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Students will be able to

1. discuss various theories on the problem of suffering as related in Job.

2. contrast between devotion to God and seeing God in order to be safe from trouble and hardship.


The chief characteristic of Hebrew poetry is its parallel lines, Old Testament poetry has no rhyme; it is distinguished by its parallelism . . . Several kinds of parallelism exist in Hebrew poetry.

A. Synonymous Parallelism--both lines say substantially the same thing only in different words.

Job 38:7--"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy!"

B. Antithetical parallelism--the second line provides a contrasting parallel to the truth of the first line.

Proverbs 14:34--"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is reproach to any people!"

C. Synthetical parallelism--one line builds on the previous line.

Psalm 1:3--"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not whither. In all that he does he prospers!"

D. Exemplar parallelism--one line metaphorically illustrates the literal truth of the other.

Proverbs 27:17-­"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."

The Value of parallelism lies in its simplicity and translatability. Biblical poetry can be translated into almost any language without concern for rhyme or meter (Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, 182­183).



Background of Job:

Why do bad things happen to good people? This was Job's question and our question of all time. The Bible tells us Job was a good man. Even God said he was good: "There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8). So why did God allow Satan to strike Job?

In a heavenly council, Satan met with God and claimed Job loved God only because goodness paid dividends. If Job did not have riches, family, and friends Satan said he would hate God. God agreed to put Job to the test. He allowed Satan to do anything to Job except take his life. Satan was so sure Job's faith was shallow he claimed Job would curse God to his face. God's confidence in Job allowed Satan to carry out the test.

The writing of Job is in a class of its own. Several types of biblical material are found in Job:

Laments--Job repeatedly bewailed what had befallen him. 3:1­26, 6:2­7, 10:1­12.

Hymns of Praise --Job often praised God for his power and righteousness 5:9­16 26:1­14.

Proverbs --Pithy statements of wisdom and metaphor appear in Job 5:2, 6:5­6.

Prophetic Speech --The friends sometimes claimed to have had prophetic experiences, and they preached as the prophets did. 4:12­14, 11:13­20, 32:8.

Wisdom Poems --Job has several lengthy poems on the value of wisdom and right behavior. Compare Job 28 to Proverbs 30:2-4 and Job 8:11­22 to Psalm 1.

Numeric Sayings --Compare Job 5:19 to Proverbs 30:21.

Reflective Questioning--Job sometimes bluntly challenges conventional wisdom. Compare Job 21:17­19 to Ecclesiastes 9:2­3.

Apocalyptic Passages --Job has some features in common with books like Daniel and Revelation. (Dockery, Holman Bible Handbook, pp. 311­312)


The date and authorship of Job are difficult to determine. There is no hint of historical circumstances of Job. The hero of the book is not an Israelite, but an Edomite sheik from the land of Uz, which was evidently in the southeastern part of Palestine around Edom (Jeremiah. 25:19­24, Lam. 4:21), the area from which Job's friends came (2:11). (Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the 0ld Testament, 510.)

Some think the author was an Israelite page who perhaps lived on the outskirts of Palestine. Since the Edomites are pictured in a favorable light the date seems to be pre­exile. The date is thought to be between the fifth and third centuries B.C.


I. The Prologue (1:1­2:13)

1. The Man Job (1:1)

Setting is in the land of Uz, located in the vicinity of Edom or western Arabia. Others say near Damascus. The name Job is found 56 times in the book indicating he was well known. The name Job is generally interpreted from a root meaning as to "be hostile to." The name has been translated "object of enmity," the assailed, i.e., by God, Satan, calamity, and friends. Job is characterized by four qualities. He was blameless, and upright, he feared God and and he turned away from evil.

2. Drama of Job (1:6­2:10)

(1) Setting in heaven­(1:6­12)

The sons of God are members of the heavenly council. God initiates the conversation with Satan, From where did you come? "Then God focuses on Job. (Literally, have you set your heart upon my servant Job.)" Satan claims Job's motivation for worshipping God is based on profit ­­ he has everything. Satan intimates Job would not worship God if he had nothing. So the deal was struck Satan could do anything but take his life.

(2) In Job's Home(1:13­22)

Job is attacked on the level of prosperity.

First, all oxen and asses were lost and all servants died.

Second, 7,000 sheep and the servants were consumed by fire.

Third, 3,000 valuable camels were captured and all servants except one died.

Fourth; Job lost his 10 children and more servants when his house fell on them; Job refused to curse God.

(3) Job's Disease (2:7­10)

Job was covered with boils. (Some say elephantiasis--7:5, 7:14, 9:17, 30:17--while others suggest leprosy.) He took a potsherd to scrape himself either to relieve itching or as a symbolic act of mourning. His wife came to him and said, curse God and he will kill you, then you will have no more suffering. He refused and through all this did not sin.

II. The Dialogue with his Friends (3:1­27:23)

1. Job's Lament (3:1­26)

Job comes before God to tell his story of woe and ask God for help and restoration. Job did not curse God but himself ­­ the day he was born. Then his lament changed to humble acceptance.

2. The Accusation of his friends (4:1­27:23)

These friends had one explanation. Because you are suffering you must have committed some great sin. The accusation continued through the three­round debate with Job responding to each.

(1) The first Speech of Eliphaz (4:1­5:27)

(2) Job's Reply (6: 1­7:21)

(3) Bildad's speech(8:1­22)

(4) Job's second reply (9:1­10:22)

(5) Zophar's speech (11:1­20)

(6) Job's third reply (12:1­14:22)

(7) Friend's speak again (15:1­27:23)

III. Job's Speeches (28:1­31:40)

Chapter 28 teaches that true wisdom is inaccessible to man--he cannot buy it. Only God has such wisdom. Job does not understand what has happened to him or why. Wisdom only tells him to remain faithful.

His speech in 29­31 is a continuation of Job's lament in chapter 3. He states his innocence and asks God for relief. There is no reference to his friends. Laments in the Old Testament often stress the adverse actions of enemies, but in Job's laments he never accuses his enemies

IV. Speeches of Elihu (32:1­37:24)

1. Introduction of Elihu (32:1­5)

Nothing is known about Elihu other than the references in Job. His name means "My God is He" It is used several times in the Old Testament including Elkanah (I Sam. 1:1), a brother of David (1 Chronicles. 27:18). Elihu is angry with Job because he considered himself righteous instead of God. His age and probable experience kept him silent while the friends spoke. Then he exploded. He was angry. Evidently Elihu had been prepared to speak long before he had the opportunity. When he did. the words were angrily blurted out.

2. Four speeches of Elihu (32:6­37:24)

Elihu had observed the arguments by the three friends and began his speeches or intervention only when the others had given up on their attempt to convince Job of his sin. He was not convinced Job's condition was because of this but more for purification of his life. He addressed Job and challenged him. to stand still and consider the wonders of God's works. Elihu began with real feeling for Job's condition and closed with words absent of love. As a comforter he offered Job less than he needed.

V. The Yahweh Speeches (38:1-42:6)

The name Yahweh has been used only once since Chapter 2

(12:9). But God is Yahweh regardless of the names used by the non­Hebrews.

The whirlwind in association with God speaking is a feature of number of theophanies (appearances of God) found in the Old Testament. (Ex. 19:16­25, Psalms 18:7­15, Hab. 3:2­16, Ezek 1:4).

The challenge is given Job in vs. 3. His demand for a confrontation with God is granted. God tells him about creation and history and his (and Job's) place in it.

Finally God says, "will the contender with the Almighty continue to be stubborn? Will he who reproves God continue to answer back?" Job humbly responds. (42:1­6)

IV. The Epilogue end Job's Restoration: (42:7­17)

1. Judgment upon his friends (42:7­9)

The story returns to prose as in chapters 1­2. God's wrath is now upon the friends of Job because they had not spoken truth. They were required to go to Job and offer a sacrifice of seven bulls and seven rams (see Ezek. 45:22­25). The Law in Leviticus 1 only required one animal.

2. Restoration of Job (42:10­17)

God restored Job's fortunes. This was linked to his praying for his friends. After his intercession he received twice as much as he had before. Nothing is said about the removal of illness and pain, but is assumed this happened. Job was restored to his position as honored host.

Vs. 16­17--for the patriarch Job, the highest honor was to be remembered as relevant to the third and fourth generations. James wrote a most fitting conclusion for the book of Job: "Behold, we call those happy [blessed] who are steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose [end] of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." James 5:11. (Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. 190.)



I. The Prologue (1:1­2:13)

1. The Man Job (1:1)

2. Drama of Job (1:6­2:10)

II. The Dialogue with his Friends (3:1­ 27:23

1. Job's Lament (3:1­26)

2. The Accusation of his Friends (4:1­27:21)

III. Job's Speeches (28:1­31:40)

IV. Speeches of Elihu (32:1­37:24)

1. Introduction of Elihu (32: 1­5)

2. Four speeches of Elihu (32:6­37:24)

V. The Yahweh Speeches (38:1-42:6)

VI. The Epilogue and Job's Restoration (42 :7­17)

1. Judgment upon his friends (42:7­9)

2. Restoration of Job (42:10­17)


1. Read Job 38:1­42:16 and answer the following question: What does Job's response to God's speech imply to be the main teachings of the book of Job?

2. Read Pages 247­262, 274-285, Andrew E. Hill, John H. Walton, Survey of the Old Testament.


Discussion Question: #1. Why do bad things happen to good people?


Discussion Questions:

#1. What is the main theme of Job?

#2. List several answers to the problem of suffering in Job.

#3. Name some of the problems, other than suffering addressed in Job.


Teacher's Notes:


The Bible is God's word as it has come to us through the experiences of the people of God. It expresses all the emotions of their faith as well as exploring the experiences of every day life. This is especially true of the literature of wisdom and poetry. Psalms expresses every emotion the believer encounters in life, be it praise and love for God, anger at those who practice violence and deceit, personal grief and confusion, or appreciation for God's truth. Proverbs not only examines moral issues, but it also helps us deal with the ordinary manners of life, such as indebtedness and work habits. Song of Songs celebrates the joy of love between man and woman. Job and Ecclesiastes make us face our most profound questions and thereby bring us to a more genuine faith in God. In sum, all these books deal with real life (Dockery, [Ed.], Holman Bible Handbook p. 307).


Teacher's Notes:

The centrality of suffering throughout the book has led many to believe this is the theme of the book. But the book deals with human existence as a whole, including the following problems or issues:

1. Wisdom and Human Existence -- It is when individual experiences bring to bear the human wisdom as directed by divine wisdom that man's problems come into proper focus.

2. Suffering-­Job does not give a direct answer to the problem of suffering. It is a vehicle for God's divine purpose.

3. The Doctrine of God­-The book accepts that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and holy. Job wants to believe that God is fully God. But the facts of his physical situation drive him to the brink of disbelief. Job is not a statement of theology, but a challenge for theology to be realistic and relevant.

4. The Necessity of a Mediator­­ A go­between; someone to go between God and man. (9:32­33,16:19­22). (John D.W. Watts, "Job", The Broadman Bible Commentary, 28­29)




Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.

Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.