Who Wrote the Book of Job?
Early Jewish heritage credited the authorship of the book of Job to Moses. For the Babylonian Talmud claimed, “Moses wrote his own book, and the passages about Balaam and Job” (Baba Bathra, 14b, 15a). And there is evidence to that since Moses spent 40 years in Midian, which would allow him to have a good background in the Arabic style of the book.
Also, Moses’ Egyptian background showed the Egyptian life and practice that appeared in the book of Job. In addition, the picture of God as Creator and Sustainer was similar to the creation story in the book of Genesis, which was written by Moses.
Some reject the opinion that Moses was the author of the book of Job based on dissimilarity of style and content between Job and other books written by Moses. But there are common points between the two books. For example, there are specific words used in the book of Job and in the Pentateuch, such as the title ’El–Shaddai, “the Almighty.” This word is used 31 times in the book of Job and 6 times in the book of Genesis but it is not found anywhere else in the Bible.
Other modern scholars reject the Mosaic authorship to the book of Job. These claim that Elihu, Solomon, or Ezra could have been the ones that wrote the book of Job. Still, others believe that the book of Job was created by unnamed author during the reign of Solomon, David, or during the captivity. But all these suggestions don’t have sufficient proofs to back them.
When Was the Book of Job Written?
The estimated time of the writing of the book of Job was probably when Moses’ went to Midian. This would be after he escaped from Egypt and before the Exodus. Job may have been a contemporary of Moses. Here, are some points that support this line of thinking:
- The book of Job makes no mention of the Exodus or the events following it. This probably was because these events have not occurred yet. It also gives no references to the Mosaic institutions such as the Sanctuary, feasts, the ministry of the priests, rituals…etc.
- The background of the book of Job is that of the Arabian Desert culture. It does not have an Israelite history.
- Job was a wealthy landowner, and his riches were measured by livestock (Job 1:3; 42:12). This was very similar to Abraham (Genesis 12:16) and Jacob (Genesis 30:43) who lived before him.
- Job lived 140 years after his painful trial (Job 42:16). The length of his life is like the lifespan of that era. Moses lived 120 years.
- The Sabeans and Chaldeans that are mentioned in Job 1:15, 17, were tribes of the land of Arabia at that time.
- The Hebrew word (qsitah), which is probably a measure of weight, is mentioned only in Job 42:11 and in the patriarchal era (Genesis 33:19; Joshua 24:32).
- Job gave his daughters inheritance along with their brothers (Job 42:15). This act was not typical of the Mosaic Law where girls were given inheritance only when there were no male sons (Numbers 27:8).
The Controversy Between Satan and God
The story of Job started with a dialogue between Satan and God. The Lord said to Satan: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Then, Satan answered, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? … But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1: 8-11). Satan said that the character Job had was selfish for he worshiped God to gain material blessings.
God Accepted the Challenge
Then, the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” (Job 1:12). And the Lord lifted His protection from Job’s possessions, permitting Job to reveal his true character. The Lord desired to show that men will serve their Creator from pure love. And it was necessary to prove Satan’s lie as untrue.
Satan, in a very short time, destroyed all of Job’s possessions (Job 1:13-17) and children (v. 18). Upon hearing this devastating news, the godly man tore his robe, and shaved his head in mourning. But he didn’t lose his faith and worshiped the Lord saying: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong (v. 20-22).
Filled with fury about Job’s blameless response, Satan again shamelessly said to the Lord, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life” (Job 2: 4-6). Immediately, Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (v. 7).
Job’s Response to His Misfortune
At this point, Job’s wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2: 9,10).
Job’s friends came to comfort him. Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad, and Zophar, gave long speeches throughout the book (Job 4-25) telling Job that bad things happen to bad people. And they suggested that Job better repent of whatever wrong he did so that God would hold him in favor again. After them, Elihu came to comfort Job. Elihu’s speeches were the last and longest (ch. 32—37). The folly of Job’s friends, which God spoke against, is that they assumed God allowed bad things to happen to Job because he did something wrong.
Although Job didn’t understand why the Lord allowed these things to happen to him even though he was a righteous man, he didn’t lose his faith in the Lord’s goodness. By faith, he rose from the pits of discouragement and hopelessness to the heights of full trust in the mercy and the saving grace of God. And he declared: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him… He also shall be my salvation… I know that I shall be vindicated” (Job 13:15-18).
And he further affirmed “my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25-27). This statement signified that Job understood God’s character. He saw despite his confusion that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth… forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6, 7). Thus, Job passed the testing trial.
God Rewards Job
After Job passed the test, the Lord restored his health, family and what he had lost. And God blessed his latter days more than his beginnings. The blessings that had seemed to be gone forever, returned, more brilliant than ever. God granted Job more possessions (Job 42:12) and gave him seven sons and three beautiful daughters (v. 13).
Job who was close to his death continued to live for nearly another century and a half (Job 42: 16,17). And his family, property, friends, and status were regained. But even greater than these material blessings was the experience in which Job had come face to face with God and had learned great lessons. These lessons, God in His wisdom saw fit to communicate with all mankind. It is the Christian’s privilege today to draw wisdom from the book of Job.
Satan’s Accusations Refuted
The great controversy between Satan and God ended with Job’s triumph. His conduct was a clear denial of Satan’s insinuations (v. 11) and a clear vindication to the loving character of God that never fails. To the question, “Does Job fear God without regard for selfish gain?” Job responded “Yes.”
In His service,
This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)