Job

These are all of the chapters of the book of Job. Clicking on a chapter will show you the text of that chapter of Job in the Bible (New International Version).

Bible open to book of Job

Who Wrote the Book of Job?

Nothing is certain about the identity of the author of Job, though Bible scholars have made suggestions throughout the years.

Job: The first possibility is, of course, the subject of the book himself. But there is a marked contrast between how the author expresses the narrative and how Job speaks. The same contrast exists between the narrative passages and the words of Elihu, friend of Job.

Moses: We know that he had access to the information he would need to write Job. But his authorship is still no more likely than other suggestions such as Isaiah or someone in the time of David and Solomon.

Some have inferred from the author’s use of “Yahweh” (God’s covenant name) and his perspective on God’s omnipotence and justice that he was an Israelite. Others believe the opposite based on the story’s Gentile setting. Whether Israelite or Gentile, the compassion with which the author records Job’s story implies that he was no stranger to intense suffering.

Most everything else is a mystery. As the Old Testament Survey points out, “Rarely has history left such a literary genius unnamed and unknown as to his circumstances or motive for composing such a magnificent work.”

Context and Background of Job

Date, location, and intended audience are as dependent on guesswork as the author’s identity.

- If written by an Israelite, Job was probably intended for a Hebrew audience to encourage their faith.

- If written by Moses specifically, the story may have been recorded during his time in Midian—even dictated to him by Job or Elihu since Uz (Job’s homeland) and Midian (Moses’ home for several decades) are near each other (AMP Study Bible, “The Book of Job”).

As far as dates are concerned, we can judge from similarities between Job’s way of life and the lives of the patriarchs that he lived prior to 1000 BC: he had a priestly role in his family (Job 1:5), animals and servants made up the bulk of his wealth (Job 1:3), and his lifespan extended well beyond a century (Job 42:16). Ezekiel also lists Noah, Daniel, and Job together twice as men of righteousness in their time (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). 

However, these details do little to point us toward a date of composition. The Old Testament Survey favors a date between 700 and 600 BC, referring to indicators such as a stylistic and thematic comparison of the book of Job and Isaiah’s writings (740-680 BC) as well as many other Old Testament books (Jeremiah, Amos, Psalms, and Proverbs). 

Main theme and Purpose of Job

We don’t have to read much of Job to find the central question that every generation of humanity has wrestled with: “Why do righteous people suffer?” 

The author records several perspectives:

1) Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar represent the traditional understanding of suffering. They argue that Job must have committed sin to be experiencing such devastating loss in his life (Job 4:6-8). 

2) Job doesn’t know why he is suffering so cruelly. He questions God in some verses and expresses the most profound trust in others (Job 13:15). But always, he fiercely opposes the idea that he is being punished for wrongdoing. 

3) Elihu questions why Job’s righteousness or lack thereof is the topic of conversation at all (Job 33:8-10, 12). His focus is on God’s justice, power, and sovereignty. 

4) The author of Job lets his audience in on a scene playing out between God and Satan in heaven, introducing a perspective that no one involved in Job’s story seems to have even considered: the role of our adversary. 

These four perspectives bat the question of suffering back and forth until focus shifts to the culmination of this book’s purpose: God’s justice, power, and knowledge are so far above ours that we cannot even accurately process the question of suffering. Instead, we must trust in His wisdom (a topic that makes a frequent appearance) and place our lives in His hands. With this in mind, the theme of the book is accurately summed up in a single verse: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). 

What Can We Learn from Job Today?

The book of Job teaches believers what our response should be to our own suffering and the suffering of others. 

Instead of searching for a reason, we must anchor to God’s sovereignty, have confident hope in His character, and trust in His wisdom to carry us through the storm. 

It is this Godly focus that Elihu apparently got right, since he is notably absent from God’s rebuke of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. 

Job also serves as a reminder of the unseen war raging all around us. Sometimes, the tragedy that destroys the things we love and strips us of all comfort is a manifestation of that conflict. 

Only God knows the “why” of our suffering, and it is by seeking Him that we are filled with peace and strength enabling us to say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21).

Our Favorite Verses from Job

Job 16:19-21 - “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.”

Job 19:25-26 - “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;”

Job 23:10 - “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

Job 26:7-8, 14 - “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

Job 33:12-14 - “…God is greater than any mortal. Why do you complain to him that he responds to no one’s words? For God does speak—now one way, now another—though no one perceives it.”

Job 36:26 - “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.”

Job 38:8-11 - “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”

Sources

The Amplified Study Bible

Old Testament Survey

Biblestudytools.com/job/

Biblestudytools.com/dictionary/job-book-of/

Zondervanacademic.com

Photo credit: ©Sparrowstock

Caroline Madison is a freelance editor and writer with a passion for the written word and a special interest in telling and reading stories that present biblical truths in fresh ways. She also enjoys writing flash fiction, drawing pencil portraits, and playing piano.