1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.
27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.
35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.
The Book of Job, named after its protagonist, is an exquisite dramatic poem which treats of the problem of the suffering of the innocent, and of retribution. The contents of the book, together with its artistic structure and elegant style, place it among the literary masterpieces of all time.
Job, an oriental chieftain, pious and upright, richly endowed in his own person and in domestic prosperity, suffers a sudden and complete reversal of fortune. He loses his property and his children; a loathsome disease afflicts his body; and sorrow oppresses his soul. Nevertheless, Job does not complain against God. When some friends visit him to condole with him, Job protests his innocence and does not understand why he is afflicted. He curses the day of his birth and longs for death to bring an end to his sufferings. The debate which ensues consists of three cycles of speeches. Job’s friends insist that his plight can only be a punishment for personal wrongdoing and an invitation from God to repentance. Job rejects their inadequate explanation and calls for a response from God himself. At this point the speeches of a youth named Elihu (Job 32-37) interrupt the development.
In response to Job’s plea that he be allowed to see God and hear from him the cause of his suffering, God answers, not by justifying his action before men, but by referring to his own omniscience and almighty power. Job is content with this. He recovers his attitude of humility and trust in God, which is deepened now and strengthened by his experience of suffering.
The author of the book is not known; it was composed some time between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C. Its literary form, with speeches, prologue and epilogue disposed according to a studied plan, indicates that the purpose of the writing is didactic. The lesson is that even the just may suffer here, and their sufferings are a test of their fidelity. They shall be rewarded in the end. Man’s finite mind cannot probe the depths of the divine omniscience that governs the world. The problems we encounter can be solved by a broader and deeper awareness of God’s power, presence (⇒ Job 42:5) and wisdom.
The divisions of the Book of Job are as follows:
- Prologue (⇒ Job 1:1-⇒ 2:13)
- First Cycle of Speeches (⇒ Job 3:1-⇒ 14:22)
- Second Cycle of Speeches (⇒ Job 15:1-⇒ 21:34)
- Third Cycle of Speeches (⇒ Job 22:1-⇒ 28:28)
- Job’s Final Summary of His Cause (⇒ Job 29:1-⇒ 31:37)
- Elihu’s Speeches (⇒ Job 32:1-⇒ 37:24)
- The Lord’s Speech (⇒ Job 38:1-⇒ 42:6)
- Epilogue (⇒ Job 42:7-17)
In the land of Uz 1 there was a blameless and upright man named Job, who feared God and avoided evil.
2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him;
3 and he had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she-asses, and a great number of work animals, so that he was greater than any of the men of the East.
His sons used to take turns giving feasts, sending invitations to their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
And when each feast had run its course, Job would send for them and sanctify them, rising early and offering holocausts for every one of them. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and blasphemed God in their hearts.” This Job did habitually.
4 One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has, and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand upon his person.” So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
And so one day, while his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother,
a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the asses grazing beside them,
5 and the Sabeans carried them off in a raid. They put the herdsmen to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
6 While he was yet speaking, another came and said, “Lightning has fallen from heaven and struck the sheep and their shepherds and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three columns, seized the camels, carried them off, and put those tending them to the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
While he was yet speaking, another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother,
when suddenly a great wind came across the desert and smote the four corners of the house. It fell upon the young people and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair. He cast himself prostrate upon the ground,
7 and said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”
In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.
1  Uz: somewhere in Edom or Arabia. Job: a not uncommon name in ancient Semitic circles; its original meaning was “enemy.”
2 [2-3] The numbers mentioned here indicate Job’s great wealth and happiness, external proof of God’s friendship.
3  Men of the East: that is, east of Palestine.
4  Sons of God: angels. Satan: literally, “adversary.”
5  Sabeans: from southern Arabia.
6  Lightning: literally, “God’s fire.”
7  Go back again: to the earth; cf ⇒ Genesis 2:7; ⇒ Sirach 40:1.