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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical


- Job

by Johann Peter Lange



THE name which our Book has borne from antiquity, and without any variation whatever on the part of the sources by which it has been transmitted, is that of its principal hero—Job [Hebrew אִיּוֹב, Germ. Hiob, of which, however, Dr. Zöckler remarks that it less accurately represents the Heb. than the form Job (Ijob, Ijjob)]. This name is no free poetic invention of the author, but without doubt a proper name assigned to him by primitive tradition, the name of a particular person belonging to the history or the legend. The supposition that it was the product of poetic fiction on the part of the author is contradicted by the circumstance that the book nowhere contains any allusion to the signification of the name, notwithstanding that the religious and ethical tendency of the book, and especially its aim, which is rightly to explain and to justify the suffering which overtakes innocence, would have furnished abundant occasion for such allusions. It is to be sure a question how the name is to be etymologically explained; whether, with most expositors, ancient and modern, we form it after the Hebrew, in which case אִיּוֹב would seem to be a passive participle from אָיַב (Exodus 23:22), and to signify accordingly “the assailed, persecuted one,” or with some of the moderns, we base it on the Arabic verb שׁוּב אוּב, with the signification, “he who turns around, who repents, who returns to God.” But whichever of these two significations, which are equally admissible, may be the original one, the poet would have had opportunity enough to introduce some reference to it if it had lain at all within his plan to make such allusions, or even if a moralizing nomenclature had belonged to the circle of his vision and to his individual poetic style. For in the other names of his book as well, whether of persons, or of countries, or of races, he abstains wholly from all such attempts at etymological characterization. Whence it is sufficiently apparent that the name of the hero, which has given name to the entire book, has its origin in a concrete historical tradition.

The Theme and Contents of the book are briefly as follows:

Ch. 1–2: The Prologue, or the Historical Introduction to the poem. Job, an inhabitant of the land of Uz, noted for his piety, riches and position, being accused before God by Satan, is, in accordance with the divine decree, subjected to a severe trial. A series of sudden calamities robs him in a very short time of his possessions, his children, and his health, and in an instant plunges him, afflicted with the most terrible species of leprosy, elephantiasis, from the height of earthly prosperity into the deepest misery. He endures this visitation, however, with wonderful equanimity; and even when his wife, overcome by doubt, urges him to renounce God, he allows no blasphemous, nor even an impatient word to pass from his lips.—Three friends of Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, who come to visit him from sympathy, are so powerfully affected at the sight of his misery, that for seven days and nights they sit down with the sorely afflicted man in silence, without giving him a word of comfort.

Ch. 3–31: The Dialogue, or the dialectic discussion of the problem. Job, having at last himself broken the long silence by a violent outburst, beginning with a curse on the day of his birth (Job 3:0 : Theme, or immediate occasion of the dialogue) there springs up a long colloquy between him and his three visitors in respect to the question whether his suffering is unmerited, or whether it has come upon him as the just punishment of his sins. The friends maintain the latter; they defend the position that God never imposes suffering otherwise than by way of retribution for particular moral offenses and transgressions of His law; and they accordingly urge on the sorely afflicted man in a tone now of milder, now of more violent accusation, the necessity of knowing himself and turning to God in true penitence. Job, on the contrary, finds no connection whatever between his suffering and his guilt, declares himself to be conscious of no sin at all by which he could have incurred such calamity; he even goes so far as to utter violent, almost desperate accusations against God, in that he doubts His justice, and represents himself as innocently persecuted by Him. Presently, however, he rises to a state of greater calmness and composure, when, supported by the consciousness of his innocence, and at the same time humbly submitting himself beneath the inscrutable dispensations of the wise and just God, he declares his purpose faithfully and reverently to cleave to Him, while he none the less expresses his yearning hope for a manifestation of God, in which, as he distinctly anticipates, He will bring to light his innocence, and restore him out of his misery.—The colloquy runs through three series of discourses (Ch. 4–14; Ch. 15–21; Ch. 22–31), which exhibit in each successive stage a heightening of the conflict between the friends as his accusers, and Job as he replies to them one by one. Especially do the discourses in which Eliphaz arraigns Job, which open each new Act [or Series], indicate an advance in the direction of more and more direct assaults on the personal character of the sufferer, and stronger suspicions of his innocence. The discourses of Bildad and Zophar are in each instance shorter than those of Eliphaz. In the third series of discourses (Ch. 22. seq.) Zophar no longer takes part in the colloquy; but Job, having forcibly repelled the assaults of Eliphaz and Bildad (Ch. 23, 24, and Ch. 26–28), proceeds in a kind of appended monologue (Ch. 29–31), elaborately contrasting with an apologetic purpose his former and present condition, continually asserting his innocence in the most emphatic language, and expressing his firm confidence in the final interposition of God for his vindication; and thus he holds the field victorious over all the assaults of his adversaries.

Ch. 32–37: The discourses of Elihu, or the attempt to settle the controversy by means of human wisdom.—A fourth opponent of Job now makes his appearance, Elihu, inferior to the former three in age, but not in wisdom and eloquence. He seeks to show that Job in his vindication was guilty of great one-sidedness in totally repudiating any guilt on his part, and in casting doubt on God’s justice by representing himself as cruelly tormented and persecuted without cause. He censures the polemic of the friends against Job as inadequate and inconsequential, recognizes him as the victor, who has reduced them to silence; but having done this, he controverts his right to utter accusations and doubts against God’s justice, seeks to glorify this cardinal attribute of God by showing that He, moved not by anger, but by love, often decrees suffering for His human children with a view to chasten and purify them, and admonishes him to submit reverently and humbly under all dispensations of the Most High, whose wondrous power and majesty he most vividly describes and extols at the end of his discourse.

Ch. 38–42: The Divine decision, or God’s judgment in respect to the contending parties, together with the historical epilogue, or closing act. The exhibitions of one-sidedness, which characterize this attempt of a human arbiter to mediate in the controversy, serve to set forth in its proper light the appearance of God on the scene, the way for which has now been sufficiently prepared. Jehovah appears, and in a powerful discourse addressed to Job out of a storm shows (Job 38-41) that it is folly to doubt His wisdom and justice in ruling the destinies of men on earth, and for this reason, that to the man who utters such doubt not even the simplest, commonest processes in the external life of nature are clear and comprehensible, at the same time that in those processes those Divine attributes are supremely and most gloriously revealed. With this exposition, which is directed more especially against Job, is connected the condemnation of the three friends on account of their shortsighted, harsh, unfriendly view of the relation in which he stood to the Divine righteousness. Still more emphatic is the condemnation which follows in the final scene of the whole, which is introduced by Job’s penitential confession of his sin (Job 42:0), this condemnation being pronounced first of all formally and directly by requiring of them a definite explation of their offense, and by God’s declaration that He graciously accepted Job’s intercession in their behalf, and then circumstantially in the fact that Job’s prosperity, dignity and honor are restored, and that his earthly possessions are given back to him two-fold. The problem of the book thus seems to meet with a solution that is sufficiently profound, and the sufferings of the pious Job are an example and a demonstration of the existence of sufferings which are essentially designed to prove, test, purify and establish, the innocence of the righteous ones on whom they fall.

Note.—The orthography Hiob, first introduced by Luther in his German translation, was intended simply to hinder the word from being pronounced with a consonantal J (comp. Hebr. יוֹב, Genesis 46:13), and to indicate the presence of an aspirate at the beginning of the dissyllable. But inasmuch as this א at the beginning of the word does not according to our notions constitute an audible breathing, and since it serves rather to make more prominent that internal consonantal Yodh-sound, which the Daghesh in the second radical expresses, the word is, with Ewald, Dillmann, and other moderns, to be written Ijob [Engl. Iyob]. (The form Ijjob [or lyyob] would involve a needless hardening of that consonant.1 Yodh, as well as a useless pleonasm, such as would be e.g. the rendering of דָּנִיֵּאל by Daniyyel.) We come near enough, however, to the Hebrew sound of the name if we adhere to the Ἰώβ of the Greek and the Job of the Latin Bible, with a correct pronunciation of the initial sound.—As respects the etymology of אִיוֹב, the attempt of the 70 to identify this name and its dependents with that of the Edomite prince יוֹבָב, a grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:33), may be set aside as etymologically impossible and historically undemonstrable (comp. § 2). The two explanations given above in the text are the only ones that deserve more minute minute consideration. Of those the second, which finds the basis of the word in the Arab. אוּב, “to turn” (of which the Heb. אָיַב is only a dialectic variation) might seem to deserve the preference for the following reasons: 1. Because in any case Job’s final turning, conversion to God, constituted an original characteristic feature of Job’s conduct and destiny. 2. A specifically Hebrew etymon of the name seems to be less in harmony with the position and ethnographical peculiarities of the land of UZ. 3. The form אִיּוֹב, from אָיַב, “to treat hostilely,” judging by the analogy of most such formations as follow קִטּוֹל, should have not a passive, but an active sense (comp Ewald, Lehrb. § 155, c). 4. Finally, such a form, if in fact expressing the passive meaning, “the assailed, persecuted one,” seems to express the thought too indefinitely, because the essential thought that the hostile treatment was “from God” is not also expressed. Influenced by these arguments, Kromayer, J. D. Michaelis, Bertholdt, Eichhorn, Rosenmüller among the older commentators, Ewald, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc., among the latest, have preferred to explain the name after the Arabic, partly with a reference to the Koran, in which (Sur. 38, ver. 40) the Job of the Old Testament history is introduced by the designation “the returning, the repentant” one. The passage referred to, however, scarcely suffices to establish this explanation beyond question, for; (a) That passage of the Koran (vers. 16 and 29) applies the same predicate—“ the one turning, or changing himself”—to David and Solomon. (b) The suffering which the hero of our book endures seems far more characteristic of him than the final change which takes place in him. (c) The notion of “being assailed, persecuted,” assigned to אִיּוֹב, does not need to be supplemented by the clause—“on the part of God”—seeing that the sufferings of our hero proceeded in no small degree from the hostility of men, and most of all from that of his best friends. (d) That the language of UZ, the land of Job’s nativity, was predominantly Arabic, is by no means an established fact, but is on the contrary at variance with the decidedly Hebrew cast of the other proper names in the book, and especially those of the three daughters of Job (Job 42:14). (e) The use of words in the form קִטּוֹל in Hebrew with a passive signification is supported by some weighty examples, especially יִלּוֹד, “born.” It will be seen accordingly that there is a series of strong arguments to justify the explanation of the word in accordance with the Hebrew etymology, as explained by Gesenius, Fürst, de Wette, Umbreit, Hirzel’, Heiligstedt, Hävernick, Davidson (Introduction, Vol. II., p. 174) [Hengstenberg, Noyes, A. B. Davidson, Carey, Schlottmann, Wordsworth, Rodwell], etc. The theory that the name is fictitious, and intentionally denotes a purely allegorical character is disproved by either one of the two definitions in question, and still more by the considerations to be adduced in the sequel in favor of the historical reality of the principal persons and facts of the narrative.


From the above exhibition of the contents and course of thought in the book it is clear that it is no mere fiction, as has been frequently maintained from early times (first by R. Resh Lakish in the Tamud, Baba bathra, fol. 15:1; then by Maimonides, Salmasius, Le Clerc, J. D. Michaelis, Dathe, Bertholdt, Bernstein, Augusti, Bruno Bauer [Reuss, Merx], etc.), This theory, that the material of the narrative had its origin in the author’s imagination, is disproved by the following considerations, in addition to the concrete historical character which attaches to the name Job, as well as to the names of the other chief personages of the story.—1. The fact that the country where the scene of the action is laid, the land of UZ, did not stand in close connection with Israel, and that no other reason can well be assigned for the choice of this particular country than the fact of its having been already designated by a definite historical tradition; especially seeing that a purely fictitious investiture corresponding to the spirit and character of the action, which, while it is not indeed theocratic, is nevertheless intensely religious and specifically monotheistic, would have much more naturally suggested some Israelitish locality.1 2. The fact that it must have been important for the author to illustrate the lofty truth to be demonstrated by an example, the historical reality of which could not have been denied by his contemporaries; or, in other words, that a purely parabolical dress would have been very ill-suited to the religious and didactic purpose by which he was governed. 3. The fact that the setting forth of pure invention as actual history would be, according to the correct observation of Ewald and Dillmann, “entirely foreign to the spirit of early antiquity, and moreover entirely superfluous in view of the great abundance of legends, which were then accessible.” 4. Finally, the mention of Job, along with Noah and Daniel in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14-20); a mention which by no means rests solely on the text of our book, but which assuredly proceeds from the desire to name three characters in the circle of sacred history famed for their wisdom and piety (comp. my Bearbeitung des Proph. Daniel, p. 11 seq.), and which accordingly is a direct attestation to the historical reality of the person of our hero, a proof which, on account of the pre-exilic antiquity of the prophecies of Ezekiel, is stronger than that furnished by the later allusions to the history of Job in the Book of Tobit (Tobit 2:12, 15), and in the Epistle of James (James 5:11).

These arguments for the historical verity of the narrative are indeed far from sufficient to prove that in every particular it is to be regarded as veritable history, and that this book is accordingly to be taken altogether out of the class of the poetical products of the Old Testament Literature, and to be assigned to the class of historical books. This crude opinion, ruthlessly destructive as it is of the poetic character of the book, has found defenders from the time of the Alexandrian translators, whose attempt at identifying Job with Jobab (Genesis 36:33), the son of Zerah, and the grandson of Esau (see the Appendix to Job 42:17, at the end of Comm’y.: προϋπῆρχεν δὲ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰωβάβ. Ἠν δὲπατὴρ αὐτοῦ Ζαρέθ, κ. τ. λ.). rests on that sort of an exaggerated historical view of the historic material of the book. So according to all appearance Josephus (c. Apion. I. 8); and so in like manner many Rabbis, and Church Fathers, and more particularly in modern times the orthodox Reformed of the 16th and 17th Centuries, as e.g., Fr. Spanheim, whose Historia Jobi (Opp. T. II., p. 1703) took the ground that only by maintaining the historical reality of the contents of the book can the author be vindicated against the charge of a fraudulent invention (in historia sit, fraus scriptoris); also the celebrated orientalist Alb. Schultens, in Leyden, who endeavored to show that the book is a true narrative, relating a colloquy of ancient Eastern sages in the poetic improvisatory style of the Arabian tales. The principal reasons which may be urged against this extreme historical theory are the following: 1. The plan and purpose of the whole book, which on the one side resembles a drama, on the other a philosophical dialogue (comp. § 3). 2. The scene in heaven with which the story begins (Job 1:6 seq.), which like the theophany in Job 5:38 seq., could be regarded as historic only in the sense of a history characterized by strong idealization. 3. The poetic completeness of the discourses, which, notwithstanding all that may be alleged respecting their affinity to the proverbial discourses which the Arabian sages improvised in poetic form, with those e.g. found in the celebrated Consessus of the Hariri, bear nevertheless the impress of an earnest, not to say laborious artistic effort, and of which Luther without doubt said truly in his Table-Talk: “People do not talk that way in temptation.” 4. The poetic transparency and intentional regularity of the relations and facts which are described, as shown by comparing the introductory verses of the prologue with the concluding verses of the epilogue. (Observe in particular the exact doubling of Job’s former possessions in cattle, according to Job 42:12, as also the round numbers in the same passage, and in Vers. 13 and 16). 5. The sublime profundity of the religious and ethical problem treated of in the book, and the impressive power of the truths brought forward to aid in its solution; and in general the ideal beauty of the whole, which cannot possibly be explained apart from the reflective and artistically creative activity of a poetic genius endowed in unusual measure by the Spirit of God.

We are left accordingly to that view which has of late met with such wide, and indeed almost exclusive acceptance, which assumes along with a historic kernel, a free poetic treatment by the author of the material derived from the ancient legend, a treatment which invests such material with great depth and beauty. It is precisely the view which Luther expressed in his Table-Talk: “I hold that the book of Job is a true history, which was afterwards put into a poem; and that what is here said happened to a man, although not precisely according to the words which are here recorded.” And modern writers (Jahn, Döderlein, Eichhorn, Rosenmüller, Umbreit, Vaihinger, Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann, Delitzsch, Davidson [Schlottmann, Canon Cook in Smith’s Bib. Dict., and in Bible (Speaker’s) Commentary; McClintock & Strong’s Cyclopædia, Art. “Job;” Princeton Review, Vol. XXIX., p. 284], etc., have discussed this view, and argued in favor of it at length. Just where the historical kernel ceases, and the poetic vesture begins, it would be impossible precisely to define. This difficulty is especially due to the fact that the material which served the poet for his creative use was not history in the strict sense of the word, but history which had passed through the channels of legendary tradition, and also to the fact that there were no variations of the legend, of equal value and approximating a like antiquity with that which lies at the basis of our book.2 All that can with much probability be assumed to be true is that along with the person, the abode, and the surroundings of Job, the fact of the sudden overthrow of his prosperity and of his pious constancy in adversity had been transmitted to the poet by the legend. Still further, the nature of the calamities which had overtaken him, and particularly of his bodily suffering, may well have been a part of the historical tradition. So correctly Ewald, Heiligstedt, Hirzel, Hävernick, etc., against Hahn, Hengstenberg, Schlottmann, Davidson and others, who needlessly think that the poet represents his hero as afflicted with elephantiasis for the simple reason that of all the diseases known to him this was the most horrible and loathsome. Had there been any variation in the ancient tradition respecting the nature and characteristics of Job’s disease, such an opinion might be regarded as having more definite support. But in view of the fact that we have only one source of information, it cannot be doubted that the nature of the disease from which the pious patriarch suffered is also to be taken, as a part of the original tradition.

In respect to the age of Job, many conjectures have been indulged in since that gloss of the Septuagint which represented him as a contemporary of the sons of Jacob, or rather of Joseph, and thus as belonging to the pre-Mosaic period. In accordance with that intimation, he has been assigned to the period intervening between the age of Joseph and that of Moses (Chrysostom, Carpzovins, Lightfoot [Carey, Lee], etc.; or still later as an early contemporary of Moses (Kennicott, Remarks on Select Passages of Scripture, p. 152) [Wordsworth]; or even to the pre-Abrahamic period (e.g. Hales, Analysis of Sacred Chronology, II. 53 seq., where an attempt is made, on the basis of astronomic computations, to determine the year 2130 B. C., or 818 after the flood, as the time of Job’s affliction and trial of his constancy); or finally he has been assigned to the post-patriarchal and post-Mosaic age, as a contemporary of the Judges, or of Solomon, or of Nebuchadnezzar, or of Ezra, etc. (comp. below § 5, the remarks on the time when the book was composed). It is evident that most of these attempts at determining the time, and especially those which presuppose the absolute historical reality of the material, without any legendary or poetic drapery, are altogether arbitrary. It may be urged, however, in general that the following reasons make it probable that Job lived and suffered in the time of the patriarchs, and consequently before Moses:

1. The extreme age, extending far beyond one hundred and forty years, to which he lived, according to Job 42:16.

2. The mention of the gold coin, קְשִׂיטָה (Job 42:11), with which we are made acquainted through the histories of Jacob and Joshua (Genesis 33:19; Joshua 24:32), which is the only coin anywhere mentioned in the book, and which is accordingly a witness to the probability that it belongs to the patriarchal age.

3. The mention of the musical instruments, עוּגָב, flute, כִּנּוֹר, guitar, and תֹּף, tymbal (Job 21:12; Job 30:31), the only instruments recognized in Genesis (Genesis 4:21; Genesis 31:27), which accordingly are of the most ancient sort.

4. The mention—which also carries us back into the age of Genesis—of writing on stone, by means of an iron stylus, or chisel (Job 19:23 seq.); along with which, indeed in the same passage, and in Job 31:35, mention is also made of writing on parchment or in a book (כתב בספר), a mode of writing, however, which indisputably belongs to the pre-Mosaic age, as a glance at the monuments of Ancient Egypt will show.

5. The act of Job in officiating as priest in the family circle, offering an atoning sacrifice (Job 1:5), which reminds us decidedly of the same act on the part of Noah (Genesis 8:20), and of Jacob (Genesis 35:2; comp. on the other side Exodus 19:10; Numbers 11:18; Joshua 7:13).

6. The number seven, which was so characteristic of the worship of antiquity, and which appears in the bullocks and rams offered by Job (comp. Job 42:8 with Numbers 23:1; also Genesis 7:2 seq; Genesis 8:19 seq., etc.).

7. The reference, characteristic of the religious physiognomy of the pre Mosaic age, to the idolatrous adoration of the sun and moon, and to the worship of the stars, or Sabaism (see Job 31:26; and comp. Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3).

These are the arguments which are usually urged to prove that Job was a contemporary of the pre-Mosaic patriarchs. Granting that some of them, particularly those cited under 6 and 7, are of less force, and are equally applicable to a later period, they yield in the main a considerable degree of probability that the time fixed on above is approximately correct. An approximate estimate, however, is all that can be reached by such an investigation into the age of a point of history wrapped in the mist of a poetic legend, Comp. still further our remarks on the concluding verses of the Epilogue, Job 42:12-17, where additional traces may be found of Job’s having belonged to the patriarchal age.


The task which lay before the author as respects the artistic treatment of his material, was essentially two fold. First he was to put his material in narrative form, in a style of poetic description, elevating and transfiguring the concrete historic fact into the ideal truth of transactions of eternal significance. Next he was to discuss reflectively the problem which constitutes the religious and ethical kernel of these transactions, touching the possibility and the divinely ordained purpose of unmerited suffering on the part of men. The first part of his task he accomplishes in the sections of prose narrative, the, Prologue and the Epilogue, which open and close the book. The second part receives the author’s attention in the discourses of the book, which are far more extensive and elaborate, which in form and language are thoroughly poetic, and in which alone direct expression is given to that which is obviously the scope and purpose of the work as a whole—the discourses, to wit, of Job, of his three friends, of Elihu, and also of Jehovah, who personally appears to give to the conflict its final solution. These discourses exhibit to the last detail a high degree of elaboration and poetic art. The opening discourse by Job in Job 3:0, which contains the theme of the discussion, belongs to the preparatory part of the book, in which the foundations of the problem are laid down, in connection with the introductory information conveyed by the Prologue concerning the events which befel Job, and the supra-mundane occasions of the same as consisting in God’s permissive agency and Satan’s agency as tempter (chs. 1, 2). The discourses of Job’s three friends, or rather opponents, together with the replies which the object of their attacks makes to each one individually (Job 4-28), carry on the entanglement of the conflict to be described. This consists in a three-fold series of unjust accusations of Job, proceeding from the standpoint of an external and one-sided conception of the legal doctrine of retribution, corresponding to which we have a series of arguments by Job, which are not less one-sided, which in part are violently passionate and morally unsound, in which he asserts his innocence, and casts suspicions on the justice of God’s ways. Job himself prepares the way for the final solution of the conflict in the exhibition which he makes of genuine theocratic piety in the monologue appended to the three acts of the colloquy, where he appears as one who has been brought back to a more thoughtful appreciation of his condition, and for that same reason as triumphing over the reproaches of his three friends (Job 29-31; comp. above p. 6). The solution receives its completion indeed only in the three following stages of the conclusion; the first of which is signalized by the appearance of Elihu, who exhibits the utmost that human wisdom can contribute by way of answer to the difficult questions which arise in respect to the significance of the sufferings of the innocent (Job 32-37); the second by the long address of Jehovah to Job which sets forth the adjudication of the point in controversy in accordance with the divine point of view, the argument here being general in its character (Job 38-41); the third finally by the concrete actual decision rendered between the contending parties by the distribution of punishment and reward to the one and the other respectively (Job 42:0).3

According to the views here expressed, it may seem doubtful with which of the varieties of poetry familiar and current among ourselves this book should be classified; for it evidently exhibits characteristics which belong to several. In its Prologue and Epilogue we find the objective description and the childlike naïveté in narrative which distinguish the epic style. Not a few parts of the discourses have a lyric, and in particular an elegiac tone. In its special object and its general scope, it is indisputably didactic. But it is as a drama, more especially a drama pre-eminently earnest in tone and pervaded by a religious philosophy as to its contents, as a tragedy of religious philosophy, that it exhibits itself at first sight to him who regards its plan as a whole and its arrangement, the division of its principal dialogue into three acts or movements, the increase of the entanglement toward the end, and the purely dramatic solution by the appearance and judicial intervention of God Himself. No wonder therefore that the attempt has been made to subject the poem in a one-sided and exclusive manner to one or another of these classifications. It has been viewed as an epic poem by Stuss (De Epopœia Jobæa, Commentatt, III:, Goth., 1753), Lichtenstein (Num liber Jobi cum Odyssea Homeri comparari possit, Helmst., 1773), Ilgen (Jobi antiquissimi carminis hebraici natura atque virtus, Lips., 1789), Augusti [Einleitung ins A. Test., p. 268), Good (Version of Job, Introductory Dissertation, sect. 2), etc. Its lyric character has been specially emphasized by Stuhlmann, Keil (the former of whom calls it a “religious poem,” the latter a “lyric aphoristic poem”), and several others; while J. D. Michaelis (who in his Prolegomena zum Hiob endeavors with unusual zeal to exhibit the practical utility of the doctrinal contents of this “moral poem”), Herder (who calls it the “most ancient and exalted didactic poem of all nations”), and others, look at it chiefly in the light of a didactic poem; so also Diedrich (Das B. Hiob kurz erklärt, etc., Leipzig, 1858), who calls it a “parable” (against which see Vilmar, Past.-theolog. Blatt., Vol. XI, p. 59 seq.) The book was already recognized as a drama by Luther, who after his homely striking fashion says of it: “It is just like what you see in a play;” and by Leibnitz, whom it strikes as being a musical drama, as being indeed altogether operatic (comp. Schmidt’s Zeitschr.f. Geschichte, 1847, for May, p. 436); so also Brentius, Joh. Gerhard, Beza, Mercier, Cocceius, and others, who have spoken of it as a “tragedy,” and have undertaken to compare with it those works of Æschylus and Sophocles, which describe conflicts similar to those of our book carried on by suffering heroes against the dark powers of destiny, or against the wrath of the gods (thus recently A. Vogel in the Inaugural Dissertation: Quid de fato senserint Judæi et Grœci, Jobo et Sophocli Philoctete probatur, Gryphisw. 1869, in which an interesting parallel is drawn between Job and Philoctetes). Most moderns also recognize this dramatic character, especially Umbreit (Introd. to his Commy., p. 33:), Ewald who calls it “the divine drama of the ancient Hebrews” (Dichter des A. Bundes, III: p. 56), Hupfeld (Deutsche Zeitschr.f. christliche Wissenschaft, 1850, No. 35 seq.), Davidson (Introduction to the O. T., II., p. 179), Delitzsch (Art. “Job” in Herzog’s Realencykl. VI, p. 123 [and Commy. I., p. 15 seq. See also Schlottmann, p. 40 seq.; A. B. Davidson, I, p. 16 seq.; Lowth, Lectures XXXII.—XXXIV.; Dillmann, Introd. to Commy., p. 21; Froude, Westminster Review, 1853, reprinted in Short Studies on Great Subjects, p. 228 seq.]). The objections urged to this view by G. Baur (Das B. Hiob und Dante’s Göttl Komödie, eine Parallele, in the Studd u Kritiken, 1856, Part. III.) are valid only in so far as they deny that the poem was intended for actual scenic representation, and thus justify the use of the word drama only in the wider sense, that of an epico-dramatic poem, of the same class with Dante’s masterpiece.4 In this more general sense, however, it deserves beyond question, and with scarcely less right than the Song of Solomon, to be called a drama; especially seeing that it introduces characters which are clearly defined and sharply discriminated, and consistently maintains their several individualities down to the final absolute adjudication by God. Even the attempt to exhibit in detail the principal scenes or acts of this epic or didactic religious drama, which Deliizsch has made (I., p. 15), cannot be condemned, so far at least as the principle is concerned. That writer, agreeing substantially with the arrangement and partition of the poem, which we have given above, distinguishes eight parts, or acts of the dramatic action, as follows:

1. Chap. 1–3: The opening [Anknüpfung, which may also be rendered: The tying of the knot].

2. Chap. 4–14: The first course of the controversy; or the entanglement beginning.
3. Chap. 15–21: The second course of the controversy; or the entanglement increasing.
4. Chap. 22–26: The third course of the controversy; or the entanglement at its height.
5. Chap. 27–31: The transition from the entanglement to the unravelment (from the δέσις to the λύσις): Job’s monologues.

6. Chap. 32–37: The completion of the transition from the δέσις to the λύσις; the discourses of Elihu.

7. Chap. 38–42:6: The unravelment in the consciousness.
8. Chap. 42:7–17: The unravelment in outward reality.
In this enumeration of eight acts too little prominence is given to the threefold division on which the author unmistakably founds his arrangement of the book, and that intentionally, a division which is observable not only in the three movements of the colloquy between Job and his friends, but also in the threefold groups of discourses which follow, to wit, those of Job, of Elihu, and of Jehovah (on this triadic arrangement of the poem comp. Baur, l. c., p. 642 seq.). [“The ruling number three is most visible in all its parts. (1) The whole book falls into three sections: Prologue, Poem, Epilogue. (2) The poem strictly, also into three parts: Job and the Friends, Elihu, God. (3) The discussion between Job and the friends again into three cycles. (4) Each cycle falls into three pairs: Eliphaz and Job, Bildad and Job, Zophar and Job; only in the last cycle Zophar fails to appear, and Job speaks twice. (5) Job sustains three temptations. (6) Elihu makes three speeches. (7) And, finally, very many of the speeches fall into three strophes.” A. B. Davidson.—To which add that in the interim between the controversy with the friends, and the appearance of Elihu, Job utters three monologues]. For this reason it is more correct to regard the two epic narrative sections, the Prologue and Epilogue (1 and 8 according to Delitzsch), as standing outside of the partition of the poem proper, and forming, as it were, only its outer frames. We shall then have for the dramatic kernel of the whole (chap. 3–41) six scenes or acts, the same number which Delitzsch has assumed for the Canticles (see Vol. X of the Old Testament Series in this Comm’y., p. 6, of Introd. to Cant.). Comp. below, § 11, the more detailed outline of the contents.

It must not of course be forgotten in this connection that our book is an essentially oriental poem, exhibiting only an incomplete and partial analogy to the various forms of poetic art produced by the classic nations of the West. Draw if you will a parallel, reaching to the minutest detail, between the most famous products of the ancient, and of the modern occidental drama; look on the idea of a hero struggling with the divine destiny as pre-eminently Æschylean or Sophoclean; compare the Prologue, with its predominance of narrative, and the presence of the dialogue as only a partial element, with the prologues of Euripides, which also form “epic introductions” to the accompanying dramas; be it that the description of the celestial council in this Prologue anticipates the famous “Prologue in Heaven” of Goethe’s Faust;5 or be it that in another sense, in that namely which concerns the representation of spiritual conflicts and physical movements as themes of dramatic art, we should be justified in comparing it rather with the Iphigenia and Tasso of our greatest poet, and in saying with Delitzsch that, as in those poems, “the deficiency of external action is compensated by the richness and precision with which the characters are drawn:”—it must not be forgotten after all that the book is an intellectual creation, the conception and the elaboration of which are thoroughly oriental; that it is the work of one of those profoundly religious sages, endowed with an imagination mighty and lofty in its scope, and with pre-eminent poetic genius, in which the whole East, whether Shemitic or Perso-Indian, so remarkably abounds. If accordingly we are to seek analogies with which to compare the poem as to its idea, character, and plan, we must put in the front Arabic and Hindû poems, such as on the one side the Consessus of the celebrated Makama-poet Hariri, already referred to, which at least exhibits a noteworthy parallel to the dialogue form of the middle divisions of our book (comp. Umbreit, p. XXXI.), and on the other side the ancient Hindu narrative of the sufferer Hariçtschandra, sorely tempted and tried by Çiva, which in its oldest and simplest, as yet undramatized form may be found in the Aitareya-Brâhmana, VII. 18, and in the Bhâgavat-Purâana, IX. 7, 6, but which in its complete artistic development in the form of a religous drama is found only in much more recent sources, as e.g. in the Markandeya,—and Padma-Purâna (out of Sec. 8–10 of our chronology), as also in modern Hindû popular dramas, which are still regarded with favor.[6] It is indeed a nearer line of comparison to seek for parallels in the religious and poetic literature of the Old Testament people of God. And here we find on the one side Solomon’s Song of Songs, which presents itself as a drama, artistically correct, elaborate, and harmoniously complete; on the other side the Solomonic Book of Proverbs, which presents itself as a pearl-like string of numerous ethical and religious apothegms, arranged in part at least in the form of a dramatic dialogue. As to its didactic contents and purpose, our book resembles more the latter of these writings, as to form and composition the former. Nevertheless the profound earnestness of its fundamental thought and of its didactic purpose necessitates important deviations in form and diction from the Song of Solomon, the only representative of a scriptural drama which can be considered along with it. For while the plan of the latter is melo-dramatic, and its principal affinities seem to be with the erotic lyrics of the classic nationalities, Job, especially in view of the narrative character of the prologue and epilogue, bears the stamp of an epic drama, and in its lyric element resembles most closely the elegiac poetry of the Greeks. Comp. the General Introduction to the Solomonic Literature of Wisdom, Vol. X. of this series, p. 12.

Furthermore in respect of its external poetic structure, and especially of the verse and strophe-structure of its discourses, the book may be most nearly compared with the Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. In these its poetic parts it consists throughout of short verses mostly of two members; each member contains on an average not more than three to four words. This structure is carried out with the most rigid consistency and great skill through all the discourses, so that in many respects we are reminded of the five-feet iambic lines of the modern drama, and we can understand, or at all events we are inclined to excuse the remark which Jerome once made, although as to the main point it is certainly erroneous, that the book is written in versus hexametri (Prœfat. in Job, T. IX., Opp. p. 1100; comp. my book on Jerome, p. 347).—It cannot escape the sharp observer, moreover, that a greater or less number of single verses everywhere group themselves together in strophes or stanzas, which coincide with the logical arrangement, or sub-divisions of the thought; and that this strophic division is carried out with tolerable regularity throughout all the discourses. Here and there this strophic structure is indicated even by external signs, e.g. in chap. 3, where the second and third strophes alike begin with לָמָה; in Job 30:0, where three strophes, of eight stichs each, are severally introduced by וְעַתָּה; in Job 36:22-33, where three series of thoughts in succession begin with הֵן, each forming an eight-line strophe, etc. The Masoretes have as in the Psalms and Proverbs used a peculiar system of accentuation to indicate both the divisions of stichs and verses, and also this strophe arrangement throughout the entire poetical sections of the book (i.e., from Job 3:2 to Job 42:6). This accentuation, however, which rests on the tradition of the synagogue, important as we must adjudge it to be for the rhythmical adjustment of the composition, and in connection therewith for the exegetical interpretation of these section, does not nevertheless exclude all doubt in respect to these divisions of thought and of verse in detail. For the authors of the masoretic system of accentuation themselves did not always possess a clear and accurate insight into the strophe-structure, as is shown by the fact that they have almost everywhere erroneously applied their [poetic] accentuation to the prose passages which have occasionally found their way into the poetic sections. The later tradition accordingly has quite generally “the notation-value only of the prose or rhetorical accents, not that of the metrical or political.” For which reason the more recent commentators differ both in respect to the question whether attempts to restore the strophe-structure are at all permissble, and also in respect to the bounds to be assigned to particular strophes. Stickel and Delitzsch, e.g., assume a constant change of the strophic structure, similar to that which obtains in the lyric poems of the Book of Psalms, and, as a consequence, a somewhat marked inequality in the extent of particular strophes, which are built now of four stichs, now of eight, now of six, or of any greater number of lines. Schlottmann, Köster, Ewald, Vaihinger, and Dillmann, on the contrary maintain that the structure of the strophes is, at least in general, equal and regular, and would determine the law of their construction more in accordance with the Mâshâl-poetry of the Proverbs, than with the lyrical rhythm of the Psalter. In the accompanying translation and explanation of the poem we shall follow in the main the principles which guide the latter class of commentators, for the reason that their greater simplicity seems to us to be pre-eminently in agreement with the character of the poem, which in particular passages indeed is lyrical, but which is predominantly gnomic and didactic (of the Mâshâl genus). Here and there however, and particularly in the discourses of Elihu, the strophic structure of which is in many places wont to be incorrectly rendered, we shall feel constrained to give the preference to the divisions of Stickel and Delitzsch.

[Merx has propounded in his Introduction (p. LXXV. seq.) an ingenious and elaborate theory of the syllabic and strophic structure of Hebrew poetry, which claims for that poetry, especially in its lyric and musical forms, a degree of regularity and symmetry far higher than is usually attributed to it. He finds the true law of its form to be the number of syllables in the stich, of line, the norm being eight syllables to the stich, and the strophes being composed of an equal number of stichs, or of a number symmetrically alternating. Without denying all merit to theory, or that its author has in not a few instances used it with striking results, it is certain that the sweeping application which he has made of it to the Book of Job, necessitates or invites the most arbitrary treatment of the text, by the assumption of lacunœ or interpolations, simply at the demand of the rhetorical structure. Assuredly in Hebrew, as in all Oriental poetry, where “the thought lords it over the form,” a far greater degree of liberty and elasticity must be accorded to the form than this theory presupposes.—E.].

Note 1.—In respect to the artistic beauty and completeness of the poetic sections, and especially in respect to the skilfulness shown in the dramatic evolution and delineation of character, comp. Delitzsch I., p. 16 seq.: “Satan, Job’s wife, the hero himself, the three friends,—everywhere diversified and minute description. The poet manifests, also, dramatic skill in other directions. He has laid out the controversial colloquy with a masterly hand, making the heart of the reader gradually averse to the friends, and in the same degree winning it towards Job. He makes the friends all through give utterance to the most glorious truths, which however, in the application to the case before them, turn out to be untrue. And although the whole of the representation serves one great idea, it is still not represented by any of the persons brought forward, and it by no one expressly uttered. Every person is, as it were, the consonant letter to the word of this idea; it is throughout the whole book taken up with the realization of itself; at the end it first comes forth as the resulting product of the whole. Job himself is not less a tragic hero than the Œdipus of the two tragedies of Sophocles. What is there an inevitable fate, expressed by the oracle, is in the book of Job the decree of Jehovah, over whom is no controlling power, decreed in the assembly of angels. As a painful puzzle the lot of affliction comes down on Job. At the beginning he is the victor of an easy battle, until the friends’ exhortations to repentance are added to suffering, which in itself is incomprehensible, and make it still harder to be understood. He is thereby involved in a hard conflict, in which at one time, full of arrogant self-confidence, he exalts himself heavenward; at another time sinks to the ground in desponding sadness.

“The God, however, against which he fights, is but a phantom, which the temptation has presented to his beclouded eye, instead of the true God; and this phantom is in no way different from the inexorable fate of the Greek tragedy. As in that the hero seeks to maintain his inward freedom against the secret power which crushes him with an iron arm; so Job maintains his innocence against this God, who has devoted him to destruction as an offender. But in the midst of this terrific conflict with the God of the present, this creation of the temptation, Job’s faith gropes after the God of the future, to whom he is ever driven nearer the more mercilessly the enemies pursue him. At length Jehovah really appears, but not at Job’s impetuous summons. He appears only after Job has made a beginning of humble self-concession, in order to complete the work begun, by condescendingly going forth to meet him. Jehovah appears, and the Fury vanishes. The dualism, which the Greek tragedy leaves unabolished, is here reconciled. Human freedom does not succumb; but it becomes evident that not an absolute arbitrary power, but divine wisdom, whose inmost impulse is love, moulds human destiny.”—
Dillmann expresses himself similarly in respect to the surpassing skill shown in the dramatic development, and the fine as well as sharp individualization of character (p. xxi.seq.). He also groups together with these qualities the magnificent power of description, and splendor of diction which characterize this book: “In freshness and power of poetic perception and sensibility, in wealth and splendor of imagery, in inexhaustible fulness of ideas, in fineness of psychological insight and observation of nature, in the faculty of picturing the most manifold movements of the world of nature and of humanity, in the ability to reproduce the same thing appareled in a form that is ever new, in the art of modulating the tone and complexion of the speakers, according to their various moods, of adapting himself equally to sorrow and lamentation, to anger and passion, to scorn and bitterness, to yearning and hope, to rest and contentment, in the art of setting forth with peculiar impressiveness the majesty, dignity, power, and clearness of God, when He speaks, and finally in mastery of language, in beauty, weight, and terseness of expression, this poet may be put on an equality with the best models of all ages. His work is artistically wrought down to its every detail. Each of the four discourses of the book is a masterpiece of itself, and full of fine relations to the rest,” etc.—Comp. also Ewald, p. 54 seq.; Vaihinger, p. 15 seq.; Schlottmann, p. 40 seq.; 44 seq.; 54 seq.; 66 seq. [A. B. Davidson, 23. seq.; Merx, 17 seq., 47. seq; Lowth, Lecture 34; Renan, Etude, etc., p. 61. seq.; Princeton Rev., Vol. 29: p. 325].

Note 2.—Special consideration should be given to the peculiar beauty and loftiness of the poetic art of the book, as these qualities are seen in its descriptions of nature, its physical images and similes, and as they impart to it a mode of perception, thought, and composition characterized by a peculiar primitive power and freshness, an antique, as it were patriarchal simplicity, depth, and pungent power. The Catholic theologian Gügler, a thoughtful pupil of Herder’s, remarks on this peculiarity: “Nature stands everywhere before the soul in its primeval form, touching as it were on chaos. The mountain ranges, the roaring waters, the outstretched heaven, the sun, the constellations,—these are the wonders, surpassing number, which take the feeling by storm. The unveiled abysses, the outspread night, the earth hanging on nothing, the water gathered up in the clouds, the quaking pillars of heaven, the thunder, the lightning shining to the ends of the world,—these are the phenomena, not to be numbered, these are the wonders not to be searched out, which occupy the aroused faculty of thought. Nature in its primitive vastness and depth lies before the wondering struggling heart” (Gügler, Die heil Kunst, III., p. 144).—Comp. Herder (Briefe I., 11): “The outlook which this book furnishes presents itself to me now as the starry heaven, now as the joyous wild tumult of creation, now as humanity’s profoundest wail, from the ash-heap of a prince, among the rocks of the Arabian desert.” Also Joh. Friedr. v. Meyer, who remarks of the book: “Its massive style, its lights and shadows, the enigmatic obscurity of its terse expressions, that largeness of spirit with which it moves forward, compassing worlds and weighing an atom, looking through men, and penetrating the wondrous depths of the Godhead,—this lofty character has at all times made the book an object of deserved reverence.”—Of the latest critics and expositors G. Baur has in particular deemed this peculiarity of thought and representation in the book worthy of attentive consideration in the treatise already cited—Das Buck Hiob und Dante’s Göttl. Komödie. “It would scarcely be an exaggeration,” he says (p 621 seq.) “to affirm that there are in Job as many representations of nature as in all the rest of the Old Testament; from heaven to hell the poet traverses the whole realm of creation. Especially does his gaze delight to rest on the phenomena of heaven; and it is a characteristic fact that in his poem, moving as it does in the sphere of pastoral life, and in the prophecies of the herdsman Amos, may be found the entire Old Testament nomenclature of the stars.… From heaven he turns to the water which is bound up together in the clouds (Job 26:8 seq.), to the hail and snow, which are there prepared (Job 28:22 seq.), to the lightning and thunder (Job 38:25; Job 38:35), and with especial frequency does he speak of the rain-showers, which in that climate are doubly precious and beneficent (Job 5:10; Job 38:25; Job 38:28; Job 38:37 seq.). This brings him to the earth, which hangs upon nothing (Job 26:7); he thinks of the sea, which is shut in with doors (Job 38:8); he remembers with peculiar interest the brook which dries up, and mournfully deceives the hope of the caravans (Job 6:15; Job 14:11); and he goes down to the gates of death (Job 38:17).… The whole splendor of these descriptions is concentrated in chap. 38–41. In a series of incomparably vivid delineations, by means of a few firm masterstrokes, there are produced before us, with all their various peculiarities, the lion, the raven, the gazelle, the wild ass freely roaming, the swift ostrich, the spirited horse, the hawk and eagle, the hippopotamus and crocodile. Even the fabulous phenix is not forgotten (Job 29:18).”—Baur then justly gives prominence to the fact that even a Humboldt has paid his tribute of admiration to our poet’s deep inward sensibility to nature and his talent for description [Cosmos II., pp. 414, 415, Bohn’s Scient. Lib.].


In so far as the Book of Job seeks to harmonize the fact that men endure unmerited suffering, or at least suffering which is not directly merited, with the divine justice, it labors at the solution of a problem which falls in the category of the theodicies, i, e. the attempt to justify the presence of sin in a world created by God. It exhibits “the struggle and victory of the new truth, that sufferings are not merely penalties, that they have other causes founded in the divine wisdom; that they may be, to wit, trials and tests, out of which piety should come forth strengthened and purified. It sets forth the doctrine that man, when dark sufferings burst upon him, for which he can find no reason in the sins which he has committed, must not doubt toe righteousness and love of God, which are eternally unchanged, but must rather in humility recognize the imperfection of his own righteousness, which needed such a trial, in order to verify itself and attain to faith” (Hahn). The idea of the poem consists accordingly in the proposition that God in His wisdom decrees for His human children calamities and grievous providences, which are not directly and unqualifiedly the penalties of sin, but in part chastisements for purification, and in part means for proving and testing the sufferers, serving to illustrate and demonstrate their righteousness.

This proposition finds expression in the epico-dramatic development of the history in four stages.

1. The one-sided opinion, derived from a perverted interpretation and application of the Mosaic Law, but predominantly prevalent among the large mass of those who belonged to the Old Covenant, that grievous sufferings are always and without fail a punishment for specific sins, and even that the magnitude of the sufferer’s guilt can be inferred from the magnitude of his calamity;—this opinion being advocated by the three friends of Job, who through their advocacy of it become his opponents, and intensify most bitterly his painful consciousness of unmerited suffering.

2. The simple denial of this proposition, involving the affirmation that even an innocent man may suffer, and that he [Job] in particular is an innocent sufferer, who will yet be surely proved to be such by Jehovah, is defended by Job in his replies to the accusations of the friends.

3. The first half of the correct positive solution of the problem, consisting in the presentation of the chastening and purifying aim of unmerited suffering, is contributed by the discourses of Elihu. They seek in a way which accords with Proverbs 3:11 (comp. Hebrews 12:5 seq.) to exhibit the sufferings of the righteous man as chastisements and means of purification, having “the sin of the righteous man indeed for their ground, but having for their motive not God’s wrath, but His love, aiming to refine and to advance the sufferer.”

4. The other half of the positive solution of the problem, consisting in the exhibition of the suffering of the righteous as ordained to prove them and to test their innocence, finds expression in the discourses of Jehovah, in His judicial arbitration between the contending parties, as well as in His actual restoration of Job’s former prosperity. According to this, the profoundest solution, in which the whole scope of the book culminates, and finds its definitive authoritative expression, the afflictions of the innocent are “means of proving and testing, which, like chastisements, find their motive in the love of God. Their object is not, however, the purging away of the sin which may still cling to the righteous man, but, on the contrary, the manifestation and testing of his righteousness” (Delitzach).

The former side of the positive solution, that advanced by Elihu, belongs as yet to the circle of human perceptions and experiences; it represents the highest and the deepest that the wisdom of man on earth, limited to itself, except indeed as it derives aid from the Old Testament revelation of God, can contribute to the answer to be made to the inquiry into the nature and aim [of such sufferings]. The latter side of the solution which finds its expression in the discourses of Jehovah, and the historical movement of the entire book, proceeds from a wisdom which is from above, and to which the corruption, of the human race is not the first thing and the last, but something transitory, a condition destined to be finally removed through, the suffering of a perfectly and absolutely Righteous Man. The solution of Elihu looks backward to the original sin of humanity, and to the mournful fact of experience proceeding therefrom, that not one of the children of men is righteous before God, but that on the contrary there adheres even to the most innocent and pure member of our race sin, which will need to be purged away. The divine solution—which, as will be more fully shown hereafter, by no means contradicts that of Elihu, but in part confirms, and in part supplements it—looks prophetically forward to the future expiatory suffering of a Righteous Man. who alone deserves to be called truly righteous, whose martyrdom accordingly bears the character of a suffering not for Himself alone, but for His brethren, laden with guilt, and needing to be reconciled with God, who in short as a truly innocent sufferer, is called to be the redeemer of the human race, making atonement for their sins, removing their guilt and procuring their sanctification. To the extent that the indirectly Messianic element of this divine solution comes in close contact with the deepest and noblest side of that which Job maintains, with the expression of his hope that God will appear to vindicate and establish conspicuously his innocence—or, in other words, to the extent that what Job says in the second, as yet subjective and one-sidedly negative stage in the solution of the problem, of his confident waiting for a divine redeemer (a גּוֹאֵל, Job 19:25), receives both directly and indirectly an objective confirmation and attestation from Jehovah Himself in the fourth stage of the solution—we may assign the whole poem to the class of Old Testament writings which are mediately and implicitly Messianic. At least we may say that its idea, like that of the other Chokmah-poems (Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes), includes in itself and suggests a prophetic Messianic thought.

We find these fundamental ideas of the book correctly perceived and set forth with satisfactory clearness only on the part of such expositors as maintain its integrity, especially of such as do not doubt the genuineness of the discourses of Elihu. Here belong especially Vaihinger, Stickel, Gleiss (Beiträge zur Kritik des Buches Hiob, 1845, p. 34 seq.), Hävernick, Keil (Hist. krit. Einleitung, III., p. 300 seq.), Welte, Delitzsch, Davidson (Introd., p. 213 seq ).7 Several, however, even of the opponents of the genuineness of the sections Job 32-37 have with approximate correctness defined the idea and the problem of the book, as e.g. Heiligstedt, Dillmann, and again recently Schrader in his Bearbeitung der de Wette’schen Einleitung, p. 551 seq.—On the contrary the fundamental thought of the book has been subjected, by the advocates of the book’s integrity no less than by its opponents, to expositions which are wrong and one-sided, and in some instances even fundamentally perverse. The greater or less value of these theories will be ascertained by the measure of their agreement with that which is given above.

a. According to Umbreit, Hirzel, Renan [Noyes], and some others, the poet aims to prove the untenableness of the Mosaic doctrine of retribution, the weak points of which he was desirous of exhibiting in the suffering of the righteous Job, as a peculiarly striking example. Against which it has been rightly argued by Hahn, Dillmann, Delitzsch, etc.: That the polemic edge of the book is turned not against the Mosaic doctrine of retribution in itself considered, but against the abuse of it to an unfriendly caviling, malicious suspicion, and harsh judgment concerning persons in misfortune. That it proceeds in truth upon a deeper apprehension and a more correct interpretation of the doctrine of retribution set forth in the Law, not in opposition to it (which would be in fact equivalent to opposing the law itself), is particularly shown by the close of the book, where on the one side Job is compelled to retract the doubt which he had previously uttered in respect to God’s righteousness, while on the other side by this same divine righteousness, which now appears as retributive justice in the good sense of the term, as rewarding him (justitia remunerans s. retribuens), he is again restored to honor, and his innocence is brought forth to the light.

b. According to a remark thrown out without reflection by Heinr. Heine (Vermischte Schriften, 1854, I.), the poet is treating of the development of religious doubt. “The Book of Job is the Canticle of Skepticism [das Hohelied der Skepsis], and horrid serpents hiss therein their eternal Wherefore? As man when he suffers must weep himself out, so must Job doubt himself out. This poison of doubt must not be wanting in the Bible, that great storehouse of mankind.”—A crude opinion, proceeding from a monstrous exaggeration of the foregoing one-sided theory, and directly at variance with the true scope of the book, which is on the contrary anti-skeptical, and which strengthens the belief in God’s providence and righteous retribution. Delitzsch remarks truly that the name—“Canticle of Skepticism”—would better suit the Book of Ecclesiastes.

c. According to Baumgarten-Crusius (Libri de Jobo argumenti descriptio, in Opusc. theologica, 1836, p. 174 seq.) the book aims “ to unfold the idea of the true Wisdom.”—Evidently a definition of its contents and aim which is far too general, vague and abstract, and which improperly loses sight of the special object, in accordance with which the poet exhibits and illustrates true wisdom (sensu subjectivo el objectivo).

d. According to Schärer (D. B. Hiob, 1818, I., p. 21), and Augusti (Grundriss einer histor. krit. Einl. ins Alte Testament, 1827, p. 267) [Lee, Introd. to Commy., p. 111], it is the poet’s purpose to present in Job the ideal of a constant, pious and submissive sufferer. A similar view is taken by Hengstenberg (in his Dissertation “über d. B. Hiob,” Berlin, 1856 [also in D. B. Hiob erläutert, Berlin, 1870, p. 11 seq.]), who finds represented in the book the model of a suffering righteous man, such as was possible in the theocracy of the Old Covenant, but which could never have existed within the pre-Christian heathen world.—But it is only in the Prologue that Job is spoken of as a character that through all his misery was unchangeably pious and devout. His conduct as it appears further along in the course of his discourses receives at last a severe rebuke from God Himself. And in fact, according to the poet’s plan, it is not as an ideal of theocratic piety that Job appears, but as a holy man, whose religious development takes place on the basis of the patriarchal life outside of Israel. This is seen plainly enough in the fact that the scene of the history is placed in the land of Uz, in the fact that the Divine names almost exclusively used by Job are Eloah and Shaddai (“Jehovah” being used twice only), also in the many other traces and indications which the book furnishes of a saint of the order of Melchizedek. Comp. below, § 7 [and see Conant’s criticism of this view, p. 20. seq.].

e. According to Schlottmann and Keil (Einleitung) [Good, Introductory Dissertation, p. 12 19; A. B. Davidson, p. 15, etc., Canon Cook in Smith’s Bib. Dict. Art. “Job,” and in Bible Commentary, Introd., p. 6; Froude, Short Studies, etc.: “The Book of Job,” p. 241 seq.], the author aims to describe by a picture from life the struggle and victory of the pious man in the most terrible temptation. Against which Dillmann rightly says: “If it was not also his purpose to advance the knowledge of his readers, and to instruct them in respect to the relation of evil [suffering] to the moral conduct of men, it is inconceivable why he should have made his work to consist for the most part of a series of controversial discourses respecting the ground and end of suffering.”

f. According to Stuhlmann, Bertholdt, Eichhorn, v. Cölln (Bibl. Theol, p. 293 seq.), M. Sachs (Zur Charakteristik und Erläuterung d. B. Hiob, Studd. u. Krit., 1834, IV., p. 912) Knobel (De carminis Jobi argumento, fine, ac dispositione, 1835) Vatke (Die Rel. des Alten Testaments, I., 1835, p. 576 seq.), Umbreit, De Wette, Hirzel, Steudel ( Vorlesungen über die Theol. des Allen Testaments, herausg. v. Oehler, 1840, p. 511 seq.), Hupfeld (Deutsche Zeitschr. f. christl. Wissensch., etc., 1850, No. 35 seq.) [Merx, p. XIII.; Rodwell, p. VIII.], the poet has indeed a didactic purpose; it is one however which is limited to the inculcation of the doctrine of the unconditional submission of the finite subject to the absolute Lord of all things, whose dispensations, even when they seem incomprehensible, are still to be borne with resignation, and without murmuring.—According to this view the book represents Job’s suffering as an absolutely mysterious dispensation, and thus preaches a certain fatalism, the resignation of a stoic indifference to the inexorable and inscrutable will of destiny. This is wholly antagonistic both to the spirit of the Old Testament in general, and of our book in particular, which furnishes clear expositions respecting the ground and end of Job’s sufferings, and that not simply in those sections which the above-named critics (for the most part at least) condemn as not genuine, in the prologue, the epilogue, and the discourses of Elihu, but also in the kernel of the book, the authenticity of which cannot be questioned, as e.g. in Job’s utterances in Job 17:9; Job 19:23 seq.; Job 31:1 seq.

g. According to J. D. Michaelis (Einl. in die göttl. Schriften des A. Bdes. I., 2 seq.) the poet aims to set forth the idea of a righteous retribution in the future life. The view of Ewald is similar, according to whom the book develops the thought: that suffering is to be overcome neither by conceiving it as merely a divine penalty, nor by doubt and unbelief, but only by the certainty that spirit is eternal, by patience and fortitude through faith in eternal divine truths, and also by self-knowledge sharpened anew by suffering (Die Dichter des A. B. III., p. 10 seq )—According to this view the idea of immortality and future retribution, which emerges in the book only incidentally, is unduly emphasized and made prominent. Moreover, according to Ewald’s view, earthly suffering is removed much too far from its connection with the sin of the human race. The man afflicted with it, in the proud consciousness of his own strength and immortality, like the suffering heroes of the classic poetry of antiquity (Ulysses, Philoctetes) should have lifted himself above his sufferings and despised them, instead of doing what our poet manifestly requires him to do, humbling himself as a sinner under the almighty hand of the God decreeing them (Job 40:3; Job 42:1-6).8

h. According to several Rabbis of the Middle Ages, and also H. v. d. Hardt (Commentat. in Jobum, sive historia populi Israelis in Assyriaco exilio, I., 1728), J. LeClerc (on Job 1:1), Garnett (A dissertation on the book of Job, ed. 2, 1751), Warburton (The Divine Legation of Moses, Book VI., Sect. II., Works, Vol. V., London, 1811), Bernstein ( Ueber Alter, Inhalt, Zwech, und gegenwärtige Gestalt des Buches Hiob, in Keil & Tzschirner, Analekten, I., 1813, p. 109 seq ), Bruno Bauer (Die Religion des A. T., 1840, II., p. 470 seq.), and quite recently F. Seinecke (Der Grundgedanke des B. Hiob, 1863), [G. Croly: The Book of Job, 1863], the idea and scope of the book have reference to the Israelitish nationality. The suffering Job typifies the sufferings of the people of Israel in exile; by his patience and submission the poet would teach his contemporaries that they can bear their severe destiny only by humble submission to God’s power and wisdom, and that they can find comfort and rest only in a firm and childlike trust in His righteousness, which ruleth over all things.—This allegoristic version of the poem is disproved by the absence of anything whatever in the details of the work to sustain such a double significance in the person and destinies of Job; also by the want of proof that the poem was not composed until after the exile; finally by the fact that in the prologue Job is described as entirely innocent in his misfortune, whereas elsewhere throughout the Old Testament the exile is continually viewed as the well-deserved punishment of Israel’s sins. Comp. the elaborate criticism of the last-mentioned work of Seinecke’s in the Darmstädter Theolog. Litbl., 1863, No. 99.

i. According to most expositors of the ancient and mediæval Church, whom some moderns have also followed, particularly in the Romish Church, Job’s suffering is an immediate type of the atoning suffering of Christ; nay more, Job himself is more or less identified with Christ, the views and principles advocated by him merge imperceptibly in the doctrines of the Gospel; whereas on the contrary the three friends are regarded as the champions of heretical opinions, and Elihu as the representative of a secular wisdom hostile to faith (Jerome, etc.), or as an idle philosophical braggart, and phrase-monger (Gregory the Great, etc.). [Wordsworth, however, who also adheres to the typical interpretation of the book, regards Elihu as “representing the office of the ministers of God’s Church in preparing the soul for the presence of God by the preaching of His Word.” Introd. to Comm’y., p. 9. See also Comm’y., p. 70 seq.]. We may find one effect of this unsound allegoristic interpretation of the history under ecclesiastical auspices—an interpretation which may be traced back to Origen, the founder of all unsound allegoristic theories in the Church—in the unfavorable judgment which has been pronounced on the religious and moral stand-point and character of Elihu by many of the latest expositors, e.g., by Herder, who compares his discourses to the idle senseless chatter of a child, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Umbreit, Hahn, and others, who make him out to be an immoderate, self-sufficient, and at the same time narrow-minded boaster. The erroneousness of these views will sufficiently appear from the remarks made above. Comp. also what is said below, in § 8, concerning the genuineness of Elihu’s discourses, and their admirable coherence with the entire plan and movement of the book; together with the Exegetical remarks on the same (particularly the Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on chap. 32, 33.).


The Chokmah character of our book, or the fact that it belongs to the Solomonic poems of Wisdom, is sufficiently apparent from that which has been already remarked about its material, its form, and its scope. The historic material used bears an impress which, if not extra-theocratic, is at least pre-theocratic; and manifest pains are taken to give prominence to this characteristic of its material, as being not specifically Mosaic, by distinctly setting forth the extra Israelitish home, and the patriarchal age of its hero. Its object is thereby recognized as belonging to that class of themes and problems which are of universal human interest, which transcend the more limited circle of vision which lies within the Israelitish theocracy, and which everywhere characterize the Chokmah-poetry, the representative in the Old Testament literature of a philosophic humanism (comp. Vol. X. of this series, Introd. to Proverbs, p. 4 seq.).—As regards its form it seems to be most nearly related to the classic productions of the Chokmah-literature; to Solomon’s Song in virtue of its dramatic plan and arrangement; to the Proverbs in virtue of its gnomic and didadic character, and the Mâshâl-like rhythm of its discourses; and to both at once in virtue of its wealth of vivid and symbolically significant pictures of the life of nature and humanity, in which the deep feeling for nature, and the faculty of brilliant natural description characteristic of the Solomonic epoch of Old Testament literature announce themselves.—And finally in respect of its scope it exhibits a relation of inward nearness to the poetry of Wisdom, in so far as by virtue of its endeavor to maintain in the realm of ethics and religion the point of view belonging to universal humanity this poetry has a special interest in the great problem of theodicy, to wit, the vindication of the Divine action against one-sided and unjust accusations from men; and especially in so far as the indispensable necessity of the fear of God and of humble submission beneath God’s remedial discipline (מוּסָר) to the right understanding of God’s dispensations is an idea which belongs to the very heart of the practical ethics of those books, and particularly of the Book of Proverbs. And not only does our book share this ethical tendency in common with the other Chokmah-writings, but in addition the most conspicuous feature of their doctrinal contents, to wit, the central idea of the Divine Wisdom as the medium of the personal activity of God in the world of nature and of humanity, is by no means absent. But on the contrary the way in which our poet in Job 28:1 seq. describes the absolute wisdom, the Chokmah pure and simple, as the highest moral good, and as the sum total of all that is valuable and desirable for man, at the same time that he makes its possession depend on the fear of God and uprightness of life (ver. 28), exhibits the closest affinity with that which is said in Proverbs 3:16 seq.; Proverbs 8:22 seq. (comp. Ecclesiastes 12:13) of the hypostatic wisdom of God, and the conditions of participation in the same. All the characters, moreover, who take part as speakers in the book, appear as witnesses and disciples of this wisdom, whether as one sided, defective, erroneous representatives, as was the case with the three friends, and in many respects with Job himself, or as normal and authoritative interpreters of the true Wisdom, as was the case with Elihu, who, notwithstanding his youth, surpasses all the other speakers as the representative of the highest to which human wisdom and insight can attain. They are, one and all, Châkâmîm, lovers of wisdom and teachers of wisdom (sectatores sapientiæ, φιλόσοφοι)—these characters of the great drama—although there are important differences among them as regards the quality and degree of the wisdom which they teach. The author certainly does not describe them as theocratic sages, not as belonging to the class of Israelitish Châkâmîm, like Solomon, Ethan, Heman, etc., for he causes their extra-Israelitish character to appear distinctly and unmistakably enough, when he introduces them as speaking neither of the law, nor of prophecy, neither of Sinai, nor of Zion, as using only once or twice the theocratic name of God, Jehovah (Job uses this name only in Job 1:21; Job 12:9; and possibly in Job 28:28, see on the passage), but on the contrary as using interchangeably the אֱלוֹהַּ of poetry, the שַׁדַּי of the patriarchs, and the אֱלֹהִים of the universal religion (the last, however, only three times: Job 20:29; Job 32:2; Job 38:7). He thus purposely characterizes them as belonging to the category of those extra-Israelitish sages, which in 1 Kings 5:10, apropos of the description of the all-surpassing wisdom of Solomon, are called “sons of the East,” and “Egyptians” (comp. Job 1:2); it is his purpose to describe them, and among them Job in particular, as well as Elihu, as possessors of a wisdom and a piety which had not grown in the soil of the Mosaic Law, which were pre-Mosaic and patriarchal, or, if you please, Melchizedekean (comp. the Note at the end of this section). Notwithstanding all this, however, they are none the less disciples of Wisdom, earthly reflectors, human reverers, and lovers of the divine Chokmah. The heavenly light of God, which from the beginning lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9), this is their sun also, the mysterious source of their knowledge and understanding. They belong to the children of God outside of Israel, the “children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52), whom the Saviour of the world was first to gather together, and to introduce into the communion of the redeemed. They partake, however, of the knowledge and worship of the supreme, the only true God. And verily it is a divine wisdom which is specially and most nearly related to that of the Israelitish theocracy, a wisdom originating in Paradise, and like that of Solomon, Ethan, Heman, etc., struggling back toward Paradise, which illuminates them. It is its advance through error, doubt and serious conflicts to the final comprehension of revealed truth, that our poem succeeds in describing with the wonderful art of dramatic development.

After all that has been said, our book’s place in the canon of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament can admit of no doubt. It stands in the closest proximity to the Chokmah-poems of the Solomonic age, the Book of Proverbs, and the Canticles. At all events it stands nearer to them than to Ecclesiastes, with which, in view of the many traces it betrays of a later (post-exilic) origin, and in view of its Levitico-Jewish character, it has nothing in common, however true it may be that the sceptical tinge of many of its discourses indicates a certain affinity to certain fundamental ideas of this later poem of wisdom. Its Mâshâl-form, and the frequent lyrico-elegiac tone of its discourses, assimilate it still further to those portions of the Book of Psalms, which in view of the gnomic and didactic stamp which they bear are to be classed with the Literature of Wisdom, and which we have heretofore (Vol. X. of this Series, Introd.) characterized as Chokmah-psalms; as, e.g., Psalms 1, 15, 19, 111, 112, 119, 125, 127.

In fact both the Synagogue and the Church have constantly assigned to our book its place not only in general among the Hagiographa (K’thubhîm), to which it belongs in any case in virtue of its being neither a historical narrative, nor prophetic preaching, but rather a didactic poem, but also in particular in proximity to the books just mentioned as most nearly related to it, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. But its place in the neighborhood of these books varies greatly according to the different traditions. Our editions of the Hebrew Bible, in so far as they follow the German class of Manuscripts, place the book between the Proverbs and the Canticles; they place it last of the series of poet’c books which introduce the Hagiographa, the Tehillîm, Mishlç, and Job (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), leaving the Song of Solomon to follow as the first of the “five festival-rolls” (חמש מגלות), that group of writings the remainder of which are Ruth, Lamentations, Koheleth, and Esther. According to the Spanish class of Hebrew MSS., and the Masora, the arrangement is different, the K’thubhîm here beginning with the series—Chronicles, Psalms, Job, and Proverbs. The arrangement in the Talmud (Baba bathra, 14 b) is similar, where Ruth is put first, with Psalms, Job, and Proverbs following. The Masoretes call this group (Tehillîm, Job, Mishlç), after the initial letters of their names,ספרי תאם, and they view this Team—group as being, like the Chamesh Megilloth, a complete whole. Whether the vox memorialis אמת, which serves to describe the group according to another ancient tradition, indicates that here and there the order—Job, Proverbs, Psalms—was actually followed, is doubtful. It is certain on the other hand that the LXX. assign to the three principal poetical books the order—Job, Psalms, Proverbs (the form אתם), and that this order of the Alexandrian canon has continued to be the ruling order in the Hellenistic literature and in the Church. There are variations however even here, as in Philo, and the Evangelist Luke, who, like the Hebrew Bibles, place the Psalms (ὔμνους) at the head (Luke 24:44) and in Melito of Sardis, in the 2d Cent., whose canon exhibits the following peculiar order for the poetical Hagiographa:—Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job, (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. IV., 26). Luther’s version [also E. V.] follows the order which through the Alexandrian version is become the established order in the Church.

Note.—In respect to the skill and historical truth with which the poet has succeeded in preserving the impress of patriarchal times, and the pre-Mosaic, and hence extra-Israelitish religious individuality of his characters, comp. Dillmann, p. XXII.: “He has carefully avoided any intermixture of Israelitish things, manners, and ideas; he has throughout exhibited the ways and the relations of the four men in accordance with the patriarchal age, relying in part on Genesis. When they appeal to historical illustrations, they are taken from primeval history (as in Job 22:15 seq.). What they say of God, and of divine things, is apparently derived only from the good old tradition, from nature, and the history of universal humanity. Except in three passages they do not even use the divine name, Jahve. Their circle of thought and expression is far more distinctively that of the Shemitic people in general than that of the Canaanitish Hebrews. The theatre of the poem is the edge of the desert (see e.g., Job 1:15; Job 1:17; Job 1:19), and its figures and illustrations correspond therewith (as in Job 6:18 seq.; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; Job 31:32).”—The views of Delitzsch are similar, who takes occasion however to controvert the modern opinion that the poet in the exercise of a free creative fancy invented all these characteristics of an extra-Israelitish nationality and religion on the part of his hero, and justly maintains in opposition the opinion which in substance has been advocated also by Hengstenberg (Beiträge, II., 302 seq.: Vortrag über das Buck Hiob, 1856). “The book of Job,” says Delitzsch (I., p. 6 seq.) “treats a fundamental question of our common humanity; and the poet has studiously taken his hero not from Israelitish history, but from extra-Israelitish tradition. From beginning to end he is conscious of relating an extra-Israelitish history,—a history handed down among the Arab tribes to the east of Palestine, which has come to his ears; for none of the proper names contain even a trace of symbolically intended meaning, and romantic historical poems were nowhere in use among the ancients. This extra-Israelitish history from the patriarchal period excited the purpose of his poem, because the thought therein presented lay in his own mind. The Thora from Sinai, and prophecy, the history and worship of Israel are nowhere introduced; even indirect references to them nowhere escape him. He throws himself with wonderful truthfulness, consistency, and vividness, into the extra-Israelitish position. His own Israelitish stand-point he certainly does not disavow, as we see from his calling God יהוה everywhere in the prologue and epilogue; but the non-Israelitish character of his hero and of his locality he maintains with strict consistency.… Even many of the designations of the divine attributes which have become fixed in the Thora, as &#רַחוּם חַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם, which one might well expect in the book of Job, are not found in it; nor again מוֹב, often used of Jehovah in the Psalms; nor, generally, the dogmatic terminology, as it may be ailed, of the Israelitish religion; besides which this characteristic is to be noted, that only the oldest mode of heathen worship, star-worship (Job 31:26-28), is mentioned, without even the name of God (יהיה צבאות or אלהים צבאות) occurring, which designates God as Lord of the heavens, which the heathen deified. The author has intentionally avoided this name also, which is the star of the time of the Israelitish kings; for he is never unmindful that his subject is an ante- and extra-Israelitish one.”—In these last remarks of Delitzsch’s, with which we are constrained to agree, may be found the corrective for a remark of Dillmann’s which is one-sided, and not altogether free from the liability to be misunderstood. When this commentator, who is generally influenced by sound and correct views says (p. XVII. of the Introd. to his Comm’y.): “So far is it from being the author’s purpose to transport himself arbitrarily out of the circle of revealed truth, that, on the contrary, his whole problem alike with his solution of it, rests on the Mosaic system of doctrine”—it would seem to be his purpose to assign everything, both the doctrinal contents of the poem and the history which serves as its framework, to the circle of the Mosaic system, while nevertheless the personal actors, as well as the religious ideas and representations which are put in their mouth, are intentionally described as pre-Mosaic, and presented from an extra-theocratic point of view. Very true the poet himself, where his historic individuality emerges, as in the prologue and epilogue, reveals himself as an Israelite, a worshipper of Jehovah, an adherent of Mosaism. But his heroes, or the characters of his drama, bear a pre Mosaic patriarchal impress; they are sages of the class called “sons of the East,” 1 Kings 5:10, [E. V., 4:30] not sages versed in the Law, and ministering to the Law, like Solomon, Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, Darda, or like the prophets of the schools of Samuel and Elijah. And the religious-ethical problem discussed by them is one which did not grow in the soil of the Mosaic religion, but an outgrowth of the piety and practical wisdom of the old Shemitic patriarchs, however true it may be that the profound solution which it receives in course of their discussion presupposes something above and beyond the perceptions and experiences which belong to the patriarchal stage of revelation, admitting indeed that in this same solution there is contained a supra-patriarchal and supra-Mosaic element, a prophetic anticipation of the future transition of these two preparatory stages of the true religion into the stage of their absolute fulfilment and perfection through Christ. Comp. Delitzsch (I., p. 8 seq.): “The poet is thoroughly imbued with the conviction that even beyond Israel fellowship is possible with the one living God, who has repealed Himself in Israel; that He also there continually reveals Himself, ordinarily in the conscience, and extraordinarily in dreams and visions; that there is also found there a longing and struggling after that redemption of which Israel has the clear words of promise. His wondrous book soars high above the Old Testament limit; it is the Melchizedek among the Old Testament books. The final and highest solution of the problem with which it grapples, has a vein extending out even beyond the patriarchal history. The Wisdom of the Book of Job originates from Paradise. For this turning to the primeval histories of Genesis, which are earlier than the rise of the nations, and the investigation of the hieroglyphs in the prelude to the Thora, which are otherwise almost passed over in the Old Testament, belong to the peculiarities of the Chokma.”


As an external indication of value in determining the time when the book of Job was written, we may take into account its position in the canon, near the Psalms and the book of Proverbs, always before the book of Ecclesiastes, which shows so many traces of a later age. This position, however, is too uncertain; and even if it were fixed, it could still not be inferred from it that the book, although placed near those writings of the age of David and Solomon, had also been produced about that time, a considerable period, that is to say, before the book of Coheleth, which was not written until after the Exile. And in general the rule followed by those who collected and arranged the canon is not that of strict chronology, and yields only very general and indefinite conclusions in respect to the successive origination of particular books.

Of greater value would another external criterion be, that, namely, which lies in the linguistic vesture of the book, provided only that the fact that, comparatively, it abounds in Aramäisms could be made to prove that it was written in a decidedly late age. But there is not, and there never can be, a history of the development of the Hebrew language so strict in its chronology that each of its stages can be sharply defined, and used as means for determining the time of particular books, or sections of books.9 The Aramaic coloring, together with the correspondences with the later Hebrew, of which the book furnishes many instances (such as e.g. plural forms in ־ִין, the use of the preposition לְ for the accusative, words like קִבֵּל לָהֶן [found once even in the prose prologue, Job 2:10], גָּזַר תְָקַף סֶדֶר עַשְׁתּוּת תַּכְלִית, or even Aramaizing forms such as occur in Job 6:27; Job 8:8; Job 15:7; Job 21:23, etc.), prove nothing definite in favor of a later origin, for such peculiarities are of general occurrence in books of a highly poetic character, as e.g. in Solomon’s Song, in the Song of Deborah, Judges 5:0; and also in the prophet Amos, although these books must not for that reason be brought down very late in time. Moreover, Bernstein (in Keil und Tzschirner’s Analekten, I.3), and others have advanced statements which are decidedly exaggerated in respect to the number of the Aramaisms in our book; statements which are equally worthless with the opinion, which has been expressed here and there from an early time, that the book in its present form has for its basis an Aramaic text—an opinion which the apocryphal appendix to the LXX., following Job 42:17, has already expressed: οὖτος ἐρμηνεύτεαι ἐκ τῆς Συριακῆς βίβλος, and which has been still further advocated by Aben-Ezra, Jurieu, Carpzovius, the last two in connection with the endeavor to discover the author of the translation into Hebrew, whom they identify either with Moses (so Carpz.), or with Solomon (so Jurieu: comp. also the following section at the beginning).—If the linguistic character of the book be examined for more definite data in support of conjectures respecting the time when it was written, the correspondences with the vocabulary and usage of the book of Proverbs might first of all be considered; as e.g. Job 20:18 (עלם) with Proverbs 7:18; Job 5:2 (פתה) with Proverbs 20:19; Job 12:5; Job 30:24; Job 31:29 (פִּיד) with Proverbs 24:22; Job 33:7 (אבף) with Proverbs 16:26; Job 37:12 (תַּחְבֻּלוֹת) with Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:5, and often; Job 5:4 (“to be crushed in the gate”) with Proverbs 22:22; Job 15:16; Job 34:7 (“to drink iniquity like water”) with Proverbs 26:6; similar correspondences in expression might be found with many of the Psalms (comp. Ps. 39:14 with Job 9:27; Job 10:20-21; Psalms 58:9 with Job 3:16; Psalms 69:33 with Job 22:19; Psalms 103:15-16 with Job 7:10; Job 14:2); also correspondences with the Aramaisms of the Song of Solomon (comp. the Introd. to the latter, Vol. X. of this Series, p. 14 seq.10). From these, however, it would be scarcely legitimate to infer more than the fact that our book belongs generally to the age of David and Solomon, or at least that its age borders on that.

The inquiry into the age of the poet receives no help from a third witness of an external sort, to wit, the fact that in the well-known passage in the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14, 28; comp. Job 28:3), Job is mentioned along with Noah and Daniel, as two other examples of wisdom and piety. For this mention would at most furnish a chronological conjecture in regard to the hero of the poem, not at all in regard to the poem itself and its author: even a post-exilic authorship of this poetic version of the story of Job could be reconciled with Ezekiel’s use of the name, which moreover does not convey the slightest intimation whether the age of Job was nearer to that of Noah, or to that of Daniel, or whether it should be located somewhere in the middle between the two.

The time when the book was written must accordingly be determined, in the absence of other authoritative external witnesses, on the Lasis of probability in accordance with internal tests. Here we must note, first of all, and as being of essential importance, the Chok-ma-character of the poem, which we have already exhibited in the preceding section. The opinion that our poem was produced during the bloom of the Literature of Wisdom in Israel in the time of Solomon is made probable by internal evidences of the most weighty character. It is to be preferred to the two theories which differ from it; both to that which carries its authorship back into the Mosaic, or even the pre-Mosaic age, and to that which brings it down near the time of the exile, or even into the post-exilic age.

1. The book is treated as older than the epoch of David and Solomon, as belonging indeed to the Mosaic age, or even as being the work of Moses himself, who composed it before the giving of the law on Sinai, in certain passages of the Talmud (Sota Jer. V.8; B. Bathra, 15, a), by several of the Church Fathers, such as Origen, Ephraem Syrus, Jerome, Polychronius, Julian of Halicarnassus; by some of the Rabbis, such as Saadia, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi (comp, Hottinger, Thes. Phil., p. 499; Wolf, Bibl. hebr. II. p. 102); among later authorities by Huetius (Demonstralio Ev. IV., 2, p. 377), J. D. Michaelis, Jahn, Hufnagel, Friedländer, Stier (The Words of the Lord Jesus), Ebrard (Das Buch Hiob übers. und erläuteri für Gebildete, Landau, 1858), Haneberg, J. Gräber (Die Siellung und Bedentung Hiobs im Alten Testament, Beweis des Glaubens, Bd. V., 1869, p. 433 seq.), Mason, Good, Palfrey, andothers [and so Wordsworth, Dr. Mill (quoted by Wordsworth), Elzas, while Canon Cook in SMITH’S Bib. Diet, thinks it must have been written before the promulgation of the law, by one speaking the Hebrew language (see also Introd. to Job in Bib. Commentary, p. 14seq.; Princeton Review, Vol. XXIX., argues that the Mosaic authorship has not been disproved; Carey thinks the exact time cannot be determined, but assigns to it a very great antiquity]. Akin to this is the view of Carpzovius already mentioned (Introd. in libr. canon, V.T. II., p. 45 seq.), to wit, that Moses translated from the Aramaic the book which in its original language was yet older than himself [so also Ben Zev; see Preface to Bernard’s Commentary, p. LXX., while according to McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Art. “Job,” it was “originally framed in Job’s age (by that romance style of composition spontaneous with Orientals), and that in its Arabic dress it was gathered by Moses from the lips of the Midianitish bards during his residence among them; that it was first composed by him in the Hebrew language, but not reduced to its present complete form till considerably later, perhaps by Solomon”]; also the theory that the book had a pre-Mosaic origin, as held by Ilgen, Bertholdt, Stuhlmann, Eichhorn, and quite lately by E, von Bunsen, who combines with it the singular supposition that Job is identical with Melchizedek (Die Einheit der Religionen im Zusammenhang mit den Völkerwanderungen der Urzeit und der Geheimlehre, I. Bd., Berlin, 1870, p. 420 seq.). [Here may be mentioned the opinion of those who think Job himself was the author, e.g., Schultens, Lowth, Peters, Tomline, Hales, Home, Magee, Lee, Barnes, Croly. Wemyss, who holds this not improbable, adds, as his own conjecture, the name of Joseph.] The attempt has been made to represent the book as approximately Mosaic, as belonging at least to the period of the Judges, by the R. Eliezer (according to Baba Bathra 15, and Sota Jer. f. 20, 3), and Philippus Presbyter (the author of a pseudo-Jeromean Commentary on Job in Opp. Hieron. ed. Vall. T. III., App. p. 895 seq.). All these attempts to assign to the book an exaggerated antiquity, and particularly the hypothesis that Moses was its author, in favor of which may at least be urged such considerations as a certain similarity in many of the descriptions and reflections of the book to Psalms 90:0 and the song of Moses (Deuteronomy 30:0.), are decisively refuted by the following arguments: 1. The reflective, subjective, and artistically perfect character of the poem, which indicates a time considerably later than that of the promulgation of the law. 2. The character of the religious problem of the poem, which, even if it be treated by the poet from an extra-theocratic point of view, pre-supposes nevertheless an accurate acquaintance with the theocracy—nay, more, a profound immersion into its spirit.11 3. The very evident familiarity of the poet with doctrinal representations, which belong only to a stage in the development of revealed religion which was conditioned by the law, and which became possible on the basis of it, such as the idea of Wisdom as a principle of the Divine activity in governing and illuminating the world (chap. 28.), and the representation of Sheol as a gloomy, prison-like realm of shadows (Job 3:17 seq.; Job 7:7 seq.; Job 14:10 seq.; Job 16:21; Job 17:6; Job 30:23). 4. The frequent references to conditions and relations, which presuppose a more advanced culture and development in society and the state, than the simple, and, so to speak, elementary conditions of the Mosaic age (comp. Job 9:24; Job 12:17 seq.; Job 15:28; Job 24:12; Job 29:7; Job 39:7). 5. Finally, as a peculiarity in the material which points definitely to the period of the first kings, the double mention of the gold of Ophir Job 22:24; Job 28:16; comp. 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11).—In view of such manifest traces of a later age, the assignment of the poem to the Mosaic, or to the pre-Mosaic age, or to the age immediately following Moses, seems to be in the highest degree improbable; and Herder is right when, in express opposition to its Mosaic authorship, he says: “The poet of the book of Job is certainly not Moses; we might just as well say that Solon wrote the Iliad, and the Eumenides of Æschylus!” (Geist der Ebr. Poesie, 1805, I., p. 130).

II. Following some of the ancient Rabbis, such as R. Eleazer and R. Jochanan (B. Bathra and Sota Jeremiah 1. c.), a number of modern exegetes and critics have assigned the poem to an age considerably later than that of the literature of David and Solomon; such as Ph. Codurcus (Annotationes in Jobum, 1651), who regards it as having been composed by Isaiah in the eighth century; Rosenm. (Schol. Exodus 2:0), Stickel, Ewald, Heiligstedt, Böttcher, Magnus, Bleek, Davidson, Herbst and De Wette (in their Introductions), Renan, Dillmann [Merx], Nöldecke (Die Alttestamental Literatur., 1868, p. 191), Fürst (Gesch., der bibl. Literat. II., 424seq.), and several others, who assign it to the first half of the seventh century, or the age immediately following that of Isaiah [Noyes, and Rodwell, without specifying more closely, place it between the Solomonic age and that of the exile]; Hirzel, who (p. 10 of his Commentary) thinks it was not composed till the end of the seventh century, after the deportation of king Jehoahaz, in the year 608, and that it was written in Egypt; Garnett, Bernstein, Umbreit, Arnheim, who assign it to the period of the Babylonish exile; and Grotius, v. d. Hardt, Le Clerc, Warburton, Heath (Essay towards a new English version of the Book of Job, 1755), Gesenius, Vatke, Köster, Br. Bauer, E. Meier (in Baur and Zeller’s Theolog. Jahrbb., 1846, p. 129 seq.), Zunz, Bunsen, etc., who look on the post-exilic epoch, and in particular the 5th Cent. B. C., as the time when it was composed. The two latter modifications of this view represent the extreme limit of the efforts which have been made to bring down the age of the book. They depend on the idea already repudiated in § 4 under h, according to which Job is a personification, or at least a type or image of the people of Israel suffering in exile. They stand or fall substantially with this allegoristic interpretation, of which Delitzsch says truly that “it is about the same as the view that the guilty Pericles may be intended by king Oedipus, or the Sophists by the Odysseus of the Philoctetes.” And the other arguments urged in favor of the exilic or the post-exilic origin of the poem by such critics as do not adhere to this allegoristic theory, or at least are not strenuous in upholding it, have no particular weight. The assumed Aramäistic character of the language is, as has been already shown, to be accredited simply and solely to the poetic contents and dress of the book, and proves nothing therefore in favor of the period of the exile. Just as little do the representations which the book gives of Satan and of the angels prove this; for there is no historical ground whatever for referring these to Chaldee or Persian influences. The theory under consideration is, however, decisively disproved by the fact that the prophet Jeremiah, who lived and prophesied towards the end of the seventh century, must have known our book and made use of it (comp. Job 3:3-10 with Jeremiah 20:14-18; Job 19:24 with Jeremiah 17:1; chap, Job 21:19 with Jeremiah 31:29; also Job 19:8 with Lamentations 3:7; Lamentations 3:9; chap. Job 12:4; Job 17:6; Job 30:1 with Lamentations 2:15). Far more weight should be assigned to these correspondences with Jeremiah, especially seeing that Jeremiah is obviously the copyist, the book of Job being the original, than to the twofold mention of Job by Ezekiel (comp. above); or to the correspondences, which are far less certain and indisputable, between this book and the second part of Isaiah (comp. Job 21:22 with Isaiah 40:14; Job 12:24 with Isaiah 40:23; Job 12:17; Job 12:20 with Isaiah 44:25; Job 9:8; Job 38:4 with Isaiah 44:24; Job 15:35 with Isaiah 59:4). This undeniable dependence of Jeremiah on the author of this book is at the same time decisive also against the opinion of Hirzel that our book was produced in the age immediately before the exile, say under Jehoahaz; an opinion which is still further refuted by the fact that the passage in Job 15:18 seq. describes not at all the invasion of Palestine by foreign oriental nationalities, but rather foreign incursions over-running the original inhabitants of Edom or Teman (the country of Eliphaz). And so in general it may be said that the references to the condition of the Israelitish people and kingdom as one of confusion and incipient ruin, which not only Hirzel, but De Wette, Stickel, Ewald, and others find in the book, are without any foundation in fact, and can by no means be supported by such passages as Job 9:24; Job 12:6; Job 12:14 seq.; Job 21:7; Job 21:16 seq.; Job 24:1 seq. (comp, the exegetical remarks).

There remains only that modification of the opinion that the book has a post-Solomonic origin, which conjectures its date as being the first half of the seventh century, or the age of Manasseh (696–643), and which has been defended with particular acuteness by Ewald, Dillmann, Fürst, Davidson, Schrader, etc. It is the most plausible of the theories advanced by modern criticism regarding the age of the book; at the same time there is much which argues against it, and which points to an earlier period:

a. Already does Isaiah even, in several passages, and especially in chap, 19, show familiarity with the book of Job (comp. in particular Isaiah 19:5 with Job 14:11; Isaiah 19:13-14 with Job 12:24 seq.); nay, the book of Amos, which is considerably older yet, exhibits several allusions to this book, which lead us to regard it as older than that (comp. Amos 4:13 with Job 9:8; Amos 5:8 with Job 9:9; Job 38:31; Amos 9:6 with Job 12:9; and see Vaihinger in the Stud, und Krit., 1846, I., p. 146 seq.; also Schlottmann, p. 109). The opinion that, on the contrary, these passages in the prophetic books are older than the corresponding passages in our poem (an opinion which, e.g., Volck [De summa carm. Job sententia] has advanced in respect to those passages in Isaiah), is in most cases improbable, and in some absolutely untenable. Comp. below on Job 14:11.

b. The verbal correspondences already noted between this book and that of Proverbs indicate that in all probability the book was composed in the Solomonic age, or at least not far from the same; and this conclusion is rendered all the more certain by the fact that those correspondences occur only to a limited extent with the introductory chapters (1–9) of the Book of Proverbs (which chapters properly belong to the age immediately following Hezekiah; see Vol. X. of this Series, Introd., p. 26 seq.), the great majority of them being related to the old Solomonic nucleus of the collection, chap. 10–22.

c. Several more definite correspondences of thought and expression, which occur between this book and that of Proverbs (both in its older and its later divisions), cause the priority of Job to seem more probable and natural. Comp. Job 15:7 with Proverbs 8:25; chap, 21:17 with Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 24:20; chap, 28:18 with Proverbs 3:15. Here it is of particular importance to consider the relation of Wisdom in chap. 28. of our book to the descriptions of the same Divine Principle in the government of the world and in revelation given in chapters 3, 8, and 9 of Proverbs; a relation which clearly exhibits a course of development as obtaining between the two representations, a progress from the less developed idea of the Chokmah in Job to its more full doctrinal unfolding in the introductory part of the book of Proverbs, and which accordingly proves the age of the earlier book to be that of Solomon, or at least the age immediately following.

d. That the traces of serious doubt respecting the retributive justice of God, which our book exhibits, are of necessity to be regarded as signs of a post-Solomonic origin, “of its origin even in the time of the later kings,” is an unproved assumption, which has been advanced by Ewald, Dillmann, and several others, and which involves a petitio principii, resting on no objective fact. In this respect it resembles the similar proposition which has been advanced touching the poetic form of the book, to wit, that as a specimen of religious-didactic poetry, it must be of necessity considerably later than the “dramatizing popular poetry” of the Canticles, it “presupposes a longer practice of the religious lyric art, and of proverbial poetry, and cannot accordingly be placed at the beginning of the same” (Dillmann, p. XXVI.).

e. The descriptions already referred to in chapters 9, 12, 21, and 24 (particularly in Job 12:14 seq., Job 21:16 seq.; and Job 24:1 seq.) by no means prove, as is often assumed, that grievous catastrophes, such as destructive raids by powerful hostile armies, deportations of entire masses of men, etc., are assumed as having already overtaken Israel, and that accordingly the poem must have been composed after the Assyrian invasions in the eighth century before Christ. For in the history of the nations of Western Asia catastrophes of that sort are in general “as old as the traditions of history” (think of Chedor-laomer, of Sesostris, of Shishak, 1 Kings 14:25 seq.), and the supposition that those passages necessarily referred to the country and the nation of the Israelites is unfounded, and in fact is altogether irreconcilable with the geographical territory contemplated in the book, which is predominantly that of the Idumean Arabia. “The assumption that a book which sets forth such a fearful conflict in the abyss of affliction, as the book of Job, must have sprung from a time of gloomy national distress, is untenable. It is sufficient to suppose that the writer himself has experienced the like, and experienced it at a time when all around him were living in great luxury, which must have greatly aggravated his trial” (Delitzsch, I., p. 20).

f. It is still further an arbitrary assumption to say that “ the contest of principles between the two parties, the pious and the unbelieving,” as the same is described in Job 17:8, and Job 22:19 is of necessity to be taken as indicating a later age. This view is just as destitute of any certain external support, as the theory, pressed into its support, that those Psalms, which contain allusions to similar party-contests (comp., e.g., Ps. 39:14 [13] with Job 9:27; Job 10:20; Psalms 58:9 [8] with Job 3:16; Psalms 69:33 with Job 22:19, etc.), were composed after the time of David, or even near the time of the exile. The same may be said of the other supposed indications of the time of the later kings, on which Dillmann lays stress, l. c., to wit, “star-worship, with its seductive influence,” the mention of which in Job 31:26 seq., it is said, points expressly to the times of Ahaz, and still more of Manasseh (as though even in the pre-Mosaic and the Mosaic age this kind of idolatry was not known, and warnings uttered against it; comp. above, § 2); also the fact that a written process and a written judgment are presupposed in judicial cases in Job 13:26; Job 31:35 seq. (as though the סֹפְרִים in the royal court of David were not already accustomed to complete written procedures in administrative, and certainly also in judicial, matters!).

III. The reasons above given are predominantly negative and indirect, designed to weaken the force of the objections to the opinion that the book of Job proceeds from the Solomonic age. The following are the positive arguments in favor of this opinion, which has been maintained by R. Nathan (B. Bathra, f. 15; Sota Jeremiah 20:3). by Gregory of Nazianzen (Or, IX.), Luther, Spanheim, Harduin, Döderlein, Stäudlin, Richter (De ætate l. Job definienda, 1799, § 11), Augusti, Hävernick,. Keil, Oehler, Welte, Vaihinger, Schlottmann, Hahn, Delitzsch, etc. [so also A. B. Davidson, Hengstenberg, while Stanley, Hist, of the Jewish Church, Lecture XXVIII., regards its “derivation from the age of Solomon” as very evident].

g. The double mention of the gold of Ophir (see above, No. I., 5) which is most easily explained by supposing that the poets in their figurative language would most naturally make use of this costly natural product of the Oriental world of wonders just at the time when it was first brought in considerable quantities to the Shemitic countries of Western Asia (comp. also Psalms 45:10 [9]).

h. The mention of so many other notable natural objects, costly articles, rare and splendid jewels, etc.; the description of which is characterized by an exuberant abundance of observations in the natural world, and of indications showing that sense and spirit were satiated with the enjoyment of life, a warm, agreeable fullness of life, such as was quite peculiar to the time of Solomon, and which, outside of our poem, is especially apparent in the Canticles, whose observations of the world exhibit a cosmopolitan wealth of material, and whose coloring in the domain of natural description is glowing and splendid. Comp. the rare animals and the other natural wonders described in Job 30:29, and Job 39:13—chap. 41; also the mention of pearls (corals) and other costly treasures in chap. 28; and with these comp. such passages as Song of Solomon 3:9; Song of Solomon 4:3; Song of Solomon 4:13; Song of Solomon 6:7; Song of Solomon 7:2 seq.; also Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 20:15; Proverbs 31:10; 1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 7:13 seq.; 1 Kings 10:11 seq. (see Introd. to Song of Solomon, Vol. X. of this Series, p. 13, and also p. 384 of this volume).

i. The many correspondences found especially in the eschatological representations of our book, and especially in its utterances concerning the conditions of men after death, and to the realm of shadows (שְׁאוֹל), with that which the Proverbs, and many of the Psalms belonging to the best period, teach in respect to these points (comp. אֲבַדּוֹן, abyss, in the sense of שְׁאוֹל, Proverbs 15:11, and Job 26:6; Job 28:22; and also the many correspondences of our book with the Lamentation-Psalms of the Ezrahites, Heman and Ethan, Psalms 88, 89, especially Psalms 88:5 with Job 14:6; Psalms 88:9 [8] with Job 30:10; Psalms 89:8 [7] with Job 31:34; Psalms 89:48 [47] with Job 7:7; Psalms 89:49 [48] with Job 14:14):—in short its agreement with the eschatology of the time of David and Solomon (comp. above, p. 247), which, along with that which has been remarked repeatedly in respect to its essential harmony with the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Wisdom, constitutes a consideration of no small weight.

k. Finally, the classic, magnificent form of the poem as a work of art (§ 3), which in the eyes of every unprejudiced observer gives to it a position immediately alongside of the Canticles, the Solomonic nucleus of the Boob of Proverbs, and the best and oldest portions of the Book of Psalms, even though by this course we multiply the classical products of the literary epoch represented by David and Solomon to a degree which is astonishing, or even almost incredible.12 If any concession be made to one of the weightiest arguments by which the post-Solomonic authorship is sustained, the frequent reference to great public calamities, and severe national afflictions (see under e), we might come down to the age immediately following that of Solomon, or we might say with the editor of this Series (Vol. I., Introd. to the Old Testament, p. 35 seq.): “The origin of the book belongs to the time when the glory of Solomon was on the decline.” In the main however we must rest satisfied with the view that the book, both as to its character and its age, belongs to the group of Solomonic poems of Wisdom, and Luther’s judgment in the Table-Talk is anything but a blunder; on the contrary it substantially hits the nail on the head: “It is possible and supposable that Solomon composed and wrote this book, for we find just his way of speaking in the Book of Job, as in his other books. Phrasis non multum est dissimilis. The story of Job is old, and was quite familiar to everybody in Solomon’s time, and he undertook to describe it, as though I should undertake to describe the stories of Joseph or Rebecca.”


The country and home of the author of our poem has been treated in much the same way as the age in which he lived. Many one-sided and untenable conjectures have been advanced which require to be refuted, or, at least, reduced to their proper value.
The same confusion which has produced the attempt to identify the age of the poet with that of Job has also largely prevailed in respect to the place where the one and the other lived. According as the land of Uz has been assigned to the territory of Aramaic Syria, or Arabia, or Idumea, the attempt has been made to represent our book as an extra-Palestinian production, as to its language, its conception, and its entire origin. Its authorship has been variously referred to Syria (the LXX., the Pseudo-Origen’s Comm. in Job, Aben Ezra), to Arabia (Spanheim, Vitringa, Witsius, Joh. Gerhard, Calovius, also Kromayer: Filia matri obstetricans h. e. de usu linguæ arab. in addiscenda ebræa, p. 72), or to Edomitis (Herder, Ilgen), or to a Nahorite, i.e., a Mesopotamian (Niemeyer, Charakteristik der Bibel, II., 480 seq.). Perceiving the extravagance of these hypotheses, Bertholdt and Eichhorn limited themselves to the assumption that the author was an Israelite, sojourning in Idumea or Arabia—an opinion against which it has been correctly observed that it “results from confounding the scene of the book with the author’s standpoint, which is wholly independent of the same” (Hahn, p. 22). A bolder conjecture, and yet, in view of certain remarkable peculiarities, a more plausible one, is that of Hitzig (Komment. zu Jesaia, 1813, p. 285), and of Hirzel (Komment., p. 12), that the book was written in Egypt, that is to say, by a Hebrew living in Egypt. Hirzel, in particular, finds reasons for this opinion in various traces of a familiar acquaintance on the part of the poet with Egyptian objects, an acquaintance which is presumed to have been founded on his own observation. Among these he names the description of mining in Job 28:1-11, which, as he claims, indicates personal knowledge of the gold mines of Egypt (Diodorus III. 12; Josephus, De bello Jud. VI. 412); acquaintance with the Nile, as shown in Job 7:12; Job 8:11-13; Job 9:26; the mention of mausoleums in Job 3:14; the reference to the Egyptian process in judicial cases in Job 31:35; the allusion to the phenix in Job 29:18; and finally the description of the war-horse in Job 39:19 seq., and of the still more specifically Egyptian animal prodigies, the hippopotamus and the crocodile in chap. 40 and 41. These reasons, however, will be found inconclusive. Either they rest on a false or doubtful exegesis, or they prove only so much familiarity with Egypt as might have been acquired by traveling in that land, or even by mere hearsay.

a. There is no foundation whatever for referring the passage in Job 7:12 to the Nile, the passage in Job 31:35 to the judicial processes of the Egyptians (comp. what is said above in the preceding section, under II.), or the passage in Job 39:19 seq. specifically to the Egyptian war-horse. As though the use of cavalry and the breeding of horses were not abundantly practised in Palestine, especially after the time of Solomon (comp. 1 Kings 5:6 seq. [1 Kings 4:26 seq.]; 1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:28)!

b. It is questionable whether by the mausoleums or “ruins” (חֳרָבוֹת) of Job 3:14, the author had particularly in mind Egyptian mausoleums, for instance the pyramids, seeing that Palestine might easily have made him acquainted with structures of that kind (comp. Isaiah 22:15 seq.; Josephus, De B. Jud. I.2, 5), and seeing that the exegesis of the passage is very uncertain (see on the verse). In like manner it is exceedingly questionable whether his description of mining in Job 28:0 is necessarily derived from the Egyptian gold-diggings. For, in the first place, his description by no means refers exclusively to the mining of gold, but includes just as much the mining of silver, iron and copper (see ver. 2 seq.), and also the mining of precious stones, among which he expressly mentions the sapphire. In the next place, the comprehensiveness of his acquaintance with mining operations makes it more probable that he had in mind the iron, gold, lead and copper mines of Idumea and Arabia, as well as the sapphire veins of the last mentioned country, the existence of which is attested by antiquity, provided, that is, that the source of his knowledge is to be looked for in any foreign mines. For it is certainly not easy to see why the business of mining should not have been carried on within the limits of Palestine itself, at least from the time of the first kings, and indeed from the age of Moses, in view of such direct testimony as is furnished by Deuteronomy 8:9; Deuteronomy 33:25; as well as of such figures and poetic similes as are found in Proverbs 17:3; Proverbs 26:23; Proverbs 27:21; Isaiah 1:22; Ezekiel 22:18; Malachi 3:3, etc. Comp. Robinson’s Physical Geography of the Holy Land, pp. 340, 373; v. Rougemont, Die Bronzezeit, etc. (1869), p. 87. And finally, it is just as doubtful whether the mention of the phenix in Job 29:18 (admitting that חוֹל there really has that meaning, and should not rather be rendered “sand”), must of necessity be understood and explained in accordance with the Egyptian legend of the phenix, seeing that the legend of this bird is rather to be regarded as the common property of the orbis orientalis, and may in particular be attributed to the Arabians as a part of their primitive heritage; comp. Herodot. II. 73; Tacit. Ann. VI. 28; Clemens Rom., 1 Cor. chap. 25, etc.; also Henrichsen, De Phœnicis fabula apud Græcos, Romanos et populos orientales, Part I., II., Havniæ, 1825, 1827; Piper, Mythologie der christl. Kunst, 1847, I. 446 seq.

c. The passages (Job 8:11 seq.) which describe the papyrus-shrub (which is to be found predominantly indeed along the Nile, but which, according to Theophrastus, Hist. plant. 4, 9, grows also in Palestine), and the papyrus-boat (Job 9:26), furnish no sufficient demonstration that the author lived in Egypt. They are rather to be explained by supposing simply that he became acquainted with these objects through travel, or indirectly through oral tradition. Even Isaiah recognizes the papyrus-boats, although he had never himself seen Egypt or the Nile! Moreover, the descriptions of the hippopotamus and the crocodile, contained in Jehovah’s discourses, do not by any means unqualifiedly require us to suppose on the part of the poet the accurate knowledge of an eye-witness. Rather do they seem, “not only by their ideal cast, but also by the inaccuracies which have slipped into them, to betray an author who possibly knew the animals referred to only through what he had heard concerning them. For which reason the opinion of Eichhorn, Ewald, Dillmann, and Simson—an opinion which is, in other respects, without sufficient critical foundation—that these descriptions, constituting the whole section embraced in Job 40:15-41:26 [34], were written by a Jew, who, about the beginning of the 6th century, travelled to Egypt, and lived there, seems superfluous. Comp. § 9, II., and also the exposition of the particular section referred to.

The positive proof that Palestine was the author’s country and home, lies, first of all, on the external side, in the fact that, in the section just mentioned, describing behemoth and leviathan, the Jordan is introduced as an example of a great river (see Job 40:23); on the internal side, in the unmistakable fact that as respects his whole manner of thought and perception the author stood in intimate relationship to the consciousness and life of the theocracy, which could scarcely have been the case had he lived outside the national territory of the theocratic commonwealth, and at a distance from its sanctuary. Through travel in foreign lands, perhaps in Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and especially in Idumea and the regions immediately adjacent, in which the principal theatre of his narrative lies, he might at any time have acquired the information which he exhibits respecting the peculiarities of these lands outside of Palestine. In the main, however, the comprehensive knowledge, and the vast wealth of vivid natural observations, of which his poem gives evidence, are to be explained by the universal cosmopolitanism of his intellectual tendencies, and by the extent and solidity of his entire culture, which in a sage of the Solomonic age is not to be wondered at. The abundance of the “secular knowledge” deposited in the book appears essentially as “the result of the wide circle of observation which Israel had reached in the time of Solomon” (Delitzsch). And there is no really unanswerable argument to show that this sage, highly cultivated and richly endowed, like Solomon himself (comp. 1 Kings 4:30 seq.; 1 Kings 5:10 seq.), of necessity lived far from Solomon’s court, and from what were in that age the central points of the theocratic national life of Israel, and that we must look to the remote south, or south east of that famed land, the region bordering on Idumea, for his place of residence. When Stickel, Vaihinger (Stud, und Krit., 1846, I., 178 seq.), Böttcher (Lehrbuch der hebräischen Sprache, § 29 and 36), and Dillmann present arguments to establish the probability that he lived in Southern Palestine, derived from the language and from other sources, not one of these arguments is of sufficient weight to prove more than the bare possibility of this hypothesis. For—

(1) The statement that the book “exhibits so many Aramaic and Arabic peculiarities of diction,” as to indicate that the author’s home bordered on the territory where the Aramaic and Arabian languages were spoken, must be adjudged to be exceedingly precarious, after what we have said above in the preceding section in respect to the value of linguistic peculiarities for the more precise determination of the question touching the origin of our book. It would seem to be equally precarious with the well-known opinion of Hitzig and Ewald, that the Song of Solomon had its origin in Northern Palestine, on account of its numerous Aramaisms (comp. the Introduction to our Commentary of the Song of Solomon, Vol. X. of this Series, § 3, Rem. 2, p. 14seq.).

(2) The absence of any definite references to Jerusalem, as the centre of the Israelitish cultus is sufficiently explained by the author’s purpose to locate the scene of the action outside of Palestine, and in a patriarchal, pre-Mosaic sphere, and to adhere to this plan with rigid consistency throughout (comp. § 5).
(3) The exact familiarity of the author with the conditions and phenomena of life in the desert by no means necessitates the conclusion that his home bordered on the desert; for even in the country immediately surrounding Jerusalem, and in the whole Israelitish territory east of the Jordan, the life of the desert might be studied in all its peculiarities, and our author shows himself throughout to be in every respect a poet endowed with a rich poetic fancy and talent for description, a man in whom was to be found, according to Stickel’s own confession, “a plastic genius so manifest and powerful that he was competent to give a true description of what he had not seen with his own eyes.”

(4) Just as little does the author’s knowledge of the animal prodigies of Egypt and Arabia, of the costly products of these lands, and also of the star-worship prevailing in these and in other oriental countries, compel us to suppose that “he lived in the centre of the most active commercial intercourse between the nations of Arabia, Egypt and Babylonia, at the point where the great commercial routes from the Euphrates and Eastern Arabia to Egypt and the Philistine and maritime ports, and again from Southern Arabia to Damascus and Palmyra crossed.” For under the peaceful reign of Solomon, with its complete organization and close centralization, even a resident of Jerusalem might have acquired a vivid conception and exact information respecting all those things. Especially would he be able, as the result of the active commercial relations, which, according to 1 Kings 5:1 seq., 1 Kings 10:1 seq., Solomon had established with Egypt, Arabia and Phenicia, to extend the circle of his observation over all that territory, even although he himself never had occasion to journey along the caravan-routes of the south-east, or to live there for any length of time.

It is not necessary accordingly to assume for the poet either an extra-Israelitish origin or place of abode, or a residence on the boundaries of the land of Israel in the neighborhood of Edom, or of the Syro Arabian desert. On the contrary all that we find in his poem is most satisfactorily explained on the theory that he belonged to the pious and literary coterie of sages, whose rendezvous, according to 1 Kings 4:30 seq., was Solomon’s court, and that the classification of the actors in his poem with the wise “sons of the east,” and the “Egyptians” (comp. § 5) rests simply on the fact that his unusually wide circle of observation, and his comprehensive knowledge of nature and mankind had put him in possession of a more intimate acquaintance with the practices and habits and circle of ideas peculiar to these extra-theocratic sages. The conjecture of Delitzsch (I. p. 23) that the author of our book might have been Heman, the Ezrahite, the singer of “the 88th Psalm, written under circumstances of suffering similar to Job’s,” is indeed lacking in any more precise support, whether in the poem itself, or in the scanty intimations conveyed by the Books of the Kings respecting the person of this Heman. For which reason Delitzsch himself does not follow up this conjecture any further, but contents himself with the conclusion respecting the author’s probable nationality which we have stated above, and which there are scarcely counter-arguments of sufficient weight to overthrow.


After all that has been written on the question of the authorship of the Book of Job, the suggestion of a new solution of the problem may well seem superfluous. On the one side the question itself may be deemed unimportant; on the other side the solution of it may be pronounced impracticable, and a new conjecture but one more contribution to the limbo of idle speculation. It must be admitted however that if the question—who wrote the book of Job?—ever should receive an answer sustained by a reasonable array of probabilities, such an answer would be of no small value in elucidating the book itself, and the historic revelation of Divine truth, of which it is so important a part. The answer here suggested is one that has suggested itself to the translator during the progress of the work with singular force, and with an accumulating weight of
probability, in view of which he feels justified in at least propounding the above inquiry—Was Hezekiah the author of the Book of Job? and in inviting attention to the considerations which incline him to an affirmative answer, and which he ventures to presume may serve to show that the inquiry is not altogether an unreasonable one.

It may be true that the author of this book will ever continue to be a “Great Unknown.” It may be that the Spirit of inspiration has purposely withheld from the sacred volume every such clue to his personal identity, as would place it beyond all question. If so it is undoubtedly better that it should be so. I am certainly very far from wishing to dogmatize on the subject. I simply suggest the name of Hezekiah as a hypothesis worthy of consideration. That hitherto the name seems to have occurred to no one is, I admit, a presumption against it. All the more so perhaps that some have come so near it, hovering all about it, yet never alighting upon it. Thus Warburton says of Job 33:17 seq.: “This is the most circumstantial account of God’s dealing with Hezekiah, as it is told in the books of Chronicles and of Kings;” and of Job 34:20, that “it plainly refers to the destruction of the first-born in Egypt, and Sennacherib’s army ravaging Judea.” Ewald, speaking of the remarkable epoch of which Hezekiah is the central and commanding figure, says that the culture of the highest form of poetry, the drama, during this period, is shown by the book of Job, which exhibits the highest point reached by the poetic art of the nation in ancient times. Merx finds his theory as to the time when the book was composed (viz. about 700 B. C.) confirmed by the existence of the College of Sages, established by Hezekiah, “the poet’s contemporary” (Das Buch Hiob, p. XLVI.). Renan “loves to place the book” in the same period, and finds “rapports” between the psalm of Hezekiah and the book of Job. Carey, speaking of the case instanced by Elihu in Job 33:24 seq. says: “This case is not unlike that of Hezekiah; indeed it so resembles it in many particulars that I wonder it should have escaped (as I believe it has done) the notice of commentators.” To no one of these however does the thought seem to have occurred that Hezekiah himself may have been the author—and yet why not? Let me submit the following considerations in favor at least of having the claims of Hezekiah considered.

1. Hezekiah was a gifted poet. This no one can doubt who is familiar with that most beautiful Ode which Isaiah has preserved for us in Job 38:9 seq. Its exquisite melody, its plaintive pathos, its depth of sentiment, its beauty of imagery, its devotional tenderness have never been surpassed within the same compass. Zwingli has said of it truly: est autem carmen hoc cum primis doctum et elegans. Delitzsch acknowledges its “lofty sweep,” although he calls it “cultivated rather than original poetry.” The criticism proceeds however from the manifest presupposition that the song is an imitation of Job, having, he says, “a considerable number of the echoes of the book of Job.” But what if instead of being an echo, it is the keynote of Job? What if here we have the germ of that wondrous creation? If at least with Ewald, Renan and Merx we attribute it to the age of Hezekiah, whom shall we find more likely or more worthy to be the author of it than the royal poet himself?

2. The remarkable correspondences of thought and expression between this Ode and the book of Job are most striking and significant. These, as we see, have been recognized by such competent critics as Renan and Delitzsch, and indeed they lie on the surface. Note in particular the following:

In Isaiah 38:10 compare the phrase שַׁעֲרֵי שְׁאוֹל with בַּדֵּי שְׁאוֹל in Job 17:16, each phrase involving the same conception of the entrance to Sheol.

In ver. 11 the phrase אֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים, found also in Job 28:13. In the same verse note the idea of life as “ seeing,” or “being seen of men,” so common in Job (see Job 7:8; Job 8:18; Job 10:18; Job 20:9). If, with Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Noyes, Wordsworth, we take חֶדֶל to mean the rest, cessation, of the grave, we have a thought which occurs repeatedly in Job in such passages as Job 3:17; Job 14:6.

In ver. 12, compared with Job 4:21, observe the use of נִסַּע, for the removal of man by death, involving a comparison to the removal of the tent with its pins and cord. The comparison of life to the weaver’s thread is also common in Job, especially in the use of the verb בצע, as in Job 6:9; Job 27:8 (perhaps). Compare also Job 7:6. The expression “from day to night” finds its exact parallel in Job 4:20 in “from morning to evening,” i.e. in one day, quickly.

In ver. 13 the comparison of God to a lion, fiercely assailing and rending the sufferer, reminds us forcibly of Job 10:16; Job 16:9; comp. Job 9:17 and Job 16:14. How vividly, moreover, do the sleepless apprehensions and anguish of the night, as described in this clause, remind us of such passages as Job 7:3-4; Job 7:13-15.

In ver. 14 the moanings referred to remind us of Job 3:24; the clause דלו עיני למדום of אל־אלותּ דלפה עיני in Job 16:20; and the remarkable clause עָרְבֵנִי, “be bail for me,” is exactly reproduced in Job 17:3, שִׂימָה נָא עָרְבֵנֽי עִמָּךְ.

In ver. 15 the expression מַר נַפְשִׁי is characteristic of Job (see Job 3:20; Job 7:11; Job 10:1).

In ver. 16 the peculiar adverbial use of בָּהֶן reminds us of כָּהֶם in Job 22:21.

In vers. 17 and 18 the expressions שׁחת־בלי and יורדי־בור may be compared with Job 17:16; Job 33:22; Job 33:24.

The view of Sheol in ver. 18 is quite in harmony with that expressed by Job in Job 10:21-22.

It would assuredly be difficult to find in any part of Scripture of the same length so many, and for the most part unique, correspondences with any other part, as those here exhibited. If Hezekiah did not write the book of Job, he had certainly saturated his mind with its thought and phraseology in a remarkable degree.
3. The correspondences just mentioned are not the only indications of a common source for these two compositions. The essential mental and literary characteristics of each are largely the same. There are differences indeed in the metrical movement, as might be expected from the difference in the nature and object of the two compositions, the one being a Psalm to be sung on the negînoth in the temple, the other a lyrico-dramatic composition, adapted rather to rhetoric recital. In the former accordingly the verse-lines are longer and more sustained, in the latter shorter and more concise. Apart from this, however, the same artistic skill characterizes the execution of both, the same exquisite modulation of rhythm, now softly flowing and melodious, as in vers. 10, 11, 17, now abrupt and urgent, as in vers. 12, 13, 16. There is the same occasional terse obscurity of construction and expression, as in vers. 13, 15, 16; the same emphatic iteration of words and clauses, as in vers. 10, 17, 19 (and comp. Psalms 9:20 b, Psa 9:21 a; Psa 10:22, etc.); the same strong contrasts and sudden transitions, as in vers. 15 seq. compared with the verses preceding (and comp. Job 19:23 seq. with vers. preceding). The limited compass and special scope of the Psalm indeed of necessity limit the scope of the writer’s genius; but to the close observer it is really remarkable how many of the characteristics of the book of Job reproduce themselves in this Ode. No minor poem of Milton’s exhibits more, or more decided traces of the art of Paradise Lost. In the first half of the Ode we have the sombre gloom, the plaintive pathetic tone of the earlier discourses of Job, the wail of a suffering, crushed, almost a despairing heart. In ver. 13, however, there is a flash, faint indeed, yet unmistakable of that Titanic audacity with which Job ventures to arraign the pitiless severity of God in His treatment of him. Observe the vague reserve, in the very manner of Job, with which he avoids naming his Divine Assailant: “So will He break all my bones.” In the latter half of the Psalm again the tender brightness of the picture reflects those passages in Job where the sufferer emerges from the darkness of the conflict into the hope of future deliverance, or where his friends seek to win him to repentance by depicting such a deliverance, or, in particular, where Elihu describes the restoration of the penitent sufferer (Job 33:24 seq.). We find even that marked characteristic of the book of Job to multiply illustrations from the animal world (see ver. 14). The same conception of a redeemed life as a life of song and praise which pervades the closing verses of Hezekiah’s Psalm, exhibits itself once and again in Elihu’s discourse, as when in Job 33:27 he says: “He will sing (יָשֹׁר) to men, and say,” etc., or when in Job 36:24, he exhorts Job, saying: “Remember that thou exalt His work, which men have sung repeatedly” (שֹׁרְרוּ). These peculiarities would seem to be too deeply rooted in the mental individuality from which these productions have proceeded to be the result of accident, of conscious imitation, or of unconscious influence. If there is anywhere in Scripture a literary clue to the authorship of this book, where shall we look for one more satisfactory than is here furnished us?

Passing on from this Ode of Hezekiah, we shall next find in the facts of his life and personal experience, in the psychological traits of his character which history reveals, and in the circumstances of his time, most suggestive hints pointing us to him as the author.

4. Most important of these facts in Hezekiah’s life is his fatal sickness and miraculous restoration as recorded in 2 Kings 20:1 seq.; 2 Chronicles 32:24 seq.; Isaiah 38:1 seq.—Here is communicated first of all the fact that for an indefinite space of time Hezekiah was brought face to face with death. He contemplated it as imminent and inevitable. He passed through the strange experience of one for whom the grave was ready. Now if anything is certain in regard to the authorship of the book of Job, it is that it was written, as Merx says, “with the author’s heart blood.” The author of Job’s discourses had, we may be sure, passed through the mental, if not the physical throes of dying. Such passages as we find in chs. 10, 14, 17 (see vers. 1, 13 seq., particularly), 33 (vers. 22 seq.), have a reality about them such as belongs to experience, rather than imagination. Death and the Hereafter have for the poet an awful fascination which he cannot resist, the secret of which becomes intelligible only by the stern announcement of an Isaiah to the writer: “Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.”

5. The passages referred to, and others in the book, become still more significant in view of the particular malady which threatened the life of the poet-king. According to 2 Kings 20:7 (Isaiah 38:21), he was afflicted with “a boil,” or “boils,” שְׁחִין, which may be taken either as singular, “tumor,” or as a collective, “boils.” But the very same word is used in describing Job’s malady (Job 2:7), where it is said that Satan smote Job בִּשְׁחִין, “with boils.” Now it is not necessary to assume that Hezekiah was, like Job, smitten with leprosy, or that the שְׁחִין from which he suffered was precisely the same with that from which Job suffered. It is enough that the fatal disease which afflicted him was accompanied by a painful and offensive eruption, by a tumor, or boils. Would not this explain the terrible vividness with which the poet enters into all the physical experiences of Job’s disease, its pain, restlessness, offensiveness, etc., as described in chs. 6, 7, 16, 17, 19, 30?

But the significance which attaches to the general character of the disease is still further enhanced by several of the details of Hezekiah’s sickness, especially when compared with Job 33:14 seq., a passage of which Warburton and Carey have both remarked (see above) that it presents most striking analogies to the case of Hezekiah.

6. One of the leading lessons of the book of Job, and one that is prominently inculcated in the discourse of Elihu is that God’s dealings with men are disciplinary, designed to try, teach, and purify them. So it is said in 2 Chronicles 32:31 that God left Hezekiah, “to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” This indeed was after his sickness, but the principle is the same, and it is at least remarkable that this fundamental thought of the book of Job is emphasized as a fact of special significance in the life of Hezekiah.

7. Still more specifically Elihu declares that the purpose of God in sending affliction on man is to deliver him from pride (Job 33:17). According to 2 Chronicles 32:25-26, this was the besetting sin of Hezekiah. According to the poet’s conception it was evidently to be regarded as a leading trait in the character of Job, the radical sin which Jehovah rebuked (Job 40:7 seq.), and for which Job humbled himself (Job 42:2 seq.).

8. According to Elihu man’s insensibility and wilfulness make it necessary that God should afflict him once and twice, i.e., repeatedly, before His chastisements work out their proper result (Job 33:14; Job 33:29). According to 2 Chronicles 32:25; 2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Chronicles 32:31, God visited Hezekiah more than once with His displeasure before he humbled himself aright before Him.

9. Isaiah was sent to the king in his sickness with the message—“Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.” And in his Ode Hezekiah represents himself as saying: “In the quiet (or perhaps: middle, meridian) of my days I must go to the gates of Sheol.” How perfectly does this correspond with the description of Elihu (33:22): “His soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.”—So again in speaking of his recovery, Hezekiah says beautifully: “Thou hast loved my soul out of the pit of destruction” (Isaiah 38:17). In like manner Elihu represents the restored one as singing: “He has redeemed my soul from going into the pit” (Job 33:28).

10. On receiving the prophet’s message, the king turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to Jehovah, and Jehovah graciously accepted his prayer. So with touching beauty Elihu describes the restored sufferer: “He shall pray unto Jehovah, and He will be favorable unto him” (33:26).

11. It is said of Hezekiah that “he wept a great weeping” (Isaiah 38:3, and comp. ver. 14: “mine eyes fail [with looking] upward”). So Job describes his excessive weeping (Job 16:16; Job 16:20; Job 17:7).

12. God sent Isaiah as His messenger to announce to Hezekiah His gracious purpose of deliverance, saying: “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears, behold I will heal thee.” So Elihu mentions, as a glorious possibility, a Messenger, a Divine Interpreter, to declare to man: “Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.” In what way more fitting, more touching, more expressive could that inspired אִס־יֵשׁ, that glorious hypothesis of an incomparable Divine Messenger and Interpreter have been revealed to an Old Testament saint than through such an experience as that of Hezekiah’s, when the prophet-evangelist, whom he knew and loved so well, brought him that message of life in death? Who better qualified to be the human type of the Divine Malâk and Melîtz than Isaiah? Who so well fitted to receive, to understand, and to convey to others that prophetic glimpse of the Prophet that was to come as Hezekiah?

13. The wonderful restoration of Hezekiah and the lengthening of His life, finds its exact counterpart in the language of Elihu and Job, and in the fact recorded in the Epilogue (Job 42:16). How wonderfully lifelike the language of Elihu in Job 33:25 if viewed as prompted by just such an experience as that of Hezekiah! “His flesh revives with the freshness of youth; he shall return to the days of his youth.” What more truthful than the joy which such a restoration of the healthy flesh would bring to one afflicted as either Job or Hezekiah was! What new force and vividness are imparted to the yearning presage of the doctrine of the resurrection in Job 19:25 seq., when interpreted in the light of an event which to him who realized it was all but a resurrection from the dead! So also the addition of one hundred and forty years to Job’s life would have for such an one a real, vital significance, as a token of God’s favor, which it could never possess as a mere fiction of the imagination. As Delitzsch says: “After that Job has learned from his own experience that God brings to Hades and out again, he has forever conquered all fear of death, and the germs of a hope of a future life, which in the midst of his affliction have broken through his consciousness, can joyously expand. For Job appears to himself as one who is risen from the dead, and is a pledge to himself of the resurrection from the dead” (Commy. I, p. 315). Of what known historical character could this be more truly said than of Hezekiah?

14. The intimations which are given us respecting Hezekiah’s personal character, views, and conduct, are hardly less significant. He is thus described in 2 Kings 18:3 seq.: “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.… He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him, and he prospered whithersoever he went forth,” etc. There is much in this description to remind us of Job’s pre-eminent piety and prosperity, as described in the Prologue. Hezekiah describes himself as “having walked before Jehovah with a perfect heart, and having done that which was good in His sight,” and in his prayer he beseeches Jehovah to remember this (Isaiah 38:3). So Job is described as perfect and upright, one that feared God, eschewed evil; he pleads his integrity (Job 6:10; Job 10:7; Job 13:16; Job 16:17; Job 19:23 seq.; Job 23:29, 31, passim), and prays that God would reward him according thereto. So Elihu says of God: “He will render unto man his righteousness.” All this is precisely in the spirit of Hezekiah’s prayer, and like that prayer all bears the stamp of a living experience. To Hezekiah as to Job his affliction was a mystery, unexpected and inexplicable. The Jewish tradition heightens the mystery by representing him as previously believing in his own immortality. This of course is to be rejected, and yet it is of historic value as a witness to the contrast between Hezekiah’s previous career of unclouded prosperity and happiness, and the gloom with which his sickness beclouded his destiny. Just such a contrast in kind as that between Job’s prosperity and adversity. The greatest and best of kings since David, who had done more than all his predecessors to restore the purity of faith and worship in the land, the immediate successor, too, of Ahaz, one of the most wicked of the kings, and yet a grievous sufferer, and cut off in the midst of his days! Would it be at all strange if such a mind, richly endowed with the poetic faculty, tried with such dark and bitter experiences, and grappling with the problems which such experiences suggested, should have felt himself drawn to the story of Job, and incited to do just what the author of this book has done, in using it as a poetic medium by which to communicate the results of his thoughts and experiences to the world?

15. We have other intimations of severe mental conflict in the experience of Hezekiah. Thus when the Assyrian Rabshakeh had delivered his insulting message from Sennacherib, Hezekiah “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:1 seq.). And indeed the history of his relations to the king of Assyria down to the overthrow of Sennacherib’s hosts must have been productive throughout of continual anxiety, conflict, at times even agony of soul (see 1 Kings 19:14 seq.). And in the case of so thoughtful and devout a prince as Hezekiah, these conflicts through which he passed were not the mental exercises of one occupied simply with questions of statecraft, or secular business; they involved the application of moral and religious principles of the most profound and comprehensive significance. This may be assumed with certainty from the character of the man, from the circumstances of his reign, and from the peculiar relations and sympathy between himself and the prophet Isaiah (see below No. 20). There are few characters throughout the history of the Hebrew theocracy, the thrilling experiences of whose life would furnish so many of the psychological antecedents to the production of this great religious drama as Hezekiah.

16. The conspicuous position which Hezekiah occupies as a moral reformer of the Jewish people is highly significant. One of the first acts of his reign was to re-open the temple, to re-establish, purify, and enrich its service and ceremonial (2 Chronicles 29:0). He showed the thoroughness of his reformatory spirit by removing the “high places” of all kinds, not only those on which false gods were worshipped, but those as well which some even of his pious predecessors had spared for the worship of Jehovah (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 18:22). “The measure must have caused a very violent shock to the religious prejudices of a large number of people, and we have a curious and almost unnoticed trace of this resentment in the fact that Rabshakeh appeals to the discontented faction, and represents Hezekiah as a dangerous innovator, who had provoked God’s anger by his arbitrary impiety” (Smith’s Bib Dic., Art. “High Places”). He showed his courage by destroying the Nehushtan, revered and at times worshipped by the nation, as the serpent lifted up by Moses in the wilderness (2 Kings 18:4). “To break up a figure so curious and so highly honored showed a strong mind, as well as a clear-sighted zeal” (Smith’s Bib. Dic., Art. “Hezekiah”). “He was, so to speak, the first Reformer; the first of the Jewish Church to protest against institutions which had outlived their usefulness, and which the nation had outgrown” (Stanley: Hist. of the Jewish Church, Lect. 38). After the fall of the kingdom of Israel Hezekiah sought to restore the spiritual unity of the nation by inviting the remnant of Ephraim and Manasseh to unite in celebrating a grand national Passover in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:0). Herein we see the same characteristic traits, the same fearlessness, independence, contempt of false forms (shown perhaps in contemptuously characterizing the “Sacred Serpent,” Nehushtan,13 the brazen thing), the same spirituality, breadth, freedom, which we find in the book of Job, in its protests against popular traditional errors, in its assertion of profound spiritual truth. That combination of reverent faith with iconoclastic daring, of theocratic devoutness with cosmopolitan breadth, of the love even of ceremonial reality with the hatred even of theological shams, which is so marked a characteristic of the book of Job, is just what we find in Hezekiah, above almost all the leading characters of Old Testament history.

17. The general literary culture of Hezekiah may be inferred not only from his Ode, but also from his establishment of a College of Sages, and the commission which he gave them to collect and preserve the Solomonic literature (Proverbs 25:1). The interest in the Chokmah literature which this fact discloses is in perfect keeping with the hypothesis that one of the brightest ornaments of that literature should have proceeded from him.

18. In closest connection with this Hezekianic supplement to the Proverbs, if not indeed as a part of it, we have another incidental, but striking confirmation of the hypothesis here continued. The proverbs of Agur and Lemuel (Proverbs 30:31), there are valid reasons for believing, are of extra-Palestinian origin (see Commy. on Proverbs in this Series, Vol. X. pp. 30, 246 seq., 256 seq.; also Stuart on Proverbs, p. 47 seq.). Without arguing the controverted questions pertaining to the subject, it is sufficient for our present purpose to note the fact that in all probability these fragments originated in Massa, a district of Northern Arabia, their authors, Agur and Lemuel, who were possibly brothers, being princes of the kingdom. If (according to Delitzsch) the district was Ishmaelitish, the interest shown in their writings by Hezekiah and his college would be precisely what we should expect on the theory of the Hezekianic origin of Job. Nothing certainly could be more natural than that the interest shown in the pious and wise meditations of the two extra-theocratic Arabian Emirs, Agur and Lemuel (with their noble mother), should accompany the interest shown in the story, and the religious meditations suggested by the story of the extra-theocratic north-Arabian emir, Job. If (according to Hitzig, Stuart, etc.) Massa was an Israelitish colony in Arabia, we are brought at once to the migration of the Simeonites to Mt. Seir, recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:38-43 as having taken place in the days of Hezekiah. If we assign that migration to the earlier part of Hezekiah’s long reign (of 29 years) the supposition becomes not at all impossible nor improbable that the words of Agur and Lemuel should have been brought to the knowledge of Hezekiah and his sages before the close of his reign.

19. And here we are brought to consider the remarkable correspondences between the words of Agur and the book of Job. If in Proverbs 30:1 we read לָאִיתִי אֵל, “I have labored, wearied myself about God,” we have the thought, of which Job is so full, that the utmost of human power and exertion will never fathom the mystery of God’s Being. Compare still further ver. 3 with Job 18:3; Job 18:4 with Job 11:8; Job 22:12; Job 22:14; Job 26:14; Job 38:5-6; Job 38:10-11; Job 38:21; Job 12:24; Job 12:9 with Job 21:14; Job 31:24-25; Job 31:28; Job 31:32 with Job 21:5; Job 40:4. Also the mythological Aluka in ver. 15,(respecting which see below, No. 23). These correspondences, especially those from the introductory fragment of Agur’s words (vers. 1–6), are certainly remarkable enough to justify the inference that the one writer was familiar with the other. The imperfect, fragmentary, obscure character of Agur’s words would indicate that they were the original. If so, who more likely to have known of them and used them (at least on the hypothesis given above) than Hezekiah?

20. The correspondences between Job and Isaiah are most numerous and striking, as the following table will show. In the first class, marked A, we have correspondences of thought, and in many instances of the accompanying expression; in the second class, marked B, the correspondences are simply of expression.


Job 1:6 seq.


Isaiah 6:1 seq.

Job 12:9


Isaiah 41:20

Job 3:23


Isaiah 40:27

Job 12:9


Isaiah 66:2

Job 4:3


Isaiah 35:3

Job 12:13


Isaiah 11:2

Job 4:19


Isaiah 50:9

Job 12:17


Isaiah 20:4

Job 4:19


Isaiah 51:8

Job 12:17


Isaiah 44:25

Job 4:21


Isaiah 33:20

Job 12:17


Isaiah 19:11 seq.

Job 5:3


Isaiah 27:6

Job 12:19


Isaiah 40:23

Job 5:14


Isaiah 19:13 seq.

Job 12:22


Isaiah 29:15

Job 5:14


Isaiah 59:10

Job 12:24


Isaiah 19:13

Job 8:14


Isaiah 59:5

Job 12:25


Isaiah 19:14

Job 9:6


Isaiah 13:13

Job 13:19


Isaiah 50:9

Job 9:8


Isaiah 40:22

Job 14:2


Isaiah 11:7

Job 9:8


Isaiah 44:24

Job 14:7


Isaiah 6:13

Job 9:9


Isaiah 13:10

Job 14:7


Isaiah 40:24

Job 10:9


Isaiah 29:16

Job 14:11


Isaiah 19:5

Job 10:16


Isaiah 31:4

Job 14:12


Isaiah 51:6

Job 11:13


Isaiah 1:15




Job 11:14


Isaiah 1:15

Job 15:33


Isaiah 18:5

Job 11:19


Isaiah 17:2

Job 15:35


Isaiah 33:11

Job 16:10


Isaiah 57:4

Job 26:13


Isaiah 51:9

Job 16:18


Isaiah 26:21

Job 27:21


Isaiah 27:8

Job 17:12


Isaiah 5:20

Job 28:25


Isaiah 40:12

Job 18:13


Isaiah 9:20

Job 29:14


Isaiah 11:5

Job 18:14


Isaiah 28:15

Job 29:14


Isaiah 51:9

Job 18:15


Isaiah 13:19

Job 29:14


Isaiah 59:17

Job 18:15


Isaiah 34:11

Job 29:14


Isaiah 61:10

Job 18:16


Isaiah 5:24

Job 30:21


Isaiah 63:10

Job 18:19


Isaiah 14:22

Job 30:26


Isaiah 59:9

Job 18:20


Isaiah 13:8

Job 30:27


Isaiah 16:11

Job 20:6


Isaiah 14:13 seq.

Job 30:30


Isaiah 24:6

Job 20:8


Isaiah 29:7

Job 31:36 seq.


Isaiah 61:10

Job 20:26


Isaiah 30:11 seq.

Job 36:16


Isaiah 25:6

Job 21:12


Isaiah 5:12

Job 36:16


Isaiah 55:2

Job 21:18


Isaiah 17:13

Job 38:7


Isaiah 14:12

Job 21:24


Isaiah 58:11

Job 38:23


Isaiah 28:17

Job 22:14


Isaiah 29:15

Job 40:11


Isaiah 2:12 seq.

Job 22:24


Isaiah 13:12




Job 22:26


Isaiah 58:14




Job 26:7


Isaiah 40:22




Job 26:7


Isaiah 44:24




Job 26:11


Isaiah 50:2




Job 26:12


Isaiah 51:15





Job 3:7


Isaiah 49:21

Job 12:21


Isaiah 5:27

Job 3:13


Isaiah 23:12

Job 13:17


Isaiah 6:9

Job 3:14


Isaiah 58:12

Job 13:26


Isaiah 10:1

Job 3:14


Isaiah 61:4

Job 14:5


Isaiah 10:22

Job 3:17


Isaiah 13:11

Job 15:11


Isaiah 7:13

Job 3:17


Isaiah 25:3

Job 15:13


Isaiah 25:4

Job 4:5


Isaiah 16:8

Job 15:32


Isaiah 9:13

Job 5:20


Isaiah 47:14

Job 15:32


Isaiah 19:15

Job 5:21


Isaiah 28:15

Job 16:4


Isaiah 37:22

Job 6:10


Isaiah 30:14

Job 18:4


Isaiah 7:16

Job 7:1


Isaiah 40:2.

Job 18:4


Isaiah 6:12

Job 7:2


Isaiah 40:10

Job 22:11


Isaiah 60:6

Job 7:19


Isaiah 22:4

Job 22:23


Isaiah 19:22

Job 8:11


Isaiah 18:2

Job 22:28


Isaiah 7:7

Job 8:11


Isaiah 35:7

Job 23:11


Isaiah 30:11

Job 8:11


Isaiah 19:7

Job 26:13


Isaiah 27:1

Job 8:20


Isaiah 41:13

Job 36:3


Isaiah 37:26

Job 8:20


Isaiah 42:6




Job 9:7


Isaiah 19:18




Job 9:13


Isaiah 51:9




Job 9:13


Isaiah 30:7




Job 9:13


Isaiah 27:1




Job 10:4


Isaiah 31:3




Job 11:4


Isaiah 29:24




It is not claimed of course that all the individual instances here given imply derivation on the part of either from the other. The large number of similarities does, however, unquestionably prove that either Isaiah was largely influenced by the author of Job, or conversely. It is certainly not impossible that Isaiah was indebted to Job for the above analogies, or most of them. On the other hand it is equally possible, and in some instances more probable from the nature of the resemblance, that Isaiah was the original. In view of the intimate personal relations between Isaiah and Hezekiah, the strong influence, mental and moral, which the aged prophet exerted over the youthful king, the marked impression which the words of the former made on the latter, nothing could be more natural or probable than that if Hezekiah was the author of Job, the influence of Isaiah should be visible throughout.
21. A few striking coincidences with the prophet Amos have been noted, to wit:

Job 9:8


Amos 4:13

Job 28:14


Amos 9:2-3

Job 9:9


Amos 5:8

Job 28:25-26


Amos 9:6

Job 10:22


Amos 5:8

Job 38:25


Amos 9:6

Job 20:6


Amos 9:2-3

Job 38:31


Job 5:8

Zöckler, Delitzsch and others infer from these the priority of Job. The converse, however, may just as reasonably be maintained. There is no reason why Hezekiah, for instance, should not have been familiar with his prophecies, especially when we remember the deep interest which he took in the spiritual reformation of the entire nation.

22. The manifold correspondences between this book and the Proverbs need only be referred to. It should be noted, however, that some of the most striking of these correspondences relate to the first nine chapters of the book, which Delitzsch, Zöckler and others place considerably later than Solomon. Moreover, they are of such a character as to indicate the priority of the passages in the Proverbs. This is notably the case with Job 15:7 seq., which is evidently an ironical application to Job of the description of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22 seq. (Proverbs 8:25 in particular). The whole bitter force of the questions of Eliphaz here comes from his tacit assumption that Job is not only familiar with the language of Wisdom, but that by his self-conceit he arrogates to himself the prerogatives which Wisdom there claims. The suggestion of our Commy. (see on Job 15:7) that the passage in Proverbs was derived from that in Job is a most palpable ὕστερον πρότερον. Comp. a similar ironical use of Psalms 8:4 in Job 7:17, and see the Commy. on the latter passage.

23. The poetic use of mythological representions of foreign origin, which is so marked a peculiarity of the book of Job (see Commy. on Job 3:8; Job 9:13; Job 26:12-13; Job 28:18; Job 38:31-32), find their closest analogies in the literature of the Hezekianic period; to wit in Isaiah (see Job 14:13; Job 27:1), and in Agur (Proverbs 30:15). This seems to have been the period when the Hebrew mind was most susceptible to the intellectual as to the other influences of the oriental population by which it was surrounded, and when the facilities for such influence were most abundant. “All the kingdoms from the Tigris to the Nile,” says Ewald (Gesch. Des Volkes Israel, p. 647), were united together in the most manifold and close ties; and between Israel and these people (Israel’s civil power being now largely broken) an ever more active rivalry sprang up in the pursuit of wisdom.” That the mind of Hezekiah was keenly alive to these influences is evident from the wide range of his political relations, and material acquisitions. That with all his theocratic devoutness he would not as a poet reject such poetic mythological ornamentation may be inferred from the fact that as a king “even in the changes which he introduced into the Temple, he spared all the astrological altars and foreign curiosities which Ahaz had erected” (Stanley: Hist. of the Jew. Ch., Lect. XXXVIII.; see 2 Kings 23:12).

24. This suggests that the protest against astral worship found in Job 31:26 seq. would have all the more force if proceeding from Hezekiah, when we consider that during the reign of Ahaz his father, it is said of the nation that they “worshipped all the host of heaven” (2 Kings 17:16), and that it was one chief object of Hezekiah to purify the nation of this sin (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 31:1).

25. While it is true, as Zöckler argues, that the passages which describe the rise and power of the wicked and the oppressor, and the invasions of alien powers (see Job 9:24; Job 12:4-6; Job 12:14-25; Job 15:18 seq., Job 15:28; Job 17:8-9; Job 21:7 seq., Job 21:16-18; Job 24:2-17) are not decisive as to the age of an Oriental poem, it may fairly be urged that the frequency of such passages, and the feeling which manifestly pervades the descriptions, would seem to show that it was an evil of peculiar magnitude and oppressiveness in the time of the author of Job. Such we know was the character of the Assyrian tyranny and invasions of Oriental lands, and particularly of Palestine in the age of Hezekiah. See 2 Kings 18:9; 2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 19:8; 2 Kings 19:17; 2 Kings 19:24, etc.

26. The Assyrian invasion of the kingdom of Israel under Shalmaneser, and the deportation of the ten tribes, which took place in the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:9; 2 Kings 18:12) was an event which could not fail of making a profound impression on the heart and imagination of Hezekiah, and of reflecting itself in his writings. Do not such passages as Job 12:14-25; Job 15:19-30, breathe the very sentiments and language which the invasion, overthrow and captivity of the neighboring kingdom would evoke?

27. The most remarkable historical event in the reign of Hezekiah, and one of the most remarkable recorded in history, was the invasion of Sennacherib, and the overthrow of his hosts in one night by “the Angel of the Lord.” And is not the book of Job full of that tragic event, and its solemn lessons? See Job 34:20 (“In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away; and the mighty shall be taken away without hand”), 24 (“He shall break in pieces mighty men without number,” etc.), 25 (“He overturneth them in the night,” etc.); Job 35:10; Job 36:20; (“Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place,” or on the spot); Job 40:12-13. Are not these descriptions and warnings manifestly inspired by the destruction of Sennacherib’s army? Comp. Psalms 76:5-6, a Psalm which some critics have, not without reason, ascribed to Hezekiah.

28. Shortly before the time of Hezekiah, in the reign of Uzziah, an appalling earthquake took place in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. It was an event so notable as to become a historical landmark (see Amos 1:1). According to Zechariah (Job 14:4-5), compared with Josephus, Ant. IX. 10, § 4, it would seem to have split the Mount of Olives, or some other hill near the city, and to have overturned a part of it (see Smith’s Bib. Dic, Art. “Earthquake”). Would not this catastrophe account for the many and vivid references in Job to such convulsions of nature? See Job 9:5-6; Job 14:18; Job 18:4; Job 16:11.

29. The frequency and elaborate fulness of the references to kings, rulers, judges, in the book, are suggestive of a profound interest on the part of the writer in that class of persons, their conduct and their destiny. See Job 3:14-15; Job 9:24; Job 12:17-19; Job 15:24; Job 21:28-33; Job 29:7 seq., Job 29:25; Job 31:37; Job 34:18 seq.; Job 36:7. The same may be said of the passages which describe the movements and destinies of nations, e.g. Job 12:23-25; Job 34:29-30; those which describe the administration of justice, especially Job 29:12 seq.; the many military terms and allusions, e.g. Job 10:17; Job 15:24; Job 19:12; Job 20:24; Job 30:12 seq.; Job 38:23, including also the description of the war horse in Job 39:0. The con amore tone of these passages must be perceptible at a glance. The author, if not a king, statesman, warrior, like Hezekiah, at least thought, and felt, and wrote like one.

30. The Egyptian peculiarities of the book, which have led Hirzel, Hitzig and others to suppose that it must have been written in Egypt (e.g. the references to the Nile, Job 7:12; Job 8:11-13; Job 9:26; to pyramids, Job 3:14; the descriptions of the hippopotamus and the crocodile in chs. 40, 41), will not be found strange if we ascribe the book to Hezekiah, when we remember the intimate relations existing during his reign between the kingdoms of Judah and Egypt (see 2 Kings 18:21; 2 Kings 18:24, and comp. the denunciations of the Egyptian alliance by Isaiah in Isaiah 30:2-6; Isaiah 31:1, and elsewhere).

31. The prevalence of Aramaic peculiarities in the book of Job, introduced as a feature in the artistic local coloring of the discourses, need not surprise us in an age when the “Syrian language” was so well understood by Hezekiah’s courtiers, as appears to have been the case from Isaiah 36:11, and when Aramaic influences in general were making themselves felt more and more in Palestine.

32. The interest which the book of Job shows in mining operations (see especially chap. 28) was peculiarly characteristic of the age of Hezekiah. See Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, p. 645. We have an example of this in the account given of Sargon’s expedition to Palestine during the 14th year of the reign of Hezekiah (referred to in Isaiah 20:0), when, according to Rosenmüller, Bibl. Geogr., he occupied himself in the inspection of mines, (see Smith’s Bib. Dic., Art. “Hezekiah”). To this may be added the skill shown by Hezekiah in the engineering operations by which Jerusalem was put in a state of defense against the army of Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:2-5). That a poet possessed of so high an order of mechanical genius as Hezekiah should have written the 28th chapter of Job is at least a very reasonable supposition.

33. This is still further confirmed by what is said of Hezekiah’s wealth and treasures in 2 Kings 20:13; 2 Chronicles 32:27 seq. “The palace at Jerusalem,” says Stanley, “was a storehouse of gold, silver, and jewels; the porch of the palace was once more hung with splendid shields.” The abundant mention of precious stones by the author of Job, and his elaborate description of the operations and products of mining, are, to say the least, not inconsistent with what is said of Hezekiah.

34. Observe moreover that in the description of Hezekiah’s possessions, special mention is made (2 Chronicles 32:28) of his “stalls for all manner of beasts,” showing that, like his illustrious predecessor, Solomon (1 Kings 4:33), whom he resembled in so many particulars, he was particularly interested in the study of natural history. Would not this account for the elaborate, accurate, and animated descriptions which the author of Job has given of various animals in chaps. 38–41?

35. Although the discussion of ethical problems is characteristic of the literature which sprang up in the time of David and Solomon in general, the discussion of questions connected with the providential administration of human affairs, and particularly of that which is mysterious in the Divine Dispensations, belongs to the later, rather than the earlier portions of this literature. This appears from an examination of Ezekiel 14:18; Jeremiah 31:29 seq. Compare with these passages, e.g., Job 21:19 seq.

36. The theological significance of the book of Job becomes much more intelligible if referred to the age of Hezekiah, and particularly to the period intervening between the earlier and the later prophecies of Isaiah. (Note the place of the Hezekiah episode in the book of Isaiah). Its portraiture of suffering innocence, together with its intimations of a Deus apud Deum, to whom Job appeals of a Mokiach, a Goël, a Melîtz,14 from whom mercy and deliverance may be expected, are a most admirable preparation for the Messiah of Isaiah. Its doctrine of the Chokmah, if not an advance upon that of the book of Proverbs, is its harmonious practical complement. Its intimations of immortality in chapters 14 and 19 are the fitting, and even the necessary prelude of the more full and complete revelations of Ezekiel and Daniel. Its glimpse of a vindication over the dust of Job furnishes the indispensable transition from the simple immortality of the older, to the more definite resurrection-dogma of the later Old Testament revelation.

37. The Princeton Review (Vol. 39, p. 325) truly remarks: “That the author of such a book as this should have wholly dropped from sight, and have made no figure with his transcendent abilities in the history of Israel, seems scarcely supposable.” If the hint here given be entertained, we are not reduced to such a conclusion. Is it altogether unreasonable, in view of the cumulative weight of the considerations presented above, to link to this transcendent book, the name of that extraordinary prince whom the Rabbinical literature has even identified with the Messiah? E].


a. Against the modern assaults on the genuineness of the prologue and epilogue.

The less there is to be said of discussions concerning the authenticity of the poem, in view of its anonymousness, and the absence of all traditional conjectures even in respect to the author, the more zealously has modern criticism directed its efforts against the integrity of our book, and attempted to discredit portions of it, larger or smaller, as interpolations. Only the exegesis indeed can show, by examination in detail, that these assaults vary in their critical value, proceeding as they do sometimes from better, sometimes from inferior motives, at the same time that they must all alike come to grief when tested by a right conception of the idea and development of the poem. The present introduction however must furnish a summary of the most important arguments on the opposite side, together with a preliminary refutation of the same.

The genuineness of the prologue and the epilogue (chap. 1, 2, and Job 42:7-17) was controverted by R. Simon (Hist. crit.), and A. Schultens (Commentar. in Job, Lugd Bat. 1737). They have been followed by Hasse in his Magazin für die biblische orientalische Literatur (i. 162 seq.), Stuhlmann, Bernstein, D. v. Cölln (Bibl. Theologie des Alten Testaments, p. 295), Magnus and Knobel (De carminis Jobi argumento, fine, ac dispositione, 1835; also Studd. u. Kritt, 1842, II). The doubt of these writers in respect to the genuineness of these sections has in general for its basis the assumption, that the poetic kernel of the book could not have been framed around with an introduction and a conclusion in prose. Delitzsch however rightly maintains in opposition to this opinion that without such a historical introduction and close the middle part of the book would be “a torso without head or foot.” Moreover the narrative in both these sections, although without rhythmic form, nevertheless exhibits an essentially poetic character (witness the ideal symmetry of the enumerations in Job 1:2-3, and in Job 42:12-13; the freedom and freshness and loftiness of the language in describing the celestial assembly in Job 1:6 seq.; Job 2:1 seq.; the genuinely epic uniformity of the form of expression used in introducing the four calamities, Job 1:14; Job 1:16-18; the transition in Job’s utterances to the strict and obvious parallelism of poetry, chap Job 1:21, etc.). On the contrary the poetic kernel of the book is interspersed with a number of prose elements, to wit, the superscriptions of the various poetic discourses, not one of which is constructed with the parallel rhythm, which otherwise prevails here throughout.

In addition to this principal argument the following considerations have led the above-mentioned critics to doubt the genuineness of the prologue and epilogue:
(1) An assumed contradiction between these two parts of the idea of the poem. While the latter contemplates Job’s sufferings from a point of view which is far more profound and ethically pure, the author of the prologue and epilogue, as the last-named section in particular shows, favors the ordinary Mosaic doctrine of retribution, and so represents the accusations uttered against God by the sorely afflicted Job, as being in some measure justified, while his repentance and confession (Job 42:1-6) are in the same measure superfluous. It is however sufficiently evident that the prologue sets forth Job’s suffering as absolutely dark and mysterious, at the same time that this section is written with a view to the gradual unfolding of the profounder significance of these sufferings. Nay this later unraveling of that which at first view is represented as incomprehensible would without that introduction float in the air with nothing to support it. Without the firm historical basis of the prologue the whole poem would remain unintelligible and give occasion for the vaguest conjectures touching the question whether in truth an innocent sufferer is to be described or not. And as furnishing valid and complete proof that in this case the divinely ordained suffering had in fact overtaken one who was (comparatively speaking) innocent, but whom his friends had unjustly and rashly charged with grievous offences, the deliverance and restoration of the sufferer as it actually took place, and as related in the epilogue, was no less indispensable. The mere oral vindication of the sentence pronounced by Jehovah, without the subsequent reinstatement of Job in his former prosperity, would have left the matter in a decidedly unsatisfactory state. It would have been intelligible only from the New Testament point of view, and for Christian readers, who after sore afflictions and trials in this life have learned to hope for the crown of righteousness in the other life through the merits of Christ,—not for Old Testament saints, who had not yet enjoyed the privilege of being “born again to a lively hope” through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and who consequently might and must look for a complete retribution in this life, comp. the Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on Job 42:7-17.

(2) The alleged contradiction between Job’s calm, meek resignation to God’s will, as described in the prologue (Job 1:21; Job 2:10 seq.), and his passionate excited utterances in Job 3:1 seq., and also his subsequent bitter accusations against God and his friends. An objection which is closely dependent on the preceding, and which has already been refuted for the most part by the reply made to that. It is necessary to note the difference in time between the conduct of Job, when as yet he was a silent sufferer, and seemed therefore to be altogether innocent and sinless, and the subsequent outbreak of his real moral nature, which came to pass as the result of his conflict with his friends, and which showed that his nature had not been fully purified, or raised above the necessity of repentance and atonement.

(3) A contradiction is claimed between Job 1:18-19, where Job’s children perish, and passages like Job 19:17; Job 14:21; Job 31:8, where he seems to possess children in the midst of his misery. The passage in Job 19:17 is however the only one which really presupposes that there was any offspring to Job during the colloquy with his friends; and there by the בְּנֵי בִטְנִי are to be understood either Job’s natural brothers (“sons of the same womb”), or, as is more probable and more in harmony with the usage of language, grandchildren, or other natural descendants of Job (e.g. children begotten of concubines), who were not included in the destruction of his sons and daughters recorded in the prologue. For in Job 8:4; Job 29:5 this destruction of his children in the more strict and proper sense is clearly enough presupposed as having been actually accomplished, a fact which proves at the same time how absurd, or at least how superfluous it is to assume that in that passage in chap. 19 the poet could for the moment have forgotten himself. Comp. the exposition of the several passages under consideration.

(4) A further incongruity is claimed to lie in the high value which the prologue and epilogue ascribe to sacrifices (Job 1:5; Job 42:8), while the kernel of the poem knows nothing either of this, or of any other theocratic ceremonial. As though the propitiation of the Deity by sacrifices were a theocratic peculiarity! As though even in the time of the patriarchs sacrificial observances of the most various sorts did not exist, and in particular those in which the number seven was an important feature (comp. above, Nos. 5 and 6)! And as though the absence of any mention of sacrifices in the poetic part of the book were not purely accidental!

(5) The use of the divine name “Jehovah” in the prologue and epilogue contradicts, it is claimed, the almost entire absence of this name from the poetic part, where God is called only Eloah, Shaddai, etc. But the name Jehovah is by no means entirely wanting in the poetic portions. It occurs in Job’s mouth in two passages, being used in Job 12:9; Job 28:28 (comp. § 5), and is besides introduced by the poet in the closing chapters containing the discourse of God Himself, no less than five times (Job 38:1; Job 40:1; Job 40:3; Job 40:6; Job 42:1). The predominance of those other names of God in the poetic part, and especially in the discourses of the friends and of Elihu, is beyond question directly due to the poetic purpose of the author, who aims to preserve so far as possible the patriarchal, pre-Mosaic coloring of the entire drama, and for that reason retires during the discussion that name of God which was specifically characteristic of the theocracy. The theory that the reason for this peculiar apportionment of the divine names lies in the predominantly poetic significance of the names Eloah and Shaddai (Bertholdt, Gesenius, Gleiss, de Wette, etc.), or in the purely external purpose of the poet to distinguish himself from the persons introduced as speaking (Eichhorn, Einleitung, p. 198), is far less probable than the motive here assigned, which is essentially the view also adopted by Michaelis, Steudel, Stickel, Ewald, Delitzsch, etc.15

(6) Finally it is claimed that the peculiar role assigned to Satan in the prologue bears witness against the genuineness of this section, and proves that it was added by a later hand; an argument on which particular stress is laid by Knobel (l. c.), and of which mention has already been made in § 6, in opposition to the attempts made to prove that the book was written during or after the period of the exile. It was there maintained and it will be more fully demonstrated below in the exegesis of the passage that the assumption of a Chaldee or Persian origin for the idea of Satan, has no historical reality. Here we may first of all refer to the fact that the knowledge of a Satan, or of a personal evil principle, is unquestionably of pre-Mosaic origin, as the Serpent in Paradise, and the Azazel of the levitical ceremonial legislation clearly enough prove, and that no valid objection can be urged against the use of the name שָׂטָן to designate this evil archangel at so early a period as that when our poem is conjectured to have originated. This especially in view of the appellative use of the word in such passages as Numbers 22:22 and Psalms 109:6, and in view of the notorious scarcity of poetic books, of the class to which ours belongs, which only during the long interval between the Solomonic epoch and the origin of post-exilic books like Zechariah and the Chronicles could have given real occasion for using the name Satan (comp. 1 Kings 22:19 seq., where the evil spirit is designated simply הָרוּחַ, with Zechariah 3:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1 seq.).

From all this it is clear that there are no valid reasons whatever for denying the genuineness of the prologue and epilogue; and that furthermore the attempts of Bernstein and Heiligstedt to distinguish between a genuine nucleus for the prologue and later interpolations (e.g. according to Heiligstedt’s conjecture, Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7), are unnecessary. Prologue and epilogue, as they actually lie before us, are indispensable to the complete unfolding of the idea of the poem. Without them the whole would be an inexplicable nigma.16


b. Against the modern assaults on the sections: Job 27:7 to Job 28:28, and Job 40:15 to Job 41:26

Within the poetic kernel of the poem the section concerning Wisdom, Job 28:0, and also the description of the behemoth and leviathan (chs. 40. and 41.) have become chief objects of assault from the destructive criticism.

I. The passage concerning Wisdom, Job 28:0., together with the larger half of the preceding chapter (Job 27:13-23), although its genuineness was not disputed, was regarded as having been improperly attributed to Job by some of the earlier critics, as e.g. Kennicott (Remarks on Select Passages in the Old Testament, p. 169), Eichhorn (Allg. Bibl. der bibl. Literatur, II. 613), Bertholdt and Stuhlmann (the latter including also vers. 11–12 of Job 27:0.). They ascribed Job 27:13 seq. (or Job 27:11 seq.) to Zophar, and Job 28:0. to Bildad [Bernard and Elzas, however, include Job 28:0. in the speech of Zophar, while Wemyss destroys the artistic plan of the book entirely by transferring it to the end as the “peroration” of the whole]. Bernstein, advancing still further in the path on which these writers had entered, denied the genuineness of the entire section from Job 27:7 on, and Knobel sought to prove that Job 28:0. at least was a later interpolation. The reasons for these critical decisions were the alleged contradictions and inconsistencies (on which De Wette also had animadverted, Einl. § 288), which would lie in the sections under consideration, inasmuch as Job 27:7 seq. (or 11 seq.) teaches the ordinary doctrine of retribution, against which Job has previously declared most solemnly and decisively, and inasmuch as the reference to the hidden wisdom of God in Job 28:0, summoning as it does to humility, does not agree with the exhibitions of a presumptuous confidence and proud self-consciousness, which appear in Job’s previous discourses. But that which Job seems to say in Job 27:0 in favor of the common external theory of retribution, is in reality intended only to supplement and to rectify that which he had previously maintained, in a manner somewhat one-sided and liabled to be misunderstood, concerning the earthly prosperity of the wicked. The truth, on which thus far exclusive emphasis had been laid, that oftentimes there is no just distribution in the apportionment of men’s lots, he now supplements with the truth, which indeed he also states partially, and without the proper exceptions and qualifications, that at last the wicked always receive their merited reward [see Exegetical Remarks on Job 27:9-10]. And in order to make it apparent, that along with this latter truth he still adhered to that which he had formerly maintained respecting the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the righteous, he immediately proceeds in Job 28:0 to describe the mysteriously moving and hidden wisdom of God, whose counsel is ever wonderful, and whose movements in the allotment of prosperity and adversity in the life of men of necessity have in them much that is mysterious.17 Thus understood, these two chapters contain in them no inconsistency, no self-contradiction or obscurity, which could at all justify the suspicion of an interpolation—a suspicion which is moreover disproved by the decided similarity in language between this section and all the rest of the book.

II. The descriptions of the behemoth and leviathan (chs. 40, 41), were first treated by Eichhorn (Allg. Bibl. l. c.) and Bertholdt as simply containing a transposition of certain passages; in particular the passage Job 40:32-41:3 was removed, and placed after the description of the leviathan, Job 41:4-26. Stuhlmann and Bernstein denied the genuineness of the latter section, Job 41:4-26. Ewald, E. Meier, Simson [Zur Kritik des B. Hiob, 1861, Dillmann, and Fürst [and Merx], however, deny the genuineness of all from Job 40:15 on (so also Eichhorn later in his Einleitung ins Alte Test., V. 207 seq.). The author of the interpolation is supposed to have been a Jew, living in Egypt during the sixth century, possibly a descendant of the fugitives who accompanied Jeremiah into that land, who by his vivid description of the animal prodigies of Egypt reveals himself as living on the Nile, but who also by his mention of the Jordan (Job 40:23) shows himself to have been well acquainted with Palestine. The principal arguments for the non-genuineness of this part of the book are the following:

a. The intent and scope of the discourse of God does not permit such a description of animals here. Such an illustration of the power of God in creation, outside of man, would be in place in the first discourse of God (chap. 38, 39), but not in this second discourse, which treats rather of the relation of the divine justice to men.—But such a separation of power from justice is altogether foreign to the poet’s description. It is his purpose rather to exhibit both these attributes of God in His government of the world, the operation of His power, and that of His wisdom and justice, in their internal connection. The truth that under His strong arm God bows down everything, even the proud evil-doers, even the arrogance of the wicked man,—this truth is illustrated by the description of His influence in subjugating and governing the gigantic powers of nature, of which two animal colossi are here presented as representative examples. Behemoth and leviathan indeed figure to some extent as symbols of evil powers, hostile to God. This however is not to be understood in such a sense as would allow Satan, or Anti-Christ, to be concealed under them, as the allegoristic exegesis of an earlier age often assumed. Rather should both descriptions be taken as illustrations in the concrete of the fact that the Divine omnipotence is irresistible and invincible, whether it displays itself as creating, or destroying, as ruling the world, or as judging it.

b. It is claimed that the argumentative means here used are “not well chosen” for the end in view; for the reason, first of all, that “no animal whatever, not even behemoth and leviathan, is unconquerable by men (Genesis 1:29; Genesis 9:2; Psalms 8:0); and next because the two animals here described, being specifically Egyptian, were unknown to the Palestinian reader, and therefore must be described at length, if they were to be of use in the way of proof” (Dillmann).—Just as though the knowledge of nature, possessed by oriental antiquity, being necessarily limited as it was, would allow the same freedom of choice as that of which our modern knowledge might avail itself, from among hundreds of examples of colossal natural phenomena, which should be adapted to illustrate the Divine omnipotence.18 And as though, when in Solomon’s reign an active intercourse and a close acquaintance was instituted between Israel and Egypt, the great natural wonders of this very land [Egypt] would not be eminently available for the purposes of such illustration, and especially with a poet who delighted at all times in introducing that which was new, extraordinary, astounding, and foreign.

c. In an æsthetic respect, it is alleged, that the Section does not correspond to the ideal beauty and completeness of the rest of the poem; the “fugitive tender delicacy which characterizes the descriptions of animals given by the older poet” is entirely missing in the elaborate description of the two Egyptian beasts (Ewald). And apart from the prolixity, which is almost tedious, and the latitude of these descriptions, the discourse in those parts where it takes the form of questions and challenges from Jehovah (Job 40:25 seq.) “lacks the crushing power and the divine irony peculiar to the first discourse of God.” Indeed much of it is “scarcely more than a rhetorical form,” and the rhetorical change in Job 41:4 exhibits “in the mouth of the God who appeared in the tempest a flatness which is simply intolerable” (Dillmann).—Against these subjective dicta of taste Umbreit has truly remarked: “Is then elaborateness of description prolixity? is art the same thing with artificialness? and is a calmly maintained objectivity after all mere flatness? Our poet is wholly immersed in the wondering contemplation of the two animal colossi; and a certain reality in their appearance has passed over into the very description. The same poetic painter who with wonderful reality produces before us the spirited war-horse charged with lifelike vigor, who sends the swift hawk on its rapid flight through the air, now at the end with equal skill in description traces out before our eyes the carefully articulated structure of those mighty monsters.”—A point which must also be urged against the charge of prolixity is the fact that more detailed and circumstantial descriptions are elsewhere also in Old Testament poetry descriptive of nature and of morals, wont to alternate with such as are shorter and more cursory (in addition to chaps. 15, 18, 20, 28, and 36–39 of our book, comp. Proverbs 6:6-8 [the ant]; Proverbs 7:5 seq. [the harlot]; Proverbs 31:10 seq. [the good wife]; Ecclesiastes 12:2 [the house of the body in old age]), and that a certain desultory irregularity of representation is everywhere peculiar to the poets of the Old Testament.

d. That the character of the language in the part before us has in it much that is peculiar, is also an assertion which rests on an æsthetic judgment, previously conceived, and which is already disposed of by the fact that its advocates themselves must produce a long series of characteristics in common with the rest of the poem (e.g., Job 40:17, Job 40:18, 28, 30, 32; Job 41:3-4; Job 41:6; Job 41:9-10; Job 41:14-15; Job 41:21-22), which they then seek to explain by the supposition that these were borrowed from the genuine portions of the book (see particularly Dillmann, p. 355). The peculiarities of the section, alleged or real (e.g., the use of בל Job 41:15 or בלי Job 41:18 as a negative before a simple verb, which is not found elsewhere in the poem) do not equal those correspondences in number or importance, and they can scarcely be attributed to any other cause than that any long section, especially in the domain of the poetry of natural description, must inevitably have its peculiarity of diction.

e. It is alleged that the long description of the two animals is altogether unnecessary to the object of the second discourse of God, which has already received a perfectly satisfactory conclusion in Job 40:6-14, while on the other hand Job 41:26 [34] forms no proper conclusion, and furnishes no intimation (such as we find in Job 40:2) that it is now the place for Job to speak. But the negative question in Job 40:9 requires a positive argument for its support, without which the second discourse of Jehovah would remain incomplete. Moreover this second discourse, if it really embraced only vers. 6–14 of the 40th chap. would be much too short in comparison with the first, and would fail to furnish the motive to Job’s humble confession in Job 42:2; he knows now that Jehovah can do everything. On the contrary the way seems well prepared for this acknowledgment by the proposition in Job 41:26 [34], which forms the climax to the description of the leviathan, which represents the crocodile as the monarch of all beasts, and thereby declares that the divine power revealed in the visible creation is glorious and invincible. It cannot be said of all accordingly that there is no inner connection between the description under consideration, and that which follows and precedes it. On the contrary the discourse of God would seem to be unsuitably shortened and mutilated, if we should cut off these descriptions of animals, which constitute the real point of it: see Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on this section.

If then that which has been alleged against this section appears to resolve itself essentially into a matter of individual opinion and taste, the whole poetic kernel of the book would present itself to us as one well rounded, compacted, and unassailable work, cast at once and in one mould, were it not that against a still more extensive constituent of this whole suspicions have been directed, the grounds of which are exceedingly specious and cogent. These are the discourses of Elihu, which in a linguistic respect particularly exhibit much that is peculiar, and which have for that reason been rejected as foreign to the original form of the book by many critics who otherwise are very prudent and judicious.


c. Against the assaults on the discourses of Elihu: Chap. 32–37

It has been maintained that this entire episode is not an original constituent of the poem by Eichhorn (Einleitung, V., § 644 b), Stuhlmann, Bernstein, Knobel, D. v. Cölln (Bibl. Theol. I.294), De Wette (Einl. § 287; in Schrader’s Neubearbeit. § 350), E. Meier (in Zeller’s Theol. Jahrb. 1844, p. 366 seq.), Ewald, Heiligstedt, Hirzel, Dillmann, Bleek, Hupfeld, Seinecke (Der Grundgedanke des Buches Hiob, 1863), Davidson (Introd. II. p. 204 seq.), Renan, Fürst [Merx], and several others, while the majority of exegetes and critics maintain its genuineness, especially Jahn (Einl., etc., II. 776), Stäudlin (in his Beiträgen zur Philosophie und Geschichte der Religion und Sittenlehre, II. 133 seq.), Bertholdt, Gesenius (Geschichte der hebr. Sprache und Schrift, 1815, p. 34 seq.), Rosenmüller, Schärer, Umbreit, Arnheim, Gleiss, Friedländer, Steudel, (Vorlesungen über die Theol. des Alten Test., 1840, Beil. III), Stickel, Vaihinger, Herbst, Welte, Hävernick, Keil, Hahn, Schlottmann, Hengstenberg (Ev. Kchztg. 1856, No. 16 seq.) [Good, Lee, Noyes, Wordsworth, Cook, Green, Carey, Barnes, and the English commentators generally.] Delitzsch pronounces no definite decision either for or against the genuineness, although he inclines on the whole to the opinion that these chapters were written not by the author of the principal poem, but by another, although not much later than the former; and he maintains emphatically that this slightly later author (“the second, or possibly the first issuer of the book”) was not materially inferior to the principal poet in theological importance and in poetic value and merit.19 The other opponents of the genuineness bring down the interpolator into an age considerably later. Some, Bernstein in particular, seek to establish his identity with the unknown author of the section in Job 27:7 to Job 28:28, which is in like manner rejected.

The principal reasons urged against the genuineness are the following:

1. The connection between Job’s last discourse (chap. 29–31) and the discourse of Jehovah, chap. 38 seq., is removed; the conclusion of that discourse of Job’s exhibits a manifest breaking off, a sudden interruption by the appearance of Jehovah which now takes place: in like manner Job 38:1 seq. clearly presupposes, that Job, and not another, must have spoken immediately before Jehovah.

2. By anticipating the reference to God’s infinite power and wisdom to which chapter 38–41 give expression, the discourses of Elihu weaken the impression of the discourse of Jehovah; nay more they make it simply superfluous, in so far as they attempt to solve the problem under consideration in the way of knowledge, while Jehovah on the contrary requires unconditional submission beneath His omnipotence and secret wisdom.

3. We find neither in the prologue any preparation for the appearance of Elihu after the silencing of the friends—it does not mention him in a single syllable—nor in the Epilogue any reminder of his discourses. The latter fact would be all the more singular seeing that Elihu had, just as well as the three friends, assigned Job’s guilt as the cause of his sufferings; we should therefore reasonably expect that the same censure would be visited on him as on them (see Job 42:7), whereas in fact the divine sentence completely ignores him.

4. Moreover in view of the fact that Job himself makes no answer to Elihu the accusations of the latter acquire a position of peculiar isolation; after the incisive rejoinders which Job makes to the accusations of the three friends respectively, we necessarily expect that he will attend to Elihu’s reproaches.

5. It is singular moreover that Elihu addresses Job several times by name (Job 33:1; Job 33:31; Job 37:14), while neither the three friends nor Jehovah ever resort to such a mode of address.

6. There is a striking contrast between the diffuse and circumstantial way in which Elihu is introduced, and the plain short announcement that is given of the appearance of the three friends (Job 2:11).

7. The way in which Elihu himself introduces himself (Job 32:6 to Job 33:7) is not altogether void of offense, in so far as may be discerned in it an unsuitable self-praise, and a boastful commendation of his own merits.

8. While the older poet, “in contrast with the false doctrine of retribution, entirely separates sin and punishment or chastisement in the affliction of Job, and by inculcating the doctrine that there is an affliction endured by the righteous which is designed simply to test and prove their innocence, treats essentially the theme which in New Testament phraseology may be designated “the mystery of the Cross,” Elihu leaves sin and suffering together as inseparable, and in opposition to the vulgar doctrine of retribution sets forth the distinction between disciplinary chastisement and judicial retribution. There appears thus a profound difference in the conception of the fundamental doctrine of the book between the two—the poet and his later supplementer—the latter aiming to moderate the boldness with which the former would represent the judicial decision of Jehovah as directly following upon Job’s discussion with the three friends, and to make suitable preparation for the rigid sentence to be pronounced by God on both the contending parties (so at least Delitzsch in his Commy., II., p. 308, and in Herzog’s Real-Encycl., Art. “Hiob,” p. 119).

9. There are several correspondences with the remainder of the book which “bear on them the impress of imitation; this is unmistakably the case with the entire section in Job 36:26 to Job 37:18, which has been prompted by the discourse of God in chap. 38 seq.; and there are many such instances in thought and expression, such as Job 33:7; Job 33:15; Job 34:3; Job 34:7; Job 34:21-24; Job 35:5-8; Job 36:25; Job 37:4; Job 37:10-11; Job 37:22,” (so Hirzel and Dillmann).

10. The diction and the style of representation distinguish the author of Elihu’s discourses most decisively from the author of the rest of the poem. “Not only has the language a strong Aramaic coloring, but Elihu uses regularly certain expressions, forms, and phrases, in place of which in the rest of the book other expressions are found just as regularly, and without distinction between the various speakers, which points not only to a difference in the roles, but also to a difference in the writers” (Hirzel). “Moreover the mode of representation on the one side shows greater breadth and wealth of words; on the other side it is more artificial and strained, often enough obscure, bombastic, and ambiguous. These peculiarities in the discourses of Elihu go far beyond the style of the poet elsewhere, when he distinguishes individual speakers by particular terms of expression, and favorite words and phrases. It is an inferior poet who discourses here, who is not to the same degree endowed with clearness of thought, poetic perception, and mastery of language. This is strikingly enough shown both in the structure of the verse, which often sinks down to mere prose, and in the plan of the discourses: the logical and the poetic divisions do not correspond; the strophe-structure fails” (Dillmann).
It is a powerful phalanx of charges and of reasons for doubt, external and internal, which we find arranged here. As respects their critical value however they are very unequal, and particularly are the first nine susceptible of easy refutation, which seek their support in the relation of the internal peculiarities of the section to the rest of the poem. We will examine them in their order.

1. It is not true to say that Elihu’s discourse destroys the connection between Job’s last discourse and that of Jehovah in chap. 38 seq.: for the conclusion of that last discourse of Job’s (Job 31:38-40) does not read as though it had been broken off, neither does the beginning of Jehovah’s discourse (Job 38:2) presuppose that Job had spoken immediately before, and had been interrupted. The exegesis of the passages referred to will exhibit both these points more in detail, and will at the same time prove that the close of Elihu’s discourses by its solemn eulogy of the majesty of God furnishes a suitable preparation for His appearance; that probably also that storm in which God appears to Job (Job 38:1; Job 40:6) is intended by the poet to foreshadow and give occasion for the descriptions of nature which form the contents of these closing discourses (which are principally occupied with the majestic phenomena that accompany a storm, which in several passages indeed point to Eloah as immediately present, or appearing as it were under the symbolic veil of clouds, thunder and lightning); and finally, that the absence of any recognition by Jehovah of that which has been spoken by Elihu is to be accounted for simply on the ground that Elihu’s discussions served to prepare the way directly for the Divine decision, that it was not necessary therefore that Jehovah should define His position toward this speaker who stood on His side and pleaded His cause, but that He might recur at once to Job’s last utterances.20

2. It is not at all the case that the impression of the discourses of Jehovah is weakened by the discourses of Elihu, which prepare the way for them, but do not for that reason anticipate them. For it is Elihu’s aim to present subjectively Job’s obligation to submit himself humbly to Jehovah, by contending against his false self-righteousness, comp. Job 32:1 : כִּי הוּא צַדִּיק בְּעֵניָו, for he accounted himself righteous), and by showing the need of thorough self knowledge, out of which true humility ever springs. Jehovah on the contrary follows with an argument proving the same thing objectively, by pointing out the unsearchableness of His eternal nature and activity, and also the wonderful fulness of His power and wisdom—attributes which already Elihu had also set forth, although more incidentally (see from Job 36:22 on). The predominantly theoretic solution of the whole problem touching the significance of human suffering, which Elihu presents, a solution derived from the realm of knowledge, neither excludes nor supersedes the more profound practical solution which Jehovah presents in the realm of fact. On the contrary the fact that first of all there comes before us in Elihu a representative of human wisdom, and that of the more profound and solid order, attempting a correct solution of the problem in question, and that after him God Himself first brings about the absolute and final solution—all this rests on a plan thoroughly conceived by the author, which also accounts for the greater weight and magnificence of the language in Jehovah’s discourse, and especially for the incomparably greater sublimity of the description of the divine power and wisdom which it contains. This gradation which the author manifestly intends between the discourses of Elihu and those of Jehovah, this absolute superiority of the latter over the former, both as regards their points of view, and the material and formal value of their utterances, shows how perverse and erroneous are both the judgments pronounced against them by their opponents—whether we take the judgment which declares that Elihu “says more than God,” thus anticipating and superseding what He says, or the other judgment which declares that in his discourses no thought appears which is entirely new, which has not already shown itself in the older book” (Ewald, p. Job 320:—against which comp. Hävernick, III., 373, also what we have to say below against Dillmann in Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on chaps. 36, 37)

3. The silence of the prologue and the epilogue respecting Elihu proves nothing in behalf of the view that the speeches of the latter have been interpolated. For a: It is an unsuitable requirement that the author should announce beforehand in the prologue all the persons who are to be introduced into the poem. He would then have had to announce Jehovah also as one who was later to make His appearance in the circle of disputants. Together with the contending parties (to wit Job on the one side, and the three friends on the other), he must have mentioned beforehand the two adjudicators, the human and the divine, whom he intends to introduce at the close. He would thus have had to bring forward in the introduction all the actors in the piece, which in view of the peculiarity of the dramatic poetry of the Old Testament (comp. Canticles) could not have been required nor expected of him.—b: The fact that Elihu was not condemned in the epilogue is to be explained simply on the ground that he deserved no sentence of condemnation, because he had affirmed Job’s guilt in quite another sense than Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar—a sense which far more nearly approximated the absolute truth, and because, generally speaking, he did not put himself forward as a one-sided partisan, but from the first as an umpire and a provisional mediator between the parties. “A censure of Elihu in the epilogue would have been equivalent to a declaration that Job was absolutely innocent; this, however, was so far from being the case, that Job on the contrary earnestly repents for having sinned against God, Job 42:6” (Hävernick, p. 374).21

4. Moreover the silence of Job towards Elihu has nothing at all strange about it, if we only keep properly in mind the distinction, or rather the contrast, just set forth between the three friends, as a party contending against Job, and Elihu, who is already lifted above this party-strife, and who anticipates the divine decision.

5. That Elihu sometimes addresses Job by name is also to be explained by his position as mediator between the parties. He has to deal not only with Job, but also, as Job 32:3; Job 32:6 seq. shows, just as much with the friends. There is accordingly in the fact that he, in contrast with them, expressly addresses Job a few times nothing more strange, nothing that is at all more conclusive against the genuineness of his speeches than in the fact that Jehovah in the epilogue mentions “His servant Job” not less than four times (Job 42:7-8).

6. The alleged prolixity and diffuseness with which Elihu is introduced in Job 32:2-6 exists only in the prejudice or taste of the critics. “Without these introductory words, which contain throughout nothing unnecessary, we should not know at all how to regard Elihu, whether as a disputant, or as a judge” (Hahn). An exact portrait of the personality of the new speaker was absolutely necessary, if his words as to their contents were to be correctly apprehended. Especially was there needed a preliminary intimation of the moral characteristics which above all qualified him to be an umpire between the contestants, and to be God’s advocate—of his piety, which caused him to take offence at Job’s self-righteousness (ver. 2); of his wisdom, which made him appear superior to the three friends, to their narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness (ver. 3); and of his modesty, which had hindered him from beginning to speak before the other speakers, as being older than himself. This introduction could certainly not be shorter, and convey all this; and there can be discovered in it no sufficient ground for suspecting its genuineness.

7. In like manner the opinion that Elihu’s introduction of himself Job 32:6 to Job 33:7 is not free from much that is objectionable, that in particular it exhibits vain self-conceit and boastfulness, resolves itself at bottom into a matter of subjective taste and critical prepossession. That the assurance of his humble and modest disposition with which he begins, is not empty boasting is evident from the fact that he has thus far persevered in keeping silent, and that too when so much has been said which might have provoked him much sooner to express his views. The reasons which he assigns for speaking now (Job 32:15-20), for his inability to keep still and to restrain himself any longer (comp. Matthew 12:34), have in this connection certainly nothing objectionable or strange about them. They present themselves rather as a well-applied and necessary captatio benevolentiæ. Moreover what he says further on in respect to the rigid impartiality which he had laid down as a law for himself (Job 32:21-22), as also that finally which he observes particularly against Job (Job 33:1-7) contains nothing which can cause offence to an unprejudiced consideration of the case, or even to such a view respecting Elihu in an æsthetic or moral respect as might not be altogether favorable. And just here should be noted his unconditional submission to God’s word and will, of which we have a beautiful exhibition, and one which distinguishes him as a truly humble representative of divine truth (see Job 32:22; Job 33:6).

8. The attempt of Delitzsch to show that Elihu’s solution of the problem is radically different from that of the principal poet is one-sided, as may easily be seen. The conception of sufferings which Elihu maintains is that of purifying chastisements, by which even those who are apparently innocent are justly visited. According to the profound view of the purpose of the suffering inflicted on the innocent which is inculcated by Jehovah and by the author of the whole poem it serves to prove and test their innocence. Evidently the former view, so far from excluding the latter, logically precedes it as its necessary premise. So also does the individual heart-experience of all God’s people who are brought through such trials actually illustrate, in the same way that the plastic development of our poem illustrates dramatically, this progress from what is as yet a semi-legal view of the suffering of the innocent, to that view which the New Testament presents, and which is illuminated by the mystery of the cross (comp. above, § 4). In the sufferings of Him who was the Most Innocent of all innocent sufferers, we find these two uses of suffering combined: its purifying and sanctifying influence (not indeed on the sufferer himself, but on those for and instead of whom He suffered), and also its use in triumphantly attesting His holiness and purity before God and men. And indeed the most perfect and clear Old Testament type of this New Testament redemptive suffering, the Servant of God in Isaiah (Job 53), presents in intimate union these two aspects of the significance of His sufferings, their use in purifying and transforming, and their use in proving and attesting. The fact accordingly that in Job’s case Elihu puts forward almost exclusively the tendency of suffering to chasten and to purify, whereas Jehovah sets forth more especially its probational tendency, furnishes no argument whatever against the unity of our poem. Comp. also below, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on chs. 36, 37, No. 2.

9. The several correspondences in thought and expression between this section and passages in the rest of the poem may just as satisfactorily be explained as repetitions, such as may naturally be looked for from the same author, rather than as imitations by a later interpolator. Indeed in order to prove that they are of the latter class, it would be necessary to “show that there is a weakness in the representation, that the borrowed words or thoughts exceed the requirements of the passage, that the matter thus inwoven is unsuitable” (Stickel). But this cannot be shown with regard to any of the correspondences between Elihu’s speeches and the rest of the book, and least of all with regard to the passage on which the main stress is laid by Hirzel, Dillmann and others in Job 36:26 to Job 37:18,—a passage which certainly indicates close affinity with the following discourses of Jehovah, no such affinity however as may not be easily and satisfactorily explained by the relation which the passage in Elihu occupies as preparatory to the sublime descriptions in God’s discourse.

10. The most weighty of all these arguments of the opposition is that derived from the peculiar style and diction of the section. Even this argument is not unanswerable, however, as is evident from what Stickel in particular has said in reply to it (p. 248 seq.). The list of real or apparent idiotisms in the section may be reduced to the following:

a. A considerable number of correspondences with the linguistic usage of the book of Proverbs, with which however the rest of the poem indicates no slight affinity (comp. § 6, at the beginning).

b. Certain peculiarities of expression, which recur with considerable regularity, especially דֵּעַ instead of דַּעַת (Job 32:6; Job 32:10; Job 32:17; Job 36:3), עָוֶר instead of עַוְלָה (Job 34:10; Job 34:32; comp. Job 36:23, where the more common form is found), נֹעַר instead of נְעוּרִים (Job 33:25; Job 36:14), and כָּנָה (Job 32:21-22).

c. Three hapaxlegomena: אָבִי, Job 34:36; חַת, Job 33:9; and אֶכֶף, Job 33:7—a number which is not surprisingly large for a piece of poetry of the length of our section. We might place alongside of them about an equal number out of the following discourses of Jehovah.

d. A number of Aramaisms, comparatively somewhat larger than are found in the rest of the poem. This strong Aramaic coloring however can be explained without difficulty by supposing that the author desires to make prominent the Aramaic origin of Elihu as one belonging to the tribe of Buz (Job 32:2), and to represent him as belonging to quite another race than the three friends. For whereas there were only slight differences of diction distinguishing the speeches of the three friends both from each other and from Job (see § 3, Rem. 1), there is clearly presented in Elihu the representative of another dialect. And that it is the poet’s intention to invest him with this distinctive coloring, is particularly signified by the fact that the Aramaizing forms abound most of all at the beginning of the discourses (Job 32:6 seq.), and again at the beginning of the fourth principal section of the same (Job 36:2), whereas elsewhere they are less prominent. Perhaps also those other peculiarities of expression which have been cited under b may be derived from this wish of the poet to cause this new speaker to express himself in a peculiar dialect. Comp. on Job 32:2. The same may be said of those qualities of the style with which de Wette, Dillmann, and others, have found fault, the traces of greater flatness, of less clearness of representation, of a defective command of language, all of which may be largely attributed to the effort of the speaker after a characteristic coloring of speech. But the charge that the rhythmic construction of the section is comparatively incomplete, that the structure of his verse “sinks down to downright prose,” or even that “the strophe structure is wanting,” has in it decided exaggerations. For in the remainder of the poem also a more lax rhythmic structure, and one that more nearly approximates prose, alternates with a more compact, full, and symmetrical strophe-structure. And to say that the latter is wholly wanting here, would seem, in view of strophical constructions so distinctly outlined and so consistently maintained, as we find exhibited particularly in the fourth speech of Elihu (e.g., Job 36:22 seq.; Job 37:1; Job 37:6; Job 37:11 seq.) to be in the last degree incorrect; comp. above § 3.

In view of all that has been said there remains no decisive reason against the genuineness of this section, not even in the domain of language and style; for that our poet possessed in sufficient measure vivacity of intellect and versatility of invention to be able to individualize the characters of his poem by attributing to them dialectic variations of language is sufficiently apparent from the skill with which he had already succeeded in distinguishing the three friends from each other and from Job by the peculiar impress stamped upon their speech, and the skill with which he had bestowed on Jehovah’s discourses at the close the characteristic coloring which they consistently retain throughout. The purpose however to endow Elihu especially, the immediate predecessor of Jehovah, and the precursor of the decision announced by Him with a style the coloring of which should be peculiarly marked, sprang with an internal necessity out of the scope and plan of the whole, the profound and correct perception of which would forbid the possible doubt whether these speeches belonged to the poem as a whole, and would even supersede the mildest form of this doubt to which Delitzsch inclines with his theory of a double “promulgation” [Herausgabe] of the book—the first time without, the second with Elihu’s speeches.


Not until we have established the unity of our book against the various assaults made upon it does it become possible to give an outline of its contents in detail, and thereby to set forth in their completeness the poet’s plan, and its elaboration (comp. the preliminary summary of the contents in § 1, together with the remarks made in § 3, respecting the artistic plan of the poem). In the outline herewith presented we follow substantially Vaihinger (Das Buch Hiob, 2d Ed., p. 227 seq.), without however adhering in every particular to his divisions, which at times are somewhat arbitrary. This arbitrary feature consists chiefly in an exaggerated endeavor everywhere and down to the minutest detail to find Triads in the divisions of the poem. The undeniable predilection of the poet for the triadic arrangement in his speeches gives some foundation no doubt for this theory, although it does not justify our carrying such tri-partitions to a wanton excess. Several other modern expositors also furnish a thorough outline in detail of the contents of the poem, e.g. Ewald (p. 34 seq.), Schlottmann (p. 20 seq.), Davidson [Introduction, p. 174 seq.), but without giving sufficient prominence to that tripartite arrangement. [See also Carey, p. 37 seq.]


1. Job’s character and course of life: Job 1:1-5

2. The Divine decree to try Job through suffering.

a. The milder form of trial by taking away his possessions: Job 1:6-22.

α. The preparatory scene in heaven: Job 1:6-12.

β. The execution of the decree of trial on the possessions and family of Job: Job 1:13-19.

γ. Job’s constancy and patience: Job 1:20-22.

b. The severer trial by the loss of health: Job 2:1-10.

α. The preparatory scene in heaven: Job 2:1-6.

β. The fulfillment of the decree in Job’s terrible disease: Job 2:7-8.

γ. Job’s steadfastness in piety: Job 2:9-10.

3. The visit of the friends, and their mute sympathy, as an immediate preparation for the action of the poem: Job 2:11-13.

First Chief Division of the poem: The Entanglement, or the controversial discourses of Job and his three friends: Chaps. 3–28

The Outbreak of Job’s Despair, as the theme and the immediate occasion of the Colloquy: Chap. Job 3:1-26.

a. Job curses his day: Job 3:1-10.

b. He wishes that he were in the realm of the dead rather than in this life: Job 3:11-19.

c. He asks why he, being weary of life, must still live: Job 3:20-26.

First Series of controversial discourses: The Entanglement in its beginning: Chaps. 4–14

I. Eliphaz and Job: Chaps. 4–7

A. The accusation of Eliphaz: Man must not speak against God, as Job is doing: Chaps. 4–5

1. Introductory reproof of Job, on account of his unmanly complaint, by which he could only incur God’s wrath: Job 4:4-11.

2. Account of a heavenly revelation, which declared to him the wrongfulness and foolishness of weak sinful man’s raving against God: Job 4:12 to Job 5:7.

3. Admonition to repentance, as the only means by which Job can recover God’s favor, and his former happy estate: Job 5:8-26.

B. Job’s Reply: Instead of comfort the friends bring him only increased sorrow: Chaps. 6, 7

1. Justification of his complaint by pointing out the greatness and incomprehensibleness of his suffering: Job 6:1-10.

2. Complaint on account of the bitter disappointment which he had experienced at the hands of his friends: Job 6:11-30.

3. Recurrence to his former complaint on account of his lot, and an accusation of God: chap. 7

II. Bildad and Job: Chaps. 8–10

A. Bildad’s rebuke: Man must not charge God with injustice, as Job has done, for God never does wrong: Chap. 8

1. Censure of Job on account of his unjust accusation against God: Job 8:2-7.

2. Reference to the wise teachings of the ancients, in respect to the merited end of those who forget God: Job 8:8-19.

3. A softened application of these teachings to the case of Job: Job 8:20-22.

B. Job’s Reply: Assertion of his innocence, and a mournful description of the incomprehensibleness of his suffering as a dark horrible destiny: Chap. 9, 10.

1. God is certainly the Almighty and ever-righteous One, who is to be feared; but His power is too terrible for mortal man: Job 9:2-12.

2. The oppressive effect of this omnipotence and arbitrariness of God impels him, as an innocent sufferer, to presumptuous speeches against God: Job 9:13-35.

3. A plaintive description of the merciless severity with which God rages against him, although, as an Omniscient Being, He knows that he is innocent: Job 10:1-22.

III. Zophar and Job: Chaps. 11–14

A. Zophar’s violent arraignment of Job, as one who needs to submit in penitence to the all-seeing and all-righteous God: Chap. 11.

1. Expression of the desire that the Omniscient One would appear to convince Job of his guilt: Job 11:2-6.

2. Admonitory description of the impossibility of contending against God’s omniscience, which charges every man with sin: Job 11:7-12.

3. The truly penitent has in prospect the restoration of his prosperity, for the wicked however there remains no hope: Job 11:13-20.

B. Job’s Reply: Attack upon his friends, whose wisdom and justice he earnestly questions: Chaps. 12–14

1. Ridicule of the assumed wisdom of the friends, who can give only a very unsatisfactory description of the exalted power and wisdom of the divine activity: chap. 12.

2. The resolution to betake himself to God, the righteous Judge, who, in contrast with the harshness and injustice of the friends, will assuredly do him justice: Job 13:1-22.

3. A vindication of himself addressed to God, beginning with the haughty asseveration of his own innocence, but relapsing into a despondent cheerless description of the brevity, helplessness, and hopelessness of man’s life: Job 13:23 to Job 14:22.

Second Series of controversial discourses. The Entanglement increasing: Chaps. 15–21.

I. Eliphaz and Job: Chaps. 15–17

A. Eliphaz: God’s punitive justice is revealed only against evil-doers: Chap. 15

1. Recital, with accompanying rebuke, of all in Job’s discourses and conduct that is perverted, and that bears witness against his innocence: Job 15:2-19.

2. A didactic admonition on the subject of the retributive justice of God in the destiny of the ungodly: Job 15:20-35.

B. Job: Although oppressed by his disconsolate condition, he nevertheless wishes and hopes that God will demonstrate his innocence against the unreasonable accusations of his friends: Chaps. 16, 17

(A brief preliminary repudiation of the discourses of the friends as aimless and unprofitable: Job 16:2-5).

1. Lamentation on account of the disconsolateness of his condition, as forsaken and hated by God and men: Job 16:6-17.

2. Vivid expression of the hope of the future recognition of his innocence: Job 16:18 to Job 17:9.

3. Sharp censure of the admonitory speeches of the friends as unreasonable, and as having no power to comfort: Job 17:10-16.

II. Bildad and Job: Chaps. 18, 19

A. Bildad: Job’s passionate outbreaks are useless, for the divine ordinance, instituted from of old, is still in force, securing that the hardened sinner’s merited doom shall suddenly and surely overtake him: Chap. 18.

1. Sharp rebuke of Job, the foolish and blushing boaster: Job 18:2-4.

2. Description of the dreadful doom of the hardened evil-doer: Job 18:5-21.

B. Job: His misery is well-deserving of sympathy; it will however all the more certainly end in his conspicuous vindication by God, although not perhaps till the life beyond: Chap. 19

(Introduction: Reproachful censure of the friends for maliciously suspecting his innocence: Job 19:2-5).

1. Sorrowful complaint because of the suffering inflicted on him by God and men: Job 19:6-20.

2. An uplifting of himself to a blessed hope in God, his future Redeemer and Avenger: Job 19:21-27.

3. Earnest warning to the friends against the further continuance of their unfriendly attacks: Job 19:28-29.

III. Zophar and Job: Chaps. 20, 21.

A. Zophar: For a time indeed the evil-doer can be prosperous, but so much the more terrible and irremediable will be his destruction: Chap. 20.

1. Introduction, violently censuring Job, and theme of the discourse: Job 20:2-5.

2. Expansion of the theme, showing from experience that the prosperity and riches of the ungodly must end in the deepest misery: Job 20:6-29.

B. Job: That which experience teaches concerning the prosperity of the wicked during their life on earth argues not against, but for his innocence: Chap. 21

1. Calm, but bitter introductory appeal to the friends: Job 21:2-6.

2. Along with the fact of the prosperity of the wicked, taught by experience, (Job 21:7-16), stands the other fact of earthly calamities befalling the pious and righteous: Job 21:7-26.

3. Rebuke of the friends for setting forth only one side of that experience, and using that to his prejudice: Job 20:27-29.

Third Series of controversial discourses: The Entanglement reaching its extreme point: Chap. 22–28.

I. Eliphaz and Job: CHAP. 22–24.

A. Eliphaz: Reiterated accusation of Job, from whose severe sufferings it must of necessity be inferred that he had sinned grievously, and needed to repent. Chap. 22.

1. The charge made openly that Job is a great sinner: Job 22:2-10.

2. Earnest warning not to incur yet severer punishments: Job 22:11-20.

3. Admonition to repent, accompanied by the announcement of the certain restoration of his prosperity to him, when penitent: Job 22:21-30.

B. Job: Inasmuch as God withdraws Himself from him, and that moreover His allotment of men’s destinies on earth is in many ways most unequal, the incomprehensibleness of His dealings may thus be inferred, as well as the short sightedness and one-sidedness of the external theory of retribution held by the friends: chapter 23–24.

1. The wish for a judicial decision by God in his favor is repeated, but is repressed by the agonizing thought that God intentionally withdraws from him, in order that He may not be obliged to vindicate him in this life: Chap. 23.
2. The darkness and unsearchableness of God’s ways to be recognized in many other instances of an unequal distribution of earthly pros-perity among men, as well as in Job’s case: Chap. 24.

II. Bildad and Job: CHAP. 25–26

A. Bildad: Again setting forth the contrast between God’s exaltation and human impotence: Chap. 25

1. Man cannot argue with God: Job 25:2-4.

2. Man is not pure before God: Job 25:5-6.

B. Job: Rebuke of his opponent, accompanied by a description, far surpassing his, of the exaltation and greatness of God: Chap. 26

1. Sharp Rebuke of Bildad: Job 25:2-4.

2. Description of the incomparable sovereignty and exaltation of God, given to eclipse the far less spirited attempt of Bildad in this direction: Job 25:5-6.

III. Job alone: His closing address to the vanquished friends: CHAP. 27–28.

a. Renewed solemn asseveration of his innocence, accompanied by a reference to his joy in God, which had not forsaken him even in the midst of his deepest misery: Chap. Job 27:2-10.

b. Statement of his belief that the prosperity of the ungodly cannot endure, but that they must infallibly come to a terrible end: Chap. Job 27:11-23.

c. Declaration that true Wisdom, which alone can secure real well-being, and a correct solution of the dark enigmas of man’s destiny on earth, is to be found nowhere on earth, but only with God, and by means of a pious submission to God: Chap. 28.

Second Chief Division of the Poem. Disentanglement of the mystery through the discourses of Job, Elihu and Jehovah: Chap. 29–42:6
First stage of the disentanglement: Chap. 29–31.

Job’s Soliloquy,

Setting forth the truth that his suffering was not due to his moral conduct, that it must have therefore a deeper cause. [The negative side of the solution of the problem.]
1. Yearning retrospect at the fair prosperity of his former life: Chap. 29.

a. Describing the outward aspect of this former prosperity: Job 29:2-10.

b. Pointing out the inward cause of this prosperity—his benevolence and righteousness: Job 29:11-17.

c. Describing that feature of his former prosperity which he now most painfully misses, namely, the universal honor shown him, and his far-reaching influence: Job 29:18-25.

2. Sorrowful description of his present sad estate: Chap. 30.

a. The ignominy and contempt he receives from men: Job 30:1-15.

b. The unspeakable misery which everywhere oppresses him: Job 30:16-23.

c. The disappointment of all his hopes: Job 30:24-31.

3. Solemn asseveration of his innocence in respect to all open and secret sins: Chap. 31

a. He has abandoned himself to no wicked lust; Job 31:1-8.

b. He has acted uprightly in all the relations of his domestic life; Job 31:9-15.

c. He has constantly practiced neighborly kindness and justice in civil life; Job 31:16-23.

d. He has moreover not violated his more secret obligations to God and his neighbor; Job 31:24-32.

e. He has been guilty furthermore of no hypocrisy, nor mere semblance of holiness, of no secret violence, or avaricious oppression of his neighbor; Job 31:33-40.

Second stage of the disentanglement: Chap. 32–37

Elihu’s Discourses,

Devoted to proving that there can be really no undeserved suffering, that on the contrary the sufferings decreed for those who are apparently righteous are dispensations of divine love, designed to purify and sanctify them through chastisement. [The first half of the positive solution of the problem].

Introduction: Elihu’s appearance, and the exordium of his discourse, giving the reasons for his speaking Chap. Job 32:1 to Job 33:7.

1. Elihu’s appearance (related in prose): Chap. Job 32:1-6 a.

2. An explanation addressed to the previous speakers, showing why he takes part in this controversy: Job 32:6-10.

3. Setting forth that he was justified in taking part, because the friends had shown, and still showed themselves unable to refute Job: Job 32:11-22.

4. A special appeal to Job to listen calmly to him, as a mild judge of his guilt and weakness: Chap. Job 33:1-7.

First Discourse: Of man’s guilt before God: Chap. Job 33:8-33.

a. Preparatory: Reproof of Job’s confidence in his perfect innocence: Job 33:8-11.

b. Didactic discussion of the true relation of sinful men to God, who seeks to warn and to save them by various dispensations, and communications from above: Job 33:12-30.

α. By the voice of conscience in dreams: Job 33:15-18).

β. By sickness and other sufferings Job 33:19-22).

γ. By sending a mediating angel to deliver in distress Job 33:23 seq.).

c. Calling upon Job to give an attentive hearing to the discourses by which he would further instruct him: Job 33:31-33.

Second Discourse: Proof that man is not right in doubting God’s righteousness: Ch. 34.

a. Opening; Censure of the doubt of God’s righteousness expressed by Job: Job 34:1-9.

b. Proof that the divine righteousness is necessary, and that it really exists:

α. From God’s disinterested love of His creatures: Job 34:10-15.

β. From the idea of God as ruler of the world: Job 34:16-30.

c. Exhibition of Job’s inconsistency and folly in reproaching God with injustice, and at the same time appealing to his decision; Job 34:31-37.

Third Discourse: Refutation of the false position that piety is not productive of happiness to men: Chap. 35.

a. The folly of the erroneous notion that it is of small advantage to men whether they are pious or ungodly: Job 35:1-8.

b. The real reason why the deliverance of the sufferer is often delayed, viz.:

α. The lack of true godly fear: Job 35:9-14.

β. Dogmatic and presumptuous speeches against God, which was the case especially with Job: Job 35:15-16.

Fourth Discourse: A vivid exhibition of the activity of God, which is seen to be benevolent, as well as mighty and just, both in the destinies of men, and in the natural world outside of man: Chap. 36–37.

[Introduction-announcing that further important contributions are about to be made to the vindication of God: Chap. Job 36:1-4].

a. Vindication of the divine justice, manifesting itself in the destinies of men as a power benevolently chastening and purifying them; Chap. Job 36:5-21 :

α. In general: Job 36:5-15.

β. In Job’s change of fortune in particular: Job 36:16-21.

b. Vindication of the Divine Justice, revealing itself in nature as supreme power and wisdom: Chap. Job 36:22; Job 37:25.

α. Consideration of the wonders of nature as revelations of divine wisdom and power: Job 36:22 to Job 37:13.

(1) Rain, clouds and storms, lightning and thunder: Job 36:22 to Job 37:5.

(2) The agencies of winter—such as snow, rain, the north wind, frost, etc. Job 37:6-13.

β. Finally admonitory inferences from what precedes for Job: Job 37:14-24. The third stage of the disentanglement: Job 38:1 to Job 42:6.

Jehovah’s Discourses:

the aim of which is to prove that the Almighty and only wise God, with whom no mortal should dispute, might also ordain suffering simply to prove and test the righteous. [The second half of the positive solution of the problem.]

First Discourse of Jehovah, together with Job’s answer: With God, the Almighty and only wise, no man may dispute: Job 38:1-40 :.

1. Introduction: The appearance of God; His demand that Job should answer him: Job 38:1-3.

2. God’s questions touching His power revealed in the wonders of creation: Job 38:4 to Job 39:30.

a. Questions respecting the process of creation: Job 38:4-15.

b. Respecting the inaccessible heights and depths above and below the earth, and the forces proceeding from them: Job 38:16-27.

c. Respecting the phenomena of the atmosphere, and the wonders of the starry heavens: Job 38:28-38.

d. Respecting the preservation and propagation of wild animals, especially of the lion, raven, wild goat, stag, wild ass, oryx, ostrich, war-horse, hawk and eagle: Job 38:39 to Job 39:30.

3. Conclusion of the discourse, together with Job’s answer announcing his humble submission: Job 40:1-5.

Second Discourse of Jehovah, together with Job’s answer: To doubt God’s justice, which is most closely allied to His wonderful omnipotence, is a grievous wrong, which must be atoned for by sincere penitence: Job 40:6 to Job 42:6.

1. Sharp rebuke of God’s presumption which has been carried to the point of doubting God’s justice: Job 40:7-14.

2. Humiliating demonstration of the weakness of Job in contrast with certain creatures of earth, not to say with God: shown by a description

a. Of the behemoth (hippopotamus): Job 40:15-24.

b. Of the leviathan (crocodile), as king of all beasts: Job 40:25–41:26.

3. Job’s answer: Humble acknowledgment of the infinitude of the divine power, and penitent confession of his sin and folly: Job 42:1-6.

Historical Conclusion (in prose): Job 42:7-17.

1. Glorious vindication of Job before his friends: Job 42:7-10.

2. The restoration of his former dignity and honor: Job 42:11-12 a.

3. The doubling of his former prosperity in respect to his earthly possessions and his offspring: Job 42:12-17Job 42:12-17Job 42:12-17.


The history of the exposition of the book of Job, like that of the other Old Testament writings, embraces three principal epochs or stages of development: I. The Ancient Church and Mediæval period, which was characterized by a one-sided Messianic allegorical interpretation of the book, and by the dependence of commentators (who were almost altogether ignorant of Hebrew) on the authority of the Septuagint and Vulgate.22—II. The age of the Reformation, and that immediately following (down to the middle of the 18th Cent.). The commentators of this period, particularly of the evangelical school, by virtue of their independent knowledge of Hebrew, and their more free apprehension of the book as an organic living whole, advanced beyond the stand-point of the former age. They did not really succeed, however, in releasing themselves from the fetters of an unhistorical dogmatism, and of a lifeless scholasticism, indulging in abstract summaries, but unable to rise to an independent view of the successive stages in the Old Testament history of redemption. III. The modern age of scientific criticism, beginning with the middle of the last century. During this period the knowledge of the languages and of the whole civilization of the East has been continually increasing in extent and exactness, and has been accompanied on the one side by a more rigid and pure historical perception, on the other by an appreciation, as complete and correct as possible, of the profound theological contents of our book, and thus by an apprehension of its divine-human contents and character as a whole.—The first of these periods, the principal achievements of which are represented by the names of the Church Fathers Origen and Gregory the Great, embraces also that group of Jewish Rabbinical commentators, who appear as the forerunners of the more advanced linguistic culture and exegesis of the Reformation, such as Rashi, Aben Ezra, Nachmanides, Levi ben Gerson, and the converted Nicolas de Lyra. During the second epoch, which has for its most meritorious representatives Joh. Brentius, Seb. Schmidt, Mercier and Cocceius, the standpoint of the modern period is heralded by Le Clerc and Alb. Schultens, in the case of the former by his free critical method, in the case of the latter by his application to the business of exposition of a comprehensive knowledge of the Shemitic languages.—In the last, or third epoch we distinguish a period of rationalistic shallowness of exegesis (joined to a defective estimate of the book in accordance with the standard of an exaggerated orientalism, or of a sentimental humanism), and a period during which exegesis has acquired greater depth in the direction of a scriptural theology, and greater critical purity. The former period, extending from 1750–1820, is characterized by such expositors as Moldenhauer; the younger Schultens, Stuhlmann, Schärer, Rosenmüller; the latter period, to which Umbreit, Koster and Ewald form the transition, has representatives of pre-eminent ability, and distinguished for solid achievements, in Hirzel, Vaihinger, Hahn, Schlottmann, Delitzsch and Dillmann, as also in the English writers Lee, Carey and A. B. Davidson.



A. Christian Commentators.Greek Fathers, including specially Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Olympiodorus (deacon of Alexandria about A. D. 600), etc., in all 22, whose writings are collected together in Catena Grœc. Patrum in l. Job, collectore Niceta, græce ed. et lat. vers. op. et stud. Patricii Junii, Lond. 1637, fol.—Syrian Fathers, especially Ephraem; comp. Froriep: Ephraemiana in libr. Jobi, 1769, 4.—Latin Fathers: Augustine: Annotationes in l. Job (Opp. ed. Bened. Par. 1679 seq. T. III.); Gregory the Great: Expositio in beat. Job, s. Moralium l. l. XXXV.; Pseudo-Jerome (Philippus?): Expositio Interlinearis libri Job, and Commentariolum in Job (the Expositio preserved in four different recensions, one of the latest of which was supervised probably by the venerable Bede, found in Vallarsi, Opp. B. Hieron. Exodus 2:0, T. III., Append. p. 895 seq.; the Commentariolum in the same work, T. V., App. p. 1013 seq.; (comp. Bedæ Opp. ed. Basil. 3, col. 602 s.); Albertus Magnus: Postillæ super Job (not printed as yet): Thomas Aquinas: Expositio aurea in l. Job, T. XV., Opp. (ed. Paris, 1660), Nicolas de Lyra (Lyranus) in the Postillœ in universa Biblia (written 1292–1330), first printed at Rome 1471, 5 voll. fol.; Gregory Barhebræus: Scholia in libr. Jobi (ed. G. H. Bernstein, Vratislav. 1858, fol.).

B. Jewish Commentators.—R. Saadia Gaon (about 920), an Arabic translation with comments, contained in Isr. Schwarz: Tikwath Enosh, i.e., Liber Jobi, Tom. II. (Berol., 1868); Rashi (R. Solomon Isaaki of Troyes, † 1105), who left behind him an unfinished Comment. on Job, which his grandson, R. Samuel ben Meïr (Nashbam, † 1160) finished; Aben Ezra, of Toledo († about 1170) wrote in Rome towards the end of his life a Commy. on Job, which may be found in the larger Rabbinical commentaries; where may also be found the commentaries of Moses ben Nachman, or Nachmanides (Ramban, born at Gerona, 1194); of Levi b. Gerson, or Gersonides (Ralbag, born at Bagnols, 1288), and of Abraham Farisol of Avignon,—which, particularly the first two, follow a strongly indicated philosophical bias. Compilations in the nature of catenœ have proceeded from R. Shimeon ha Darshan (the Yalkut Shimeoni, including all the books of the Old Testament), R. Machir b. Todros (Yalkut Mechiri, embracing the three poetic books Tehillim, Mishle, and Job), R. Menahem b. Chelbo, R. Joseph Kara, and R. Parchon. The catenæ of the last-named three have not as yet been published. Much pertaining to the subject is contained in the work of Israël Schwarz, already mentioned, Tikwath Enosh, the first part of which contains, besides a critical revision of the Masoretic text, with a new German metrical translation, two further divisions, to wit: (1) Mekor Israel, i.e., omnes de Ijobi explicationes et deductiones quœ in utroque Talmude Midraschiisque libris et Soharo inveniuntur; (2) Commentarios a R. Jesaia de Trani, R. Moses, et R. Joseph Kimchi, et R. Serachia ben Isaac Barceloniensis. The second part contains the Arabic translations of the book of Job by R. Saadia Gaon Alfajumi and R. Moses Gekatilia in a Hebrew version, along with a Hebr. Commentary. Comp. also the work which has just appeared: Translationes antiquœ Arabicœ Libri Jobi quœ supersunt, ex apographo codicis musei Britannici nunc primum edidit atque illustravit Wolf Guil. Frid. Comes de Baudissin, Lips., 1870.


A. Protestant Commentators.—1. Lutheran: Joh. Brentius: Annotationes in Job. Halæ Suevor., 1546, and Opp. omn. Tübing., 1578, T. III., p. 1 seq. (the best and fullest of these older Lutheran commentaries; comp. Hartmann, Brenz, p. 129, 284);—Hieronymus Weller: Auslegung des Büchlein Hiob, T. II., Opp. Lips., 1703 (embracing only the first twelve chapters, but thoroughly learned and edifying—comp. Nobbe: D. Hieron. Weller von Molsdorf, der Freund und Schüler Luther’s, Leipzig, 1870);—Victorin Strigel, Liber Jobi ad Ebraicam veritatem recognitus et argumentis atque scholiis illustratus, Lips. 1566, 1571;—Abrah. Calov.: Biblia V. et N. Testamenti illustrata, Francof. 1672 seq., Tom. II.;—Sebast. Schmid: Commentar in Job, Argentor, 1670, 1705, 2 vols.;—Joh. Heinr. Michaelis: Uberiores annotationes in Hagiographos V. T. libros, Hal. 1720, T. I.—Kortüm; Das Buch Hiob übers. mit Anmerk., Leipzig, 1708.

2. Reformed: Joh. Œcolampadius: Exegemata in Job et Danielem, Basil. 1532, and often;—Mart. Bucer: Commentar. in libr. Job, Argentor. 1528, fol.;—Huldrich Zwingli: Randglossen zu Job (in the Greek Aldine of 1518, annotated throughout by him, edited by Andr. v. Asola);—Joh. Calvin: Conciones super l. Job, Genev. 1569, fol.; also in Opp. Calvini, Amst. 1671 seq.; Joh. le Mercier (Mercerus): Comment. in Job, Proverb, Eccles., Cantic., 1573, fol.;—Jo. Drusius: Scholia in l. Job, Amst. 1636;—Jo. Piscator: Commentar. in univ. Biblia, 4 Voll. f., Herborn, 1643 seq.;—Hugo Grotius: Annotationes in V. T., Par. 1644, fol.;—Jo. Cocceius: Camment. in l. Job, in Opp. Vol. I., Amst. 1675;—Jo. Clericus [Le Clerc]: Comm. in. Hagiographos V. T. libros, Amst. 1731, fol.;—Alb. Schultens: Animadversiones philologicœ in Job, etc., Traj. ad Rhen. 1708 (also in Opp. min. Ludg. Bat. 1769); by the same author: Liber Jobi c. nova vers. et comm. perpetuo, Lugd. Bat. 1737, 2 Voll. 4to (comp. the abridgment of it—A. Schultens’ Comm. in Job in compend. redeg., etc., G. J. L. Vogel, T. I., II., Hal. 1773, ’74);—Dav. Renat. Bouillier: Observationes miscellaneœ in libr. Job, quibus versionibus et interpretibus passim epicrisis instituitur, etc., Amst. 1758.

B. Catholic Commentators.—Joh. Maldonatus, S. J. († 1583): Commentarii in prœcipuos S. Scripturœ libros Vet. Testamenti, Paris, 1643 fol.;—Casp. Sanctius, S. J. († 1626): In l. Job Commentarii c. paraphr. Lugd. Bat. 1625, fol.;—Joach. de Pineda (S. J., † 1637): Commentariorum in l. Job libri XIII., 2 Voll., Madr. 1597, 1601, f.;—Balthas. Corderius, S. J. († 1650): Jobus elucidatus, Antverp. 1646, ’56, f;—Antonio de Escobar, S. J. († 1669): Commentarius in Biblia, Tom. IV.;—Bolducius (Bolduc. Capuchin); Commentar in Job , 2 Voll., Paris, 1631, 1638;—Fr. Vavassor, S. J. († 1681): Jobus commentario et metaphrasi illustratus, Paris, 1679;—Augustin Calmet: Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l’ancien et nouveau Testament, Paris, 1707 sqq., 22 Voll., 4to. (Lat. Ed. by Dom. Mansi, Lucca, 1730 seq.).


1. The period during which rationalism prevailed (1750–1820).23—Goële: Observationes miscellaneæ in lib. Job, Amstel. 1758;—Job. Fr. Bardt: Paraphrast Erklärung des B. Hiob., 2 Parts, Leipzig, 1764;—J. J. Baur: Animadversiones ad quædam loca Jobi, Tubing. 1781;—Eckermann: Versuch einer neuen poetischen Uebersetzung des B. Hiob, etc., Lübeck, 1778;—Sander: Das Buch Hiob Erklärt, Leipzig, 1780;—Moldenhauer: D. B. Hiob übersetzt und erklärt, 2 Parts, Leipzig, 1780, 1781;—J. D. Dathe: Job, Proverb, Salom, Eccl., Cantic. Cant. lat. versi notisque philol. et criticis illustr., Hal. Sax. 1789;—J. Chr. F. Schulz: Scholia in V. Test., (Tom. VI., ed. G. Lor. Bauer), Norimb. 1796;—H. A. Schultens and H. Muntinghe: Das Buch Hiob übersetzt und erklärt. Aus den Holländischen mit Zusätzen und Anmerkungen J. P. Berg’s von K. F. Weidenbach, Leipzig, 1797; C. Rosenmüller: Scholia in Vet. Test., Tom. V., Jobus, lat. vert. et perpet. annotat. instr., Lips. 1806; ed. 2, 1824;—† Theod. Dereser in Dom. v. Brentano’s Bibelwerk: Die heilige Schrift des Alten Testaments, Frankfürt a. M. 1797 seq.;—Stuhlmann: Hiob, Hamb. 1804; J. R. Schärer: Das B. Hiob übersetzt und erklärt, 2 Thle. Bern, 1818;—W. Mössler: Das Buch Hiob erklärt, Neustadt, 1823;—E. G. A. Böckel: Das B. Hiob, für gebildete Leser bearbeitet, Berl. 1821; 2 umgearb. Auflage 1830;—L. F. Melsheimer: Das B. Hiob aus dem Hebr. metrisch übersetzt und durch kurze, philologische Anmerk. erläutert, Mannheim, 1823.

2. The period of a more profound perception of the history of redemption and of theological truth (1820–1870).
K. Umbreit: Das Buch Hiob: Uebersetzung und Auslegung, nebst Einleitung über Geist, Form, und, Verfasser des Buchs. Heidelb. 1824, 2d ed., 1832;—F. B. Köster: Das Buch Hiob und der Prediger Salomonis nach ihrer strophischen Anordnung übersetzt, Schleswig, 1831;—H. Ewald: Die poetischen Bücher des Alten Bundes, 3 Theil. 1836; 2d Ed. (Die Dichter des Alten Bundes) 1854;—L. Hirzel: Hiob in the Kurzgefasstes exeget. Hanb. sum Alten Test., 1839; 2d Ed. by Just. Olshausen, 1852;—J. G. Stickel: Das Buch Hiob rhythmisch gegliedert und übersetzt, mit exeget. und krit. Bemerkungen, Leipzig, 1842;—J. G. Vaihinger: Das Buch Hiob, der Urschrift gemäss metrisch übersetzt und erläutert, Stuttgart, 1842; 2d Ed. 1856;—A. Heiligstedt: Commentarius gramm. hist. crit. in Job (as Vol. IV., Part I. of Maurer’s Comment.) Leipzig, 1847;—† B. Welte: Das Buch Hiob übersetzt und erklärt, Frieib. i. Breisg., 1849; H. A. Hahn; Kommentar über das Buch Hiob, Berlin, 1850;—Ed. Isid. Magnus; Philolog.-historischer Kommentar zum Buch Hiob, 2 Parts, Halle, 1850;—Konst. Schlottmann: D. B. Hiob verdeutscht und erläutert, Berlin, 1851;—A. Ebrard: Das Buch Hiob als poetisches Kunstwerk (in fünffüssigen jamben) übersetzt und erläutert, Landau, 1858;—Franz Delitzsch: Bibl. Kommentar über die poetische Bücher des Alten Testaments, 2d Vol. Das Buch Hiob; mit Beiträgen von Prof. Fleischer und Konsul Wetzstein, Leipzig, 1864; [translated into English by Rev. F. Bolton, B. A., and published in Clark’s Foreign Theol. Library, 2 Vols., Edinb., 1869];—Ad. Kamphausen, in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, Div. I. Vol. III., Part 3, 1865;—Fr. Böttcher: Neue exeget. kritische Aehrenlese zum Alten Testament, edited by Mühlau, Vol. III., 1865 (comp. the Exeget.-krit. Aehrenlese, 1849);—G. H. G. Jahr: Die poet. werke der alten Hebräer in neuberichtigter metrischer Uebersetzung. Ein literarisches Lesebuch für Gebildete, Vol. II., Part I: Das Buch Hiob, etc., Neuwied, 1865;—A. Dillmann: Hiob, for the 3d Ed. of the Kurzgef. exeget. Handb. zum Alten Test. nach Hirzel und Olshausen neu bearbeitet, Leipzig, 1869;—E. W. Hengstenberg: Das Buch Hiob erläutert (Opus posthumum), Berlin, 1870–71. [Adalbert Merx: Das Gedicht von Hiob: Hebräischer Text, kritisch bearbeitet und übersetzt, nebst sach licher und kritischer Einleitung, Jena. 1871].

English commentaries: Sam. Lee: The book of the Patriarch Job, London, 1837; C. P. Carey: The book of Job translated, explained, and illustrated, London, 1858;—A Barnes: Notes, critical, illustrative, and practical, on the book of Job , 2 Vols., New York, 1852;—A. B. Davidson; A Commentary, grammatical and exegetical, on the book of Job, Lond. and Edinb., 1862; [R. Humfry; The conflict of Job; a paraphrase, etc., 1607; Geo. Abbott: Exposition of the Book of Job, London, 1640;—Joseph, Caryl: Exposition, with practical observations on the Book of Job, London, 1648–66;—E. Leigh: Annotations on Job, London, 1657;—J. F. Sennault: A paraphrase on the book of Job, London, 1648; James Durham: Exposition of the book of Job, 1659;—Geo. Hutcheson: An exposition upon Job, being the sum of 316 lectures, Lond., 1669;—R. Blackmore: A paraphrase on the book of Job, London, 1700;—Z. Isham: Divine Philosophy; containing the books of Job, Proverbs and Wisdom, with explanatory notes, London, 1706;—T. Fenton: Annotations on the book of Job, and the Psalms, London, 1732;—S. Wesley: Dissertationes in librum Jobi, London, 1736;—R. Grey: Liber Jobi in versiculos metrice divisus, cum vers. Lat. A. Schult., etc., London, 1742;—L. Chappelow: A commentary on the Book of Job, in which is inserted the Heb. text and English translation, with a Paraphrase, etc., Cambridge, 1752;—T. Heath: An essay towards a new English version of the Book of Job, from the original Hebrew, with a commentary, etc.; Thomas Scott: The Book of Job in English verse, translated from the original Hebrew, with remarks, historical, critical and explanatory, London, 1771;—C. Garden: An improved version attempted of the Book of Job, with a preliminary dissertation and notes, critical and explanatory, London, 1796;—Stock (Bp.): The Book of Job metrically arranged according to the Masora, and newly translated into English; with notes, critical and explanatory, Bath, 1805;—Elizabeth Smith: The Book of Job, translated from the Hebrew, with a preface and annotations, by F. Randolph, D. D., London, 1870;—J. M. Good: The Book of Job, literally translated, etc., with notes critical and illustrative, and an introductory dissertation, London, 1812;—John Fry: A new translation and exposition of the very ancient Book of Job, with notes explanatory and philological, London, 1827;—G. R. Noyes: A new translation of the Book of Job, with an Introduction and Notes, etc., Cambridge, 1827, 2d Ed., Boston, 1838;—T. Wemyss: Job, and his Times, or a picture of the patriarchal age, etc., and a New Version, accompanied with Notes and Dissertations, London, 1839;—A. Tattam: Book of Job the Just in Coptic, with an English translation, 1846;—A. Jenour: Translation of the Book of Job, Lond., 1841;—T. J. Conant: The Book of Job, the common Eng. Vers., the Heb. text, and the revised version of the Amer. Bib. Union, with an Introduction and philological Notes, New York, 1857;—Chr. Wordsworth: The Book of Job, with Notes and Introduction, London, 1867, being Vol. IV. of The Holy Bible, with notes, etc.;—J. M. Rodwell: The Book of Job translated from the Hebrew, London, 1864;—H. H. Bernard: The Book of Job, edited by F. Chance, Vol. I., London, 1864;—24 A. Elzas: The Book of Job, translated, etc., with an Introd. and Notes, etc., London, 1872;—also the commy. of Canon Cook in the Bible (or Speaker’s Commentary), New York, 1874].

French Commentaries: Ernest Renan: Le livre de Job, traduit de l’ Hébreu, avec une Etude, etc., Paris, 1859.25

Jewish Commentaries:26Arnheim: Das Buch Hiob, 1836;—27 J. Wolfsohn, Das Buch Hiob, 1843;—28 Mor. Lowenthal: Hiob, Praktische Philosophie oder Darstellung der im Buch Hiob obwaltenden Ideen, nebst Uebersetzung und Kommentar, Frankfurt a. M. 1846;—Isr. Schwarz: Tikwath Enosh—see above I., B.

Expositions for practical edification: The Bibelwerke of Starcke, Joachim Lange, of Berleburg, of Fischer and Wohlfarth, O. v. Gerlach, Dächsel, [to which add here the English general commentaries of Patrick, Scott, Henry, Gill, Clarke, etc.], the Calwer Handbuch for the exposition of the Bible; the translations (with brief expository notes) of Böckel (see above), Gerh. Lange (1831), Justi (1840), Haupt (1847), Hosse (1849), Spiess (1852), Hayd (1859), Berkholz (1859), Jahr (see above), and others. Also J. Diedrich: Das Buch Job kurz erklärt für heilsbegierige aufmerksame Bibelleser, 1858;—F. W. S. Schwarz: Das B. Hiob, ein Kreuz—und Trost-Buch, Bremen, 1868,—Herm. Victor Andreä: Hiob. Klassisches Gedicht der Hebräer. Aus dem Grundtext nen übersetzt uud mit Anmerkungen zum tieferen Verständniss versehen, Barmen, 1870. Comp. also the Essay of A. F. C. Vilmar (in his Pastoral.-theolog. Blättern, 1866, Vol. XI., p. 57 seq.): Wie soll das Buch Hiob praktisch-erbaulich behandelt werden? [To the general English commentaries mentioned above may be added here, for practical uses, the particular commentaries of Caryl (of which besides the larger work, which is rare, there is an abridgement published in Edinb., 1836), Barnes and Wordsworth, mentioned above. Also the following:—Francis Quarles: Job militant, with meditations, divine and moral, 1624;—A. B. Evans: Lectures on the Book of Job, London, 1856;—W. H. Green: The Book of Job, New York, 1874].


a. Introductory and Critical.—Fr. Spanheim: Historia Jobi. sive de obscur. hist. commentat., Lugd. Bat. 1672;—C. Zeyss: Exegetische Einleitung in Hiob, edited by J. Rambach, Züllich, 1831;—Garnett: A dissertation on the Book of Job, etc., ed. 2, 1751;—Stuss: De Epopœia Jobæa commentt. III., Goth. 1753;—Lichtenstein: Num. lib. Job cum Odyssea Homeri comparari possit? Helmst. 1773;—D. Ilgen: Jobi antiquissimi carminis Hebr. natura et virtus, Lips. 1789;—J. Bellermann: Ueber den kunstvollen Plan im Buch Hiob, 1813;—Bernstein: Ueber das Alter, den Inhalt, den Zweck und die gegenwärtige Beschaffenheit des B. Hiob, in Keil and Tzschirner’s Analekten, etc., I. 3, 1813;—J. F. Krause: Lectionum versionis Alexandrinœ Jobi nondum satis examinaturam specimen, Regiomont. 1811;—Krehl: Observationes ad interpretes Græcos et Latinos vet. libr. Job, I., Lips. 1834;—M. Sachs; Zur Charakteristik und Erläuterung des Buches Job, in Theol. Studd. und Kritt., 1834, IV.;—A. Knobel: De carminis Jobi argumento, fine, ac dispositione, 1835;—29 Dav. Friedländer: Ueber die Idee des B. Hiob, und die Zeit der Abfassung desselben, 1845;—W. Gleiss: Beiträge zur Kritik des Buches Hiob, 1845;—H. Hupfeld: Commentatio in quosdam Jobeidos locos, 1853 (also in the Deut. Zeitschrift fur christl. Wissensch., etc., 1850, No. 35 seq.);—Hengstenberg: Das Buch Hiob, ein Vortrag., 1856;—G. Baur: Das Buch Hiob und Dante’s göttl. Komödie, eine Parallele in studd. und Kritt. 1856, III,;—Schneider: Neueste Studien über das B. Hiob, in the Deutsche Zeitschr. f. christl. Wissensch., etc., 1859, No. 27 seq.;—Fries: Ueber den grundlegenden Theil des Buches Hiob, in the Jahrbucher fur deutsche Theol., 1859, IV.;—Räbiger: De libri Jobi sententia primari, Vratisl. 1860;—Simson: Zur Kritik das B. Hiob, 1861;—Seinecke: Der Grundgedanke des Buches Hiob, 1863;—Herm. Schulz: Zu den kirchlichen Fragen der Gegenwart, No. Job 3:0 : Das Buch Hiob in seiner Bedeutung fur unsre Zeit, Frankfurt, 1869;—E. Reuss: Das Buch Hiob, ein Vortrag., Strassburg, 1869;—W. Volck: De summa carminis Jobi sententia, Dorpat, 1870; B. Schmitz: Der Ideengang des B. Hiob (Greifswalder Gymnasial-programm), 1870.

b. Exegetical.—Abr. Hinckelmann: Jobi theologia evangelica, Hamb. 1687;—J. W. Baier: Systema mundi Jobæum (ex. cap. 26), 1707;—J. W. Baier: Behemoth et Leviathan ex Job XL., XLI., etc., Altdorf, 1708;—Erläuterung einiger Stellen des Hiob, Herborn, 1713;—T. Hasäus: De Leviathan Jobi et Jonæ, Bremen, 1723; C. Scheuchzer: Jobi Physica Sacra, oder Hiobs Naturwissenschaft verglichen mit der heutigen, Zûrich, 1721;—Winter: De Behemoth, Havn. 1722;—J. J. Reiske: Conjecturæ in Jobum et Proverbia, Lips. 1779;—K. C. R. Eckermann: Animadversiones in librum Job, Lubec. 1779;—Exegetische und kritische Versuche über die schwersten Stellen des B. Hiob. I. 1, Leipzig, 1801;—J. H. F. v. Autenrieth: Ueber das Buch Hiob, Tûbingen, 1823;—T. Fockens: Pulchra Jobeidos loca commentata. Amstel. 1844;—C. W. G. Köstlin: De immortalitatis spe, quæ in l. Jobi apparere dicitur, 1846;—F. Bottcher: Æhrenlese und Neue Æhrenlese (see above);—R. Rûetschi: Exegetische Bemerkungen Zum Buch Hiob, mit bes. Rücksicht auf Delitzsch Kommentar, in Studd. und Kritt. 1867, I.—For the special literature on Job 19:25-27 (the passage respecting the Goel) see below in the history of the exposition of this section (Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on Job 19:0., No. 1). [The more important English monographs, articles, dissertations, etc., on the book and its contents are the following: John Campbell: Of the history of Job, reflections on the philosophy and religion of those times, etc., in Hist. of the Bible, I. 145;—Wm. Warburton (Bp.): The Divine Legation of Moses demonstrated, Book VI., Sect. II.; in Works Vol. V., London, 1811;—W. Magee (Abp ): Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural Doctrine of Atonement and Sacrifice, 1801, and Philad. 1825;—W. Hodges: Elihu; or an Inquiry into the principal scope and design of the Book of Job; London, 1750;—C. Costard: Some Observations tending to illustrate the Book of Job, and particularly Job IX. 25, London, 1747;—C. Peters: A critical dissertation on the Book of Job (chiefly in reply to Warburton), London, 1757;—J. Garnett: A dissertation on the Book of Job, etc., London, 1749;—G. Croly: The Book of Job, Edinb. 1863; R. Lowth (Bp.): Lectures on Heb. Poetry (Lect. XXXII–XXXIV.);—Isaac Taylor: Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, New York, 1861;—Horne’s Introduction to the Holy Scriptures (4 Vols., Lond. 1863), Vol. II., p. 666 seq.;—J. G. Palfrey: Lectures on the Jewish Scriptures and Antiquities, Vol. IV., p. 217 seq., Boston, 1852;—Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopœdia, Art. “Job” by Hengstenberg;—Smith’s Bib. Dictionary, Hackett & Abbott’s Ed. Art. “Job” by Canon Cook;—McClintock & Strong’s Cyclopœdia, Art. “Job;” Kitto’s Daily Bib. Illustr. Evening 1;—Horne’s Introduction to the Holy Scriptures, Vol. II., p. 666 seq., London, 1863;—G. Croly: The Book of Job, Edinb. 1863;—Princeton Review, Vol. XXIX., p. 281 seq.;—J. A. Froude: The Book of Job, in Short Studies on Great Subjects; reprinted from Westminster Review, 1853; Spirituality of the Book of Job, as exhibited in a Commy. on chap, 14., etc.; Art. by T. Lewis in Bib. Sacra, Vol. VI., p. 265 seq.;—E. P. Barrowes: Interpretation of Job 28:0. in Bib. Sac., Vol. X., p. 264 seq.;—Hirzel’s Introduction, translated in Bib. Sac. VII. 383;—Vaihinger’s Art. on The Date of the Book of Job, from the Stud. u. Krit., reprinted in Bibl. Repository, Third Series, Vol. III., p. 174;—G. B. Bacon: The Gospel according to Job, in New Englander, Vol. XXI., p. 764seq.]


[1]Hengstenberg (Beiträge zur Einl. ins. A T., II. 302 seq.) explains the course of the Israelitish author of the book in placing the action in a foreign land, on the ground that it is his purpose “to solve the problem from the standpoint of that knowledge of God which prevails among men universally and outside of the theocracy.” This is not incorrect in so far as it is in fact very obviously the poet’s aim to stamp an extra-Israelitish character on the whole action and discussion (comp. § 5, together with the Note). But to say that from beginning to end he invented his material, that he imagined a pious man like Job, belonging to the heathen land of Uz, a personality such as in fact could not have existed within the bounds of heathenism, this is a supposition improbable in itself, which has one points of support in the book itself, and no analogies in the remaining religious literature of that remote antiquity.

[2]That the Koran furnishes traditional intelligence about Job (comp. Note on § 1), that. in consequence thereof families of distinction among the ancient Arabians were wont to give the name Job to those connected with them, or to boat of their descent from the pious patriarch of that name, that in Arabia down to the Fourth Century of our era the supposed grave of the pious sufferer was the scene of religious pilgrimages and observances, and that even in modern times not less than six different places in the East have put forth claims to be the genuine burial-places of Job (comp. Jahn, Einleitung, II. 761 seq.; Winer, Reallexikon, I. 493; J. C. Wetstein in the Appendix to Delitzsch’s Commy.; G. Flügel, Hiob bei den Muhamedanern in Ersch & Gruber’s Encyclopädie)—all this of course deserves no consideration as a means of enlarging or elucidating our historical information concerning Job. Of just as little value in this respect in the long appendix to Job 42:17 found in the LXX.

[3]Such in substance is the plan of the poem as conceived by most moderns, who maintain the genuineness of Elihu’s discourses, especially Hahn, p. 4 Seq.; Delitzsch, I., p. 15; Schlottmann, p. 20 seq. If the genuineness of the discourses referred to be controverted, the analysis of the whole poem would receive only one unessential modification, to wit, that one of the constituents which prepare the way for the final solution must be omitted, a constituent, however, which is highly conspicuous and influential. Compare e.g. the following analysis by Dillmann (p. 18 seq.), which is on the whole closely related to that given above: “Forasmuch as the history here set forth is the history of a controversy, the whole resolves itself into three divisions: the opening, the entanglement, the solution.—In the opening of the problem (Job 1-3), the piety and the prosperity of the hero are briefly set forth, a glance is given at a transaction taking place in heaven between God and Satan, in which a decision is formed affecting Job’s destiny, and then in rapid succession are described the calamities which swept away his prosperity, and the believing resignation of the sufferer, which does not give way under the sneers of his wife, and which only after the advent of the three friends and their gloomy silence is driven into an expression of captious complaint and doleful despair.—The entanglement (Job 4-28), by virtue of the fact that the friends now enter into a colloquy with Job, shapes itself into a controversial discussion between him and them. On the part of Job, however, this discussion reveals at the same time an inward soul-struggle, in which he must work his way up out of the errors of superstition and unbelief back again to sobriety of thought and a right belief. Not until he has brought his faith and his religion out of this struggle, not only unharmed, but inwardly strengthened, can the solution follow. Here we have, as the first step, the hero on whom the burden of his sad destiny still presses heavily, setting forth in a long discourse, or soliloquy, the perplexing enigma, that he should have been cast down out of his former state of favor and prosperity into his present misery, although he could solemnly affirm that he had not permitted himself any, not even the slightest departure from God’s ways in thought, word or deed, and earnestly yearning for a ray of divine light, and for deliverance (Job 29-31). Whereupon God then appears to the tired sufferer, at first, however, only in order, through the majesty of His divine appearance, and His lofty divine discourse, to lead him freely and voluntarily to take back and repent of his presumptuous sinful speeches, which he had delivered in the heat of the struggle (Job 38:1 to Job 42:6). Only when thus humbled and purified by penitence, does God now expressly vindicate him as against the friends, deliver him, and endow him anew with greater prosperity (Job 42:7-17). This decision in actual life carries with it also the solution of the theoretical questions involved: it is proved that even an innocent man may suffer for his own good, and for the furtherance of his spiritual life.”—So also Ewald in his elaborate exhibition of the inward progress of the poem (p. 25 seq.).

[4][The same may be said of the criticisms of Renan, Hengstenberg and Merx, which otherwise are interesting and suggestive. “The Shemites,” says the former, “were unacquainted with those species of poetry which are founded on the development of an action, the epopee, the drama, as well as with those forms of speculation which are founded on the experimental or rational method, philosophy, science. Their poetry is the canticle; their philosophy is the parable (Mashal). Their style lacks the period, as their thought lacks the syllogism. Enthusiasm, and reflection as well, express themselves with them in brief and vivid strokes, for which it is needless to seek anything analogous in the rhetorical arrangement of the Greeks and the Latins. The poem of Job is beyond contradiction the most ancient chef-d’æuvre of that rhetoric, as on the contrary the Koran is the specimen which stands nearest to us. We must abandon all comparison between forms of treatment and movement so far removed from our taste, and the solid and continuous texture of classic works. The action, the regular march of the thought, which are line of Greek compositions, are here wanting entirely. But a vivacity of imagination, a force of concentrated passion, to which nothing can be compared, shoot forth, if I may say so, into a thousand scintillations, and make every line a discourse or a thesis (philosophéme) complete in itself,” Le Livre de Job, introductory Etude, p 63 seq.]

[5]Comp. Ewald, p. Job 57: “Whether Goethe’s Faust is to be compared with this book or not, does not need to be considered here; so much however is clear that without the Book of Job its brilliant opening scene would never have been what it is.” See also Baur, l. c., 588 seq. [and for a comparison of the two poems, see Merx, 33–34 and Froude, Short Studies, p. 268 seq.]

[6]See in Schlottmann, p. 18 seq. an analysis of the legend of Hariçtschandra, according to these more recent sources, and especially of a drama in the modern Hindû popular dialect, extracts from which have been furnished by Roberts (Oriental Illustrations, p. 257 seq.). According to this authority the fundamental idea common to both these productions, the Job-legend and this Hindû poem, seems to be that “the righteous man can obtain the victory with the powers of temptation which advance against him out of the unseen world of spirits.” A still more particular point of correspondence lies in the fact that “all the temptations which befall Hariçtschandra aim at extorting from him the one falsehood that he had not promised the high reward for the offering presented to the gods by Viçmâmitra (Çiva);”—precisely as in the Book of Job Satan is ever on the watch for the one word, by which the sorely tried suffered is to bid God farewell, and to renounce His service. It is true that our Bible poem represents with incomparably greater depth and purity the inward truth of the sufferer triumphing over these temptations.

[7][It is, however, a curious error on the part of our author to assign the last two writers to this class, seeing that Delitzsch seriously questions, and Davidson decidedly rejects, the genuineness of Elihu’s discourses.]

[8][See Conant’s refutation of this theory, Introd., p. 15.].

[9]Comp. the remarks o Jul. Fürst, Gesch. der biblischen Literatur und des jüdisch-hellenistinschen Schriftthums, I., p. Job 37:0 : “As a whole it (the Hebrew language) shows so great stability and unchangeableness, such a stamp of uniformity, that after the period of antiquity no essential modification of it, such as is found in the Indo-European language, can be recognized.” And a little further on: “The differences in the three periods of the language affect at most its coloring … not the essential structure of the language. An actual progress of the language is accordingly not to be recognized.

[10]In respect to the linguistic affinity of our book to the writings of the Solomonic age, and particularly the Proverbs, comp. Michaelis (Einleitung I, 92 seq.); Gesenius (Geschichte der hebräischen Sprache und Schrift, p. 33 seq.); Rosenmüller (Schol., p. 38); Hävernick (Einleitung III. 353 seq.); also Vaihinger and Hahn in their Commentaries.

[11]Comp. Hahn, p. Job 25:0 : “Since the contents of our book are profoundly related to the internal development of the theocracy, while the idea of the connection between sin and suffering, which is objectively advanced by Moses in a form that is altogether general, meets us here not in this general form, not in that one-sided conception of it which is most nearly related to it, but in a new and broader interpretation, which involves an advance beyond the original form, the book cannot be regarded as having been produced before Moses, nor by Moses, but in a much later period.”

[12]Comp. Delitzsch, I., p. Job 21:0 : “The book bears throughout the creative stamp of that opening period of the Chokmah,—of that Solomonic age of knowledge and art, of deeper thought respecting revealed religion, and of intelligent progressive culture of the traditional forms of art,—that unprecedented age, in which the literature corresponded to the summit of glorious magnificence to which the kingdom of the promise had then attained … a time when the chasm between Israel and the nations was more than ever bridged over … a time introductory to the extension of redemption, and the triumph of the religion of Israel, and the union of all nations in faith in the God of love.”

[13] So Dean Stanley: “The Sacred Serpent, the symbol of the Divine Presence, had been treated contemptuously as a mere serpent, a mere piece of brass, and nothing more.”

[14] It is at least a little curious that except in Genesis 42:23, the word מֵלִיץ is found only in Job, in Isaiah once (Job 43:27), and in 2 Chronicles 32:31 of the envoys of the king of Babylon to Hezekiah.

[15] It is a mistaken and misleading view that is taken by Hengstenberg (Beiträge II., 302 seq.), when he explains the poet’s motive for using the name Jehovah in the Prologue, and the other names of God in the poem itself, to be his purpose “to present the solution of his problem not from the standpoint of revelation, but from that of natural theology.” Against which Hahn rightly remarks (p. 12), that, on the contrary, the discourse of God is introduced for the very purpose of showing that natural human wisdom cannot decide the controversy. The reason which he himself assigns for this contrasted use of the various names of God, is not altogether a suitable one; to wit, that in the prologue and epilogue God bears the name Jehovah as the manifested God, who even in the apparently mysterious afflictions of His people nevertheless deals graciously and lovingly, whereas on the contrary in the poem itself He appears as the concealed God, who in His mysterious ways confronts man as a stranger, and in His omnipotence as highly exalted above the world, and who accordingly is called Elohim, Eloah, or Shaddai. The poet himself scarcely makes so artificial a distinction.

[16] Comp. Keil, Introduction, I. 494 seq., as well as the following remark of Rosenmüller, there cited (Schol. p. 46): You have a work incomplete in every part, a mere collection of speeches, of whose cause, subject and object you are ignorant, if you take away the exordium and conclusion.

[17] Hävernick says rightly (p. 366): “If, however, it might seem in view of this (i.e. in view of what is advanced by Job in Job 27:11 seq.) that the opponents of Job are in the right, this misconception is obviated by Job 28:0. From the concession in Job 27:0 it does not at all follow that we are to imitate the friends in their precipitate external way of judging and condemning. By so doing we overlook entirely the limits of human knowledge in relation to the divine wisdom. Accordingly Job 28:0 proceeds to eulogize this wisdom in its secret depths, which no human research can fathom. For man the true possession of this wisdom consists in genuine godliness (Job 28:28 again connecting with Job 27:0), not in that immoderate conduct of the friends, by which they in fact put themselves in the place of God.” Comp. also the remarks of Bouillier (Observationes miscell., p. 255 seq.), and of Hirzel [pp. 161, 269], quoted by Hävernick.

[18] Comp. in my Theologia naturalis (Frankfurt a. M. 1860) the Section on p. 239 seq.: “The aid furnished by the exact natural sciences in enlarging the Scriptural symbolical observation of nature,” where, with express reference to the section of the book of Job now under consideration the idea is developed of an amplification and a multiplication of the æsthetic judgments respecting the theological significance of natural phenomena which come to us through the figures and comparisons of the Holy Scriptures. See especially p. Job 240: “Does not the æsthetic verdict of Holy Scripture delivered in Job 40:20 to Job 41:25 respecting the leviathan, i.e., the crocodile of the Nile, extend also to the monster alligators of America, and the gavial of the Ganges? Are we not compelled even to apply that which the Old Testament and the New Testament in so many passages say respecting the strength and rapacity of the lion, to the tiger both of the East Indies and of South America, of which no mention is made in the Bible? And would not this latter animal furnish us a still more striking image in many respects of the malice and rage of the soul-destroying arch-fiend, than the lion, according to 1 Peter 5:8?” etc.—See further on the subject below in Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on chaps. 40 and 41.

[19] Commentary, Vol. II., p. Job 309: “There are neither linguistic, nor any other valid reasons in favor of assigning it to a much later period. He is the second issuer of the book, possibly the first, who brought to light the hitherto hidden treasure, enriched by his own insertion, which is inestimable in its relation to the history of the knowledge of the plan of redemption.” Comp. also § 9, Vol. I., p. 26, of the Introduction, and also the pamphlet: “Für und wider Kahnis,” 1863, p. 14.

[20] Hahn’s assertion, that Elihu, so far from speaking on the side of God, simply repeats in substance the accusations of the three friends against Job; that he is accordingly intentionally ignored by Jehovah, and “thereby put in the position of one who had spoken as though he had not spoken” (p. 20), is refuted more specifically below in the Commy. Here we would simply call attention beforehand to the consideration how greatly the difficulty of defending the discourses of Elihu is increased by so exaggerating the inadequacy and defectiveness of the solution of the problem attempted by Elihu, and generally speaking, by so unfavorable a verdict on Elihu’s stand-point and character (such as is found in Hahn, and formerly in Herder and Umbreit).

[21] Comp. also the words of Pareau in his Commy. here appropriately cited by Hävernick: “For since the author’s own plan requires that we should look on Elihu as having come to Job, not that he might speak himself, but that being younger in years, he might hear others speak (Job 32:4-7), the author wisely and suitably resolved not to mention him before necessity required it. Neither was there any need for making any mention of him in the epilogue, seeing that in the whole argument and plan of his discourses there was nothing which merited rebuke. Nay more, they are as a whole honorably confirmed by the whole tenor of God’s discourses; and in causing this honor to be conferred on Elihu in fact rather than in words, the author shows an exquisite regard for propriety which I cannot help recognizing.”

[22] In respect to the low value of the Alexandrian version of the book of Job see Delitzsch (Commy. I., p. 35): “It is just the Greek translation of the book of Job which suffers most seriously from the flaws which in general affect the Septuagint. Whole verses are omitted, others are removed from their original places, and the omissions are filled up by apocryphal additions.” See more fully the work of G. Bickell: De indole ac ratione versionis Alexandrinæ in interpretando libro Jobi, Marburgi, 1863; also the Dissertations of Krause and Krehl, mentioned below in the “Monographic Literature,” a.—In respect to the Latin versions of Job current in the Ancient Church, viz. the Itala before Jerome, the Itala as revised by Jerome after the Hexaplar text of Origen, and Jerome’s translation in the Vulgate, rendered independently from the original text—see Delitzsch, l. c., and my book on Jerome, p. 181 seq.—In respect to the Syrian translation of Job in the Peshito, made from the original text, and also in respect to the later version of the same after the Hexaplar text by Paul of Tela, about 620, comp. Delitzsch (I., p. 36), Middeldorpf: Curæ hexaplares in Jobum, 1817; also the last edition of the Syro-Hexaplar version, 1834–35.

[23] The works indicated by a † proceed from Catholic, those by a from Jewish, all the rest from evangelical commentators.

[24] Comp. the sharp criticism of this work by the Abbe Crelier: Le livre de Job vengé des interpretationes fausses et impies de M. Ernest Renan, Paris, 1860.