42 Then Job replied to the Lord:
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job’s response appears to have been immediate, humble and repentant. Still without the answers that he was wrestling with and still in his suffering but his attitude was different and heart was responsive,
He was not confessing the sins that Eliphaz and his other friends accused him of, presumably he was innocent of such misjudgements but rather this was a dispute with God about his justice.
Job recognised God’s sovereignty, his ultimate goodness and felt extreme disappointment with himself for lacking faith that his hand was at work in his present suffering.
7 After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
These verses seem strange. Job’s friends were wrong in their approach but were at times theologically on point, there doesn’t appear to me too much to differentiate their behaviour with Job’s behaviour and it may appear that they all deserved the same punishment.
Job is identified as a servant of God. A servant is someone who carries out his master’s work. Job was in some way identified as carrying out God’s work (Job 29:14). Acting on behalf of God !
Job was already God’s servant when his suffering began (Job 1:8). And Job was still God’s servant during his trials (Job 2:3). In verses 7-8, God emphasised 4 times that Job was God’s servant.
In the culture of the day there was a special relationship between a servant and his master. Someone who insulted a servant was also insulting the servant’s master. See Mark 12:1-9. A master would try to punish the person who insulted his servant. The master would feel that the person was insulting the master’s own honour.
In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some youths insulted Elisha. It was as if they were insulting God himself. Bears came from the wood and attacked the youths. If the youths had insulted an ordinary man, who was not a servant of God such a terrible thing may not have happened. But Elisha was acting on behalf of God.
Eliphaz said that Job was evil (Job 22:5). This would be a stupid thing to say about any innocent person. But Job was a servant of God. So Eliphaz’s stupid words were insulting God.
A servant’s primary responsibility was to be loyal to his master. Job did all that he could to be loyal to God. He maintained that loyalty when he heard his wife’s foolish advice to curse God and die (Job 2:9-10). Job did not blame God in chapter 3.
Job’s friends accused Job. His friends arguments led him into a path of blaming God in order to maintain his own innocence. Their poor stewardship of the situation had led Job into this dark place.
So God was angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.
God could have punished Job’s friends. But instead, God wanted to forgive them. So God told them to kill some animals. Then, they should burn the animals as gift to God. The animals would suffer the punishment that the friends deserved.
This later became a pattern of life for his people. God often wanted such sacrifice to give a physical demonstration of his punishment and mercy. Ultimately Jesus became the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-10).
Job prayed for the friends because he was God’s servant. So Job was able to pray on behalf of his friends. This also was a shadow of what was to come, first through the priesthood and later through Christ himself (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14).
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
In the preceding verses Eliphaz is told to get seven bulls and seven rams and sacrifice them.
The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). If we include the words ‘sevenfold’ (6) and ‘seventh’ (119), the total jumps to 860 references.
Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It appears to derive its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things. According to Jewish tradition, the creation of Adam occurred on October 7th, 3761 B.C. (or the first day of Tishri, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar). The word ‘created’ is used 7 times describing God’s creative work (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27 three times; 2:3; 2:4). There are 7 days in a week and God’s Sabbath is on the 7th day.
The Bible, as a whole, was originally divided into 7 major divisions. They are 1) the Law; 2) the Prophets; 3) the Writings, or Psalms; 4) the Gospels and Acts; 5) the General Epistles; 6) the Epistles of Paul; and 7) the book of Revelation. The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine, or 7 x 7, demonstrating the absolute perfection of the Word of God.
There are at least seven men in the Old Testament who are specifically mentioned as a man of God. They are Moses (Joshua 14:6), David (2Chronicles 8:14), Samuel (1Samuel 9:6, 14), Shemaiah (1Kings 12:22), Elijah (1Kings 17:18), Elisha (2Kings 5:8) and Igdaliah (Jeremiah 35:4).
In the book of Hebrews, written by the apostle Paul, he uses seven titles to refer to Christ. The titles are ‘Heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2), ‘Captain of our salvation’ (2:10), ‘Apostle’ (3:1), ‘Author of salvation’ (5:9), ‘Forerunner’ (6:20), ‘High Priest’ (10:21) and the ‘Author and finisher of our faith’ (12:2).
Job’s friends obeyed God, they went to Job and asked his aid and interposition, and obtained it. The Lord accepted Job in this intermediary priest type role. Job is therefore a type of Christ, not merely in his sufferings, but also as mediator for his friends who had so completely misjudged him and misunderstood him.
Their only chance of being forgiven was for Job to accept them and pray to God for them. God had already accepted Job. They knew they must go to Job in humility, having rejected him already. This had to be one of the hardest things they had ever done.
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
Job prayed for his friends which is evidence that there was no longer any bitterness towards them. He forgave them and God forgave him. God’s restoration was immediate and abundant.
Friends, prosperity, family and long life were all restored to Job.
There was a point in Job’s life when he imagined he would be prosperous and successful all his life and then it was all taken from him. His dominant thought was that he was going to die. He didn’t see his suffering coming and then in the midst of his suffering he had no idea what lay ahead of him.
This is the nature of life and it’s twists and turns. Our footing in life can seem secure but something can come left from centre and pull the rug from under our feet or suddenly we can be escalated into an arena of life that we did not expect or choose.
We have no idea about what may be happening in the spiritual realms that may have an impact on our earthly life.
Job looked after his daughters carefully. Usually only the sons would share the family’s wealth. It is interesting that his daughters are named and his sons are not.
I think the purpose of this text is most likely to inform us about how Job dealt with his girls so that is why their names are mentioned and not the boys.
Possibly, the author wants to draw our attention to two things in the text.
There were no other women in the land as beautiful as Job’s daughters.
According to the Old Testament, the inheritance was only given to the males of the family and not the females. The sons were given an inheritance. The only reason girls were given an inheritance was if there father were to die without having a male heir (Numbers 27:8). If a girl were given an inheritance then she was not allowed to marry anyone other than a man from her father’s tribe. God did not allow the inheritance of one tribe to pass along to another tribe (Numbers 36).
The names have special meanings.
The first daughter’s name is Jemimah = “day by day”
This may have been a reminder to Job that after all of his sufferings he would need to live one day at a time. Keep everything in the day.
The second daughter’s name is: Keziah = “cassia”- a spice; a powdered bark like cinnamon
This spice is also mentioned in Psalm 45:8 “All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia ; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.”
His third daughter was named:
Keren-happuch = “horn of antimony” used by ladies of that time to apply eye cosmetics
The names of the girls, the beauty that is mentioned is perhaps indicative that the suffering in Job’s life had come to an end.
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
Tradition says that Job was about 70 when his troubles began which would mean that he would have been about 210 when he died which seems to be about right for the patriarchal period.
After the flood, God said that men would not continue to live for more than 120 years (Genesis 6:3). And Psalm 90:10 says that a normal life is 70 or 80 years.
Because of verse 16 and some traditions or customs that are mentioned in the book, it is believed that Job lived in very ancient times. If so, the Book of Job may be the oldest book that still exists.
There are many lessons that we can draw from this book and it is rather easy to see something of ourselves in Job and an example of our struggle with the fairness and unpredictability of life. It is however less common to think of ourselves as one of the judgemental friends who labelled Job’s struggle and made many assumptions about what was going on and yet that is quite possibly just as significant for most of us (especially those of us that would think of ourselves as religious or having a faith).
It’s something for me to think about. I am most certainly someone who can identify both with Job and his friends. The good news is that all were forgiven and found their connection with God.
That’s the end of my journey into the wisdom literature. I hope that you have found it helpful and insightful. Some of the material has been lifted from my most recent journals since early in 2017.
In my personal studies, journal reflections I am now working my way through the book of Genesis which I am finding incredibly inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to publishing that in my blog at a later date.
Tomorrow, I will begin a new journey into the Psalms. The original reflections on the Psalms began on my recovery journey in the Summer of 2015. I have been rereading my journals from that period and they bring up a lot of stuff for me. A lot of sadness about the darkness I was in and also an appreciation of how God allows us to grow. The Psalms were my anchor in that initial period when I could barely whisper a prayer. I could at least wrestle with the Psalms and learn to pray through them.
After the Psalms I dug into Luke followed by Acts (or Luke the sequel as I like to call it), 1&2 Corinthians, Zephaniah, Nahum & Habakkuk before landing into the wisdom literature. This is a taste of things to come.
My desire is to get through the whole Bible within a 7 year period and from thereon publish an evolving commentary and study series building on the framework that was ignited by my recovery and journey back to some kind of spiritual health.
If you find it helpful or insightful then I thank God that he has made it useful to you as well as me. I hope you will stick with me for this adventure and that we will grow together in our knowledge of God and our faith.
Please note that though I love to write I am not claiming any theological expertise, I have borrowed a lot of material from other sources and rephrased it in my own words and it’s just one mans journey wrestling with himself and God in the light of the scriptures. It’s written with a reasonable level of articulation and grammar in an accessible style that I hope is easy for you to understand and not too academic or pious. It is far from perfect …imagine it as a sketchpad.