Job 1:1-22

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Job lived in the “land of Uz” (Ausitis [LXX]). Words in a Septuagint epilogue that are not found in the Masoretic Text refer to the “land of Ausitis” as bordering Idumea and Arabia. Job is described as “complete” or a person of integrity, “upright,” and a man “fearing God [having a wholesome reverential regard for God] and turning away from evil [shunning corrupt practices].” According to the Septuagint, he was “true,” “genuine,” or “honest,” blameless,” “righteous” or “upright, and “God-fearing,” devout, or reverential. He abstained from “every evil deed.” (1:1; 42:17b [LXX]; see the introduction for additional comments.)

Job came to have a large family. “Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.” (1:2)

Job’s wealth largely consisted of domestic animals. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of bovines, and 500 female donkeys (“grazing female donkeys” [LXX]). The female donkeys would have been a valuable source for milk. To care for his animals and possessions, Job had many servants. The Septuagint additionally mentions his “great works” on the land, which could indicate that he was engaged in extensive and varied activities. (1:3)

Job is described as being “greater than all the sons of the east.” This could mean that he was wealthier than all those who lived in the same eastern region. The Septuagint rendering for the Hebrew word translated “greater” is the adjective heugenés, meaning “well-born,” and may relate to his noble or dignified standing among his contemporaries. In a Septuagint epilogue, he is identified as having ruled as king in Edom. (1:3; 42:17d)

A customary practice among Job’s sons was for each of them, on a rotational basis, to arrange to feast together in their respective houses on a set day. They would then invite their sisters to eat and drink with them. Their desire to have their sisters present indicates that the sons of Job ate and drank with proper restraint. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that each day all the brothers were together they had a feast to which they invited their sisters. (1:4)

When the seven sons completed the days of feasting, Job sent for them and “sanctified them” or purified them from possible defilement. Acting in the capacity of a priest for his family, he rose early in the morning and offered a burnt offering for each of his sons. The Septuagint adds that he also offered “one calf” as a sin offering for “their souls” (for them or for their lives). Job’s reason for sanctifying or purifying his sons by offering sacrifices was his concern that, in the course of their feasting, they might have sinned and “blessed” God in “their hearts” (in their minds or within themselves). In this context, the verb “blessed” is commonly regarded as a euphemism with the opposite significance. Rather than denoting “cursed,” however, the euphemism may apply to variety of negative expressions. According to the Septuagint, Job was concerned that his sons, in their “thinking faculty” or mind, might have “thought bad things toward God,” After the feasting of his children, Job’s practice “all the days,” continually, or always was to offer sacrifices. (1:5; see the Notes section.)

A certain day came when the “sons of God” (“angels of God” [LXX]) stationed themselves before YHWH, and Satan also made his appearance “among them.” The Hebrew designation “Satan” identifies him as a resister or opposer. In the Septuagint, he is called “devil” or “slanderer.” The context that follows reveals him to have been one who resisted God, insisting that God was wrong in trusting Job. Satan also proved himself to be a slanderer, for he implied that Job only conducted himself uprightly because God had blessed and protected him. (1:6; see the Notes section.)

According to the account, YHWH was fully aware of Satan’s thoughts, and he made him reveal his view of Job by questioning him. In response to the question from where he had come, Satan (the “devil” or “slanderer” [LXX]) is quoted as replying, “From roving about on the earth and walking about on it [walking about that (which is) under heaven (LXX)].” (1:7; see the Notes section.)

The question as to whether Satan (the “devil” or “slanderer” [LXX]) had set his “heart on” (“thought” or “mind against” [LXX]) YHWH’s servant Job refers to whether he had made him the object of his attention, with the implication being that he had ill-will toward him and regarded him as only serving God for selfish reasons. In YHWH’s estimation, no one “on the earth” was like Job — “complete” or a man of integrity, “and upright, fearing God [having a wholesome fear of God] and turning away from evil [abstaining from corrupt practices].” The Septuagint says that Job was “blameless,” “true,” “genuine,” or “honest,” “God-fearing,” devout, or reverential, and a man who abstained from “every evil deed.” (1:8)

Satan (the “devil” or “slanderer” [LXX]) raised the question as to whether Job feared God “for nothing,” or without his having gained greatly from it. This question implied slanderously that, were it not for selfish gain, Job would cease to be a God-fearing man. (1:9)

In question form, Satan (the “devil” or “slanderer” [LXX]) claimed that God had protected Job and all of his possessions. Regarding what God did for Job, the Hebrew text has the word suk, which is thought to mean “fence in protectively.” The corresponding verb in the Septuagint is a form of periphrásso (“enclose”). As with a protective wall, hedge, or fence, God had surrounded Job, his house, and everything he had “on every side.” According to the Septuagint rendering, God had enclosed the things “outside” him (the things Job possessed that were external to him) and the things “inside his house” or household and “all the things outside” that belonged to him “all around.” Additionally, Satan contended that God had blessed the “works” of Job’s hands or everything that he did, causing his livestock to increase “in the land.” (1:10)

If God were to put forth his “hand” and “touch” all that Job had (depriving him of everything that he possessed), he (as Satan claimed) would “bless” him to his face. Both the Hebrew text and the Greek text of the Septuagint contain the verb for “bless,” with the apparent euphemistic meaning of “curse” or “blaspheme.” (1:11)

YHWH granted Satan (the “devil” or the “slanderer” [LXX]) to have in his “hand” or power everything that Job had. This was with the specific limitation that he could not extend his “hand” to harm Job personally. Thereupon Satan (the “devil” or “slanderer” [LXX]) went forth from the “face” or presence of YHWH. (1:12)

A day came when Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their oldest brother. (1:13)

On that very day of feasting, a messenger arrived to inform Job about a calamity that had occurred while his servants were plowing with the bovines and the female donkeys were feeding in the pasture alongside them. (1:14)

Sabeans fell upon the plowing bovines, the female donkeys, and Job’s servants. They killed the servants with the “edge [literally, mouth] of the sword,” and seized the animals. The messenger was the sole escapee and so the only one who could inform Job about what had happened. The Sabean marauders could have been descendants of the Sheba in the line of Ham through Cush or the Sheba in the line of Shem through Joktan. (Genesis 10:6, 7, 21-29) Based on the Septuagint (Job 42:17b), Job lived on the “borders of Idumea and Arabia.” This suggests that the Sabeans resided in the Arabian Peninsula. (1:15; see the Notes section.)

While the first messenger was still speaking, another one arrived to make his report about an additional calamity. “Fire of God” had fallen “from heaven,” burning up the sheep and the servants of Job who tended them. In the Septuagint, there is no reference to God. It reads, “Fire fell from heaven.” This may refer to a lightning strike that started a quickly spreading fire that engulfed the sheep and the shepherds so that they perished in the flames. There was only one escapee, the messenger who made his report to Job. (1:16; see the Notes section.)

The second messenger had not finished speaking when a third messenger came. This messenger informed Job that the Chaldean raiders formed three bands and then seized his camels and killed his servants “with the edge [literally, mouth] of the sword.” He alone had escaped to relate to Job what had occurred. (1:17)

The Septuagint does not refer to the Chaldeans. It quotes the messenger as saying, “The horsemen formed three bands [literally, heads] [around] us, and they encircled the camels and captured them. And they killed the servants with swords, but I alone escaped and came to tell you.” (1:17)

Another messenger arrived while the third one was still speaking. This fourth messenger then related that Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the home of their oldest brother. (1:18)

While Job’s sons and daughters were feasting, a very strong wind from the direction of the wilderness (or the east) blew against the four corners of the house. The house then collapsed upon the children, killing them. Only the messenger had escaped to bring this distressing news to Job. (1:19)

Job arose and, in expression of his grief, tore his garment, shaved the hair of his head, dropped to his knees to the ground, and prostrated himself in a manifest act of worship. (1:20)

“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb,” Job said, “and naked I will return there. YHWH has given, and YHWH has taken away. Blessed be the name of YHWH.” The Septuagint adds, “As it seemed good to the Lord, so also it came to be.” Job’s quoted words represent him as one who recognized that man came from the elements of the earth or the ground and, at death, would eventually return to those elements. So although he came naked out of his own mother’s womb, he also came forth naked from the earthly elements of which his mother consisted, or from the earth as if it were his mother. To these elements, or to the earth, he would return with not a single one of his possessions. Everything that he owned, Job attributed to having received from YHWH, and he spoke of the loss of everything as YHWH’s act of taking everything away from him. He “blessed” the name of YHWH or praised and glorified the God represented by the name. Previously (in verses 5 and 11), the Hebrew word for “bless” was used in a euphemistic sense to convey a negative significance. In this context, however, the basic meaning of “bless” is unmistakable. (1:21)

Contrary to the contention of Satan (verse 11), Job did not curse God after experiencing the loss of all his possessions and all his children. “In all this,” he “did not sin” and did not ascribe anything unseemly to God. The Septuagint is more specific when identifying “all this” as “all these things that had befallen him.” It then says that he did not ascribe “folly to God.” Although Job had suffered greatly, he did not find fault with God nor did he blaspheme. (1:22)


In the concluding part of verse 5, only the “sons” are mentioned. It is possible, however, that the earlier reference to “all” could refer to all of Job’s children (sons and daughters).

The repetition of the nearly identical wording of verses 6 through 8 in verses 1 through 3 of chapter 2 indicates that the prologue is a stylistic narrative.

It should be kept in mind that communication in the heavenly realm (verses 7 through 10) would not have taken place in the Hebrew language. (1 Corinthians 13:1) This may provide a basis for considering the prologue as having the experiences of Job as the underlying foundation but as being presented in a literary style that is designed primarily to convey a message. If this is indeed the case, the prologue does not reveal what took place in the heavenly realm nor does it disclose the nature of Satan’s involvement in the calamities that befell Job. In themselves, these calamities were not outside the realm of human experience and would not have required the intervention of an invisible entity. Without additional expressions about this aspect, the commentary that follows is focused on the wording of the Hebrew text and the Greek text of the Septuagint.

The stylistic wording of the surviving messenger (verse 15) is repeated (verses 16, 17, 19) in connection with the report of all the other messengers (“and I have escaped, only I alone, to tell you”).

In verse 16, the expression “fire of God” could designate an exceedingly great fire.

The arrival of three messengers in quick succession (verses 16, 17, 18) is expressed with the identical stylistic wording. “While this one was speaking, also another came and said.” Job is represented as not having any time for recovering from the emotional stress resulting from the individual reports, with the last report (the loss of all his children) constituting the severest blow.