JOB, BOOK OF. The most remarkable of the Hebrew writings belonging to the class called Wisdom-Literature (q.v.). It deals with the problem of suffering, seeking to find an answer to the question, Why do the righteous suffer? Job, from the land of Uz, is a " perfect and upright " man. When the story opens he is also pros perous and happy, having been blessed with wealth and children. Satan, however, suggests to God that Job's piety would not be proof against misfortune. Let Job be put to the trial, and its worthlessness would soon appear. God allows Satan to test this perfect and up right man, and he is overtaken by one misfortune after another in quick succession. Job loses not only his possessions, but also his sons and his daughters. God will not allow his life to be taken; but he is smitten with a sore disease, either Elephantiasis, or the Oriental Boil, or Ecthyrna. So deplorable is his condition that his wife advises him to " renounce God and die." But in spite of all his sufferings, Job did not sin with his lips. He now retires to a place outside the town and sits in ashes. Hither came three friends. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, to console with him. Out of respect for Job's grief they sat with him in silence seven days and nights. Then they sought to convince him that his sufferings were due to sin. Job cannqt, and will not, admit this. This debate between Job and his three friends occupies a large part of the book. At the end of chapter xxxi.. after Job has made a direct appeal to God, it is said : "The words of Job are ended." Afterwards, however, a new speaker, Elihu, is introduced (xxxii.-xxxvii.). Elihu dwells upon the love and providential wisdom of God manifested by the regulated course of the world. As to the suffering of the righteous, he points out that it is God's instrument of education. " If man misinter prets this educative character of suffering, he thereby commits a grave sin, and is justly punished by God : if, however, he recognises its true character and takes it to heart, the suffering becomes to him a source of infinite blessing, the highest practical proof of the divine love towards him " (Cornill). The Book of Job consists of five
parts. (1) The Prologue, chapters i.-ii., written in prose. (2) The Debate between Job and his friends.
chapters iii.-xxxi., written in poetry. (3) The Speeches of Elihu, chapters xxx11.-xxxvii., written in poetry (except xxxii. 1-6). (4) The Speech and Answer of Jehovah, chapters xxxviii. 1-xlii. 6, written in poetry. (5) The Epilogue, chapter xlii. 7-17, written in prose. It has been thought that the Speeches of Elihu (xxxii. xxxvii.) have no claim to be regarded as an original part of the book. There is no reference to Ellin: in the prologue or the epilogue. Chapter xxxviii., vs. 1, appears to be the direct continuation of xxxi. 40, When Job's friends have been silenced, and Job addresses him self to God Himself, we should expect the reply of Jehovah to follow immediately. " Instead of this being so, six chapters here intervene, with a new speaker who up to this point has not received the smallest mention or notice, and who never gets the smallest notice later in the book, and whose self-introduction (xxxii.
7) cannot be regarded as particularly happy " (Cornill). But, as Conlin says, the genuineness of the Speeches of Eli iu is quite possible. Up to this point the problem raised in the book has found no solution. The poet, gifted as he clearly was, must have had some solution to offer. This is found in the Speeches of Elihu. " In the entire range of Holy Writ there are few passages which in profundity of thought and loftiness of feeling can compare with the Elihu-speeches: in content they form the summit and crown of the Book of Job, and furnish the only solution of the problem which the poet. from his Old Testament standpoint, is able to give, for the true and final solution was shut out from him " (Cornill). The date of the Book of Job is difficult to determine. According to an old Jewish tradition Moses was the author. The thought and language would seem to indicate a quite late date, a date, that is to say, not earlier than 400 B.C. See A. B. Davidson, The Book of Job, 1S93; A. S. Peake, Job, 1904; C. Cornill, Intr.; G. H. Box: 0. C. Whitehouse.