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"I will praise the lord of wisdom.” Like our book of Job, it belonged, therefore, to a "wisdom" literature. It is clearly a copy of a story older than the time of Assurbanipal, for part of an older list of kings also found in his library constitutes a commentary upon a part of it.

According to this story, a high official or king, of the Babylonian city of Nippur, named Tabi-utul-Bel (a man whose date and place in history are as yet unknown to us), had been very god-fearing and prosperous, but was smitten, as though he had been a wicked man, with a terrible disease, which all the priests and magicians were unable to assuage. This disaster occurred after he had passed the allotted time of life. The poem describes the sufferings very vividly. Tâbi-utul-Bel says:

“An evil demon has taken hold upon me (?);
From yellowish the sickness became white,
It threw me on the ground and stretched me on my back,
It bent my high stature like a poplar.”





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“I was saturated like a sheep in my excrements."

Like Job the sufferer found in his affliction a testing of the ways of his god, for he declares: “The plan of a god is full of mystery (?)— who can understand it ?"

If the reader will compare with these extracts the passages from Job collected in the note on 2: 7, he will find the likeness very striking.

The tablets are unfortunately broken. A fragmentary text at Constantinople, recently published by R. Campbell Thompson in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, Vol. XXXII (1910), pp. 18–24, contained the turning-point of the story. Unhappily the text of this is much broken, but it would seem from what can be made out that the fortunes of Tâbi-utul-Bel were restored, not

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because he maintained an ideal attitude towards his god, but because he found at last a messenger who laid his case before Bel and succeeded in moving that god to drive away the demons who were tormenting the royal sufferer. If this is the case, the parallel to Job is not so close as at first sight appears. The Babylonian story represents an earlier phase of thought, when the proper form of magical intercession with the gods was more prominent than the ethical and religious attitude of the worshipper.

Has this Babylonian story any connection with the story of Job? In reply, it must be said that it has no literary connection with it. The name of the royal sufferer was not only quite different from the name of Job, but the name of his city Nippur was entirely lost. Moreover, in the earliest form of the story which we can trace, Job was not a king. The story of Job probably came to the Hebrews from a foreign source, for the name Job has no etymology in Hebrew; but it came orally and was attached to Hebrew localities and given a Palestinian setting. Stories travel thus in all parts of the world. Old Harvard students tell of the late Professor Andrew P. Peabody the same stories which were formerly told in Germany of Professor Neander. So the story of Job came into Palestine possibly from Babylonia and found a habitation in Bashan.

Modern explorers in the country to the east of the Sea of Galilee find the name Uz to the south of the modern Nawâ and to the northeast of Tell Ashtara, the site of the Ashtoreth Karnaim of Genesis 14: 5. A number of neighboring places have been named for Job (see note on 1:1). In this region, too, within a day's journey, or at the most two days journey, are the villages of Tema and Naemeh, the cities with which the story probably connected Eliphaz the Temanite and Zophar the Naamathite, while another village, Es-Suweda, may be the Shuhu from which it was originally supposed that Bildad came. If the story settled here, as we suppose, it may well have been attached to some man of Uz who had been overtaken by misfortune. Friends of such a good man may well have heard of his misfortune and have come (or have been supposed to come) from these villages to comfort him. As the story circulated and became popular there was an inevitable tendency to magnify Job and his friends and to enlarge the theatre of the tale. In the form in which the story is presented in our book Tema has been identified with the more famous Teman in Edom; the original of Shuhu, with the country Shuhu on the distant Euphrates; while the “raiders” of the original reading of 1:15 and the “horsemen” of 1:17 have by slight textual changes become respectively the Sabæans and Chaldæans two great and distant powers (sec the notes on those verses).

1 See Jastrow's article on the poem with copious translations in the Journal of Biblical Literature, XXV, 135-191. Translations of it into German are found in Jastrow's Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, II, 120-133, and in Zimmern's Babylonische Hymnen und Gebele, Leipsic, 1905, pp. 28-30, also in Weber's Literatur der Babylonier und Assyrer, 135-137, R. C. Thompson, Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, XXXII, 18-24, and M. F. Martin, Journal Asiatique, July-August,

1910, pp. 75-143.

This tendency to magnify the actors in the story went still farther after our poet had utilized it for the background of his immortal work.

The addition to 42:17 found in the Arabic version places Uz itself on the borders of Edom and Arabia and makes Job a king of Edom, and Eliphaz, king of the Temanites; while the expansion of this now found in the Greek, Sahidic, and Ethiopic versions has made Bildad the Tyrant of the Shuhites, and Zophar, king of the Minæans in South Arabia (see note on 42:17). This tendency is carried still farther in the Testament of Job, a still later work. Here Job is represented as a king who tells at great length of all the measures of truly royal munificence which he adopted to make his great wealth a benefit to the poor. In this work, too, the friends are kings who come with their splendid body-guards to visit an afflicted monarch. (See M. R. James, Apocryph Anecdota, Cambridge, 1897, pp. 104-137; and Jewish Encyclopedia, VII, 200 ff.)

Thus at the end of the development caused by the tendency to glorify Job the simple villagers of these trans-Jordanic hamlets figure in the popular imagination as monarchs surrounded with royal splendor; and the sufferer, as in the Babylonian poem, is a monarch.

The form in which our book presents the story exhibits it in an intermediate stage of development between its humble Palestinian beginnings and its final form.


The problem of the Book of Job is the problem of suffering - why do good men suffer? The problem is in part a theological problem and in part a religious one. This is true of it in any period of the world's thought, but it was peculiarly true of it in the time of our poet. The prevailing theology of that time taught that God rewarded good men with health, wealth, and happiness in this life. During his days of prosperity this theory of life had seemed to Job adequate. Suddenly, when conscious of no sin, his possessions were swept away from him, he was robbed of his children, and was himself subjected to acute bodily suffering. In the prologue, which the writer adapted from the old folk tale, the reader is admitted to the secret of the suffering, and is told that God permitted it in order to reclaim Satan, an angel who was disgruntled and had become skeptical as to the existence of disinterested virtue. All this was, however, hidden from Job. His suffering accordingly plunged him into the deepest perplexity; it proved his theology false and raised in its acutest form the whole question of his personal relation to God.

While Job was suffering and pondering the problems thus raised, not calmly, but with the disordered nerves and turbulent feelings which accompany a terrible disease, his friends came and sat down beside him. Their theory of suffering was the one which up to that time Job had held. They could not look upon him without deep and genuine sympathy, but it was equally impossible for them to look upon him without feeling that he must have been a terrible sinner - that his whole life, which appeared to be so righteous, was after all a horrible sham. Their sympathy was accordingly tempered by cold condemnation. Job felt it through their silence, and it added to his agony. At last silence became unbearable, and he vented his feelings in the wild ravings of despair which form

ch. 3.

Job's wild utterances seemed to his friends blasphemous, but at first they regarded them as the ravings of an irresponsible, though sinful, sufferer and treated him gently. As, however, Job reiterated his positions and charged God with using his unlimited power to torture an insignificant creature, their patience gave way; they spoke more and more harshly, finally directly charging Job with common sins. In the original form of the poem each of the three friends was given three speeches (see below, p. 32 ff). In the first cycle of speeches the friends dwell on the nature of God, Eliphaz setting forth his transcendent purity, Bildad his inflexible righteousness, and Zophar his inscrutable wisdom. In the second cycle they paint lurid pictures of the fate of the wicked — his life is spent in torments, he suffers a miserable death, his posterity perish. In the third cycle Eliphaz directly charges Job with flagrant sin, while Bildad and Zophar drive the charge home by portraying as in the second cycle the terrible fate of the sinner.

Job, on his part, while represented as speaking at times in strains of marvellous beauty and vigor, repels the insinuations and charges of his friends, and mingles charges against God that are almost blasphemous with expressions of touching yearning and of sublime faith. Finally, in chs. 29-31, Job repels the last of the charges made against him by his friends, and then centres his thought upon a desire, which he had several times expressed before (13:22; 14:15; 23:3-10), to come face to face with God. God at last grants this desire, and by the vision of the

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