Book of Job
The Book of Job commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. It relates the story of Job
Job (Biblical figure)
Job is the central character of the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. Job is listed as a prophet of God in the Qur'an.- Book of Job :The Book of Job begins with an introduction to Job's character — he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously...

, 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 tells the story of an extremely righteous man named Job, who was very prosperous and had seven sons and three daughters.
The Book of Job commonly referred to simply as Job, is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. It relates the story of Job
Job (Biblical figure)
Job is the central character of the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. Job is listed as a prophet of God in the Qur'an.- Book of Job :The Book of Job begins with an introduction to Job's character — he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously...

, 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 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
Sons of God
Sons of God is a phrase used in Levantine Bronze and Iron Age texts to describe the "divine council" of the major gods.- The term "sons of God" :...

" and Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

 (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 boil
A boil, also called a furuncle, is a deep folliculitis, infection of the hair follicle. It is always caused by infection by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, resulting in a painful swollen area on the skin caused by an accumulation of pus and dead tissue...

s, 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
Elihu (Job)
Elihu is a character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Job. According to the Book of Job, Elihu is one of Job's friends, descended from Nahor...

 the Buzite
Children of Eber
The Sons of Eber or Bnei Ever a synonym for the earliest cultural Hebrews, are first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 10:21 . In orthodox circles the term is understood to refer to the wider family of Hebrew peoples from whom Abraham came. Each of the names of the children in question is...

 (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 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.

Speech cycles

The dialogues of chapters 3-31 are, in general, a cycle of speeches between Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that are structured as follows:

Cycle 1

Job Chapters 3

Eliphaz 4-5

Job 6-7

Bildad 8

Job 9-10

Zophar 11

Cycle 2

Job Chapters 12-14

Eliphaz 15

Job 16-17

Bildad 18

Job 19

Zophar 20

Cycle 3

Job Chapters 21

Eliphaz 22

Job 23-24

Bildad 25:1-5

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.

Speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

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.

Speeches of Job

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 wrong doing.

Speech of Elihu

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?"

God's response

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
Rhetorical question
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the answer to the question must be. When a speaker states, "How much longer must our people...

 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 with which was possibly in response to ).

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 the backstory 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
Keziah or Kezziah is a Hebrew name used in the Old Testament. A number of etymologies have been suggested, among them the Hebrew for Cassia, from the name for the spice tree....

 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.

Satan in the Book of Job

"The Satan", meaning literally "the adversary", appears in the prose prologue of Job: 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
Abaddon in the Revelation of St. John, is the king of tormenting locusts and the angel of the bottomless pit. The exact nature of Abaddon is debated, but the Hebrew word is related to the triliteral root אבד , which in verb form means "to perish."...

 and Sheol
Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

 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

Job's wife is introduced in Job 2:9 when she suggests that Job curse
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

 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. The later tradition preserved in the Greek Testament of Job
Testament of Job
The Testament of Job is a book written in the 1st century BC or the 1st century AD...

 (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.

Origin and textual history

Most scholars date Job between the 6th and 4th century 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.

The "Job Motif" in earlier literature

In 1954, the Assyriologist
Assyriology is the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of ancient Mesopotamia and the related cultures that used cuneiform writing. The field covers the Akkadian sister-cultures of Assyria and Babylonia, together with their cultural predecessor; Sumer...

 and Sumerologist
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer
Samuel Noah Kramer was one of the world's leading Assyriologists and a world renowned expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language.-Biography:...

 presented a Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian 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
Ludlul bel nemeqi
Ludlul bel nemeqi, I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom, is a Mesopotamian poem written in Akkadian that concerns itself with the problem of the unjust suffering of an afflicted man, named Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan. The author is tormented, but he doesn't know why. He has been faithful in all of his...

 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.

Later interpolations and additions

Various interpolations have been claimed to have been made in the text of the central poem. The most common such claims 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
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 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."

Talmudic tradition

The Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

ic 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
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

, the time of the patriarch Jacob, or King Ahaserus.The medieval exegete Abraham ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

 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
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

, 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
Aggadah refers to the homiletic and non-legalistic exegetical texts in the classical rabbinic literature of Judaism, particularly as recorded in the Talmud and Midrash...

 legends. The later Greek Testament of Job
Testament of Job
The Testament of Job is a book written in the 1st century BC or the 1st century AD...

 figures among the apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....


Dissenting/Speculative Wisdom

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
The Book of Ecclesiastes, called , is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.The main speaker in the book, identified by the name or title Qoheleth , introduces himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem." The work consists of personal...

 is part of the dissenting or speculative group of wisdom literature
Wisdom literature
Wisdom literature is the genre of literature common in the Ancient Near East. This genre is characterized by sayings of wisdom intended to teach about divinity and about virtue...

 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”

In Judaism

The Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 occasionally discusses Job. Most traditional Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 scholarship has not doubted Job's existence. He was seen as a real and powerful figure. One Talmudic opinion has it that Job was in fact one of three advisers that Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 consulted, prior to taking action against the increasingly multiplying "Children of Israel" mentioned in the Book of Exodus during the time of Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

' birth. The episode is mentioned in the Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 (Tractate Sotah): Balaam
Balaam is a diviner in the Torah, his story occurring towards the end of the Book of Numbers. The etymology of his name is uncertain, and discussed below. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not so clearly identified...

 gives evil advice urging Pharaoh to kill the Hebrew male new-born babies, Jethro opposes Pharaoh and tells him not to harm the Hebrews at all, and Job keeps silent and does not reveal his mind even though he was personally opposed to Pharaoh's destructive plans. It is for his silence that God subsequently punishes him with his bitter afflictions.

There is a minority view among the rabbis of the Talmud, that of Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Shimon ben Lakish, that Job never existed (Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

 Genesis Rabbah LXVII, Talmud Bavli, Bava Batra 15a). In this view, Job was a literary creation by a prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 who used this form of writing to convey a divine message or parable. On the other hand, the Talmud (in Tractate Baba Batra 15a-16b) goes to great lengths trying to ascertain when Job actually lived, citing many opinions and interpretations by the leading sages. Job is further mentioned in the Talmud as follows
  • Job's resignation to his fate (in Tractate Pesachim 2b) Anyone who associated with Job when he was prosperous, including to buy from him or sell to him, was blessed (in Tractate Pesachim 112a)
  • Job's reward for being generous (in Tractate Megillah 28a)
  • King David
    David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

    , Job, and Ezekiel
    Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

     described the Torah's length without putting a number to it (in Tractate Eruvin 21a)

Two further Talmudic traditions hold that Job either lived in the time of Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 or of Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

. Levi ben Laḥma held that Job lived in the time of Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, by whom the Book of Job was written. Others argue that it was written by Job himself (see ), or by Elihu, or Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...


Source for Jewish Law

Some of the law
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

s and custom
Minhag is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Judaism. A related concept, Nusach , refers to the traditional order and form of the prayers...

s of mourning in Judaism
Bereavement in Judaism
Bereavement in Judaism is a combination of minhag and mitzvah derived from Judaism's classical Torah and rabbinic texts...

 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.

Liturgical use

In most traditions of Jewish liturgy, the Book of Job is not read publicly in the manner of the Pentateuch
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, Prophets
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

, or megillot. However, there are some Jews, particularly the Spanish and Portuguese Jews
Spanish and Portuguese Jews
Spanish and Portuguese Jews are a distinctive sub-group of Sephardim who have their main ethnic origins within the Jewish communities of the Iberian peninsula and who shaped communities mainly in Western Europe and the Americas from the late 16th century on...

, who do hold public readings of the Book of Job on the Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

 fast (a day of mourning over the destruction of the First
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 and Second
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 and other tragedies). The cantillation
Cantillation is the ritual chanting of readings from the Hebrew Bible in synagogue services. The chants are written and notated in accordance with the special signs or marks printed in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible to complement the letters and vowel points...

 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
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 and Proverbs
Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...

. 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.

Philosophical approach

Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, 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 . 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
Lev Shestov
Lev Isaakovich Shestov , born Yehuda Leyb Schwarzmann , was a Ukrainian/Russian existentialist philosopher. Born in Kiev on , he emigrated to France in 1921, fleeing from the aftermath of the October Revolution. He lived in Paris until his death on November 19, 1938.- Life :Shestov was born Lev...

 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!"
— Speculation and Apocalypse

In Christianity

A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s accept the Book of Job as part of the Old Testament canon. The character of Job is also mentioned in the New Testament, as an example of perseverance in suffering . There are several references to the Book of Job throughout the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, especially the Epistles. Christian themes include God's mercy (not treating sinners as they truly deserve), grace (treating unworthy sinners as they do not deserve), compassion (toleration of much discrediting, inappropriate mortal speculation impugning the divine character, and allegations of unrighteous/unfair dealings with men), restoration (where sin abounds, generosity superabounds) omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

, omnisapience, omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, omniliberty, aseity
Aseity refers to the property by which a being exists in and of itself, from itself, or exists as so-and-such of and from itself...

 and infinite love.

Messianic anticipation in the book

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 can not reconcile himself with God anticipates the need for the Messiah to become Incarnate
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

. 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 have to himself 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
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...


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
Redeemer (Christianity)
In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". Although the New Testament does not use the title "Redeemer", the word "redemption" is used in several...

" has been made famous by its use in Handel's Messiah
Messiah (Handel)
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later...

, 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:

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.

Liturgical use

The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 reads from Job during Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...


The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 traditionally reads from the Book of Job during Matins
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...

 in the first two weeks of September, as well as in the Office of the Dead. In the revised Liturgy of the Hours
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

, Job is read during the Eighth and Ninth Weeks in Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time is a season of the Christian liturgical calendar, in particular the calendar of the Roman rite and related liturgical rites. The English name is intended to translate the Latin term Tempus per annum...


Middle Eastern folk traditions on Job

In Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 folk tradition, Ayyub's place of trial is Al-Joura, a village outside the town of Al Majdal (Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

). It was there, God rewarded him with a Fountain of Youth
Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John...

 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
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Job is known as Eyüp, and he is supposed to have lived in Şanlıurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

. There is also a tomb of Job outside the city of Salalah
Salalah , is the capital and seat of the governor or Wali of the southern Omani province of Dhofar. The population of Salalah was 197,169 in 2009....

 in Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...


Commentaries on Job

  • Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr, and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, (1996), HarperSanFrancisco paperback 1999, ISBN 0-06-069201-4, (contains the non-biblical portion of the scrolls)
  • Stella Papadaki-Oekland,"Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts of the Book of Job",ISBN 2-503-53232-2,
  • Tracy Byrd in "Walking to Jeresalum"

External links

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