We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Ancient Near-Eastern Parallels.

1.

The closest extant parallels to the book of Job come from Mesopotamia. The Sumerian Man and his God (2nd millennium) tells about a sufferer who complains to the gods, although conceding that none is born sinless. In the end he confesses his guilt and is restored by the righteous shepherd. The Babylonian I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom denies that anyone can discern the will of the gods; nevertheless, this sufferer trusts in divine mercy, acts in the proper cultic manner, and experiences restoration. This text concludes that the gods have a different system of values from the human one. The Babylonian Theodicy (c.1100 BCE), an acrostic, or alphabetic, poem of twenty-seven stanzas with eleven lines each, comprises a debate between an innocent sufferer and a friend. It accuses the gods of endowing humankind with lies. The two debaters maintain a polite tone, while disagreeing with one another, and in the end the complainant prays that the shepherd will once again ‘pasture his flock as a god should’. A fourth text, The Dialogue between a Master and his Slave, resembles Ecclesiastes more than the book of Job, although both texts reflect similar social turmoil that generated acute personal misery. The master sees no reason to follow any particular course of action, and the slave commends first one thing then its opposite, until the thought of suicide surfaces, followed by the threat of murdering the slave, who seems to say that the master will not survive him three days.

2.

Texts from the Egyptian Twelfth Dynasty (1990–1785) with a similar theme demonstrate the extent of intellectual unease resulting from suffering that was perceived to be unjust. The Admonitions of Ipuwer conjectures that the divine herdsman either loves death or has fallen asleep. Social turmoil forces the author to reflect on the appropriateness of traditional teachings, for how can the gods possess authority, knowledge, and truth when they permit such chaos in society? The Dispute of a Man and his Ba consists of an attempt by a person, overwhelmed by life's misery, to persuade his soul to join him in suicide. The Eloquent Peasant depicts the suffering inflicted on a peasant by a governmental figure. These latter two texts abound in positive similes for death, e.g. death is like recovering from illness, like the fragrance of myrrh, like an infant's mouth reaching for milk.

3.

A text from Ugarit, the Epic of Keret, tells about a hero who loses his wife and children but eventually finds favour with the gods and receives a new wife and more children. The Greek myth of ‘Prometheus Bound’ has been compared with Job, but Prometheus, a Titan, brought down Zeus's wrath through a wilful act. An Indian tale of a divine discussion leading to a test of the hero, Harischandra, by the god Shiva that demonstrates his virtue shows how the problem of evil pressed itself on thinkers far and near.

4.

None of these texts provides an exact parallel to the book of Job, which adapts the traditional genre of debate and framing narrative from the Babylonian Theodicy and I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom respectively, adding more friends and enhancing the theophany by incorporating it into the debate. In addition, the biblical author uses extensive catalogues, or lists, hymnic texts, a negative confession, and laments. In the end, the book of Job stands alone, like the hero of the book.

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2019. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice