†††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††Bibliotheca Sacra 96 (384) (Oct. 1934) 78-86

†††††††††††††† Copyright © 1934 by Dallas Theological Seminary.Cited with permission.

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Department of English Bible Exposition

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Merwin A. Stone, Editor

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††† THE BOOK OF JOB

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† By CHARLES LEE FEINBERG

††††††††††† †††† Editor's Note: This article was Written as a class paper in the Bible at

††††††††††† the Evangelical Theological College last year, having been submitted to the

††††††††††† Professor, Dr. Henry A. Ironside, who recommended it for publication.

††††††††††† Mr. Feinberg, a Hebrew Christian, took his academic degree at the

††††††††††† University of Pittsburgh, and is a candidate for the Th.M. degree in May.

 

††††††††† The Book of Job has been so designated because of

its principal character, Job. In the Hebrew canon it

stands among the Hagiographa or Holy Writings. In

our canon it is placed among the poetic books. Unlike

the Pentateuch or the Prophets which are read in the

synagogue every Sabbath, or even the Megilloth or rolls

(Song of Solomon, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and La-

mentations) which are read on certain festive occasions,

the Book of Job is not read in the synagogue. It is

usually the more educated class that reads the book be-

cause of the lofty and difficult Hebrew. The authorship

of the book has been and still is disputed. Many think

it was written by Moses.

††††††† The book is set as to time in patriarchal days. There

is no indication anywhere that the law or the great

social, legislative, ecclesiastical, and judicial system

brought in by it, were in existence at the time; the law,

as such, is not mentioned. What makes it particularly

difficult to place the book in point of time is the fact

that there are no references to outside contacts with

either political or ecclesiastical events. As to place, the

story takes place in the land of Uz, which is southeast

of Palestine on the borders of Edom. The Rabbis tell

us that it occurred outside of Palestine that it might

never be said that God persecuted a righteous man in

Israel. It appears, however, that the impression given

by its setting in Uz is more of an international, or rather

intercommunal, outlook. It is interesting to note, in



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fact, that throughout the book the names for God are

for the most part Elohim, Eloah, and Shaddai. These

are used in God's dealings with all peoples; Jehovah is

more particularly used in God's redemptive and cove-

nant relations.

††††††††† There are eight characters in the book: God, Satan,

Job, his wife, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite,

Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu the Buzite. God

appears as the sovereign Ruler of His creation who

delights in His saints and seeks their justification and

vindication, whether in the sight of Satan or of Job's

friends. We see "that the Lord is very pitiful, and of

tender mercy" (Jas. 5 :11). Satan is still the accuser of

God's saints before Him. He uses his old tactics as he

did in the garden: by casting doubts through questions.

Needless to say, this is of none effect with the Almighty

God. Job, the main character, is a man "perfect and

upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,"

according to the testimony of the Lord. He was said by

some of the Rabbis to have lived in the time of Abra-

ham. Others said he lived in the time of Jacob and

married Jacob's daughter Dinah. Still others held he

was a righteous Gentile who lived shortly after the time

of Jacob and (on what authority it is hard to tell)

was smitten with his great malady because he advised

Pharoah to cast all the male infants born in Israel into

the river. Setting aside these fantastic speculations,

from the book itself we learn that Job was "the greatest

of all the men of the east." He possessed much wealth

and was highly honored in his city. Listen to him as

he describes it so vividly: "I washed my steps with

butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil; When

I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared

.my seat in the street! The young men saw me, and hid

themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. The

princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their

mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue

cleaved to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard

me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it

gave witness to me: Because I delivered the poor that

 



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cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help

him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish

came upon me: and I caused the widowís heart to sing

for joy" (Job 29 '6-13). Job's wife, who comes into

view in 2:9 only, appears to be impetuous and unre-

flective; she is hasty in her judgments and foolish in

her advice. Then there are Job's three friends, Eliphaz,

Bildad, and Zophar. Eliphaz is one noted for his saga-

city and practical wisdom. He is much more calm than

the others, and appeals to experience. Bildad has gained

his knowledge from the accumulated lore of tradition.

Zophar is an out-and-out legalist and a dogmatist as

well. The last character to be mentioned is Elihu the

Buzite who appears to be respectful in his manners,

waiting for the others older than himself to speak

before he cared to voice his opinions. He is less harsh

than the rest and really shows insight into the situation

perplexing Job and his friends.

††††††††† The subject matter of the book is dramatic and the

whole resolves itself into a continuous narrative. Along

with the Psalms and Proverbs it is the only other book

in the Old Testament that the Massoretic scholars

pointed in such a way as to show its poetic form. Ex-

cept for the prologue (chapters 1 and 2) and the epi-

logue (ch. 42:7-17) the form is that of the Hebrew

poetry with the couplets. In the latter half of some of

the couplets we have a reiteration of what has been ex-

pressed previously, but in others we have the opposite

expressed, the antithetic parallelism. This latter form,

to be sure, is more marked in the Psalms and Proverbs

than in Job. The production as a whole and in all its

parts is beautiful for its lofty style, its vivid pictures,

and its reproductions of natural scenes and objects; it

abounds in figures. This book has always held a high

place in Biblical literature; so much so in fact, that the

critics have placed its writing in the time of the literary

prophets, Amos and Isaiah for instance. In contents

the book has passages which are parallel to others in

the Bible. Job 3:3-8: "Let the day perish wherein I

was born, and the night in which it was said, There is



††††††††† †††††††††††††††††† The Book of Job †††††††††††††††††††† 81

 

a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let

not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine

upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it;

let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day

terrify it. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it;

let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not

come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night

be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them

curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up

their mourning," reminds us quite distinctly of similar

words by Jeremiah in Jer. 20:14-18: "Cursed be the

day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my

mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who

brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is

born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that

man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, and

repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning,

and the shouting at noontide; Because he slew me not

from the womb; or that my mother might have been my

grave, and her womb to be always great with me.

Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour

and sorrow that my days should be consumed with

shame?" Job 7:17, 18: "What is man, that thou

shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set

thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit

I him every morning, and try him every moment?" brings

to mind the words of the psalmist David in Psalm 8:4:

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the

son of man, that thou visitest him?"

†††††††† In order to get a closer and more satisfactory view

of the book, its subject matter, purpose, and problem

involved, let us look into the story as it is related to us.

At the outset Job is seen living in comfort and in the

fear of the Lord as was his wont, and surrounded by his

ten children. His zeal for God is seen in his sacrifice of

burnt offerings for his sons after their days of feasting,

lest they might have offended God in a moment when

they were susceptible to temptation. Then we are intro-

duced into a scene where the sons of God presented

themselves before Him and Satan came also. When

 



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Satan was asked whence he had come he said: "From

going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and

down in it." This is true of him today for we know that

our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh

about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5 :8). It

has been well said that although Satan, by his experi-

ences, is much wiser than when he was first created, yet

in his consistent and constant opposition against God he

still uses his same tactics. We must not be ignorant of

any of his devices. When the Lord delighted Himself in

Job and said to Satan: "Hast thou considered my serv-

ant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a

perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and

escheweth evil," Satan malignantly asked: "Doth Job

fear God for nought?" By this Satan was by so much

arraigning God for His control of affairs, so that it paid

one to serve Him; on the other hand, it was reflecting

upon Job as being one who desired to serve God merely

for gain. God then allows Satan to try Job with the

command that he touch not the person of Job. What a

comforting thought that although the Lord uses means

(Satan and others) to chasten His saints, the means are

ever in His control and He watches over us until His

will in us be accomplished! When We are tempted or

tried we need never fear that God has left us or for-

saken us. He knows His own and cares most tenderly

for them. There is sweetness to be found in Him

through chastisement, be it as severe as it may. In his

first attack upon Job, Satan uses the Chaldeans and the

Sabeans to strip Job not only of his wealth, but of his

children as well. Yet in "all this Job sinned not, nor

charged God foolishly." When Satan had failed the first

time, he answered God when God asked him concerning

righteous Job: "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath

will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now,

and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee

to thy face." So God allowed Job to be tested further

by the infliction by Satan upon Job of a loathesome

disease. When Satan saw he had failed here, he appears

to have used Job's wife to advise him to do what Satan

 



††††††††††††††††††††The Book of Job †††††††††††††††††††† 83

 

said he would, namely: "curse God, and die." Yet "in

all this did not Job sin with his lips."

††††††††† If the purpose of the book were to show how God

can defeat Satan and sustain His saints in trial it might

very well end at this point. But the Lord has much

more in view than this. Job must yet come to an honest

estimate of himself. There were in him elements of

character, self-justification and self-righteousness, which

had not been called forth into display because circum-

stances had not evinced them. Job must recognize them,

judge them, and repent. But, you ask, was not Job a

perfect and righteous man? Just so; and it is here that

God would show us that the best of us has nothing to

boast of, but needs repentance and self-judgment.

††††††††† With this in mind let us take up the trend of the

narrative. Job's friends had come to visit him in his

sore distress. We must remember that they are mere

auxiliaries in God's hands and our attention must be

centered upon Job. It appears that Job could more

easily bear his sorrow alone without his silent friends

sitting about him. Perhaps the contrast in their condi-

tion and his was irksome and distasteful to him. Then

he begins to speak and curses the very day of his birth.

Eliphaz seeks to comfort Job by referring to facts that

he had culled from his experiences. He uses his favor-

ite words--"I have seen"--time and time again. He

I intimates very mildly that the trouble is in Job and that

he should commit his cause to the Lord, for "who ever"

perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous

cut off?" Job, however, is not satisfied with this answer

to his problem and asks to be taught wherein he has

erred, for he claims he is as able as any to "discern per-

verse things." Bildad answers next and maintains that

tradition has ever shown that the punishment of God is

upon the wicked and that "the hypocrite's hopes shall

perish." Job refuses the application of this principle

to himself and bemoans the fact that he has not one to

plead for him with God: "For he is not a man, as I am,

that I should answer him, and we should come together

in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us,

 



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that might lay his hand upon us both" (Job 9 :32,33);

and further: "O that one might plead for a man with

God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!" (Job 16:21).

But blessed be God that we know: "It is Christ that

died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the

right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us"

(Rom. 8 :34), and "he is able also to save them to the

uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever

liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7 :25). For

"there is one God, and one mediator between God and

men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5). Then we have

the advice of Zophar who restricts God's dealings to

hard and fast legalistic principles. He invites Job to

"Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than

thine iniquity deserveth." An exacting God! how unfair

to Him! But Job is still not convinced. And thus the

contention goes on throughout the greater part of the

book with Job's friends condemning him and he trying

to vindicate and comfort himself. Instead, they should

have tried to comfort him, so that he would have been

brought to self-condemnation. In Job's last answer

(chapters 30, 31, and 29) to his "miserable comforters"

and their intimations that he was a hypocrite while he

contended his righteousness and showed glimpses of

great faith (19:25-27), we have Job wishing for the

blessing of former days: "Oh that I were as in months

past, as in the days when God preserved me" (29:2).

But could not God bless him now also? How like so

many of us! When we are undergoing trials and per-

plexities we forget the troubles of the past and the grace

that was daily vouchsafed abundantly to us, and we

long and sigh for "the good old days." Our God is

abundantly able to renew His grace to us day by day

and refresh us in the inner man with His heavenly

manna from His tender hand. But Job continues in his

reminiscences concerning his past honor and dignity.

Can we not feel his mental anguish and troubled heart

as he says "But now"? How Job laments his fate! Can

we not the more then adore Him who when He "was

oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his

 



†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The Book of Job††††††††††††††††††††† 85

 

 

mouth! He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as

a sheep before her shearers IS dumb, so He opened not

His mouth" (Isa. 53:7). And all for us! How our

hearts and lives should go out to Him in adoration,

praise, and grateful service! If Job could only have

said: "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy

sight" (Mt. 11:26). But he continues on in this vein:

"If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted

to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that

God may know mine integrity" (31:5, 6). It has been

well said by Dr. E. J. Pace that there are pride of race,

pride of place, pride of face, but worst of all is pride

of grace. The spiritual Christian can NEVER find any-

thing in himself whereof he can glory, for "He that

glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Cor. 1:31). In

chapter 31 and verse 40 we read "The words of Job are

ended." How different is this ending from the one we

find in Psalm 72:20: "The prayers of David the son of

Jesse are ended"! In the former case Job had been

assiduously attempting to justify himself rather than

God; in the latter David had been praising the Lord for

His abundant mercies and His wondrous works. How

much more honoring to God are "the prayers" of His

saints than "the words" of His saints.

††††††††† Elihu, who had been from all appearances a witness

to these accusations and refutations, now speaks and

rebukes the friends of Job for their inapplicable and

false principles and their misrepresentations of the char-

acter and dealings of God. N or does he excuse Job in

his contentions. He is God's temporary answer to Job's

desire for a Daysman. Elihu delivers himself of a com-

mendable theodicy, and at the same time he shows sym-

pathy and kindness for Job in his plight. The gist of

his argument may be summed up thus: Behold, in this

thou are not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater

than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he

giveth not account of any of his matters" (33:12,13).

And: "far be it from God, that he should do wickedness,

and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity"

(34:10). Does it not remind us of Paul's words in

 



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Romans 9:20: "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that

repliest against God 1 Shall the thing formed say to

him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus

Finally, God out of the whirlwind answers Job and

shows Job his utter insignificance in contrast to His

greatness in all His workings. Job replies at first: "Be-

hold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay

mine hand upon my mouth" (40:4). But Job has more

to learn yet. In his second answer he says: "I have

heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine

eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent

in dust and ashes" (42:5, 6). How like Isaiah this is

who when he saw the Lord delivered himself similarly

as the Word records: "Then said I, Woe is me! for I

am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I

dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine

eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:5).

Job had come now to the place where he knew the

potency of the truth: "For I know that in me (that is,

in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18).

††††††††† Thus far, in the words of James, we have seen "the

patience of Job." Now we see also "the end of the

Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender

mercy" (Jas. 5:11). After Job offered sacrifices for his

three friends according to the command of God, we

read: "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when

he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice

as much as he had before" (42:10). How blessed is that

word "when"! Is It not true that Just when we are

striving in prayer with God for others that He so gra-

ciously and abundantly blesses us also? And can we

not find for our own hearts and lives an application of

this book in the words of the apostle Paul: "For if we

judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we

are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should

not be condemned with the world" (I Cor. 11:31, 32)?

Oh! that we might recognize in our trials and chasten-

ings the good hand of the Lord and turning to Him in

the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ call upon His grace

in time of need!

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

†††††† †††† 3909 Swiss Ave.

††††††††††† Dallas, TX†† 75204††††††††††

www.dts.edu

 

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:thildebrandt@gordon.edu