INTRODUCTION TO JOB
This book, in the Hebrew copies, generally goes by this name, from Job, who is however the subject, if not the writer of it. In the Vulgate Latin version it is called "the Book of Job"; in the Syriac version, the Writing of Job; and in the Arabic, the Writing or Book of Job the Just. In some Hebrew Bibles it stands between the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon; but, according to the TalmudistsF1T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. , it should stand between the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon. Some have made a question of it, whether there ever was such a man as Job, and suppose this book not to be a real history, or to contain matters of fact, but to be written under fictitious names, and to be parabolical, and that it is designed to set forth an example of patience in suffering affliction; and some of the Jewish writersF2Ibid. fol. 15. 1. affirm, that Job never was in being, and that this book is a parable, apologue, or fable; and to this MaimonidesF3Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22. himself inclines; but this opinion is justly rejected by Aben Ezra, Peritsol, and others; for that there was such a man is as certain as that there were such men as Noah and Daniel, with whom he is mentioned by the Prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 14:14 and the testimony of the Apostle James is full to this purpose, who speaks of him as a person well known, and not to be doubted of; of whom, and of whose patience, the Jews he writes to had heard much, James 5:11 besides, the names of the countries where he and his friends lived, the account given of his family, and of his substance, both before and after his afflictions, show it to be a real history. Learned men are not agreed about the signification of his name; according to JeromF4Prooem. in Job, Quaest. Heb. in Lib. Paralipom. fol. 82. , it signifies a magician, taking it to be the same with אוב, "ob": and some Jewish writersF5T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 11. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 1. place him with Balaam and Jethro, as the counsellors of Pharaoh against the Israelites, for which he was afflicted: the same ancient fathers render the word grieving and howling; others, as SpanheimF6Hist. Job, p. 61. , derive it from יאב, to "love" or "desire", and so it signifies desire or delight, and is the same with Desiderius or Erasmus; hence Job is called by SuidasF7In voce ιωβ. τριποθητος, exceeding desirable; but HillerusF8Onomastic. Sacr. p. 293, 852. , deriving it from the same root, makes it to signify just the reverse, "without desire"; or not desirable; and supposes it to be a compound of יאוב, "desire", and איב, "not"; but the generality of writers derive it from איב, "to be at enmity", and so it signifies one that is exposed to the hatred and enmity of men, or one that is a hater and enemy of wicked men; or, as SchmidttF9Comment. in Job, i. 1. p. 6. interprets it, a man zealous for God, and showing hatred to wickedness and wicked men on his account. Who Job was, it is not easy to say; not the same with Jobab, of the race of Esau, as some, Genesis 36:33. AristeasF11Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 25. p. 430. says he was a son of Esau himself, by his wife Bessare, and was first called Jobam; nor the same with Job a son of Issachar, Genesis 46:13, nor was he a descendant of Abraham by Keturah; but rather sprung from Uz, the firstborn of Nahor, brother of Abraham, Genesis 22:21, who gave name to the country where Job lived, as Buz his brother did to that of which Elihu was, and as Chesed, another brother of Uz, did to the Chasdim or Chaldeans, who were both near to Job. It is also not agreed in what time Job lived; MaimonidesF12Ut supra. (Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22.) says, of their writers some place him in the times of the patriarchs, some in the times of Moses, others in the times of David, and others say that he was of the wise men of Babylon; and some add, that he was of them that came out of the captivity there, and had a school at Tiberias, as say the TalmudistsF13T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 3, 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 2. who give very different accounts of him: some say he was in the times of the judges; others in the times of the queen of Sheba; and others in the times of Ahasuerus; but the more general opinion is, and indeed the more probable, that he was born when the Israelites went down into Egypt, and that he was dead when they came from thenceF14T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 3, 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 57. fol. 50. 4. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 3. p. 8. Juchasin, fol. 9. 2. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 1. : in short, they place him almost in all the ages from Abraham to the Babylonish captivity, and after it; and even LutherF15Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 361. was of opinion that he lived in the times of Solomon, for which there is no more reason than for the rest: it seems most probable that he lived before MosesF16Origen contr. Cels. l. 6. p. 305. , at least before the giving of the law to him, since no mention is made of it in this book, nor any reference to it; whereas there is to things more ancient, as the general deluge, the burning of Sodom, &c. the law concerning sacrifices only to be offered by priests was not as yet given; for Job offered sacrifices as being the head of his family, and so did his three friends, Job 1:5. The length of his life best agrees with the times before Moses, for in his time the age of man was reduced to seventy years; whereas Job must live two hundred years or more, since he lived one hundred and forty after his restoration: add to this, that this book seems to have been written before any idolatry was in the world but the worship of the sun and moon, Job 31:25 and before there were any writings divinely inspired, since there is no appeal to any in the whole controversy between Job and his friends; but the appeal is made to men of years and wisdom, and to traditions of former times, Job 5:1. According to Dr. OwenF17Theologoumen. l. 3. c. 4. p. 188. Job lived three hundred and fifty years after the dispersion at Babel, about A. M. 2100. It is also greatly controverted who was the writer of this book; some ascribe the writing of it to Isaiah the prophet; others to Solomon, as LutherF18Ut supra, (Mensal. Colloqu.) c. 31. p. 359. ; others to one of the prophets who was an Idumaean; but most to Moses, so the JewsF19T. Hieros. Sotah, fol. 20. 4. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. & 15. 1. Jarchi in Job, 31. 35. say, that he wrote his own book, the section of Balaam, and Job. Some think that he wrote it when in Midian, for the comfort and encouragement of the Hebrews afflicted in Egypt at that time, and who might hope to be delivered out of their afflictions, as this good man was delivered out of his; and this, it is supposed, accounts for the use of many Arabic words in it; Midian being in Arabia, where Moses, having lived some years, had mixed their language with his own. Some are of opinion that he met with this book when in those parts, which he found either in the Arabic or Syriac language, and translated it into HebrewF20Vid. Origen. in Job, fol. 1. & Dickinson. Physic. vet. & vera, c. 19. sect. 27. p. 303. for the use of the Israelites; and others think it was written by Job's friends, and particularly by Elihu, which is concluded from Job 32:15, but it is most probable that it was written by Job himself, or at least compiled from his diary or "adversaria" kept by him, or from those of his friends, or from both, and that it was written in the language it is now in: but be it written by whom it may, there is no doubt to be made of the divine authority of it; as appears from the sublimity of the style, the subject matter of it, its agreement with other parts of the sacred writings, and particularly from a quotation of a passage out of Job 5:13 by the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:19 see also Job 5:17, compared with Hebrews 12:5. The design of it is not only in general to assert and explain the doctrine of Providence, as Maimonides observes; but in particular to show, that, though good men are afflicted, yet sooner or later they are delivered out of their afflictions; and that it becomes them to bear them patiently, and not murmur at them; nor complain of God on account of them, whose ways and works are unsearchable, and who gives no account of his matters to men, but is sovereign, wise, and just, in all he does; and whatsoever is done by him issues in the good of his people, as well as in his own glory, as the event shows. This book may be considered either as an history of the life of Job, in which an account is given of him in his prosperity; of his afflictions, and how they came upon him; of a visit paid him by his friends, and of the discourses that pass between him and them, and of his restoration to greater affluence than he enjoyed before: or as a drama or dialogue consisting of divers parts, and in which various speakers are introduced, as God, Satan, Job, his wife, and friends; or as a dispute, in which Job's three friends are the opponents, himself the respondent, Elihu the moderator, and God the umpire, who settled and determined the point in question. It contains many useful things in it concerning the Divine Being, and the perfections of his nature, his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and sovereignty; concerning the works of creation and providence; concerning original sin, and the corruption of mankind; concerning redemption by Christ, and good works to be done by men; and concerning the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. Some think Job was a type of Christ in his afflictions and sufferings; in his patience under them, and deliverance out of them; in his exaltation to an high pitch of happiness and prosperity; and in his intercession for his friends. He is in many things worthy of imitation, though in others to be blamed, and not followed; and, on the whole, this book of his may be read with great pleasure and profit.