« PreviousContinue »
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF JOB.
With respect to the first and second, several writers of eminent note have denied the personality of Job; according to them, no such person ever existed; he is merely fabulous, and is like the Il penseroso, or sorrowful man of Milton; sorrow, distress, affliction, and persecution personified, as the name imports. According to them, he is a mere ideal being, created by the genius of the poet; clothed with such attributes, and placed in such circumstances, as gave the poet scope and materials for his work.
Thirdly, as to the time in which those place him who receive this as a true history, there is great variety. According to some, he flourished in the patriarchal age; some make him contemporary with Moses; that he was in the captivity in Egypt, and that he lived at the time of the exodus. Some place him in the time of the Israelitish judges; others, in the days of David; others, in those of Solomon; and others, in the time of the Babylonish captivity, having been teacher of a school at Tiberias in Palestine, and, with the rest of his countrymen, carried away into Babylon; and that he lived under Ahasuerus and Esther. Fourthly, as to his country: some make him an Arab; others, an Egyptian; others, a Syrian; some, an Israelite; and some, an Idumean. Fifthly, as to his origin: some derive him from Nachor, and others from Esau, and make him the fifth in descent from Abraham. Sixthly, as to his religion: some suppose it to have been Sabæism; others, that it was patriarchal; and others, that he was bred up in the Jewish faith. Seventhly, as to the author of the work, learned men are greatly divided: some suppose the author to have been Elihu; others, Job; others, Job and his friends; others, Moses; some, Solomon; others, Isaiah; and others, Ezra, or some unknown Jew, posterior to the captivity. Eighthly, as to the book: some maintain that it is a history of fact, given by one best qualified to record it; and others, that it is an instructive fiction-facts, persons, dialogues and all, being suppositious; given, however, by the inspiration of God, in a sort of parabolic form, like those employed in the Gospel; and similar to that of the rich man and Lazarus. Ninthly, as to its authenticity: while some, and those not well qualified to judge, have asserted it to be a mere human production, of no divine authority; others have clearly shown that the book itself, whatever questions may arise concerning the person, author, time, place, &c., was ever received by the Jewish church and people as authentic, genuine, and divinely inspired; and incorporated, with the highest propriety, among the most instructive, sublime, and excellent portions of divine revelation. Tenthly, as to the occasion on which it was written, there are considerable differences of opinion: some will have it to be written for the consolation of the Hebrews in their peregrinations through the wilderness; and others, for the comfort and encouragement of the Israelites in the Babylonish captivity: these state that Job represents Nehemiah, and that his three professed friends, but real enemies, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, represent Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian! and that the whole book should be understood and interpreted on this ground; and that, with a little allowance for poetic colouring, all its parts perfectly harmonize, thus understood; showing, in a word, that into whatsoever troubles or persecutions God may permit his people to be brought, yet he will sustain them in the fire, bring them safely through it, and discomfit all their enemies: and that whatsoever is true on this great scale, is true also on that which is more contracted; as he will equally support, defend, and finally render conqueror, every individual that trusts in him.
I shall not trouble my readers with the arguments which have been used by learned men, pro and con, relative to the particulars already mentioned: were I to do this, I must transcribe a vast mass of matter, which, though it might display great learning in the authors, would most certainly afford little edification to the great bulk of my readers. My own opinion on those points they may naturally wish to know; and to that opinion they have a right: it is such as I dare avow, and such as I feel no disposition to conceal. I believe Job to have been a real person, and his history to be a statement of facts.
As the preface to this book (I mean the first chapter) states him to have lived in the land of Uz, or Uts, I believe, with Mr. Good and several other learned men, this place to have been "situated in Arabia Petræa, on the south-western coast of the lake Asphaltites, in a line between Egypt and Philistia, surrounded with Kedar, Teman, and Midian; all of which were districts of Arabia Petræa; situated in Idumea, the land of Edom or Esau; and comprising so large a part of it, that Idumea and Ausitis, or the land of Uz, and the land of Edom, were convertible terms, and equally employed to import the same region: thus, Lam. iv. 21: Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.'" Mr. Good's Introductory Dissertation; who proceeds to observe: "Nothing is clearer than that all the persons introduced into this poem were Idumeans, dwelling in Idumea; or, in
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF JOB.
other words, Edomite Arabs. These characters are, Job himself, dwelling in the land of Uz ; Eliphaz of Teman, a district of as much repute as Uz, and (upon the joint testimony of Jer. xlix. 7, 20, Ezek. xxv. 13, Amos i. 11, 12, and Obadiah ver. 8, 9) a part, and a principal part, of Idumea; Bildad of Shuah, always mentioned in conjunction with Sheba and Dedan, all of them being uniformly placed in the vicinity of Idumea; Zophar of Naamah, a city whose name imports pleasantness, which is also stated, in Josh. xv. 21, 41, to have been situated in Idumea, and to have lain in a southern direction towards its coast, or the shores of the Red Sea; and Elihu of Buz, which as the name of a place occurs but once in sacred writ, but is there (Jer. xxv. 22) mentioned in conjunction with Teman and Dedan; and hence necessarily, like themselves, a border city upon Ausitis, Uz, or Idumæa. It had a number of names: it was at first called Horitis, from the Horim or Horites, who appear to have first settled there. Among the descendants of these, the most distinguished was Seir; and from him the land was known by the name of the Land of Seir. This chief had a numerous family, and among the most signalized of his grandsons was Uz, or Uts; and from him, and not from Uz the son of Nahor, it seems to have been called Ausitis, or the Land of Uz. The family of Hor, Seir, or Uz, were at length dispossessed of the entire region by Esau, or Edom; who strengthened himself by his marriage with one of the daughters of Ishmael; and the conquered territory was denominated Idumea, or the land of Edom." I think this is conclusive as to the country of Job and his friends. See Mr. Good as above. The man and his country being thus ascertained, the time in which he lived is the point next to be considered.
I feel all the difficulties of the various chronologies of learned men: all that has been offered on the subject is only opinion or probable conjecture; and, while I differ from many respectable authors, I dare not say that I have more to strengthen my opinion than they have to support theirs.
I do not believe that he lived under the patriarchal dispensation; nor in any time previous to the giving of the Law, or to the death of Moses. I have examined the opposite arguments, and they have brought no conviction to my mind. That he lived after the giving of the Law appears to me very probable, from what I consider frequent references to the Mosaic institutions occurring in the book, and which I shall notice in their respective places. I know it has been asserted there are no such references; and I am astonished at the assertion: the reader will judge whether a plain case is made out where the supposed references occur. An obstinate adherence to a preconceived system is like Prejudice; it has neither eyes nor ears.
With this question, that relative to the author of the book is nearly connected. Were we to Suppose that Job himself, or Elihu, or Job and his friends, wrote the work, the question would at once be answered that regards the time; but all positive evidence on this point is wanting : and while other suppositions have certain arguments to support them, the above claimants, who are supported only by critical conjecture, must stand where they are for want of evidence. The opinions that appear the most probable, and have plausible arguments to support them, are the following: 1. Moses was the author of this book, as many portions of it harmonize with his acknowledged writings. 2. Solomon is the most likely author, as many of the sentiments contained in it are precisely the same with those in the Proverbs; and they are delivered often in nearly the same words. 3. The book was written by some Jew, in or soon after the time of the Babylonish captivity.
1. That Moses was the author has been the opinion of most learned men; and none has set the arguments in support of this opinion in so strong a light as Mr. Mason Good, in his Introductory Dissertation to his translation and notes on this book. Mr. G. is a gentleman of great knowledge, great learning, and correct thinking; and whatever he says or writes is entitled to respect. If he have data, his deductions are most generally consecutive and solid. He contends, "that the writer of this poem must in his style have been equally master of the simple and of the sublime; that he must have been minutely and elaborately acquainted with Astronomy, Natural History, and the general science of his age; that he must have been a Hebrew by birth and native language, and an Arabian by long residence and local study; and, finally, that he must have flourished and composed the work before the exodus." And he thinks that "every one of these features is consummated in Moses, and in Moses alone; and that the whole of them give us his complete lineaments and portraiture. Instructed in all the learning of Egypt, it appears little doubtful that he composed it during some part of his forty years' residence with the hospitable Jethro, in that district of Idumea which was named Midian.” In addition to these external proofs of identity, Mr. Good
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF JOB.
thinks," a little attention will disclose to us an internal proof, of peculiar force, in the close and striking similarity of diction and idiom which exists between the book of Job and those pieces of poetry which Moses is usually admitted to have composed. This point he proceeds to examine; and thinks that the following examples may make some progress towards settling the question, by exhibiting a very singular proof of general parallelism.
"The order of creation, as detailed in the first chapter of Genesis, is precisely similar to that described in Job xxxviii. 1-20, the general arrangement that occupied the first day; the formation of the clouds, which employed the second; the separation of the sea, which took up a part of the third;-and the establishment of the luminaries in the skies, which characterized the fourth.
"In this general description, as given in Genesis, the vapour in the clouds, and the fluid in the sea, are equally denominated waters: thus, ver. 5, 6, 7, ‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament."
"Let us compare this passage with Job xxvi. 8-10:
He driveth together the waters into His thick clouds ;
He setteth a bow on the face of the waters,
Till the consummation of light and of darkness.
These are, perhaps, the only instances in the Bible in which the cloudy vapours are denominated waters, before they become concentrated into rain; and they offer an identity of thought, which strongly suggests an identity of person. The following is another very striking peculiarity of the same kind, occurring in the same description, and is perhaps still more in point. The combined simplicity and sublimity of Gen. i. 3, 'And God said, Be light and light was,' has been felt and praised by critics of every age, Pagan and Mohammedan, as well as Jewish and Christian; and has by all of them been regarded as a characteristic feature in the Mosaic style. In the poem before us we have the following proof of identity of manner, chap. xxxvii. 6:
Behold! He saith to the snow, Be!
On earth then falleth it.
To the rain-and it falleth ;-—
"This can hardly be regarded as an allusion, but as an instance of identity of manner. In the Psalmist we have an allusion: and it occurs thus, xxxiii. 9, ” 198 817 hu amar vaiyehi," He spake, and it existed;" and I copy it that the reader may see the difference. The eulogy of Longinus upon the passage in Genesis is an eulogy also upon that in Job; and the Koran, in verbally copying the Psalmist, has bestowed an equal panegyric upon all of them :
قال كن فيكون
DIXIT, ESTO; ET FUIT.-He said, BE THOU; and it WAS.
"With reference to the description of the creation, in the book of Genesis, I shall only farther observe, that the same simplicity of style, adapted to so lofty a subject, characteristically distinguishes the writer of the book of Job, who commonly employs a diction peculiarly magnificent, as though trusting to the subject to support itself, without the feeble aid of rhetorical ornaments. Of this the description of the tribunal of the Almighty, given in the first and second chapters of the ensuing poem, is a striking example, as indeed I have already remarked; and that of the midnight apparition in the fourth chapter is no less so.
"The following instances are of a more general nature, and lead, upon a broader principle, to the same conclusion:
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF JOB.
xx. 27. The heavens shall disclose his iniquity, And the earth shall rise up against him. xviii. 15. Brimstone shall be rained down upon his dwelling.
16. Below shall his root be burnt up,
And above shall his branch be cut off. xii. 17. Counsellors he leadeth captive,
And judges he maketh distracted.
24. He bewildereth the judgment of the leaders
And causeth them to wander in a pathless
25. They grope about in darkness, even with-
19. Behold the Eternal exulting in His course;
Even over his dust shall rise up another.
And with a fever, and with an inflammaAnd with an extreme burning. [brass; 23. And the heaven over thy head shall be And the earth under thee, iron.
24. And Jehovah shall make the rain of thy
From heaven shall it come down upon thee,
28. Jehovah shall smite thee with destruction,
As the blind gropeth in darkness:
63. And it shall come to pass,
To do you good, and to multiply you;
To destroy you, and reduce you to nought.
"In this specimen of comparison it is peculiarly worthy of remark, that not only the same train of ideas is found to recur, but in many instances the same words, where others might have been employed, and perhaps have answered as well; the whole obviously resulting from that habit of thinking upon subjects in the same manner, and by means of the same terms, which is common to every one, and which distinguishes original identity from intentional imitation. I will only advert to one instance: the use of the very powerful, but not very common verb ww sis, 'to exult,' exulto, glorior, yavpiaw, which occurs in the last verse of both the above passages, and is in each instance equally appropriate: 'w'w' yasis Yehovah — x hu mesos, jün gün
"The same term is again employed, Job xxxix. 21, to express the spirited prancing of the high mettled war-horse.
"The above passage from chap. viii. 19 has not been generally understood, and has been given erroneously in the translations." Mr. Good, in his notes, p. 101-103, enters at large into a defence of his version of this passage.
8. For examine, I beseech thee, the past age;
10. Shall not they instruct thee, counsel thee,
. 17. He shall not behold the branches of the river, Brooks of honey and butter.
1. 6. When my path flowed with butter,
And the rock poured out for me rivers of oil. IV. 27. Though his face be enveloped with fatness, And heaped up with fatness on his loins.
vi. 4. The arrows of the Almighty are within me;
The terrors of God set themselves in array
xvi. 13. His arrows fly around me;
He pierceth my reins without mercy.
"The fine pathetic elegy of the ninetieth Psalm has been usually ascribed to Moses; and Dathe imagines it was written by him a little before his death.
"Kennicott and Geddes have some doubt upon this point, chiefly because the ultimate period assigned in it to the life of man is fourscore years; while Moses was at his death an hundred and twenty years old, yet his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;'
Deut. xxxiv. 7.
"The following comparison will, perhaps, have a tendency to confirm the general opinion, by rendering it probable that its author and the author of the Book of Job were the same person.
5. They are like the passing grass of the morning;
6. In the morning it springeth up and groweth; In the evening it is cut down and withereth,
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF JOB.
xiv. 3. And dost thou cast thine eyes upon such
And the rock mouldereth away from his
xi. 14. If the iniquity of thy hand thou put away,
16. Lo! then shalt thou forget affliction;
"The strictly and decidedly acknowledged productions of Moses are but few; and in the above examples I have taken a specimen from by far the greater number. It is, indeed, not a little astonishing that, being so few, they should offer a resemblance in so many points. "There may at times be some difficulty in determining between the similarity of style and diction resulting from established habit, and that produced by intentional imitation; yet, in the former case, it will commonly, if I mistake not, be found looser, but more general; in the latter, stricter, but more confined to particular words or idioms; the whole of the features not having been equally caught, while those which have been laid hold of are given more minutely than in the case of habit. The manner runs carelessly through every part, and is perpetually striking us unawares; the copy walks after it with measured but unequal pace, and is restless in courting our attention. The specimens of resemblance now produced are obviously of the former kind both sides have an equal claim to originality, and seem very powerfully to establish an unity of authorship."
Thus far Mr. Good; who has, on his own side of the question, most certainly exhausted the subject. The case he has made out is a strong one: we shall next examine whether a stronger cannot be made out in behalf of Solomon, as the second candidate for the authorship of this most excellent book.
2. That this book was the work of Solomon was the opinion of some early Christian writers, among whom was Gregory Nazianzen; and of several moderns, among whom were Spanheim and Hardouin. The latter has gone so far as to place the death of Job in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of David; and he supposes that Solomon wrote the work in question, about the second or third year of his reign. On this last opinion no stress whatever should be placed. As the argument for Moses has been supported by supposed parallelisms between his acknowledged works and the Book of Job, so has that which attributes the latter to Solomon. That Solomon, from his vast learning and wisdom, was capable of such a work, none can deny. His knowledge in astronomy, natural history, politics, theology, languages, and the general science of his age, must have given him at least equal qualifications to those possessed by Moses. And if he was the author of the Book of Canticles, which most men believe, he had certainly a poetic mind, equal, if not superior, to all the writers who had existed previously to his time. The Book of Proverbs and that of Ecclesiastes are almost universally attributed to him: now, in the Book of Job, there are a multitude of sentiments, sentences, terms, and modes of speech, which are almost peculiar to Solomon, as will appe^~ from the whole books.
In both we find the most exalted eulogium of wisdom. See Job xxviii. 12; Prov. viii. 11, &c. Job says, "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding;" chap. xxviii. 28. Solomon says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction;" Prov. i. 7.
Job speaks of the state of the dead nearly in the same terms as Solomon: compare chap. xxi. 33, xii. 22, xxxvi. 5, with Prov. ix. 18.
Job says, chap. xxvi. 6, " Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering." Solomon says, Prov. xv. 11, "Hell and destruction are before the Lord; how much more