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Bible Commentaries

Adam Clarke Commentary
Job

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28
Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32
Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36
Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40
Chapter 41 Chapter 42

Book Overview - Job

by Adam Clarke

Preface to the Book of Job

This is the most singular book in the whole of the Sacred Code: though written by the same inspiration, and in reference to the same end, the salvation of men, it is so different from every other book of the Bible, that it seems to possess nothing in common with them, for even the language, in its construction, is dissimilar from that in the Law, the Prophets, and the historical books. But on all hands it is accounted a work that contains "the purest morality, the sublimest philosophy, the simplest ritual, and the most majestic creed." Except the two first chapters and the ten last verses, which are merely prose, all the rest of the book is poetic; and is every where reducible to the hemistich form, in which all the other poetic books of the Bible are written: it is therefore properly called a Poem; but whether it belongs to the dramatic or epic species has not been decided by learned men. To try it by those rules which have been derived from Aristotle, and are still applied to ascertain compositions in these departments of poetry, is, in my opinion, as absurd as it is ridiculous. Who ever made a poem on these rules? And is there a poem in the universe worth reading that is strictly conformable to these rules? Not one. The rules, it is true, were deduced from compositions of this description: - and although they may be very useful, in assisting poets to methodize their compositions, and to keep the different parts distinct; yet they have often acted as a species of critical trammels, and have cramped genius. Genuine poetry is like a mountain flood: it pours down, resistless, bursts all bounds, scoops out its own channel, carries woods and rocks before it, and spreads itself abroad, both deep and wide, over all the plain. Such, indeed, is the poetry which the reader will meet with in this singular and astonishing book. As to Aristotle himself, although he was a keen-eyed plodder of nature, and a prodigy for his time; yet if we may judge from his poetics, he had a soul as incapable of feeling the true genie createur, as Racine terms the spirit of poetry, as he was, by his physics, metaphysics, and analogies, of discovering the true system of the universe.

As to the book of Job, it is most evidently a poem, and a poem of the highest order; dealing in subjects the most grand and sublime; using imagery the most chaste and appropriate; described by language the most happy and energetic; conveying instruction, both in Divine and human things, the most ennobling and useful; abounding in precepts the most pure and exalted, which are enforced by arguments the most strong and conclusive, and illustrated by examples the most natural and striking.

All these points will appear in the strongest light to every attentive reader of the book; and to such its great end will be answered: they will learn from it, that God has way every where: that the wicked, though bearing rule for a time, can never be ultimately prosperous and happy; and that the righteous, though oppressed with sufferings and calamities, can never be forgotten by Him in whose hands are his saints, and with whom their lives are precious; that in this world neither are the wicked ultimately punished, nor the righteous ultimately rewarded; that God's judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out; but the issues of all are to the glory of his wisdom and grace, and to the eternal happiness of those who trust in him. This is the grand design of the book, and this design will be strikingly evident to the simplest and most unlettered reader, whose heart is right with God, and who is seeking instruction, in order that he may glorify his Maker, by receiving and by doing good.

Notwithstanding all this, there is not a book in Scripture on the subject of which more difficulties have been started. None, says Calmet, has furnished more subjects of doubt and embarrassment; and none has afforded less information for the solution of those doubts. On this subject the great questions which have been agitated refer, principally,

  1. To the person of Job.
  • To his existence.
  • To the time in which he lived.
  • To his country.
  • To his stock or kindred.
  • To his religion.
  • To the author of the book.
  • To its truth.
  • To its authenticity; and,
  • To the time and occasion on which it was written.
  • With respect to the first and second, several writers of eminent note have denied the personality of Job; according to them, no such person ever existed; he is merely fabulous, and is like the Il penseroso, or sorrowful man of Milton; sorrow, distress, affliction, and persecution personified, as the name imports. According to them, he is a mere ideal being, created by the genius of the poet; clothed with such attributes, and placed in such circumstances, as gave the poet scope and materials for his work.

    Thirdly, as to the time in which those place him who receive this as a true history, there is great variety. According to some, he flourished in the patriarchal age; some make him contemporary with Moses; that he was in the captivity in Egypt, and that he lived at the time of the exodus. Some place him in the time of the Israelitish judges; others in the days of David; others, in those of Solomon; and others, in the time of the Babylonish captivity, having been teacher of a school at Tiberias in Palestine, and, with the rest of his countrymen, carried away into Babylon; and that he lived under Ahasuerus and Esther. Fourthly, as to his country: some make him an Arab; others, an Egyptian; others, a Syrian; some an Israelite; and some, an Idumean. Fifthly, as to his origin: some derive him from Nachor, and others from Esau, and make him the fifth in descent from Abraham. Sixthly, as to his religion: some suppose it to have been Sabaeism; others, that it was patriarchal; and others, that he was bred up in the Jewish faith. Seventhly, as to the author of the work, learned men are greatly divided: some suppose the author to have been Elihu; others, Job; others, Job and his friends; others, Moses; some, Solomon; others, Isaiah; and others, Ezra, or some unknown Jew, posterior to the captivity. Eighthly, as to the book: some maintain that it is a history of fact, given by one best qualified to record it; and others, that it is an instructive fiction-facts, persons, dialogues and all, being supposititious; given, however, by the inspiration of God, in a sort of parabolic form, like those employed in the Gospel; and similar to that of the rich man and Lazarus. Ninthly, as to its authenticity: while some, and those not well qualified to judge, have asserted it to be a mere human production, of no Divine authority; others have clearly shown that the book itself, whatever questions may arise concerning the person, author, time, place, etc., was ever received by the Jewish Church and people as authentic, genuine, and divinely inspired; and incorporated, with the highest propriety, among the most instructive, sublime, and excellent portions of Divine revelation. Tenthly, as to the occasion on which it was written, there are considerable differences of opinion: some will have it to be written for the consolation of the Hebrews in their peregrinations through the wilderness; and others, for the comfort and encouragement of the Israelites in the Babylonish captivity: these state that Job represents Nehemiah, and that his three professed friends, but real enemies, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, represent Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian! and that the whole book should be understood and interpreted on this ground; and that, with a little allowance for poetic colouring, all its parts perfectly harmonize, thus understood; showing, in a word, that into whatsoever troubles or persecutions God may permit his people to be brought, yet he will sustain them in the fire, bring them safely through it, and discomfit all their enemies: and that whatsoever is true on this great scale, is true also on that which is more contracted; as he will equally support, defend, and finally render conqueror, every individual that trusts in him.

    I shall not trouble my readers with the arguments which have been used by learned men, pro and con, relative to the particulars already mentioned: were I to do this, I must transcribe a vast mass of matter, which, though it might display great learning in the authors, would most certainly afford little edification to the great bulk of my readers. My own opinion on those points they may naturally wish to know; and to that opinion they have a right: it is such as I dare avow, and such as I feel no disposition to conceal. I believe Job to have been a real person, and his history to be a statement of facts.

    As the preface to this book (I mean the first chapter) states him to have lived in the land of Uz, or Uts, I believe, with Mr. Good and several other learned men, this place to have been "situated in Arabia Petraea, on the south-western coast of the lake Asphaltites, in a line between Egypt and Philistia, surrounded with Kedar, Teman, and Midian; all of which were districts of Arabia Petraea; situated in Idumea, the land of Edom or Esau; and comprising so large a part of it, that Idumea and Ausitis, or the land of Uz, and the land of Edom, were convertible terms, and equally employed to import the same region: thus, Lamentations 4:21; : 'Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz."' See Mr. Good's Introductory Dissertation; who proceeds to observe: "Nothing is clearer than that all the persons introduced into this poem were Idumeans, dwelling in Idumea; or, in other words, Edomite Arabs. These characters are, Job himself, dwelling in the land of Uz; Eliphaz of Teman, a district of as much repute as Uz, and (upon the joint testimony of Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:11, Amos 1:12, and Obadiah 1:8, Obadiah 1:9;) a part, and a principal part, of Idumea; Bildad of Shuah, always mentioned in conjunction with Sheba and Dedan, all of them being uniformly placed in the vicinity of Idumea; Zophar of Naamah, a city whose name imports pleasantness, which is also stated, in Joshua 15:21, Joshua 15:41, to have been situated in Idumea, and to have lain in a southern direction towards its coast, or the shores of the Red Sea; and Elihu of Buz, which as the name of a place occurs but once in sacred writ, but is there ( Jeremiah 25:22, Jeremiah 25:23;) mentioned in conjunction with Teman and Dedan; and hence necessarily, like themselves, a border city upon Ausitis, Uz, or Idumea. It had a number of names: it was at first called Horitis, from the Horim or Horites, who appear to have first settled there. Among the descendants of these, the most distinguished was Seir; and from him the land was known by the name of the Land of Seir. This chief had a numerous family, and among the most signalized of his grandsons was Uz, or Uts; and from him, and not from Uz the son of Nahor, it seems to have been called Ausitis, or the Land of Uz. The family of Hor, Seir, or Uz, were at length dispossessed of the entire region by Esau, or Edom; who strengthened himself by his marriage with one of the daughters of Ishmael; and the conquered territory was denominated Idumea, or the land of Edom." I think this is conclusive as to the country of Job and his friends. See Mr. Good as above.

    The man and his country being thus ascertained, the time in which he lived is the point next to be considered.

    I feel all the difficulties of the various chronologies of learned men: all that has been offered on the subject is only opinion or probable conjecture; and, while I differ from many respectable authors, I dare not say that I have more to strengthen my opinion than they have to support theirs.

    I do not believe that he lived under the patriarchal dispensation; nor in any time previous to the giving of the Law, or to the death of Moses. I have examined the opposite arguments, and they have brought no conviction to my mind. That he lived after the giving of the Law appears to me very probable, from what I consider frequent references to the Mosaic institutions occurring in the book, and which I shall notice in their respective places. I know it has been asserted there are no such references; and I am astonished at the assertion: the reader will judge whether a plain case is made out where the supposed references occur. An obstinate adherence to a preconceived system is like prejudice; it has neither eyes nor ears.

    With this question, that relative to the author of the book is nearly connected. Were we to suppose that Job himself, or Elihu, or Job and his friends, wrote the work, the question would at once be answered that regards the time; but all positive evidence on this point is wanting: and while other suppositions have certain arguments to support them, the above claimants who are supported only by critical conjecture, must stand where they are for want of evidence. The opinions that appear the most probable, and have plausible arguments to support them, are the following:

    1. Moses was the author of this book, as many portions of it harmonize with his acknowledged writings.
  • Solomon is the most likely author, as many of the sentiments contained in it are precisely the same with those in the Proverbs; and they are delivered often in nearly the same words.
  • The book was written by some Jew, in or soon after the time of the Babylonish captivity.
  • 1. That Moses was the author has been the opinion of most learned men; and none has set the arguments in support of this opinion in so strong a light as Mr. Mason Good, in his Introductory Dissertation to his translation and notes on this book. Mr. G. is a gentleman of great knowledge, great learning, and correct thinking; and whatever he says or writes is entitled to respect. If he have data, his deductions are most generally consecutive and solid. He contends, "that the writer of this poem must in his style have been equally master of the simple and of the sublime; that he must have been minutely and elaborately acquainted with Astronomy, Natural History, and the general science of his age; that he must have been a Hebrew by birth and native language, and an Arabian by long residence and local study; and, finally, that he must have flourished and composed the work before the exodus." And he thinks that "every one of these features is consummated in Moses, and in Moses alone; and that the whole of them give us his complete lineaments and portraiture. Instructed in all the learning of Egypt, it appears little doubtful that he composed it during some part of his forty years' residence with the hospitable Jethro, in that district of Idumea which was named Midian." In addition to these external proofs of identity, Mr. Good thinks, "a little attention will disclose to us an internal proof, of peculiar force, in the close and striking similarity of diction and idiom which exists between the book of Job and those pieces of poetry which Moses is usually admitted to have composed. This point he proceeds to examine; and thinks that the following examples may make some progress toward settling the question, by exhibiting a very singular proof of general parallelism.

    "The order of creation, as detailed in the first chapter of Genesis, is precisely similar to that described in Job 38:1-20, the general arrangement that occupied the first day; - the formation of the clouds, which employed the second; - the separation of the sea, which took up a part of the third; - and the establishment of the luminaries in the skies, which characterized the fourth.

    "In this general description, as given in Genesis, the vapor in the clouds, and the fluid in the sea, are equally denominated waters: thus, Genesis 1:5-7, 'And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.'

    "Let us compare this passage with Job 26:8-10; : -

    He driveth together the waters into His thick clouds;

    And the cloud is not rent under them -

    He setteth a bow on the face of the waters,

    Till the consummation of light and of darkness.

    "These are, perhaps, the only instances in the Bible in which the cloudy vapors are denominated waters, before they become concentrated into rain; and they offer an identity of thought, which strongly suggests an identity of person. The following is another very striking peculiarity of the same kind, occurring in the same description, and is perhaps still more in point. The combined simplicity and sublimity of Genesis 1:3, 'And God said, Be light! and light was,' has been felt and praised by critics of every age, Pagan and Mohammedan, as well as Jewish and Christian; and has by all of them been regarded as a characteristic feature in the Mosaic style. In the poem before us we have the following proof of identity of manner, Job 37:6; : -

    Behold! He saith to the snow, Be!

    On earth then falleth it.

    To the rain - and it falleth; -

    The rains of his might.

    "This can hardly be regarded as an allusion, but as an instance of identity of manner. In the psalmist we have an allusion: and it occurs thus, Psalm 33:9, ויהי אמר הוא hu amar vaiyehi, 'He spake, and it existed;' and I copy it that the reader may see the difference. The eulogy of Longinus upon the passage in Genesis is a eulogy also upon that in Job; and the Koran, in verbally copying the psalmist, has bestowed an equal panegyric upon all of them: -

    Dixit, 'Esto ;' et fuit . - He said, Be Thou; and it Was.

    "With reference to the description of the creation, in the book of Genesis, I shall only farther observe, that the same simplicity of style, adapted to so lofty a subject, characteristically distinguishes the writer of the book of Job, who commonly employs a diction peculiarly magnificent, as though trusting to the subject to support itself, without the feeble aid of rhetorical ornaments. Of this the description of the tribunal of the Almighty, given in the first and second chapters of the ensuing poem, is a striking example, as indeed I have already remarked; and that of the midnight apparition in the fourth chapter is no less so.

    "The following instances are of a more general nature, and lead, upon a broader principle, to the same conclusion: -

    Job Exodus Job 13:24;

    Job 4:9;

    Job 15:24;

    Job 20:26;

    Wherefore accountest thou me thine enemy?

    Wouldst thou hunt down the parched stubble?

    By the blast of God they perish;

    And by the breath of His nostrils they are consumed.

    Distress and anguish dismay him;

    They overwhelm him as a king ready for battle.

    Terrors shall be upon him -

    Every horror treasured up in reserve for him.

    A fire unblown shall consume him. Exodus 15:7;

    Exodus 15:8;

    Exodus 15:10;

    Exodus 15:16; Thou sentest forth thy wrath,

    Consuming them as stubble.

    And with the blast of thy nostrils

    The waters were gathered together.

    Thou didst blow with thy wind:

    The sea covered them.

    Terror and dread shall fall upon them:

    By the might of thine arm they shall be still as a stone. Job Deuteronomy Job 20:27;

    Job 18:15;

    Job 18:16;

    Job 18:17;

    18:24

    7:25

    Job 8:17;

    Job 8:18;

    Job 8:19; The heavens shall disclose his iniquity,

    And the earth shall rise up against him.

    Brimstone shall be rained down upon his dwelling.

    Below shall his root be burnt up,

    And above shall his branch be cut off.

    Counsellors he leadeth captive,

    And judges he maketh distracted.

    He bewildereth the judgment of the leaders of the people of the land,

    And causeth them to wander in a pathless dessert:

    They grope about in darkness, even without a glimpse;

    Yea, he maketh them to reel like the drunkard.

    His roots shall be entangled in a rock;

    With a bed of stones shall he grapple;

    Utterly shall it drink him up from his place;

    Yea, it shall renounce him, and say, "I never knew thee."

    Behold the Eternal exulting in his course;

    Even over his dust shall rise up another. Deuteronomy 28:22;

    Deuteronomy 28:23;

    Deuteronomy 28:24;

    Deuteronomy 28:28;

    Deuteronomy 28:29;

    Deuteronomy 28:63; And Jehovah shall mite thee with a consumption;

    And with a fever, and with an inflammation,

    And with an extreme burning.

    And the heaven over thy head shall be brass;

    And the earth under thee, iron.

    And Jehovah shall make the rain of they land powder and dust;

    From heaven shall it come down upon thee,

    Until thou be destroyed.

    Jehovah shall smite thee with destruction,

    And blindness, and astonishment of heart.

    And thou shalt grope at noonday,

    As the blind gropeth in darkness:

    And thou shalt not prosper in thy ways:

    And thou shalt only be oppressed.

    And consumed continually.

    And it shall come to pass,

    As Jehovah exulted over you,

    To do you good, and to multiply you,

    To destroy you, and reduce you to naught. "In this specimen of comparison it is peculiarly worthy of remark, that not only the same train of ideas is found to recur, but in many instances the same words, where others might have been employed, and perhaps have answered as well; the whole obviously resulting from the habit of thinking upon subjects in the same manner, and by means of the same terms which is common to every one, and which distinguishes original identity from intentional imitation. I will only advert to one instance: the use of the very powerful, but not very common verb שש sis, 'to exult,' exulto, glorior, γαυριαω, which occurs in the last verse of both the above passages, and is in each instance equally appropriate: יהוה ישיש yasis Yehovah - משוש הוא hu mesos .

    "The same term is again employed, Job 39:21, to express the spirited prancing of the high mettled war-horse.

    "The above passage from Job 8:1-9; has not been generally understood, and has been given erroneously in the translations." Mr. Good, in his notes, p. 101-103, enters at large into a defense of his version of this passage.

    Job Deuteronomy Job 8:8;

    Job 8:10;

    Job 20:17;

    Job 29:6;

    Job 15:27;

    Job 6:4;

    Job 16:13; For examine, I beseech thee, the past age;

    Yea, gird thyself to the study of its forefathers;

    Shall not they instruct thee, counsel thee,

    And swell forth the sayings of their wisdom?

    He shall not behold the branches of the river,

    Brooks of honey and butter -

    When my path flowed with butter,

    And the rock poured out for me rivers of oil.

    Though his face be enveloped with fatness,

    And heaped up with fatness on his loins.

    The arrows of the Almighty are within me;

    Their poison drinketh up my spirit:

    The terrors of God set themselves in array against me;

    His arrows fly around me;

    He pierceth my reins without mercy. Deuteronomy 32:7;

    Deuteronomy 32:13;

    Deuteronomy 32:14;

    Deuteronomy 32:15;

    Deuteronomy 32:23;

    Deuteronomy 32:42; Reflect on the days of old; Contemplate the times of ages beyond ages;

    Inquire of thy father, and he will show thee;

    Thine elders, and the will instruct thee.

    He gave him to suck honey out of the rock

    And oil out of the flinty rock,

    Butter of kine, and milk of sheep.

    But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked:

    Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick;

    Thou art enveloped with fatness.

    I will heap mischiefs upon them,

    I will spend my arrows upon them.

    I will make mine arrows drunk with blood. "The fine pathetic elegy of the ninetieth psalm has been usually ascribed to Moses; and Dathé imagines it was written by him a little before his death.

    "Kennicott and Geddes have some doubt upon this point, chiefly because the ultimate period assigned in it to the life of man is fourscore years; while Moses was at his death a hundred and twenty years old, yet 'his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;' Deuteronomy 34:7.

    "The following comparison will, perhaps, have a tendency to confirm the general opinion, by rendering it probable that its author and the author of the Book of Job were the same person.

    Job Psalm Job 14:2;

    Job 14:3;

    Job 14:16;

    Job 14:18;

    Job 14:19;

    Job 7:21;

    Job 11:14;

    Job 11:16;

    Job 11:17; He springeth up as a flower, and is cut down;

    Yea, he fleeth as a shadow, and endureth not.

    And dost thou cast thine eyes upon such a one?

    And wouldst thou bring me into judgment with thyself?

    Yet now art thou numbering my steps;

    Thou overlookest nothing of my sins: -

    And for ever, as the crumbling mountain dissolveth,

    And the rock mouldereth away from his place,

    So consumest thou the hope of man,

    Thou harassest him continually till he perish.

    Why wilt thou not turn away from my transgression,

    And let my calamity pass by?

    If the iniquity of thy hand thou put away evil,

    And let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles,

    Lo! then shalt thou forget affliction;

    As waters passed by shalt thou remember it:

    And brighter shall the time be than noontide;

    Thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt grow vigorous, like the day-spring. Psalm 90:5;

    Psalm 90:6;

    Psalm 90:7;

    Psalm 90:8;

    Psalm 90:9;

    Psalm 90:10;

    Psalm 90:12;

    Psalm 90:14;

    Psalm 90:15;

    Psalm 90:16;

    Psalm 90:17; They are like the passing grass of the morning;

    In the morning it springeth up and groweth:

    In the evening it is cut down and withereth.

    For we are consumed by thine anger,

    And by thy wrath are we troubled.

    Thou hast set our iniquities before thee:

    Our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

    Behold, all our days are passed away in thy wrath,

    We spend our years as a tale that is told.

    Their strength is labor and sorrow;

    It is soon cut off, and we flee away.

    So teach us to number our days

    That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

    O satisfy us early with thy mercy,

    That we may rejoice and be glad all our days,

    Make us glad according to the days of our affliction,

    To the years we have seen

    Let thy wonders be shown unto thy servants

    And thy glory unto their children;

    And let the beauty of Jehovah, our God, be upon us,

    And establish thou the work of our hands. "The strictly and decidedly acknowledged productions of Moses are but few; and in the above examples I have taken a specimen from by far the greater number. It is, indeed, not a little astonishing that, being so few, they should offer a resemblance in so many points.

    "There may at times be some difficulty in determining between the similarity of style and diction resulting from established habit, and that produced by intentional imitation; yet, in the former case, it will commonly, if I mistake not, be found looser, but more general; in the latter, stricter, but more confined to particular words or idioms; the whole of the features not having been equally caught, while those which have been laid hold of are given more minutely than in the case of habit. The manner runs carelessly through every part, and is perpetually striking us unawares; the copy walks after it with measured but unequal pace, and is restless in courting our attention. The specimens of resemblance now produced are obviously of the former kind: both sides have an equal claim to originality, and seem very powerfully to establish a unity of authorship."

    Thus far Mr. Good; who has, on his own side of the question, most certainly exhausted the subject. The case he has made out is a strong one: we shall next examine whether a stronger cannot be made out in behalf of Solomon, as the second candidate for the authorship of this most excellent book.

    2. That this book was the work of Solomon was the opinion of some early Christian writers, among whom was Gregory Nazianzen; and of several moderns, among whom were Spanheim and Hardouin. The latter has gone so far as to place the death of Job in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of David; and he supposes that Solomon wrote the work in question, about the second or third year of his reign. On this last opinion no stress whatever should be placed.

    As the argument for Moses has been supported by supposed parallelisms between his acknowledged works and the Book of Job, so has that which attributes the latter to Solomon. That Solomon, from his vast learning and wisdom, was capable of such a work, none can deny. His knowledge in astronomy, natural history, politics, theology, languages, and the general science of his age, must have given him at least equal qualifications to those possessed by Moses. And if he was the author of the Song of Solomon, which most men believe, he had certainly a poetic mind, equal, if not superior, to all the writers who had existed previously to his time. The Book of Proverbs and that of Ecclesiastes are almost universally attributed to him: now, in the Book of Job, there are a multitude of sentiments, sentences, terms, and modes of speech, which are almost peculiar to Solomon, as will appear from the whole books.

    In both we find the most exalted eulogium of wisdom. See Job 28:12; Proverbs 8:11, etc. Job says, "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding;" Job 28:28. Solomon says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction;" Proverbs 1:7.

    Job speaks of the state of the dead nearly in the same terms as Solomon: compare Job 21:33; Job 12:22; Job 36:5, with Proverbs 9:18.

    Job says, Job 26:6, "Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering." Solomon says, Proverbs 15:11, "Hell and destruction are before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of men?" Job says, "Man drinketh iniquity like water;" Job 15:16. And Elihu charges him with "drinking up scorning like water;" Job 34:7. The same image occurs in Solomon, Proverbs 26:6; : "He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool drinketh damage."

    In Job 15:34; it is said, "Fire shall consume the tabernacle of bribery." The same turn of thought occurs Proverbs 15:27; : "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live."

    Both speak of weighing the spirits or winds. See Job 28:25; Proverbs 16:2; But to me the parallelism in these cases is not evident, as both the reason of the saying, and some of the terms in the original, are different. Job tells his friends, "If they would hold their peace, it would be their wisdom;" Job 13:5. Solomon has the same sentiment in nearly the same words, Proverbs 17:28; : "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."

    Solomon represents the rephaim or giants as in hell, or the great deep; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 7:27. The like sentiment is in Job 26:5. See the Hebrew.

    In Job 27:16, Job 27:17, it is said that "If the wicked heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver." The like sentiment is found, Proverbs 28:8; : "He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather for him that will pity the poor." Solomon says, Proverbs 16:18; : "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall:" and, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honor is humility;" Proverbs 18:12; : and, "A man's pride shall bring him low; but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit." The same sentiment is expressed in Job 22:29; : "When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is a lifting up; and he shall save the humble person."

    Both speak nearly in the same way concerning the creation of the earth and the sea. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? - Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had issued from the womb?" Job 38:4-8. This seems a reference to the flood. In Proverbs 8:22-29; Wisdom says: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way - when as yet he had not made the earth - when he gave to the sea his decree that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth." These are precisely the same kind of conceptions, and nearly the same phraseology.

    In Job 20:7; it is said, "The wicked shall perish for ever, like his own Dung." And in Proverbs 10:7; it is said, "The name of the wicked shall Rot."

    It would not be difficult to enlarge this list of correspondences by a collation of passages in Job and in Proverbs; but most of them will occur to the attentive reader. There is, however, another class of evidence that appears still more forcible, viz.: There are several term used frequently in the Book of Job and in the books of Solomon which are almost peculiar to those books, and which argue an identity of authorship. The noun תשיה tushiyah, which may signify essence, substance, reality, completeness, occurs in Job and Proverbs. See Job 5:12; Job 6:13; Job 11:6; Job 12:16; Job 26:3, and Job 30:22; Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 8:14, and Proverbs 18:1. And it occurs only twice, as far as I can recollect, in all the Bible besides; viz., Isaiah 28:29, and Micah 6:9. The word הוה havvah, used in the sense of misfortune, ruinous downfall, calamity, occurs Job 6:2, Job 6:30; Job 30:13, and in Proverbs 10:3; Proverbs 11:6; Proverbs 17:4; Proverbs 19:13. It occurs nowhere else, except once in Ezekiel 7:26, once in Micah 7:3, and a few times in the Psalms, Psalm 5:9; Psalm 52:2, Psalm 52:7; Psalm 55:12; Psalm 91:3; Psalm 94:20; Psalm 37:12; Psalm 62:3.

    The word תחבלות tachbuloth, wise counsels, occurs only in Job 37:12, and in Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:5; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 24:6; and nowhere else in the Bible in this form. And פתה potheh, the silly one, simpleton, fool, is used precisely in the same sense in Job 5:2; Proverbs 19:7, and in various other parts of the same book. The word אבדון , abaddon, destruction, Job 26:6; Job 28:22; Job 31:12, connected sometimes with שאול sheol, hell, or the grave; and מות maveth, death, occurs as above, and in Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 27:20.

    Calmet, who refers to several of the above places, adds: It would be easy to collect a great number of similar parallel passages; but it must make a forcible impression in favor of this opinion when we observe in Job and Proverbs the same principles, the same sentiments, the same terms, and some that are found only in Job and Solomon. We may add farther, the beauty of the style, the sublimity of the thoughts, the dignity of the matter, the form and order in which the materials of this writer are laid down, the vast erudition and astonishing fecundity of genius, all of which perfectly characterize Solomon.

    Besides the above, we find many forms of expression in this book which prove that its author had a knowledge of the law of God, and many which show that he was acquainted with the Psalms of David, and a few very like what we find in the writings of the prophets. I shall insert a few more: -

    Job Psalm Job 15:27; Because he covereth his face with fatness Psalm 17:10; Psalm 73:7; They are inclosed in their own fat. Their eyes stand out with fatness. Job 34:14; If he set his heart upon man, he shall gather unto himself his spirit and his breath. Psalm 104:29; Thou hidest thy face, and they are troubled: thou takest away their breath; they die, and return to their dust. Job 21:9; Their houses are not in safe from fear; neither is the rod of God upon them. Psalm 73:5; They are trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Job 21:10; Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, casteth not her calf. Psalm 144:13, Psalm 144:14; Let our sheep bring forth thousands; and our oxen be strong to labor. Job 21:18; They (the wicked) are as stubble before the wind; and as chaff that the storm carrieth away. Psalm 1:4; The ungodly are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Job 22:19; The righteous see it, and are glad; and the innocent laugh them to scorn. Psalm 58:10; The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. Job 38:41; Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God. Psalm 147:9; He giveth to the beast his food; and to the young ravens which cry. Job 12:21; He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty. Psalm 107:40; He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness. Job Jeremiah Job 3:3; Let the day perish in which I was born; and the night in which it was said, There is a man-child conceived.. See also Job 10:18; Jeremiah 15:10; Jeremiah 20:14, Jeremiah 20:15; Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife Cursed be the day wherein I was also born - let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Job 21:7; Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, and mighty in power? Jeremiah 12:1, Jeremiah 12:2; Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? they grow; yea, they bring forth fruit. Job Collate these verses with Job 28:12; Job 28:13; But where shall wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. Baruch 3:14, 15, 29, and see Proverbs 1:20-23; Proverbs 2:2-7; Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 4:5-9; Proverbs 8:10-35.

    The remarkable sentiment that "God, as Sovereign of the world, does treat the righteous and the wicked, independently of their respective merits, with a similar lot in this life, and that like events often happen to both," is maintained in the Book of Job and the Ecclesiastes of Solomon. Job 9:22-24; : "He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where and who is he?" Job 10:15; : "If I be wicked, wo unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head." Job 9:15; : "Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer; I would make supplication to my Judge." Job 12:6; : "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly." Job 21:7-9; : "Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them."

    Similar sentiments, with a great similarity of expression, are found in the following passages from Solomon. Ecclesiastes 6:8; : "For what hath the wise more than the fool?" Ecclesiastes 8:14; : "There be just men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked. Again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous." Ecclesiastes 9:2; : "All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not. As is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath." Ecclesiastes 7:15; : "There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness; and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness."

    I may conclude this with the words of a learned translator of the book of Job, and apply in reference to Solomon what he applies to Moses: "The specimens of resemblance now produced have an equal claim to originality, and seem very powerfully to establish a unity of authorship." I think the argument much stronger in favor of Solomon as its author than of Moses: and while even here I hesitate, I must enter my protest against the conclusions drawn by others; and especially those who profess to show where David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., have copied and borrowed from Job! Some of them, in all probability, never saw the book; and those who did had an inspiration, dignity, manner, and power of their own, that rendered it quite unnecessary to borrow from him. Such plagiarism would appear, in common cases, neither requisite nor graceful. I have a high opinion of the book of Job, but God forbid that I should ever bring it on a level with the compositions of the sweet singer of Israel, the inimitable threnodies of Jeremiah, or the ultra-sublime effusions of the evangelical prophet. Let each keep his place, and let God be acknowledged as the inspirer of all.

    Thus, by exactly the same process, we come to different conclusions; for the evidence is now as strong that Job lived posterior to the days of Moses; that he was acquainted with the Law and the Prophets; that either he took much from the Psalms and Proverbs, or that David and Solomon borrowed much from him; or that Solomon, the son of David, wrote the history; as it is that he lived in the days of Moses.

    For my own part, I think the later date by far the most probable; and although I think the arguments that go to prove Solomon to be the author are weightier than those so skilfully brought forth by learned men in behalf of Moses, yet I think if possible that it was the work of neither, but rather of some learned Idumean, well acquainted with the Jewish religion and writers; and I still hold the opinion which I formed more than thirty years ago, when I read over this book in the Septuagint, and afterwards in the Hebrew, that it is most probable the work was originally composed in Arabic, and afterwards translated into Hebrew by a person who either had not the same command of the Hebrew as he had of the Arabic, or else purposely affected the Arabic idiom, retaining many Arabic words and Arabisms; either because he could not find appropriate expressions in the Hebrew, or because he wished to adorn and enrich the one language by borrowing copiously from the other. The Hebrew of the book of Job differs as much from the pure Hebrew of Moses and the early prophets, as the Persian of Ferdoosy differs from that of Saady. Both these were Persian poets; the former wrote in the simplicity and purity of his elegant native language, adopting very few Arabic words; while the latter labors to introduce them at every turn, and has thus produced a language neither Persian nor Arabic. And so prevalent is this custom become with all Persian writers, both in prose and verse, that the pure Persian becomes daily more and more corrupted, insomuch that there is reason to fear that in process of time it will be swallowed up in the language of the conquerors of that country, in which it was formerly esteemed the most polished language of Asia. Such influence has the language of a conqueror on the country he has subdued; witness our own, where a paltry French phraseology, the remnant of one of the evils brought upon us by our Norman conqueror and tyrant, has greatly weakened the strong current of our mother tongue; so that, however amalgamated, filed, and polished by eminent authors, we only speak a very tolerable jargon, enriched, as we foolishly term it, by the spoils of other tongues. The best specimen of our ancient language exists in the Lord's prayer, which is pure English, or what is called Anglo-Saxon, with the exception of three frenchified words, trespasses, temptation, and deliver.

    But to return to the book of Job. The collections of Mr. Good, Dr. Magee, and others, if they do not prove that Moses was the author of the book, prove that the author was well acquainted with the Mosaic writings; and prove that he was also acquainted with the ninetieth Psalm; and this last circumstance will go far to prove that he lived after the days of David, for we have no evidence whatever that the ninetieth Psalm was published previously to the collection and publication of the Psalms now generally termed the Psalms of David, though many of them were written by other hands, and not a few even after the Babylonish captivity. And, as to the inscription to this Psalm, האלהים איש משה תפלה tephillah Mosheh ish haelohim, "A prayer of Moses, the man of God;"

    1. We know not that Moses the Jewish lawgiver is meant: it might be another person of the same name.
  • And even in that case it does not positively state that this Moses was the author of it.
  • The inscriptions to the Psalms are of dubious, and many of them of no authority: some of them evidently misplaced; and others either bearing no relation to the matter of the Psalms to which they are prefixed, or evidently contradictory to that matter.
  • Hence our translators have considered these inscriptions as of no authority; and have not admitted them, in any case, into the body of their respective Psalms. The parallelism, therefore, drawn from this Psalm, will not help much to prove that Moses was the author of the book of Job; but it will go far to prove, as will be seen in other cases, that the author of this book was acquainted with the book of Psalms, as several of the preceding collections testify; and that there is a probability that he had read the prophets that lived and wrote in the time, and after the time, of the Babylonish captivity, which appears to me the only thing that shakes the argument in favor of Solomon; unless we take the converse of the question, and say that Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah, all knew a

    Lectionary Calendar
    Saturday, October 19th, 2019
    the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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