By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Men in the Old Testament

  • The word "Job" is an ancient Semitic word with two meanings: "Where is my father?" and "to hate." Both contribute to our understanding of Job as presented in the book. Job is both searching for God and feeling hated by God.
  • Job was a man of extraordinary goodness.
  • Job lived in the land of Uz (east of Palestine and beyond the land of promise).
  • Job had seven sons and three daughters.
  • He owned seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred asses, plus many slaves.
  • Job was the greatest man in all the East.
  • Job took his parental duties to heart, offering sacrifices just in case his sons had sinned against God.
  • Job pledged his allegiance to God with a solemn oath.
  • The wager between Satan and God was to give Job an opportunity to honor God to whom he had just pledged his loyalty.
  • Satan's position was that Job only honored God because he was prosperous, that his allegiance was basically hypocritical. Satan maintained that if Job were less fortunate, he would curse God.
  • Satan was given permission to afflict Job.
  • At the very time Job was offering sacrifices for his children, they were all killed.
  • Four messengers came with news of one catastrophe after another. By the end of the day, Job had lost his children, his animals, his crops, and his servants.
  • Tearing his clothes and shaving his head were signs of deep mourning.
  • Job did not charge God with wrongdoing.
  • Satan upped the wager, wanting to attack Job's body. Satan is out to discredit God.
  • He was given permission to "strike his flesh and bones" but had to "spare his life."
  • Job was afflicted with painful sores from his head to his toes.
  • Job went outside the city walls and sat on the town's ash heap - the place for outcasts.
  • He used a potsherd to scrape himself, probably to relieve the horrible itching.
  • Job's wife implored him to "curse God and die." (Obviously, she believed that if he lashed out at God, God would strike him dead, and he would be out of his misery.)
  • Job rebuked his wife. He "did not sin with his lips."
  • Job's three friends arrived and sat with him on the ash heap in silence for seven days.
  • Seven days was the standard period of mourning for an important person.
  • They came to "comfort and console" Job, to share his grief, and to ease his pain.
  • Job's pain was visibly excruciating.
  • Job broke the silence with his first lament, indicating a state of despondency and spiritual depression.
  • He did not curse God, but he cursed the day he was born.
  • He wished that day had never occurred, that it could be removed from time itself. But Job never considered taking his own life. That would be to admit there was no possibility of hope.
  • Job's friends were so stunned by his misfortune that they tried to convince him he must have done something to deserve it.
  • Job rejected their counsel and began his search for some way to restore his relationship with God.
  • Job believed in God with all his heart. He believed God was the reason for his misery and he wanted to know why.
  • He accused his friends of not being helpful and for not caring enough about him to support him. He challenged them to prove him wrong.
  • The more his friends argued against him, the more adamant Job became that he needed to find some way to be acquitted by God.
  • After Bildad's first speech, Job began to blame God for his misery - perhaps as a motivation for his friends to help him take up his cause before God.
  • It didn't work, for when Zophar spoke, he insinuated Job was getting less than he really deserved.
  • Job begged to differ with them, said he was not being treated justly.
  • Trying to scare him into repenting, his friends waxed long and often about the fate awaiting those who are wicked (clearly Job in their eyes).
  • Job recognized that God had closed their minds and they could only rebuke him.
  • Job felt abandoned by God, yet he expressed great faith that ultimately God would vindicate him.
  • Job warned his friends of the dangers of speaking wrongfully about God.
  • Job actually listened to his friends and often quoted their words in his arguments against them.
  • Through it all, Job maintained God's sovereignty.
  • In the middle of the book, Job's statements on Wisdom suggested man could never really understand secrets known only to God. The answers lie with God, but Job was not about to give up trying to bring his case directly to God.
  • He continued to protest his innocence and lament the changed relationship between him and God (note, Job never laments the loss of his wealth).
  • He put it very starkly: God either has to vindicate him or show him to be a liar.
  • He recalled his righteous behavior, listing 14 sins he did not commit. (This is not an example of self-righteousness, but a reason for his call for vindication.)
  • He used the format of a legal argument and ended his summation with an oath signed by his own hand.
  • At this point, Elihu entered the fray.
  • He accused the comforters of not making their case. They could not prove Job was wrong in his assertions about being blameless; therefore their theology unwittingly condemned God.
  • But Job was wrong, too. His demands to talk to God were presumptuous since God is always communicating to man - through dreams, angel thoughts, revelations.
  • Job had either refused to hear them, or rejected them because he didn't like what they revealed.
  • Elihu gave serious consideration to the disciplinary aspect of suffering, and also argued that God always does that which is right.
  • Elihu asked, "If Job was so convinced that God was unjust, why did he insist upon being vindicated by Him?" That Job did insist was an indication that Job really believed God was just.
  • Elihu was overwhelmed by the greatness of God.
  • Then God spoke to Job out of the tempest.
  • God did not address the issue of Job's innocence. Innocent suffering may not have an intellectual solution.
  • The purpose of the theophany was to instruct Job. God took Job on a walk through creation, showing him the world in all its complexities. Job had wanted answers; God gave him more questions. But in his questions, Job came to understand that God does know what he's doing.
  • Job learned that God is trustworthy, faithful, and merciful. His demand to bring his case before God simply evaporated.
  • He could only admit, "I am humbled." "I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."
  • Job was vindicated through his faith in God's goodness, which God has the power to maintain.
  • Job had lamented that his relationship with God had been severed; God demonstrated that he had never abandoned Job.
  • With Job satisfied, God rebuked his three friends. They had "not spoken of him what was right." They were able to make great statements about God, but had no understanding of them, repeatedly telling Job he was being punished for his sins.
  • God ordered them to go back to Job to make atonement for their sins.
  • After Job had offered his prayers for his friends, God restored to him double of all that he had had.
  • All his relatives who had kept their distance during his ordeal, now came to comfort and console him, giving him gold and silver.
  • Job had seven more sons and three daughters, who were proclaimed to be the most beautiful in the land. And Job gave them an inheritance along with their brothers.
  • Though we don't know how old Job was at the beginning of his illness, he lived until the age of 140.
  • He died "old and full of years."


Alter, Robert and Frank Kermode. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1987.

Anderson, Francis. "Job." Tyndale Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Gibson, John. "Job." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1985.

Hartley, John. "The Book of Job." The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans,1988.

Janzen, J. Gerald. "Job." Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985.

Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.

Smick, Elmer. "Job." The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. Gaebelein, Frank, Ed., 1988.

Bible Characters