Was Job a real person? Scholars have debated whether or not he was, but other parts of the Bible teach that he was indeed real. In Ezekiel 14:14, 20, Ezekiel places him alongside of both Noah and Daniel as a man who really existed. James also makes reference to him in James 5:11 where we are reminded of his patience. But perhaps the greatest evidence of his existence is the plain statement of fact we find in the beginning of the book. Job 1:1 matter-of-factly states, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job . . . .”
When was the book written? The events of the book appear to have taken place during the time of the Patriarchs. Some conservative scholars suggest that it was during the time of Terah, Abraham’s father.
Who authored the book? While the Holy Spirit authored the book of Job (2 Peter 1:20, 21), the penman is not specifically stated. It could have been Job himself or some other poet of whom we are now unaware. That the book is part of Hebrew tradition indicates that the author may have had some distant relationship to Abraham.
Why was this book written? The book of Job was written to answer the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” It is a question that many ask, even today, and its content is directly relevant to any righteous person who has experienced suffering. When one reads Job, if one who is righteous has suffered, one is expected to find one’s self in Job’s situation asking the same questions that Job asks and wondering the same things that Job wonders. One has the added advantage, however, of knowing what the true background of Job’s sufferings was. While Job and his friends struggle with the problem, the reader, knowing what he knows, is supposed to understand the incorrect assumptions that each make and be able to answer his own questions as he endures suffering himself.
Where did these events take place? Again, Job 1:1 says “in the land of Uz.” While we don’t know exactly, this was likely somewhere in the northwestern part of Iraq. Tradition states it was northeast of Idumea. This may put the land of Uz somewhere around the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the vicinity of Haran. It is unknown.
The book of Job is divided naturally into four sections. I. Chapters one through three comprise the prologue (introductory matters and Job’s opening statement). II. Chapters four through twenty-six comprise the dialogues (between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar). III. Chapters twenty-seven through forty-one comprise the monologues (Job, Elihu, and Yahweh). IV. Chapter forty-two comprises the epilogue.
The prologue sets the stage for the dialogues and monologues. It answers the following questions: What did Job lose? Why is he sick? Why is he really suffering? Who is really behind Job’s sufferings? The reader is supposed to know the answers to these questions before he begins reading the dialogues and monologues so he can know what both Job and his friends assume about his situation that isn’t true.
In the dialogues, Job complains regarding his physical suffering and states that it is without cause. Job’s friends state that Job has obviously sinned grievously against God and that he needs to repent to have his situation restored.
In the monologues, Job demands that God explain to him why he is in this situation. Elihu rebukes Job for taking such a haughty position; then God himself rebukes Job for his haughtiness as well.
The epilogue tells us what Job’s response was to God, who was right in the discussion (Job or his friends) and what happens to Job after this ordeal is over.
Vs. 1 – We’re introduced to Job and where he lives (see introduction). We’re also told of his character. While the KJV says “perfect” the word is blameless. No man is perfect in the sense of sinless, however, we can live our lives in such a way so as not to give occasion to any man to blame us concerning our behavior. Such ought to be the goal of each man seeking to be pleasing to God. Upright has reference to Job’s relationships to his fellow men. He was honest and fair in his business dealings and respectable among his peers. Job feared God. Here is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, the proverb writer states (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). Job also turned away from evil. He shunned it; refused it; neglected it. This reminds us of Joseph and his rejection of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:9). It reminds us of Jesus rejection of Satan (Matthew 4:1-10). And it ought to remind us that God has provided a way out of escape for each temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can shun, reject, and turn away from evil.
Vs. 2 – Job had seven sons and three daughters. Some commentators have seen numerology in this verse, seven being a frequent number in the Bible to reveal that which is perfect and three being the number of the Trinity. Hence seven plus three would be God’s perfect man. However, there is no indication in the text that we should thus consider the number of Job’s children as significant in any way other than that was the number.
Vs. 3 – Job’s wealth is enumerated in this verse. There does not appear to be anything significant about these numbers other than the number itself. Here is another reason for rejecting their significance in verse 2 as well. Job’s wealth was comparable to that of Abraham’s (Genesis 13:6). The author mentions that Job was the greatest in the “east” indicating that he was writing from a perspective west of Job. This may put the place of writing in the general vicinity of Palestine
Vs. 4 – This verse sets the stage for why the sons and daughters were all in the same place when they died. The “day” of the sons may have been their birthday or some other day of honor. That they invited each other for such a celebration indicates that the family was full of fellowship and filial love. To this day, the thought of feasting with family continues to warm the cockles of the heart. God’s family observes the pinnacle of such a feast in the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Vs. 5 – Seemingly this verse is also explanatory of what Job’s coming situation would be. Some may think that perhaps it was because of the sin of his children that they suffered calamity. Such is suggested by Bildad in Job 8:4. So, here the writer let’s us know that Job had been performing the necessary sacrifices in order to maintain peace between his family and God. Like Abraham, Job was the patriarch of his family and so served as family priest in offering up the sacrifices on their behalf. It couldn’t be properly suggested, therefore, that it was due to Job’s family’s sin that Job had such calamity come upon him.