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lived in the time of Israei's bondige in Egypt; some placing his birth* in the same year in which Jacob went down into Egypt; and the beginning of his trials in the year that Joseph dicd, being the seventy-first of Job's life.
Nor are there less various conjectures about the time of writing this story; some suppose it written after the death of Moes; others think it written by Moses himself. The most probable opinion is, that it was really written by Moses while in the land of Midian. It matters not, however, who was the compiler: it is certain the whole story is an admirable commentary on the first book of the Pentateuch : and therefore no great number of historical observations can be expected from it.
St. Jerom is unnecessarily curious in defining the style of it: it is sufficient, that in Job we have the character of an excellent person, exhibited to us by God himself, adorned with all the virtues that can render him ac. ceptable to God, and desirable to men; in which he is clegantly and briefly described as performing his duty, fearing God, and shuuning evil.
How considerable Job was in the world, may appear from the estimate of bis stock, which consisted of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen, and five hundred she-asses.
As to domestic blessings, God had been very liberal to him, for he had seven sons and three daughters, who inherited their father's name, more than his virtues; being, it is thought, too much devoted to worldly ple.sures. For when they were grown up, and removed from him, they took their turns in feasting from house to house, every one his day, and invited their sisters to feast with them. When they had finished their round, pious Job, considering the dangers that attend such festive meetings, and fearing lest his children, in their youthful mirth and amusements, might have committed some extravagancies, he kindly sent and exhorted them to purify themselves, preparatory to a solemn offering up of sacrifices to their God; the good man himselt, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings for them, according to the number of them all. And this he did from time to time after their feasts. This pious care of Job was highly acceptable to his Maker, who expressed his high esteem and approbation, at a time when the Sons of God* came to present themselves before the Lord ;t at which time also Satan, the adversary, came among them, to seek an opportunity of doing mischief. Then the Almighty, to set forth Job as an exemplary pattern of righteousness, said to Satan; “ Hast thou considered my servant Job, " that there is none like him in the earth ; a man exactly
* Birth. It might not probably be so liable to exception, if Job's birth were set a little lower, as about the time of Jacob's death: And then Joseph, who survived his father about fifty-four years, will have been dead about sixteen years, before that extraordinary character was given of Job, in the seventieth year of his age. At which time, for any thing that appears, he might well be without competitor or equal. And there being somewhat more than sixty years between Jóseph's death, and the birth of Moses; the story of Job may fitly enough fall within that interval of tirne.
good, and one that feareth God and shunneth evil ? The malignant adversary, unwilling to admit that Job
• Sons of God. That is good angels; as on the contrary Satan is called the Angel of Death: or it may refer to the assembly of pious men, the worshippers of Jehovah, who in early ages were called The Sons of God, Gen. vi. 2. God is present in such an assembly; and as good angels are probably present on such an occasion, (Luke xv. 7. 10. Eph. iii. 10.) so may evil spirits also.
+ Before the Lord. Some will have this convention of the good angels to be seal, but at the same time such as is agreeable to the nature of spirits; and that they met in a certain place, and Satan with them, before the angel, who in the room of God, presided over that assembly : but so, as Satan was seen of God and angels ; but he, by reason of his fall, not able to see God or them. Others take it to be parabolically spoken, that the truth may be the better understood : for the decrees of God, the ministry of his angels, and the machinations of the wicked angels, are often in scripture expressed under the form of the judgments and counsels of kings; as we may see 1 Kings xxii. 19. Zech. iii. 1. But be it how it may, it is certain these things are not meant in a gross literal sense, but as God is pleas. ed to accommodate himself to our understanding; for Satan can no other way be said to come into the presence of God, nor to talk with him, &c. nor the angels
served God from a religious principle, but merely for selfinterest, replied : “ Doth Job serve thee for nothing ? Hast “ thou not enclosed him on all sides, and secured him, " and all that he hath, from the reach of misfortune and
danger ? but withdraw thy protection, and suffer him “ to be afflicted with the loss of the mighty wealth thou “ hast heaped upon him, and he will curse thee to thy “ face.” God knowing the integrity of Job, and that the exercise of it might redound to his honour, and become an useful example to others, was pleased to expose him to the trial “ Behold (says he) all that he hath is in thy
power; but dare not to touch his person.” The mali. cious fiend having obtained this permission, soon sets his wicked engines to work; and the more effectually to provoke the spirit of Job to blasphemy, attacks him all at once with a crowd of miseries, all most too much for hu. man nature to bear.
Satan takes an opportunity to begin his assault upon Job on the day that his eldest son was in course to entertain his relations. He had, in readiness, stirred up the Sabeans* to make an inroad upon Job for plunder; which they did with such fury, that but one servant escaped to bring the unhappy news to Job; “ Thy oxen (said he)
were ploughing, and the asses feeding by them, and the “ Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; and they “ have put all thy servants to the sword except myself.” Job had not time to reflect with himself whether this might be the effect of common depredation, or a judgment upon him for the folly of his children; for this messenger is immi di tely succeeded by another, who in great consternation says, “ The fire of God is fallen “ from heaven, and hath burnt up the sheep and thy ser
(properly speaking) to come to God, since they are always in his presence ; nor can any day be assigned to God, who is without time, infinite, immense, &c.
• Sabeans. They were a neighbnuring people descended from Sheba, Grandsok of Abraham by Kerturab, Gen. xxv. 3.
“ vants, and consumed them all, and I only am escaped
to tell thee.” This account was very shocking; and ihe calamity coming from heaven, might make it appear more like an immediate judgment than the former ; but before Job could animadvert upon it, a third messenger rushes in upon him and cries, " The Chaldeans, in three parties, “ fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, and “all thy servants have they put to the sword, but myself." Thus was Job, in a single day, bereft of all his extensive substance; and he, who in the morning was the most opulent man in all the country, became, before the night, one of the poorest in the world. The malicious enemy finding these attempts too remote to excite that passion in Jobs, which he expected upon this sudden concourse of afflictions, resolves, in order to crown the whole, to touch him in a more sensible part, and to come as near him as the bound prescribed by the Almighty would permit. This Prince of the Air, therefore, raising a very great storm, threw down to the ground the house in which the family of Job were assembled, and buried them all in the ruins. And that Job might not have any time to digest the grief of his former losses, before the last messenger had made an end of relating to him the loss of his camels, another comes in haste, and in a great consternation teils him, “ That as his sons and daughters were eating, and d. inking " wine in their eldest brother's house, there came a great “ wind from the wilderness, and smote the four* corners “ of the house, and it fell upon the young men,* and
* Four Corners. This, among other passages of Scripture, hath excited the ridicule of infidel-wits, as incompatible with natural philosophy ; but, independ: ent of the agency of Satan, on this particular occasion who is emphatically styled in Scripture, the Prince of the Winds, or Power of the Air) it is well known that the hurricanes of the West-Indies, as well as those tremendous storms denominated tyfoons, in the seas of China, are particularly distinguishable from all other winds, by their suddenly shifting round not only to the four points, but to every point of the compass, and blowing with a violence utterly inconceivable to Europeans. Effects are thus produced far more terrible and full as instantaneous as that recorded to have happened to the house of Job's eldest son. It is this tremendous and sudden shifting of the wind, that dismasts or sinks the largest ships in instant, and lays the strongest buildings level with the ground.
they are dead, and I only escaped to tell thee.” This was a terrible stroke indeed, and touched Job in a tender part. The death of all his children, snatched away in a moment, affected him deeply ; but the circumstances and manner of their death were peculiarly afflicting, considering the unprepared state of mind in which death, too probably, found them.
These repeated calamities did not betray Job into any irregularity or indecency; the only vent he at first gave to his grief was by rending his mantle, the common token of affliction and sorrow in those eastern countries and early ages of the world; then, deliberately following the other usual customs of mourning, he shaved his head, and in humble submission of mind fell upon the ground and worshipped. His misery could not make him forget his duty, and therefore he humbled himself under the divine hand, without whose permission he well knew none of these troubles could have befallen him.
Satan's great expectation was from this last trial; he knew Job could with a serene mind sustain temporal losses, which time and industry might. repair ; but this wound of nature, in the death of all his children, he thought would have transported him into some indecent and intemperate expression against God. But, to his great disappointment, Job stands the shock; and in humble acknowledgment of his own meanness, cries, "Naked came "I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return to “ the earth, the common womb and mother of mankind." And then, in a quiet resignation and thankfulness for what he had received at the hand of God, though now deprived of it, he gives up all for lost in this world, and says, " The " Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be “the name of the Lord.” Thus the pious patriarch's virtue shone in his sufferings, which, great as they were, could not make him deface the character his Maker had given
* Men. From the dignity of the masculine gender the word men here compre, hends both sexes ; so that Job's daughters as well as his sons were killed with the fall of the house.