Grace Theological Journal 13.3 (Fall 1972) 3-33.
Copyright © 1972 by Grace Theological Seminary; cited with permission.
THE BOOK OF JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD
R. LAIRD HARRIS
Professor of Old Testament
Covenant Theological Seminary
A few years ago, there was a man of the East--the eastern
rather famous play called J. O. B., taking his theme from that ancient
man from a distant eastern country, Job. The play was in no sense a
commentary on Job, and it gave a radically different treatment of the
problems of the relation of God, man and evil. But at least we may say
that MacLeish's choice of his title underlines the perennial fascination
of the book of Job, even to those who may not agree with its teaching
land conclusions. It is in every respect a great book. It deals with
some of the deepest problems of man and directs us to the existence of
a sovereign God for their solution. It treats these problems not in a
doctrinaire fashion, but wrestles with them and gives us answers to pro-
claim to a troubled age, to a generation that recognizes the antinomies
of life, but cannot find a meaningful solution for them. We hope in these
studies to see how the ancient godly philosopher and prophet explores
deeply the basic questions of life and offers to the man of faith answers
far wiser than much which passes for wisdom today. But first to turn
to some technical questions.
The Date of Job
Probably the most common view of the date of Job in conservative
circles has been that the book is very old. For example, the Scofield
Reference Bible points to the patriarchal period. The Jewish tradition
enshrined in the Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) says Moses was its author.
This Jewish tradition is quite late. The Talmud was not codified until
The material in this article was originally presented at Grace Theological
Seminary as comprising the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures, February
4 GRACE JOURNAL
the 5th century A. D., and our manuscripts of it come from a still later
period. The tradition may have some value however. It may not be
that the data on authorship was correctly remembered by the Jews
but that they came to the conclusion of early authorship from various
factors that we too can observe.
That there was an ancient worthy by the name of Job is sure a
from Ezekiel , 20, which mentions him along with Noah and Daniel.
The reference is similar to that in Jeremiah 15:1, which uses Moses and
Samuel as ancient types of righteousness. It used to be remarked that
the verses in Ezekiel mean little because Daniel is one of the trio, and
the book of Daniel is now regularly placed in the second century B. C.
We are, of course, not willing to concede the late date of Daniel. A
newly discovered Targum, a Targum of Job, interestingly, argues that
the Aramaic of Daniel does not reflect the language of the second cen-
tury B. C. in
that this Targum of Job was translated about 100 B. C. and shows a later
stage of Aramaic than Ezra or Daniel. In any case, this passage in
Ezekiel is no longer held to be against the early date of Job, for the
reference to Daniel is now differently understood. It is now said that
the Daniel of Ezekiel refers not to the canonical Daniel, but to the Daniel
mentioned in the Ugaritic Texts as an ancient wise man, the father of
the hero, Aqhat. Here again, we may enter a disclaimer. The Daniel
tually Ezekiel does not appeal to these men because they were ancient,
but because they were righteous. But in any case, the verses do assure
us that Ezekiel, about 600 B. C., did know the story of Job.
The only other external evidence for the antiquity of the book
would come from cross references and allusions in other Biblical books.
Proverb is one such passage, with the wording quite similar to
Job . Job says, "Despise not the chastening of the Almighty."
Proverbs says, "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord." The
wording of the two passages is identical in Hebrew, except that Job has
the divine name, Shaddai, which it very frequently uses, and Proverbs
uses the more common name, the Tetragram. It also adds a charac-
teristic proverbial touch, "my son." The force of such a parallel is
debatable, because it is hard to know which book quoted the other,
granted that there was some verbal dependence. The whole chapter is
an encomium of wisdom in terms of a search for wisdom in places which
only God knows. The conclusion is that "the fear of the Lord that is
wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." This conclusion is
quite like Proverbs 1:7; ; and Psalm 111:10. Again the question
is, did Job build a beautiful poem on the subject of wisdom as defined in
Proverbs and use it in his context? Or did Proverbs and the Psalms take
a theme already developed in Job and allude to it In various verses? We
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 5
cannot be sure, but it does seem a little more probable that Proverbs
and Psalms did the borrowing. The matter is somewhat complicated by
the problem of the position of Job 28 itself. Critical commentators feel
that the whole chapter is intrusive. It is indeed distinctive, but there
is no need to object to such a poem being included in Job's asseveration
of his righteousness. Actually the chapter is an important part of Job's
argument. It builds up to a great climax in which Job establishes his
ethical- and moral standard.
Another parallel is between. Job" 71:17 and Psalm 8:5. Job says,
“What is man that you magnify him? The Psalm says, "What is man
that you remember him?" The word "man" in each case is the less
used word for man, ‘enosh making literary interdependence more likely.
Another parallel is Job 2:13 and Proverbs 10:28. Job says, "The hope I
of a profane man shall perish." Proverbs puts it. "The hope of a
wicked man shall perish." The two statements differ only in the words
for a wicked man. The word "profane" is found several times in Job.
It would be more natural for the somewhat unusual word to be found
in the original passage. Another parallel is Isaiah 19:5 with Job 14:11.
The last half of each verse "the waters shall fail from the sea" is iden-
tical. The verses are in different contexts, however, and it would be it
hard to prove which is copied from the other. Another passage showing
a literary parallel is the section in which Job curses his day (Job 3:1-11).
Jeremiah does likewise (Jer. -18). Driver, referring to this pas-
sage, quotes Dillmann as arguing that Job is earlier because more power-
ful and vivid. Driver questions this conclusion because, he says, Job
was written by a greater poet in any case (Introduction to the Literature
of the O.T.,
now support Dillman's argument by reference to allusions in this pas-
sage to Ugaritic motifs (Vs. 8 refers to Leviathan) of which we shall
speak again later. Also, there is a parallel between Job 18 :5, 6 and
Proverbs 13:9. Driver believes that Bildad borrowed from Proverbs.
But Bildad has a four line poem against the "lamp of the wicked.” Pro-
verbs uses only this one phrase as a contrast to the bright shining of
the lamp of the righteous. It is just as likely, perhaps more so, that
Proverbs did the borrowing.
There are also interesting verbal parallels of Job 27:1 and 29:1
With Numbers 23:7, 18; 24:3, 15. Four times the book of Numbers says
Balaam "took up his parable and said." It is probable that the verbal
parallel is only due to a common linguistic usage. But it is interesting
to date that the parallel is with Balaam, another man of the eastern area,
and one living in Moses' day. To sum up, there are a few interesting
verbal parallels with Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, and the Balaam oracles.
These are not conclusive, but incline somewhat toward a pre-monarchy
date for the writing.
6 GRACE JOURNAL
There is also considerable internal evidence for a pre-monarchy
date, or even for Mosaic times. This evidence is of two kinds--com-
parison of the book with Biblical data and comparison with the general
archaeological picture of early times. On the first point, it has been
widely noticed that the picture of Job's sacrificial ritual is like that of
the patriarchs and bears no relation to the tabernacle ritual of Moses'
day and later. Job served as a priest in his own house, as Abraham
did, and as Melchizedek seems to have done. Of course, this may have
been due to Job's locale as a righteous man off in the East believing
the scene is patriarchal. At the same time, the book mentions names
the patriarchal circle. The
Abraham's nephew (Gen. 22:21) and Elihu the Buzite belonged to the clan
headed by the brother of Oz. Bildad the Shuhite was a descendant of
Abraham himself, by Keturah (Gen. 25:2). Presumably, the reason this
got into the circle of
were distant cousins of the Israelites. We may even get a glimpse here
of those other godly men of Abraham's day who like Melchizedek, Wor-
shipped the true God though they were not in Abraham's immediate family.
When God called Abraham to found the theocracy, there were others
around who shared Abraham's faith.
There is another ancient touch, hard to evaluate. It is the use
of the divine name Shaddai. This and Eloah are the characteristic names
for God in Job and are used sparingly elsewhere. Shaddai occurs some
thirty times in Job, six times in the Pentateuch and seldom elsewhere.
The matter is complicated first because we are not sure of its origin,
and secondly, critics have argued that the P document teaches in Exodus
6:3 that all instances of "Jehovah" before Moses are anachronistic and
are therefore useful for separating out Pentateuchal documents.
Personally, I am of the opinion that the word is borrowed from
Akkadian or Amorite and was indeed used early in
feel the derivation from the word for "breast" is fanciful and does not
explain what seems to be an archaic Lemedh-He ending. The hard "d"
need not be a doubling, but a preservation of the old Akkadian pronun-
ciation which had no soft "d." And the Akkadian shalu means mountain,
which would be a very suitable expression of the eternality of God. The
Psalmist often applies the Hebrew word, mountain, zur to God. If this
be the etymology of the word, its use would be an archaic touch.
We need not agree with critical source division of Genesis to be-
lieve that "Jehovah" was more widely used in late Hebrew than in early
times. It may have been a Hebrew word and if so, would have been
less used by the patriarchs who learned Canaanite as their second
language. It is notable that none of the patriarchal families use the
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 7
element Jehovah in their names. Shaddai--names also are rare, though
the two we know are Pentateuchal, Zurlshaddal and Shedeur.
There is little else internally to date the book. The mention of
domesticated camels in 1:3 would indicate to the Albright: school that the
book was later than the 13th century. But the date of domestication of
camels is in dispute. It may be that in the settled areas camels were
not common, but that nomads of the desert used them earlier. At least
Abraham also had his camels. The mention of iron (; ; 28:2;
40:18; 41 :27) also might indicate a date after 1200 B. C. when the iron
age began. But the occasional mention of iron at an earlier day is not
surprising for iron was used in small amounts long before the discovery
of better methods of iron working which made its use common in about
1200 B. C. Two talents of iron--about 150 pounds--are mentioned in a
Ugaritic tablet from Moses' day. Marvin Pope, in his Anchor Bible
Commentary on Job, points out that the unit of money (or item of jew-
elry) mentioned Job qesita is mentioned elsewhere only in Gen.
33:19 and its parallel, Josh. 24:32. Job's longevity also--140 years after
his trial--is of the patriarchal vintage.
Secondly, as to the historical background of Job, it seems to fit
well with ideas and literature of the second millennium B. C. Pope re-
marks that "the ideas championed by Job's friends were normative in
Mesopotamian theology from the early second millennium B. C." (p.
XXXV) and he compares several works on suffering: From Egypt, the
Dispute over Suicide and the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, and from
Akkadian work I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom, also called The Baby-
lonian Job, describes a sufferer who recovers, and the Dialogue About
Human Misery sometimes called the Babylonian Ecclesiastes is on a
similar topic. Pope offers extracts from these works. They can be
read conveniently in ANET. It should be noted that these works con-
sider the problem of suffering, as does the book of Job, but their answer
is quite different. Pope -is accurate in stating that they agree by and
large with the viewpoint of the three comforters. That is, they teach
that wickedness brings suffering and righteousness blessing. But the real
answer of Job was distinctive and far above his comforters and different
from these early treatments. However, it is of importance to notice that .
the Subje.ct received extensive treatment in early times and thus Job fits
well agamst the background of that day.
Many, however, including Pope, have given a later date. Pfeiffer
(Introduction to the O. T. ) gives a date of about 600 B. C. Driver dated
think "most probably to the period of the Babylonian captivity" (Intro-
duction to the Literature of the O. T.,
1892, p. 405). A. Bentzen is uncertain. He places the date of the book
8 GRACE JOURNAL
after the discussion of retribution in Ezekiel 18 and before the refer- c
ences to "the prophet Job who maintained all the ways of righteousness" ft ,
Ecclesiasticus 49:9. (Introduction to the O.T. 4th
G.E.C. Gad, 1958 Vol. II, p. 179). Eissfeldt is not positive, but says
"we should probably think of the post-exilic period, and perhaps most
probably of the later period rather than the earlier, i. e., about the
fourth century. The language of the book fits in with this, for it often
reveals an Aramaic coloring," (The O.T., an Introduction tr. by Peter
and his arguments seem now to be invalidated by the Dead Sea Scrolls
and better knowledge of the Aramaic language. Fragments of Job are
found among the Dead Sea Scrolls actually dating from about 200 B. C.
They are written in the paleo- Hebrew Script implying that there was a
considerable history of copying behind them. And now to the further
surprise of many, the Targum referred to above, an Aramaic trans la-
tion of Job, has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The copy is
from about A. D. 50, but the translation itself is dated by the editors at
about 100 B. C. Evidently Job was already a loved and famous book in
the second century B.C.
More scholars have now veered toward a pre-exilic date. Al-
bright dated it in "the sixth or fifth century B. C." (Supplement to Vetus
Testamentum 3, -1960, p. 14). Pope hesitatingly suggests the seventh
B. C. before the movements that brought the destruction of
(p. xxxvii) as the date of the dialogue but does not commit himself on the
unity of the book. As we hope to show later, there are cross references
from the main body of the book to every other part. There is therefore
no need to question its unity and to say that it existed for centuries in
partial form. Some have declared that the references to Satan betray
Persian influence. Strange then that there are no Persian words in the
book! Satan is a name of Hebrew derivation, not Persian. Actually,
the theology of the book should not be used as a datum for dating be-
cause opinions will differ as to whether advanced theology indicates late
borrowing or early revelation.
It wouid be nice if the language of Job could be used to indicate
the date, but we do not have contemporary Hebrew--or eastern--dialects
to use as a standard. The language of Job is difficult and must be dis-
cussed shortly, but it has been variously evaluated and can give us little
help on the problem of dating.
In the absence of definite evidences for late dating and in view
of numerous indications of a patriarchal milieu, it seems possible to
hold to a Mosaic or slightly pre-Mosaic date in accord with much old
Jewish and Christian sentiment. However, the New Testament does not
speak on either Job's authorship or date, and the date is not of theological
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 9
concern. We may therefore hold our conclusion provisionally expecting
further light, especially from linguistic studies.
Job and the Canon
In our Hebrew Bibles, Job is the second or the third book in the
third division called the writings. Practically all the works on O. T.
introduction, both conservative and critical, trace this three-fold divi-
sion back as far as the prologue to Ecclesiasticus about 130 B. C. Crit-
ical scholars suppose that the third division in the canon was placed last
in the collection because it was latest in time. The canon is said to
have developed in three stages with the law being canonized first at about
400 B.C., the prophets second at 200 B.C., and the writings last at
about A. D. 90. This final canonization was the work of the council of
Jamnia. The idea is that the books of the third division were not gen-
erally enough accepted to be included in the second division at 200 B. C .,
On this view, Job was finished at least at a relatively late date and at-
tained canonical status only after 200 B. C. Some more recent scholars
who would place Job in pre-exilic times do not face the question as to
why it was not included in the earlier canonical divisions.
Conservative scholars like E. J. Young and R. K. Harrison sug-
gest that the tri-partite division was due to different types of authorship,
rather than to different stages of canonization. (E. J. Young, An Intro-
duction to the O.T.,
Introduction to the O.T.,
p. 284.) The claim is that the second division was written by prophets
and the third division by men who had the prophetic gift, but not the
prophetic office. This characterization would apparently apply to the
author of Job. I have elsewhere argued against this view (R. L. Harris,
Canonicity of the Bible,
pp-129ff, 170ff). There is no biblical support for the distinction made
between a prophet by office and a prophet by gift. Of course, in the
case of Job, the matter is the more uncertain because, if Job were not
the author, we have no valid information as to who was. Ecclesiasticus
speaks of "the prophet Job" but his witness is too late to help, except
that it reveals the attitude of Judaism of the second century B. C.
authenticating character of the Biblical books. These books and no others
Won their way first into Hebrew hearts, and therefore into the Jewish
canon. Job is surely a book that would have commanded wide acceptance
by the people of God.
A further point, however, is important and is usually neglected
by O. T. students. It is by no means certain that the division of books
10 GRACE JOURNAL
found in Our Hebrew Bibles is the division common among the ancient
Jews. Indeed, there is positive evidence that it was not. The present
three-fold division with five books in the law, eight in the prophets, and
eleven in the writings, cannot be traced back of the Talmud which was
codified in the fifth century. There is a three-fold division mentioned
in Ecclesiasticus, as stated above, but there is no proof that it was our
three-fold division. On the contrary, Josephus, earlier than the Talmud,
evidences a differing three-fold division with five books in the law, thir-
teen in the prophets, and only four in the writings. From his termin-
ology, it is clear that Josephus regarded such a book as Job-also Chron-
icles, Daniel and others--as among the prophets. This evidence fits
much better the reference in Ecclesiasticus to Job as a prophet and in
Matthew 24:15 to Daniel as a prophet. Far too long, the Talmud has
been used as the point of reference in canonical studies. Earlier Wit-
ness leads to quite different results.
Actually the three-fold division of the canon was not the only one.
N. T., the LXX and the
was also an ancient two-fold division of the canon into the Law and the
prophets. This too I have argued elsewhere and need not pursue. But,
according to this division, Job would Pave been from early times accorded
the place of a prophetic book. As a consequence, we cannot use the
position of Job in the Hebrew Bible to argue either for a late or early
date of its composition. Job was accepted, as far as our scanty evi-
dence goes, from the time of its writing. If its prophetic authorship
were acknowledged then, as it was believed later, this would doubtless
have settled the matter of the acceptance of the book. In any case, the
majesty of the style of Job and its .other marks of divine inspiration
would have commended itself to the ancient Hebrews. We need not doubt
that it was accepted as canonical from the time of its writing, although
the details are lost in the mists of antiquity.
The Language of Job
It is agreed on all sides that Job is a great book, as well as a
beautiful one. It is also agreed by students beginning work in Hebrew
poetry that Job is a difficult book to translate. Those who specialize in
statistics say that there are more hapax legomena used in Job than in
any other O. T. book. And the problems of translation are not entirely
lexical either. There are unusual forms and some strange usages which,
unless recognized, will lead the translator astray. An extreme example:
of the difficulty of translation is exhibited in the strange verse of the
A V in 36:33. "The noise of it showeth concerning it; the cattle also
concerning the vapor"--a verse which as it stands is quite meaningless!
The language is so unusual that some (F. H. Foster referred to in M.
Pope, Job- The Anchor Bible, Garden City: Doubleday, 1965, p. XLIV
JOB AND ITS OOCTRINE OF GOD 11
hereafter called: Pope, Job) have supposed that the book was written in
Arabic and what we have is a translation into Hebrew. If this be true,
I would suggest that the translator did a poor job of rendering the work
into Hebrew! On the face of it, such a view is unnatural. The first
written Abrabic we have is from the 5th century A. D., and the first lit-
erature of any extent comes after the Hejira. It would be odd if our
only monument of ancient written Arabic were in Hebrew!
It is true, however, that there are some words in Job that are
neatly explained by reference to Arabic. For instance in 23:9, the words
"work" and "hide" in the AV may be derived from words meaning "turn"
in the Arabic. Also the word "drops" in the AV of 38:28, "the drops
of dew" is found elsewhere only in Arabic. Again in 30:7, 17, the word
for "flee" or "rest" in the AV and found only here has an Arabic cognate
"gnaw." (Though the sense hardly fits--to gnaw the wilderness! Com-
mentators must supply something!) Actually, the Syriac has the same
word, so an Arabic origin is not proved. Indeed, this example shows
the difficulty of proving an Arabic original for a word. A root may be
known at present only in Arabic and in Job, but our known vocabulary of
ancient Aramaic is woefully small and the word in question may have been
used in Aramaic also. Only occasionally can the phonetic differences
between Aramaic, Arabic and other languages be used to identify the
original language of the word concerned.
An example may be given from Job 35:10. The word "songs"
of A V is translated by Pope as "protection" deriving it from the Arabic
root d m r "who gives protection in the night." But the root also is
now recognized in this sense in Ugaritic as a name of Baal (though not
so recognized in Cyrus Gordon's Ugaritic Textbook, Glossary) (Pope,
Job in loc.).
A word on the place of Aramaic. There have been others who
thought Job was written in Aramaic and translated into Hebrew. On the
face of it, this view would be more natural, for Aramaic was used to
east and north of
esis 31:47, Laban spoke Aramaic and it would be quite possible to hold
that Job did too. There are several Aramaic touches in the book. In
16:19, the same pair of words for witness is found, as is used by Jacob
and by Laban in Genesis 31:47, Galeed and Jegar-Sahadutha, and the
word sahed is used nowhere else in the Bible. Students of beginning
Hebrew will be relieved to find that the verb qatal does occur in Biblical
Hebrew--twice in Job and once in Psalm 139, which has several Aramaic
touches. By contrast, it occurs seven times in the short Aramaic sec-
tions of Daniel and Ezra. Again, milla meaning word occurs several
times in Job. This in itself is not surprising. It also occurs a number
of times in other Hebrew poetry as a synonym of dabar. But in Job,
12 GRACE JOURNAL
the plural of milla thirteen times has the typical ending of the Aramaic
noun--iyn. Job also uses the Hebrew masc. pl. form in--iym ten times.
The force of this example is slightly blunted by the fact that Phoenician
and Moabite also use this ending. It was not peculiar to Aramaic.
Other words cited as rare in Hebrew, but appearing in Aramaic
are hap "clean" (33:9); naka "smite" (30:8) and zacak "'extinguish" (Job
17:1). The last example is curious for it presents an argument in re-
verse. This word is the same as another word dacak "extinguish" which
is used five times in Job, three in Proverbs, and once in Isaiah and in
Psalms. The two words are cognate roots. But according to ordinary
Semitic phonetic law, the root with "d" should be Aramaic and the one
with "z" should be Hebrew. So it is Job that shows a variety of usage
and the other books which use only the Aramaic form.
There is another Aramaic form of some interest for it shows
mixture. In 37:4, the AV "stay them" (yecaqqebem) comes from an
Aramaic root cqb meaning to "hold back." But it now seems that the
final "m" is not the pronoun "them" but the enclitic "m" common in
Ugaritic. It would therefore seem that the form is not an Aramaism
but an archaic form sharing some features of Ugaritic and some of later
Aramaic. It should be pointed out that several grammatical features
formerly thought to be Aramaic are now seen to be native to old Can-
aanite, as evidenced in Ugaritic--so much so that Albrecht Goetze even
classified Ugaritic as Aramaic. Most now hold that these features were
simply early Canaanite, some of which survived in or were borrowed
into Aramaic. In short, many features formerly called Aramaisms (and
words called "late and poetic" in Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lex-
icon) are now seen to be archaic.
It should be recognized that Job's peculiarities are not limited to
Arabic and Aramaic evidences. The word for "vapor" in Job 36:27 (A V)
is used elsewhere only in Genesis 2 :6. The old translation "mist" or
"vapor" was a guess. The word can now be identified as borrowed
through the Akkadian from the Sumerian. It means "river" and refers
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Vol. II, (1968) p. 177).
Another Sumerian word may be concealed in the word for the constella-
tion Mazzaroth (39:32 and "north" in 37:9 A V). It is possible that the
reflects the "1" of the Sumerian word for stars which still appears
in the Jewish greeting "Mazal tov"--good luck!
There are also Akkadian influences in Job. In 33:6, man is said
to be a creature "nipped from clay" i. e., created from, or of, the earth.
The same expression occurs in the Gilgamesh Epic. Interestingly, it
also occurs in the hymns of the Dead Sea Community, doubtless in
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 13
on Job. (Pope, lob in loco and T. H. Gaster, The
Scriptures, rev. ed. Garden City: Doubleday, 1964, p. 133).
In 29:4, the word "secret" in A V is difficult but is cognate to the
Akkadian sadadu meaning "to protect." "The protection of God was over
In other cases, however, words in Job which are cognate to Akka-
dian are also found in Ugaritic. An example given by Pope (Job in loc.)
is the root cmq which usually means "valley" and is so translated by AV
in 39:21. But a better sense is gotten from the meaning "strength" at-
tested in Akkadian and Ugaritic both.
One could well wonder if the peculiarities of Job were due more
to similarities to the old Ugaritic material than to either Arabic, Ara-
maic or Akkadian. The borrowed Akkadian words concerned are few,
although we have an extensive Akkadian vocabulary for comparison. Our
vocabulary of old North Arabic is nil, and of Aramaic is limited. Even
our Ugaritic comprises only a fraction of that dialect. So it is well to
be cautious. But Ugaritic influences are of various kinds, both in vo-
cabulary, grammar, and concept. It would seem more likely that Job
was more indebted to the northern and western Ugaritic neighbors.
Only a few of the Ugaritic parallels need be given --more are
pointed out by Pope who has made an important contribution to the study
of Ugaritic in his book El in the Ugaritic Texts etc. The word "ac-
quaint" of AV in is better taken with the sense "yield" as in the
shaphel conjugation in Ugaritic. The word "one" of A V in could
perhaps be the Ugaritic )hd cognate to Hebrew )hz_and the phrase would
mean "He, when he takes hold of a person. . . Pope prefers a slight
emendation looking in a different direction. In 36:28, the word "abun-
dantly" of AV is better taken as the Ugaritic rb "showers." In 39:14,
the word "leaveth" of A V is better taken as the Ugaritic cdb cognate to
Hebrew czb meaning "set," "part" (Gordon, Ugaritic Studies in Glossary)
and refers-according to Pope (Job, in loc.) following M. Dahood to the
ostrich laying her eggs in the sand. In 39:25, the word "among" of the
is read bd
by Pope and
trumpet "blast"--"at the blast of the trumpet he saith Aha!"
A more significant borrowing from the Ugaritic is found in 36:30,
33 where the preposition "upon" or "concerning" of AV is taken to be a
shorter form of Elyon, the Most High as is witnessed to in Ugaritic.
This rendition of the preposition cal is used repeatedly by Dahood in his
studies on the Psalms, also in the Anchor Bible Series. The difficult
vs. 33 would read: "The Most High speaks in thunder; his anger burns
14 GRACE JOURNAL
There are other similarities of Job to the Ugaritic literature.
The use of an enclitic "m" on the end of verbs Occurs in Ugaritic as it
does in Akkadian. The occasional use of this feature in Biblical poetry
is now widely recognized and several instances where "m" formerly was
thought to be a 3 masc. pl. objective pronoun are now classed as the
enclitic "m." One instance has been noted above, job 37:4. Other prob-
able cases are ; 17:1 and 24:1. Also, Gordon remarks (C. H. Gordon
that "waw" always stands first in a coordinating situation, but may be
delayed if it is in a subordinate clause. The Masoretes punctuated 36:7
so that the second "waw" began a new clause. Pope gets better sense
by translating "with kings on the throne he seats them." Also the later
"waw" in this verse may be so treated: "and they are exalted forever."
There are some cases of Ugaritic phrases used in Job. In the
difficult poem on wisdom, 28:11 the AV says "He binds the floods from
overflowing." The context apparently speaks of mining operations where
precious stones are found but not wisdom. The phrase in 28:11 mibbekiy
neharot has been taken as the preposition min, plus the root "to weep."
But there is another root nebek meaning "spring" used only in Job 38:16.
This root was suggested already in Brown. Driver, Briggs for 28:11 and now
phrase is found in Ugaritic as the word for the
"sources of the two
Ivers" where the dwelling of the Ugaritic deity El stood. The idea is that
the miners reach the deep springs of water in their search for treasures.
Another such instance is 36:13, .where the phrase "hypocrites in
heart" AV is the same phrase "impious-minded" (Pope, Job in loc.),
applied to the evil actions of the goddess Anath.
From this brief survery of lexical and grammatical features, we
come to the astonishing conclusion that the book of Job is difficult He-
brew'! But it may be said with some confidence that it is not difficult
because it is late and aramaic, or late and Arabic in flavor. It shares
some of these peculiarities regardless of their date or origin. But it ,
also evidences touches of Mesopotamian language and clearly shows sim-
ilarities to the old Canaanite dialect of
the author lived in
a crossroads of caravans from
gentleman of the sons of the East, he would have had an international
outlook and connections such as the book of job shows. We do not know
enough about ancient dialects to date Job by its language. But there are
indications that it would fit an early date, better than the later.
The Literature of Job
The structure of the book is well known. There is a prose in-
troduction and conclusion. In between, there is an extensive poetic di-
alogue. Job, in great affliction raises the problem of innocent suffering.
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 15
There are two rounds of speeches of Job and his three friends, Eliphaz,
Bildad and Zophar. On the third circuit, Eliphaz speaks, then Job, then
Bildad speaks very briefly. Job gives a long speech ending with an oath
The place of a third speech by Zophar is taken by a young upstart,
Elihu, who is amazed that older heads have not put Job in his place.
When Elihu is finished, or perhaps interrupting Elihu, Jehovah speaks to
Job out of the storm. He speaks twice with Job and Job briefly responds
each time in faith and humility. This leads to the final prose section
chronicling Job's restoration to God's favor, to health, and to prosperity.
There is no Biblical parallel to the structure of Job, and no close
parallel in ancient literature to the format, although, as mentioned ear-
lier, there are other treatments of the problems raised. The problems
of the suffering of the innocent and the prosperity of the wicked have
perplexed many and are treated by the Psalmists. Asaph asked "Will
the Lord cast off forever?" but confessed "this is my infirmity, but I
will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High" (Ps. 77:
7-10). He trusted that his affliction would be removed in God's time.
Psalm 88 is full of complaint, but does not see through the problem to
an answer. Psalm 37:35 complains that the wicked prosper "like a
green bay tree." But the answer is that the wicked man is soon gone.
Psalm 73 comes closest to the thought of Job. The double problem of
the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked is solved
in the sanctuary of God and, like Job, the Psalmist's thought is directed
to God alone in heaven. But Job draws out the argument in extensu and
reaches a grander expression of his conclusion.
Efforts, of course, have been made to fragment the book of Job,
as has been done with almost every other O. T. book. The prose parts
at the beginning and end have been cut off. The speeches of Elihu and
of Jehovah at the end have been called additions. Chapter 28 on wisdom
has been questioned as an intrusion.
Some conclusions are not only unnecessary, they go against the
positive indications in the book of a unity. And there are other ancient
compositions (e. g., the Protests of the Eloquent Peasant, ANET, pp.,
405ff) which have a poetic body sandwiched between a prose introduction
It is true that the Tetragram YHWH is used in the introduction
and conclusion, but not in the poetry. But 38:1 uses it to introduce
Jehovah's highly poetic reply to Job from the storm. Also it seems that
Bildad in Job 8:4 refers to the catastrophe that killed Job's sons as re-
lated in the introduction. There are many places where one speaker in
the dialogue refers to what another has said. The reference to man born
16 GRACE JOURNAL
of woman being born to trouble is given by Eliphaz in 5:7, by job in
14:1 and by Eliphaz again in and by Bildad in 25:4. Job's long
speech in 38 :34 quotes a line of Eliphaz, . Also Job in 27:20 re-
peats a previous phrase of . The Elihu speech of 34:3 repeats Job's
of . The same is true
of 33:11 with . Even
dom chapter 28:26 is paralleled in the speech by Jehovah in 38:25.
It is of some interest that the newly discovered Aramaic trans- .
lation of Job (J. P. M. Van .der Ploeg and A. S. Van der Woude Le Targum
of course fragmentary. There are only two or three such instances of
dislocation covered by the preserved text of the Targum (e. g., Pope's
insertion of 26:1-4 between 27:1 and 2 and the dislocation of 31:38-40
in N.E.B. ) But to the several dislocations alleged by the New English,
Bible, by Pope and other commentators, the Targum gives no support.
On the other hand, the Targum has one verse dislocated in job's second
response to the Lord (40:5 replaces 42:3). The witness of the Targum,
of course, cannot be pressed. It only goes back to about 100 B. C., but
such as it is, it is in the direction of the integrity of the text of Job.
The LXX text of Job presents problems of its own. Origen and
Jerome say that it was considerably shorter than the Hebrew, but our
major manuscripts do not show these lacunae. They presumably have
been filled out from Theodotion or some other Source. The Old Latin
witnesses to the shorter text, but this witness is fragmentary and it is
hard to evaluate Origen's witness without more information. The Wit-
ness of the new Targum is the more welcome, as it reaches back almost
to the days of the original LXX translation.
As to the poetry and style of the book of Job, it may be helpful
to apply to it remarks I have made elsewhere on the Psalms ("The
Psalms" in The Biblical Expositor, ed. C. F. H. Henry, Phila: Holman,
1960, Vol. II). It is well known that Hebrew poetry is characterized
by parallelism and the use of synonymous expressions to gain repetition.
But the secret of great Hebrew poetry is not its rhyme and meter. Mere
rhyme and meter may be found in English doggerel like the Mother Goose
rhymes for children. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But we can
hardly say that he fell in great verse! So it is with Hebrew poetry.
The poetry of Job is great because it deals in magnificent ways with
great subjects. The thought and conception is great. For this reason,
it is great poetry, even in a fairly literal translation, such as that of
the A V. I once had a friend, in the family, not a Bible student or
scholar, who characterized the lines in Job 38:7 as the most beautiful
in the English language. : ."Who laid its cornerstone, when the morn-
ing stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" The
intensity of Job's trial is shown in the introduction with the successive
reports of calamity punctuating his peace like pistol shots in the night.
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 17
The depth of his trial is revealed in his facing in its stark reality the
awfulness of the problem of a good God who grants no justice. Note that
Job spends very little time on his physical ailments. Not once does he
tell us where it hurts! Because Job's hurt is the hurt of the heart of
lost humanity. And by the same token, the book rises out of the depths
of despair to confident heights of faith and revelation of God. Some
commentators profess to find contradictions in Job's speeches and even
assign part of his last speech to Zophar. They fail to realize that Job
is grappling with what some today call the antinomies of existence. He
sees the problem deeply. But he never lets go completely of his faith
that these problems of earth have an answer in God. And he rises al-
most to the beatific vision in his assurance that he himself with his own
eyes will behold God and then all will be well. But as in the case of
Martha, whose hope was for her brother's future resurrection, God
graciously gave a larger promise. Jesus said to Martha, "I am the
resurrection and the life." And to Job, God said I am the Almighty
God. In my protection you are secure. Pope is correct that the "book
presents profundities surpassing those that may be found in any of its
parts. ..the values men cherish, the little gods they worship--family,
home, nation, race, sex, wealth, fame--all fade away. . . confidence
in this One is the only value not subject to time." (Pope, Job, p.
lxxvii). Job is great literature. And it has answers from God.
Mythology? or Revelation?
In addition to all the problems raised by the unusual dialect of
the book of Job and the problems of the theology yet to be considered,
there are problems that we turn to now concerning the alleged mythical .
background of the rook.
A prominent feature of the book of Job is the reference to Behe-
moth and Leviathan in Chapters 40 and 41. What are these creatures?
They are famous enough that an ocean liner was named after one and
the other has become a s~onym for something of jumbo size. It is
Possible that these are ancient names for actual animals and the hippo-
patamus and crocodile have most often been nominated. However, ad-
vancing study of ancient times and, especially the discovery of the myth-
to the mythology of the cultures surrounding
question before us is, must we recognize in Job such mythology and if
so, does it present theological problems?
The problem concerns not only Job, but Psalms, Isaiah and pas-
sages in a few other books as well. Leviathan is mentioned by name
in Psalm 74:14; 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1, as well as in Job 3:8 and 41:1.
The reference in Isaiah calls Leviathian the fleeing serpent, the crooked
18 GRACE JOURNAL
serpent. The former expression is found also in Job 26:13 in a con-
text that also may be mythological. Pope <IDE. in loc.) says that the re-
ference in Job 26:13 is to the dragon that causes eclipses! The line in is
Isaiah is very much like a Ugaritic text: "Because thou didst smite
Lotan, the writhing serpent/didst destroy the crooked serpent/the ac -
cursed one of seven heads" (C. H. Gordon Ugaritic Literature, a Com-
p. 138). The words "writhing" and "crooked" are: those used in the Isaiah
passage. Furthermore Leviathan in Psalm 74:14 is pictured as multi-
headed. It looks very much as if Leviathan sometimes in the Bible is
a name for a mythological monster. This seven-headed monster is pic-
tured on a seal and on a piece of shell as a somewhat dinosaur-like
creature with seven heads placed one below another on the long neck.
A hero with a spear is seen on the seal having pierced the lower four
heads of the dragon. Apparently the seal depicts the conquest of Levi-
athan, or Lotan as the Ugaritic pronunciation has it. It is pictured in
The question is, how does such a description of Leviathan fit in
with Biblical revelation'", The answer is not too difficult. The Bible uses
the mythology of antiquity without approving of it. The symbolism of
Daniel is instructive. In Daniel 7. the first kingdom, the Babylonian, is
symbolized by a lion with eagle's wings. This symbol is well-known
from Mesopotamian architecture. In Daniel's vision, God used this sym-
bol to identify
symbol. Actually the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7 with ten horns;
is pictured again in Revelation 13 as a dragon with seven heads and ten
horns. The devil in Revelation 12 is also pictured as a dragon with
seven heads. Presumably these instances tell us that the old mytholog-
ical symbol of an evil dragon is used as a symbol of the devil and his
minions. We may conclude that mythological symbols are used in the
Bible for purposes of illustration and communication of truth without in
the least adopting the mythology or approving of its ideas.
Albright argues that this process was widespread
and calls it "demythologizing,” though rejecting the Bultmannian overtones
that word. (Albright, Yahweh and the Gods
Doubleday, 1968, pp. 183-207). He gives examples of pagan deities or
which were part of
pagan meaning before they were made a part of
His example is the word "cereal" which we use daily without in the
slightest taking part in the worship of the goddess Ceres or believing
that she spent half of her time in the underworld.
Albright makes the flat statement, "It may confidently be stated
that there is no true mythology anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. What we
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 19
have consists of vestiges--what may be called the 'debris' of a past re-
ligious culture" (op. cit. p. 185). Actually Albright goes farther than
is necessary in finding examples in the Bible. He assumes that the word
tehom in Gen. 1:2 comes from the ancient myths of Marduk's fight with
Tiamat when he created the world from her carcass. Albright believes
the old story was demythologized. Actually, we should remember that
many of the ancient deities were named after natural objects and forces.
Deus means sky, Chronos means time, Tiamat and tehom mean fresh
water, Yamm means sea. All of these items were deified probably be-
cause of animistic ideas. It is not clear that tehom first meant the
deity of the water, then became demythologized into water. Rather it
was the reverse. There was a god Yamm in Ugaritic who was god of
the sea, but the meaning "sea" in all probability came first, not vice-
versa. And usually when the word yamm is used in the Hebrew Bible,
it is used without any reference to a deity of the sea at all.
Nevertheless, it is true that in Job there are several instances
where mythological items are referred to and we should recognize these
t without conclu~ing. that the bo.ok had. pagan overtones in its make-up.
These are studied in a perceptive article by Elmer B. Smick, Mytho-
logy and the Book of Job," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Vol XIII part 2, 1970, pp. 101-8.
Job cursed his day at the beginning of his dialogue. In the pro-
cess, he calls for a curse from those who curse the day (yom)” or
"those who curse yamm (God of the Sea), those skilled to rouse Levia-
than. "This mythological reference is only an allusion and means no
more than our use of Norse deities for the names of the days of the
week. But it is probable that there is here an allusion to evil deities.
Other references to the sea as a deity may be found in .
"Am I the Sea God (Yamm) or the Sea Serpent (Tannin) that you set a
guard over me?" asks Job, and in 9:8, Job acknowledges God as creator
of the stars "who treads on the high places of the sea." The idea of
"high places of the sea" is peculiar. The corresponding word in Ugari-
tic means the "back" of an animal or man or god (C. H. Gordon Ugari-
tic Studies--Glossary). Therefore, the suggestion is that God the cre-
ator is pictured as trampling on the back of the god, Yamm, in confining
the sea to its borders. A word of caution may be expressed. These
may be references to mythology, but again, the words yamm and tannin
have literal meanings which are not impossible in these two contexts.
We may find here the mythological motifs, but also we may have some
In , close to the yamm context, there is the mention of the
"helpers of Rahab" who bow under him. Rahab is mentioned again in
20 GRACE JOURNAL
26:12: by his strength he put the sea (or the Sea God Yamm) to rest;
by his wisdom he smote Rahab." The following verses speak of his
conquering the fleeing serpent as already mentioned. It is true that
Rahab can mean "proud ones," and to quell the sea is a natural figure,
but it is perhaps more likely in these contexts that Job celebrates the
power of God in conquering the evil and proud mythological deities of
Another pair of deities is found by some in Job 38 :36. "Who
hath put wisdom in the inward parts (tuhot) or who hath given under-
standing to the heart (sekwiy)?" Here Pope (Job, in loc.) and others
find mention of the Egyptian god of wisdom Thoth and Mercury (Coptic:
Souchi). Albright accepts the translation Thoth, but declares the alleged
Coptic name of Mercury arose by a modern mistake (op. cit. p. 245ff).
The traditional translation of the words seems quite enough this pas-
Another alleged reference to a pagan god is in 5:7, "Man is born
to trouble as sparks (sons of Resheph) fly upward." Resheph was indeed
the god of burning and pestilence but resheph also referred to literal fire
and pestilence. The sons of Resheph are not understandable in this con-
text if it refers to a deity. The traditional rendering is satisfactory.
There are a few other alleged mythological renderings, but they
are probably not necessarily so. The references to Behemoth and Levi-
athan in 40 and 41 remain to be considered.
The word Behemoth is merely the plural of the word "cattle."
The plural of majesty or excellence could thus designate a big cow-like!
beast and the hippopotamus has been suggested. Pope (Job. in loc.)
adopts the mythological interpretation and speaks of the human-headed
of heaven pictured like the water buffalo of the swamps above
What was said above is applicable here. There was a bull of heaven in
mythology and the Behemoth could have been that. This reference in Job
if could be, on the other hand, a literal water buffalo. Or it could have
been a hippopotamus with which Palestinians were familiar, even though
animals did not live in the
that they did. Mention of the strong tail, however, fits neither the buf-
falo nor hippopotamus. I would suggest that most fearsome of beasts,
the elephant. The elephant even more than the hippopotamus drinks up
the river at a gulp and the African elephant is not tamed. It is true
that the elephant's tail also is minimal, but the astonishing feature of
an elephant is the appendage at the other end. Is it not possible that
the Hebrew znb could refer to trunk equally as well as tail?
Leviathan is here pictured not as an evil deity, but as an animal.
Again, we remember that the deity was usually invented by investing a
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 21
normal object or animal with divine powers. There was probably at some
time a literal animal called Leviathan. If this reference in Job is the
deity Leviathan, it is odd that his main feature, his seven heads, is not
mentioned. Rather his natural parts and physical strength and ferocity
are dwelt upon. The sparks and smoke from his nostrils surely are
but hyperbole. Whether it refers to the crocodile or to a whale, we
perhaps cannot be sure. 'Obviously, it is a creature of the sea which
was so greatly feared that in mythology it became worshipped.
This is, I believe the extent of the mythology of Job. We turn
now to its theology.
The Theology of Job: The Character of God
We come in this last section to the climax of the book of Job
which is, as all realize, the revelation of God who speaks to Job out of
the whirlwind. Job in his agony had sought for God and asked to set out
his case before God. He had pleaded his innocence before God. Now at
last God speaks and Job, though the confrontation is not what he had asked
for, nonetheless has the answer to his deepest desire and he is satisfied.
There is somewhat of a problem in studying the subject of the
character of God in the book of Job, for much of the book is fallacious
in its revelation. We can say this reverently, of course. All of the
book is inspired and actually all the characters except Satan express
some elements of truth, but at least the speeches of the three comfort-
ers are not normative for theology. Job himself, as .we have seen, grew
in his faith and understanding. Surely Job's idea of life after death
progressed greatly during the course of his trial. Some things Job
said about God are true. Some things are not. So, much of the di-
alogue is not divine teaching and for fully authoritative teaching about
God, we are restricted to the speeches of Jehovah at the end and to the
prose framework at the start and finish of the book. We may remark
that the case is somewhat like that in Ecclesiastes. There also, there
is much in the book that is preliminary to the conclusion. The author
there tries various philosophies of life and finds them false. He is shut
up to the final conclusion that the chief end of man is to fear God and
keep His commandments. So also in Job, it is the final answer that we
want. It was the ultimate vision of God that satisfied the patriarch's j
God reveals himself first to Job as creator. It is of interest to
compare God's first revelation in Genesis. The sacred scriptures begin
with the creative activity of God. Here God is superlatively shown to be
God without competitor or equal. The corollary is that God is the only
eternal one and all else sprang into existence at God's command. The
22 GRACE JOURNAL
first chapter of Genesis outlines a procedure in God's creation. Job
gives none of these details. The teaching is contained in highly figura-
tive rehetorical questions that remind us how puny man is in comparison
to the power of God, the Creator of all. One need not explore the use
of time as a fourth dimension to realize that time for us is very short.
We are creatures of a day. The Psalmist says that we are like grass
which grows up in the morning and is cast down in the evening (Ps. 90:6).
But God is eternal. A thousand years to him is but a watch in the night.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4)? How
we would wish to know at least some of the secrets of God's creation!
How old is the universe? Is the big bang theory of the origin of matter
correct? And if so, did the original fireball spring into being when God
first enunciated the laws that govern time, space, energy and matter?
What is matter and what is energy after all, now that we have found to
our horror that they are interconvertible? We have begun to see in re-
cent years something of the ferocity of elemental force, as well as some-
thing of the immensity of the reaches of space. We might remember that
we are not the first ones to know a little something of these things.
Lightning probably awed the ancients as much as it frightens us. And
among the Greeks at least, there was at least an idea of the distances
space. Two hundred fifty years before Christ, Eratosthenes in
had measured the circumference of the earth to within ten percent of the
correct figure (see the article "Eratosthenes" in the Encyclopedia Brit-
tanica). And Ptolemy, the astronomer, shortly after Christ, assures us
that the distance to the stars is so great that the earth in comparison
is a point without magnitude. His estimate" was around a billion miles.
We know now that his estimate was far too small. But man is about as
puny beside a billion miles as beside ten-billion light years.
It is hardly necessary to add that God does not tell Job that the
world is set on foundations with supporting pillars and a cornerstone.
The morning stars do not really sing and the bounds of the sea are set
not by doors and. bars. Its bounds are set by gravitation--if only we
knew what gravitation is! Elsewhere (26 :7) Job had confessed that God
hangs the earth on nothing. But how God hangs the earth and how he
formed the earth and the world are still mysteries which we attempt to
probe, but how little we understand of the power of God the creator.
I am convinced that one great problem of modern thought is the
result of a determined denial of God's creatorship. Evolution is now in
the popular mind today an explanation of how God created (a false ex-
planation, I believe.) But it has become an alternative idea to God's
creation. Evolution, however, cannot explain the beginning of things.
It is accompanied by purely philosophical concepts of origin by chance,
the eternality of matter, etc., and a flat denial of God. One result is
that human personality is unexplainably alone in a sea of chaos. Thought
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 23
has no basis for validity. Art has no reason or coherence. Life has
no meaning and death no hope. Against this torrent of despair comes
the clear revelation of God. "Before the mountains were brought forth
or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world even from everlasting
to everlasting, thou art God" (Ps. 90:2). It is significant that when
John hears the angels in heaven praising the Father, their song is "thou
art worthy...for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they
are and were created." If God be really the Creator, we are assured
that he is the ultimate reality. There is none behind or over him. Job
no longer seeks an umpire. There is none beside Him.
But God is not only transcendent Being. He reveals himself to
Job in his providence. The Westminister Shorter Catechism defines God's
works of providence as his "most holy, wise and powerful, preserving
I and governing all His creatures and all their actions." God is immanent
in the sense that He is active in His creation. He is not a part of the
world process. But He directs the world process in wisdom that we are
only beginning to appreciate. Because there are second causes, some
men now stop wIth second causes and leave God out. The result is a
material universe that can never explain itself or satisfy man who, if
he has any significance at all, has a non-material aspect we call the
soul. Does Job know the weather? Can he direct the thunder? I under-
stand that the force of a hurricane is equal to several atomic explosions
each minute. The mere force required to make the wind blow at sixty
a hundre miles per hour over a diameter of. some hundreds of miles
is staggering. It is no contradiction in the Bible when Isaiah 5:6 says
that clouds bring rain and Job 38:28 asks "Hath the rain a father? Or
who hath begotten the drops of dew?" Again the poetry of Job is striking
in its figures of speech. And the thrust of it is that puny man can ob-
serve the stars, but it is the Almighty God who guides the stars in their
courses. There is matter of great comfort here. We are not alone in
the fell clutch of circumstance and we do not suffer under the bludg-
eonings of chance. We live under the protecting shadow of a Sovereign
The providence of God extends to the remarkable and peculiar
phenomena of the animal world. Do you understand the gestation of the
wild goats? Obviously, as an ancient cattleman, Job knew something of
the mating and birth of his animals. We know much more. We know
that sperm and ova are produced and that they unite in the miracle of
life. The chromosomes and genes intermingle, then the cells multiply.
Some become liver tissue, some nerve cells, some bones and some
blood. And how is it and why is it that it all happens just this way? :
What man would have dreamed up the ostrich, that peculiar bird. The
only bird, I understand, with eyelashes! Why, I have no idea. The only
bird, I understand, equipped with a bladder! Again, why? There surely
is a reason, but how strange are some of God's creatures! Some have
24 GRACE JOURNAL
questioned if the ostrich is as dumb as the verses seem to say. I sup-
pose that depends on what you compare it with! Most would not think
of turkeys as dumb, but I have seen young turkeys hang themselves get-
ting out of the tree where they roosted! The ostrich is dumb on some
counts. Yet as the passage says, when she lifts herself up, or as Pope
(Job in loc.) explains it, when she spreads her tail feathers and runs,
she can outdistance any horse with ease. The wild ass, the ox, the
ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the vulture--these are but samples of
the varied, specialized and peculiar creation which God controls. And
if God controls these creatures of the wild, he can care for me. Bryant
said of the waterfowl,
"He who from zone to zone guides through the distant
air thy certain flight .
In the long path that I must tread alone can guide my
The example of Behemoth and Leviathan have been dealt with already.
The teaching is that he who made Behemoth the chief of the ways of God
can make his sword to approach unto him, (40:19). Is it not a powerful
thought that God is. in control? And remember that this control depends
not just on power, but on infinite wisdom as well.
The essential affirmation of the book of Job, however, is not the
more power and wisdom of God, marvelous as these are, but the, affirm-
ation of the righteousness, the rectitude of God. This was Job’s prob-
lem. He was ready to acknowledge the power of God. Indeed, that
God's power was far beyond Job's was part of his problem. But is God
good? Abraham confessed that the judge of all the earth will do the
right (Gen. 18:25). Job had questioned. It is not right for God to des-
troy the perfect and the wicked (). But God cannot let pass that
charge. Job humbles himself in his first answer. But God demands a
further answer. "Wilt thou annul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me
that thou mayest be justified?" (40:8). Job could see but the tiny fringe
of God's purposes. God reveals himself as one who above all is holy,
righteous and just. Job's sin was not final. His faith burned low at
times but was never out. He trusted God even when he doubted God's
ways and God led him through the sea, even if not on dry land.
But there comes a day when others must meet God. I quoted
soul." I am told that later,
daughter and was broken up by the tragedy. Our souls are not uncon-
querable. Some day all will stand before the judgment seat of God in
an experience not like job's, and not like the alleged person to person
encounter of existentialism, but in the dark. And in that dread day,
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 25
all men will lay their hand upon their mouth for the judgments of God
are true and righteous altogether and they are final. No man then will
annul God's judgment and Satan will then be put away, and death and
hell consigned to the lake of fire, and God's power, wisdom, glory, and
righteousness will be fully revealed.
There is one more point. The conclusion of Job, like the pro-
logue is part of the book and has a lesson. God is merciful. You have
heard of the patience (or endurance) of Job and have seen the end of the
Lord that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Job was re-
stored even in this life. He had come to trust in a future life. But
even this life is blessed for the child of God. So Satan was overcome
as he will be vanquished at last in God's good time. He will overcome
him by the blood of the Lamb of God, for the accuser of our brethren
shall be cast down who accused them before the throne of God day and
night. Therefore rejoice ye heavens (Rev. 12:10-12).
The Theology of Job: Rewards
Pope is correct, "The issues raised are crucial for men and the
answers attempted are as good as have ever been offered" (Job, p.
LXXVII). Pope himself misses, I believe, one grand answer in Job- -
the doctrine of the future life. The name "theodicy" was applied, I
believe, by Leibnitz to the question of the justification of the ways of
God with regard to evil in the universe. It is a problem for theism.
Beudelaire, seeing the injustice in the world and hearing that God was
in control, remarked that "your God is my devil.” .He was not so far
wrong! The Bible says that m a sense the devil is in control of much
that goes on in this world. The indispensable prologue to Job makes it
clear that Satan has much power here and now--with the necessary caveat.
under God. This is not the best of all possible worlds. That was the
deists' perversion, not the Christian teaching. "In the world, ye shall
have tribulation'" is a further statement of Job's complaint: "Man is born
to trouble as the sparks fly upward." We ask in our groaning, why does
God do something in
ask, worse yet, why did God do what he did years ago in tile
or today in the
na the destroyer actually a part of the deity? These were the awful
thoughts that crowded in on Job when he was called upon existentially to
face the question posed in Ecclesiastes 4:1, "the oppressions that are
done under the sun."
Job did not know and the comforters did not know that Job was
suffering for the honor of God himself and to the shame of Satan, the
author of sin. A groaning world today has not read the prologue of Job.
It does not believe in Satan as really evil, or in God as really good.
26 GRACE JOURNAL
As a result, a European leader like Hermann Hesse turns to Eastern
philosophy denying, as he does in his Siddharta, all distinctions of right
and wrong, of pain and pleasure, of man and God and eternity. All be-
comes merged in a river of indistinction. There is no meaning. As
Arnold had said in
We are here as on a darkling plain swept by confused
alarms of struggle and of flight where ignorant armies :
clash by night.
Job cursed his day. Pope remarks (Job. p. xiii) that James 5:11
gives an unbalanced view in referring to the patience of Job. That, how-
ever, was when the book began. Job gave absolute submission to the
will of God. Because God was God, Job was at first content. And it "'
should be noted from and that this is the truly acceptable at-
titude before God. But theory is one thing and life is another. God
would give the world an example in extremis. He does that sometimes.
Paul called himself an example of God's deepest grace. Ananias and
Sapphira were made an example to the early church. D. L. Moody
heard a preacher say, the world has yet to see what God can do with
a fully yielded Christian. Moody said, I will be that man. And God
made him a great example to bless the hearts of multitudes. God made
Job an example and a comfort to thousands since his time. God may
have even laughed as he used Satan to direct Job's longing, and ours
also, to higher things than children, and sheep, and camels and oxen.
God had a plan for Job's life--and for yours.
But Job now descended into the valley of the shadow. And in his
misery, he longed for death as the final answer. In lines of great beauty
he sought the grave "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary
are at rest." Hamlet pondered suicide. There are only two cases of
suicide in the Bible--Ahithophel and Judas. Suicide is not the way out
for one who believes that there is a God and that our life is sacred be-
cause we are made in God's image. And these great verities Job could
not forget. But Job's first three speeches each end with the longing for
the oblivion of the grave.
Eliphaz confronts Job with a different view. He even claims a
revelation () though he was clearly a false prophet. He declares
that foolish men, i. e., sinners, are the ones who suffer and that there-
fore God must be chastening Job. If Job repents, God will wonderfully
restore. Eliphaz here, as far as I can see, speaks for the other friends
including Elihu. I can see little progress in the argument of the "mi-
serable comforters as Job called them. They declare that Job must
have sinned and therefore he suffers. If he will rectify his conduct,
God will restore him. Actually this is the view expressed in those several
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 27
treatises on suffering from
ferred to in the first lecture. This is really the view of the world today.
If there be a just God, he must punish sin now and reward righteousness
now. If this is not done, we cannot believe that God is real. This atti-
tude was dramatized by the skeptic, Robert Ingersoll. On the platform,
he would dare God to strike him dead in one minute. The audience
waited in silence and at the end of a minute, he pocketed his watch de-
claring that he had proved that there was no God. On one occasion, a
newspaper editorial the following day asked if the little man had thought
that he could exhaust the patience of the Almighty in sixty seconds! But
twentieth century man is not noted for his patience. We expect judgment
now or else not at all. Really the view of the three comforters amounts
to the idea that you get all your hell and all your heaven in this life!
There has been some question about Job's doctrine of resurrection. But
note that not one verse in the speeches of the three friends or Elihu direct
Job's eyes to the hereafter for bliss or blame. Their's is the little quid
pro qu~ of the disciples, "Master, who did sin this man or his parents
that he was born blind?" Christ's answer applies also to Job, "Neither
but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. " And God's
works in Job at the last were manifest to devils, angels, and men.
In Job's first round of speeches, he doesn't get much further
than an anguished cry to God for relief and a plea for death. He de-
clares that he is not wicked (10:7) and complains that God destroys the
perfect and wicked alike (). Job has no chance, for there is no pos-
sible umpire between him and God (); he therefore asks God to take
away his hand before he goes to the land of no return ().
The picture of the grave that Job draws thus far is close to ob-
livion. Indeed this is his only hope (-22). It is a place of quiet,
of sleep, death (maweth) and the tomb (qeber) are in parallelism. In
his second speech, Job pictures the grave as the end and therefore he
will give rein to his complaint (). He expects to "go down to Sheol"
and not come up (7:9). He will "sleep in the dust" and he will not be.
The same thoughts recur in his third speech. He wished he had been
"carried from the womb to the grave (qeber)’” (). He longs for the
land of darkness, disorder and gloom:-It-; may be. noted that job's con-
cept of that land differs notably from that of the Babylonian underworld,
(cf. the description in ANET, p. 109). Here are no monsters, gods
or goddesses. It is not a peopled place of consciousness. It is as near
soul sleep as we can get. But from another angle, it does n?t describe
soul sleep. It does not describe the soul at all. It describes rather"
the tomb to which the body goes. This was, just then, the extent of his
concern. Death, the tomb (qeber), Sheol, and the land of darkness are
the terms used. The Palestinian tomb was cut in the rock. It was, of
course, dark; it was down. It held the bones and dust of many genera-
tions. One decayed body was pushed back in the crypt when another was
28 GRACE JOURNAL
laid in. The body of course slept. The soul was not then in Job's view.
Neither was any Babylonian place of departed spirits. .
In Job's second round of speeches, he continues his bitter com-
plaint, but something new has been added. Job now does not long for
Ideath. He holds on to his innocence and is sure of justification () .
He is confident that God will be his salvation (). But there is a I
problem in the key verse, "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" .
(). RV translated "He will
kill me, I have no hope."
"If he would slay me I should not hesitate." The problem concerns the
word lo’ (not) which may also be read lo’ (for it). The Hebrew conson-
antal text gives the first reading, the vocalic text the second. Most of
the versions read it the second way. Unfortunately, the new Targum
does not cover this section. In view of the uncertainty, it is not wise
to be dogmatic, yet it may be pointed out that the verb "hope" or "wait
for" usually is used with a prepositional complement "I" (for). If this
be the case, the A V reading "though he slay me yet will I trust in him"
is the true reading. It would fit the context very well.
In this same speech, Job rises to further heights which are often
not noticed because translations do not always bring out the structure of
the passage (14:7-15). Job is still in great distress. But now, like
Hamlet, he looks beyond the moment of death and asks what dreams
may come when we have shuffled off this mortal soil. Here for the
first time in the book, someone raises the question of a future life.
That alone is highly significant. Here is a new phase of the argument.
"If a man die shall he live again?" The question of God's justice and
acceptance of a man is here raised off the mundane plane into the sphere
of the future. Job trembles on the threshold of a new hope. Is it per-
haps that although this is not the best of all possible worlds, that there
is another one to come? Job sees, as it were, a light in the keyhole
of the door in heaven which John the apostle saw opened full wide.
Job's argument begins where it should begin. Job is God's child.
He considers a tree, an insensate thing, yet it has persistent life. If
it is cut down, though it seems to die, it will by water at the roots,
put forth a second growth. The verb is halap. It will bud and grow.
This is for a mere tree. But man! Of greater worth, a child of God,
the word of God's hands. Man dies and never rises till the heavens
grow old. He does not awake (qys) nor rise (cwr). Then Job wishes
to be hidden in Sheol, until God's wrath passes over and God might re-
member him. Surely Sheol here means the grave. But will God remem-
ber him? Job answers his great question by a declaration that he would
"wait" (same word as "trust" in treated above) until his second
growth (helipah) would come. Job seizes the thought that man is of far
greater worth to God than a mere tree. "Thou shalt call and I will
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 29
answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." Here
Job in a pinnacle of faith looks beyond the tomb to the resurrection call
of God. It is a pinnacle. Job does not maintain this hope undimmed.
But he has cried out in faith and he has begun to see that the answers
to the great questions after all lie in God who made us for himself, and
we may reverently reverse Augustine's famous remark. God made us
to fellowship with himself and he is not satisfied until he brings us to
rest in him.
Tur-Sinai (The Book of Job, in loc.) is very unsatisfactory here.
Tur-Sinai does not associate the two words for second growth. He re-
arranges some lines and emends others. On verse 13, he makes the
surprising comment, "Job interrupts the presentation of facts (i. e. , of
man's eternal death) with rhetorical unrealistic wishes; would that the
fate of man, and my own fate, were like that of a tree by the water,
so that, after a period of waiting in Sheol, I might return to life." This
quotation is simply an admission that some modem commentators find
Job's affirmation of resurrection hopelessly unrealistic. But then per-
haps the commentators have not had to think as deeply as Job did.
The next speech of Job, the fifth, does not advance. He casti-
gates his miserable comforters and complains that God has turned him
over to wicked men. But he declares that he is innocent and calls heaven
to witness as he cries unto God for relief. Then he returns to the
thought of death. This time he does not seem to long for death as he
did earlier, but regards it as the end of his hope (). The word
"wait" (AV) of is the same root as "hope" in . The persons
of the verbs in the last verse of the chapter can be read differently in
agreement with Pope Job, in loc.) and NEB. But Pope's question marks
need not be adopted. I offer this translation:
If I have hope, sheol (the grave) is my house.
I will spread my couch in the darkness.
I have called corruption my father and the worm my
mother and sister,
Where then is my hope? and who will see my hope.
When my hope goes down to sheol (the grave) and we
descend together to the dust.
Job here plays with the word hope, which he had used in 14:7.
There is hope for a tree that it will have a second growth. Is Job’s
only hope extinction in the grave? No longer does Job seek for death
and extinction. Now he reaches for every glimmer of hope beyond the
darkness of the tomb.
Job's sixth speech is shorter than usual, but this one is a climax.
Again he chides his "friends" with being his worst enemies. They should
30 GRACE JOURNAL
pity him when the hand of God is heavy upon him (). And so he
looks beyond the present. His friends have turned against him, but he
would have his words engraved upon enduring rock. For his vindicator
will arise at last.
These verses, -27, are both very important and very dif-
ficult. They are taken in Handel's Messiah as a great prediction of
(Job. in loc.) and many modern commentators find no hope of resurrec-
tion here, feeling that to do so would contradict . But as shown
above, is in a context where Job poses the question of resurrec-
tion and answers it with the affirmation of faith.
Verse 25 begins, "Por I know that my vindicator lives." The
word is ~ and refers to the next of kin who avenges a murder or ,
relieves the oppression of the destitute. Job obviously is not referring
a mere man. God was
6:6) from exile (Isa. 43:1) and from death (Hos. quoted in I Cor.
). In view of the fact that the vision of God is Job's desire (),
it seems proper to take the redeemer to be God himself--but probably
not the messianic redeemer. Pope on the other hand declares that the
redeemer whom Job hopes for is the umpire of who will force God
to come to terms. He compares Mesopotamian subdeities who thus in-
terceded for men. But of all this, the verse says nothing. That job
actually hoped for help outside of God is against the whole tenor of this
passage, regardless of his earlier outburst.
"And that he will stand at last upon the dust." "Upon the dust"
may mean the earth, or it may mean the dust of job's tomb (cf. ).
"Stand" or "rise" may be a legal term. The vindicator will appear on
job's behalf. But it is not to save Job from death--the "at last" argues
otherwise. The vindicator will redeem Job in some future day of his
"And though after my skin Worms destroy this body," note the
italicized words of the A V. It is a difficult line. The preposition "after"
refers to time or place, and neither in Hebrew or English is the word
"after" appropriate for the noun "skin"! The context wants the infinitive
construct of a verb. Pope takes the preposition with the verb "destroy"
and translates it "after my skin is flayed.' But then with the final pro-
noun "this" would be out of place and the verb following the pronoun
agree with it, but it does not. The
footnote that the Hebrew is unintelligible. It is possible, however, to
read the word "my skin" (root cwr) as a verb in the infinitive construct.
The same verb was used to mean "awake" in a resurrection context in
(see above). The reading would then be "after my awaking." The
JOB AND THE DOCTRINE OF GOD 31
verb "destroy" is difficult. It is only used three times, though it is
used in a second meaning "to encircle." It may be translated, "After
my awakening when this (sickness or body) is destroyed."
"Yet in my flesh I shall see God." Pope, and others, translate
"without my flesh, I shall see God." This translation is interesting,
for it would make the passage refer not to resurrection, but to spiritual
life in heaven--an equally happy thought for Job. The preposition min
can indeed mean "apart from" as well as "from the standpoint of," and
many examples of the latter use are given in the lexicon. E. g., the
hard to adopt Pope's idea. The whole thrust is that Job will see God
in his resurrected body. Tur-Sinai (The Book of Job, in loc.) takes it
i to mean from the standpoint of his body--but before death.
Whom I shall see for myself
and my eyes shall see and not a stranger.
declaration of faith. Job at long last, after his body is consumed will
see God m a resurrection day. The following words are probably cor-
rectly placed with the later verses as the
not now concerned.
How does this doctrine of the resurrection bear on the date of
Job? Does this imply a late date because it would involve a borrowing
of Persian ideas? Here much depends on one's background and view-
point. lf one is convinced that the doctrine of resurrection is late, then
Job will be given a post-exilic date, along with Psalm 49, 73, 16, Isaiah
26, Hosea 13:14 and other passages. It would seem better to face the
claims of revelation given in the Bible, rather than thus. to restructure
the O.T. on subjective grounds. Surely the argument m Job does not
look like an item borrowed from an alien creed. The teaching of the
resurrection in Job is hammered out by facing in a unique way the prob-
lems of life against the background of the revealed character of both God
and man. Job seems rather to have the marks of an early and original
treatment af this wonderful doctrine. It is easier to think that the Psalm-
ists and prophets stood on the shoulders of Job in their resurrection
And after all, what do we know of the Persian religion in the early
days? We have some monuments of Persian grandeur and some reports
of their kingdom and wars. But we have no early copies of the religious
books of the Persians. We know not when or by whom these books were
written. They were copied and recopied in lands where Christian influ-
ence was very strong in the first centuries of our era. 'What interpolations
32 GRACE JOURNAL
may have occurred and what influences may have been absorbed, who
Eventually these books were taken to
the modern world. But it is quite uncertain that Job could have been
actually influenced in this, its basic doctrine, by such alleged teaching.
There is, further, a dark side to Job's insights on the future
life. For Job had two problems to face. First, why do the righteous
suffer, but secondly, why do the wicked prosper. For the wicked do
prosper. Honesty is not always the policy that succeeds, and sometimes
crime does pay. Job now attacks his comforters with the declaration
that they are wrong also on the second count. "The wicked live, become
old. _yea are mighty in power" (21:7-16). The translation of the rest of
the passage is in debate. The A V seems to make Job say that although
the wicked seem to die happy, yet later (vss. 17-22) they shall drink of
God's wrath. Then again (vss. 23-34) he says wicked and righteous,
and question marks make Job consistently say that the wicked do not get
the judgment the three comforters assign to them. The question is one
of detail, but I rather favor the AV at this point. It is true that the
wicked go to Sheol in peace (). All lie down alike in the dust and
worms cover them (). But what then? Verse 30 is the key verse.
It has two "I" prepositions, which can mean "to" or as we now know"
from Ugaritic "from." The A V takes the meaning "to" and says the
wicked is spared from disaster. This is also the meaning of the NASB,
though the "l" is translated "to." But the conclusion of the chapter in the
AV seems to say that despite appearances, God will judge the wicked--
and this thought is later developed.
Then Eliphaz viciously attacks Job again and accuses him of many
sins. Job responds to this that God knows he is innocent and when God
has tested him, "I shall come forth as gold" (). Very different,
however, is the case with the wicked. He out lines the extreme wicked--
ness of some men and now he veers to the thought that indeed they will
receive their judgment. (Sheol and the worm will consume them (24:19-20).
Their exaltation is short (25:24). Tur-Sinai (The Book of Job, in loc.)
escapes this conclusion by saying Job is quoting from the three friends.
Pope (Job, in loc.) also cannot follow the argument here. He believes
that Job has contradicted his previous statement and that this speech
should be attributed to Zophar. Pope is correct in recognizing a shift
in the argument, but it seems quite possible to hold that Job himself is
looking further. Especially so because after Bildad's short and final
speech, Job returns to this argument" in 27:13-23. Here he is a bit more
explicit. The wicked man will not merely die, perhaps easily, He will
be given a reward from the Almighty. His children shall suffer, his
widows shall not mourn him, he suffers the terrors of God. Tur-Sinai
op cit.) escapes this conclusion by saying Job "used to say" this.
JOB AND ITS DOCTRINE OF GOD 33
Pope, of course, ascribes this also to Zophar, but it seems that Job
himself may here be expressing in incipient form the even harder doc-
trine that the wicked, who seem to get by, will actually receive in the
end the judgment of God. It cannot be said that Job expresses with any
clarity the doctrine of future punishment for the wicked. But it is in -
volved in his view and some of his statements look in that direction.
As for Job himself, he brings his argument to a grand conclusion.
He summarizes his moral principles in words already referred to as
taken up by Solomon. Wisdom may be found, but not by worldly search.
Surely Job wanted wisdom. His friends claimed understanding. But Job
declares that real wisdom is to worship God in reverence and holiness
of life. The claim is distinct that Job did this and in his final speech,
Job lifts his hand in a solemn oath of abjuration that before God he has
lived in innocence of the great sins of which he has been so bitterly
and unjustly accused. If he be guilty, he says at last, let thistles grow,
instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley! The words of Job are
Elihu returns to the argument, but in a sense, he seems to par-
rot the argument of the rest and thus to be an anti-climax. Job has
nothing more to say. But Job has stood his trial. He has trusted God.
He has continued in his principles of righteousness and he has seen be-
yond the grave to the final justice of God. It remains for God himself
to answer Elihu and the three friends and to both humble and bless his
servant with a vision of God in His greatness.
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
Grace Theological Seminary
Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: firstname.lastname@example.org