Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Job 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Uz - north of Arabia Deserta, lying toward the Euphrates; it was in this neighbourhood, and not in that of Idumea, that the Chaldeans and Sabeans who plundered him dwelt. The Arbas divide their country into the north, called Sham, or 'the left:' and the south, called Yemen, or 'the right:' for they faced east, and so the north was on their left and the south on their right. Arabia Deserta was on the east: and so Job is called (Job 1:3) "the greatest of all the men of the east;" Arabia Petraea on the west and Arabia Felix on the south. (See Introduction, 'Where Job lived.')

Job. The name comes from an Arabic word meaning "to return (namely, to God), to repent", referring to his end (Eichhorn): or rather from a Hebrew word [ 'aayab (H340), in the passive 'ayob] signifying one to whom hostility was shown, greatly tried (Gesenius). Significant names were often given among the Hebrews from some event of the after-life (cf. Isaiah 8:3-4, Mahar-shalal-hashbaz). So the names of David, 'Beloved,' and Solomon, 'Peaceful,' are names marking respectively the leading characteristic of their history, given presciently through God's overruling providence. The name Job may have been thus given at his birth, or else after his trials. So the emir of Uz was by general consent called Job, on account of his trials. The only other person so called was a son of Issachar (Genesis 46:13).

Perfect - not absolute or faultless perfection (cf. Job 9:20: "If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse." Ecclesiastes 7:20), but integrity, sincerity, and consistency on the whole, in all relations of life (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; Proverbs 10:9; Matthew 5:48). It was the fear of God that kept Job from evil (Proverbs 8:13).

Verse 2

And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

Seven sons-three daughters - (Proverbs 17:6). In the East, and in primitive times especially, it was thought to be a greater blessing to have many sons than many daughters (cf. Psalms 127:3-5; Psalms 128:3; Psalms 128:6).

Verse 3

His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

She-asses - prized on account of their milk, and for riding (Judges 5:10). Houses and lands are not mentioned among the emir's wealth, as nomadic tribes dwell in moveable tents, and live chiefly by pasture, the right to the soil not being appropriated by individuals. The "five hundred yoke of oxen" imply, however, that Job tilled the soil. He seems also to have had a dwelling in a town (Job 29:7), in which respect he differed from the patriachs. Camels are well called ships of the desert, especially valuable for caravans, as being able to lay in a store of water that satisfies them for days, and sustain life on a very few thistles or thorns.

Household - (Genesis 26:14, margin) The other rendering, which the Hebrew admits, husbandry, is not so probable.

Men of the east - denoting in Scripture those living east of Palestine; as the people of North Arabia Deserta (Judges 6:3; Ezekiel 25:4).

Verse 4

And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

Every one his day - namely, the birthday, (Job 3:1). (Umbreit.) Implying the love and harmony of the members of the family, as contrasted with the ruin which soon broke up such a scene of happiness. The sisters are specified, since these feasts were not for revelry, which would be inconsistent with the presence of sisters. These latter were invited by the brothers, though they gave no invitations in return. The sisters, according to Eastern custom, lived in their mother's home (Genesis 24:67). The Hebrew perfects, "feasted, sent, called," imply that this was their regular custom, each in his turn (namely, on his birthday) to feast the rest. Maurer objects that, as the birthdays must have fallen at different times in the year, it is not intelligible in Umbreit's view why Job, who was as solicitous that no offence of his children should be unatoned, should not after each birthday, and not merely at the close of the whole year, offer the atonements. The narrative implies the series of feasts was at one anniversary season each year, and lasted for seven days, and each of the seven sons was the entertainer on one day of the seven, beginning with the oldest son.

Verse 5

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. When the days of feasting were gone about - i:e., at the end of all the birthdays collectively, when the banquets had gone round through all the families.

Sent - i:e., sent and summoned them to him: for Job was not present himself at their feasts (Job 1:13; Job 1:18).

Job sanctified them - by purificatory washings (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:14; 1 Samuel 16:5), followed by his offering up as many expiatory burnt offerings as he had sons (Genesis 8:20; Leviticus 1:4). This was done in the morning (Genesis 22:3; Leviticus 6:12). So Jesus began devotions early (Mark 1:35). The holocaust or burnt offering, in patriarchal times, was "offered" (literally, caused to ascend [ wªhe`ªlaah (H5927) `olowt (H5930)], referring to the smoke ascending to heaven) by each father of a family officiating as priest in behalf of his household.

Cursed God. The same Hebrew word [ baarak (H1288)] means to curse and to bless; Gesenius says the original sense is to kneel, and thus it came to mean bending the knee in order to invoke either a blessing or a curse. Cursing is a perversion of blessing, as all sin is of goodness. Sin is a degeneracy, not a generation. It is not, however, likely that Job should fear the possibility of his sons cursing God. The sense bid farewell to, derived from the blessing customary at parting, seems sufficient (Genesis 47:10). Thus, Umbreit translates, 'may have dismissed God from their heart;' namely, amidst the intoxication of pleasure (Proverbs 20:1; cf. Psalms 10:4-5). This act illustrates Job's "fear of Cod," Job 1:1.

Verse 6

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Sons of God - angels (Job 37:7; 1 Kings 22:19). Psalms 29:1, margin, "Sons of the mighty." Called also "saints" (Job 5:1): and "angels" or messengers (Job 4:18). "Sons of God" implies their birth from, and likeness to, God: whence man unfallen is similarly designated (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 6:2). "Saints" implies their entire consecration, and relative, though not absolute (Job 4:18; Job 15:15), perfection. "Angels" implies their function, in which respect also God's human messengers resemble them, and therefore receive the same name (Malachi 2:7; Galatians 4:14). They present themselves to render account of their "ministry" (Hebrews 1:14) in other parts of the universe, and to receive God's commands: so their attitude is standing before Yahweh, who sits on His throne (Zechariah 6:5; cf. Proverbs 22:29).

The Lord - Hebrew, YAHWEH (H3068) (Jehovah) - the self-existing God, faithful to His premises. God says (Exodus 6:3) that He was not known to the patriarchs by this name. But, as the name occurs previously in Genesis 2:7-9, etc., what must be meant is, not until the time of delivering Israel by Moses was He known peculiarly and publicly in the character which the name means, namely, making things to be, fulfilling the promises made to their forefathers. This name, therefore, here is no objection against the antiquity of the Book of Job.

Satan. The tradition was widely spread that he had been the agent in Adam's temptation. Hence, his name is given without comment. The feeling with which he looks on Job is similar to that with which he looked on Adam in Paradise: emboldened by his success in the case of one not yet fallen, he is confident that the piety of Job, one of a fallen race, will not stand the test. He had fallen himself (Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Jude 1:6). In the book of Job first Satan is designated by name: Satan, in Hebrew [ Saataan (H7854)], an adversary in a court of justice (1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalms 109:6; Zechariah 3:1). The accuser (Revelation 12:10). He has gotten the law of God on his side by man's sin, and against man. But Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for us, so that justice is once more on man's side against Satan (Isaiah 42:21); and so Jesus Christ can plead as our advocate against the adversary (Romans 8:33). Devil the Greek name-the slanderer, or accuser. He is subject to God, who uses his ministry for chastising man. In Arabic Satan is often applied to a serpent (Genesis 3:1). He is called Prince of this world (John 12:31); the God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4); Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). God here questions him in order to vindicate His own ways before angels.

Verse 7

And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Going to and fro - rather, hurrying rapidly to and fro. The original idea in Arabic is the heat of haste (1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 12:43). Satan seems to have had some special connection with this earth. Perhaps he was formerly its ruler under God. Man succeeded to the vice-royalty (Genesis 1:26; Psalms 8:6). Man lost it, and Satan became Prince of this world. The Son of Man (Psalms 8:4) - the representative man, regains the forfeited inheritance (Revelation 11:15).

Satan's replies are characteristically curt and short. Perpetual hurry and restlessness characterize himself and his followers. The Hebrew [ shuwT (H7751)] means to run to and fro (cf. Hebrew, Jeremiah 5:1; Amos 8:12). Umbreit translates, 'from a flight over the earth.' When the angels appear before God Satan is among them, even as there was a Judas among the apostles.

Verse 8

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Considered - margin, set thine heart on - i:e., considered attentively. No true servant of God escapes the eye of the Adversary of God.

That - rather, 'for there is none like him:' giving the reason for the question asked.

Verse 9

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Fear God for nought? It is a mark of the children of Satan to sneer and not give credit to any for disinterested piety. Selfishness, say they, is at the bottom of even the best men's religion. But not so much God's gifts, as God Himself is "the reward" of His people (Genesis 15:1).

Verse 10

Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

His substance is increased - literally, his cattle break forth and spread out like a flood: Job's herds covered the face of the country [Hebrew, paarats (H6555)]: (cf. Genesis 30:30, margin, and Genesis 43:1-34; Isaiah 64:3).

Verse 11

But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Curse thee to thy face - in antithesis to God's praise of him (Job 1:8), "one that feareth God." Satan's words are too true of many. Take away their prosperity and you take away their religion (Malachi 3:14).

Curse thee - Umbreit translates, as in Job 1:5, 'insolently renounce thee;' so Maurer and Gesenius.

Verse 12

And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

In thy power - Satan has no power against man until God gives it. God would not touch Job with, His own hand, though Satan asks this (Job 1:11, "put forth thine hand"), but allows the enemy to do so.

Verse 13

And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:

Wine - not specified in Job 1:4. The mirth inspired by the wine here contrasts the more sadly with the alarm which interrupted it.

Verse 14

And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:

The donkeys feeding beside them - Hebrew, she-asses. A graphic picture of rural repose and peace; the more dreadful, therefore, by contrast is the sudden attack of the plundering Arabs.

Verse 15

And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Sabeans - not those of Arabia Felix, but those of Arabia Deserta, descending from Sheba, grandson of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3). The Bedouin Arabs of the present day resemble, in marauding habits, these Sabeans (cf. Genesis 16:12). The Sabeans of Arabia Felix were mercantile (Job 6:19), not marauding in their habits. Perhaps "Sabeans" is used for Arabians in general (cf. Isaiah 13:20; Jeremiah 3:2).

I only am escaped. Cunningly contrived by Satan. One in each case escapes (Job 1:16-17; Job 1:19), and brings the same kind of message. This was to overwhelm Job, and leave him no time to recover from the rapid succession of calamities-`misfortunes seldom come single.'

Verse 16

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Fire of God - Hebraism for a mighty fire; as cedars of God-lofty cedars. Umbreit understands it of the burning wind of Arabia, called by the Turks 'wind of poison.' But the burning wind would not be said to fall from heaven: therefore, it is likely by "the fire of God" is meant lightning (Exodus 9:23; Numbers 16:35; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10; 2 Kings 1:12; 2 Kings 1:14). "The prince of the power of the air" is permitted to have control over such destructive agents.

Verse 17

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Chaldeans - not merely robbers, as the Sabeans; but experienced in war, as is implied by "they set in array three bands" (Habakkuk 1:6-8). Their original seat was in the region of the Carduchian mountains, north of Assyria (Xenophon 'Cyrop,' 3: 2, 3; and 'Anab.' 4: 3, 4), and near Armenia, whence they proceeded southwards in wandering bands before they were established in a settled empire namely, the Babylonian (cf. the note of Isaiah 23:13). Rawlinson distinguishes three periods:

(1) When their seat of empire was in the south, toward the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Chaldean period, from 2300 BC to 1500 BC In this period was Chederlaomer (Genesis 14:1-24), the Kudur of Hur or Ur of the Chaldees, in the Assyrian inscriptions, and the conqueror of Syria.

(2) From 1500 to 625 B.C., the Assyrian period.

(3) From 625 to 538 B.C. (when Cyrus the Persian took Babylon), the Babylonian period. Chaldees in Hebrew-Chacdiym. They were akin, perhaps, to the Hebrews, as Abraham's sojourn in Ur, and the name Checed (H2617), a nephew of Abraham (Genesis 22:22), imply. The three bands were probably in order to attack the three separate thousands of Job's camels (Job 1:3).

Verse 18

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 19

And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Wind from the wilderness - literally, 'from across the wilderness,' south of Job's house. The tornado came the more violently over the desert as being uninterrupted (Isaiah 21:1; Hosea 13:15).

The young men - rather the young people; including the daughters (so in Ruth 2:21).

Verse 20

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

Job arose - not necessarily from sitting. Inward excitement is implied, and the beginning to do anything. He had heard the other messages calmly, but on hearing of the death of his children, then he arose; or, as Eichhorn translates, 'he started up' (2 Samuel 13:31). The rending of the mantle, was the conventional mark of deep grief (Genesis 37:34). Orientals wear a tunic or shirt, and loose pantaloons, and over these a flowing mantle (especially great persons and women). Shaving the head was also usual in grief (Jeremiah 41:5; Micah 1:16).

Verse 21

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Naked - destitute of all earthly resources (1 Timothy 6:7). "Mother's womb" is poetically the earth, the universal mother (Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Psalms 139:15). Job herein realizes God's assertion (Job 1:8) against Satan's (Job 1:11). Instead of cursing, he blesses the Hebrew name of YAHWEH (H3068). "The name of Jehovah" means Yahweh Himself, as manifested to us in His attributes (Isaiah 9:6).

Verse 22

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Nor charged God foolishly - rather, allowed himself to commit no folly against God (Umbreit). Job 2:10 proves that this is the meaning. Not as margin, nor attributed folly to God. Hasty words against God, though natural in the bitterness of grief, are folly: literally, an insipid, unsavoury thing, (Job 6:6; Jeremiah 23:13, margin). Folly in Scripture is continually equivalent to wickedness (Job 24:12; Lamentations 2:14). For when man sins, it is himself, not God, whom he injures (Proverbs 8:36).


(1) No degree of worldly prosperity is a guarantee against sudden and great reverses; therefore, Blessed is the man who, in prosperity, feareth always, and woe to them who, "because they have no changes, fear not God" (Psalms 55:19).

(2) In festive enjoyments, however innocent in themselves, there is a danger of the natural heart becoming so intoxicated with the excitement of pleasure as to forget God, the source of all true enjoyment: we therefore should ask God's pardon if we have forgotten Him, and should go into no scene of festivity whereinto we cannot bring God with us, and whereupon we cannot ask God's blessing at its close. Job had many expiatory offerings to make from time to time in order to sanctify his sons: we Christians have one offering that has once for all been made, by which Christ has forever perfected them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:14).

(3) The dispensations of Providence in the present world which are most perplexing to the believer (cf. Psalms 73:1-28) would be in a great measure cleared up if we could remove the veil which hides from us the unseen world. We should then realize the fact that the present world is a scene of probation, in which Satan's malice, though for a time let loose upon the saints, is actually being overruled by God for His final glory and their eternal good.

(4) We see in Jobs case the power of true religion exemplified. True piety recognizes God's right to do as He will with His own; and sees in affliction the hand of an Almighty Father who loves us, and therefore chastens us in order that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). We are to submit to trials, not because we see the reasons for them, nor yet as though, they were matters of chance, but because God wills them, and has a right to send them, and has His own good reasons in sending them.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-1.html. 1871-8.
Ads FreeProfile