Who Wrote the Book of Job?
The Book of Job was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is one of the books in the Hebrew Bible. Ancient Jewish tradition credits its authorship to Moses. The Babylonian Talmud claims, “Moses wrote his own book, and the passages about Balaam and Job” (Baba Bathra, 14b, 15a).
There is much support to the early claim that credits the writing of the Book of Job to Moses for he spent 40 years in the land of Median. This land would give him a good background of the land of Uz. Also, Moses’ Egyptian tradition explains the hints to Egyptian life and practice that appear in the book. Further, the image of God as Creator and Sustainer fits with the creation story in the book of Genesis, written by Moses.
Many other words common in the Book of Job and the books of Moses are rarely used by other Bible authors. For example, the title ’El–Shaddai, “the Almighty” is used 31 times in the book of Job and 6 times in the book of Genesis. But it is not used in this specific form anywhere else in the Scriptures. Crediting Moses for the authorship of the Book of Job does not exclude the possibility that most of the material may have already been there in a written form by Job himself. It is believed that the book was written between the 4th and the 6th century BCE.
Some modern scholars reject the idea that Moses is the author of the Book of Job and they suggest that it was written by Elihu, Solomon, and Ezra. Others believe the book to be the work of an unnamed author, perhaps of the time of Solomon, or of the time of David, or of the era of the Captivity. However, these later suggestions don’t have enough proof to back them. The Bible scholars, that reject the Mosaic authorship, base their belief on dissimilarity of style between the book of Job and the other books credited to Moses. But their proposals are weak because of the obvious parallels.
The Story of Job
The Dialogue Between Satan and God
The Book of Job started with a dialogue between Satan and God when the sons of God met with Him (Job 1). Satan was not one of the “sons of God.” He only joined as a representative of fallen humanity. The controversy started when 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?” (verse 8).
Satan wanted to challenge God and Job’s piety. So, he said to the Lord, “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 insinuated that Job worshiped God for selfish reasons. He claimed that Job did it to gain material blessings. Satan tried to refute the idea that true worship is motivated by love and gratitude to the Creator. He rejected the concept that God’s children love and worship Him because He is worthy of their love and trust.
God accepted the challenge. And the Lord answered 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 demonstrate he is up to the test. The Lord desired to show that men will serve Him from pure love. It was necessary to prove Satan’s lie as untrue. Yet, through it all, God would overrule for purposes of mercy.
Satan’s Attack on Job
Satan, in a very short time, destroyed all of Job’s possessions (Job 1:13-17) and children (verse 18). Upon hearing this devastating news, Job 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.” Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong (verses 20-22). His statement has become a classic expression of the Christian’s acceptance to God’s will.
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 (verse 7).
God’s servant never said a word against his Creator but he did curse the day he was born (Job 3:1). At this point, Job’s wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But Job answers her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Still, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2: 9,10).
Job and His Friends
When Job’s friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) heard about his suffering, they went to him to comfort him. They expressed deep sympathy (Job 2:11–13) and “they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads” (Job 2:12). Because of their grief, they spent seven days with him without saying a word.
Then, they broke their silence and they pressed on Job their wrong theology which had a discouraging effect on him. They gave long speeches (Job 4-25) telling him that bad things happen to bad people and that he’d better repent of whatever wrong he did so that God would accept him again. This was the folly of Job’s friends which God spoke against. The dialogues between Job and his friend weighed heavily upon his heart and he said to them, “You are miserable comforters” (Job 16:2).
The Bible teaches that bad things don’t just happen to sinful people, they happen to good people, too. Just like good things happen to good and bad people (Matthew 5:45). Therefore, we are admonished not to judge those who are suffering because misfortune doesn’t always mean that it is punishment from God for sin (John 9:1-3). Satan afflicts people but the good news is that God overrules evil for the good for the benefit of His children (Romans 8:28).
Job was the target of a sad situation that he could not understand. Because of it, he was greatly discouraged and spoke words of sadness (Job 32:15). He had questions about suffering but the Lord answered him “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38: 4). The Creator wanted to show Job how limited his knowledge really was and that there was a bigger picture that he was not aware of. In all of this, Job kept his full trust in God (Job 13:5). By contrast, Job’s friends expressed a wrong philosophy as they allowed their human thinking to overrule God’s mercy.
The Book of Job tells us that at the end, the Lord said to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7). And God asked Job to offer a burnt offering on behalf of his friends and pray for them that He may forgive them and not punish them.
God Rewards Job
We learn from the Book of Job that although this righteous man didn’t understand why God allowed calamities to happen to him, he didn’t lose his hope. 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). The character Job displayed was that of full trust.
Job passed the testing trial and he declared, “my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25-27). This statement signified that Job understood God’s character. He saw in spite of 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).
People that read the Book of Job learn about human suffering and how the Lord healed and restored His trusting servant and blessed his latter days more than his beginnings. Job lived 140 years more and the blessings that had seemed to be gone forever, returned, more abundant than ever.
Job was blessed with even greater possessions (Job 42:12) and was given seven sons and three beautiful daughters (verse 13). Thus, the man who was close to his death continued to live for nearly another century and a half (verses 16,17). And his family, property, friends, and status were regained. But even greater than these blessings was the experience in which he had come face to face with His Maker.
In His service,