The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Job 1

Job 1:1

"The book of Job is one of the most remarkable, not only in the Bible, but in all of literature. As was said of Goliath's sword, 'There is none like it', none in ancient or modern literature. Hence the difficulty of those who have labored to define the class of composition to which it belongs. It belongs to no class; it is a class by itself" (Kitto).

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (Joh 9:3).

"The fact is, Job was not meant to know the explanation of his trials; and on this simple fact everything hangs. If Job had known, there would have been no place for faith... The Scriptures are as wise in their reservations as they are in their revelations" (JSB).

"El" and "Shaddai" are most often used in Book. God is seen as the strong one and the nourisher, with most emphasis on present rewards and punishments. But one of the main purposes of Book is to reveal Him as "Yahweh", a God with a future plan involving salvation through tribulation (Tes 46:267).

Question: Is righteousness of value in itself?

Job was a literal historical figure: Eze 14:14,20; Jam 5:10,11.

Date of book: Approx 5 generations after Abraham: Job 2:11n.

UZ: (1) Firstborn of Nahor, brother of Abraham (Gen 22:20,21), or (2) son of Aram from Shem (Gen 10:23), or (3) a descendant of Seir (Gen 36:28). The land of Uz = Edom: being near Chaldea and Arabia and the wilderness (Job 1:15,17,19), and being the home of his friends (Job 2:11).

JOB: "Iyyob" = afflicted, persecuted (cp word for "enmity" in Gen 3:15). Or perhaps = "penitent one" = one who turns back to God.

BLAMELESS: "Perfect" (AV). Sig "complete" (cp Gen 25:7). "If anyone is never at fault in what he says [see vv 5,11,21], he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check" (Jam 3:2).

SHUNNED EVIL: Psa 45:7; Heb 1:9.

Job 1:3

A typical patriarchal description of wealth: cp Gen 12:16; 26:14.

THE PEOPLE OF THE EAST: Area including Edom, stretching as far as Euphrates (Gen 25:1-6; 29:1; Num 23:7; Jdg 6:3; Isa 11:14).

Job 1:4

Not necessarily a description of wickedness: cp v 5: "Perhaps", but not certainly.

Job 1:5

HAVE THEM PURIFIED: Perhaps by washing and a change of garments: Gen 25:2; 1Sa 16:5.

Does this explain 1Co 7:14?

JOB... WOULD SACRIFICE: Being the head of the family, Job acted as a priest. (Proof of a patriarchal, not a Mosaic, age.) Job diligently offers sacrifice for himself and his children. Does his trust in these sacrifices, and his own righteous life, rather than God's promises of mercy and forgiveness through the Abrahamic covenant, repr the same mistake of self-righteousness that Israel makes?

"What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting" (CHS).

EARLY IN THE MORNING: Early prayers and devotions: Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen 19:27). Jacob woke up with the first light of the morning to worship God after having seen a vision of angels in the night (Gen 28:18). Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Exo 34:4). Joshua got an early start when he prepared to capture Jericho (Jos 6:12). Gideon made his way at dawn to examine the fleece he had placed on the ground to discern Yahweh's will (Jdg 6:38). Job left his bed at an early hour to offer sacrifices to the Lord in behalf of his children (Job 1:5).

Job 1:6

Vv 6-12: Is Job's righteousness a "commercial venture"?

ANGELS (mg: SONS OF GOD): "Benim Elohim". A term used of men in Gen 6:4; Psa 29:1; 89:6,7; Joh 1:12; 1Jo 3:1; Eph 1:5.

TO PRESENT THEMSELVES BEFORE THE LORD: Not necessarily in heaven, but rather in presence of God's representatives on earth: cp Deu 19:17; 2Ch 19:6.

SATAN: AV mg: "the adversary". "Satan" is "everyman", including, to some degree, the 3 friends, other men, and Job himself. (Cp the role of Bildad in Job 8:3-7.) "Satan" disappears when the 3 friends enter the story. Notice that "Satan" is not judged at the end, but the 3 friends are. See Lesson, Job's satan.

Job 1:7

GOING BACK AND FORTH IN IT: The other instances of same description, going "to and fro": 2Ch 16:9 (the eyes of the LORD = angels); Zec 1:10,11 (angels); Zec 4:10 (eyes of the LORD); Zec 6:7 (angels again).

Assuming Satan is a man, then this could mean: "I am a man of the world, a self-made man, a strong man, who has acquired wealth." (By impl, "Job is an unworldly man, whose God has taken care of him.") This is the voice of envy.

Job 1:8

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MY SERVANT JOB?: "Consider and emulate the ways of this righteous man."

Job 1:11

Would a man, faced with deprivation, consider it worth his while to continue the life of restraint?

Job 1:12

Not at any time is Job aware of the circumstances that bring on his various sufferings. God works in all things for good: Rom 8:28,35. God gives "Satan" the power: Job 42:11.

THEN SATAN WENT OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD: God's presence, not in heaven: cp Jon 1:3; Gen 4:16.

Job 1:13

ONE DAY...AT THE OLDEST BROTHER'S HOUSE: The very time, at the end of a cycle of feasting (v 4), when Job was preparing to offer sacrifice for his children (v 5).

Job 1:14

Vv 14-21: "Alternative attacks of heaven and earth."

Job 1:15

SABEANS: Prob Arabs (Job 6:19; Gen 10:28; 1Ki 10:1; Isa 60:6; Eze 27:22; Psa 72:10), from sw Arabia, from Persian Gulf to Idumea. They attacked from the south.

Job 1:16

THE FIRE OF GOD FELL FROM THE SKY: Lightning: 1Ki 18:38; 2Ki 1:12; Exo 9:23.

Job 1:20

TORE HIS ROBE: To say he was heart-broken: Joe 2:13; Gen 37:29,34; 44:13; 2Sa 13:31; 2Ki 18:37.

Bible robes: the long robe of pretension (Luk 20:46); the torn robe of sorrow (Job 1:20); the scarlet robe of mockery (Mat 27:28); the best robe of righteousness (Luk 15:22); and the white robe of the redeemed (Rev 7:9).

THEN HE FELL TO THE GROUND IN WORSHIP: Surrendering totally to God and His providence.

Job 1:21

"You can't take it with you!"

I WILL DEPART (OR, WILL RETURN THERE): Return to his mother's womb? That is, to "mother earth": an allusion to Gen 2:7; 3:19 (cp Job 10:9; 34:15; Psa 139:15; 1Ti 6:7).

MAY THE NAME OF THE LORD BE PRAISED: The covenant-name of Yahweh, used by a non-Jew.

"We are the products of an alien world, only living through God's long-suffering, and if, by adoption, we become children, and are subjected to chastisement, it is only through God withholding for a while some of His good gifts. A fair consideration of the elementary truths we have learned will bring us to the attitude of Job. 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be his name.' The chastening is grievous, we are made sorrowful by it; but our apprehension of the truth should make us 'sorry after a godly manner.' The trouble with the grumblers is that they accept all blessings as a matter of course, and comparing the best they can imagine of life with the limitations of their experience, think that they have in some way been wronged. Whatever happens, they have no ground for complaint, unless it was wronging them to give them a personality at all" (ConCon 126,127).

"No one other than Jesus has gone through the same sort of trials as Job. In one day nearly all of Job's life crumbled around him. His riches, his friends, and his children were all taken from him in an instant. All he had left were four messengers, his wife and his health. Far from being the greatest man in the east, he became, in one day, the least.

"But what is incredible about Job is not that he had so much trouble in one day, but the way he reacted to it. We read that 'he got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, "Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised".'

"Many others having just one or two of those trials would have given up all hope, killed themselves or had a breakdown. But not Job! He worshipped and praised the LORD. He did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

"How do you react to trials? Do you get depressed, antisocial, angry, violent, hyperactive or do you pray to God, worship and praise Him? I believe Job stood up to his trials because God was the centre of his life. Although everything else was taken from him, God was still there. Make God the centre of your life and when there are trials you will be able to stand like Job" (RP).

Job 1:22

Note continual emphasis on sinning with the tongue: vv 5,11,21; 2:5,9,10; Jam 3:2-13; 5:10-13. Job is the "perfect man" of Jam 3:2.

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