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Relationship to Old Testament. The relationship of Daniel to the Old Testament as a whole is discussed at Old Testament: Organization.
Story. The book of Job relates five episodes of varying length:
- Chapters 1-2a: Job is blessed, then afflicted. Job initially enjoys an abundance of all good things in life. But he is then twice afflicted, once with the loss of wealth and posterity, and a second time with illness.
- Chapters 2b-31: Job's three friends speak with Job. Eliphaz comforts Job that, since he is a generally good person, his punishment should not last too long. Bildad cautions that, although the rest of Job’s family has sinned all the way unto death, Job himself still has an opportunity while he lives to repent of his sinfulness. Zophar denounces Job as a sinful hypocrite who has not yet suffered enough. The common thread is that all three assume Job is being punished for past sin, and each of the three accuses Job of increasing degrees of sinfulness. Job repeatedly protests his righteousness. In the end God rebukes these three friends, thus refuting their assumption that suffering is always a consequence of sin.
- Chapters 32-37: Elihu then speaks with Job. Elihu argues that Job’s suffering is instead an opportunity to strengthen himself against future sin. Job’s complaint that God is treating him unfairly thus misses the point and reflects a prideful lack of trust in God’s wisdom. Job does not protest against this accusation, and God does not rebuke this friend.
- Chapters 38-42a: Finally, the Lord speaks with Job. The Lord asks how Job can compare to the Lord's greatness, and Job repents of presuming to second guess the Lord.
- Chapter 42b: Job is again blessed. Job prays for his three friends who have unwittingly persecuted him. He is then blessed with double of all that he previously enjoyed.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Job include:
This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the book. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
There is little to indicate when Job is set historically. But it appears to be set earlier rather than later, likely even before the Exodus, since Job performed his own priestly sacrifices without any mention of Levitical priesthood, his wealth was measured in animals rather than coins, and he lived for an additional 140 years following a story that began after seven adult children had each moved out to live in their own homes (1:2-5; 42:7-8, 16).
A broader treatment of the history of ancient Israel, including Job, is found at Old Testament: Historical Overview.
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- Adversity. In the first accusation Eliphaz comforts Job that, since he is a generally good person, his punishment should not last too long. Bildad cautions that, although the rest of Job’s family has sinned all the way unto death, Job himself still has an opportunity to repent of his sinfulness. Zophar denounces Job as a sinful hypocrite who has not yet suffered enough. The common thread is that all three friends assume Job is being punished for past sin, and each of the three accuses Job of increasing degrees of sinfulness. Job repeatedly protests his righteousness. In the end God rebukes these three friends and refutes their assumption that suffering is always a consequence of sin. In the second accusation Elihu argues that Job’s suffering is instead an opportunity to strengthen himself against future sin. Job’s complaint that God is treating him unfairly thus misses the point and reflects a prideful lack of trust in God’s wisdom. Job does not protest against this accusation, and God does not rebuke this friend.
- Charity. In the end, after Job expresses humility toward God, and immediately after he prays for the three friends who have wrongly accused him, he is again blessed with bounty. Even in adversity we should praise and trust God and reach outside ourselves with charity.
- Wisdom. The first interminable debate progresses slowly, if at all. This can be seen as part of the point. After two dozen chapters of debate Job and his three friends appear no closer to wisdom than when they began. Man cannot discover truth through his own limited faculties. Wisdom is found only after God himself intervenes to settle the debate with revealed truth.
- The patience of Job. Job does not seem all that patient. He is certainly faithful, but he also appears to be impatient with his situation.
Complete outline and page map
This heading contains an outline for the entire book. Items in blue or purple text indicate hyperlinked pages that address specific portions of the book. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- Job is righteous and blessed (1:1-5)
- the Lord allows Job to lose wealth and children (1:6-22)
- the Lord allows Job to lose health (2:1-10)
- Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar visit Job (2:11-13)
- Job laments (Chapter 3)
- Job curses the day of his birth (3:1-10)
- Job laments that he did not die in infancy (3:11-19)
- Job longs for death (3:20-26)
- E: Job has sinned and God is chastising him (4:1-5:27)
- J: my complaint is just, I lack comfort (6:1-7:21)
- B: Job should repent (8:1-22)
- J: though seemingly hopeless, I will plead with God (9:1-10:22)
- Z: Job, repent (11:1-20)
- J: defends himself and prays to God (12:1-14:22)
- E: accuses Job of folly (15:1-35)
- J: reproaches pitiless friends, prays for relief (16:1-17:16)
- B: the wicked are punished (18:1-21)
- J: despite friends, looks to his redeemer (19:1-29)
- Z: on the fate of the wicked (20:1-29)
- J: the wicked go unpunished (21:1-34)
- E: Job, this is why you suffer (22:1-30)
- J: innocent, but frustrated at God’s apathy (23:1-24:25)
- B: how can we be righteous? (25:1-6)
- J: responds (Chapters 26-31)
- divine sovereignty, innocence, fate of wicked (26:1-14)
- God is wise, man is not, so wisdom lies in the fear of God (27:1-28:28)
- wisdom cannot be mined (28:1-11)
- wisdom cannot be purchased (28:12-19)
- wisdom cannot be found (28:20-22)
- wisdom is in the Lord (28:23-28)
- again laments his condition (Chapters 29-31)
- God’s past blessings (29:1-10)
- present adversity(30:1-31)
- self-curse (31:1-40)
- Job's friends stop talking with him (32:1)
- deference to those older, then contradicts Job and his three friends (32:2-33:33)
- declares God’s justice (34:1-37)
- condemns self-righteousness (35:1-16)
- declares God’s goodness and power (36:1-37:18)
- conclusion (37:19-24)
- the Lord speaks (38:1-40:2)
- challenge (38:1-3)
- questions (38:4-39:30)
- challenge (40:1-2)
- Job replies (40:3-5)
- the Lord speaks (40:6-41:34)
- challenge (40:6-7)
- questions (40:8-41:34)
- Job replies (42:1-6)
- the Lord’s anger at Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar and instruction for Job (42:7-9)
- Job prays for his three accusers and his affliction ends (42:10-15)
- Job is doubly blessed (42:16-17)
Points to ponder
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I have a question
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This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- Amplified • The Amplified Bible, 1987 update
- NASB • New American Standard Bible, 1995 update
- NIV • New International Version
- RSV • Revised Standard Version
Joseph Smith Translation
The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to only two verses in Job:
- Job 1:6
- Job 2:1
- Alden, Robert L. The New American Commentary, Vol. 11: Job. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993. (ISBN 0805401113). BS1415.3 .A43 1993.
- Hughes, Robert B. and J. Carl Laney. New Bible Companion. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990. (ISBN 084234733X). BS511.2 .H777 1990.
- Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 150. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2009. (ISBN 1606411314) BX8630.A2 2009.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Job: Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?." In Old Testament: First Kings to Malachi (Institute Manual), vol. 2, third ed. (PDF version), ch. 3, p. 23-30. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003.
- Clines, David J.A. "The Arguments of Job’s Three Friends." In David J.A. Clines, David M. Gunn, and Alan J. Hauser, ed. Art and Meaning: Rhetoric in Biblical Literature, p. 199-214. Sheffield, England: University of Sheffield, JSOT Press (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Series #19), 1982. (ISBN 0905774388) (ISBN 0905774396) BS1171.2 .A7 1982. Excellent analysis of the differing viewpoints from which each of Job's three friends approach his misfortune.
- Diewert, David Allen. The Composition of the Elihu Speeches: A Poetic and Structural Analysis. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1991. Includes a good analysis of the differences between Elihu and the three other friends, both as to the content of their criticisms and the manner in which those criticisms are received.
- Hooks, Stephen. The College Press NIV Commentary: Job. 2006. NEED FULL CITE.
- Ivanski, Dariusz. The Dynamics of Job’s Intercession. Analectica Biblica, 2006. NEED FULL CITE. Insightful article exploring Job's charity toward others as the event that ends his own personal suffering.
- Mogget's posts at the FPR blog
- Tanner, John S. "The Book of Job." In Kent P. Jackson, ed. Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: First Kings to Malachi, p. 391-406. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993. (ISBN 087579789X) BS1171.2 .A15 1993. Good introduction to themes in Job.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.
- Alden, New American Commentary, Vol. 11: Job, 25-28, noting that there are no conclusive hints about dating in the book of Job itself and that dates have therefore been suggested even as late as after Malachi; Hughes, New Bible Companion, 215.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 150.