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Tremper Longman: The news Job had just heard was devastating. His wealth and his children were gone. All he had left at this point were his wife and his health. His initial reaction indicates his grief. Tearing one’s clothes (see also Gen. 37:34; Josh. 7:6; 2 Sam. 1:11; 3:31; 13:31; Ezra 9:3, 5; Esther 4:1) and shaving one’s head (Isa. 22:12; Jer. 7:29; 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; 48:37; Ezek. 7:18; Amos 8:10) are signs of mourning. But when he speaks, he does not lament, complain, or weep. Rather, he resigns himself to his fate, which he acknowledges God has brought on him. But he goes further than resignation. He actually worships the God who has taken away that which is dear to him.

John Hartley: These four plagues revealed to Job that all the forces of heaven and earth had turned hostile toward him. This idea is borne out by the fact that the causes of destruction alternate between earthly and heavenly forces coming from all four points of the compass: the Sabeans from the south, lightning from a storm out of the west, the Chaldeans from the north, and the treacherous sirocco blowing off the desert to the east. The number four also symbolizes full measure, totality.

Cyril Barber: When we remember that in the ancient Near East a man’s wealth was estimated by the size of his flocks and herds, his servants who waited on him, and the number of his sons, we realize how intent Satan was on depriving Job of everything that could contribute to his wealth and happiness, and prestige within the community. Furthermore, in order to secure maximum impact, Satan arranged for the tragic news of 1:13-19 to come like hammer blows, one after another.

David Clines: The focus is entirely upon Job, and not upon the disasters themselves, for the issues of the prologue revolve entirely about this man. Dramatically, the spotlight remains fixed upon Job, since the narrative advances only to the measure in which Job himself becomes aware of the disasters. The device of the messengers admirably focuses concentration upon Job rather than upon the scenes of disaster, and at the same time creates an atmosphere of accelerating doom: each messenger after the first arrives before his predecessor has told his tale; each messenger is the sole survivor of the disaster he describes. The unbroken succession of messengers further heightens the tension the hearer feels concerning Job’s reaction; he cannot respond emotionally to any calamity until he responds to them all; for, after all, they are in reality one and the same calamity in design and in effect.


“Now it happened on the day when his sons and his daughters

were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,”

John Hartley: The third scene opens as did the second with the phrase One day. Since no one on earth was aware of the agreement between Yahweh and the Satan, all things at Job’s household continued as usual. The atmosphere was peaceful. Scrupulous Job would have recently offered whole burnt offerings to atone for any possible sin either in his children’s lives or in his life. His sons had joyfully begun a new round of feasting at the home of the eldest. The mention of wine is an artistic touch that pictures the children’s anticipated joy. That is, the tragedy of the coming events stands out more sharply against the background of the children’s excitement at the beginning of a new round of feasting.



A. (:14-15) Loss of Farm Animals and Servants

“that a messenger came to Job and said,

‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

Elmer Smick: the coming of the messengers of misfortune each on the heels of the other (vv.14, 16, 17, 18), all on that one fateful day, has its dramatic effect heightened by the narrator’s style.

B. (:16) Loss of Flocks and Shepherds

“While he was still speaking, another also came and said,

‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants

and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

John Hartley: Job’s flocks were grazing contentedly when the fire of God, i.e., a tremendous bolt of lightning, fell from heaven and lapped up everything in the area, including the flocks and the shepherds. This calamity has an ironic twist: the Satan used God’s fire against God’s servant.

C. (:17) Loss of Camels and Servants

“While he was still speaking, another also came and said,

‘The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels

and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword;

and I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

Tremper Longman: the name Chaldean points to an origin of these invaders from southern Mesopotamia. They succeeded in taking Job’s camels (numbering three thousand, according to 1:3) and killing the servants who were caring for them.

David Thompson: Job was bankrupt. His entire business world had just come crashing down. In one day his entire fortune was gone. He had no work and he had no workers. The greatest and richest man in the east was now flat broke.

D. (:18-19) Loss of Children

“While he was still speaking, another also came and said,

‘Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you.’”

MacArthur: This likely refers to a tornado-type wind (see Isaiah 21:1; Hosea 13:15).

Robert Alden: For the fourth and last catastrophe the author offered more detail. This is also the only episode in this first stage of testing that employs the particle hinn h, “behold,” suggesting this is the climactic episode. While the number of Job’s children did not compare with the numbers of lost livestock, there is no comparing the grief that arises from losing children.



A. (:20) Worshiping God While Mourning

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head,

and he fell to the ground and worshiped.”

David Clines: What we have been waiting for is Job’s reaction to the news. The narrator has artfully kept us waiting; though the spotlight has been upon Job from the beginning of the scene, we have not heard one word from him or had an inkling of how the news registers with him. All that survives to him of his former prosperity and rank are four anonymous messengers, whom even a quite unsophisticated audience will easily recognize as owing their survival entirely to the exigencies of narrative art (the manner of their escape is of no interest whatever); for the purposes of this story, Job is alone and unattended by house servants when he receives the messengers, and even his wife is kept out of sight until her significant appearance in 2:9.

Robert Alden: The tearing and the shaving are the expected reactions to the tragedies that suddenly and recently came to Job. The falling to the ground and worshiping are what separate him from others. He did not shake his fist skyward and scream, “Why me, Lord?” but bowed to the ground in humble acknowledgment of and capitulation to God’s sovereign will.

B. (:21) Blessing God While Being Bankrupted

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

And naked I shall return there.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the LORD.’”

David Atkinson: Even in all this Job sees the hand of God. Amazingly, and significantly, his first instinct is to react Godwards – in worship. How few of us find that worship is our first reaction even at the best of times. But here is a man who is coping with a multiple bereavement. He has been afflicted with loss after loss. His sorrow is real and very great. How difficult it is to worship at such a time! Yet worship is Job’s reaction. He is so absorbed by the sovereign action of God in giving and in taking away that there is a humble acceptance in blessing even the hand that has struck him. Would that we could learn to make that our first reaction to crisis – to pray. How important in pastoral ministry to seek to lead others who are in pain to place their needs before God.

David Atkinson: Job’s exclamation is the noblest expression to be found anywhere of a man’s joyful acceptance of the will of God as his only good. A man may stand before God stripped of everything that life has given him, and still lack nothing. His essential being came into life naked from his mother’s body, and in that second birth into another world which is death, he will pass in similar nakedness.

David Clines: In this sentence, then, of response to the disaster that has befallen him, the Book of Job reaches—for the first time—what I argue in this commentary to be its primary aim: to portray how one should behave under suffering. No more sudden or catastrophic suffering could easily be imagined; how should a human being respond? Precisely as Job, without recrimination, self-pity, or rejection of reality, and with praise to the Lord of his being. Job is unarguably here set forth as an exemplar of faith in crisis. Nevertheless, the vast bulk of the Book of Job will depict a different Job, who is nevertheless the same man, a Job who finds such a response, though genuinely willed and in every respect real (and not to be misjudged as “unnaturally calm”; cf. Hesse), does not begin to match the turmoil of emotion that the events of this chapter come to awaken in him. There is no doubt that Job’s behavior here is right, and therefore exemplary; whether it is possible—at least to persist in—is another matter. For some it may be, and they are to be congratulated. For the others, the rest of the book will portray another—though ultimately congruent—way.


“Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”

Robert Alden: Antecedent to “this” are the calamities of vv. 13-19. Any one of those events might have caused lesser men to lose faith, abandon hope, or even charge God with neglect or deliberate evil. The “sin” that Job did not commit was to accuse God of “wrongdoing.” He did indirectly acknowledge that God had sent these troubles, but he did not at this point question God’s justice, love, wisdom, or sovereignty. It is a rare and commendable posture that the hero from Uz assumed, one that should characterize all God’s children whatever turns life might take.

John Hartley: Mourning in silence, he gave his lips no opportunity to utter an angry curse or a cruel vindictive word. Thereby he honored God’s trust in him and demonstrated the falsity of the Satan’s taunts.