Unknown: suggestions include Job himself, Elihu, Moses, and Solomon.
Unknown: There are two primary options. (1) Shortly after the events took place. This is suggested by the detail given of the report of the speeches given by Job’s friends. (2) During the age of Solomon when other wisdom literature was written (ex.-Psalms 88, 89). If so, it would be regarded as a dramatic poem describing real events, not a verbatim report.
The Biblical Timeline Book by Book:
Genesis…history from Creation through entry into Egypt
Job…the events of this book probably took place around the time of Abraham (circa 2,000 B.C.)
Uz is an area southeast of the Dead Sea. It is referred to in Lamentations (4:21) as Edom.
Job may mean “the one who turns back to God,” or it may mean “the assailed or persecuted one.” Job was an actual, historical person. He is mentioned as such by Ezekiel (14:14,20) and James (5:11).
Job, along with Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon are the books of poetry (or wisdom) in the Old Testament.
The seventeen books we have covered are all historical. The five we take up now are poetical Books—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These five are experiential. The past seventeen Books concerned a nation—these five concern individuals. The seventeen deal with the Hebrew race—these five deal with the human heart.
Through the Bible in One Year, Allen Stringfellow, p. 63
Chapters 1-2 (Introduction) and 42:7-17 (Conclusion) are written in prose. Chapters 3-42:6 are written in poetry. When God addresses Job in chapters 38-42 He asks him approximately 60 questions.
Hebrew poetry did not have metre or rhyme, like the poetry of our language. It consisted rather of parallelisms, or thought rhythm, in synonymous or antithetical couplets, “The sentiment of one line echoed in the next.” “Sometimes the couplets being doubled, or trebled, or quadrupled, making 2-liners, 4-liners, 6-liners, or 8-liners.”
Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 240
The book wrestles with the age-old question: Why do good people/righteous people suffer…if God is a God of love and mercy?
- The shallow view of Satan—that the children of God love and serve Him because it pays in riches and honor (Job 1:1-2:8). Satan said that Job's godliness was selfishness, that he served God for profit, that when prosperity ended he would be no more godly. He received permission to test Job (Job 2:6). Satan added, "Who wouldn't serve God for a handsome income of so many thousand a year? Watch him when his prosperity ends."
- The scarcely less false view of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (who agreed for the most part) that the unrighteous suffer because of their sins and the righteous are rewarded. Hence they reasoned that Job must have sinned, and this suffering was his punishment. Job was a great sufferer; therefore he must have been a great sinner. They said, Who ever perished, being innocent? (Job 4:7). But Job knew that his heart was true to God, and he could not accept the accusation of his friends. He showed them that their conclusion was false and that the wicked often prospered in the world (Job 24:6).
- Elihu had a far more just answer of the problem but his eloquent discourse was marred by conceit He defended God and saw in affliction the chastisement of a loving Father. But this did not explain the reason of suffering to Job. Elihu argued that suffering was God's discipline to bring His sons back into fellowship with Himself. He believed that suffering was sent to keep us from sinning.
- Jehovah explained to Job (by revealing Himself to him) that when men see God something always happens. The godly are allowed to suffer that they may see themselves first. Read Isaiah 6:1-5; Genesis 17:1-3; Daniel 10:4-8. When we come to the end of ourselves, God can lift us up. Job was a good man, but self-righteous. Read Job 29:1-25 and you will find the personal pronouns "I," "my" and "me" fifty-two times. It reminds one of Romans 7.
God has a wise purpose in all of our suffering. God wants to show His manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). He wants the trial of our faith to work patience. He wants to bring out the gold as by fire. He wants to reveal real character. Furthermore we have an unseen cloud of witnesses gathered in the great stadium of heaven to watch us in the conflict (Hebrews 12:1-2).
What the Bible is All About, Henrietta C. Mears, pp. 174-175
The things that happened to Job…
became known far and wide, and was a subject of public conversation everywhere, for months (7:3). Some wrote their opinions (13:26). The book contains some of the things that Job, and his friends, and God, said, or wrote. They must have been brilliant men. Some of the language is grand, though, in places, somewhat obscure.
Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 242
The Outline of Job
It is particularly helpful when studying Job to have an understanding of the outline or flow of the book.
1-2 The Tribulations of Job
3-31 The Accusations of Men (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu)
3-14 Accusations Round 1 (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) and Job’s response
15-21 Accusations Round 2 (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) and Job’s response
22-37 Accusations Round 3 (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) and Job’s response
32-37 Elihu’s 4 Accusations
38-41 The Revelation of God
42 The Restoration of Job
The Tribulations of Job Job 1-2
Job 1:1-5 Job’s Integrity & Prosperity
Job 1:1-5-The book begins with a description of Job and his circumstances. Uz was southeast of the Dead Sea...the same territory as Edom. Job was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. He had 7 sons, and 3 daughters. He was very wealthy. The story begins with Job consecrating his children...in case they had sinned without knowing it.
Job 1:6-19 Satan’s 1st Accusation: Job is self-centered (take his worldly possessions)
Job 1:6-11-This is a scene in Heaven. The sons of God (angels) appear before God and Satan is among them. God asks if Satan is aware of Job.
What do you think God mean by “considering” Job? It is a strong word, as if he had been watching his every act. “Have you been trying to find a flaw?”
What the Bible is All About, Meirs, p. 180
Satan says that the only reason why Job fears God is because God protects and blesses him. If God would remove his possessions, then Job would curse God.
Job 1:12-19-God gives Satan permission to destroy all that Job has...but to not touch Job physically. Satan manipulated the Sabeans and Chaldeans to destroy all of Job's possessions and to kill all of his children. The “Sabeans” were nomadic bedouins who lived in the area of Uz and to the south. The “Chaldeans” were another group of nomadic people (not the same as those who later lived in Babylon during the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.).
Job 1:20-22 Job’s Response: God is sovereign…all things are a gift from Him
Job 1:20-22-Job says that he came into the world with nothing, and he will leave the world with nothing. Despite all his loss and sorrow, Job did not sin or blame God.
Job 2:1-7 Satan’s 2nd Accusation: Job is self-preserving (take his physical health…skin-2:7-8,13; 7:5; 30:30; aches & pains-2:13; 30:17,30)
Job 2:1-7-On another day Satan is among the angels in Heaven and again God asks him if he is aware of Job...that he has continued to be righteous even through all that Satan had done. Satan tells God that Job was willing to continue to worship God...but only because it was his possessions that were destroyed, not himself. Satan also tried to accuse God of being the source of Job’s problems when he said, “You incited me against him, to ruin him without cause” (2:3).
2:4 Skin for skin. Satan charged Job with callousness; i.e., being willing to give up the skin of his animals, servants, and children in order to save his own skin.
The Ryrie Study Bible, footnote on Job 2:4, p. 749
The Lord gives Satan permission to touch Job physically...but not to take his life. Satan caused boils to break out on Job's body. His sickness made him ceremonially (religiously) unclean. So, not only was he terribly ill, but he was also a social outcast.
Job’s Disease (7), is thought to have been a form of Leprosy, complicated with Elephantiasis, one of the most Loathsome and Painful Diseases known to the oriental world.
Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 243
Job 2:8 Job’s Response: Silence.
Job 2:9 Mrs. Job’s Suggestion: Job is self-deceived…he was really suffering because God was unfair
Job's wife told him to go ahead and get it over...to curse God and die. She apparently felt that God was not being fair...since Job had been righteous, he should not have adversity in his life and here he was being unfairly treated. So, since we cannot trust God to treat us fairly, there is no true justice. Therefore, we should not expect it. We cannot expect God to be like that, so, just curse God, die, and get it over with.
Job 2:10 Job’s Response: God is omniscient…He knows what is right
Job told his wife that we should be willing to accept both good and adversity, and still worship God. And he did not sin.
Job 2:11-13 Friends Arrival
Three of Job's friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) hear what is happening and come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they arrive he is in such bad physical shape that they don’t even recognize him. His pain and sorrow were evident in his very appearance.
Job’s Three Friends. Eliphaz the Temanite (11), was a descendant of Esau (Genesis 36:11), an Edomite. Bildad the Shuhite was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2). Zophar the Naamathite was of unknown origin of locality. Nomad Princes.
Elihu the Buzite (32:2), was a descendant of Abraham’s brother Nahor (Genesis 22:21).
Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 243
…Elphaz, the religious dogmatist, much like an ancient Pharisee; Bildad, who sought to comfort Job with worn-out platitudes; and Zophar, who thought he had a corner on all religious wisdom. Then comes Elihu, the impetuous youth.
What the Bible is All About, Meirs, p. 174
The Accusations of Men Job 3-37
A few things to keep in mind:
- These “friends” of Job have come to comfort him. But their comfort basically centers around their firm conviction that he has sinned against God…is receiving just punishment for his sin…and if he will repent things will return to normal. All three of them suggest that all suffering is because of personal sin.
- The more they talk with Job the more intense they become…using name-calling and false accusations.
- Job defends himself…rightfully so since his suffering has nothing to do with his unrighteousness, but in fact with the fact that he was righteous. However, his defense goes to the extent that he falls into the sin of pride and self-righteousness.
- God finally intervenes. His simple argument is to ask Job to compare himself to God. There is no comparison. Then, He rebukes Job’s friends for unjustly accusing him.
Job 3-14 Accusations Round 1 (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar)
Job 3 Job: What did I do to deserve this?
His theology has been that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. But now, considering all of the bad that has happened to him…his own experience seems to prove that to be wrong.
Job 3:1-26-Job’s friends said nothing at first (2:13). Finally, Job was the first to speak. Job's complaint...that life is unfair. He wishes that he had died at birth. Then he wishes that since he didn't that he could just go ahead and die, now. Why must his life linger on. If he could only die…because in death everything is settled. In death, everybody is equal. At times Job reacts in anger. But he always turns back to God.
There is something very important to remember as you read Job. Not everything that is said is true. Job and his friends will make many statements that are matters of their personal perspective, experience, and knowledge. But they are not necessarily true. In fact, much of the advice that Job’s friends give him is completely wrong. God is using them to voice these false assumptions so that we can learn that they are false. And then, finally, at the end of book…He will reveal the truth.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes the arguments of men seem to be very logical and persuasive. It is easy to be deceived. I pray that You will give me Your wisdom. Help me to be able to discern the truth. And Lord, please give me insight not just into the matters of my life…but help me to be a source of truth and comfort to others, as well.