Some scholarship has the Book of Job written between the 7th and 4th centuries before Christ. (1) Their reasons for doing this show two things; one is a rejection of God’s inspiration of the Bible in that they regard any similarity with later writings as proof that it was written later thereby denying that similarity is a natural consequence of God’s ultimate authorship of all books of the Bible. Two has to do with more of an arrogance that comes from drawing conclusions from insufficient information.
There are good reasons to believe that the Book of Job was written before Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible starting with Genesis. It contains no reference to Hebrew culture, Job is offering sacrifices that the priests would have offered under the Mosaic Law, and Job’s lifespan indicate a much earlier age of writing than some modern scholars presume. (2) It is safe for a Christian to assume that it was written anywhere from 2000BC to 1500BC.
There are many difficulties in trying to place Job in a known historical context. Most historical evidence lies buried in the dirt and all the spades and shovels of archaeology will never dig that evidence up. Scholars are left with what they have. Here is a primary source of history, written by a man who witnessed the events written about, with no countering documentation to argue that it was a fraud, a fantasy, or political propaganda. Those who deny its authenticity or the truth of its statements only have their own prejudices, assumptions, worldview, and unwillingness to accept any of the Bible as written by men who were guided by the Holy Spirit to go on.
Having answered generally when it was written, let’s examine who wrote it. Internally, from the text it is clear that Elihu, the son of Barachel, the Buzite wrote it. Beginning in chapter 32, he writes of himself in the third person and then in the first person, verse 16 giving us the needed clue as to the authorship of the book.
Job 32;16 When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;)
The Book of Job has a great deal to say about human suffering and science. It is unlike any other book of its time and very important for Christians to study and understand. Many of our deepest questions about life are answered in it, while for some questions we are explicitly told that we will never have an answer satisfactory to us in this life.
(1) Robert Kugler & Patrick Hartin, An Introduction to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009), 193.
(2) Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 32.
1 ¶ There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
The land of Uz is said to be in the region of the Biblical Edom. In Job 2:11, one of Job’s friends is said to be a Temanite, or descendant of Teman, a descendant of Esau and a duke of Edom. Teman, the location, was thought to be a place of wisdom as shown by this statement.
Jeremiah 49:7 Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?
We are not given definite information on the lineage of the other friends.
The upright man keeps himself from iniquity and sin.
2Samuel 22:24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
Job is said to be “perfect and upright.” In the Bible’s self-defining method when words are connected by “and,” we see that, in this context, perfect and upright are synonyms. Three times in the first two chapters of Job, he is called perfect and upright, the last two times by God directly in speaking to Satan.
Psalm 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
Proverbs 2:21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
At other times, perfect is said to be complete or finished.
2Chronicles 8:16 Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Noah was said to be “a just man and perfect in his generations,” which seems to refer to him lacking any taint of corruption in his genetic line from the rebellious sons of God who came to earth and mated with human women. Notice that if perfect stood alone against being a just man they would have been synonymous but perfect in this context is qualified with, “in his generations.”
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose…4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
So, Job was perfect and upright, further defined in the text in that he feared God and eschewed evil. Eschew is not such an archaic word, although little used, as I have read it in news articles recently meaning to avoid or refrain from something. We learn what eschew means in the Bible by looking at it elsewhere, as it is not defined in the text here.
1Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
In these verses you see that, “eschew,” is surrounded by, “let him,” and, “evil,” in verse 11. In verse 10, “let him,” and ,”evil,” surround, “refrain his tongue from,” giving us the definition.
We will see that Job not only feared God in the sense of awe and reverence…
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
But we will learn that Job was terrified of God with a dread-like fear.
Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth…
Exodus 15:16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them…
Deuteronomy 2:25 This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations…
Deuteronomy 11:25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.
Isaiah 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
We also will learn that Job refrained his tongue from speaking evil about God, though his wife recommended it.
He is said to have had wealth in the form of a large family and in great substance, as wealth was recognized in his day. It is so much that he is said to be the greatest man of the east. Let’s assume Job is the wealthiest guy around. All eyes would be interested in what was going on with him. If he lived today he would be interviewed and photographed often, I assume. He was influential and important, as people of great wealth are.