Complete Study Of The Book Of Job


‘Why?’ This is the most frequently asked question in every generation, by the young and old, rich and poor, well and sick. The book of Job is an emotionally intense story of a despondent and suffering man grappling with this question, debating with himself, his fellowman, and his Maker.

To every person who has looked upon a lifeless form of a loved one and cried in anguish, why? To everyone who has experienced pain almost intolerable and asked the question, why?

To every parent who has received the dreaded message that a beloved child would never return home and has brokenheartedly questioned, why? To every who had despaired in disappointment over friends and loved ones and asked, why?

To all who have had their weary and wretched midnight hours. To all who have pondered the most perplexing of all questions, What is life? What is death? Will man live again? Is God aware of what we do? Does He care?

Why do the righteous suffer while the wicked often live in seeming peace and prosperity? Why the undeserved sufferings in the world? Yes! In all these things Job is our sympathetic and understanding friend.

The Book

The Harper Bible Study, says the following.

‘This epic poem has been acknowledged by many as one of the great literary works of all time. It has magnificence and sublimity which defy analysis. In scope and treatment, it moves majestically through the problem of suffering, seeking to resolve the dilemma in terms of human understanding.’

The friends of Job are skilfully depicted and their arguments are cogently presented. Through their words, as well as the words of Job himself, one is able to classify the characters who, in some sense, are representative of men everywhere.

The author does not find his solution in the dogmatic assertions of Jobs friends, who short-sightedly suppose that Job has personally sinned, rather he comes, full circle, back to God and bows in acceptance of the will of God which he may not always understand, for ‘we see through a glass darkly’.

Thomas Carlyle once wrote concerning the Book of Job.

‘It is the greatest thing ever written with a pen, there is nothing, I think, in the Bible or out of it with equal literary merit.’

From every viewpoint, it is incomparable. In form, there is nothing like it. It is a drama and may be divided into scenes and characters. The scenes are vivid. The characters are strong. The subjects dealt with are the most profound ever to challenge the mind of man. Surely the opening and closing scenes are intensely dramatic and resplendent.

Unlike a drama, however, the book’s major section is a poetic dialogue, externally quiet and still. Job and his friends sit and talk. But even this part of the book may be called a psychological drama, a drama of the inner being, showing the violent upheavals possible within the human heart.


Many people believe that Job is the oldest book or at least equal to Genesis of the Old Testament books. Abraham may have been his contemporary. Liberals say he lived at the time of the Babylonian exile and the conservatives say it around the time of Solomon. But their views hold no substance because fragments have been found in Paleo Hebrew, before Hebrew writing. They were found with the dead sea scrolls.

It was written sometime from the Patriarchal age as there are no allusions to the Mosaic Law. If it was as late as Babylonian exile it would certainly mention the Law in this day. Job acts as a priest, Job 1:5, and unless he was of the tribe of the Levites that would be a mockery.

The length of Job’s life is typical of the patriarchs, Job 42:16. The Hebrew word ‘Kesitah’ is used in Job 42:11, and it means a piece of money and is only ever used in the patriarchal age, Genesis 33:19.

The Author

The composition is unknown and so, we cannot know who the author was. But like Hebrews, it does not take away from its inspiration. For what it is worth Moses may have well written the book.

Who was Job? Where did he live? When did he live? Who wrote the book? Nobody knows for sure. But it is just as well, for his problems are universal, not confined to age or time or location. All we need to know is that the book came from God.

The book gets its name from the central character Job. This name has been understood by some to mean ‘He who turns to God’. The book has been called ‘a historical poem’ and describes events which took place in the patriarchal age in the land of Uz, which is thought to have been in South-Eastern Edom. Job was a very wealthy man, enjoying every material blessing.

Suddenly catastrophe overtook him and he had to face personally the problem of human suffering. The book seeks to answer questions concerning human suffering. It is as relevant to our times as any book was ever written, for we live in an age when the question is frequently posed, why does a loving God allow suffering?

Most people think of him merely as ‘that old man who had a lot of boils and a lot of patience’. Beyond that, they have given little thought to a life which can do so much to strengthen the faith, courage, and hope of every child of God.

He was remarkable, not just as seen through the book but because we see his real-life through the book. We see his most wise in business matters which helped to make him such a rich man. He had livestock by the thousand. And his servants were numerous of both sexes.

It is little wonder that he was given the title of the ‘greatest man in the East’, in Job1:3. He was the father of 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls. He functioned as a priest for his family, offering burnt sacrifices for sins.

They lived in the land of Uz, somewhere east of Canaan, various locations have been suggested, Edom, southeast of the Dead sea, Basheen, south of Damascus or in the northern part of Arabia. Where ever it was it had to have been near a desert, yet suitable for raising animals, Job 1:19.

The name Job could mean  ‘one persecuted’, from the Greek, or not really a full name but an Arabic root word which means ‘to repent’. Job was a blameless and upright man. That doesn’t mean he was sinless, but the expression indicates a person who was morally balanced and spiritually mature. It is the same expression used in Philippians 3:13, ‘mature’.

Job was a man wholeheartedly given to pleasing God and his attitude was deep and sincere and basically, he had a right relationship with God, which was reflected in his earthy relationships.

He feared God, in the sense that he had reverential trust in God, which of course will dominate the person’s life, Ecclesiastes 12 / 2 Corinthians 7:1 / Psalm 111:10.

The term to fear God whenever used is accompanied by terms that relate to the hatred of evil. And so it is with Job, he turned away from evil, Job 1:1 / Psalm 11:1 / 1 Corinthians 6:18 / James 4:7, Resist the devil. His outward walk reflects his inner condition.

Job 1:8, is the most beautiful description of Job, ‘the Lord’s servant’. When God is priority in the life of a believer then he will be a servant to God in the same way as Job was called. If God is number one in your life service is your lifestyle.

Why Study The Book?

Modern scholars charge that Job was a mere fictitious character, classed as a parable, representing the distress of Israel during the Babylonian exile. But Christians must say that it is no parable but an inspired account of a real man.

The main reason for studying the book is simply because it is inspired by God. A historical account of a man’s life who did all he could to remain faithful to God.

Job opens in a style that conforms with other Old Testament accounts and their openings, and introductions, ‘In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job’, Job 1:1, compare this with 1 Samuel 1:1. The land of Uz is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20 and Lamentations 4:21.

Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, being considered there as a historical person like Noah. Extra-biblical sources prove characters were real and the people involved in the book of Job also. Bildad was confirmed as a real man in secular writing, as with Job himself. The Tell El-Amarna tablets mention their names. They did exist.

A Babylonian text, 1500-1000BC, is titled ‘I will praise the Lord of wisdom’, which down through the centuries is referred to as the Babylonian Job. James 5:11 documents the patriarch’s existence and asks Christians to recall the patience of Job. Twice Job is quoted by Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:19, Job 5:13 / Romans 11:35 / Job 36:22. The fact that inspired writers acknowledge him and God places him in the Scriptures is enough proof of his existence.

The book gives insight into God’s character, therefore worthy of study. We get glimpses of God being a just and living, active God, a God full of power and might, seen especially in Job 38-39, the creation and the sustaining of it.

It shows us that God is supreme over all, even the devil is subject to Him, which says something of His permissive will. He will not ride rough shots over freedom of choice and He is no respecter of persons.

To gain lessons, through practice in our daily lives. Lessons on faith, perseverance, patience and faith in God. There is some angle on suffering. It doesn’t attempt to answer the question of suffering. It can only answer some. The main theme of the book is encouragement.


Job’s first state. Job 1:1-5

Satan permitted to test his faith. Job 1:6-2:10

A series of discussions between Job and his three friends.

The first cycle of speeches. Job 4-14

The second cycle of speeches. Job 15-21

The third cycle of speeches. Job 22-31

The speech of Elihu. Job 32-37

God talks with Job. Job 38-41

Job’s restoration. Job 42:7-12

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Complete Study Of The Book Of Job