info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
While many Bible commentators claim that Job was a contemporary of Moses (because Moses is credited with writing the book), the ancient language used there appears to date the actual words to sometime before IsraEl’s stay in Egypt, possibly between the time of AbraHam and Jacob.
It is interesting, however, that one ancient (non-inspired) writing says that the man’s full name was Jobab, although he was called Job, and that he was a grandson of AbraHam through IsaAc’s son Esau (see 1 Chronicles 1:44). This seems logical, because he was obviously a worshiper of AbraHam’s God Jehovah/Yahweh. Also, since he lived to be two-hundred and forty years old, he likely lived before Jacob, because life spans had been considerably reduced by Jacob’s time.
Job has often been described as an ‘oriental’, giving the mistaken impression that he was Chinese. The reason for this misunderstanding is that he was said to have been ‘born to a prosperous family from the sunrise in the east.’ However, saying that he came from the east doesn’t necessarily mean that he came from thousands of miles to the east. It appears as though his family had likely settled somewhere just east of the Promised Land, which other Bible texts indicate was where the descendants of Esau (Edom) settled.
Notice that we read at Lamentations 4:21:
‘So rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom…
The one who in Uz, has resided!’
However, the Greek Septuagint text says that Job was from the land of the Ausitidi, which differs from the Hebrew text, where we read that he was from the land of Uz. Why the difference?
Well, Ausitidi may have been what the place was called in the 3rd century BCE when the Greek Septuagint was translated. It’s also noteworthy that some Greek texts render the word Uz as Aus; so, Ausitidi could simply refer to the people from the land of Aus or Uz.
Where did the name Uz originate? Uz could easily refer to the land of AbraHam’s nephew Uz, mentioned at Genesis 22:21. However, there was also a man named Uz who was a great-grandson of Noah through his son Shem. Either way, the early settlers of that land were probably close relatives of AbraHam.
We find further proof of where Job was from, by considering the lands where his three ‘comforters’ (who seem to have been related to AbraHam) lived. Each of their countries or lands is located in the SW part of modern Iraq, east of the Promised Land. Also, the reference to the Jordan River at Job 40:18 indicates that their lands were not far from it. It says:
‘And when it rains, he pays no attention;
For when it runs to the Jordan, he’ll drink it.’
From the poetic cadence of the verses, we can see that the book of Job was originally a song. So some have questioned whether it’s a true story or just an ancient fable. However, telling a story in the form of a song is how the ancients in the Middle East have always communicated their news or history. It allows the story to be told accurately and beautifully from memory.
Therefore, although Moses may have written the book of Job, it was likely an inspired story that was sung and handed down through people of the Middle East for centuries. Moses then put it in writing in the 16th century BCE.
The context of the verses in Job show certain subtleties that indicate the motivations of the speakers. This suggests that it’s an authentic story. For example, the words of EliPhaz the Temanite (as recorded at Job 4:17, 18) tells us that this man had once been spoken to by a demon that said:
‘Why should a man be pure before God?
For He trusts none of His servants,
And He thinks of His angels as crooked.’
Now look at how these words of a demon had actually influenced this man’s thinking about God, for next time he spoke (at Job 15:15) he said:
‘Yet, He doesn’t trust even the holy…
Before Him, the heavens aren’t pure.’
Such a subtle continuity of arguments where seven or more individuals spoke at different times, suggests that the story is very likely an accurate account of what was actually said.