Book Of Job, one of the canonical books of the Old Testament, so called from the name of the patriarch whose history it contains. According to the narrative contained in the introductory chapter, Job dwelt in the land of Uz (probably in the northern part of Arabia Deserta), was a man of eminent probity and piety, blessed with great riches in camels, sheep, and cattle, and highly reputed among the surrounding people. But God permitted Satan to put his virtue to the test. His oxen were stolen by the Sabeeans, his sheep were consumed by fire from heaven, his camels were carried away by the Chaldeans, and his sons and daughters perished amid the ruins of a house overthrown by a whirlwind. He bore these calamities without repining, saying: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Then Satan was permitted to afflict his person. He was smitten with a terrible disease, and his wife counselled him to "curse God, and die" (properly rendered, according to Gesenius and others, " bless God"). Three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, informed of his misfortunes, came to console him.
The book consists chiefly of discussions between Job and his consolers on the question: Why do the righteous suffer ? The burden of their argument, which is afterward taken up with some variation by another friend, Elihu, is that calamities are in proportion to sins, and that Job must have been guilty of great transgressions, or he would not be made to suffer so severely. They therefore admonish him to confess and repent of the guilt of which by his misfortunes he stands convicted. Job maintains, in opposition, that his afflictions are greater than his faults, that upright men are sometimes greatly afflicted, that God's justice does not always appear in the government of the world, and that he sometimes seems to act arbitrarily, as absolute Lord. At the conclusion the Lord himself addresses Job out of a whirlwind, condemning both his presumption in daring to criticise the Omnipotent, of whose ways he knows so little, and the false reasoning of his friends, who endeavored to vindicate Providence by accusing an innocent sufferer. Job acknowledges his nothingness, and is amply rewarded for his constancy. Of the author of this book nothing is known, and its age is variously estimated.
Formerly it was generally believed, from the archaic character of its diction and descriptions, to be one of the most ancient books of the canon, and to have been originally written in old Hebrew or perhaps in Arabic. More recent expositors, as Gesenius, Umbreit, and De Wette, place it in the time of the Chaldean exile. Schlottmann, Delitzsch, and others refer it to the age of Solomon, or a still later one. In poetic sublimity the book is surpassed by no other in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in vigor of expression hardly equalled by any. Many of its passages, however, are exceedingly obscure. - The book of Job has been treated by many authors, among whom are De Pineda, (Commentarii, Madrid, 1597-1601, and later editions in Cologne, Antwerp, Venice, Paris, and Lyons), Schultens (1737), Umbreit (1824; English translation, Edinburgh, 1836-'7), Ro-senmuller (1824), Ewald (1836), Lee (1837), Hirzel (1839; new ed., 1864), Heiligstedt (1847), Hahn (1849), Noyes(1850; new ed., 1867), Schlottmann (1851), Hengstenberg (1856; new ed., 1870), Conant (1856), Eb-rard(1858), Renan (1859-'60), Delitzsch (1864; English translation, Edinburgh, 1866), Davidson (1862), Merx (1870), Hitzig (1874), and Green (New York, 1874).