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1.a book in the Old Testament containing Job's pleas to God about his afflictions and God's reply
personnage biblique (fr)[Classe]
l'Ancien Testament (fr)[DomainDescrip.]
partie d'une œuvre littéraire (fr)[DomainDescrip.]
les écrits ou hagiographes (fr)[DomainDescrip.]
Book of Job (n.)
The Book of Job ( //; Hebrew: אִיוֹב ʾ iyobh), commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, his challenge to God, and finally a response from God. The book is a didactic poem set in a prose frame. The over-riding and oft-asked question asked in the book of Job is, "Why do the righteous suffer?".
The book of Job has been included in lists of the greatest books in world literature.
The book of Job tells the story of an extremely righteous man named Job, who was very prosperous and had seven sons and three daughters. Constantly fearing that his sons may have sinned and "cursed God in their hearts", he habitually offered burnt offerings as a pardon for their sins. The "sons of God" and Satan (literally "the Adversary") present themselves to God, and God asks Satan his opinion on Job. Satan answers that Job is pious only because God has put a "wall around" him and "blessed" His favourite servant with prosperity, but if God were to stretch out his hand and strike everything that Job had, then he would surely curse God. God gives Satan permission to test Job's righteousness.
All of Job's possessions are destroyed; the 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans, the 7000 sheep were burned up by 'The fire of God which fell from the sky,' the 3000 camels were stolen by the Chaldeans and the house of the firstborn collapsed, due to a mighty wind, killing all of Job's offspring, but Job does not curse God but instead shaves his head, tears his clothes and says, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return: Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of Lord."
As Job endures these calamities without reproaching God, Satan solicits permission to afflict his person as well, and God says, "Behold, he is in your hand, but don't touch his life." Satan, therefore, smites him with dreadful boils, and Job, seated in ashes, scrapes his skin with broken pottery. His wife prompts him to "curse God, and die" but Job answers, "You speak as one of the foolish speaks. Moreover, shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?"
Three friends of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, come to console him. (A fourth, Elihu the Buzite (Heb: Alieua ben Barakal the Buzite), begins talking in Chapter 32 and plays a significant role in the dialogue, but his arrival is not described). The friends spend seven days sitting on the ground with Job, without saying anything to him because they see that he is suffering and in much pain. Job at last breaks his silence and "curses the day he was born."
God responds saying that there are so many things Job does not know about how this world was formed or how nature works, that Job should consider God as being greater than the thunderstorm and strong enough to pull in the leviathan with a fishhook. God then rebukes the three friends and says, "I am angry with you....you have not spoken of me what is right."
The story ends with Job restored to health, with a new family and twice as much livestock.
The book of Job has a fairly simple structure. Job 1 and 2 are the prologue, written in prose. Job 3:1-42:6 is poetry that consists of a cycle of speeches between Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and later Elihu, and then the dialogue between Yahweh and Job. Job 42:7-14 is the epilogue, which is written in prose.
The dialogues of chapters 3-31 are, in general, a cycle of speeches between Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that are structured as follows:
Job Chapters 3
Job Chapters 12-14
Job Chapters 21
Job 26; 27-28; 29-31
The third cycle, it should be noted, does not follow the pattern of the first two cycles. Zophar does not give a speech and Bildad's speech is significantly shorter than his previous speeches.
Job's friends do not waver from their belief that Job must have sinned to incite God's punishment. As the speeches progress, Job's friends increasingly berate him for refusing to confess his sins, although they themselves are at a loss as to which sin he has committed. They also assume, in their view of theology, that God always rewards good and punishes evil, with no apparent exceptions allowed. There seems to be no room in their understanding of God for divine discretion and mystery in allowing and arranging suffering for purposes other than retribution.
Job, confident of his own innocence, maintains that his suffering is unjustified as he has not sinned, and that there is no reason for God to punish him thus. However, he does not curse God's name or accuse God of injustice but rather seeks an explanation or an account of his wrongdoing.
Elihu takes a mediator's path—he attempts to maintain the sovereignty and righteousness and gracious mercy of God. Elihu's speech comes after the final words of Job in the third speech cycle (31:40) and goes from chapters 32-37. Elihu strongly condemns the approach taken by the three friends, and argues that Job is misrepresenting God's righteousness and discrediting his loving character. Elihu says he spoke last because he is much younger than the other three friends, but says that age makes no difference when it comes to insights and wisdom. In his speech, Elihu argues for God's power, redemptive salvation, and absolute rightness in all his conduct. God is mighty, yet just, and quick to warn and to forgive. Elihu's speeches act as a narrative bridge which joins Job's summary of his case with the appearance of God. His speech maintains that Job, while righteous, is not perfect. Job does not disagree with this and God does not rebuke Elihu as he does Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz. After Elihu's speech ends with the last verse of Chapter 37, God appears and in the second verse of Chapter 38, God says, speaking of Job: “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
After several rounds of debate between Job and his friends, in a divine voice, described as coming from a "cloud" or "whirlwind", God describes, in evocative and lyrical language, what the experience of being the creator of the world is like, and rhetorically asks if Job has ever had the experiences or the authority that God has had. God's answer underscores that Job shares the world with numerous powerful and remarkable creatures. (Also compare Job 41:18-21 with Job 15:12-13 which was possibly in response to Job 7:11-16).
God's speech also emphasizes his sovereignty in creating and maintaining the world. The thrust is not merely that God has experiences that Job does not, but that God is king over the world and is not necessarily subject to questions from his creatures, including men. The point of these speeches is to proclaim the absolute freedom of God over His creation. God is not in need of the approval of his creation. It is only the reader of the book who learns of God's conversations with Satan; Job himself remains unaware of the reason or source of his sufferings. The traditional interpretation is that, humbled by God's chastising, Job turns speechless, giving up and repenting his previous requests of justice. However, another interpretation is that Job's silence is defiant, and that what he gives up is not his belief that justice be done, but his confidence that God will behave justly.
In the epilogue, God condemns Job's friends for their ignorance and lack of understanding while commending Job for his righteous words, commands them to prepare burnt offerings and reassures them that Job will pray for their forgiveness. Job is restored to health, gaining double the riches he possessed before and having new children, 7 sons and 3 daughters (his wife did not die in this ordeal). His new daughters (Jemima, Keziah and Keren-Happuch) were the most beautiful in the land, and were given inheritance along with their brothers. Job is blessed once again and lives on another 140 years after the ordeal, living to see his children to the fourth generation and dying peacefully of old age.
"The Satan", meaning literally "the adversary", appears in the prose prologue of Job: it has been argued that he is not the devil, as he becomes in later Judeo-Christian works, but one of the celestial beings who stand before God in the heavenly court. As a member of a Divine Council "the adversary" observes human activity with the purpose of searching out men's sins and acting as their accuser. "The adversary" occurs in the framing story alone—he is never clearly alluded to in the central poem. However, Abaddon and Sheol are mentioned throughout the central poem. Job does speak of an adversary on several occasions within the central poem, but it is doubtful that he is referring to "the Adversary" of the prose prologue.
Job's wife is introduced in Job 2:9 when she suggests that Job curse God and die. She is not directly mentioned at any other place in the book. Throughout the ordeal, she survives and lives on with Job. There is uncertainty about her intentions when she tells Job to curse God but it is clear that Job honors her by the way he talks about her in Chapter 31. As he says in verse one, "I have made a covenant with my eyes. Why should I think on another woman?" He has remained true to his marriage vows, even in his heart, and has not lusted after someone else.
The later tradition preserved in the Greek Testament of Job (chap. 21-25; 39) names Job's first wife (cf. Job 2:9) as Sitidos (Sitis) and his later wife (expanded from Job 42:13 in T.Job 1:6) as Dinah.
Liberal scholars date Job between the 6th and 4th century BCE, however, conservative scholars cite Eusebius (CE 263-399), who placed Job "two ages before Moses" or 2,000-1,500 BCE. While "there is an intentional editorial unity with a cohesive purpose and message in the canonical form of the book," Job contains many separate elements, some of which may have had an independent existence prior to being incorporated into the present text. Scholars agree that the introductory and concluding sections of the book, the framing devices, were composed to set the central poem into a prose "folk-book", as the compilers of the Jewish Encyclopedia expressed it. The central poem is from another source. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls is the Targum of Job 11Q10. Another example of text from the last chapter or epilogue of Job can be found in the book The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, showing examples of how fragments of The Book of Job found among the scrolls differ from the text as now known.
In 1954, the Assyriologist and Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer presented a Sumerian text treating the "Job motif" of the righteous sufferer. The Sumerian text is known as "A man and his god", after the incipit lu2-ulu3 nam-mah dingir-ra-na. Ludlul bēl nēmeqi is a Babylonian text, also known as the "Babylonian Job", which concerns itself with the unjust suffering of an afflicted man, named Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan."The Protestation of Guiltlessness," from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, is a collection of assertions of innocence which were included in ancient Egyptian burial rites, and is often compared to Job, especially chapter 31.
While these and other ancient Near Eastern texts consider comparable issues, scholars have not found their direct antecedent. However, the similarity between the central concerns of Job and those of certain ancient Babylonian and Egyptian texts reveals a shared interest in the question of why the innocent suffer. These texts also share an interest in challenging traditional views of the nature of divine justice.
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Various interpolations have been made in the text of the central poem. They are of two kinds: the "parallel texts", which are parallel developments of the corresponding passages in the base text, and the speeches of Elihu (Chapters 32-37), which consist of a polemic against the ideas expressed elsewhere in the poem, and so are claimed to be interpretive interpolations. The speeches of Elihu (who is not mentioned in the prologue) are claimed to contradict the fundamental opinions expressed by the "friendly accusers" in the central body of the poem, according to which it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin.
The status of Elihu's interrupting didactic sermon is brought further into question by his extremely sudden appearance and disappearance from the text. He is not mentioned in Job 2:11, in which Job's friends are introduced, nor is he mentioned at all in the epilogue, 42:7-10, in which God expresses anger at Job's friends. It is suggested that had Elihu appeared in the original source, his spirited and virtuous defence of the divine right to punish would have been rewarded by God in the conclusion, or at the very least mentioned. Additionally, Elihu's first spoken words are a confession of his youthful status, being much younger than the three canonical friends, including a claim to be speaking because he cannot bear to remain silent; it has been suggested that this interesting statement may have been symbolic of a "younger" (that is to say, later and interpolating) writer, who has written Elihu's sermon to respond to what he views as morally and theologically scandalous statements being made within the book of Job, and creating the literary device of Elihu to provide what seemed to be a faith-based response to further refute heresy and provide a counter-argument, a need partially provided by God's ambiguous and unspecific response to Job at the end of the book.
Subjects of further contention among scholars are the identity of claimed corrections and revisions of Job's speeches, which are claimed to have been made for the purpose of harmonizing them with the orthodox doctrine of retribution. A prime example of such a claim is the translation of the last line Job speaks (42:6), which is extremely problematic in the Hebrew. Traditional translations have him say, "Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." However, other scholarly interpretations of this verse also exist. J.B. Curtis in his 1979 paper "On Job's Response to Yahweh", argues that Job's final responses to Yahweh are a total rejection of Yahweh rather than an expression of repentance, and translates Job 42:6 as "Therefore I feel loathing contempt and revulsion (toward you, O God); and I am sorry for frail man."
The Talmudic Tractate Bava Batra 15a-b maintains that Job was written by Moses, although nowhere does it name its author. Other opinions in the Talmud ascribe it to the period of before the First Temple, the time of the patriarch Jacob, or King Ahaserus.The medieval exegete Abraham ibn Ezra believed that Job was translated from another language and it is therefore unclear "like all translated books" (Ibn Ezra Job 2:11). It is set in the land of Edom, which has been retained as the background, and in the prologue and epilogue, the name of God is YHWH, a name that even the Edomites used. Job is prominent in haggadic legends. The later Greek Testament of Job figures among the apocrypha.
Michael Coogan writes in regards to both Ecclesiastes and Job that “Both take positions opposed to the mainstream of the wisdom tradition in the Bible, as exemplified in the book of Proverbs…” Job, along with Ecclesiastes is part of the dissenting or speculative group of wisdom literature within the Old Testament. In the narrative there are conversations that occur between Job and family, Job and friends, and Job and God. Conventional wisdom may be applied to the questions and advice given by Job’s friends or family, yet it is Job’s responses that make this book part of the dissenting wisdom or “anti-wisdom wisdom”
|Books of the
Ketuvim (Hebrew Bible)
|Three poetic books|
|Song of Songs
Ezra – Nehemiah
Some of the laws and customs of mourning in Judaism are derived from the Book of Job's depiction of Job's mourning and the behavior of his companions. For example, the behavior of Job's comforters, who kept silence until he spoke to them, is the source for a norm applicable to contemporary traditional Jewish practice, that visitors to a house of mourning should not speak to the mourner until they are spoken to.
In most traditions of Jewish liturgy, the Book of Job is not read publicly in the manner of the Pentateuch, Prophets, or megillot. However, there are some Jews, particularly the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who do hold public readings of the Book of Job on the Tisha B'Av fast (a day of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples and other tragedies). The cantillation signs for the large poetic section in the middle of the Book of Job differ from those of most of the biblical books, using a system shared with it only by Psalms and Proverbs. A sample of how the cantillations are chanted is found below. Many quotes from the Book of Job are used throughout Jewish liturgy, especially at funerals and times of mourning.
Maimonides, a twelfth century rabbi, discusses Job in his work The Guide for the Perplexed. According to Maimonides (III 22–23), each of Job's friends represents famous, distinct schools of thought concerning God and divine providence. According to Maimonides, the correct view of providence lies with Elihu, who teaches Job that one must examine his religion (Job 33). This view corresponds with the notion that "the only worthy religion in the world is an examined religion." A habit religion, such as that originally practiced by Job, is never enough. One has to look deep into the meaning of religion in order to fully appreciate it and make it a genuine part of one's life. Elihu believed in the concepts of divine providence, rewards to individuals, as well as punishments. He believed, according to Maimonides, that one has to practice religion in a rational way. The more one investigates religion, the more he will be rewarded or find it rewarding. In the beginning, Job was an unexamining, pious man, not a philosopher, and he did not have providence. He was unwise, simply grateful for what he had. God, according to Elihu, did not single out Job for punishment, but rather abandoned him and let him be dealt with by natural, unfriendly forces.
Conversely, in more recent times, Russian existentialist philosopher Lev Shestov viewed Job as the embodiment of the battle between reason (which offers general and seemingly comforting explanations for complex events) and faith in a personal god, and one man's desperate cry for him. In fact, Shestov used the story of Job as a central signifier for his core philosophy (the vast critique of the history of Western philosophy, which he saw broadly as a monumental battle between Reason and Faith, Athens and Jerusalem, secular and religious outlook):
The whole book is one uninterrupted contest between the 'cries' of the much-afflicted Job and the 'reflections' of his rational friends. The friends, as true thinkers, look not at Job but at the 'general.' Job, however, does not wish to hear about the 'general'; he knows that the general is deaf and dumb - and that it is impossible to speak with it. 'But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God' (13:3). The friends are horrified at Job's words: they are convinced that it is not possible to speak with God and that the Almighty is concerned about the firmness of his power and the unchangeability of his laws but not about the fate of the people created by him. Perhaps they are convinced that in general God does not know any concerns but that he only rules. That is why they answer, 'You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you or the rock be removed from its place?' (18:4). And, indeed, shall rocks really be removed from their place for the sake of Job? And shall necessity renounce its sacred rights? This would truly be the summit of human audacity, this would truly be a 'mutiny,' a 'revolt' of the single human personality against the eternal laws of the all-unity of being!—Lev Shestov, Speculation and Revelation
In Chapter nine, Job recognizes the chasm that exists between him and God: “For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.” Job’s regret is that he has no arbiter to act as a go-between; that Job cannot reconcile himself with God anticipates the need for the Messiah to become incarnate. In verse 33, Job wishes that there was an “umpire” (Heb. mokiah) to decide between him and God. One scholar says, “This person would have to be superior in authority to either party, ”; thus the arbiter for whom Job hopes would himself have to be divine, or else he would no more be qualified to “lay his hand upon” God than is Job.
This idea of a divine arbiter is returned to at Job 16:19. Job again expresses his desire for a witness, and then declares, “my eyes pour out tears to God, that he would maintain the right of a man with God”. Job addresses God, desiring that God will advocate on Job’s behalf with himself. Job knows that no man such as himself, conceived in sin, can appeal to God on his behalf; so God must do it himself. The language used earlier is that of a judicial judgement, in which God is both judge of and lawyer for Job. Job “draws a distinction in God”, and this distinction anticipates the multiplicity of God’s persons.
Job’s faith in this arbiter is again brought up in chapter 19. It is commonly accepted that the “Redeemer” of 19:25 is the same person as the witness of 16:19. This verse in particular is often seen as an anticipation of Christianity. Telgren notes that it has been suggested that verses 25 and 26 have a poetic structure of ABBA. If this is true it would support the notion that God is himself the Redeemer, by associating him with the living Redeemer in the parallel structure. The RSV’s “Redeemer” is a translation of the Hebrew go’el. That this go’el could refer to God is explicitly demonstrated in the Psalms and Proverbs, and elsewhere.
This translation of go'el in Job 19:25-26 as "Redeemer" has been made famous by its use in Handel's Messiah, the Air I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the lectionary during the Easter season. The go'el was a kinsman redeemer whose role included avenging bloodshed, redeeming land sold to others outside the family, and redeeming family members sold into slavery. The Christ, as both God and Man, is seen in Christian theology as fulfilling this role in the redemption of man and of the earth and in the final judgment against evil.
An alternative translation of the passage reads as follows:
"But as for me, I know that my vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust.
This will happen when my flesh has been stripped off,
but from my flesh I would see God."
The capitalization of "Redeemer" (here translated as "vindicator") is a choice of the translator. The Hebrew language has no capital letters. The capitalization is used in preference to the idea that the passage references the Messiah. However the use of "go'el" here can also be taken to reference a human avenger-of-blood. According to this reading, Job is asserting that after he is dead, his go'el will take up his case. However, he would rather it happen before he dies. This interpretation is supported with the argument that there is nowhere else in the book where Job express a wish for bodily resurrection, only for someone to intervene as an "umpire", a "vindicator", a "go'el", on his behalf as an impartial judge between himself and God in the present.
“Throughout the whole Lent the two books of the Old Testament read at Vespers were Genesis and Proverbs. With the beginning of the Holy Week they are replaced by Exodus and Job. Exodus is the story of Israel's liberation from Egyptian slavery, of their Passover. It prepares us for the understanding of Christ's exodus to his Father, of his fulfillment of the whole history of salvation. Job, the sufferer, is the Old Testament icon of Christ. This reading announces the great mystery of Christ's sufferings, obedience and sacrifice.”—Alexander Schmemann, "A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week"
The Roman Catholic Church traditionally reads from the Book of Job during Matins in the first two weeks of September, as well as in the Office of the Dead. In the revised Liturgy of the Hours, Job is read during the Eighth and Ninth Weeks in Ordinary Time.
In Palestinian folk tradition, Ayyub's place of trial is Al-Joura, a village outside the town of Al Majdal (Ashkelon). It was there, God rewarded him with a Fountain of Youth that removed whatever illnesses he had, and restored his youth. The town of Al-Joura was a place of annual festivities (4 days in all) when people of many faiths gathered and bathed in a natural spring. In Turkey, Job is known as Eyüp, and he is supposed to have lived in Şanlıurfa. There is also a tomb of Job outside the city of Salalah in Oman.
Books of Wisdom by Robert Alter
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Book of Job
|Hebrew Bible||Succeeded by
Song of Songs