What do You Really Want? The Book of Job

Brit-Am Commentary (BAC).

Where was Uz?
Was Job an Israelite?
The Five Basic Instincts of Human Beings
The World to Come Versus Reward and Punishment in this Life?
Job, His Possession, and Atonements.
The Satan Appears.
Job Meets With Disaster.


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What do You Really Want?
The Book of Job


The Book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who lived at an uncertain time and who probably was not of Israelite stock.
Job was first blessed when the Satan provoked God to test him. Job was afflicted and suffered. His friends came both to comfort and remonstrate with him.
They could not believe that affliction had been visited without culpability. Job argues with them. In the end the Almighty appears and both justifies and rebukes Job.
After that Job was blessed again and all that had been taken from him is restored several times over.
In the course of these discourses profound truths and observations are revealed.
The language of Job is Hebrew.  The language is of a high standard and has what are considered archaic characteristics.
Even today there are some who attribute the work to Moses himself.
I would place it early in the period of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
There is also an opinion that the whole thing never took place but is rather a literary device to present an ideological and philosophical point of view.
Most however incline to believe that the Book of Job describes events that really happened and here too we are inclined to agree with them.

I personally like the Book of Job though the subject matter is not exactly a joyful one.
We do not know the book very well and should have studied it a bit more than we have done.
Let us therefore together begin a new study of it.

Job 1 


[Job 1:1] There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

Where was Uz?
Some say it was in what is now known as Armenia or in one of the neighboring regions that historically were considered part of Armenia.

For a non-Brit-Am source see:
Jewish History of Armenia: Lost Tribes and Khazars
# Armenia is linked with Uz. The anti-Jewish attitudes prevailing in eastern-Byzantine (Armenian) provinces made the Targum identify it with the "daughter of Edom that dwellest in the land of Uz" (Lam. 4:21) or with "Constantina in the land of Armenia" (now Viransehir, between Urfa and Nasibin (Nisibis). Hence Job's "land of Uz" is referred to as Armenia in some commentaries, for instance in those of Nahmanides and Joseph b. David ibn Yahya. The "Uz-Armenia" of Abraham Farissol is however the Anatolian region near Constantinople.. #

Nachmanides and others identified UZ with Armenia meaning at that time the region of Northern Syria and this corresponds with the location of an offshoot from Edom in that region.
Edom to the North of Israel
#8. Biblical Studies: Edom to the North of Israel

Uz was an area associated with both Aram and Edom and there was a merging between them.

Who was Job?
There is an opinion that Job is identical with one of the sons of Issachar who was known by the same name:
Genesis 46:13 The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah,  Job,  and Shimron.

In the Book of Numbers it says:
Numbers 26:23 The sons of Issachar according to their families were: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites;  of Puah, the family of the Punites; 24 of Jashub, the family of the Jashubites; of Shimron, the family of the Shimronites.
Here Puah (of the Puni) is equated with Puvah in Genesis 46, and Jashub with Job.

We are ourselves agree with the opinion of Iben Ezra that Job was not an Israelite but came from the northern section of Edom.

Avraham Iben Ezra says; [There are those who say Job] was one of the descendants of Nahor the  brother of Abraham.  To me it seems more likely that he was from the family of Edom. This may be shown by his association with the Land of Uz ,
# Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, You who dwell in the land of Uz!  # (Lamentations 4:21).
It is also unacceptable to say that he never existed [but was only parable], for we find  Ezekiel [referring to him as a real historical person]
# even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it...#  [Ezekiel 14:20]...the place of Job was near Harran [in northern Syria].

Another reason why we think Job was not an Israelite is the lack of Ancestral Immortality in what he strives for. Job is considered with himself, his family, and society.
His concerns are localized but they do not receive particularistic expression.  Job would act the same way to everyone else no matter where he found himself.
Job is righteous for the sake of it, because it is the right way to be and also usually (but not necessarily always) it is also the most worthwhile in the long run.

The Five Basic Instincts of Human Beings are:
1. Acknowledgement of a Divine Authority
2. Survival
3. Procreation
4. Self-Expression
5. Group Cohesion (family, tribe, nation, etc)

The Israelite experience beginning from Abraham entails belonging to the Chosen People and the place of the individual person and family within the Tribe amongst the People.
This is the fifth point above and the four points that precede it also find expression within it.

Job deals with this world.  There is another world. There is Life after Death. Jewish Tradition often emphasized Life after Death.
The Bible also gives expression to this.
See Brit-Am Commentary to Daniel 12:2, 13  1-Samuel 2:6 Isaiah 26:19 27:13
Nevertheless the overall Biblical attitude is to relate to Life after Death as another dimension with rules of its own.
The Bible seeks more to present a total outlook on reality while concentrating on this world and having everything be settled here,
as well as elsewhere.

This is how God bless those who do HIS will and who try and go in HIS paths. This is what we understand. You can talk about heaven and hell and spiritual satisfaction and reincarnation and all kinds of possibilities. All this might be true and we do believe that there is something beyond this physical existence. We are even conscious of it to a degree. Nevertheless a human being exists within the parameters of their physical existence. This is what we understand and this is what God has promised us. If we do good it will go well with us and if not with us at least with our children or those about us for whom we care.
Statistically it is true. Even in this world on the whole they who do good receive a blessing. God blesses us and looks after those who seek to do HIS will and go in the path HE shows us how to go in.

Was Dinah the wife of Job?
In continuation we will be introduced to the wife of Job who upbraids him for his continued faith despite the visitations that have befallen him.
Dinah herself at a young age had been the victim of cruel rape and abuse by the hand of a local Canaanite potentate (Genesis ch.34). Dinah had been violated and defiled through no fault of her own.
Different traditions concerning Dinah exist.
One tradition says that Dinah became the wife of Job. Job suffered undeservedly and his wife told him to give up hope. Maybe this advice was a reflection of her own bad experience?
Another tradition says that Dinah married Simeon. This would have been incest and is unlikely.
A third tradition says that from the union of Dinah and Schechem came a daughter who was adopted by Poti-Phera the Priest of On in Egypt and she married Joseph. This is also unlikely.

[Job 1:2] And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.

Children are good. Everyone wants children. Some unfortunately do not have them. Whatever you have, be thankful for. Sons or daughters, it is all good.
A combination of both sons and daughters is probably the best.
The Sages said that the commandment given to Adam the first man to be fruitful and multiply requires one to have at least one son and one daughter.
The more the better.
A friend of mine had seven daughters in a row, and then one son!
Men being what they are have a preference for boys:

The Commentary, Metsudat David:  seven sons. This too would be considered a blessing in that his male children were more than twice the number of his female ones!

Job had children but there are those who do not.
Even great and holy men in some cases died childless.
Let us be thankful for what we have and make the most of it while we still can.
There is only one of each of us. We will not be here again, at least not as we are now.

Deuteronomy 1:
10 The LORD your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. 11 May the LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you!

Job, His Possession, and Atonements.
[Job 1:3] Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.

 his possessions. In Hebrew "Miknehu" is derived from the root "KNH" meaning buy, possess. In its form "Mikneh" it usually means livestock.  The English word "kine" meaning "cattle" derives from the same root.

Amos Chocham (Daat Mikra) points out that from the descriptions of environment, fauna, and flora in the Book of Job we receive the impression that he dwelt in a borderline region that straddled pastoral (steppe) areas and desert regions.
Amos Chocham also points out that the camel was very valuable dues to its strength and stamina and ability to carry heavy loads long distances.
Chocham also says that even in our days we still find (with Arab peasants) female donkeys employed in conjunction with cattle for ploughing. The asses carry the plough to the field where the cattle ploughs and the asses graze until the end of  day when the asses carry the plough back.

the people of the East. in Hebrew "bnei Kedem".  "Kedem" means east.
cf Genesis 29:1 So Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the East (Kedem).
Jaacob went to the Land of Laban and Harran. This area is not so much to the east of the Land of Israel but rather to the north.
"Kedem" may also mean "Ancient". In Hebrew it derives from the root KDM connoting "precede, before".
The sun rises in the east. It comes to the east before it moves westward therefore the east is "Kedem" i.e. "before" the west.
It could be that instead of  "the people of the East" the expression "bnei Kedem" may be understood to mean "Ancient Ones" or "People from the Old Countries".

[Job 1:4] And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

[Job 1:5]  So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, 'It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus Job did regularly.

cursed. In Hebrew "barcu" i.e. blessed. Here it says blessed but means cursed as correctly translated.
When a person gives into temptation they do not deny God but they say (or rather half-consciously assume) that the Almighty does not care for them or watch over them.
It is as if they diminish the measure of Deity.
This is a form of "blessing" God in the negative sense.
So people do this. We all may do it in small ways without really being conscious of what we are doing.
Even when we say things that we know at the time are of questionable value it is as if we are putting God to one side.  This too is a form of negative "blessing".
The sacrifice comes to wipe away any guilt we may have incurred.

The Satan Appears.

[Job 1:6] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Here it seems that the Satan also one of the Sons of God?
Sons of God in Hebrew is "Bnei Ha-Elohim".
 Sons of God according to the Sages means the Angelic Spiritual forces through which the Almighty rules the world.
Sons in Hebrew Ben (singular) and Bnei (possessive plural) does not necessarily mean literally offspring. It can also refer to members of a group e.g. Sons of the Prophets (1-Kings 20:35).
The Almighty uses the Satan for his own purposes but this does not mean that the Satan is devoid of a will of his own
Satan in Hebrew means "adversary, accuser" usually with malicious intent.
The name is probably related to the root word "SoTeH" connoting divert, turn from the right path, pervert, incite, etc.
In Judaism I would say there is not that much emphasis on the Satan as a distinct personality.
The Satan is said to represent the Evil Impulse.
We all have positive and negative inclinations.
Even the negative impulses can be channeled for good purposes. The problem arises when the negative urges take over.
There are those who consider the Satan in the Book of Job to not be a real entity but rather a simile for the power of adversity.
Even though the Satan plays a central role in the Book of Job understanding (or not understanding) who the Satan is should not really affect our appreciation of the message that the Book of Job gives us.

For more concerning the Satan see our new article:
Who is the Satan?

[Job 1:7] And the LORD said to Satan, From where do you come?

So Satan answered the LORD and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.

Amos Chacham (Daat Mikra) explains the Satan as boasting that wherever he went he was in his own domain i.e. all the earth was given over to selfishness and evil-doing.

[Job 1:8] Then the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?

blameless. In Hebrew "tam" which can mean blameless but also connotes trusting and straightforward. The English word "tame" derives from the same word--root.
 upright. Hebrew "YaShar". The English word "sure" is related.

Job Meets With Disaster.

[Job 1:9] So Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for nothing.

[Job 1:10] Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

[Job 1:11] But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!?

He will surely curse You.  Hebrew "yivorececa" Literally "will bless you".  This is a literary device in the bible where a word may be used to imply its opposite when speaking of the Almighty.  It means that Job will curse God and this is how it is translated. Se our commentary above to [Job 1:5].

[Job 1:12 ] And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

[Job 1:13] Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house;

[Job 1:14] and a messenger came to Job and said, The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,

oxen. Hebrew "boker" i.e. cattle.
donkeys. Hebrew "atonot" i.e. female donkeys or "jennys".
The cattle were ploughing and the jennys grazing besides them. The female donkeys were used to carry the plough from place to place while the cattle did the actual ploughing. Daat Mikra says this practice may still be seen in the Middle East.

The sons and daughters were eating and drinking while this was going on.  We see below that more disasters came on Job and then finally he was told that his sons and daughters had been killed in an almost supernatural catastrophe.  This news will cause Job in a sense to break down. Psychologically it seems he could take the loss of his property and possessions as long as he knew his children were alright. When something happened to them his attitude changed.

[Job 1:15] when Sheba raided them and took them away, indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!

Sheba (translated as the Sabaeans) were an Arab-like people who dwelt in the south and apparently raided the civilized periphery.
There was a people named Sheba who were descended from Joktan (Yoktan) brother of Peleg son of Hebrew descended from Aram of Shem (Genesis 10:21-28).
Later one of the tribes descended from Keturah and Abraham (Genesis 25:3). Often when two peoples in Scripture have the same name it indicates that they amalgamated into one nation.

[Job 1:16] While he was still speaking, another also came and said, The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!

[Job 1:17] While he was still speaking, another also came and said, The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!

Chaldeans. Hebrew "Casdim". They were descended from Chesed son of Nahor brother of Abraham (Genesis 22:22).  Later the Casdim (Chaldeans) seized control of Babylon and settled there after which the term "Casid" (Chaldean) became synonymous with Babylonian. 
These attacked Job  from the north. The working cattle  of Job and his transport donkeys were therefore raided by the Sabaeans from the south who killed his servants while from the north the Casdim raided his camels and also killed more of his his servants.

 [Job 1:18] While he was still speaking, another also came and said, Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house,

[Job 1:19] and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!'

[Job 1:20] Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

Even today Jewish mourners sit on the ground or on a low stool and tear their clothes when their closest relatives pass away.
The shaving of the head as a sign of mourning however is not a Hebrew practice. It is in fact forbidden (Deuteronomy 21:12).
It was however recognized that mourners in their grief were not to be expected to act normally.
In practice it was not unknown for mourners to tear hair out of their heads, or simply cut it all very short, in their grief.
cf. Micah 1:
16 Make yourself bald and cut off your hair,
Because of your precious children;
Enlarge your baldness like an eagle,
For they shall go from you into captivity.

[Job 1:21] And he said:  Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.

[Job 1:22] In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.


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