« VorigeDoorgaan »
ably and satisfactorily written, especially by Bishop Louth“, Archbishop Magee, Dr. Hales, and Mr. Good. Archbishop Magee observes" As to the place of Job's residence, there seems to be little doubt ; commentators are mostly agreed in fixing on Idumea, a part of Arabia Petræa. Kennicott considers Bishop Louth as having completely proved this point. Corducus had long before maintained the same opinion ; and Dathe and the German commentators give it their support. The position of the land of Uz, (Lam. iv. 21) the residence of Job, and the several places named as the habitations of his friends, seem to ascertain the point. Children of the east,' also, appears to be a denomination applicable to the inhabitants of that region, and is even pronounced by Dathe to have been appropriate.”
How far the appellation of the land of Uz’extended, we do not know; but farther, probably, than what was afterwards properly called Idumea. Jeremiah's expression is, “ O daughter of Edom, that dwelleth in the land of Uz !” Perhaps some regions more to the east or northeast, were anciently included in the land of Uz. I am disposed to think so, because, in a remarkable passage of the Book of Job, the river Jordan seems to be referred to as a large river, perhaps the largest with which Job was familiarly acquainted .
To ascertain the era when the Book of Job was written, great pains have been taken by many able and learned writers, and their labours have been rewarded with remarkable success.
Mr. Good pronounces its author to have been “ a Hebrew by birth and native language, and an Arabian by long residence and local study.” He adds, “there is intrinsic evidence, that as a Hebrew he must have flourished and have written the work antecedently to the Egyptian exody. The annals of the world do not present to us a single nation so completely wrapped up in their own history as the Hebrews. Throughout every book, both in the Old and New Testament, in which it could possibly be adverted to, the eye of the writer turns to different parts of it, and dwells upon it with inextinguishable fondness The call of Abraham, the bondage and miracles in Egypt, the journeying through the wilderness, the delivery of the Law, the passage of the Red Sea and of Jordan, &c. &c., " are perpetually brought before us, as ornaments and illustrations of the subject discussed. To none of these, however, does the Book of Job make the smallest reference.” He observes, moreover,
a Prælectiones. b Appendix to his Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement, &c. « Magee, vol. ii. 179.
hap. xl. 23. Comp. Jeremiah xxv. 20, 21.
poem sionally quoted and copied by almost every Hebrew writer, who had an opportunity of referring to it, from the age of Moses to that of Malachi; especially by the Psalmist, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel— leading us by a collateral, though not quite so direct, a train of evidence, to a similar conclusion as to its high origin and antiquity.”
These circumstances have led Mr. Good to adopt the conjecture of those who suppose the Book of Job to be a production of Moses ; that he composed it long before he wrote the Pentateuch, when, as an exile in Arabia, he served his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian ; that he there learned the particulars of Job's trial, whom Mr. Good supposes to have been a descendant of Esau. Professor Gognet, and the late Bishop Horsley, seem also to have been of this opinion. “ A great difficulty,”
66 is occa
observes Archbishop Magee, “ hangs upon the hypothesis, that Moses was the author of this book, namely, that as he must have intended it for the Israelites, it is scarcely possible to conceive, although relating an Idumean history, he should not have introduced something referring to the particular state and circumstances of the people for whose use it was destined ; of which no trace whatever appears in the work.” And it is equally incredible, with respect to the characters introduced in the Book of Job, that, supposing them to be worshippers of Elohim, descended from Abraham, especially considering the theological character of the work, there should be no allusion in their conversations to the call of Abraham, or to circumcision, a religious rite which all the tribes descended from Abraham retained.
The argument which Kennicott and Mr. Good have advanced, to prove Moses to be the author of this book, “similiarity of style,' cannot be thought clear and decisive, when so good a judge as Bishop Lowth drew an opposite conclusion from what he conceived to be the material difference between the style of Job and the poetic style of Moses. And though Mr. Good thinks le perceives an
identity of manner where the two works treat of creation, &c.; yet Mr. Peters remarks, that " the manner in which the creation, the fall, the deluge, and other parts of ancient history, are treated in the Book of Job, is widely different from that in which they are spoken of in the books of Moses.” Arguments of this class must necessarily be very indecisive ; and indeed, should we assume the fact, that the Pentateuch and the Book of Job were the productions of different authors, we should still expect to find soine similiarity, and what some might call “identity of manner,' in works which, comparatively speaking,
find nothing but such rites of sacrifice as Noah observed, and such a knowledge of the covenant of Elohim as he might have conveyed to his posterity. Nothing, but such a general knowledge of the expected Redeemer, as the primeval promise of the woman's seed' to · bruise the serpent's head,' or as the prophecies of an Enoch, might have imparted to the early patriarchial church.
It seems very evident too, that, in the time of Abraham, the worship of strange gods was not only known, but had already contaminated his fathers. But when Job would number up every crime that could be committed against God, he can only mention one species of idolatry, the adoration of the sun and moon. This is an argument of considerable weight, for the priority of Job to Abraham ; and another is, the length of days to which Job attained, compared with the ages at which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died. Abraham was promised a good old age;
he died at the age of an hundred and seventy-five, Isaac died at an hundred and eighty. Jacob was a hundred and forty-seven when he died. But by every probable calculation, the age of Job must have extended considerably beyond these fathers of the Hebrew race. We are told, that Job survived his restoration from his calamities a hundred and forty years. But when his troubles came upon him, he must have been advanced in life. His ten children were evidently all grown up, and the sons had their separate establishments. He distinguishes his life of pious observances from his youth. His friends who visited him are described as possessing days' and multitude of years'— the probability is, that Job was about their standing.
It is remarkable, however, that there are several observations made, in the discussions of Job and his friends
a Joshua xxiv. .
with each other, which indicate that the period of human life was, at this time, much curtailed from what it had been in the days of their ancestors, whose memorable sayings they record. It is from this circumstance that the era of Job may, with great probability, be fixed.
In the genealogies of the patriarchs we find a gradual reduction of the standard of human life at different eras. Noah's was the life of an antediluvian-he attained to nine hundred and fifty years; Shem only to six hundred years, and his son, Arphaxad, only to four hundred and thirtyeight years. This was nearly the age of his son Salah, and of his grandson Heber. But Peleg, the son of Heber, only attained to two hundred and thirty-nine years, which began the third reduction of the standard of human life,
It is not long after this third reduction that we must, in all probability, fix the period of Job. Dr. Hales observes-Bildad, referring Job to their forefathers for instruction in wisdom, says, “ Inquire, I pray thee, of the former age ; and prepare thyself to search of their fathers.” Assigning as a reason, the comparative shortness of life, and consequent ignorance of the present generation—“For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing; because our days upon earth are a shadowa."
Dr. Hales, therefore, embraces the opinion of Abul. faragi, who, on the authority of Arudha, a Canaanitish historian, places the trial of Job in the year B. C. 2337, in the twenty-fifth year of the life of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg. He observes, on the passage quoted above, “ The fathers of the former age, or grandfathers of the present, were the contemporaries of Peleg and Joktan, in the fifth generation after the deluge; and they might easily have learned wisdom from the fountain-head, by conversing with Shem, or
a Chap. viii. 8,9.