JOB - Introduction
THE BOOK OF JOB.
This Book takes its name from the holy man, of whom it treats; who, according
to the more probable opinion, was of the race of Esau, and the same as Jobab, king of Edom, mentioned [in] Genesis xxxvi.
33. It is uncertain who was the writer of it. Some attribute it to Job himself; others to Moses, or some one of the prophets.
In the Hebrew it is written in verse, from the beginning of the third chapter to the forty-second chapter. (Challoner) ---
The beginning and conclusion are historical, and in prose. Some have divided this work into a kind of tragedy, the first act
extending to chap. xv., the second to chap. xxii., the third to chap. xxxviii., where God appears, and the plot is unfolded.
They suppose that the sentiments of the speakers are expressed, though not their very words. This may be very probable: but
the opinion of those who look upon the work as a mere allegory, must be rejected with horror. The sacred writers speak of
Job as of a personage who had really existed, (Calmet) and set the most noble pattern of virtue, and particularly of patience,
Tobias ii. 12., Ezechiel xiv. 14., and James v. 11. Philo and Josephus pass over this history, as they do those of Tobias,
Judith, &c. (Haydock) --- The time when Job lived is not clearly ascertained. Some have supposed (Calmet) that he was
a contemporary with Esther; (Du Hamel; Thalmud) on which supposition, the work is here placed in its chronological order.
But Job more probably lived during the period when the Hebrews groaned under the Egyptian bondage, (Haydock) or sojourned
in the wilderness, Numbers xiv. 9. The Syrians place the book at the head of the Scriptures. (Calmet) --- Its situation has
often varied, and is of no great importance. The subject which is here treated, is of far more; as it is intended to shew
that the wicked sometimes prosper, while the good are afflicted. (Haydock) --- This had seldom been witnessed before the days
of Abraham: but as God had now selected his family to be witnesses and guardians of religion, a new order of things was beginning
to appear. This greatly perplexed Job himself; who, therefore, confesses that he had not sufficiently understood the ways
of God, till he had deigned to explain them in the parable of the two great beasts, chap. xlii. 3. We cannot condemn the sentiments
expressed by Job, since God has declared that they were right, chap. xlii. 8) and reprimands Elihu, (chap. xxxviii.
2.) and the other three friends of Job, for maintaining a false opinion, though, from the history of past times, they had
judge it to be true. This remark may excupate them from the stain of wilful lying, and vain declamation. (Houbigant) --- However,
as they asserted what was false, their words of themselves are of no authority; and they are even considered as the forerunners
of heretics. (St. Gregory; St. Augustine, &c.) (Tirinus) --- Job refutes them by sound logic. (St. Jerome) --- We may
discover in this book the sum of Christian morality, (Worthington) for which purpose it has been chiefly explained by St.
Gregory. The style is very poetical, (Haydock) though at the same time simple, like that of Moses. (Du Hamel) --- It is interspersed
with many Arabic and Chaldaic idioms; (St. Jerome) whence some have concluded, that it was written originally by Job and his
friends (Haydock) in Arabic, and translated into Hebrew by Moses, for the consolation of his brethren. (Worthington) --- The
Hebrew text is in many places incorrect; (Houbigant) and the Septuagint seem to have omitted several verses. (Origen) ---
St. Jerome says almost eight hundred, (Calmet) each consisting of about six words. (Haydock) --- Shultens, in 1747, expressed
his dissatisfaction with the labours of all preceding commentators. To explain this book may not therefore be an easy task:
but we must be as short as possible. (Haydock) --- Those who desire farther information, may consult Pineda, (Worthington)
whose voluminous work, in two folios, will nearly (Haydock) give all necessary information. (Calmet)