God decides to test Job. The action of chs. 1–2
unfolds in alternating scenes on earth (
) and in heaven (
1.6–12 and 2.1–7a
). Each earthly scene ends with a righteous statement or act by Job (
1.5, 22; 2.10
). Each heavenly scene begins with the courtiers presenting themselves before the LORD and ends with one member of the court, Satan, leaving to take action.
Earthly scene I: Introduction of Job the just. 1.
Job is a venerable hero, well known beyond the confines of Israel (Ezek 14.14, 20
). His homeland Uz is outside the holy land, located to the east, probably in Edom (Lam 4.21
), an area south of the Dead Sea on both sides of the Wadi
Arabah. Job was blameless and upright, designations important thematically in the dialogues; they are more fully explained by the following phrases, feared God and turned away from evil.
The children are mentioned to illustrate Job's piety on their behalf and to prepare for their loss in v. 19
Heavenly scene I: Conversation of God and Satan. People imagined the heavenly court on the model of an earthly one: Courtiers present themselves before the king and officials
report to the LORD. Satan, literally, “the Satan” or the adversary, is not the enemy of God as in later biblical books, but a member of the court whose
particular task is to watch the actions of human beings and report back to the LORD.
God is pleased by the utterly just actions of Job, but Satan cynically intimates that Job is doing it only for the abundant
blessings he receives in return. God allows Satan to test Job to see whether he, when “touched,” will curse God. The reader
now knows two things that the friends of Job do not: Job is genuinely just, and God is testing him.
Earthly scene II: All that Job has is taken away but Job does not curse God. With divine permission, Satan instigates four attacks, by two peoples (Sabeans, Chaldeans) and two natural forces (the fire
of God, a great wind), to wipe out Job's animals, servants, and children.
The Sabeans lived in southwest Arabia, contemporary Yemen. Here they must be members of a caravan.
The Chaldeans were the rulers of the sixth-century Neo-Babylonian Empire, named here probably to characterize the eastern raiders as devastating.
Dramatic suspense is built by postponing Job's response. Contrary to Satan's prediction (v. 11
), Job does not curse God but worships and blesses in the sense of praising and acknowledging God's power as almighty.
Your access is brought to you by: