|The Book of Job|
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Go to Bible: Job 1
“the land of Uz.” Although the location of Uz is debated, the most likely location is east of Israel and northeast of Edom, which places it in what is now northwest Arabia. Although this is outside the Promised Land, it would be close enough to Israel that the people could easily identify with Job. Also, there is no good reason to doubt that Job was a historical person and that what happened to him was revealed to a prophet who wrote it down. There are various reasons for picking that location for Uz. One of his friends was Eliphaz, who was from Teman, which was in Edom and therefore would have been close by (Job 2:11). Uz is also connected with Edom in Lamentations 4:21, which says, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz.” Also, the Septuagint places Uz on the borders of Edom and Arabia.
The NET text note says, “The term Uz occurs several times in the Bible: a son of Aram (Gen. 10:23), a son of Nahor (Gen. 22:21), and a descendant of Seir (Gen. 36:28). If these are the clues to follow, the location would be north of Syria or south near Edom. The book tells how Job’s flocks were exposed to Chaldeans, the tribes between Syria and the Euphrates (Job 1:17), and in another direction to attacks from the Sabeans (Job 1:15). The most prominent man among his friends was from Teman, which was in Edom (Job 2:11). Uz is also connected with Edom in Lamentations 4:21. The most plausible location, then, would be east of Israel and northeast of Edom, in what is now North Arabia.”
“Job.” In Hebrew, the name means “persecuted” or “attacked.” Thus we might well name the book of Job “the book of the attacked one.” Some scholars have questioned whether that name applies since Job may not have been Hebrew, but the fact is that the name “Job” appears in the Hebrew Bible and that is what his name means in Hebrew. It is unlikely that Job’s father named him “attacked,” and much more likely that “Job” was a name that people gave to him after his time of trial.(top)
|Job 1:2||- (top)|
“7,000 sheep.” The word for “sheep” can mean sheep or goats. Job owned a herd of sheep and goats numbering 7,000.
“500 yoke of oxen.” The oxen were mentioned in pairs because that is how they worked; there was a total of 1,000 oxen.
“500 female donkeys.” The females are counted because they were more valuable than the males because they bore young that increased the herd.
“a very large number of slaves.” The Hebrew words indicate that Job had a very large number of slaves. Although many versions read “servants,” in the culture of the time certainly the majority of them would have been slaves (cp. CEB; CJB; CSB; ESV; NASB; NIV; NRSV; RSV).(top)
|Job 1:4||- (top)|
“have them ritually cleansed.” More literally, “make them holy.” It is unclear exactly why Job would do this or see the need to do this; the laws of clean and unclean, and exactly what was considered to be sin at this time and in that culture are unclear. Job was not part of Abraham’s lineage and was not a part of Israel (there was no “Israel” when Job lived). Job apparently did this as part of his obligation as the family priest and only because he thought his children might have sinned.
“he rose up early in the morning.” This is an idiom, and refers to doing something diligently and over and over. It might well be understood as, “Job diligently and regularly offered burnt offerings” for them.
“cursed God.” The Hebrew is literally “blessed God,” but the term “blessed” is used euphemistically for “curse,” both here, Job 1:11; 2:5 and other places in the Bible (see commentary on 1 Kings 21:10).
“in their hearts.” In this context, the phrase “in their hearts” can also mean “in their thoughts” (see commentary on Prov. 15:21).
“regularly.” The Hebrew is literally, “all the days,” that is, all the days he thought it necessary, and thus he did it regularly.(top)
“sons of God.” The “sons of God” are the created beings of God, including the angels, cherubim, seraphim, and “living creatures” (Rev. 4:8), and we can assume there are other beings God has created as well as those categories. The Hebrew is bene ha-elohim (בְּנֵ֣י הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים), literally the “sons of God.” Adam is called a “Son of God” in Luke 3:38, and Jesus Christ is also called “the Son of God,” and both of them came into being by way of a direct creation of God.
Versions such as the NIV try to make Job 1:6 and 2:1 easy to understand by translating bene ha-elohim (sons of God), as “angels,” but while that may help the beginner Bible student, it works against a correct understanding of the Bible because the great assembly of spirit beings in Job would have included more types of spirit beings than just angels. It helps us to understand the Bible when we understand that when God created the spirit world, He did not just create angels; He created other types of spirit beings as well, although we do not know as much about them. Ephesians 3:15 mentions “every family in heaven,” and that is a reference to all the different families of spirit beings, who all descend from the one Heavenly Father.
Here in Job 1:6, God presides over a large assembly of spirit beings. God also had an inner divine council of spirit beings with whom He worked in overseeing and administering His creation, and that inner council would have been present at the large general assemblies (see commentary on Gen. 1:26). Another example of a large assembly of spirit beings is 1 Kings 22:19 when Micaiah had a vision of God sitting on a throne with the whole army of heaven standing before Him.
Psalm 82:1 mentions God taking His place in the edah-el (#05712; #0410 עֵדָה־אֵ֑ל), a Hebrew phrase that means “assembly of gods,” “assembly of the mighty,” or “great assembly.” As in Job and Kings, this appears to refer to a larger assembly than God’s intimate council, as we can see from the context. Psalm 82 is important and gives us a unique view into what goes on in the heavenly realm because it shows God reproving these “gods” for their unrighteousness. All of the spirit beings were created by God, but not all of them turned out to be loving and obedient, and God calls these gods to account and confronts them for their actions. Thus, the meeting mentioned in Psalm 82 is somewhat similar to Job 1:6; both records describe a large assembly of gods, and each includes some of the gods who are adversarial to the true God. It is possible that the “great assembly” in Psalm 82 not only includes spirit beings but human rulers as well, because in John 10:34, Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6 in a way that seems clearly to refer to humans.
God rules over spirit beings of various ranks and powers who are sometimes called “gods.” Indeed, there are many “gods” (1 Cor. 8:5). That is why in both the Old and New Testaments, God is called the “Most High” God. He is far greater than all the other gods. In fact, God is called the “Most High” God more than 50 times in the Old Testament, and nine times in the New Testament.
Some commentators say that “the Adversary” in this verse is a reference to a spirit being who was in God’s court who was appointed by God to try to find faults and weaknesses with God’s plans, and so the Adversary was actually working for God. That is not correct, but is an attempt to try to show that God is in charge of, and responsible for, everything that happens on earth. Those commentators are typically Calvinist, and believe that God is in absolute control of all that happens in the universe, including choosing who will be saved and who will not be.
In Job, “Satan,” the Adversary, is an enemy of God. Scripture teaches that people choose whether to be saved or not, and also that there is a battle between Good and Evil. God is love, and if He was in charge of what happened to Job and his family and servants then He is not loving. The Devil is an evil being, and he does not obey God, he sins and has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8). If the Devil was doing the will of God, then what he did would not be sin.
[For more on the war between God and the Devil, see commentary on Luke 4:6. For more on God’s divine council, see commentary on Genesis 1:26. For more on the Devil being the god of this age, see commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:4. For more on the names of the Devil that describe his characteristics, see Appendix 8: “Names of the Devil.” For more on the warfare between God and His enemies, see commentary on 1 Samuel 1:3. For more on the future Kingdom of Christ on earth that will not have the Devil present, see Appendix 5: “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on the future restored earth being called “Paradise,” see commentary on Luke 23:43. For more on how the future will unfold from this present age to the Millennial Kingdom to the Everlasting Kingdom, see commentary on Revelation 21:1. For more on Calvinism not being correct, see Appendix 9: “On Calvinism and Predestination.”]
“from going back and forth on the earth.” This meeting of spirit beings occurs in heaven. The “sons of God,” who came to present themselves before Yahweh were spirit beings that were directly created by God, in fact, some versions translate them as “angels” (cp. NIV), and the NLT translates the phrase as “members of the heavenly court.” That heaven is the location of this meeting can be ascertained because when Satan comes, along with other spirit beings, to present himself before Yahweh, Yahweh asks where he came from, and Satan said he came “from” the earth.
Although the fullness of Satan’s power and army of demons is not revealed in the Old Testament like it is in the New Testament, the power of Satan as the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), the “ruler of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31) can be clearly seen as he works his evil against Job. He marshals evil armies (Job 1:15, 17), causes destructive storms (Job 1:16, 19), and causes sickness and disease (Job 2:7). He does these things as a free will being at war with God, and one day he and his work will be destroyed.
It is noteworthy that Satan says he had been going back and forth on the earth, because 1 Peter 5:8 says Satan walks around seeking someone to devour. Note that Satan does not say why he was on earth or what he was doing there. He was up to no good, but being a liar he would not reveal that to God and His created spirit beings (but they likely knew it anyway).
[For more on the “sons of God” being spirit beings who were created by God, see commentary on Genesis 6:2.](top)
|Job 1:8||- (top)|
|Job 1:9||- (top)|
“a hedge.” The Hebrew word generally refers to a protective fence or a protective hedge made of thornbushes. Shepherds would often protect their sheepfolds from predators by making a hedge from thornbushes around them.(top)
“touch.” This means “touch” in a harmful sense; the Hebrew word can also mean “strike.”
“curse.” The Hebrew is literally “bless,” but the term “bless” is used euphemistically for “curse,” both here, Job 1:5, and other places in the Bible (cp. 1 Kings 21:10).(top)
|Job 1:12||- (top)|
|Job 1:13||- (top)|
|Job 1:14||- (top)|
“the Sabeans.” A Semitic people who lived in the southwest of the Arabian peninsula, present-day Yemen.
“the mouth of the sword.” Used to show great destruction, as if the sword was devouring its victims (see commentary on Josh. 6:21).(top)
“the fire of God.” Interestingly, the Septuagint omits “of God.” The genitive “of God” is also sometimes used to express a superlative degree, thus the phrase would mean “a great fire.” That would be consistent with what the servant saw; a great fire from heaven. Here, Satan uses fire to destroy God’s people; in the future, God will use fire to destroy Satan.(top)
|Job 1:17||- (top)|
|Job 1:18||- (top)|
“suddenly.” The Hebrew word that is normally translated as “behold” has a temporal sense here and means “suddenly.” That is one reason the people could not escape the house.(top)
“worshiped.” The Hebrew word translated “worship,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.” Job bowed down in worship of God, showing that the act of bowing down to the ground as an act of worship was very early, because Job lived sometime around 2,000 BC, roughly the same time as Abraham (cp. Gen. 24:48).
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chronicles 29:20.](top)
“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there.” This is an interesting phrase and is likely linked to some customary beliefs of the Semitic people. The woman’s womb was sometimes thought to be somehow an extension of the provision of the earth, and occasionally people were buried in a fetal position as if they were returning to the womb.a
“Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away.” This is an expression of what Job believed at the time. God had not revealed differently at that time, some 2,000 years before Christ. We today, with the information in the New Testament, know that God gives and Satan takes away (John 10:10, Acts 10:38; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 John 5:19; etc.). Every good gift is from God (James 1:17). Jesus Christ first revealed God and Satan, and their true colors, to his disciples (John 1:18; Luke 10:17-24).
|Job 1:22||- (top)|