JOB, THE BOOK OF.
A dramatic poem in forty-two chapters, the characters in which are Job, his wife (mentioned only once, ii. 9), his three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—Elihu, and God (see Drama, Hebrew). Ch. i.-ii.: Prologue, describing Job's prosperity, its disappearance,and the calamities sent upon him at the suggestion of Satan. Ch. iii.: Job's complaint. He curses the day he was bron; wishes he had died immediately after birth; thinks death preferable to a life of misfortune. Ch. iv.-v.: Reply of Eliphaz. He declares that a truly righteous man is never afflicted; that a man sometimes thinks himself just, though he is unjust: hence his complaint. He exhorts Job to turn to God in sincerity, who will surely restore him to well-being. Ch. vi.-vii.: Job resumes his complaint. His afflictions are greater than he can bear; his sole desire is to die at once, all his friends having deserted him. He relates his sufferings, and reproaches God, who takes delight in torturing him. Ch. viii.: Reply of Bildad. He reproaches Job for his injustice toward God, declaring that if he were really upright, God would not have so afflicted him, and that the prosperity of the wicked, of which Job complains, is unstable. Ch. ix.-x.: Job represents God as a capricious tyrant, who lets His hand fall on both the just and the unjust. He maintains that God knows that he is not wicked, and yet tortures him. Ch. xi.: Zophar, in reply, accuses Job of wickedness, for which he is being punished, and exhorts him to repent. Ch. xii-xiv.: Job declares that he is as wise as his friends and that he needs not their counsel. God is ruler, and therefore he complains directly to Him of the prosperity of the wicked and of the suffering of the righteous. God, the Omnipotent, ought not to bring under judgment so frail a creature as man. Ch. xv.: Eliphaz replies; Job's own words prove his guilt. He repeats the assertion that the prosperity of the wicked is not of long duration.
Ch. xvi-xvii.: Job again accuses God of injustice. Ch. xviii.: Bildad confirms his friends' assertion that the wicked, in spite of present prosperity, will come to a bad end. Ch. xix.: Job accuses his friends of being unjust toward him, laments that now he has none to whom he may go for comfort: God persecutes him, his friends and acquaintances have abandoned him, even his wife turns against him. Ch. xx.: Zophar makes the same reply as Bildad in ch. xviii., but in other words. Ch. xxi.: Job refutes his friends' assertions, maintaining that only the wicked prosper, that they spend their lives in pleasure and pass swiftly to the grave. Even if misfortune overtakes their children, the wicked have departed, and will know it not. Ch. xxii.: Eliphaz asserts that God has no profit in man's righteousness, only man himself profits by it; that Job is being punished for his manifold sins. He again exhorts Job to repentance, telling him that therein he will prosper at last.
Ch. xxiii.-xxiv.: Job complains that, not knowing the abode of God, he can not bring his case directly before Him. Then, changing his theme, he describes the perverseness of the wicked and marvels that God, who sees everything, does not check them. Ch. xxv.: Bildad rejoins that man has no right to complain, as he can not be perfect. Ch. xxvi.-xxxi.: Job, after declaring to Bildad that he knows well that God is omnipotent and omniscient, cites a parable, maintaining that he is upright and a stranger to wickedness. The wicked are destined to destruction, and will not profit in their great wealth. In ch. xxviii. he exalts wisdom, and contrasts, in the two following chapters, his present condition with his former prosperity. Formerly, he was respected and beloved by all for his generosity and his charitable deeds, and the wicked feared his power. Now, he is mocked by the meanest, by the outlawed; he again speaks harshly against God. He describes his generosity and his uprightness, calling upon God to witness it.Speeches of Elihu.
Ch. xxxii.-xxxvii.: Elihu's speeches. Seeing that Job's three friends remained silent, unable to answer him, Elihu takes their place. He had remained silent because the others were older; but being now convinced that wisdom is not in years, he assumed the duty of replying to Job. The chief points of Elihu's speeches are that God is never wrong, that calamity is a warning from God to man to repent, that God, who neither profits in man's righteousness nor suffers in his sins, always chastises the wicked and rewards the righteous.
Ch. xxxviii.-xxxix. are theophanous; they present a cosmographical sketch and take the form of questions addressed to Job by God, who speaks to him out of the whirlwind. They tell of the creation of earth, seas, light, darkness, snow, hail, rain, the heavens, and the celestial bodies; the habits of the wild goat, the unicorn, the peacock, the ostrich, the horse, and the eagle are spoken of in passages of great beauty. Ch. xl.-xli.: Continuation of God's address with a brief reply from Job. These two chapters describe the nature and habits of the hippopotamus ("behemoth") and the whale ("leviathan"). Ch. xlii.: Epilogue; after a short speech from Job declaring his repentance, an account of his restoration to his former state of prosperity is given. The sublime grandeur of the final theophany, the simple directness of the narrative portions, and the imaginative coloring of the soul-problems raised in the book make it, regarded merely as literature, the most striking production of the Hebraic genius. See Job, Biblical Data.
The poem which is contained in Job iii. 1-xlii. 6, exclusive of later interpolations, discusses a religious problem which could scarcely have been formulated in the early period of the Israelitic people; for it presupposes a high spiritual development and a maturity of judgment which are acquired by a people only after great trials and sore tribulations. This view excludes all the earlier opinions which assign the date of the composition of the poem either to the patriarchal age (so Eichhorn, Jahn, Bertholdt, Haneberg, and others), or to the time of Moses (B. B. 15a), of David (Herder), of Solomon (Schlottmann, Haevernick, and Hahn), and even of Hezekiah (Ewald).
The special problem discussed in Job concerns the justice of the divine government of the world. It could have been formulated only after the principles of that justice had been announced in Deuteronomy; according to which earthly happiness was promised as a reward to the faithful followers of the Law and of
Merx, Stickel, Reuss, Dillmann, Hirzel, Hitzig, and Ley (in "Studien und Kritiken," 1898, pp. 34-70) assume the seventh century
From the references to many Egyptian matters, Hitzig has assumed that Egypt was the home of the poet; but the passages referring to the hippopotamus and crocodile may be suspected to be later interpolations. The Egyptian mines (xxviii. 1-11) were known in Palestine, as were also the swift ships of the Nile (ix. 26), the papyrus-rolls (xxxi. 36; comp. viii. 11), the war-horse (xxxix. 19), and the pyramids (A. V. "desolate places"; iii. 14). From "them that go by the way" (xxi. 29), also, much may have been learned of foreign countries. The poet himself may have joined caravans (vi. 15-19); the descriptions of the sufferings of the pious in Israel indicate that he also had suffered (xi. 15, 19a; vii. 1-3). He wrote his poem with his heart's blood (Duhm).The Doctrine of Retribution.
It had become necessary to assail the popular doctrine that obedience to the Law would be rewarded, and its transgression punished. For both of these principles were interpreted in an entirely external way: reward meaning a long and pleasant life (Ex. xx. 12; Lev. xxvi. 3 et seq.), and punishment misfortune and an early death (Deut. xxviii. 20 et seq.; Lev. xxvi. 15 et seq.; Gen. ii. 17 et seq.). The leper especially was considered to be smitten by God; hence the term "nega'" (= "blow"; Lev. xiii. 22) for leprosy. The sufferings of the law-abiding Israelite or of the righteous seemed therefore irreconcilable with
The ancient doctrine of retribution is developed at great length by Job's three friends. According to it God shows His anger by inflicting suffering; He turns from man as from an enemy (xiii. 24, xix. 11); looks at him angrily (vii. 19a, xiv. 6a, xvi. 9); smites him with His hand (xiii. 21b, xix. 21); makes him afraid by His terrors (ix. 34, xiii. 21b, xxiii. 16); covers him with darkness (xix. 8b); stands in his way (iii. 23); overwhelms him with His power (ix. 12, 13, 19a; xxiii. 6); pierces him with His arrows (vi. 4, xvi. 14); punishes him with His scourge (ix. 23). The poet introduces also the imagery of the prison (vii. 12, xiii. 27, xiv. 16), the net (xix. 6), the storm (ix. 17, xxx. 22), and an army assailing an unfortunate captive (x. 17, xvi. 13, xix. 12), who in the end succumbs (xxx. 12 et seq.). He vainly questions how he may have incurred the inscrutable anger of God (x. 2, xiii. 23). The burning pain will not let him rest (xxx. 17). Imagery from the animal world is also used (x. 16). God's hostility calls up fear of further visitation (ix. 18, x. 13-15, xxx. 23) and despair because of the unending misery (ix. 11 et seq., xxiii. 15 et seq.), so that the prayer for a short respite (vii. 16-19, x. 20, xiv. 6) is interwoven with the cry for death (vi. 9, 10; vii. 15).
Added to all these sufferings of the stricken one is the bitterness of seeing that his enemies as well as his friends heartlessly consider him to be a sinner branded by God (xvii. 6). His enemies snatch at the opportunity to vent their malice on him (xvi. 10 et seq., xxx. 1-14); his servants and followers refuse him obedience (xix. 15, 16); his wife and children, as well as relatives and friends, abandon him (xii. 4; xix. 13-14, 17-19, 21 et seq.). His guilt is assumed as a matter of course, and no one thinks of doubting it; otherwise God would have to be accused of injustice—an accusation that would be the most grievous blasphemy (iv. 7, viii. 3). Hence it becomes the imperative duty of the sufferer to find out, by a frank examination of his past life and thoughts, inwhat way he has sinned. For there must be some guilt (iv. 18-19, xv. 14-16, xxv. 4-6)—this must be assumed a priori in order to explain the suffering (viii, 11, xxii. 5 et seq.). If the sufferer admits his guilt God will forgive him (v. 17-27, viii. 5-7, xi. 13-19, xxii. 21-30); but if he obstinately persists in declaring that he is innocent he adds another grievous sin to his former guilt, and his punishment will increase accordingly (xi. 4, xv. 13, xxii. 3-4).Job's Replies.
In answer to all these arguments of his friends Job insists, in the first place, that the sufferer has the right to complain (vi. 5-7). He points out the heartlessness to which their doctrine leads; for instead of comforting the sufferer in his pain, they reprove him for his alleged sins (vi. 14-22). But it is cheap wisdom to repeat the ancient doctrine of divine retribution in all sorts of variations and to apply these to an unfortunate man (xii. 2-3, xiii. 2, xix. 2-5). Although the supreme power of God makes it impossible to rebel against His blows, the justice of His decrees is not thereby proved (ix. 2-21, 30-35; x. 15-17; xii. 14; xiii. 3; xix. 6 et seq.; xxi. 31). Experience shows that in the catastrophes of nature the perfect and the wicked are alike smitten by God (ix. 22-23); and it often happens that the wicked live prosperously to the end of their days (xii. 6; xxi. 7-15, 32 et seq.), being made the judges of right and wrong (ix. 24), although occasionally the ancient doctrine of retribution brought them to the bar of justice (xix. 29).
But no power on earth can take away the feeling of innocence from the sinless sufferer, or force him to declare himself guilty against his better convictions (x. 6, 7; xiii. 18 et seq.; xvi. 17; xxvii. 5, 6; xxxi. 1 et seq.). He has the right to appeal to God's judgment, as being superior to the condemnation his friends pretend to see in his present misfortunes (xii. 4, xiii. 7-10, xvi. 18-20, xix. 17). It is useless to say that no man is clean in the eyes of God (xiv. 4); for even according to that argument it is incomprehensible why the comparatively just person should be most heavily stricken and the worst evil-doers go unpunished (vii. 21, xiii. 26, xiv. 17).
The negative result reached by these arguments of the Book of Job may be stated as follows: What hitherto has been called divine justice is merely the display of the omnipotence of God. His decisions are devoid of all moral qualities, and are pronounced indifferently, as blessings or as curses, upon all men, upon the good and the bad alike. In the same way men are prosperous or unhappy according to the fortuitous events of their lives, quite independently of their ethical qualities. The gifts of fortune and the strokes of calamity are in no wise connected either with God's justice or with man's moral nature.
But as these arguments deprived the divine omnipotence, as manifested in the world, of all ethical quality the danger arose of excluding this quality altogether from the divine nature, and of actually destroying the attribute of justice in God. Hence the poet attempted to rehabilitate the latter in a round-about way, succeeding, however, only by means of a postulate. He declares that many of the phenomena of nature are indeed the manifestations of an omnipotence that overwhelms man by the terrors of its sublimity (xxvi. 6-14), but that this is not the only thing that nature declares of God. The marvelous law and order of those phenomena, of nature and the multiplicity and curious modes of life of her creatures, are also the manifestations of a hidden wisdom, to which man simply must submit.Composition of the Book.
The author of the Book of Job incorporated the folk book into his work in a manner still showing traces of the component parts. The use of this preexisting material very cleverly placed the problem outside of Palestine, thereby excluding the possible objection of orthodox theology that such a case—a perfectly righteous man persecuted by
Job opens the discussion with the ancient cry of all sufferers (iii., Hebr.): "O, that I had never been born! and since I was brought into the world, why could I not, even in the hour of birth, have found the eternal rest of Sheol" (comp. Sophocles, "(Edipus Coloneus," line 1225: τὸ μὴ φῦναι τὸν ἅπαντα νικᾷ λόγον; Eccl. iv. 2-3); and in his questionings at the end of this monologue (iii. 26 et seq.) he formulates the problem as to the cause of this inexplicable suffering. The friends defend the views of the orthodox doctrine of retribution, according to which all suffering is a punishment for some sin; while Job defends the views of the clear conscience, which knows itself to be free from sin, and declares his suffering to be inexplainable from the Old Testament point of view. The discussion is held in a threefold series of dialogues (iv.-xxxi.), in each of which Job alternates once with each of the three friends. Hence arises the following scheme, aside from the additions to be discussed later on: First series of dialogues: Eliphaz (iv.-v.); Job (vi-vii.); Bildad (viii.); Job (ix.-x.); Zophar (xi.); Job (xii-xiv.). Second series: Eliphaz (xv.); Job (xvi.-xvii.); Bildad (xviii.); Job (xix.); Zophar (xx.); Job (xxi.). Third series: Eliphaz (xxii.); Job (xxiii.-xxiv.); Bildad (xxv.-xxvi. 5-14); Job (xxvi. 1-4, xxvii. 2-23, xxviii.-xxxi.); Zophar; Job (not in Hebrew text in the Masoretic arrangement). The third series of dialogues especially has been altered by interpolations. The beginning of Bildad's speech (xxv. 1-6) has been separated from the portion continuing it (xxvi. 5-14). It is followed by Job's answer (xxvi. 1-4; xxvii. 2-6; xxix. 1-6, 19, 20, 7-11, 21-23, 12, 13, 15-17, 24, 25, 14, 18; xxx. 1-24, 26-31; xxxi. 1-20; xxx. 25; xxxi. 21-23, 38-40, 24-37, 40; for this arrangement see C. Siegfried," The Book of Job," critical ed., especially pp 42 et seq., Leipsic and Baltimore, 1893).
These speeches do not present a direct, continuous train of thought developing or elaborating some central idea. The art and power of Semitic rhetoric consistrather in the rich elaboration of a single thought expressing the same idea in a varied profusion of imagery (comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] i. 5-10; Franz Delitzsch, "Gesch. der Jüdischen Poesie," pp. 21 et seq., Leipsic, 1836). In general it may be said that Eliphaz represents on the whole the proof of authority, basing his arguments on a vision (iv. 12-21). Bildad appeals chiefly to experience, which proves the truth of the doctrine of divine retribution (viii. 8 et seq., xviii. 5-21). Zophar argues with all the fervor of religious conviction and appeals to the divine decision (xi. 5 et seq.).
It appears from Job's speeches that, overawed by the veneration clinging to the old sacred doctrine of retribution (xii. 12), he at first does not dare to proclaim his innocence, of which he is so firmly convinced. He begs his friends to grant him the right to complain (vi. 2-13); not to refuse him the comfort he had expected from them (vi. 14-21), nor to attack him so mercilessly (vi. 24-27). He points out that experience shows only that the misfortunes befalling men are manifestations of God's omnipotence, and that because His decisions are strong enough to overcome all resistance it does not necessarily follow that they are just (ix., xii. 7-25). He therefore boldly asks the reason for his suffering (xiii. 18-23).Second and Third Dialogues.
In the second dialogue Job develops the thought that while in some cases God's judgment is in accordance with the old doctrine of retribution (xxi. 16-21), very frequently just the opposite happens, as appears in the undisturbed good fortune of the wicked (xxi. 7-15, 22-34). He persists, moreover, even more strongly in declaring his innocence, appealing to the judgment of God, who apparently is so hostile to him, but whose justice will ultimately induce Him to become the avenger (go'el) of that innocence (xvi. 17-19, xix. 25-27).
In the third dialogue, as the friends begin to weaken in their attacks, Job emphasizes the impossibility of contending with such an opponent as God. Of course Job must outwardly succumb; but even against God he will maintain his right, and is willing to prove it, if God will appear and answer (xxvii. 1-6, xxxi.). The discussion is ended by
In the course of time various interpolations were made in the text of the poem. These comprise: (1) a number of passages that have been placed among the foot-notes in the edition by Siegfried mentioned above; (2) the parallel texts, so called because they are parallel developments of the corresponding passages in the genuine text; e.g., as vii. 1-10; x. 18-22; xii. 4-6; xiv. 1, 2; xiii. 28; xiv. 5, 7-12, 14, 18-22; xvii. 11-16; xl. 6-32; xli. 1-26, xlii. 1-6; (3) corrections and revisions of Job's speeches made for the purpose of harmonizing them with the orthodox doctrine of retribution (these revisions include xii. 7-10 [11, 12 as glosses], 13-25; xiii. 11; xxi. 16-18; xxiv. 13-24; xxvii. 7-23); (4) passages containing a polemic against the ideas expressed in the poem (xxviii. 1-28 and the so-called speeches of Elihu, xxxii.-xxxvii.). Ch. xxviii. rejects the effort to fathom the divine wisdom and to discover the rule of its workings, these being regions into which human understanding and empiric knowledge can not penetrate. Speculation here must give way to faith. The fear of
The speeches of Elihu contradict the fundamental teachings of the genuine poem of Job, according to which it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin. Elihu, however, assumes that suffering may be decreed for the righteous for pedagogic reasons, as a protection against greater sin, and for moral betterment (xxxiii. 17 et seq., 28-30). How little these Elihu speeches come into the general scheme of the poem is shown by the fact that Elihu is not mentioned either in the prologue or in the epilogue, being entirely ignored by
The textual criticism of Job must rest on the Masoretic text (see Baer, "Liber Jobi," 1875). As Lagarde has pointed out ("Anmerkungen zur Griechischen Uebersetzung der Proverbien," 1863, pp. 1 et seq.), that text goes back to a single original manuscript, so that nothing in regard to textual corrections is gained by a collation of manuscripts. The recently discovered Babylonian Bible manuscripts are important only for the history of the vocalization and accentuation of the Biblical text (comp. Harkavy and Strack, "Katalog der Hebräischen Bibelhandschriften der K. Bibliothek in St. Petersburg," 2 parts, 1875). Jerome, who in his version of Job closely followed the Hebrew, calls for little notice (comp. Hupfeld, "Beleuchtung Dunkler Stellen in der Alttestamentlichen Textgesch." in "Studien und Kritiken," 1830, pp. 1571 et seq.; Nowack, "Die Bedeutung des Hieronymus für die Alttestamentliche Textkritik," Göttingen, 1875).Translations.
The Septuagint version, being a very free rendering of the Book of Job (comp. Bickell, "De Indole ac Ratione Versionis Alexandrinæ in Interpretando Libro Jobi," 1862), must be used very cautiously; yet it can not be denied that it contains many traces of the correct reading (comp. A. Merx, "Das Gedicht von Hiob," 1891; C. Siegfried, "The Book of Job," 1893). For the Targum of Job see W. Bacher in "Monatsschrift," xx. 208-223. The Syriac translation ("Peshiṭta") may also be consulted, but as it was corrected after the Septuagint, its agreement with the latter does not mean much textually. For the Arabic translation of the poem by Saadia Gaon see I. Cohn, Altona, 1889; "ŒuvresComplètes de R. Saadia Gaon," v. (ed. Bacher), Paris, 1899. Emendations of the poem must often be based on conjecture.
- Commentaries: For the earlier exegesis, Rosenmüller, Scholia in Vetus Testamentum, v.;
- and the commentaries and introductions to the O. T. For modern views compare especially H. Ewald, 1836; 2d ed. 1854;
- L. Hirzel, 1839;
- 2d ed. by I. Olshausen, 1852; 3d ed. 1869;
- 4th ed. by A. Dillmann, 1891;
- Ferdinand Hitzig, 1874;
- A. Klostermann, Hiob, in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. viii. 97-126;
- K. Budde, 1896;
- B. Duhm, 1897. Translations with commentaries: A. Merx, 1871;
- G. Studer, 1881;
- E. Reuss, Das Alte Testament, 1892-1894;
- idem, Vortrag über das Buch Hiob, 1888;
- G. Hoffmann, 1891;
- F. Baethgen, in Kautzsch, Die Heilige Schrift des Alten Testaments, 2d ed.;
- idem, Hiob: Deutsch mit Anmerkungen für Ungelehrte, 1898;
- Friedrich Delitzsch, Das Buch Hiob, Leipsic, 1902.
- For problems in the Book of Job, J. Meinhold, Das Problem des Buches Hiob, in Neue Jahrb. für Deutsche Theologie, 1892, pp. 63 et seq.;
- I. Ley, Die Probleme im Buche Hiob, in Neue Jahrb. für Philologie und Pädagogik, 1896, pp. 125 et seq.
- For special questions on composition, I. Grill, Zur Kritik der Composition des Buches Hiob, Tübingen, 1890;
- T. K. Cheyne, Job and Solomon, 1887; Duhm, as above;
- L. Laue, Die Composition des Buches Hiob, 1895.
- For textual criticism, G. Bickell, Kritische Bearbeitung des Jobdialogs, in Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunde des Morgenlandes, vi. 137-147, 241-257, 327-334; vii. 1-20, 153-168;
- idem, Dichtungen der Hebräer, ii., 1882;
- idem, Das Buch Job nach Anleitung der Strophik und der Septuaginta, Vienna, 1894;
- P. Vetter, Die Metrik des Buches Hiob, in Biblische Studien, ed. Bardenhewer, ii. 4, Freiburg, 1897;
- H. Grimme, Metrisch-Kritische Emendationen zum Buche Hiob, in Theol. Quartalschrift, lxxx. 295-304, 421-432; lxxxi. 112-118, 259-277;
- O. Voigt, Einige Stellen des Buches Hiob, 1895;
- I. Ley, in Studien und Kritiken, 1895, pp. 635 et seq.;
- G. Bär, Der Text des Buches Hiob, 1895;
- idem, in Stade's Zeitschrift, 1896, pp. 297 et seq.