impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. By God's grace the temptations of worldly wealth may be overcome. The account of Job's piety and prosperity comes before the history of his great afflictions, showing that neither will secure from troubles. While Job beheld the harmony and comforts of his sons with satisfaction, his knowledge of the human heart made him fearful for them. He sent and sanctified them, reminding them to examine themselves, to confess their sins, to seek forgiveness; and as one who hoped for acceptance with God through the promised Saviour, he offered a burnt-offering for each. We perceive his care for their souls, his knowledge of the sinful state of man, his entire dependence on God's mercy in the way he had appointed.

Verses 6-12 Job's afflictions began from the malice of Satan, by the Lord's permission, for wise and holy purposes. There is an evil spirit, the enemy of God, and of all righteousness, who is continually seeking to distress, to lead astray, and, if possible, to destroy those who love God. How far his influence may extend, we cannot say; but probably much unsteadiness and unhappiness in Christians may be ascribed to him. While we are on this earth we are within his reach. Hence it concerns us to ( 1 Peter. 5:8 ) This is the common way of slanderers, to suggest that which they have no reason to think is true. But as there is nothing we should dread more than really being hypocrites, so there is nothing we need dread less than being called and counted so without cause. It is not wrong to look at the eternal recompence in our obedience; but it is wrong to aim at worldly advantages in our religion. God's people are taken under his special protection; they, and all that belong to them. The blessing of the Lord makes rich; Satan himself owns it. God suffered Job to be tried, as he suffered Peter to be sifted. It is our comfort that God has the devil in a chain, ( Revelation 20:1 ) . He has no power to lead men to sin, but what they give him themselves; nor any power to afflict men, but what is given him from above. All this is here described to us after the manner of men. The Scripture speaks thus to teach us that God directs the affairs of the world.

Verses 13-19 Satan brought Job's troubles upon him on the day that his children began their course of feasting. The troubles all came upon Job at once; while one messenger of evil tidings was speaking, another followed. His dearest and most valuable possessions were his ten children; news is brought him that they are killed. They were taken away when he had most need of them to comfort him under other losses. In God only have we a help present at all times.

Verses 20-22 Job humbled himself under the hand of God. He reasons from the common state of human life, which he describes. We brought nothing of this world's goods into the world, but have them from others; and it is certain we can carry nothing out, but must leave them to others. Job, under all his losses, is but reduced to his first state. He is but where he must have been at last, and is only unclothed, or unloaded rather, a little sooner than he expected. If we put off our clothes before we go to bed, it is some inconvenience, but it may be the better borne when it is near bed-time. The same who gave hath taken away. See how Job looks above instruments, and keeps his eye upon the First Cause. Afflictions must not divert us from, but quicken us to religion. If in all our troubles we look to the Lord, he will support us. The Lord is righteous. All we have is from his gift; we have forfeited it by sin, and ought not to complain if he takes any part from us. Discontent and impatience charge God with folly. Against these Job carefully watched; and so must we, acknowledging that as God has done right, but we have done wickedly, so God has done wisely, but we have done very foolishly. And may the malice and power of Satan render that Saviour more precious to our souls, who came to destroy the works of the devil; who, for our salvation, suffered from that enemy far more than Job suffered, or we can think.

Cross References 51

  • 1. S Genesis 10:23; Jeremiah 25:20
  • 2. Ezekiel 14:14,20; James 5:11
  • 3. S Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; S Job 23:10
  • 4. Job 23:7; Psalms 11:7; Psalms 107:42; Proverbs 21:29; Micah 7:2
  • 5. S Genesis 22:12; Exodus 18:21
  • 6. ver 8; S Deuteronomy 4:6; Job 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  • 7. S Ruth 4:15
  • 8. ver 13,18; Job 42:13; Psalms 127:3; Psalms 144:12
  • 9. S Genesis 13:2
  • 10. S Genesis 12:16
  • 11. ver 8; Job 29:25
  • 12. S Genesis 25:6; Job 42:10; Psalms 103:10
  • 13. ver 13,18
  • 14. S Nehemiah 12:30
  • 15. S Genesis 8:20; Job 42:8
  • 16. Job 8:4
  • 17. 1 Kings 21:10,13; Psalms 10:3; Psalms 74:10
  • 18. S 1 Kings 22:19; "fn" Genesis 6:2; Job 38:7
  • 19. S 2 Samuel 24:1; S 2 Chronicles 18:21; S Psalms 109:6; Luke 22:31
  • 20. Job 2:1
  • 21. S Genesis 3:1; 1 Peter 5:8
  • 22. S Joshua 1:7; Job 42:7-8
  • 23. Psalms 25:12; Psalms 112:1; Psalms 128:4
  • 24. S ver 1; S Exodus 20:20
  • 25. 1 Timothy 6:5
  • 26. S 1 Samuel 25:16
  • 27. ver 12; Job 2:4; Psalms 34:7
  • 28. ver 3; Job 8:7; Job 29:6; Job 31:25; Job 42:12,17; Psalms 128:1-2
  • 29. Job 19:21; Luke 22:31
  • 30. Leviticus 24:11; Job 2:5; Isaiah 3:8; Isaiah 65:3; Revelation 12:9-10
  • 31. S ver 10
  • 32. Job 2:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • 33. S ver 2
  • 34. S ver 4
  • 35. Genesis 36:24
  • 36. S Genesis 10:7; S Job 9:24; Job 6:19
  • 37. S 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:12; Job 20:26; Genesis 19:24
  • 38. S Genesis 18:17; S Leviticus 10:2; S Numbers 11:1-3
  • 39. S Genesis 11:28,31; S Job 9:24
  • 40. S ver 2
  • 41. S ver 4
  • 42. Psalms 11:6; Isaiah 5:28; Isaiah 21:1; Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 13:24; Jeremiah 18:17; Ezekiel 17:10; Hosea 13:15; Matthew 7:25
  • 43. Job 16:7; Job 19:13-15
  • 44. Ezekiel 24:26
  • 45. S Genesis 37:29; S Mark 14:63
  • 46. Isaiah 3:24; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 16:6; Ezekiel 27:31; Ezekiel 29:18; Micah 1:16
  • 47. 1 Peter 5:6
  • 48. Ecclesiastes 5:15; 1 Timothy 6:7
  • 49. Ruth 1:21; 1 Samuel 2:7
  • 50. S Judges 10:15; Job 2:10; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Jeremiah 40:2; S Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 5:11
  • 51. Job 2:10; Psalms 39:1; Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 13:3; Isaiah 53:7; Romans 9:20

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Hebrew "the sons of God"
  • [b]. Hebrew "satan" means "adversary."
  • [c]. Or "will return there"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOB

This book, in the Hebrew copies, generally goes by this name, from Job, who is however the subject, if not the writer of it. In the Vulgate Latin version it is called "the Book of Job"; in the Syriac version, the Writing of Job; and in the Arabic, the Writing or Book of Job the Just. In some Hebrew Bibles it stands between the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon; but, according to the Talmudists {a}, it should stand between the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon. Some have made a question of it, whether there ever was such a man as Job, and suppose this book not to be a real history, or to contain matters of fact, but to be written under fictitious names, and to be parabolical, and that it is designed to set forth an example of patience in suffering affliction; and some of the Jewish writers {b} affirm, that Job never was in being, and that this book is a parable, apologue, or fable; and to this Maimonides {c} himself inclines; but this opinion is justly rejected by Aben Ezra, Peritsol, and others; for that there was such a man is as certain as that there were such men as Noah and Daniel, with whom he is mentioned by the Prophet Ezekiel, Eze 14:14 and the testimony of the Apostle James is full to this purpose, who speaks of him as a person well known, and not to be doubted of; of whom, and of whose patience, the Jews he writes to had heard much, Jas 5:11 besides, the names of the countries where he and his friends lived, the account given of his family, and of his substance, both before and after his afflictions, show it to be a real history. Learned men are not agreed about the signification of his name; according to Jerom {d}, it signifies a magician, taking it to be the same with bwa, "ob": and some Jewish writers {e} place him with Balaam and Jethro, as the counsellors of Pharaoh against the Israelites, for which he was afflicted: the same ancient fathers render the word grieving and howling; others, as Spanheim {f}, derive it from bay, to "love" or "desire", and so it signifies desire or delight, and is the same with Desiderius or Erasmus; hence Job is called by Suidas {g} tripoyhtov, exceeding desirable; but Hillerus {h}, deriving it from the same root, makes it to signify just the reverse, "without desire"; or not desirable; and supposes it to be a compound of bway, "desire", and ya, "not"; but the generality of writers derive it from bya, "to be at enmity", and so it signifies one that is exposed to the hatred and enmity of men, or one that is a hater and enemy of wicked men; or, as Schmidtt {i} interprets it, a man zealous for God, and showing hatred to wickedness and wicked men on his account. Who Job was, it is not easy to say; not the same with Jobab, of the race of Esau, as some, Ge 36:33. Aristeas {k} says he was a son of Esau himself, by his wife Bessare, and was first called Jobam; nor the same with Job a son of Issachar, Ge 46:13, nor was he a descendant of Abraham by Keturah; but rather sprung from Uz, the firstborn of Nahor, brother of Abraham, Ge 22:21, who gave name to the country where Job lived, as Buz his brother did to that of which Elihu was, and as Chesed, another brother of Uz, did to the Chasdim or Chaldeans, who were both near to Job. It is also not agreed in what time Job lived; Maimonides {l} says, of their writers some place him in the times of the patriarchs, some in the times of Moses, others in the times of David, and others say that he was of the wise men of Babylon; and some add, that he was of them that came out of the captivity there, and had a school at Tiberias, as say the Talmudists {m} who give very different accounts of him: some say he was in the times of the judges; others in the times of the queen of Sheba; and others in the times of Ahasuerus; but the more general opinion is, and indeed the more probable, that he was born when the Israelites went down into Egypt, and that he was dead when they came from thence {n}: in short, they place him almost in all the ages from Abraham to the Babylonish captivity, and after it; and even Luther {o} was of opinion that he lived in the times of Solomon, for which there is no more reason than for the rest: it seems most probable that he lived before Moses {p}, at least before the giving of the law to him, since no mention is made of it in this book, nor any reference to it; whereas there is to things more ancient, as the general deluge, the burning of Sodom the law concerning sacrifices only to be offered by priests was not as yet given; for Job offered sacrifices as being the head of his family, and so did his three friends, Job 1:5, 42:8. The length of his life best agrees with the times before Moses, for in his time the age of man was reduced to seventy years; whereas Job must live two hundred years or more, since he lived one hundred and forty after his restoration: add to this, that this book seems to have been written before any idolatry was in the world but the worship of the sun and moon, Job 31:25,26 and before there were any writings divinely inspired, since there is no appeal to any in the whole controversy between Job and his friends; but the appeal is made to men of years and wisdom, and to traditions of former times, \Job 5:1 8:8-10 15:18 21:29\. According to Dr. Owen {q} Job lived three hundred and fifty years after the dispersion at Babel, about A. M. 2100. It is also greatly controverted who was the writer of this book; some ascribe the writing of it to Isaiah the prophet; others to Solomon, as Luther {r}; others to one of the prophets who was an Idumaean; but most to Moses, so the Jews {s} say, that he wrote his own book, the section of Balaam, and Job. Some think that he wrote it when in Midian, for the comfort and encouragement of the Hebrews afflicted in Egypt at that time, and who might hope to be delivered out of their afflictions, as this good man was delivered out of his; and this, it is supposed, accounts for the use of many Arabic words in it; Midian being in Arabia, where Moses, having lived some years, had mixed their language with his own. Some are of opinion that he met with this book when in those parts, which he found either in the Arabic or Syriac language, and translated it into Hebrew {t} for the use of the Israelites; and others think it was written by Job's friends, and particularly by Elihu, which is concluded from Job 32:15,16, but it is most probable that it was written by Job himself, or at least compiled from his diary or "adversaria" kept by him, or from those of his friends, or from both, and that it was written in the language it is now in: but be it written by whom it may, there is no doubt to be made of the divine authority of it; as appears from the sublimity of the style, the subject matter of it, its agreement with other parts of the sacred writings, and particularly from a quotation of a passage out of Job 5:13 by the Apostle Paul, 1Co 3:19 see also Job 5:17, compared with Heb 12:5. The design of it is not only in general to assert and explain the doctrine of Providence, as Maimonides observes; but in particular to show, that, though good men are afflicted, yet sooner or later they are delivered out of their afflictions; and that it becomes them to bear them patiently, and not murmur at them; nor complain of God on account of them, whose ways and works are unsearchable, and who gives no account of his matters to men, but is sovereign, wise, and just, in all he does; and whatsoever is done by him issues in the good of his people, as well as in his own glory, as the event shows. This book may be considered either as an history of the life of Job, in which an account is given of him in his prosperity; of his afflictions, and how they came upon him; of a visit paid him by his friends, and of the discourses that pass between him and them, and of his restoration to greater affluence than he enjoyed before: or as a drama or dialogue consisting of divers parts, and in which various speakers are introduced, as God, Satan, Job, his wife, and friends; or as a dispute, in which Job's three friends are the opponents, himself the respondent, Elihu the moderator, and God the umpire, who settled and determined the point in question. It contains many useful things in it concerning the Divine Being, and the perfections of his nature, his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and sovereignty; concerning the works of creation and providence; concerning original sin, and the corruption of mankind; concerning redemption by Christ, and good works to be done by men; and concerning the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. Some think Job was a type of Christ in his afflictions and sufferings; in his patience under them, and deliverance out of them; in his exaltation to an high pitch of happiness and prosperity; and in his intercession for his friends. He is in many things worthy of imitation, though in others to be blamed, and not followed; and, on the whole, this book of his may be read with great pleasure and profit.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. {b} Ibid. fol. 15. 1. {c} Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22. {d} Prooem. in Job, Quaest. Heb. in Lib. Paralipom. fol. 82. {e} T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 11. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 1. {f} Hist. Job, p. 61. {g} In voce iwb. {h} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 293, 852. {i} Comment. in Job, i. 1. p. 6. {k} Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 25. p. 430. {l} Ut supra. (Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22.) {m} T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 3, 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 2. {n} T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 3, 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 57. fol. 50. 4. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 3. p. 8. Juchasin, fol. 9. 2. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 1. {o} Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 361. {p} Origen contr. Cels. l. 6. p. 305. {q} Theologoumen. l. 3. c. 4. p. 188. {r} Ut supra, (Mensal. Colloqu.) c. 31. p. 359. {s} T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. & 15. 1. Jarchi in Job, 31. 35. {t} Vid. Origen. in Job, fol. 1. & Dickinson. Physic. vet. & vera, c. 19. sect. 27. p. 303.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JOB 1\\

In this chapter, Job, the subject of the whole book, is described by his native country, by his name, by his religious character, and by his family and his substance, Job 1:1-3 a particular relation is given of his children feasting together, and of Job's conduct during that time, Job 1:4,5 of a discourse which passed between God and Satan concerning him, the issue of which was that Satan obtained leave of God to afflict Job in his outward affairs, Job 1:6-12 then follows an account of his several losses, of his oxen, sheep, camels, asses, and servants, by the Sabeans, Chaldeans, and fire from heaven, and of his sons and daughters by the fall of the house in which they were through a violent wind, Job 1:13-19, and the chapter is concluded with the agreeable behaviour of Job in the midst of all this, Job 1:20-22.

Job 1 Commentaries