Job and Issachar

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Job, Men in the Bible, Old Testament


Genesis 46:13 mentions Job’s father and Issachar. What do we know about this?


The full genealogy states: “The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron” (NIV). Several of the older Bible translations list Jashub as Job/Yob. It raises the unending question regarding Job’s identity. Could he, in fact, be a grandson of Jacob?

Most scholars are loathe to make this connection. The reasons vary, but for the most part, the conclusions are the same. This particular genealogy is repeated in Numbers 26:24 and 1 Chronicles 7:1. In both cases, the name is Jashub. Outside of this reference in Genesis (translated “Job” by the King James Version and bibles based on it), the name “Job” only appears in two other books. Ezekiel 14 has two references and the book of James has one. Both assume that Job is a real person.

The name, Jashub, means “he will return.” He is known as the founder of the Jashubites. “Job” means persecuted. What we know is that Job is a man from Uz. The best scholars can do is place Uz in the “East,” possibly in Edom. There is a little more information in the Greek and Latin versions of the Book of Job. There, it states that Job dwelt in Ausitis on the confines of Idumea and Arabia. It continues that his original name was Johab. He married an Arabian woman and fathered Ennon. Job’s father was Zerah who was from the lineage of Esau – five generations from Abraham. They were natives of Bozrah. The text continues that Job reigned in Edom succeeding Balak, the son of Beor. This makes some sense when one considers his three friends: Eliaphaz, a descendant of Esau and king of Teman, Bildad, king of the Shuhites, and Zophar, king of the Naamathites. Several church Fathers as well as Philo and Aristeus attest to the accuracy of this genealogy.

Neither Job nor his ancestors are ever mentioned in any of the biblical genealogies. The main reason for this is that the writer remains completely anonymous. Moreover, scholars still have no idea when this book was written. They have proposed dates as early as the tenth century BCE and as late as the fourth century BCE (around the time of the exile). There are no forensic clues within the story that might help locate it in time. Scholars have relied upon phrases or word studies for help, but, ultimately, to no avail. Most opt for a time between the 10th and 7th centuries, but even that is a three hundred year spread.

Others suggest that Job was contemporaneous with Moses (1300 BCE). In the Pseudepigrapha, one finds The Testament of Job. That claims Job was a king in Egypt. It also tells us the name of his wife, Sitidos. One Talmudic Tractate claims the Book of Job was written by Moses. (Another claims it dates back to the time of Jacob, that Job is the son of Uz who was the son of Nahor who was the brother of Abraham.)

This does not mean, however, that scholars have nothing to say about the author. Indeed, he is commonly thought to be among the greatest wise men in all of Israel. He was certainly well-educated as evidenced by his broad vocabulary. He has a vast knowledge of nature and knows well the habits of animals. He was familiar with precious stones, listing over thirteen by name. He understood weather patterns and could read the stars. He also described mining, hunting, and trapping practices of ancient Israel. He was well-versed in other cultures, especially Egyptian. Noted parallels between the Book of Job and ancient Ugaritc texts cannot be that coincidental. He also knew his own patriarchal history, which included ancient names for God and past ethical standards. He was, of course, very spiritually-minded. And lastly, he was a devout servant of Yahweh and struggled mightily with the disconnect between a just God and unjust circumstances.

It is also true that just because a person is named Job doesn’t mean he is the subject or the author of the Book of Job. It is possible that more than one person had that name. Basically, scholars cannot make a conclusive argument one way or another.

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