Book of Job of Ketuvim

The Book of Job

Book of Job

photo by Jenny Downing

The Book of Job is one of the most significant texts of the Ketuvim (Writings) of the Jewish Bible Tanakh. It is also the first poetic book of the Christian Old Testament. This rich theological work explores the theme of the suffering of the righteous, and goes on to discuss it from different perspectives. The book of Job has often been immensely praised in circles far and wide for its unique literary qualities.

Most scholars agree that the Book of Job was written sometime around the time between the 7th and the 4th centuries BC, with 6th century suggested as the most probable date for a number of reasons. The book of Job was authored by an anonymous author who was in almost all probability an Israelite, even though the story itself has been set in northern Arabia or southern Edom, and allusions have been made to places like Egypt and Mesopotamia. From the writings of Ezekiel, we come to know that Job was an individual who lived long ago and was well known for his righteousness. The Book of Job is also notable for the use of conservative spellings and plenty of forms and words that are not found anywhere else in the Bible.

The book of Job starts with a prologue on earth that shows the righteous protagonist living happily within his wealth and family of sons and daughters. This scene then shifts to the heaven where we find God asking Satan what he thinks about Job’s piousness. To that, Satan replies that the reason for Job’s piety is that he is blessed by God, but if God takes away all of Job’s belongings and happiness, then he would most definitely curse God. Satan is granted permission to take away Job’s enormous wealth and children. However, Job still demonstrates enormous faith on God. Permitted by God, Satan even covers Job’s body with boils.

Job sorrowfully laments his birth, saying that he would just love to die, but such comfort is denied to him. Job’s three friends, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite and Eliphaz the Temanite console him. Job’s friends strongly believe that he is suffering for some sin but Job’s fervently says that God cannot cause someone to suffer innocently.

The discourse between Job and his three friends is followed by a hymn to wisdom that explores the theme of inaccessibility of wisdom. The poem concludes that wisdom is concealed from man. Job contrasts his earlier days of fortune with his current painful predicament. Elihu now intervenes to say that wisdom can only be bestowed by God through the way of visions and dreams to the people who will then present their knowledge.

God now speaks through a whirlwind and in His speech He contrasts Job’s weakness with His divine omnipotence and wisdom. Job finally admits that there are many things that are beyond his understanding and comparing his own shortcomings with God, he confesses that God is truly an all-knowing being.

Lastly in the Book of Job God finally addresses Job’s friends and states that unlike Job who showed his faith even in the most troubled times, they didn’t speak of God in the right sense. So God will only favor Job instead of his friends. All of Job’s wealth is then restored twice as much as before, he regains his health, gets new children and is blessed with a prolonged life by virtue of which he to see all of his children grow up to the 4th generation.