THE HERO OF THE STORY IS INTRODUCED AS A GODLY MAN OF UNRIVALED INTEGRITY, WEALTH AND FAMILY BLESSING
John MacArthur: Job himself is introduced as someone who has achieved the pinnacle of success in life. He is a man of integrity, “blameless and upright,” who fears God and shuns evil (1:1). He has been blessed with a large family, including sons and daughters. He has many servants and is a person of means, with flocks of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys—a notable achievement in an agrarian society with no established currency. In short, Job has it all.
David Clines: The one thing needful in the preface to the poem of Job the righteous sufferer is that “there must be no room for the misgiving that the sufferer’s afflictions are the due reward of his deeds” (Peake). The opening sentence establishing Job’s blamelessness is given precedence over the more external description of Job’s family and wealth, since it is his moral rectitude that will be put in question by events of the narrative. Reference to his children and possessions, however, functions not as a decorative addition to the portrayal of the man, but as tangible evidence of his uprightness. The fundamental assertion of Job’s blamelessness is reverted to in the last two verses of this unit, where a cameo scene depicts how scrupulous he is to ensure that his innocence extends beyond himself to the members of his family. At the same time, by bringing the children within the ambit of the story, it prepares for the third scene, in which their fate is portrayed.
G. Campbell Morgan: The language describing his character is simple and yet almost exhaustive in its suggestiveness of that high integrity which never fails to command respect. It is described as to manifestation and inspiration.
In outward manifestation he was perfect and upright, a description which indicates moral blamelessness rather than sinless perfection.
The inspiration of this integrity was that “he feared God and eschewed evil.” The morality of Job was based on his religion, and was the necessary outcome thereof. This is the only root-principle out of which a strong and abiding morality ever grows.
Norman Habel: The opening verses of the book (vs. 1-5) are a pretemporal exposition or prelude which provides background information for both the first movement and the total narrative. Job is introduced as a patriarchal figure from the heroic past. He is the epitome of piety, wisdom, and success. His goodness extends to periodic priestly acts of mediation on behalf of his family to ward off the fatal sin of “cursing God.”
I. (:1) JOB’S PIETY AND INTEGRITY –
A. Identity of the Godly Man
1. Identity by Location
“There was a man in the land of Uz,”
Robert Alden: Unlike most Hebrew sentences, which begin with the verb, this one begins with the noun “a man.” Such deviations from the usual order of verb-subject-object are often for emphasis. Could it be that the humanity, the finitude, the frailty of the major character is the point of the text in making “a man” the first word? “Lived” translates a simple verb “to be,” literally, “A man was in the land of Uz.”
Cyril Barber: Job lived in a city that was the edge of civilization. It was surrounded by vast stretches of land, some of which was wild and desolate while other portions were arable. The wilderness area was a place frequented by brigands who roamed about freely. These wily nomads would descend with speed on a town or village, and plunder and pillage with no thought for the value of human life (cf. Judges 6:3, 33; 7:12; 8:10) or the rights of others (cf. Job 1:15, 17).
John Robertson: “Uz” is “the name of an undefined land mentioned in three OT passages; i.e., Jer. 25:20ff; Lam. 4:21 and Job 1:1. In Lam. 4:21 it is the land where the ‘daughter of Edom’ dwelt. In these passages the land of Uz seems to be related to the Edomites and Seir” (ISBE v. 4, pp. 959).
Robert Alden: “The land of Uz,” as best we can guess, was in the area of northern Saudi Arabia or southern Jordan, which, since the time of the patriarchs has been called Edom. The names of Job’s friends and their homes also point to locales in the desert country east and south of the Dead Sea.
2. Identity by Name
“whose name was Job,”
John Hartley: A patriarch is usually introduced in the biblical text with a full genealogy (e.g., Abraham, Gen. 11:26–29); thus it is noteworthy that Job is introduced without genealogy and without reference to his tribe or clan. There is also no specific reference to the time when Job lived. The author thereby masterfully composes a literary piece in which Job is representative of all who suffer.
B. Idealized Godly Characteristics
“and that man was blameless,”
Bob Utley: “blameless, upright” — These two terms are often together in the OT (cf. Ps.
25:21; 37:37). They speak of moral rectitude and compliance with the religious light of the day.
John Hartley: The first pair, blameless (tām) and upright (yāšār), indicates that Job was a person of pure motivation. Heb. tām frequently designates a sacrificial animal as “spotless, without blemish,” but when used with a person it means personal integrity, not sinless perfection (Josh. 24:14; Judg. 9:16, 19). The blameless person is one who walks in close fellowship with God (Gen. 17:1) and who delights in obeying the law (Ps. 119:1). He serves God wholeheartedly. The word upright depicts faithful adherence to God’s statutes (cf. 1 K. 14:8; 15:5) and an honest, compassionate manner in relating to others. Job treated others, including his servants, fairly and justly (31:13–23). Also he zealously showed mercy to the unfortunate.
Warren Wiersbe: He was not sinless, for nobody can claim that distinction, but he was complete and mature in character and “straight” in conduct. The word translated “perfect” is related to “integrity,” another important word in Job (2:3, 9: 27:5; 31:6). People with integrity are whole persons, without hypocrisy or duplicity. In the face of his friends’ accusations and God’s silence, Job maintained his integrity, and the Lord ultimately vindicated him.
Derek Kidner: Fearing God is the very soul of godliness. It is the attribute, above all others, that reflects a right relationship of a sinner to Almighty God. It is the response of a sinner towards the greatness of God. Reverence, awe and submission are its chief components, as is the notion of being afraid when there is just cause for it. A person who fears God puts God first in every area of life. God is not thought of as an equal, still less an inferior, but an all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere present god who may do with us as he wills.
Fearing God is not the cowering gesture of one who is terrified by God, though unconfessed, unmortified sin in our lives may, and should, elicit such a response. Rather, it is an honest acknowledgement that God is greater than us in every way. We are never on his level and that is why submission becomes a crucially important issue in Job. Above everything else, Job’s attitude to God will eventually be seen to be one of acquiescence. Job may not, indeed, does not, understand what is going on in his life, but he resolves to place his trust in God. . .
Job’s attitude, thus far at least, was one of unquestioning submission to God, ever careful to acknowledge the Lord as King in his life. He was careful never to speak about God, or to God in a flippant, ill-thought manner. He avoided attributing to God motives ill-befitting the sovereign Creator and Redeemer. He sought each day to abide by the rule that God should be glorified in his life. In this way Job feared God. Of course, it is easier to acknowledge God’s goodness when life is free from pain. That is the test to which Job is now put: will he continue to fear God when everything around him is giving way?
“and turning away from evil.”
Tremper Longman: He was “innocent” (tām) and “virtuous” (yāšār), fearing God and turning away from evil. Significantly, this language has close affinities with the description of the wise in the book of Proverbs (“innocent”: Prov. 2:7, 21; 11:3, 20; 13:6; 19:1; 20:7; 28:6, 10, 18; 29:10; “virtuous”: 1:3; 2:7, 21; 8:6, 9; 11:3, 6; 12:6; 14:11; 15:8; 16:13; 20:11; 21:2, 8; 23:16; 29:10). In Proverbs these terms refer to people who do what is morally correct. They are the ones who heed the commands of the father and gain wisdom. Their lives are largely marked by ethical rightness and legal obedience.
Robert Alden: “Shunned” or “turned from” represents the other side of the coin from “feared God.” The first phrase was positive; the second is negative. Good people turn to God and away from evil. The good life involves not only the doing of right but also the avoidance of wrong. Again, “evil” was defined as mainly overt acts such as those Eliphaz listed in 22:6-9—ruthless and cruel demanding of collateral and conscious neglect of the weary and hungry, the widow and orphan. In 29:12-17 Job countered these charges and added more good deeds to his list, all of which reflect his fear of God and his shunning of evil.
II. (:2-3) JOB’S PROSPERITY –
A. (:2) Perfect Family
“And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.”
Tremper Longman: The children are described in a way that shows he has a large and, for an ancient Near Eastern context, well-balanced family. Ten children constitute a good-sized family, and that there are more boys than girls also would be considered a blessing. Indeed, that there are seven sons is especially significant because seven is the number of completeness. His quiver is indeed full (Pss. 127; 128).
David Thompson: Quoting Dr. E.W. Bullinger who points out that the number ten in the Bible implies divine completeness of order. For example, there are the Ten Commandments, there are the tenth tithes, in the tabernacle there are ten curtains, pillars and sockets. There were ten plagues to Egypt and in the finale of world powers that will bring everything to a conclusion, there are ten (Rev. 12:3; 13:1) (Bullinger, Number in Scripture, pp. 243-250).
B. (:3a) Plentiful Possessions
“His possessions also were
500 yoke of oxen,
500 female donkeys,
and very many servants;”
1. 7000 sheep – Used for clothing and for food
2. 3000 camels (like 7 sons and 3 daughters) used for long trips
3. 500 Oxen – Beasts of burden to do the labor around house
4. 500 donkeys – Used for doing labor of short trips
C. (:3b) Preeminent Reputation
“and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”
Tremper Longman: He is described as “fearing God” as well as “innocent and virtuous,” an evaluation that is repeated twice by God himself (1:8; 2:3). In this way, the reader knows something for certain about Job that has not been disclosed to the human participants of the book. As one interprets the action and dialogue that follow, there can be no doubt about Job’s innocence. As an innocent man, Job enjoys great rewards: wealth, health, and a large and happy family.
Cyril Barber: Female donkeys were highly prized in the ancient Near East for they could breed and produce offspring.
III. (:4-5) JOB’S PRIESTLY PRECAUTION TO PRESERVE HOLINESS –
A. (:4) Sibling Special Feasts
“And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.”
John MacArthur: Each of the seven sons had an appointed day of the week. This reference to the main meal of each day of the week, which moved from house to house, implies the love and harmony of the family members. The sisters are especially noted to show these were cared for with love.
John Hartley: While the language may indicate that there were continuous rounds of feasting, it is more probable that each son periodically held a nonreligious feast, possibly a birthday celebration. This detail witnesses to the closeness and the affluence of Job’s family, not to the fact that Job’s children were given to frivolous living.
Izak Cornelius: Job’s children attended feasts organized by his sons, where they ate and drank wine for seven days (v. 18). These feasts were not religious since such occasions would have been celebrated at the house of their father, Job; some of them may have been birthday parties. The banquet motif was well known in ancient times and is often depicted in art. Egyptian paintings depict lavish banquets where males and females mingle, are treated with delicacies, and are entertained by music and dance. Mesopotamian banquets appear on cylinder seals, on Assyrian reliefs, and on the “standard of Ur.” In the Old Testament itself it occurs in Psalm 23:5, where the Lord is the host. The Ugaritic hero Danʾel also gave the deities food.
B. (:5) Sin Offerings to Ensure Careful Consecration
1. Consecration Offerings
“And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all;”
2. Careful Consideration
“for Job said, ‘Perhaps my sons have sinned
and cursed God in their hearts.’”
3. Consistent Practice
“Thus Job did continually.”
Elmer Smick: Verse 5 reveals that Job, like the patriarchs, functions as a priest for his family. He takes his sacrificial obligation seriously, viewing it as expiation for sin. To Job this includes even sins of the heart, for he makes special offerings just in case his sons have secretly cursed God. The matter of cursing or not cursing God becomes a key theme in the development of this drama.
Francis Andersen: Job’s religion was inward and spiritual; but it recognized the need for ceremonies and sacrifices. His own act of intercession, in offering burnt offerings to restore the holiness (sanctify) of his children, shows a belief in the power of a mediator that will lead to his desire later on that someone should do the same for him.