Book of Job

The Book of Job (, various interpolations have been claimed to have been made in the text of the central poem. The most common such claims are of two kinds: the "parallel texts", which are parallel developments of the corresponding passages in the base text, and the speeches of Elihu (Chapters 32-37), which consist of a polemic against the ideas expressed elsewhere in the poem, and so are claimed to be interpretive interpolations. The speeches of Elihu (who is not mentioned in the prologue) are claimed to contradict the fundamental opinions expressed by the 'friendly accusers' in the central body of the poem, according to which it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin. Elihu, however, reveals that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity.

The status of Elihu's interrupting didactic sermon is brought further into question by his extremely sudden appearance and disappearance from the text; he is not mentioned in Job 2:11, in which Job's friends are introduced, nor is he mentioned at all in the epilogue, 42:7-10, in which God expresses anger at Job's friends. It is suggested that had Elihu appeared in the original source, his spirited and virtuous defence of the divine right to punish would have been rewarded by God in the conclusion, or at the very least mentioned. Additionally, Elihu's first spoken words are a confession of his youthful status, being much younger than the three canonical friends, including a claim to be speaking because he cannot bear to remain silent; it has been suggested that this interesting statement may have been symbolic of a 'younger' (that is to say, later and interpolating) writer, who has written Elihu's sermon to respond to what he views as morally and theologically scandalous statements being made within the book of Job, and creating the literary device of Elihu to provide what seemed to be a much-needed faith-based response to further refute heresy and provide a satisfying counter-argument, a need partially provided by God's ambiguous and unspecific response to Job at the end of the book.

Subjects of further contention among scholars are the identity of claimed corrections and revisions of Job's speeches, which are claimed to have been made for the purpose of harmonizing them with the orthodox doctrine of retribution. A prime example of such a claim is the translation of the last line Job speaks (42:6), which is extremely problematic in the Hebrew. Traditional translations have him say, "Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." This is consonant with the central body of the poem and Job's speeches, other mortal encounters with the divine in the Bible (Isaiah in Chapter 6, for example), and the fact that there would have been no restoration without Job's humble repentant acknowledgment of mortality faced with divinity in all its majesty and glory. However, other scholarly interpretations of this verse also exist [ (for example)]

Particular verses

From , the behavior of Job's comforters, who kept silence until he spoke to them, is the source for a norm applicable to contemporary traditional Jewish practice, that visitors to a house of mourning should not speak to the mourner until they are spoken to. [ [] ]

Liturgical use

In most traditions of Jewish liturgy, the Book of Job is not read publicly in the manner of the Pentateuch, Prophets, or megillot. However, there are some Jews, particularly the Spanish-Portuguese, who do hold public readings of the Book of Job on the Tisha B'Av fast (a day of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples and other tragedies).

The cantillation signs for the large poetic section in the middle of the Book of Job differ from those of most of the biblical books, using a system shared with it only by Psalms and Proverbs. A sample of how the cantillations are chanted is found below.

Many quotes from the Book of Job are used throughout Jewish liturgy, especially at funerals and times of mourning.

Philosophical approach

Maimonides, a twelfth century rabbi, discusses Job in his work The Guide for the Perplexed. According to Maimonides (III 22–23), each of Job's friends represents famous, distinct schools of thought concerning God and divine providence.

Bildad, for example, portrays the standard Jewish view, as well as the Islamic Mu'tazili view, that righteousness is rewarded by God (Job 8:6-8), although one may have to be patient for the reward to come. Therefore, if Job is righteous, as he claims to be, God will reward him eventually.

Moreover, Job reflects the view of Aristotle, that God destroys the innocent and the wicked together (Job 9). If Job held this point of view, then he did not believe in divine providence, even if he did believe in God's existence.

According to Maimonides, the correct view of providence lies with Elihu, who teaches Job that one must examine his/her religion (Job 33). This view corresponds with the notion that "the only worthy religion in the world is an examined religion." A habit religion, such as that originally practiced by Job, is never enough. One has to look deep into the meaning of religion in order to fully appreciate it and make it a genuine part of one's life. Elihu believed in the concepts of divine providence, rewards to individuals, as well as punishments. He believed, according to Maimonides, that one has to practice religion in a rational way. The more one investigates religion, the more he/she will be rewarded or find it rewarding. In the beginning, Job was an unexamining, pious man, not a philosopher, and he didn't have providence. He was unwise, simply grateful for what he had. God, according to Elihu, did not single out Job for punishment, but rather abandoned him and let him be dealt with by natural, unfriendly forces.

Conversely, in more recent times, Russian existentialist philosopher Lev Shestov viewed Job as the embodiment of the battle between reason (which offers general and seemingly comforting explanations for complex events) and faith in a personal god, and one man's desperate cry for him. In fact, Shestov used the story of Job as a central signifier for his core philosophy (the vast critique of the history of Western philosophy, which he saw broadly as a monumental battle between Reason and Faith, Athens and Jerusalem, secular and religious outlook):

"The whole book is one uninterrupted contest between the 'cries' of the much-afflicted Job and the 'reflections' of his rational friends. The friends, as true thinkers, look not at Job but at the 'general.' Job, however, does not wish to hear about the 'general'; he knows that the general is deaf and dumb - and that it is impossible to speak with it. 'But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God' (13:3). The friends are horrified at Job's words: they are convinced that it is not possible to speak with God and that the Almighty is concerned about the firmness of his power and the unchangeability of his laws but not about the fate of the people created by him. Perhaps they are convinced that in general God does not know any concerns but that he only rules. That is why they answer, 'You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you or the rock be removed from its place?' (18:4). And, indeed, shall rocks really be removed from their place for the sake of Job? And shall necessity renounce its sacred rights? This would truly be the summit of human audacity, this would truly be a 'mutiny,' a 'revolt' of the single human personality against the eternal laws of the all-unity of being!" (Speculation and Apocalypse).

Mystical approach

According to the mystical approach, Job is being punished because he is a heretic. One reason why Job can be seen as a heretic is because in Chapter 3, he automatically assumed and was convinced that he did not sin and God therefore has no right to punish him. Another reason why Job can be viewed as a heretic is because he did not believe in reincarnation. He believes that once a person dies, it is all over for him/her, without any mention of an afterlife.

According to Job, who reflected the views of Aristotle, God gave the world over to astrology. This is evident in Job's lamentation, "Curse the day I was born on" (3:2) Job cursed his birthday because he believed that his birthday was bad luck, in the astrological sense. Given the context of the passage, it is more likely that this phrase refers to Job wishing he'd never been born at all.

According to Nachmanides, Job's children did not die in the beginning of the story, but rather were taken captive and then return from captivity by the end of the story.

In Christianity

Christians accept the Book of Job as part of the Old Testament canon. The character of Job is also mentioned in the New Testament, as an example of perseverance in suffering (; Heb. 12:5, Jas. 1:12, and Rev. 3:19 all parallel ; compare Heb. 2:6 with ; Rom. 11:33 parallels ; compare 1 Pet. 1:24 with ; compare 1 John 3:2 with ; Mt. 25:42 alludes to ; Heb. 4:13 parallels ; 1 Jo. 1:9 alludes to ; Mt. 6:26 alludes to believe that Job was like a replica of Jesus who suffered an astonishing amount of pain.

Liturgical use

The Eastern Orthodox Church reads from Job during Holy Week.

Alexander Schmemann, "A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week"

The Roman Catholic Church traditionally reads from the Book of Job during Matins in the first two weeks of September. In the revised Liturgy of the Hours, Job is read during the Eighth and Ninth Weeks in Ordinary Time.

In Islam

In the Qur'an, Job is known as Ayyūb (Arabic: أيوب ) and is considered a prophet in Islam. In the Arabic language the name "Ayyūb" is symbolic of the virtue of patience, though it does not mean patience in itself. He is mentioned in several passages in the Qur'an.

In Palestinian folk tradition, Ayyub's place of trial is Al-Joura, a village outside the town of Al Majdal (Ashkelon). It was there, God rewarded him with a Fountain of Youth that removed whatever illnesses he had, and restored his youth. The town of Al-Joura was a place of annual festivities (4 days in all) when people of many faiths gathered and bathed in a natural spring.

In Turkey, Job is known as Eyüp, and he is supposed to have lived in Şanlıurfa.

There is also a tomb of Job outside the city of Salalah in Oman.

References to Ayyub (Job) in the Qur'an

*Job's prophecy: [ 4:163] , [ 6:84]
*Trial and patience: [ 21:83] , [ 21:84] , [ 38:41]

Modern approaches to Job

*Adam's Apples,(Adams Æbler) Danish film from 2005
*Carl Jung, "Answer to Job" (1952) ["Answer to Job" in Psychology and Religion, v.11, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Princeton. It was first published as "Antwort auf Hiob", Zürich, 1952 and translated into English in 1954, in London.]
*G. K. Chesterton, "The Man Who Was Thursday"
*Harold Kushner, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People"
*C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
*Henry M. Morris, "The Remarkable Record of Job"
*James Morrow, "Blameless in Abaddon"
*Joseph Roth, "Job"
*Neil Simon, "God's Favorite"
*Robert Frost, "A Masque of Reason"
*Elie Wiesel, "Night"
*Archibald MacLeish, J.B.
*David Adams Richards, "Mercy among the Children"
*Robert A. Heinlein, ""
*William Safire, "The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today's Politics"
*Cartmanland, "an episode of South Park".

References in art and music

*William Blake famously illustrated the Book of Job, including imagery of Satan.
*Ralph Vaughan Williams' orchestral work, "" was directly inspired by Blake's work.
*Sir Peter Maxwell Davies composed an oratorio, "Job", focusing on the moral questions it raises.
*Brett Gurewitz, "Sorrow (Bad Religion song)"
*Disturbed, "Prayer (song)"
* The Book of Job is mentioned in the movie ""
* The Golden Gate Quartet have a song about Job []
*The Stephen King original miniseries Storm of the Century mentions the story of Job when the main character tries to lighten the spirits of a group by joking about the story, saying that when Job asked God why He let Satan ruin his life, the Lord replied, "Job, I guess there's just something about you that pisses Me off!"
*Danish movie Adam's Apples is loosely based upon the Book of Job
*Ned Flanders says he feels like Job in Hurricane Neddy. Reverend Lovejoy states his belief that Job was right-handed.


*Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr, and Edward Cook, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation", (1996), HarperSanFrancisco paperback 1999, ISBN 0-06-069201-4, (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls)

External links

*Jewish translations:
** [ Iyov - Job (Judaica Press)] translation with Rashi's commentary at
*Christian translations:
** [ An online, searchable, self-referential concordance to the Authorised King James Version]
*Other translations:
** [ The Trial of Job] (translation as drama with hyperlinked notes)
** [ The Book Of Job The Musical] (translation as musical)
*Jewish Cantillations
** [ "Sephardic Cantillations for the Book of Job"] by David M. Betesh and the Sephardic Pizmonim Project

Related articles:
* [ "Excerpts from "Answer to Job" by Carl Jung"]
* [ "Jewish Encyclopedia":] Job; "Book of Job"
* [ "Easton's Bible Dictionary," 1897] : Job; "Book of Job"
* [ "Short Articles on the Book of Job"] : Bill Long
* [ "Putting God on Trial- The Biblical Book of Job"] by Robert Sutherland A complete online commentary.
* [ Job at the Catholic Encyclopedia]
* [ Biblical Job: A Vision of God]
* [ Exegetical Paper on Job 19:23-27] by Rudolph E. Honsey
* [,M1 The Paramount Lesson of Job: God's Glory Magnified by Faith Triumphant over Tribulation] by J.T. Mueller
* [ A Proposed Connection between Job and Tobias, Tobit's son]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Book of Job — noun a book in the Old Testament containing Job s pleas to God about his afflictions and God s reply • Syn: ↑Job • Instance Hypernyms: ↑book • Part Holonyms: ↑Hagiographa, ↑Ketubim, ↑Writings, ↑Old Testame …   Useful english dictionary

  • William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job — (published 1826) is a series of twenty two engraved prints illustrating the biblical Book of Job. It is considered to be Blake s greatest masterpiece in the medium of the visual arts [cite book |last=Schoenherr |first= |title= |date=1997 |pages=… …   Wikipedia

  • JOB, BOOK OF — (named for its hero (Heb. אִיּוֹב), ancient South Arabian and Thamudic yʾb; Old Babylonian Ayyābum, Tell el Amarna tablet, no. 256, line 6, A ia ab; either from yʾb, to bear ill will or compounded of ay where? and ʾab (divine) father ), one of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Job — • One of the books of the Old Testament, and the chief personage in it Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Job     Job     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Job: A Comedy of Justice —   …   Wikipedia

  • Job — may refer to:* a joe (role) served by a person or thing: ** Employment, where a person is in a long term relationship performing a service for an employer ** Occupation (economic), where a person performs a certain role over a long period ***… …   Wikipedia

  • Job's Daughters International — is a Masonic sponsored youth organization for girls aged 10 to 20. The organization is commonly referred to as simply Job s Daughters or Jobies, and is sometimes abbreviated and referred to as JDI (or IOJD, the original initialism).Job s… …   Wikipedia

  • Job — m Biblical name, borne by the eponymous hero of the Book of Job, a man of exemplary patience, whose faith was severely tested by God s apparently motiveless maltreatment of him. His name, appropriately enough, means ‘persecuted’ in Hebrew. His… …   First names dictionary

  • Job (Bible) — Jobe (IPA|/ dʒoʊb/; Hebrew Name|אִיּוֹב|Iyyov|ʾIyyôḇ ; Arabic: أَيُّوبٌ, ArabDIN|ʾ Ayoub ), is a character in the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible, as well as a prophet in Islam. In brief, the book begins with an introduction to Job s character… …   Wikipedia

  • Book of Proverbs — Hebrew Bible Tanakh …   Wikipedia

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