“The Place and the Pen”
What was the geographical setting of the book of Job?
The first sentence of the book details that Job lived in a region known as Uz. While it is impossible to know the exact location of this ancient land, the Bible does offer some direction.
Because of the strong possibility that the land was given the name of an original or a prominent settler, it is significant that the book of Genesis mentions 3 men with the given name of Uz.
- Noah’s Great Grandson – Shem, Aram, Uz (10:21-23) Third generation post-Flood and placed in the region of southern Mesopotamia and northern Arabia by historian Bill Cooper (After the Flood).
- Nahor’s (Abraham’s brother) firstborn (22:20,21) Twelfth generation post-Flood
- Seir the Horite’s grandson (36:8,19-21,28) This was the settler for which the predominant mountain in the Shara Mountain Range, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, was named. Interestingly, it is in this mountain range that the ancient architectural marvel known as the city of Petra is located. It was into this region that Esau and his descendants settled changing its distinction to Edom.
A “land of Uz” is also associated with the land of Edom in Jeremiah’s Lamentations (“Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz…” 4:21).
This implies that the land into which the Edomites settled was named Uz.
The locations from which Job’s friends traveled to comfort him may also lend some insight into the region of his residence.
- Eliphaz the Temanite (4:1) – Teman is associated with the region of Edom by its lineal connection to the name of Esau’s grandson from his firstborn, Eliphaz.
- Bildad the Shuhite (8:1) – Shuhu was an Aramaean city in the middle Euphrates
- Zophar the Naamathite (11:1) – Naamah was believed to be a city of Arabia
A reasonable conclusion for the location of the Jobian land of Uz is a region originally named after the son of Noah’s grandson, Aram, in an area stretching from southern Mesopotamia south into Arabia and including the eastern portion of the Shara Mountain range.
What else does the Bible suggest about the land of Uz?
1) It was likely well populated.
When Job reminisced of better days (29:7-12), he mentioned having influence over young men and aged, having the ear of princes and nobles, and being a blessing to the poor and fatherless. He likened himself to a king having an army (29:25).
2) It had an established system of government and commerce.
Job mentioned having a prominent seat in the city street (29:7). He sought to rectify the problem of poverty (29:16). He executed judgment on society’s offenders (29:17). His prosperity was compared to all the successful merchants of the East but surpassed by none (1:3). He mentioned precious stones and metals that were traded from other lands (28:15-19).
3) It was a fertile region supporting large agricultural endeavors (1:3).
4) It was a land rich in mineral resources (28:1,2).
5) It was obviously abounding in industry and technology (28:1,2).
The next question that we need to answer by way of introduction is – who wrote the book of Job?
In keeping with the theologically liberal school of thought that birthed the Documentary Hypothesis as the authorship explanation of Genesis, some attribute the writing of the book of Job to an unknown writer during the Jewish exile in Babylon dated around 400 BC.
There is absolutely no evidence for this claim traditionally, historically, or scripturally. The only reason that one might suggest such a notion is to maintain a prior commitment to an evolutionary history of humanity and the development of language and writing.
Henry Morris addresses another misconception concerning the authorship of Job in his commentary The Remarkable Record of Job.
“Many conservative scholars also have undermined Job’s authenticity by attributing it to some writer during the period of King Solomon. The reason for this is that Job is usually grouped with Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon in what they call the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament. As a great dramatic poem, it obviously fits more conveniently with these four books (which were written and compiled during the Solomonic era) than with the historical or prophetic books, but there is neither internal nor external evidence that it was written at that time. Certain sections of Job are similar to portions Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, but it is likely that these were influenced by Job, rather than vice versa…its setting, structure, theme, and internal references correspond more to the early chapters of Genesis than any other section of Scripture.”
The field of archeology has added validation to the likelihood of an earlier period of writing for the book of Job.
1) The name Job has been found on a number of ancient tablets dated around 2,000 BC.
2) The name Bildad has also been noted in a cuneiform text from the same period.
3) A number of Sumerian documents reference the theme of a “righteous sufferer.”
Based on the extant literary evidence from the ancient Sumerian era along with the various similarities to the early chapters of Genesis, a more credible approach the authorship question may involve Moses.
Henry Morris offers the following supposition in that regard (The Remarkable Record of Job).
“The tradition of Mosaic authorship of Job should…be taken quite seriously, but in the same sense that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are ascribed to Moses. The events in both these records took place long before Moses’ time, so he would necessarily have to draw on earlier records. In the case of Genesis 1-11, the evidence is quite strong that tablets written by the ancient patriarchs were handed down from Adam to Noah to Shem and so on, finally to be compiled by Moses.
In somewhat the same fashion, Moses must have obtained the tablets recounting Job’s experiences, recognizing them as a supremely important revelation of God’s dealings with all men, even those outside his covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then, in the way he incorporated Genesis along with his personal writings in the other four books of the Pentateuch, he prepared the Book of Job for later generations of Israelites, who soon recognized it as inspired Scripture.”
The divine inspiration of the book is validated by a New Testament quote of a Joban passage (1 Cor.3:19 w/ Job 5:13). The Apostle Paul makes the qualification “It is written” before reciting a sentence from the dialogue, thereby confirming its eternally preserved status as special, divine revelation.
So if we credit Moses as the editor (as we do with Genesis), then who was the actual author of the original record?
It seems reasonable to conclude, based on the detail of the events and dialogue that the original record was written by an eye-witness. Job’s authorship is strongly suggested by some of his own words.
Job had the sense that his experience carried much greater significance than one man’s misfortune and suffering. Regarding his condition he said, “Upright men shall be astonished at this, and the innocent shall stir himself against the hypocrite. The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger (17:8,9).”
Not only did he suspect a purpose to his suffering, but he also considered that the extent should go beyond his generation. “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever (19:23,24)!”
Perhaps Job kept a daily journal. It is also possible that the details were recalled in comfort some time later by supernatural means similar to the way the disciples were promised in John 14:26 (“…the Holy Ghost…shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”).
Obviously, at some point the scene from heaven was revealed either to Job, the author, or Moses, the editor, by God’s Spirit (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” through “holy men of God…as they were moved” 2 Tim.3:16 w/ 2 Pet.1:21).
By Job’s own testimony desiring to preserve his experience, his sense of perpetual significance, the detail with which the events and dialogue are recorded, and the means by which writers were influenced to accomplish God’s will, the best evidence for authorship of the original record points to the man, Job, himself.