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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When did Job live?

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

Question: When did Job live? Where does Job fit into the timeline of biblical history?

Either I don’t have enough information, or I don’t understand how to put all the information together, in order to know when Job lived. It is very interesting, nevertheless. There is no reason to doubt the historicity of Job and his calamity. Both Ezekiel and James take his existence for granted (Cf. Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11).[i] On the other hand, it is not necessary to know exactly where Job fits in the biblical timeline in order understand the truths of the book. What follows are some things I have found in reading about Job, coupled with some things others say (that are pretty much conjecture).

Biblical points to consider
  • In his third speech or response to Job, Eliphaz the Temanite refers to the flood in the past (Job 22:15-16).
  • The Hebrew word for the piece of money in Job 42:11 is kesitah. This word is only used 3 times in the Old Testament, here and in Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32. In those places it refers to the money Jacob used to purchase a parcel of land from the sons of Hamor. The use of the same word in Job might suggest patriarchal times somewhat contemporary with Jacob.
  • Based on some of his statements, Job was not young when his calamity struck (Cf. Job 12:12-13; Job 30:1). Job lived another 140 years after his affliction, birth of his second ten children and division of inheritance (Job 42:16) – making it likely that he lived well over 200 years. This is longer than Abraham lived and compares to some patriarchs prior to Abraham.[ii] Yet, Job 42:17 might suggest his length of days was longer than his contemporaries.
  • Job’s daughters received an equal inheritance with his sons. This does not follow the law of Moses (Cf. Numbers 27:8 and Job 42:15).
  • Job lived in the land of Uz (Job 1:1), which has never been connected to the land of Canaan (as far as I know).
  • Job was called a man of the east in Job 1:3 (which often means somewhere east of Canaan).
  • Job seems to be a man of high position (Cf. Job 29:7-25), which seems inconsistent with nomads in the land of Canaan (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob).
  • God’s testimony is that Job was an unique God-fearing man for his time (Cf. Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Ezekiel 14:14, 20), which suggests he wasn’t contemporary with Abraham or Isaac (earlier) or Moses (later).
  • The raiding party that took away the oxen and asses were Sabeans (Job 1:15). The Sabeans were from the wilderness, and considered far off from Judah (Ezekiel 23:42; Joel 3:8). (Some identify the Sabeans with Sheba in southern Arabia.)
  • The raiding party that took away the camels were Chaldeans (Job 1:17). The Chaldeans were from southern Mesopotamia.
  • Job sacrifices to God as patriarch of his family (Job 1:5), which practice preceded the law of Moses.
Possible connections to Esau and Edom
  • Lamentations 4:21 identifies Edom in the land of Uz. A man named Uz is a grandson of Seir the Horite. See Genesis 36:20-28. Verse 8 of this chapter says Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. (The land of Uz is also mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20).
  • Esau had a son named Eliphaz, and Eliphaz had a son named Teman (Genesis 36:10-11; 1 Chronicles 1:35-36; Cf. Job 2:11).
  • Some people identify Job with Jobab great-grandson of Esau, the second king of Edom (Cf. Genesis 36:32-34 and 1 Chronicles 1:43-45).[iii]
Other miscellaneous conjecture
  • Some people believe Bildad the Shuhite was a descendant of Shuah, Abraham’s son by Keturah (Genesis 25:1-3; 1 Chronicles 1:31-33).
  • Some people believe that the Buzites (Job 32:2) were descendants of Buz, son of Nahor Abraham’s brother (Genesis 22:20-22).
  • Some people point out that Job’s wealth was determined by flocks rather than money (Job 1:3; Job 42:12). That method of calculating wealth is consistent with patriarchal times. 
  • Some people believe Job must be placed between Joseph and Moses, that he lived when no other notably righteous patriarchs were alive (Job 1:8).
  • Some people connect Job to the Job who was the son of Issachar (Genesis 46:13).


[i] In 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul refers to Job 5:13.
[ii] For example Serug, Abraham’s great-grandfather, lived 230 years (Genesis 11:22-23).
[iii] There is commentary at the end of Job in the Septuagint that also connects Job to Esau. I don’t accept that as inspired Scripture (even the Septuagint seems to approach it as a footnote: “This man is described in the Syriac boo…”" It is interesting, though, that someone in that time period connected Job to Esau.

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