The opening narrative is structured according to a series of five scenes (
1.1–5, 6–12, 13–22; 2.1–6, 7–13
), which alternate between earth and heaven.
The style with its evocation of a setting long ago and far away, its idealized hero, and its fondness for round numbers that
add up to multiples of ten, gives the story the air of a folk or fairy tale.
The land of Uz is probably just south of Edom, in northern Arabia (see Gen 36.28; Jer 25.20; Lam 4.21; 1 Chr 2.42
; and the Greek text of Job 42.17
). Job's personal name, attested in various texts from the second millennium BCE, etymologically means “Where is the Father?” (a reference to God). The form in Hebrew may, however, be taken to mean “one
who is treated as an enemy” (see 13.24
Cursed, the Heb text actually has the word “blessed” here, apparently as a euphemism or pious scribal correction (so also in
). The same euphemism occurs in 1 Kings 21.13
The scene is a meeting of the council of heavenly beings presided over by the LORD (cf. 1 Kings 22.19–22; Job 15.8; Ps 82.1; 89.7; Jer 23.18
). In the book of Job, Satan is not yet the personal name of the devil, as in later Jewish and Christian literature. Rather, the Hebrew (with the definite
article) simply means “the adversary” or “the accuser” (see textual note b), a reference to one of the members of the divine council who served as a sort of independent prosecutor (cf. Zech 3.1
). The accuser suggests that Job's piety may have been bought with divine protection and provision.
Sabeans, Arabian nomads.
Fire of God,
cf. Gen 19.24; Num 11.1; 16.35; 2 Kings 1.10–12
Chaldeans, NeoBabylonians from southern Mesopotamia.
The traditional acts of mourning; see 2.12; Gen 37.34; 2 Sam 13.31; Jer 16.6
In this traditional saying (see also Eccl 5.15; Sir 40.1
), the womb from which one comes is one's mother; that to which one returns is probably a metaphor for the earth (cf. Gen 3.19
These verses describe a second gathering of the divine council in heaven, including a second encounter between the heavenly
prosecutor and the LORD.
Skin for skin, an idiom perhaps derived from barter trade, expressing willingness to trade up to an equivalent value; anything offered beyond
that maximum value would be a loss. The prosecutor's argument is that Job is willing to remain faithful up to a point, indeed,
to leave the world “naked” just as he came (
). If Job's own body were harmed, however, he would respond differently.
Job is afflicted with a painful skin affliction, which could have been viewed as evidence of divine judgment (see Deut 28.35
Sat among the ashes, another expression of grief; see Ezek 27.30; Jon 3.6
The term foolish woman perhaps implies that her talk is like that of an unbeliever (see Ps 14.1 ἂ 53.2; 39.8; 74.22
). Despite Job's refusal to curse God directly, the narrator notes only that Job did not sin with his lips, a provocative statement in light of the simpler conclusion in
that he did not sin.
Eliphaz the Temanite, Teman is probably somewhere in Edom or north Arabia, as is the home of Bildad the Shuhite (see Gen 25.1–2
). Zophar the Naamathite is possibly a Sabean (see 1.15n.
See 1.20n.; 2.8n.
Dust … upon their heads, another act of mourning; see Josh 7.6; Lam 2.10
see Gen 50.10; Sir 22.12
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