The Book of Job

Authors: Jo Milgrom and Yoel Duman


The enigma of the book of Job is expressed in the satirical cartoon series Southpark, in which Kyle (aka Job), recovering from hemorrhoid surgery, gets a visit from Rabbi and Rebbetzin Schwartz. They try to cheer Kyle up by telling him the story of Job. In the Rabbi’s version, Job is a wonderful man, has many children, a great wife and much livestock and praises God.  God gets a terrible idea from Satan, who says that Job only praises God because he is so well off:  “Take away all his goods and see what happens.”  Everything is lost and Job gets deathly sick, but still praises God. Kyle says, “That’s it? Why would God do such a thing to a good person?”  The Rabbi, perplexed, answers:  “I don’t know.”  Kyle’s closing remarks are: “There is no God.”

This is Bible study in our own day.  It’s true and it’s not true.  It’s partial and like anything partial, a lot is left out and some is added, just as in the world of midrash

Missing from the Southpark version of the story of Job are Job’s wife’s problematic response to Job’s disaster,  Job’s extended discussion with his companions, God’s awesome revelation to Job and the detailed account of Job’s restoration.  Both written and visual commentary on the book of Job have highlighted some of these figures and scenes, often well beyond their importance in the book. These commentaries reread and revisualize Job, through associations with the issues of their own times and in accordance with local, religious and individual agendas.

In our essay, we will go back to the 4th century and examine the art of that painful book throughout the centuries in order to track how Job and his story metamorphosed in the eyes of artists and why.

Early Christian art

Job first appears in the art of 4th century Rome in association with Christian views of death and burial.

In the paintings of the Roman catacombs, Job assumes the classic stance of the thoughtful scholar; in the funereal context of the catacombs, he embodies (and recommends) a contemplative approach to death.

In one catacomb painting, Job’s wife accompanies him. Although she appears in the biblical text in only one short passage, she stars in commentary, midrash and the visual arts. As we shall discuss, in some cases, she is cast as a caring wife and in others, as a shrew.  In the catacombs, she stands above and behind Job, holding a stick and looking away from him. What does this positioning of the couple tell us?


The many vignettes on the contemporary Junius Bassus sarcophagus – scenes from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament – can help us, since they too express early Christian beliefs on death and resurrection. Job appears here again as a robust philosopher, contemplating his fate. His wife holds a cloth to her face and extends her hand toward Job; from later iconography, it appears that, as in the catacombs, she originally held a stick, which broke in the course of the centuries. Later examples will clarify that she covers her face because Job’s sores stink; the stick enables her to give him food while keeping her distance. Thus, both in the catacombs and in the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, Job’s wife is a comforting figure.


A third figure stands between the couple on the sarcophagus. The identity of this figure can be determined by comparing our scene with the adjacent panel – the fall of Man. There, Adam and Eve flank the serpent; from this juxtaposition we can conclude that Job and his wife flank Satan. Is this early Christian artist saying that Job’s (everyman’s) suffering is the result of Original Sin? In any event, early Christian art sees Job as a contemplative, pondering life and death.

Byzantine art

In a ninth century Greek manuscript of the book of Job, the same three figures from Junius Bassus evolve dramatically.

Dominating almost half the picture, Satan, on the left, becomes the Chimera of Greek mythology: a dragon, a lion and a serpent. Job is still robust, wearing the remnant of a toga; but he looks pathetic, covered with sores and scratching his head and body. His sorrowing wife stands at the right.  Here the monstrous torment of Job by Satan, rather than the couple’s philosophical and practical response to death, is the main focus.


In the next picture from the same manuscript, Job’s life is literally circumscribed by his suffering:

He took a potsherd to scratch himself and sat within his own waste Job 2:8

Job and his wife continue to speak:

9His wife said to him, “You still keep your integrity! Blaspheme God and die!” 10But he    said to her, “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?”

Overcome by her husband’s suffering, she suggests what we would call today “assisted suicide”. Job responds angrily to her “foolishness”.

We must note at this point that the Septuagint reading of Job’s wife’s speech is significantly expanded, declaiming her own parallel misery:

9 Then after a long time had passed, his wife said to him, “How long will you persist and say, ‘Look, I will hang on a little longer, while I wait for the hope of my deliverance?’ For look, your legacy has vanished from the earth—sons and daughters, my womb’s birth pangs and labors, for whom I wearied myself with hardships in vain.  And you? You sit in the refuse of worms as you spend the night in the open air. As for me, I am one that wanders about and a hired servant—from place to place and house to house, waiting for when the sun will set, so I can rest from the distresses and griefs that now beset me. Now say some word to the Lord and die!”

In this version, Job’s wife speaks “after a long time” not only of his suffering, but of her own. As a result, her outburst is more understandable than in the Hebrew text. As we shall see, these two versions reflect two contrasting attitudes toward Job’s wife.  While some see her suggestion as abetting Satan, others read it as the desperate solution of a helpless, caring wife.

In our picture, Job, stripped of his toga, is reduced “after a long time” to a loin cloth, exposing his boils and wounds. Hands play out the conversation. Job’s wife leaves him, gesturing as if to say “I just don’t understand you!” Job pushes her away, as if to say “It’s clear you don’t understand me.”

A century later, his three companions accompany Job and his wife.

They are dressed as kings, although they are nothing of the sort in the book itself. Job is central in his misery; no longer a robust philosopher, he is now naked, covered with sores and emaciated. The treatment of Job’s wife clarifies our earlier pictures; again she holds out a stick with food, while covering her face to avoid Job’s stench. The now regal companions are perhaps based on the iconography of the three Magi in scenes of Jesus’ nativity. Job’s wife is reminiscent of Mary at the Crucifixion. And Job is Jesus. Job has now become the type of Jesus, from Nativity to Crucifixion.

Another Byzantine manuscript, this time from the 13th century, is our first example of the suffering Job crowned with a halo. It is also the first portrayal of musicians in association with Job.

Later on, these musicians will become a standard and puzzling presence in the iconography of Job. Here they illustrate a verse from Job 21 that talks about the paradoxical good fortune of the wicked:

12They sing to the music of timbrel and lute, And revel to the tune of the pipe;

Until now, we have seen how Job was treated in the Roman world; first in Rome itself and subsequently in Byzantium. We will now follow Job’s transformation in the world of medieval and Renaissance Europe.

Job in the West

The Cathedral of Chartres is a major monument of high Gothic art in the 12th and 13th centuries. Three central issues dominated Church thinking in this period: 1) the rise of the adoration of Mary as the embodiment of the Church, 2) the unity of Christ and the Church and 3) attacks on Catholic orthodoxy.  The Catholic Church was beset in this period by challenges to its authority, including the militant revolt of the Albigensians.  It seems that the sculptures that decorate the façade of Chartres were meant to project the struggle against these heresies, strengthening the status of Mother Church.

The figure of Job appears in Chartres as part of the enormous Royal Portico populated entirely by figures from the Hebrew Bible. Reflecting the above agenda, Job lies central in his agony. As we have seen, elsewhere Job is seated, in accordance with the text. Here, Satan lifts his face heavenward, cackling with joy at Job’s suffering.  Job’s supine posture allows Satan to dominate him, his demonic grip extending from head to toe, as in the biblical text. At his feet, Job’s wife (arms now missing) probably held out his food on a stick, as in earlier images.  At Job’s head, stand the so-called friends. Two of them are planning their arguments, while the third bends over Job gesturing, his hand touching Satan’s. If Job is the Church, Satan, Job’s wife and the “friends” represent the challenge. Christ, center and above accompanied by angels, represents the Church’s victory, validating the suffering of Job.

The suffering of Job achieves its most macabre expression in two 14th century French paintings from a manuscript of the Bible Historiale.  The Bible Historiale is a French translation and adaptation of Peter Comestor’s Latin paraphrase of the historical books of the Bible. Written by the cleric Guyart des Moulins in the 1290s, the original version abbreviates the book of Job to the bare minimum of its plot.  In later versions, a translation of the entire book of Job was added.  In our manuscript from ca. 1340, both the long and the short Jobs are included, side by side.  Our two pictures accompany the two texts.

Bible historiale (71a23
Bible historiale (71a23

Fauvel Master

Bible historiale (71a23
Bible historiale (71a23

Fauvel Master

In both paintings, Job is a deathly skeleton accompanied by his wife and the three companions. But the moods of the two paintings are different. In the shorter version, finger pointing illustrates confrontation with Job in the middle. His legs are crossed, identifying him with Jesus. His wife points upward as if to say “Curse God and die”. Job looks at her, but at the same time points to one of the companions, as if they are quarreling, while the third friend stands back in silent gloom.

In the longer version, Job sits to the side as if listening. His wife and companions are talking about him, rather than to him. She might be affirming Job’s suffering, while the lead companion throws up his hands as if to say, “He must deserve it”.

Job has become Death itself; his very existence is a problem for those who surround him.

Job the Patient and Job with Musicians

Job’s character undergoes another significant transformation in 15th century northern Europe as witnessed in the two drawings above. His sores, so prominent earlier, have disappeared. His prayerful hands emphasize the quality of patience and stoicism. Job sits awkwardly in both illustrations. In the left hand drawing, his knees are bent, since he is sitting on the dunghill; but on the right, the dunghill has disappeared. The original iconography has been decontextualized.

Job is caught between two aggressive opponents. The extended arms from each direction harass Job’s body.  A particularly grotesque Satan, with breasts, hooves and a tail is whipping Job. Opposite stands Job’s wife, holding a stick. Earlier, she had given Job food using this stick, but now it is parallel to Satan’s whip.

Up to now, Job’s wife appeared as a comforter.  But in 15th century Europe we begin to see a negative attitude toward her.  The text of the Speculum (above left) identifies our picture: Job flagellabatur a demone et ab uxore  (Job was whipped by the Devil and by his wife).  The Schatzbehalter also sees her as menacing.  Thus in both cases she is, as John Chrysostom, Augustine and Gregory the Great had already said, a helper of the Devil, undermining Job’s faith.

Finally, in the Speculum a mysterious divine(?) element hovers over Job, indifferent witness to his suffering.

Speculum humanae salvationis (Augsburg):  Job
Speculum humanae salvationis (Augsburg): Job

Zainer Guenther

Compilatio historiarum (M158
Compilatio historiarum (M158

In the art of northern Europe of the late 15th century, three musicians suddenly appear accompanying Job the pious. They also appear in several French and English poems and plays of the time, but their origin is unknown. While they often seem to be additional mockers of Job, some of the visual and literary sources cast them as comforters.  Sometimes, they take the place of Job’s companions; in other cases they are additional characters.

As we have seen above musicians first appear in Byzantine art; but there they are not characters in Job’s drama, but mere symbols of the success of the wicked (see Job 21).

In this 15th century Book of Hours, they appear to be ridiculing the praying, haloed Job. Job’s wife claps her hands and taps her foot, in rhythm with the music.

At exactly the same time, the musicians appear in great detail in a panel of a Flemish triptych.  Eight scenes from the story of Job fill the panel.  At front stage we see Job twice, seated on the dunghill. On the left (2) a hideous Satan flails the praying saint. On the right (4), two musicians blast their horns while the third is collecting his honorarium from the victim himself. According to the literary sources, Job pays them with his scabs, magically transformed into gold. In the center of the painting (5), Job’s wife is talking with the musicians. According to the English poem, The Life of Holy Job:

The mynstrelles than shewid and tolde to Job his wyfe, That he so reward them where fore she gan to stryfe

In the continuation of the poem, she complains that Job has enough money to pay the musicians, but not to feed her.

Job’s wife also appears in the typical meeting on the dunghill (3) and again in the scene at his deathbed (8).  Thus she is the linchpin of the complex action and enormous cast of the painting.  Once again, she is cast as another tormentor of Job.

Just as they suddenly appear, so the musicians disappear without a trace by the mid-16th century.

Book of Hours (M285
Book of Hours (M285
The story of Job
The story of Job

Job in Jewish literary and visual midrash

The book of Job is referenced frequently in Jewish midrash and commentary from their earliest stages, although not as intensively as other books of the Bible. The major theme in these Jewish interpretations contrasts Job’s and Abraham’s trials, especially with regard to the Akedah. However, there is very little Jewish art on Job before the modern era. Job does not appear in haggadot, in haftarot or in mahzorim for the simple reason that the book of Job is not part of the Jewish liturgical cycle.  The same is true of the books of Daniel, Chronicles and Ezra and Nehemiah. Curiously, these very books are cited in the Mishna (Yoma I, 6) as the material read to the High Priest to keep him awake on the eve of Yom Kippur. Nonetheless we have a skimpy handful of art in Jewish books, spanning the 13th through the 15th century and originating in both northern and southern Europe. How do these few examples of Jewish iconography relate to the Christian iconography we’ve seen up to now?

Although these few works of art appear in Hebrew Bibles and commentaries, the artwork was done mainly by Christians and at least one treatment was intended for a non-Jewish audience.  For example, the colophon of the Munich manuscript of Rashi’s commentary records the name of the scribe, Shelomo ben R. Shmuel; from comparison with other manuscripts, we know that the illustrator was one “Heinrich the Painter”.

In other words, a Jew and a Christian collaborated on a long term project in 13th century Germany, contrary to the generally assumed alienation of the two communities. Unlike the norm, this painting shows four visitors rather than three; two of them are wearing the infamous Jewish hat (Judenhut). The speaker, probably Elihu, takes center stage.  Speech scrolls represent the conversation between him and Job. Three remaining speech scrolls give voice to the other three companions.  Focusing on Elihu’s speech is very unusual and even enigmatic in a manuscript in which there is only a single picture on the book of Job.

Job is naked, seated on a palette-shaped dunghill. As opposed to the preceding works, his posture goes back to that of the Roman philosopher Job, robust and thoughtful.

The iconography of Job and his wife is remarkable. His left hand is extended toward her, almost affectionately(?). Her left arm reaches out to him. She crouches next to her husband, communicating without speech. This sympathetic relationship seems to hark back to the early Christian model, as does the portrayal of Job himself. Perhaps this “Christian” model was actually Jewish.

All the faces (here and throughout the manuscript) have been rubbed out; apparently, a “correction” made by the Christian illuminator on the demand of the Jewish backer. Such iconoclasm is prevalent at this time in Ashkenazic manuscripts – see for example the Birds’ Head Haggadah.


The only rendering of Satan in medieval “Jewish art” that has come down to us is in Cambridge Ee. 5.9, an illuminated Hagiographa (Writings), dated in its margin to 1347, and created in Germany, as verified by several Yiddish comments of its scribe. Satan is a spectacular monster, with a grotesque, horned head, tail and webbed feet as in the Speculum and the Schatzbehalter discussed above.  He stretches over the stem of the aleph to strike Job’s head, as in the Chartres relief; but he has no whip as in other renditions. Job, with blistering sores, reclines on the dungheap. His angry wife stands as far as possible from him on the left. Their faces have been erased, as in the Munich Rashi. In sum, while the iconography of this Job identifies it clearly as the work of a Christian artist, like the Munich Rashi, it straddles both worlds.

Our last group of medieval illustrations of Job comes from 15th century Italy.  On the left, the painting is from a manuscript of the Hebrew text of Job, Proverbs and Psalms (called by the acronym Sifrei EMeT – the books of TRUTH); the manuscript was commissioned by the Medici family, the rulers of Florence.  Here, scarred Job scratches himself with a shard but appears to be listening, although his gaze is far off. The three companions are seated:

They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. None spoke a word to  him for they saw how very great was his suffering.   Job 2:13

But two of the three gesture, indicating speech, while the third clasps his hands piously, a gesture normally associated with Job. Therefore, our view is that this painting summarizes the thirty chapters detailing Job’s meeting with his companions, rather than just illustrating Job 2:13.

On the right, the Rothschild Miscellany was commissioned by Moses ben Yekuthiel Hakohen, a wealthy Italian Jew, in 1479. This pair of pictures carries a happy title “the Lord gave Job twice what he had before” (Job 42:10), (contra Sed-Rajna’s claim that this is Job’s beginning (Sed-Rajna, G. The Hebrew Bible in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, 134.)

This period of prosperity for Italian Jewry is reflected in the portrayals of Job’s restoration; plenty, peace, even better than before. Job’s material wealth is shown in the left-hand scene; land, flocks, real estate. All is good with the world. In the right hand picture, Job’s family is restored. He is seated in the center of his palazzo, a bearded patriarch, surrounded by his seven sons and three daughters; his wife is absent.  All signs of suffering and loss have magically disappeared. This pair of pictures, attached to Jewish commentary on the last part of the book of Job, is a radical departure from the more common stress on Job the martyr. It may be the only example of pre-modern “Jewish art” on Job; while the other paintings in Hebrew manuscripts are very similar to the Christian art of the times, Job in his palazzo is Job from a Jewish perspective.

Before parting from the art of pre-modern Europe, we must show you a most unusual Job.

Not the suffering, not the restored, but the defiant Job is seated upon a huge tortoise (a symbol of patience and endurance) and pulls behind him his detractors: Satan, his wife and his so-called friends. They are looking at each other, as if stupefied by Job’s vindication. In the faded background is a scene from Job’s earlier life; his wife stands and gesticulates impatiently while the three companions are still overcome by Job’s tragedy.

Muslim art

We next treat four Islamic paintings of Job (Ayyub), all created in Persia within a period of just fiv years in the late 16th century.

The paintings illuminate various versions of the Islamic midrash called Qisas al Anbiya (Stories of the Prophets), which deals with the pre-Islamic prophets.  In all four paintings we find a stream and in three, a tree, usually at the center; these are well-known edenic motifs. Are they connected with the interpretation of the Eden serpent as Satan?; are they evocations of the idyllic situation (Eden, Job’s beginnings) and the disastrous change that is finally reversed? Their common element seems to be Job’s restoration, rather than his suffering.  This accords with Job’s appearances in the Quran and in the Qisas, which marginalize the suffering, while stressing Job’s great faith in Allah and His mercy.

In two of the paintings Job is half-naked, in other words still in a state of suffering, but never scratching his wounds as in much of Christian art.  In the other two paintings, he is dressed and has been restored.  In contradistinction to Christian art, the Islamic art on Job portrays a compassionate wife, who is named Rahma (mercy). She appears in two out of four of our pictures, at the point when she is bringing food to her husband who has been restored; according to the Qisas, she does not recognize him at first.  Jibril (Gabriel), the archangel, appears in all of the pictures, representing God. In some cases he is simply overseeing the restoration and in others, actively bringing it about with food or clothing. In a single painting, the figure of Iblis (Satan) appears above Job’s wife and parallel to Jibril, summarizing the conflict between good and evil.

Qisas-i quran (Persan 54
Qisas-i quran (Persan 54
Qisas el anbiya (Pers. ms. 1
Qisas el anbiya (Pers. ms. 1
Qisas al Anbiya (Diez A fol. 3
Qisas al Anbiya (Diez A fol. 3
Ayyub recovering from his afflictions
Ayyub recovering from his afflictions

On Blake’s Job 

The Book of Job was a subject of intense interest to the British romantic poet and artist, William Blake, throughout his life.  He is the only pre-20th century artist who deals with the psychological aspect of Job’s rise to consciousness.

In his later years, Blake produced a unified series of twenty-one engravings “illustrating” the book. The first seven engravings accompany the two opening narrative chapters of the book (Job’s beginning, Satan’s challenge, Job’s catastrophes and the smiting of Job).  The last six pictures illustrate the final chapter of the book, Job’s restoration.  Five pictures concern the argument between Job and his companions and three pictures accompany God’s speech out of the whirlwind.  We have chosen seven of the engravings for discussion: Job’s beginning, the smiting of Job, Eliphaz’s vision, Job’s nightly torment, God’s whirlwind, Leviathan and Behemoth, Job’s restoration. We have chosen these pictures for their visual interest and their theological significance.

Blake introduces us to Job’s family, in this first of twenty-one images. His children are kneeling in prayer, the good book is open on the parents’ laps, sheep are dozing. Instruments, unused and unsung, are hanging on the tree. A brilliant sun sets over a church on the left and a crescent moon rises on the right over a tent site. The scene is peaceful, but passionless.

The central image is set within an exterior line drawing accompanied by texts. This combination of image and text in the margins will set the pattern for the entire series. The triangular top of a tent fills the upper margin. The text, “Our Father which art in heaven hallowed be thy Name” (Matthew 6:9) appears within a cloud above the tent. The cloud emanates from an altar at the center of the bottom margin.

Job's family
Job's family

Below, the opening verse of the book is flanked by a bull and a ram.  These are related to the sacrificial altar in the center, on which are quotations from the New Testament:

The word kills, [but] the spirit giveth life    2 Corinthians 3:6

It is spiritually discerned   1 Corinthians 2:14

Above the flames of the altar, and serving as the picture’s title, is the statement,

Thus did Job continually  Job 1:5,

 referring originally to the sacrifice that Job performed weekly to atone in advance for any possibility of his children’s sins. Is the “Father which art in heaven” (above) aware of the conflict stated below between commandments and faith?

At first blush this picture seems like a mere illustration of the book’s opening; but examination of the visual and textual details reveals a striking interpretation. Blake reads Job’s piety as routine, static and unconscious; this is the basis for Job’s trials. Blake is setting us up for a shock in the coming scenes.

We skip over Satan’s challenge and the test of Job’s piety and over the first round of catastrophes to arrive at Blake’s treatment of Satan smiting Job.

The outer frame sets the mood: creepy spiders, broken pottery, a broken shepherd’s crook, a frog and a grasshopper.  These creatures seem allude to the Ten Plagues of Egypt. They are accompanied by the reference to Job’s boils, also one of the Egyptian plagues.

Job’s resigned statement appears at the top:

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither

This is the dismal, ominous outer scene.

The central engraving is a violent storm. Its shape is triangular: Job and his wife are the base; the apex is scary-beautiful, demonic, haloed Satan, standing on his victim. This handsome Satan stands in stark contrast with the traditional Satan we have seen above.


His left hand pours poison on Job, while his right hand hurls arrows, reflecting Job’s words in a later chapter:

For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; Their poison drinks up my spirit   Job 6:4

As can be seen from this quotation, Job attributes his suffering to God; Blake is saying that Satan is an aspect of God, not his nemesis as in medieval iconography. The genitalia of Satan are an additional monster in the medieval painting; in Blake, Satan is asexual.

While not emaciated, Job’s supine position reflects his resignation.

Job’s grieving wife is a sympathetic figure throughout Blake’s work, in contrast to her negative character in many of the treatments seen earlier.

The ninth picture of the series deals with Eliphaz’s dream vision in Job 4.

Eliphaz is quoted at the bottom of the outer frame. He raises his arm dramatically, declaiming his vision, while Job and his wife gaze intently. Nearby, the two other companions are frozen in fear.

In fact, Eliphaz appears twice in this engraving: as the confident teller of dreams below and as a terrified dreamer above.

An imperious God stands before Eliphaz. The spikes in Eliphaz’s hair are an extension of God’s radiance:

A spirit passed before my face and my hair stood on end.

A figure stood before my eyes that I could not identify and silence that I could hear.

Note that the text itself does not identify the speaker in the vision as God.

An oval halo crowns God, who stands within an aura from which sparks like arrows fly toward Eliphaz. A thick cloud frames the entire vision and extends into the margins. Within this marginal cloud is the content of Eliphaz’s vision regarding divine Justice: No human can be righteous in God’s eyes.

Blake reads this passage as the beginning of Job’s new consciousness. Eliphaz is the conduit for the “collective unconscious”, but the companions, and even Eliphaz himself, are not affected by this message from the “Divine”, since they are enslaved to Orthodoxy.

The major text underlying this picture is from Job 7, in which Job says that in his suffering he hoped to find some solace in sleep; but God comes to him in his dreams and tortures him. In this engraving, Job is caught between creatures beneath his bed that are pulling him down to hell and God, hovering above, malevolently. God’s right arm points to the Tablets of the Law and his left arm to hell: The all-powerful God is coercing Job into following the letter of the Law or else… For Blake, this is a proof that the Law is invalid.

Blake’s engraving of this scene is similar in many ways to his painting entitled “And Elohim created Adam…”.  Is Job the universal Adam?

In the Creation painting, Adam is wrapped in the Serpent; in the Job engraving God is wrapped in the Serpent, whose head seems to grow out of God’s head. God is more benign in the Creation painting than in the Job engraving, he is blessing Adam. Nonetheless, in Blake’s theology, this Creator God is a false God, because he deals with the material world rather than pure spirit. The monstrous God in the Job engraving is anticipated in the Creation painting. The images of Adam and God and Job and God are merging. It’s as though the suffering Adam will become the suffering Job, the Job who protests against his very existence already in chapter 3.

The picture is accompanied by copious text, from various parts of Job, as well as from the New Testament. Particularly significant is the long quotation from Job 19, which Blake translated differently than the King James Version, his usual source. The quotation also diverges from the Hebrew original. Blake’s reading is that the Redeemer will be met once Man (Job) is divested of his mortal body and is able to experience the true, spiritual world. Job is still caught between Heaven and Hell, but Earth itself, because of its very materiality, is his nightmare.

The next picture we deal with in Blake’s opus is the Lord’s stunning appearance out of the whirlwind (Job 38). The demonic God and the suffering Job are gone. This God speaks out of a womblike whirlwind, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s God of Creation in the Sistine Chapel. He no longer torments Job; instead his right hand reaches out in blessing. Blake reads against the biblical text, which describes an imperious God holding forth haughtily out of the whirlwind and confronting Job with his insignificance.

The hands of Job and his wife respond in prayer. It is the three companions who are doubled over in terror. Their agitated hands are in total contrast to the calm figures of Job and his wife. In God’s speech itself, neither the companions nor Job’s wife are mentioned.

Typically, biblical quotations accompany the central engraving. Below the engraving, as a caption, appears the first verse of chapter 38:

 Then the Lord answered Job out of the Whirlwind.

Strangely the next verse of the text (God’s disdainful challenge to Job) appears at the top of the page’s margin, almost out of sight. Below this quotation five figures, arms linked, float above clouds: an image from Psalms 104:

Who maketh the Clouds his chariot and walketh on the Wings of the Wind.

But the quotation is minimized at the lower margin; why doesn’t the caption accompany the illustration? And why make reference to this particular Psalm?

Further down the page is another quotation from Job 38, mentioning God as the bringer of rain and dew; at the bottom edge is a tree, whose branches have been bent down by the storm.

These enigmatic elements can be explained as Blake’s reinterpretation of the whirlwind as a symbol of God’s benevolence, rather than as a manifestation of God’s power

As always, the passage below the picture (Job 40:15) indicates its major focus.

Behold now Behemoth which I made with thee

The phrasing of this verse is noteworthy for two reasons. First, the word “behold” emphasizes the need to look at and contemplate these beasts (the term “behemoth” indicating more than one). Second, the words “which I made with thee” invite a psychological interpretation, because it appears that the beast is part of the person, Job. The other quotations, in the margins, emphasize man’s inability to understand the external world.

In the central engraving itself, the nimbed God is flanked by two brooding angels. The dispirited Lord points downward to the lower world. Job, his wife and the companions follow Gods hand, peering over the edge as if into an abyss.

Two-thirds of this plate is occupied by the monsters, Behemoth and Leviathan.  Behemoth looks like an armored hippopotamus, while Leviathan is a classic sea dragon. They are enclosed within a womb-like sphere, reminiscent of the early verses of God’s speech out of the whirlwind:

Who closed the sea behind doors, When it gushed forth out of the womb, When I clothed it in clouds, Swaddled it in dense clouds, When I made breakers My limit for it, And set up its bar and doors, And said, “You may come so far and no farther; Here your surging waves will stop”?   38: 8 – 11

It’s as if God is saying to Job, “You’ve been focused and either satisfied or angry regarding external reality.  Now, look inside at what is running you.” Job needs to understand that these monstrous beings are his primal instincts and are not to be denied, but embraced, because they are the basis of human creativity.

Blake presents this climactic part of God’s speech to Job saying that even if we cannot understand the mysteries of the outer or inner world, still we must engage them.

The restoration of Job
The restoration of Job

Blake William

Job's family
Job's family

Blake William

The restoration of Job
The restoration of Job

Blake William

The final picture in Blake’s series is entitled “So the Lord blessed the end of Job more than the beginning” (Job 42:12). It is the companion piece to the engraving of Job’s beginning. There are three points to address in comparing the two: the outer frame, the verses and the interior picture.

Both scenes take place within a tent at the bottom of which is an altar.  The verse within the altar in the restoration scene rejects the importance of sacrifice and sin, parallel to the opening picture, where the verse on the altar is a rejection of the Law.

Job’s restored family is a standing chorus here, joyously singing and playing musical instruments, as opposed to the first in the series where they are seated solemnly, focused on the written word, the instruments hanging silently on the tree. The moon sets as the sun rises, reversing the focus of the first engraving, where the setting of the sun augurs darkness.

The text above the tent now exults in praise of God’s works on earth, while the first engraving quoted stylized piety, invoking the heavenly God.

Job in Modern Art

Jews dominate the art of Job in the 20th century. While the Holocaust is a central catalyst for their work, the art of Job already appears before the Holocaust and also relates to non-Holocaust issues. The common denominator is that Job is an iconic image of the incomprehensibility of the world.  Only in the 20th century did the world of art open fully to Jews and only in the 20th century could Job be reinterpreted in a secular manner. His tragedy is all of human tragedy, his protest is both heroic and unfathomable.

Pre-holocaust Job

Our first example of a modern Job fits the hallmarks of our era. Ossip Zadkine came from an assimilated/converted Jewish family in Vitebsk, who provided him little or no traditional Jewish background.  Arriving in Paris in 1910, he was influenced by cubism on the one hand and Roman and African sculpture on the other to “search for life in the simplification” of forms.  His Job of 1914, carved from elm wood, expresses his personal difficulties, rather than being a theological, political or philosophical statement. The four figures, presumably Job (lying face down), his three companions and his wife (bending over him), appear to have no relationship with one another – modern alienation.

Zadkine’s The Destroyed City (1951) is a man without a heart and is dedicated to the city of Rotterdam, destroyed by the Nazi Luftwaffe.  It may not be named Job, but it is a Jobian work, a much more powerful sculpture, of related iconography, than the elmwood sculpture of 1914, which feels self-absorbed in comparison. Zadkine was wounded during WWI and the later sculpture is by the artist 30+ years older with a lot more life experience to express. As we shall see the raised arms are similar to Abraham Rattner’s work of about this time.  Both men were in the US during WWII.

The Holocaust as reflected in Job

The Holocaust was certainly the overwhelming Jewish experience of the 20th century; in trying to give meaning to this horror, Jews reached back to the Bible and found the book of Job waiting. Both in literature and in art, the figure of Job became a central icon dialoguing with the victims of the Holocaust.

After serving in World War I, Abraham Rattner became part of the American expatriate community of Paris, until returning to the United States in 1940.  He joined other Jewish expatriates and refugees, including Ossip Zadkine, in the vibrant art scene of New York City.  The Holocaust marks the beginning of Rattner’s treatment of Jewish and biblical topics.

In his painting of 1949, Job’s head and body move toward abstraction; his face is raised, questioning the Almighty.  His sores are patches of color in the abstract triangle of his body. He’s surrounded by fire. Most unique are his arms, disproportionately huge, raised to heaven.  If arms could speak, the volume would be deafening.

Ziva Amishai- Maisels writes on Rattner development:

“… in later versions his gesture is more hesitant, as he asks God what he has done to be so punished… Job’s sores also take on another meaning in the versions of 1958-59, where his body breaks down into an abstract composition of flame-colored facets and dripping blood, and is set against a blazing background.”

The German Expressionist Jacob Steinhardt treated Job repeatedly over 50 years. In his earlier and later works, Steinhardt portrayed Job as depressed and withdrawn. During and immediately after World War II, his treatments evoke the Holocaust and his feelings of protest. Only at this time do Steinhardt’s Jobs look heavenward, mouth open, questioning God and expressing incomprehension.

Much of Nathan Rapoport’s work concerns the Holocaust, through which he lived. Regarding his cast bronze sculpture of Job, now found in the gardens of Yad Vashem, Rapoport writes:

“I think…that the rebirth of Israel and the Jewish people are an echo of the book of Job. Our people kept faith.  We did not change our beliefs, our ethics, and we came out stronger from our ordeals.”

However, some commentators have asked whether Rapoport’s figure of Job is the man of faith, sure of his belief or the man of protest, lifting his face heavenward asking God, “why”.

In unsettling contrast to the image of Job the emaciated martyr, prevalent both in medieval Christian art and in some modern Jewish art, Leonard Everett Fischer portrays Job as a robust, aggressive man, ready for combat. This view of Job reflects both Fischer’s biography (which included active service in World War II) and his interest in heroic figures in general. But it is also a reaction to the perceived helplessness of Jews in the Holocaust and the desire to redefine Jewish identity. The title of the painting, based on Job 1:21, refers to the stoic Job, “Naked came I”, unbroken by his own tragedy.

Marc Chagall treated the subject of Job several times. In this painting from 1975, Job is only partially clothed, as in many traditional paintings.  But he is not emaciated and there is no sign of him acting as representative of the Holocaust martyrs.  He stands in an unnatural posture, together with his wife, who holds out a cup or donation box (pushke). A crowd (perhaps his acquaintances) stands opposite, coming to visit him:

All his brothers and sisters and all his former friends came to him and had a meal with him in his house. They consoled and comforted him for all the misfortune that the Lord had brought upon him. Each gave him one kesitah and each one a gold ring. Job 42:11

A Chagallian potpourri populates the scene:  an angel with open scroll flying above, goats, a Christ on the cross, a Torah scholar, etc.  We suggest that the central structure of the painting, a circular movement composed of Job and his wife and the people of Israel, is the key the Chagall’s statement regarding Job:  renewal and hope.

Adi Nes’ Job is spectacularly different from what we have seen up to now. The scene has been transported to a seedy neighborhood of south Tel Aviv. Removed from the theological conversation of the book of Job, they are our neighbors, perhaps talking about their friend, who is down on his luck. They seem to be more involved in their discussion than in Job himself.  He sits alone, unfocused, bedraggled and lost. This is a true example of modern midrash, which creates a contemporary dialogue with an ancient text.

We have seen through this survey of art on the book of Job that the difficult and challenging form and content of the book has engendered radically different interpretations, the artist like the writer often finding in Job a mirror

Job 1 

1There was a man in the land of Uz named Job. That man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him; 3his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she-asses, and a very large household. That man was wealthier than anyone in the East.  

4It was the custom of his sons to hold feasts, each on his set day in his own home. They would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5When a round of feast days was over, Job would send word to them to sanctify themselves, and, rising early in the morning, he would make burnt offerings, one for each of them; for Job thought, “Perhaps my children have sinned and blasphemed God in their thoughts.” This is what Job always used to do.  

6One day the divine beings presented themselves before the Lord, and the Adversary came along with them. 7The Lord said to the Adversary, “Where have you been?” The Adversary answered the Lord, “I have been roaming all over the earth.” 8The Lord said to the Adversary, “Have you noticed My servant Job? There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil!” 9The Adversary answered the Lord, “Does Job not have good reason to fear God? 10Why, it is You who have fenced him round, him and his household and all that he has. You have blessed his efforts so that his possessions spread out in the land. 11But lay Your hand upon all that he has and he will surely blaspheme You to Your face.” 12The Lord replied to the Adversary, “See, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on him.” The Adversary departed from the presence of the Lord.  

13One day, as his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the she-asses were grazing alongside them 15when Sabeans attacked them and carried them off, and put the boys to the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16This one was still speaking when another came and said, “God’s fire fell from heaven, took hold of the sheep and the boys, and burned them up; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17This one was still speaking when another came and said, “A Chaldean formation of three columns made a raid on the camels and carried them off and put the boys to the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18This one was still speaking when another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their eldest brother 19when suddenly a mighty wind came from the wilderness. It struck the four corners of the house so that it collapsed upon the young people and they died; I alone have escaped to tell you.”  

20Then Job arose, tore his robe, cut off his hair, and threw himself on the ground and worshiped. 21He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  

22For all that, Job did not sin nor did he cast reproach on God. 

Job 2  

1One day the divine beings presented themselves before the Lord. The Adversary came along with them to present himself before the Lord. 2The Lord said to the Adversary, “Where have you been?” The Adversary answered the Lord, “I have been roaming all over the earth.” 3The Lord said to the Adversary, “Have you noticed My servant Job? There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil. He still keeps his integrity; so you have incited Me against him to destroy him for no good reason.” 4The Adversary answered the Lord, “Skin for skin—all that a man has he will give up for his life. 5But lay a hand on his bones and his flesh, and he will surely blaspheme You to Your face.” 6So the Lord said to the Adversary, “See, he is in your power; only spare his life.” 7The Adversary departed from the presence of the Lord and inflicted a severe inflammation on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8He took a potsherd to scratch himself as he sat in ashes. 9His wife said to him, “You still keep your integrity! Blaspheme God and die!” 10But he said to her, “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?” For all that, Job said nothing sinful.  

11When Job’s three friends heard about all these calamities that had befallen him, each came from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. 12When they saw him from a distance, they could not recognize him, and they broke into loud weeping; each one tore his robe and threw dust into the air onto his head. 13They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. None spoke a word to him for they saw how very great was his suffering 

Job 3 

1Afterward, Job began to speak and cursed the day of his birth. 2Job spoke up and said:  

3Perish the day on which I was born,
And the night it was announced,
“A male has been conceived!”  

4May that day be darkness;
May God above have no concern for it;
May light not shine on it;  

5May darkness and deep gloom reclaim it;
May a pall lie over it;
May what blackens the day terrify it.  

6May obscurity carry off that night;
May it not be counted among the days of the year;
May it not appear in any of its months;  

7May that night be desolate;
May no sound of joy be heard in it;  

8May those who cast spells upon the day damn it,
Those prepared to disable Leviathan;  

9May its twilight stars remain dark;
May it hope for light and have none;
May it not see the glimmerings of the dawn—  

10Because it did not block my mother’s womb,
And hide trouble from my eyes.  

11Why did I not die at birth,
Expire as I came forth from the womb?  

12Why were there knees to receive me,
Or breasts for me to suck?  

13For now would I be lying in repose, asleep and at rest,  

14With the world’s kings and counselors who rebuild ruins for themselves,  

15Or with nobles who possess gold and who fill their houses with silver.  

16Or why was I not like a buried stillbirth,
Like babies who never saw the light?  

17There the wicked cease from troubling;
There rest those whose strength is spent.  

18Prisoners are wholly at ease;
They do not hear the taskmaster’s voice.  

19Small and great alike are there,
And the slave is free of his master.  

20Why does He give light to the sufferer
And life to the bitter in spirit;  

21To those who wait for death but it does not come,
Who search for it more than for treasure,  

22Who rejoice to exultation,
And are glad to reach the grave;  

23To the man who has lost his way,
Whom God has hedged about?  

24My groaning serves as my bread;
My roaring pours forth as water.  

25For what I feared has overtaken me;
What I dreaded has come upon me.  

26I had no repose, no quiet, no rest,
And trouble came.  

Job 4 

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite said in reply:  

2If one ventures a word with you, will it be too much?
But who can hold back his words?  

3See, you have encouraged many;
You have strengthened failing hands.  

4Your words have kept him who stumbled from falling;
You have braced knees that gave way.  

5But now that it overtakes you, it is too much;
It reaches you, and you are unnerved.  

6Is not your piety your confidence,
Your integrity your hope?  

7Think now, what innocent man ever perished?
Where have the upright been destroyed?  

8As I have seen, those who plow evil
And sow mischief reap them.  

9They perish by a blast from God,
Are gone at the breath of His nostrils.  

10The lion may roar, the cub may howl,
But the teeth of the king of beasts are broken.  

11The lion perishes for lack of prey,
And its whelps are scattered.  

12A word came to me in stealth;
My ear caught a whisper of it.  

13In thought-filled visions of the night,
When deep sleep falls on men,  

14Fear and trembling came upon me,
Causing all my bones to quake with fright.  

15A wind passed by me,
Making the hair of my flesh bristle.  

16It halted; its appearance was strange to me;
A form loomed before my eyes;
I heard a murmur, a voice,  

17“Can mortals be acquitted by God?
Can man be cleared by his Maker?  

18If He cannot trust His own servants,
And casts reproach on His angels,  

19How much less those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose origin is dust,
Who are crushed like the moth,  

20Shattered between daybreak and evening,
Perishing forever, unnoticed.  

21Their cord is pulled up
And they die, and not with wisdom.”  

Job 38 

1Then the Lord replied to Job out of the tempest and said:  

2Who is this who darkens counsel,
Speaking without knowledge?  

3Gird your loins like a man;
I will ask and you will inform Me.  

4Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
Speak if you have understanding.  

5Do you know who fixed its dimensions
Or who measured it with a line?  

6Onto what were its bases sunk?
Who set its cornerstone  

7When the morning stars sang together
And all the divine beings shouted for joy?  

8Who closed the sea behind doors
When it gushed forth out of the womb,  

9When I clothed it in clouds,
Swaddled it in dense clouds,  

10When I made breakers My limit for it,
And set up its bar and doors,  

11And said, “You may come so far and no farther;
Here your surging waves will stop”?  

Job 40 

15Take now behemoth, whom I made as I did you;
He eats grass, like the cattle.  

16His strength is in his loins,
His might in the muscles of his belly.  

17He makes his tail stand up like a cedar;
The sinews of his thighs are knit together.  

18His bones are like tubes of bronze,
His limbs like iron rods.  

19He is the first of God’s works;
Only his Maker can draw the sword against him.  

20The mountains yield him produce,
Where all the beasts of the field play.  

21He lies down beneath the lotuses,
In the cover of the swamp reeds.  

22The lotuses embower him with shade;
The willows of the brook surround him.  

23He can restrain the river from its rushing;
He is confident the stream will gush at his command.  

24Can he be taken by his eyes?
Can his nose be pierced by hooks?  

25Can you draw out Leviathan by a fishhook?
Can you press down his tongue by a rope?  

26Can you put a ring through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a barb?  

Job 41 

10His sneezings flash lightning,
And his eyes are like the glimmerings of dawn.  

11Firebrands stream from his mouth;
Fiery sparks escape.  

12Out of his nostrils comes smoke
As from a steaming, boiling cauldron.  

13His breath ignites coals;
Flames blaze from his mouth.  

14Strength resides in his neck;
Power leaps before him.  

15The layers of his flesh stick together;
He is as though cast hard; he does not totter.  

Job 42 

1Job said in reply to the Lord:  

2I know that You can do everything,
That nothing you propose is impossible for You.  

3Who is this who obscures counsel without knowledge?
Indeed, I spoke without understanding
Of things beyond me, which I did not know.  

4Hear now, and I will speak;
I will ask, and You will inform me.  

5I had heard You with my ears,
But now I see You with my eyes;  

6Therefore, I recant and relent,
Being but dust and ashes.  

7After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am incensed at you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about Me as did My servant Job. 8Now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to My servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. And let Job, My servant, pray for you; for to him I will show favor and not treat you vilely, since you have not spoken the truth about Me as did My servant Job.” 9Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord had told them, and the Lord showed favor to Job. 10The Lord restored Job’s fortunes when he prayed on behalf of his friends, and the Lord gave Job twice what he had before.  

11All his brothers and sisters and all his former friends came to him and had a meal with him in his house. They consoled and comforted him for all the misfortune that the Lord had brought upon him. Each gave him one kesitah and each one gold ring. 12Thus the Lord blessed the latter years of Job’s life more than the former. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand she-asses. 13He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14The first he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15Nowhere in the land were women as beautiful as Job’s daughters to be found. Their father gave them estates together with their brothers. 16Afterward, Job lived one hundred and forty years to see four generations of sons and grandsons. 17So Job died old and contented.  



Mishna Yoma, Chapter 1 

6 If he was a Sage, he would expound/teach; if not, the younger Sages would expound before him.  If he was accustomed to read, he would read.  If not, they would read to him.  And what would they read to him?  From Job and from Ezra and from Chronicles.  Zechariah ben Kebutal said, Many times I read to him from Daniel. 

Babylonian Talmud Baba Bathra 15a – 16b  

  1. Joshua b. Levi b. Lahma who said that Job was contemporary with Moses — [The proof is that] it is written here [in connection with Job], O that my words were now [efo] written,20  and it is written elsewhere [in connection with Moses], For wherein now [efo] shall it be known.21  But on that ground I might say that he was contemporary with Isaac, in connection with whom it is written, Who now [efo] is he that took venison?22  Or I might say that he was contemporary with Jacob, in connection with whom it is written, If so now [efo] do this?23  or with Joseph, in connection with whom it is written, Where [efo] they are pasturing?24  — This cannot be maintained; [The proof that Job was contemporary with Moses is that] it is written [in continuation of the above words of Job], Would that they were inscribed in a book, and it is Moses who is called ‘inscriber’, as it is written, And he chose the first part for himself, for there was the lawgiver’s [mehokek, lit. ‘inscriber’s’] portion reserved.25  Raba said that Job was in the time of the spies. [The proof is that] it is written here [in connection with Job], There was a man in the land of Uz, Job was his name,26  and it is written elsewhere [in connection with the spies], Whether there be wood [ez] therein.27  Where is the parallel? In one place it is Uz, in the other EZ? — What Moses said to Israel was this: [See] if that man is there whose years are as the years of a tree and who shelters his generation like a tree. 

A certain Rabbi was sitting before R. Samuel b. Nahmani and in the course of his expositions remarked, Job never was and never existed, but is only a typical figure.28  He replied: To confute such as you the text says, There was a man in the land of Uz, Job was his name. But, he retorted, if that is so, what of the verse, The poor man had nothing save one poor ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up etc.29  Is that anything but a parable? So this too is a parable. If so, said the other, why are his name and the name of his town mentioned?  

  1. Johanan and R. Eleazar both stated that Job was among those who returned from the [Babylonian] Exile, and that his house of study was in Tiberias. An objection [to this view] was raised from the following: ‘The span of Job’s life was from the time that Israel entered Egypt till they left it.’ — Say, As long as from the time they entered Egypt till they left it.1  An objection was further raised2  [from the following]: Seven prophets prophesied to the heathen, namely, Balaam and his father, Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite.3  He replied:4  Granted as you say [that Job was one of these], was not Elihu the son of Barachel from Israel, seeing that the Scripture mentions that he was from the family of Ram?5  Evidently [the reason why he is included] is because he prophesied to the heathen. So too Job [is included because] he prophesied to the heathen.6  But did not all the prophets prophesy to the heathen? — Their prophecies were addressed primarily to Israel, but these addressed themselves primarily to the heathen. 

An objection was raised [from the following]: There was a certain pious man among the heathen named Job, but he [thought that he had] come into this world only to receive [here] his reward, and when the Holy One, blessed be He, brought chastisements upon him, he began to curse and blaspheme, so the Holy One, blessed be He, doubled his reward in this world so as to expel him from the world to come. There is a difference on this point between Tannaim, as it has been taught: R. Eliezer says that Job was in the days ‘of the judging of the judges,’7  as it says [in the book of Job], Behold all of you together have seen it; why then are ye become altogether vain?8  What generation is it that is altogether vain? You must say, the generation where there is a ‘judging of the judges’.9  R. Joshua b. Korhah says: Job was in the time of Ahasuerus, for it says, And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job.10  What was the generation in which fair women were sought out? You must say that this was the generation of Ahasuerus. But perhaps he was in the time of David [in connection with whom] it is written, So they sought for a fair damsel?11  — In the case of David [the search was only] in all the border of Israel, in the case of Ahasuerus, in all the land. R. Nathan says that Job was in the time of the kingdom of Sheba, since it says, The Sabaeans fell on them and took them away.12  The Sages say that he was in the time of the Chaldeans, as it says, The Chaldeans made three bands.13  Some say that Job lived in the time of Jacob and married Dinah the daughter of Jacob. [The proof is that] it is written here [in the book of Job], Thou speakest as one of the impious women [nebaloth] speaketh,14  and it is written in another place [in connection with Dinah], Because he had wrought folly [nebelah] it, Israel.15  All these Tannaim agree that Job was from Israel, except those who say [that he lived in the days of Jacob]. [This must be so,] for if you suppose that [they regarded him as] a heathen, [the question would arise,] after the death of Moses how could the Divine Presence rest upon a heathen,16  seeing that a Master has said, Moses prayed that the Divine Presence should not rest on heathens, and God granted his request as it says, That we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.17  

  1. Johanan said: The generation of Job was given up to lewdness. [The proof is that] it says here [in the book of Job], Behold all of you have seen [hazitem] it; why then are ye become altogether vain? and it is written elsewhere, Return, return, O Shulamite, return, return that we may look upon [nehezeh,] thee.18  But may not the reference be to prophecy, as in the words, The vision [hazon] of Isaiah son of Amoz?19  — If so, why does it say: Why are ye become altogether vain? 
  2. Johanan further said: What is the import of the words, And it came to pass in the days of the judging of the judges? It was a generation which judged its judges. If the judge said to a man, ‘Take the splinter from between your teeth,’20  he would retort, ‘Take the beam from between your eyes.’ If the judge said, ‘Your silver is dross,’ he would retort, ‘Your liquor is mixed with water.’21
  3. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Whoever says that the malkath [queen] of Sheba was a woman is in error; the word malkath here22means the kingdom of Sheba. 

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou? And Satan answered etc.23  He addressed the Holy One, blessed be He, thus: Sovereign of the Universe, I have traversed the whole world and found none so faithful as thy servant Abraham. For Thou didst say to him, Arise, walk through the land to the length and the breadth of it, for to thee I will give it,24  and even so, when he was unable to find any place in which to bury Sarah until he bought one for four hundred shekels of silver, he did not complain against thy ways. Then the Lord said to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for’ there is none like him in the earth etc.  

Said R. Johanan: Greater praise is accorded to Job than to Abraham. For of Abraham it is written, For now I know that thou fearest God,25  whereas of Job it is written, That man was perfect and upright and one that feared God and eschewed evil.26  What is the meaning of ‘eschewed evil’? — R. Abba b. Samuel said: Job was liberal with his money. Ordinarily, if a man owes half a prutah [to a workman], he spends it in a shop,27  but Job used to make a present of it [to the workman].  

And then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made at hedge about him and about his house etc.28  What is the meaning of the words, Thou hast blessed the work of his hands?29  — R. Samuel b. R. Isaac said: Whoever took a prutah from Job had luck with it. What is implied by the words, His cattle is increased in the land,30  — R. Jose b. Hanina said: The cattle of Job broke through the general rule. Normally wolves kill goats, but in the cattle of Job the goats killed the wolves. But put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will renounce thee to thy face … And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand etc. … And it fell on a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house that there came a messenger unto Job and said, The oxen were plowing etc.31  What is meant by the words, The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside them?32  — R. Johanan said: This indicates that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave to Job a taste of the  

future world.1  While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, The fire of God … While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, The Chaldeans made three bands … and fell upon the camels and have taken them away … While he was yet speaking there came also another and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and behold there came a great wind from the wilderness and smote the four corners of the house and it fell upon the young men … Then Job arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head … and he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not nor charged God with foolishness. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves … and the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth etc.2  He said: Sovereign of the Universe, I have traversed the whole earth, and have not found one like thy servant Abraham. For thou didst say to him, Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and the breadth of it, for to thee I will give it, and when he wanted to bury Sarah he could not find a place in which to bury her, and yet he did not complain against thy ways. Then the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, for there is none like him in the earth … and he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause.3  Said R. Johanan: Were it not expressly stated in the Scripture, we would not dare to say it. [God is made to appear] like a man who allows himself to be persuaded against his better judgment. A Tanna taught: [Satan] comes down to earth and seduces, then ascends to heaven and awakens wrath; permission is granted to him and he takes away the soul.  

And Satan answered the Lord and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold he is in thine hand: only spare his life. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job etc.4  R. Isaac said: Satan’s torment was worse than that of Job; he was like a servant who is told by his master, ‘Break the cask but do not let any of the wine spill.’ Resh Lakish said: Satan, the evil prompter, and the Angel of Death are all one. He is called Satan, as it is written, And Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.5  He is called the evil prompter:6  [we know this because] it is written in another place, [Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart] was only evil continually,7  and it is written here [in connection with Satan] ‘Only upon himself put not forth thine hand.8  The same is also the Angel of Death, since it says, Only spare his life,9  which shows that Job’s life belonged to him.  

  1. Levi said: Both Satan and Peninah had a pious purpose [in acting as adversaries]. Satan, when he saw God inclined to favour Job said, Far be it that God should forget the love of Abraham. Of Peninah it is written, And her rival provoked her sore for to make her fret.10  When R. Aha b. Jacob gave this exposition in Papunia,11  Satan came and kissed his feet.12

In all this did not Job sin with his lips.13  Raba said: With his lips he did not sin, but he did sin within his heart. What did he say?14  The earth is given into the hand of the wicked, he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if it be not so, where and who is he?15  Raba said: Job sought to turn the dish upside down.16Abaye said: Job was referring only to the Satan. The same difference of opinion is found between Tannaim: The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. R. Eliezer said: Job sought to turn the dish upside down. R. Joshua said to him: Job was only referring to the Satan.  

Although thou knowest that I am not wicked, and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.17  Raba said: Job sought to exculpate the whole world.18  He said: Sovereign of the Universe, Thou hast created the ox with cloven hoofs and thou hast created the ass with whole hoofs; thou hast created Paradise and thou hast created Gehinnom: thou hast created righteous men and thou hast created wicked men, and who can prevent thee?19  His companions answered him: Yea, thou doest away with fear’ and restrainest devotion before God.20  If God created the evil inclination, He also created the Torah as its antidote.21  

Raba expounded: What is meant by the verse, The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.22  ‘The blessing of him that lost23  came upon me:’ this shows that Job used to rob orphans of a field and improve it and then restore it to them. ‘And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy:’ if ever there was a widow who could not find a husband, he used to associate his name with her,24  and then someone would soon come and marry her. Oh that my vexation were but weighed, and my calamity laid ill the balances together.25Rab said: Dust should be put in the mouth of Job, because he makes himself the colleague of heaven.26  Would there were an umpire between us, that he might lay his hand upon us both.27Rab said: Dust should be placed in the mouth of Job: is there a servant who argues with his master? I made a covenant with thine eyes; how then should I look upon a maid?28Rab said: Dust should be placed in the mouth of Job; he refrained from looking at other men’s wives. Abraham did not even look at his own, as it is written, Behold now I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon,29  which shows that up to then he did not know.  

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more.30  Raba said: This shows that Job denied the resurrection of the dead. For he breaketh me with a tempest and multiplieth my wounds without cause.31Rabbah said: Job blasphemed with [mention of] a tempest, and with a tempest he was answered. He blasphemed with [mention of] a tempest, as it is written, For he breaketh me as with a tempest. Job said to God: Perhaps a tempest has passed before thee, and caused thee to confuse Iyob [Job] and Oyeb [enemy]. He was answered through a tempest, as it is written, Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind32  and said, … Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee and declare thou unto me.33  ‘I have created many hairs in man, and for every hair I have created a separate groove, so that two should not suck from the same groove, for if two were to suck from the same groove they would impair the sight of a man. I do not confuse one groove with another; and shall I then confuse Iyob with Oyeb? Who hath cleft a channel for the waterflood?34  Many drops have I created in the clouds, and for every drop a separate mould, so that two drops should not issue from the same mould, since if two drops issued from the same mould they would wash away the soil, and it would not produce fruit. I do not confuse one drop with another, and shall I confuse Iyob and Oyeb?’ (How do we know that the word te’alah [channel] here means a mould? Rabbah b. Shila replied: Because it is written, And he made a trench [te’alah] as great as would contain two measures of seed.)35  Or a way for the lightning of the thunder.36  Many thunderclaps have I created in the clouds, and for each clap a separate path, so that two claps should not travel by the same path, since if two claps travelled by the same path they would devastate the world. I do not confuse one thunderclap with another, and shall I confuse Iyob with Oyeb? Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth, or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?37  This wild goat is heartless towards her young. When she crouches for delivery, she goes up to the top of a mountain so that the young shall fall down and be killed, and I prepare an eagle to catch it in his wings and set it before her, and if he were one second too soon or too late it would be killed.1  I do not confuse one moment with another, and shall I confuse Iyob with Oyeb? Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? This hind has a narrow womb. When she crouches for delivery, I prepare a serpent which bites her at the opening of the womb, and she is delivered of her offspring; and were it one second too soon or too late, she would die.2  I do not confuse one moment with another, and shall I confuse Iyob with Oyeb? Job speaketh without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom.3  Raba said: This teaches that a man is not held responsible for what he says when in distress.4  

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil which was come upon him, they came every one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to bemoan him and to comfort him.5  What is the meaning of, they made an appointment together? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: It teaches that they all entered [the town together] through one gate, although, as it has been taught, each one lived three hundred parasangs away from the other. How did they know [of Job’s trouble]? — Some say that they had crowns,6  and some say that they had had certain trees, the distortion or withering of which was a sign to them. Raba said: This bears out the popular saying: Either a friend like the friends of Job or death.  

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply [larob] on the face of the ground and daughters were born to them.7  R. Johanan says: [the word larob indicates that] increase [rebiah] came in to the world;8Resh Lakish says [it indicates that] strife [meribah] came into the world. Said Resh Lakish to R. Johanan: On your view that it means that increase came into the world, why was not the number of Job’s daughters doubled?9  He replied: Though they were not doubled in number,10  they were doubled in beauty, as it says, He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch11  — Jemimah, because she was like the day [yom]; Keziah, because the emitted a fragrance like cassia [keziah]; Keren-Happuch12  because — so it was explained in the academy of R. Shila13  — she had a complexion like the horn of a keresh.14  This explanation was laughed at in the West,15  [where it was pointed out that a complexion like] the horn of a keresh would be a blemish.16  [But what it should be], said R. Hisda, [is], like garden crocus of the best kind.17  (The word puch means pigment, as it is said, Though thou enlargest thine eyes with paint [puch].)18  


On the “conquest” of Yetzer HaRa 


Yoma 69b 

And [they] cried with a great [loud] voice unto the Lord, their God. What did they cry? —  Woe, woe, it is he [Yetzer hara‘]  who has destroyed the Sanctuary, burnt the Temple, killed all the righteous, driven all Israel into exile, and is still dancing around among us! Thou hast surely given him to us so that we may receive reward through him. We want neither him, nor reward through him! Thereupon a tablet fell down from heaven for them, whereupon the word ‘truth’ was inscribed. (R. Hanina said: One may learn therefrom that the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is truth).  

They ordered a fast of three days and three nights, whereupon he  was surrendered to them. He came forth from the Holy of Holies like a young fiery lion. Thereupon the Prophet said to Israel: This is the evil desire of idolatry, as it is said: And he said: This is wickedness. As they took hold of him a hair of his beard fell out, he raised his voice and it went [was audible] four hundred parasangs. Thereupon they said: How shall we act?  

Perhaps, God forbid, they might have mercy upon him from heaven! — The prophet said unto them: Cast him into a leaden pot, closing its opening with lead.  

Because lead absorbs the voice, as it is said: And he said: This is wickedness. And he cast her down into the midst of the measure, and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.  They said: Since this is a time of Grace, let us pray for mercy for the Tempter to evil. They prayed for mercy, and he was handed over to them. He said to them: Realize that if you kill him, the world goes down. They imprisoned him for three days, then looked in the whole land of Israel for a fresh egg and could not find it. Thereupon they said: What shall we do now? Shall we kill him? The world would then go down. Shall we beg for half-mercy? They do not grant ‘halves’ in heaven. They put out his eyes and let him go. It helped inasmuch as he no more entices men to commit incest. 


Testament of Job    – see separate Hebrew translation (Kahane) 

the blameless, the sacrifice, the conqueror in many contests. 

Book of Job, called Jobab, his life and the transcript of his Testament. 

Translated by M. R. James (Apocrypha anecdota 2. Texts and Studies 5/1. Cambridge: University Press, 1897) 

Chapter 1 

1 On the day he became sick and (he) knew that he would have to leave his bodily abode, he called his seven sons and his three daughters together and spake to them as follows: 2 “Form a circle around me, children, and hear, and I shall relate to you what the Lord did for me and all that happened to me. 3 For I am Job your father. 4 Know ye then my children, that you are the generation of a chosen one and take heed of your noble birth. 

5 For I am of the sons of Esau. My brother is Nahor, and your mother is Dinah. By her have I become your father. 6 For my first wife died with my other ten children in bitter death. 7 Hear now, children, and I will reveal unto you what happened to me. 

8 I was a very rich man living in the East in the land Ausitis, (Utz) and before the Lord had named me Job, I was called Jobab. 

9 The beginning of my trial was thus. 10. Near my house there was the idol of one worshipped by the people; and I saw constantly burnt-offerings brought to him as a god. 

10 Then I pondered and said to myself: “Is this he who made heaven and earth, the sea and us all How will I know the truth” 

11 And in that night as I lay asleep, a voice came and called: “Jobab! Jobab! rise up, and I will tell thee who is the one whom thou wishest to know. 12 This, however, to whom the people bring burnt-offerings and libations, is not God, but this is the power and work of the Seducer (Satan) by which he beguiles the people”. 

13 And when I heard this, I fell upon the earth and I prostrated myself saying: 14 “O my Lord who speakest for the salvation of my soul. I pray thee, if this is the idol of Satan, I pray thee, let me go hence and destroy it and purify this spot. 15 For there is none that can forbid me doing this, as I am the king of this land, so that those that live in it will no longer be led astray’’. 

16 And the voice that spoke out of the flame answered to me: “Thou canst purify this spot. 17. But behold I announce to thee what the Lord ordered me to tell thee, For I am the archangel of the God”. 18 .And I said : “Whatever shall be told to his servant. I shall hear”. 19. And the archangel, said to me : “Thus speaketh the Lord: If thou undertakest to destroy and takest away the image of Satan, he will set himself with wrath to wage war against thee, and he will display against thee all his malice. 21 He will bring upon thee many severe plagues, and take from thee all that thou hast. 21 He will take away thine children, and will inflict many evils upon thee. 22 Then thou must wrestle like an athlete and resist pain, sure of thy reward, overcome trials and afflictions. 

23 But when thou endurest, I shall make thy name renowned throughout all generations of the earth until to the end of the world. 24 And I shall restore thee to all that thou hadst had, and the double part of what thou shalt lose will be given to thee in order that thou mayest know that God does not consider the person but giveth to each who deserveth the good. 25 And also to thee shall it be given, and thou shalt put on a crown of amarant. 26 And at the resurrection thou shalt awaken for eternal life. Then shalt thou know that he Lord is just, and true and mighty”. 

 27 Whereupon, my children, I replied: “I shall from love of God endure until death all that will come upon me, and I shall not shrink back”. 28 Then the angel put his seal upon me and left me. 

Chapter 2 

1 After this I rose up in the night and took fifty slaves and went to the temple of the idol and destroyed it to the ground. 2. And so I went back to my house and gave orders that the door should he firmly locked; saying to my doorkeepers : 3 “If somebody shall ask for me, bring no report to me, but tell him : He investigates urgent affairs. He is inside”. 

4 Then Satan disguised himself as a beggar and knocked heavily at the door, saying to the door-keeper: 

5 “Report to Job and say that I desire to meet him’’, 

6 And the door-keeper came in and told me that, but heard from me that I was studying. 

7 The Evil One, having failed in this, went away and took upon his shoulder an old, torn basket and went in and spoke to the doorkeeper saying: “Tell Job : Give me bread from thine hands that I may eat”. 8 And when I heard this, I gave her burnt bread to give it to him, and I made known to him : “Expect not to eat of my bread, for it is forbidden to thee”. 9 But the door-keeper, being ashamed to hand him the burnt and ashy bread, as she did not know that it was Satan, took of her own fine bread and gave it to him. 10 But he took it and, knowing what occured, said to the maiden : “Go hence, bad servant, and bring me the bread that was given thee to hand to me”. 11 And the servant cried and spoke in grief: “Thou speakest the truth, saying that I am a bad servant. because I have not done as I was instructed by my master”. 12 And he turned back and brought him the burnt bread and said to him : “Thus says my lord : Thou shalt not eat of my bread anymore, for it is forbidden to thee. 13 And this he gave me [saying: This I give] in order that the charge may not be brought against me that I did not give to the enemy who asked”.) 14 And when Satan heard this, he sent back the servant to me, saying: “As thou seest this bread all burnt, so shall I soon burn thy body to make it like this”. 15 And I replied: “Do what thou desirest to do and accomplish whatever thou plottest. For I am ready to endure whatever thou bringest upon me”. 16 And when the devil heard this, he left me, and walking up to under the [highest] heaven, he took from the Lord the oath that he might have power, over all my possessions. 17 And after having taken the power he went and instantly took away all my wealth. 

Chapter 3 

1 For I had one hundred and thirty thousand sheep, and of these I separated seven thousand for the clothing of orphans and widows and of needy and sick ones. 2 I had a herd of eight hundred dogs who watched my sheep and besides these two hundred to watch my house. 3 And I had nine mills working for the whole city and ships to carry goods, and I seat them into every city and into the villages to the feeble and sick and to those that were unfortunate. 4 And I had three hundred and forty thousand nomadic asses, and of these I set aside five hundred, and the offspring of these I order to he sold and the proceeds to be given to the poor and the needy. 5 For from all the lands the poor came to meet me. 

6 For the four doors of my house were opened, each, being in charge of a watchman who had to see whether there were any people coming asking alms, and whether they would see me sitting at one of the door’s so that they could leave through the other and take whatever they needed. 

7 I also had thirty immovable tables set at all hours for the strangers alone, and I also had twelve tables spread for the widows. 8 And if any one came asking for alms, he found food on my table to take all he needed, and I turned nobody away to leave my door with an empty stomach. 

9 I also had three thousand five hundred yokes of oxen, and I selected of these five hundred and had them tend to the plowing. 10 And with these I had done all the work in each field by those who would, take it in charge and the income of their crops I laid aside for the poor on their table. 11 I also had fifty bakeries from which I sent [the bread] to the table for the poor. 12 And I had slaves selected for their service. 13 There were also some strangers who saw my good will; they wished to serve as waiters themselves. 14 Others, being in distress and unable to obtain a living, came with the request saying: 15 “We pray thee, since we also can fill this office of waiters (deacons) and have no possession, have pity upon us and advance money to us in order that we may go into the great cities and sell merchandise. 16 And the surplus of our profit we may give as help to the poor, and then shaII we return to thee thine own (money). 17 And when I heard this, I was glad that they should take this altogether from me for the husbandry of charity for the poor. 18 And with a willing heart I gave them what they wanted, and I accepted their written bond, but would not take any other security from them except the written document. 19 And they went abroad and gave to time poor as far as they were successful. 20 Frequently, however, some of their goods were lost on the road or on the sea, or they would he robbed of them. 21 Then they would come and say: “We pray thee, act generously towards us in order that we may see how we can restore to you thine own”. 22 And when I heard this, I had sympathy with them, and handed to them their bond, and often having read it before them tore it up and released them of their debt. saying to them : 23 “What I have consecrated for the benefit of the poor, I shall not take from you’’. 24 And so I accepted nothing from my debtor. 25 And when a man with cheerful heart came to me saying: I am not in need to be compelled to he a paid worker for the poor. 26 But I wish to serve the needy at thy table”, and he consented to work, and he ate his share. 27 So I gave him his wages nevertheless, and I went home rejoicing. 28        And when he did not wish to take it, I forced him to do so, saying: “I know that thou art a laboring man who looks for and waits for his wages, and thou must take it.” 

29 Never did I defer paying the wages of the hireling or any other, nor keep back in my house for a single evening his hire that was due to him. 30 Those that milked the cows and the ewes signaled to the passersby that they should take their share. 31 For the milk flowed in such plenty that it curdled into butter on the hills and by the road side; and by the rocks and the hills the cattle lay which had given birth to their offspring. 32 For my servants grew weary keeping the meat of the widows and the poor and dividing it into small pieces. 33 For they would curse and say: “Oh that we had of his flesh that we could be satisfied’’, although I was very kind to them, 

34 I also had six harps [and six slaves to play the harps] and also a cithara, a decachord, and I struck it during the day. 35 And I took the cithara, and the widows responded after their meals. 36 And with the musical instrument I reminded them of God that they should give praise to the Lord. 37 And when my female slaves would murmur, then I took the musical instruments and played as much as they would have done for their wages, and gave them respite from their labor and sighs. 

Chapter 4 

1 And my children, after having taken charge of the service, took their meals each day along with their three sisters beginning with the older brother, and made a feast. 

2 And I rose in the morning and offered as sin-offering for them fifty rams and nineteen sheep, and what remained as a residue was consecrated to the poor. 3 And I said to them : “Take these as residue and pray for my children. 4 Perchance my sons have sinned before the Lord, speaking in haughtiness of spirit: We are children of this rich man. Ours are all these goods; why should we be servants of the poor’ 5 And speaking thus in a haughty spirit they may have provoked the anger of God, for overbearing pride is an abomination before the Lord.” 6 So I brought oxen as offerings to the priest at the altar saying: “May my children never think evil towards God in their hearts.’’ 

7 While I lived in this manner, the Seducer could not bear to see the good [I did], and he demanded the warfare of God against me. 8 And he came upon me cruelly. 9 First he burnt up the large number of sheep, then the camels, then he burnt up the cattle and all my herds; or they were captured not only by enemies but also by such as had received benefits from me. 10 And the shepherds came and announced that to me. 11 But when I heard it, I gave praise to God and did not blaspheme. 

12 And when the Seducer learned of my fortitude, he plotted new thing’s against me. 13 He disguised himself as King of Persia and besieged my city, and after he had led off all that were therein, he spoke to them in malice, saying in boastful language: 14 “This man Job who has obtained all the goods of the earth and left nothing for others, he has destroyed and torn down the temple of god. 15 Therefore shall I repay to him what he has done to the house of the great god. 

16 Now come with me and we shall pillage all that is left in his house.” 17 And they answered and said to him: “He has seven sons and three daughters. 18 Take heed lest they flee into other lands and they may become our tyrants and then come over us with force and kill us.’’ 19 And he said: Be not at all afraid. His flocks and his wealth have I destroyed by fire, and the rest have I captured, and behold, his children shall I kill.” 20 And having spoken thus, he went and threw the house upon my children and killed them. 21 And my fellow-citizens, seeing that what was said by him had become true, came and pursued me, and robbed me of all that was in my house. 22 And I saw with mine own eyes the pillage of my house, and men without culture and without honor sat at my table and on my couches, and I could not remonstrate against them. 23 For I was exhausted like a woman with her loins let loose from multitude of pains, remembering chiefly that this warfare had been predicted to me by the Lord through His angel. 24 And I became like one who, when seeing the rough sea and the adverse winds, while the lading of the vessel in mid-ocean is too heavy, casts the burden into the sea, saying: 25 “I wish to destroy all this only in order to come safely into the city so that I may take as profit the rescued ship and the best of my things.” 26 Thus did I manage my own affairs. 

27 But there came another messenger and announced to me the ruin of my own children, and I was shaken with terror. 28 And I tore my clothes and said: The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken. As it hath deemed best to the Lord, thus it hath come to be. May the name of the Lord be blessed. 

Chapter 5 

1 And when Satan saw that he could not put me to despair, he went and asked my body of the Lord in order to inflict plague on me, for the Evil one could not bear my patience. 2 Then the Lord delivered me into his hands to use my body as he wanted, but he gave him no power over my soul. 3. And he came to me as I was sitting on my throne still mourning over my children. 4 And he resembled a great hurricane and turned over my throne and threw me upon the ground. 5 And I continued lying on the floor for three hours. and he smote me with a hard plague from the top of my head to the toes of my feet. 6 And I left the city in great terror and woe and sat down upon a dunghill my body being worm-eaten. 7 And I wet the earth with the moistness of my sore body, for matter flowed off my body, and many worms covered it. 8 And when a single worm crept off my body, I put it back saying: “Remain on the spot where thou hast been placed until He who hath sent thee will order thee elsewhere.” 9 Thus I endured for seven years, sitting on a dung-hill outside of the city while being plague-stricken. 10 And I saw with mine own eyes my longed-for children [carried by angels to heaven] 11 And my humbled wife who had been brought to her bridal chamber in such great luxuriousness and with spearmen as body-guards. I saw her do a water-carrier’s work like a slave in the house of a common man in order to win some bread and bring it to me. 12 And in my sore affliction I said: “Oh that these braggart city rulers whom I should not have thought to be equal with my shepherd dogs should now employ my wife as servant!” 13 And after this I took courage again. 14 Yet afterwards they withheld even the bread that it should only have her own nourishment. 15 But she took it and divided it between herself and me, saying woefully: “Woe to me! Forthwith he may no longer feed on bread, and he cannot go to the market to ask bread of the bread-sellers in order to bring it to me that he may eat” 16 And when Satan learned this, he took the guise  of a bread-seller, and it was as if by chance that my wife met him and asked him for bread thinking that it was that sort of man. 17 But Satan said to her : “Give me the value, and then take what thou wishest.” 18 Whereupon she answered saying: Where shall I get money Dost thou not know what misfortune happened to me. If thou hast pity, show it to me; if not, thou shalt see.” 19 And he replied saying: “If you did not deserve this misfortune, you would not have suffered all this. 20 Now, if there is no silver piece in thine hand, give me the hair of thine head and take three loaves of bread for it, so that ye may live on there for three days. 21 Then she said to herself: “What is the hair of my head in comparison with my starving husband” 22 And so after having pondered over the matter, she said to him: “Rise and cut off my hair”. 3 Then he took a pair of scissors and took off the hair of her head in the presence of all, and gave her three loaves of bread. 24 Then she took them and brought them to me. And Satan went behind her on the road, hiding himself as he walked and troubling her heart greatly. 

Chapter 6 

1 And immediately my wife came near me and crying aloud and weeping she said: “Job! Job! How long wilt thou sit upon the dung-hill outside of the city, pondering yet for a while and expecting to obtain your hoped-for salvation!” 2 And I have been wandering from place to place, roaming about as a hired servant, behold they memory has already died away from earth. 3 And my sons and the daughters that I carried on my bosom and the labors and pains that I sustained have been for nothing 4 And thou sittest in the malodorous state of soreness and worms, passing the nights in the cold air. 5 And I have undergone all trials and troubles and pains, day and night until I succeeded in bringing bread to thee. 6 For your surplus of bread is no longer allowed to me; and as I can scarcely take my own food and divide it between us, I pondered in my heart that it was not right that thou shouldst be in pain and hunger for bread. 7 And so I ventured to go to the market without bashfulness. and when the bread-seller told me: “Give me money. and thou shalt have bread’’. I disclosed to him our state of distress. 8 Then I heard him say : “If thou hast no money, hand me the hair of thy head, and take three loaves of bread in order that ye may live on these for three days’’. 9 And I yielded to the wrong and said to him “Rise and cut off my hair !‘‘ and he rose and in disgrace cut off with the scissors the hair of my head on the market place while the crowd stood by and wondered. 10 Who would then not be astonished saying: “Is this Sitis, the wife of Job, who had fourteen curtains to cover her inner sitting room, and doors within doors so that he was greatly honored who would be brought near her, and now behold, she barters off her hair for bread! 

11 Who had camels laden with goods. and they were brought into remote lands to the poor, and now she sells her hair for bread! 

12 Behold her who had seven tables immovably set in her house at which each poor man and each stranger ate, and now she sells her hair for bread! 

13 Behold her who had the basin wherewith to wash her feet made of gold and silver, and now she walks upon the ground and [sells her hair for bread !] 

14 Behold her who had her garments made of byssus interwoven with gold, and now she exchanges her hair for bread! 

15 Behold her who had couches of gold and of silver, and now she sells her hair for bread!” 

16 In short then, Job, after the many things that have been said to me, I now say in one word to thee : 17 “Since the feebleness of my heart has crushed my bones, rise then and take these loaves of bread and enjoy them, and then speak some word against the Lord and die! 

18 For I too, would exchange the torpor of death for the sustenance of my body”. 

19 But I replied to her “Behold I have been for these seven years plague-stricken, and I have stood the worms of my body, and I was not weighed down in my soul by all these pains. 20 And as to the word which thou sayest: ‘Speak some word against God and die!‘, together with thee I will sustain the evil which thou seest. and let us endure the ruin of all that we have. 21 Yet thou desirest that we should say some word against God and that He should be exchanged for the great Pluto [the god of the nether world.] 22 Why dost thou not remember those great goods which we possessed If these goods come from the lands of the Lord, should not we also endure evils and be high-minded in everything until the Lord will have mercy again and show pity to us 23 Dost thou not see the Seducer stand behind thee and confound thy thoughts in order that thou shouldst beguile me 24 And he turned to Satan and said : “Why dost thou not come openly to me Stop hiding thyself thou wretched one, 25 Does the lion show his strength in the weasel cage Or does the bird fly in the basket I now tell thee: Go away and wage thy war against me”. 

26 Then he went off from behind my wife and placed himself before me crying and he said : Behold, Job, I yield and give way to thee who art but flesh while I am a spirit. 27 Thou art plague-stricken, but I am in great trouble. 28 For I am like a wrestler contesting with a wrestler who has, in a single-handed combat, torn down his antagonist and covered him with dust and broken every limb of his, whereas the other one who lies beneath, having displayed his bravery, gives forth sounds of triumph testifying to his own superior excellence. 29 Thus thou, O Job, art beneath and stricken with plague and pain, and yet thou hast carried the victory in the wrestling-match with me, and behold, I yield to thee”. 30. Then he left me abashed. 31 Now my children, do you also show a firm heart in all the evil that happens to you, for greater than all things is firmness of heart. 

Chapter 7 

1 At this time the kings heard what had happened to me and they rose and came to me. each from his land to visit me and to comfort me. 2. And when they came near me, they cried with a loud voice and each tore his clothes. 3 And after they had prostrated themselves, touching the earth with their heads, they sat down next to me for seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word. 4 They were four in numbers: Eliphaz, the king of Teman, and Balad, and Sophar, and Elilhu. 5 And when they had taken their seat, they conversed about what had happened to me. 6 Now when for time first time they had come to me and I had shown them my precious stones, they were astonished and said : 7 “If of us three kings all our possessions would be brought together into one, it would not come up to the precious stones of .Jobab’s kingdom (crown). For thou art of greater nobility than all the people of the East. 8 And when, therefore, they now came to the land of AusitisUz” to visit me, they asked in the city : “Where is Jobab, the ruler of this whole land” 9 And they told them concerning me: “He sitteth upon the dung-hill outside of the city for he has not entered the city’ for seven years”. 10 And then again they- inquired concerning my possessions, and there was revealed to them all that happened to me. 11 And when they had learned this, they went out of the city with the inhabitants, and my fellow-citizens pointed me out to them. 12 But these remonstrated and said: “Surely, this is not Jobab’’. 13 And while they hesitated, there said Eliphaz. the King of Teman: “Come let us step near and see.” 14 And when they came near I remembered them, and I wept very much when I learned the purpose of their journey. 15 And I threw earth upon my head, and while shaking my head I revealed unto them that I was [Job]. 16 And when they saw me shake my head they threw themselves down upon the ground, all overcome with emotion 17 And while their hosts were standing around, I saw the three kings lie upon the ground for three hours like dead. 18 Then they rose and said to each other: We cannot believe that this is Jobab”. 19 And finally, after they had for seven day’s inquired after everything concerning me and searched for my flocks and other possessions, they said: 20 “Do we not know how many goods were sent by him to the cities and the villages round about to be given to the poor, aside from all that was given away by him within his own house How then could he have fallen into such a state of perdition and misery !” 21 And after the seven days Elihu said to the kings : “Come let us step near and examine him accurately, whether he truly is Jobab or not” 22 And they, being not half a mile (stadium) distant from his malodorous body, they rose and stepped near, carrying perfume in their hands, while their soldiers went with them and threw fragrant incense round about them so that they could come near me. 23 And after they had thus passed three hours, covering the way with aroma, they drew nigh. 24 And Eliphaz began and said : “Art thou, indeed, Job, our fellow-king Art thou the one who owned the great glory 25 Art thou he who once shone like the sun of day upon the whole earth Art thou he who once resembled the moon and the stars effulgent throughout the night” 26 And I answered him and said: “I am”, and thereupon all wept and lamented, and they sang a royal song of lamentation, their whole army joining them in a chorus. 

27 And again Eliphaz said to me : “Art thou he who had ordered seven thousand sheep to be given for the clothing of the poor Whither, then hath gone the glory of thy throne 

28 Art thou he who had ordered three thousand cattle to do the plowing of the field for the poor Wither, then hath thy glory gone! 

29 Art thou he who had golden couches, and now thou sittest upon a dung hill [” Whither then hath thy glory gone !“] 

30 Art thou he who had sixty tables set for the poor Art thou he who had censer’s for the fine perfume made of precious stones, and now thou art in a malodorous state Whither then hath thy glory gone! 

31 Art thou he who had golden candelabras set upon silver stands; and now must thou long for the natural gleam of the moon [“Whither then hath thy glory gone !“] 

32 Art thou the one who had ointment made of the spices of frankincense, and now thou art in a state of repulsiveness! [Whither then hath thy glory gone !“] 

33 Art thou he who laughed the wrong doers and sinners to scorn and now thou hast become a laughingstock to all !” [Whither then hath thine glory gone] 

34 And when Eliphaz had for a long time cried and lamented, while all the others joined him, so that the commotion was very great, I said to them : 35 Be silent and I will show you my throne, and the glory of its splendor: My glory will be everlasting. 36 The whole world shall perish, and its glory shall vanish, and all those who hold fast to it, will remain beneath, but my throne is in the upper world and its glory and splendor will be to the right of the Savior in the heavens. 37 My throne exists in the life of the “holy ones” and its glory in the imperishable world. 38 For rivers will he dried up and their arrogance shall go down to the depth of the abyss, but the streams of my land in which my throne is erected, shall not dry up, but shall remain unbroken in strength. 

39 The kings perish and the rulers vanish, and their glory and pride is as the shadow in a looking glass, but my Kingdom lasts forever and ever, and its glory and beauty is in the chariot of my Father). 

Chapter 8 

I When I spoke thus to them, Ehiphaz. became angry and said to the other friends “For what purpose is it that we have come here with our hosts to comfort him 9 Behold, he upbraids us. Therefore let us return to our countries. 

2 This man sits here in misery worm-eaten amidst an unbearable state of putrefaction, and yet he challenges its saving : ‘Kingdoms shall perish and their rulers, but my Kingdom, says he, shall last forever’”. 3 Eliphaz, then, rose in great commotion, and, turning away from them in great fury, said’: “I go hence. We have indeed come to comfort him, but he declares war to us in view of our armies”. 4 But then Baldad seized him by the hand and said :” Not thus ought one to speak to an afflicted man, and especially to one stricken down with so many plagues. 5 Behold, we, being in good health, dared not approach him on account of the offensive odor, except with the help of plenty of fragrant aroma. But thou, Eliphaz. art forgetful of all this. 6 Let me speak plainly. Let us be magnanimous and learn what is the cause Must he in remembering his former days of happiness not become mad in his mind 7 Who should not be altogether perplexed seeing himself thus lapse into misfortune and plagues But let me step near him that I may find by what cause is he thus” 9 And Baldad rose and approached me saying: “Art thou Job” and he said : “Is thy heart still in good keeping 9 And I said: “I did not hold fast to the earthly things, since the earth with all that inhabit it is unstable. But my heart holds fast to the heaven, because there is no trouble in heaven”. 10 Then Baldad rejoined and said : “We know that the earth is unstable, for it changes according to season. At times it is in a state of peace, and at times it is in a state of war. But of the heaven we hear that it is perfectly steady. 11 But art thou truly in a state of calmness Therefore let me ask and speak, and when thou answerest me to my first word, I shall have a second question to ask, and if again thou answerest in well-set words, it will be manifest that thy heart has not been unbalanced”. 12 And I said : “Upon what dost thou set thy hope” And I said: “Upon the living God”. 13. And he said to me : “Who deprived thee of all thou didst possess And who inflicted thee with these plagues 9” And I said: “God”. 14 And he said: “If thou still placest thy hope upon God, how can He do wrong in judgment, having brought upon thee these plagues and misfortunes, and having taken from thee all thy possessions 15 And since He has taken these, it is clear that He has given thee nothing. No king will disgrace his soldier who has served him well as body-guard” 16 [And I answered saying] : “Who understands the depths of the Lord and of His wisdom to be able to accuse God of injustice” 17 [And Baldad said] : “Answer me, o Job, to this. Again I say to thee : ‘If thou art in a state of calm reason, teach me if thou hast wisdom: 18 Why do we see the sun rise in the East and set in the West And again when rising in the morning we find him rise in the East Tell me thy- thought about this’’ 19 Then said I: “Why shall I betray (babble forth) the mighty mysteries of God And should my mouth stumble in revealing things belonging to the Master Never! 20 Who are we that we should pry into matters concerning the upper world while we are only of flesh, nay, earth and ashes! 21 In order that you know that my heart is sound, hear what I ask you: 22 Through the stomach cometh food, and water you drink through the mouth, and then it flows through the same throat, and when the two go down to become excrement, they again part; who effects this separation”. 23 And Baldad said: “I do not know”. And I rejoined and said to him : “If thou dost not understand even the exits of the body, how canst thou understand the celestial circuits” 

24 Then Sophar rejoined and said : “We do not inquire after our own affairs, but we desire to know whether thou art in a sound state, and behold, we see that thy reason has not been shaken. 25. What now dost thou wish that we should do for thee Behold, we have come here and brought the physicians of three kings, and if thou wishest, thou mayest he cured by them”. 26 But I answered and said : “My cure and my restoration cometh from God, the Maker of physicians”. 

Chapter 9 

1 And when I spoke thus to them, behold, there my wife Sitis came running, dressed in rags. from the service of the master by whom she was employed as slave though she had been forbidden to leave, lest the kings, on seeing her, might take her as captive. 2 And when she came, she threw herself prostrate to their feet, crying and saying: ‘‘Remember’. Eliphaz and ye other friends, what I was once with you, and how I have changed, how I am now dressed to meet you’’ 3 Then the kings broke forth in great weeping and, being in double perplexity, they kept silent. But Eliphaz took his purple mantle and cast it about her to wrap herself up with it. 4 But she asked him saying: “I ask as favor of you, my Lords, that you order your soldiers that they should dig among the ruins of our house which fell upon my children, so that their bones could be brought in a perfect state to the tombs. 5 For as we have, owing to our misfortune, no power at all, and so we may at least see their bones. 6 For have I like a brute the motherly feeling of wild beasts that my ten children should have perished on one day and not to one of them could I give a decent burial’’ 7 And the kings gave order that the ruins of my house should be dug up. But I prohibited it, saving 8 ‘‘Do not go to the trouble in vain; for my children will not he found, for they are in the keeping of their Maker and Ruler’’. 

9 And the kings answered and said : “Who will gainsay that he is out of his mind and raves 10 For while we desire to bring the bones of his children back, he forbids us to do so saying: ‘They have been taken and placed the keeping of their Maker’. Therefore prove unto us the truth”. 11 But I said to them: “Raise me that I may stand up, and they lifted me, holding up my arms from both sides. 12 And I stood upright, and pronounced first the praise of God and after the prayer I said to them : ‘‘Look with your eyes to the East’’. 13 And they looked and saw my children with crowns near the glory of the King, the Ruler of heaven. 

14 And when my wife Sitis saw this, she fell to the ground and prostrated [herself] before God, saying: ‘‘Now I know that my memory remains with the Lord”. 15 And after she had spoken this, and the evening came, she went to the city, back to the master whom she served as slave, and lay herself down at the manger of the cattle and died there from exhaustion. 16 And when her despotic master searched for her and did not find her, he came to the fold of his herds, and there he saw her stretched out upon the manger dead, while all the animals around were crying about her. 17 And all who saw her wept and lamented, and the cry extended throughout the whole city. 18 And the people brought her down and wrapt her up and buried her by the house which had fallen upon her children. 19 And the poor of the city made a great mourning for her and said: “Behold this Sitis whose like in nobility and in glory is not found in any woman. Alas ! she was not found worthy of a proper tomb!‘‘ 20 The dirge for her you will find in the record.  

Chapter 10 

But Eliphaz and those that were with him were astonished at these things, and they sat down with me and replying to me, spoke in boastful words concerning me for twenty seven days. 2 They repeated it again and again that I suffered deservedly thus for having committed many sins, and that there was no hope left for me, but I retorted to these men in zest of contention myself. 3 And they rose in anger, ready to part in wrathful spirit. But Elihu conjured them to stay yet a little while until he would have shown them what it was. 4 “For”, said he, “so many days did you pass, allowing Job to boast that he is just. But I shall no longer suffer it. 5 For from the beginning did I continue crying over him, remembering his former happiness. But now he speaks boastfully and in overbearing pride he says that he has his throne in the heavens. 6 Therefore, hear me, and I will tell you what is the cause of his destiny. 7 Then, imbued with the spirit of Satan. Elihu spoke hard words which are written down in the records left of Elihu. 8 And after he had ended, God appeared to me in a storm and in clouds, and spoke. blaming Elihu and showing me that he who had spoken was not a man, but a wild beast.  

9 And when God had finished speaking to me, the Lord spoke to Eliphaz: “Thou and thy friends have sinned in that ye have not spoken the truth concerning my servant Job. 10 Therefore rise up and make him bring a sin-offering for you in order that your sins may be forgiven; for were it not for him, I would have destroyed you’’. 11 And so they brought to me all that belonged to a sacrifice, and I took it and brought for them a sin-offering, and the Lord received it favorably and forgave them their wrong. 12 Then when Eliphaz, Baldad and Sophar saw that God had graciously pardoned their sin through His servant Job, but that He did not deign to pardon Elihu, then did Eliphaz begin to sing a hymn, while the others responded, their soldiers also joining while standing by the altar. 13 And Eliphaz spoke thus 

“Taken off is the sin 

and our injustice gone; 

14 But Elihu, the evil one, shall have no remembrance among the living; his luminary is extinguished and has lost its light. 

15 The glory of his lamp will announce itself for him, for he is the son of darkness. and not of light. 

16 The doorkeepers of the place of darkness shall give him their glory and beauty as share; His Kingdom hath vanished, his throne hath moldered, and the honor of his stature is in (Sheol) Hades. 

17 For he has loved the beauty of the serpent and the scales (skins) of’ the dracon his gall and his venom belongs to the Northern One (Zphuni = Adder). 

18 For he did not own himself unto the Lord nor did he fear him, but he hated those whom He hath chosen (known). 

19 Thus God forgot him, and “the holy ones” forsook him, his wrath and anger shall be unto him desolation and he will have no mercy in his heart nor peace, because he, had the venom of an adder on his tongue.  

20 Righteous is the Lord, and His judgments are true, With him there is no preference of person, for He judgeth all alike.  

21 Behold, the Lord cometh! Behold, the “holy ones” have been prepared: The crowns and the prizes of the victors precede them!  

22 Let the saints rejoice, and let their hearts exult in gladness; for they shall receive the glory which is in store for them. 


23 Our sins are forgiven, our injustice has been cleansed, but Elihu hath no remembrance among the living”. 

24 After Eliphaz had finished the hymn, we rose and went back to the city, each to the house where they lived. 

25 And the people made a feast for me in gratitude and delight of God, and all my friends came back to me. 

26 And all those who had seen me in my former state of happiness, asked me saying: “What are those three things here amongst us” 

Chapter 11 

1 But I being desirous to take up again my work of benevolence for the poor, asked them saying: 2 “Give me each a lamb for the clothing of the poor in their state of nakedness, and four drachmas (coins) of silver or gold” 3 Then the Lord blessed all that was left to me, and after a few days I became rich again in merchandise, in flocks and all things which I had lost, and I received all in double number again. 4 Then I also took as wife your mother and became the father of you ten in place of the ten children that had died. 

5 And now, my children, let me admonish you: “Behold I die. You will take my place. 

6 Only do not forsake the Lord. Be charitable towards the poor; Do not disregard the feeble. Take not unto yourselves wives from strangers. 

7 Behold, my children, I shall divide among you what I possess, so that each may have control over his own and have full power to do good with his share”. 8 And after he had spoken thus, he brought all his goods and divided them among his seven sons, but he gave nothing of his goods to his daughters. 

9 Then they said to their father: “Our lord and father! Are we not also thy children Why, then, dost thou not also give us a share of thy possessions” 10 Then said Job to his daughters : “Do not become angry my daughters. I have not forgotten you. Behold, I have preserved for you a possession better than that which your brothers have taken”. 11 And he called his daughter whose name was Day (Yemima) and said to her: “Take this double ring used as a key and go to the treasure-house and bring me the golden casket, that I may give you your possession’’. 12 And she went and brought it to him, and he opened it and took out three-stringed girdles about the appearance of which no man can speak. 13 For they were not earthly work, but celestial sparks of light flashed through them like the rays of the sun. 14 And he gave one string to each of His daughters and said: “Put these as girdles around you in order that all the days of your life they may encircle you and endow you with every thing good”. 

15 And the other daughter whose name was Kassiah said: “Is this the possession of which thou sayest it is better than that of our brothers What now Can we live on this” 16 And their father said to them: “Not only have you here sufficient to live on, but these bring you into a better world to live in, in the heavens. 17 Or do you not know my children, the value of these things here Hear then! When the Lord had deemed me worthy to have compassion on me and to take off my body the plagues and the worms, He called me and handed to me these three strings. 15 And He said to me: ‘Rise and gird up thy loins like a man I will demand of thee and declare thou unto me’. 19 And I took them and girt them around my loins, and immediately did the worms leave my body, and likewise did the plagues, and my whole body took new strength through the Lord, and thus I passed on, as though I had never suffered. 20 But also in my heart I forgot the pains. Then spoke the Lord unto me in His great power and showed to me all that was and will be. 

21 Now then, my children, in keeping these, you will not have the enemy plotting against you nor [evil] intentions in your mind because this is a charm (Phylacterion) from the Lord. 22 Rise then and gird these around you before I die in order that you may see the angels come at my parting so that you may behold with wonder the powers of God”. 23 Then rose the one whose name was Day (Yemima) and girt herself; and immediately she departed her body, as her father had said, and she put on another heart, as if she never cared for earthly things. 24 And she sang angelic hymns in the voice of angels, and she chanted forth the angelic praise of God while dancing. 

25 Then the other daughter, Kassia by name, put on the girdle, and her heart was transformed, so that she no longer wished for worldly things. 26 And her mouth assumed the dialect of the heavenly rulers (Archonts) and she sang the donology of the work of the High Place and if any one wishes to know the work of the heavens he may take an insight into the hymns of Kassia. 

27 Then did the other daughter by the name of Amalthea’s Horn (Keren Happukh) gird herself and her mouth spoke in the language of those on high; for her heart was transformed, being lifted above the worldly things. 28 She spoke in the dialect of the Cherubim, singing the praise of the Ruler of the cosmic powers (virtues) and extolling their (His) glory. 

29 And he who desires to follow the vestiges of the “Glory of the Father” will find them written down in the Prayers of Amalthea’s Horn. 

Chapter 12 

1 After these three had finished singing hymns. did I Nahor (Neros) brother of Job sit down next to him, as he lay down. 2 And I heard the marvelous (great) things of the three daughters of my brother, one always succeeding the other amidst awful silence. 3 And I wrote down this book containing the hymns except the hymns and signs of the [holy] Word, for these were the great things of God. 4 And Job lay down from sickness on his couch, yet without pain and suffering, because his pain did not take strong hold of him on account of, the charm of the girdle which he had wound around himself. 5 But after three days Job saw the holy angels come for his soul, and instantly he rose and took the cithara and gave it to his daughter Day (Yemima). 6 And to Kassia he gave a censer (with perfume = Kassia, and to Amalthea’s horn (= music) he gave a timbrel in order that they might bless the holy angels who came for his soul. 

7 And they took these, and sang, and played on the psaltery and praised and glorified God in the holy dialect. 

8 And after this he came He who sitteth upon the great chariot and kissed Job, while his three daughters looked on, but the others saw it not. 9 And He took the soul of Job and He soared upward, taking her (the soul) by the arm and carrying her upon the chariot, and He went towards the East. 10 His body, however, was brought to the grave while the three daughters marched ahead, having put on their girdles and singing hymns in praise of God. 

11 Then held Nahor (Nereos) his brother and his seven sons, with the rest of the people and the poor, the orphans and the feeble ones, a great mourning over him, saying: 

12 “Woe unto us, for today has been taken from us the strength of the feeble, the light of the blind, the father of the orphans; 

13 The receiver of strangers has been taken off the leader of the erring, the cover of the naked. the shield of the widows. Who would not mourn for the man of God! 14 And as they were mourning in this and in that form, they would not suffer him to be put into the grave. 15 After three days, however, he was finally put into the grave, like one in sweet slumber, and he received the name of the good (beautiful) who will remain renowned throughout all generations of the world. 

16 He left seven sons and three daughters, and there were no daughters found on earth as fair as the daughters of Job. 17 The name of Job was formerly Jobab, and he was called Job by the Lord. 18 He had lived before his plague eighty five years, and after the plague he took the double share of all; hence also his year’s he doubled, which is 170 years. Thus he lived altogether 255 years. 19 And, he saw sons of his sons unto the fourth generation. It is written that he will rise up with those whom the Lord will reawaken. To our Lord by glory. Amen. 

From Ginzberg  see separate notes 

Satan now caused a terrific storm to burst over the house of Job. He was cast from his throne by the reverberations, and he lay upon the floor for three hours. Then Satan smote his body with leprosy from the sole of his foot unto his crown. This plague forced Job to leave the city, and sit down outside upon an ash-heap,[24] for his lower limbs were covered with oozing boils, and the issue flowed out upon the ashes. The upper part of his body was encrusted with dry boils, and to ease the itching they caused him, he used his nails, until they dropped off together with his fingertips, and he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal.[25] His body swarmed with vermin, but if one of the little creatures attempted to crawl away from him, he forced it back, saying, “Remain on the place whither thou wast sent, until God assigns another unto thee.”[26] His wife, fearful that he would not bear his horrible suffering with steadfastness, advised him to pray to God for death, that he might be sure of going hence an upright man.[27] But he rejected her counsel, saying, “If in the days of good fortune, which usually tempts men to deny God, I stood firm, and did not rebel against Him, surely I shall be able to remain steadfast under misfortune, which compels men to be obedient to God.”[28] And Job stuck to his resolve in spite of all suffering, while his wife was not strong enough to bear her fate with resignation to the will of God.  

Her lot was bitter, indeed, for she had had to take service as a water-carrier with a common churl, and when her master learnt that she shared her bread with Job, he dismissed her. To keep her husband from starving, she cut off her hair, and purchased bread with it. It was all she had to pay the price charged by the bread merchant, none other than Satan himself, who wanted to put her to the test. He said to her, “Hadst thou not deserved this great misery of thine, it had not come upon thee.” This speech was more than the poor woman could bear. Then it was that she came to her husband, and amid tears and groans urged him to renounce God and die. Job, however, was not perturbed by her words, because he divined at once that Satan stood behind his wife, and seduced her to speak thus. Turning to the tempter, he said: “Why dost thou not meet me frankly? Give up thy underhand ways, thou wretch.” Thereupon Satan appeared before Job, admitted that he had been vanquished, and went away abashed.[29]  





9 Then after a long time had passed, his wife said to him, “How long will you persist and say, 

 ‘Look, I will hang on a little longer, while I wait for the hope of my deliverance?’  

For look, your legacy has vanished from the earth—sons and daughters, my womb’s birth pangs and labors, for 

whom I wearied myself with hardships in vain.  And you? You sit in the refuse of worms as you 

spend the night in the open air. As for me, I am one that wanders about and a hired servant—from 

place to place and house to house, waiting for when the sun will set, so I can rest from the dis 

tresses and griefs that now beset me. Now say some word to the Lord and die!”  

10 But Iob looked up and said to her, “You have spoken like one of the foolish women. If we received the good things from the Lord’s hand, shall we not bear the bad?”In all these things that happened to him Iob did 

not sin at all with his lips before God 


  1. χρνου δ πολλο προβεβηκτος επεν ατ γυν ατο μχρι τνος καρτερήσεις λγων

Addition in Sinaiticus 

9a ϊδουχρονονετιμεικρονπροϲδεχομενοϲτηνελπι δατηϲϲωτηριαϲαυτου   

ϊδουγαρηφανιϲταιϲουτομνημο ϲυνοναποτηϲγηϲ: ϋϊοικαιθυγατερεϲεμηϲκοιλιαϲωδεινεϲκαιπονοιουϲειϲτοκενον · εκοπιαϲαμεταμοχθων 

ϲυτεαυτοϲενϲαπριαϲκωληκωνδιανυκτερευωναιθριοϲ ·  

καγωπλανωμενηκαιλατριϲ τοπονεκτοπουκαιοικιανεξοικιαϲ   



αλλειποντιρημαειϲκν · καιτελευτα 

  1. δ μβλψας επεν ατ σπερ μα τν φρνων γυναικν λλησας ε τ γαθ δεξμεθα κ χειρς κυρου τ κακ οχ ποσομεν ν πσιν τοτοις τος συμβεβηκσιν ατ οδν μαρτεν Iωβ τος χελεσιν ναντον το θεο


While the text as a whole reveals conscious shortening, there are various additions made along the way. The major ones are: the diatribe of Iob’s wife in 2.9a–d—though this may be a later addition (“probably,” according to Fernández Marcos, 261, citing Heater, 31–36)….  See  

James 5:11 

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. 

Jerome on Job 


This was put into circulation about the same time as the sixteen prophets, that is, about the year 393. It was written in 392. It has no dedication, but is full of personal interest, and shows the deplorable state in which the text of many parts of Scripture was before his time, thus justifying his boast, “I have rescued Job from the dunghill.” 

I am compelled at every step in my treatment of the books of Holy Scripture to reply to the abuse of my opponents, who charge my translation with being a censure of the Seventy; as though Aquila among Greek authors, and Symmachus and Theodotion, had not rendered word for word, or paraphrased, or combined the two methods in a sort of translation which is neither the one nor the other; and as though Origen had not marked all the books of the Old Testament with obeli and asterisks, which he either introduced or adopted from Theodotion, and inserted in the old translation, thus showing that what he added was deficient in the older version. My detractors must therefore learn either to receive altogether what they have in part admitted, or they must erase my translation and at the same time their own asterisks. For they must allow that those translators who it is clear have left out numerous details, have erred in some points; especially in the book of Job, where, if you withdraw such passages as have been added and marked with asterisks, the greater part of the book will be cut away. This, at all events, will be so in Greek. On the other hand, previous to the publication of our recent translation with asterisks and obeli, about seven or eight hundred lines were missing in the Latin, so that the book, mutilated, torn, and disintegrated, exhibits its deformity to those who publicly read it. The present translation follows no ancient translator, but will be found to reproduce now the exact words, now the meaning, now both together of the original Hebrew, Arabic, and occasionally the Syriac. For an indirectness and a slipperiness attaches to the whole book, even in the Hebrew; and, as orators say in Greek, it5401is tricked out with figures of speech, and while it says one thing, it does another; just as if you close your hand to hold an eel or a little5402muræna, the more you squeeze it, the sooner it escapes. I remember that in order to understand this volume, I paid a not inconsiderable sum for the services of a teacher, a native of Lydda, who was amongst the Hebrews reckoned to be in the front rank; whether I profited at all by his teaching, I do not know; of this one thing I am sure, that I could translate only that which I previously understood. Well, then, from the beginning of the book to the words of Job, the Hebrew version is 

in prose. Further, from the words of Job where he says,5403“May the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, a man-child is conceived,” to the place where before the close of the book it is written5404“Therefore I blame myself and repent in dust and ashes,” we have hexameter verses running in dactyl and spondee: and owing to the idiom of the language other feet are frequently introduced not containing the same number of syllables, but the same quantities.  Sometimes, also, a sweet and musical rhythm is produced by the breaking up of the verses in accordance with the laws of metre, a fact better known to prosodists than to the ordinary reader. But from the aforesaid verse to the end of the book the small remaining section is a prose 

5401 ἐσχηματισμένος . 

5402 A small fish well known to the ancients, but apparently not identified with any species known to us. 

5403 Job iii. 3. 

5404 xlii. 6. 


NPNF (V2-06) St. Jerome 



composition. And if it seem incredible to any one that the Hebrews really have metres, and that, whether we consider the Psalter or the Lamentations of Jeremiah, or almost all the songs of Scripture, they bear a resemblance to our Flaccus, and the Greek Pindar, and Alcæus, and Sappho, let him read Philo, Josephus, Origen, Eusebius of Cæsarea, and with the aid of their testimony he will find that I speak the truth. Wherefore, let my barking critics listen as I tell them that my motive in toiling at this book was not to censure the ancient translation, but that those passages in it which are obscure, or those which have been omitted, or at all events, through the fault of copyists have been corrupted, might have light thrown upon them by our translation; for we have some slight knowledge of Hebrew, and, as regards Latin, my life, almost from the cradle, has been spent in the company of grammarians, rhetoricians, and philosophers. But if, since the version of the Seventy was published, and even now, when the Gospel of Christ is beaming forth, the Jewish Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, judaising heretics, have been welcomed amongst the Greeks—heretics, who, by their deceitful translation, have concealed many mysteries of salvation, and yet, in the Hexapla are found 492 in the Churches and are expounded by churchmen; ought not I, a Christian, born of Christian parents, and who carry the standard of the cross on my brow, and am zealous to recover what is lost, to correct what is corrupt, and to disclose in pure and faithful language the mysteries of the Church, ought not I, let me ask, much more to escape the reprobation of fastidious or malicious readers?  Let those who will keep the old books with their gold and silver letters on purple skins, or, to follow the ordinary phrase, in “uncial characters,” loads of writing rather than manuscripts, if only they will leave for me and mine, our poor pages and copies which are less remarkable for beauty than for accuracy. I have toiled to translate both the Greek versions of the Seventy, and the Hebrew which is the basis of my own, into Latin. Let every one choose which he likes, and5405 he will find out that what he objects to in me, is the result of sound learning, not of malice. 


John Chrysostom  347 – 407 

Has the devil filled you with sorrow on account of some harm he has brought upon you? Make him sad as well by thanking God. 

The best thing, of course, is for you not to become sad at all. In this manner, you will give the devil a fatal blow. 

When he sees you ignoring him and his evil ways, he will depart in shame. 

[…] But let us now return to the magnificent example of Job. 

[…] When his rotted flesh was falling to the ground, when worms were eating away at his body, when he could no longer tolerate the excruciating pain and desired death, this is precisely when the evil one incited Job’s wife to advise him: 

“Until when will you be so patient? How long will you wait and hope for your suffering to come to an end?…Go ahead! Blaspheme God and die!” (Job 2:9-14). 

At that moment, the devil was certain that he would finally witness Job’s downfall. However, he was terribly fooled! 

Not only did this blessed man not blaspheme God, but he glorified the Lord: “Despite all this, Job sinned not” (Job 1:22). Who ever saw or heard of such a wondrous achievement? 

Homily xxviii 

And observe, I pray, the wickedness of his wife, from what topic she at once begins; namely, from the length of time, saying, How long wilt thou hold out?  

Now, if often, even when there were no realities, words alone have prevailed to unman a person, consider what it was likely he then should feel, when, besides these words, the things themselves also were galling him; and what, as it should seem, was worst of all, it was a wife also who spake thus, and a wife who had sunk down utterly, and was giving herself up, and on this account was seeking to cast him also into desperation. However, that we may see more clearly the enquiry which was brought against that adamantine wall, let us listen to the very words. What then are these? How long wilt thou hold out? saying, Lo! I wait a short time longer, expecting the hope of my salvation. “Nay,” saith she, “the time hath exposed the folly of thy words, while it is protracted, yet shews no mode of escape.” And these things she said, not only thrusting him into desperation, but also reproaching and jesting upon him. 

For he, ever consoling her as she pressed upon him, and putting her off, would speak as follows: “Wait a little longer, and there will soon be an end of these things.” Reproaching him therefore, she speaks: “Wilt thou now again say the same thing? For a long time hath now run by, and no end of these things hath appeared.” And observe her malice, that she makes no mention of the oxen, the sheep, or the camels, as knowing that he was not very much vexed about these; but she goes at once to nature, and reminds him of his children. For on their death she saw him both rending his clothes, and shaving off his hair. 

* Job ii. 9. where, according to the myself in vain with toils: and thou 

LXX, the speech of Job’s wife stands as follows: “How long wilt thou be night in the open air, while I am a thyself in corruption of worms sittest all 


patient, saying, Lo, let me endure yet wanderer and a servant, from place to 

a little while, awaiting the hope of my place, and from house to house, expect 

salvation? For behold, thy memorial ing the sun when it will set, that I may 

is vanished from the earth, even sons rest from my labours and the pains 

and daughters, the throes and labours which now straiten me: but say some 

of my womb, for whom I have wearied word against the Lord, and die.” 

392 Topics of murmuring urged by Job’s Wife:  

And she said not, “thy children are dead,” but very ‘pathetically, thy memorial is perished from the earth, “the thing for which thy children were desirable.” For if, even now, after that the resurrection hath been made known, children are therefore longed for because they preserve the memory of the departed; much more then. Wherefore also her curse becomes from that consideration more bitter. For in that case, he that cursed, said not, “ Let his children be utterly rooted out,” but” his memorial from the earth.” Thy sons, and thy daughters. Thus whereas she said, the memorial, she again accurately makes mention of either sex. “But if thou,” saith she, ” carest not for these, at least consider what is mine.” The pains of my womb, and labours, which I have endured in vain with sorrow. Now what she means is this: “I, who endured the more, am wronged for thy sake, and having undergone the toils, I am deprived of the fruits.” 

And see how she neither makes express mention of his loss of property, nor is silent about it, and hurries it by; but in that point of view in which it also might be most pathetically narrated, in that she covertly refers to it. For when she says, / too am a vagabond and a slave, going about from place to place, from house to house, she both hints at the loss, and indicates her great distress: these expressions being such as even to enhance that misfortune. “For I come to the doors of others,” saith she; “nor do I beg only, but am a wanderer also, and serve a strange and unusual servitude, going round every where, and carrying about the tokens of my calamity, and teaching all men of my woes;” which is most piteous of all, to change house after house. And she stayed not even at these lamentations, but proceeded to say, Waiting for the sun when it will set, and I shall rest from my miseries, and the pains that encompass me, by which I am now straitened. “Thus, that which is sweet to others,” saith she, “ to behold the light, this to me is grievous: but the night and the darkness is a desirable thing. For this only gives me rest from my toils, this becometh a comfort to my miseries. But speak somewhat against the Lord, and die.” Perceivest thou here too her crafty wickedness? how she did not even in the act of advising at once 

Augustine Expositions on Psalms LVI 13 November 354 – 28 August 430 

Admitted was the tempter; he took away everything, there remained the man bereft of possessions,bereft of family, bereft of children, full of God. A wife certainly was left.2118 Merciful do ye deem the devil, that he left him a wife? He knew through whom he had deceived 

Adam.…With wound smitten from head even unto feet, whole nevertheless within, he made 

answer to the woman tempting, out of the light of the living, out of the light of his heart: 

thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women,2119 that is, as though one that hath 

not the light of the living. For the light of the living is wisdom, and the darkness of unwise 

men is folly. Thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women: my flesh thou seest, 

the light of my heart thou seest not. For she then might more have loved her husband, if 


the interior beauty she had known, and had beheld the place where he was beautiful before 

the eyes of God: because in Him were vows which he might render of praise to God. How 

entirely the enemy had forborne to invade that patrimony! How whole was that which he 

was possessing, and that because of which yet more to be possessed he hoped for, being to 

go on from virtues unto virtue.2120  

Gregory the Great (pope 590 604)  

Moralia on Job  

Ver. 9.Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  curse God, and die.   




12.  The old adversary is wont to tempt mankind in two ways; viz. so as either to break the hearts of the stedfast by tribulation, or to melt them by persuasion.  Against blessed Job then he strenuously exerted himself in both; for first upon the householder he brought loss of substance; the father he bereaved by the death of his children; the man that was in health he smote with putrid sores.  But forasmuch as him, that was outwardly corrupt, he saw still to hold on sound within, and because he grudged him, whom he had stripped naked outwardly, to be inwardly enriched by the setting forth of his Maker’s praise, in his cunning he reflects and considers, that the champion of God is only raised up against him by the very means whereby he is pressed down, and being defeated he betakes himself to subtle appliances of temptations.  For he has recourse again to his arts of ancient contrivance, and because he knows by what means Adam is prone to be deceived, he has recourse to Eve.  For he saw that blessed Job amidst the repeated loss of his goods, the countless wounds of his strokes, stood unconquered, as it were, in a kind of fortress of virtues.  For he had set his mind on high, and therefore the machinations of the enemy were unable to force an entrance on it.  The adversary then seeks by what steps he may mount up to this well-fenced fortress.  Now the woman is close to the man and joined to him.  Therefore he fixed his hold on the heart of the woman, and as it were found in it a ladder whereby he might be able to mount up to the heart of the man.  He seized the mind of the wife, which was the ladder to the husband.  But he could do nothing by this artifice.  For the holy man minded that the woman was set under and not over him, and by speaking aright, he instructed her, whom the serpent set on to speak wrongly.  For it was meet that manly reproof should hold in that looser mind; since indeed he knew even by the first fall of man, that the woman was unskilled to teach aright.  And hence it is well said by Paul, I permit not a woman to teach. [1 Tim. 2, 12]  Doubtless for that, when she once taught, she cast us off from an eternity of wisdom.  And so the old enemy was beaten by [perdidit ab] Adam on a dunghill, he that conquered Adam in Paradise; and whereas he inflamed the wife, whom he took to his aid, to utter words of mispersuasion, he sent her to the school of holy instruction; and she that had been set on that she might destroy, was instructed that she should not ruin herself.  Yes, the enemy is so stricken by those resolute men of our part, that his very own weapons are seized out of his hand.  For by the same means, whereby he reckons to increase the pain of the wound, he is helping them to arms of virtue to use against himself. 


  1.  Now from the words of his wife, thus persuading him amiss, we ought to mark with attention, that the old enemy goes about to bend the upright state of our mind, not only by means of himself, but by means of those that are attached to us.  For when he cannot undermine our heart by his own persuading, then indeed he creeps to the thing by the tongues of those that belong to us.  For hence it is written; Beware of thine own children, and take heed to thyself from thy servants. [Ecclus. 32, 22. Vulg.] Hence it is said by the Prophet; Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother. [Jer. 9, 4]  Hence it, is again written; And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. [Matt. 10, 36]  For when the crafty adversary sees himself driven back from the hearts of the good, he seeks out those that they very much love, and he speaks sweetly to them by the words of such as are beloved by them above others, that whilst the force of love penetrates the heart, the sword of his persuading may easily force a way in to the defences of inward uprightness.  Thus after the losses of his goods, after the death of his children, after the wounding and rending of his limbs, the old foe put in motion the tongue of his wife.



YUSUFALI: And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, “Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful.”
PICKTHAL: And Job, when he cried unto his Lord, (saying): Lo! adversity afflicteth me, and Thou art Most Merciful of all who show mercy.
SHAKIR: And Ayub, when he cried to his Lord, (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and Thou art the most Merciful of the merciful.  

YUSUFALI: So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his people to him, and doubled their number,- as a Grace from Ourselves, and a thing for commemoration, for all who serve Us.
PICKTHAL: Then We heard his prayer and removed that adversity from which he suffered, and We gave him his household (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them, a mercy from Our store, and a remembrance for the worshippers;
SHAKIR: Therefore We responded to him and took off what harm he had, and We gave him his family and the like of them with them: a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers.  

[38.41] And remember Our servant Ayyub, when he called upon his Lord: The Shaitan has afflicted me with toil and torment.
[38.42] Stamp with your foot; here is a cool washing-place and a drink.
[38.43] And We gave him his family and the like of them with them, as a mercy from Us, and as a reminder to those possessed of understanding.
[38.44] And take in your hand a green branch and beat her with It and do not break your oath; surely We found him patient; most excellent the servant! Surely he was frequent in returning (to Allah).  on the Prophet Ayyub 

Ibn Ishaaq stated that he was a man of Rum. His name was Job, Ibn Mose, Ibn Razeh, Ibn Esau, Ibn Isaac (pbuh), Ibn Abraham (pbuh). Someone else said he was Job, Ibn Mose, Ibn Rimil, Ibn Esau, Ibn Isaac, Ibn Jacob. There have also been other statements on his lineage. Ibn Asaker narrated that his mother was a daughter of Lot (pbuh). It was said, also that his father was one who believed in Abraham (pbuh) when he was cast into the fire. 

The first opinion is the most plausible, because he was a descendant of Abraham’s offspring as Allah Almighty declared: “That was Our proof which We gave Abraham against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All Knowing. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob, each of them We guided and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. Thus do We reward the good doers. (Ch 6:83-84) 

Allah the Almighty praised His worshipper Job in His Glorious Quran: Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft returning in repentance to Us! (Ch 38:44) 

Job (pbuh) was repentant, remembering Allah with thankfulness, patience, and steadfastness. This was the cause of his rescue and the secret of Allah’s praising him. 

A group of angels were discussing Allah’s other human creatures, how those who were humble earned Allah’s pleasure, while those who were arrogant incurred His displeasure. One of the angels remarked: “The best creature on earth today is Job, a man of noble character who displays great patience and always remembers his Generous Lord. He is an excellent model for the worshippers of Allah. In return, his Lord has blessed him with a long life and plenty of servants, as well as the needy and the poor share in his good fortune; he feeds and clothes the poor and buys slaves to set them free. He makes those who receive his charity feel as if they are favoring him so kind and gentle is he.” 

Iblis overhearing all of this, became annoyed. He planned to tempt Job to corruption and disbelief, so he hastened to him. He tried to distract Job from his prayers by whispering him about the good things in life but Job was a true believer and would not let evil thoughts tempt him. This disturbed Iblis even more; thus he began to hate Job even more. 

Iblis complained to Allah about Job. He said that although he was continuously glorifying Allah he was not doing so out of his sincerity but to satisfy Allah so that his wealth should not be taken away. It was all a show, all out of greed. “If You remove his wealth then You will find that his tongue will no longer mention Your name and his praying will stop.”  

Allah told Iblis that Job was one of His most sincere devotees. He did not worship Him because of the favors; his worship stemmed from his heart and had nothing to do with material things. But to prove to Iblis the depth of Job’s sincerity and patience, Allah allowed him to do whatever he and his helpers wished with Job’s wealth. 

Iblis was very happy. he gathered his helpers and set about destroying Job’s cattle, servants and farms until he was left with no possessions. Rubbing his hands in glee, Iblis appeared before Job in the guise of a wise old man and said to him: “All your wealth is lost, some people say that it is because you gave too much charity and that you are wasting your time with your continuous prayers to Allah. Others say that Allah has brought this upon you in order to please your enemies. If Allah had the capacity to prevent harm, then He would have protected your wealth.” 

True to his belief, Job replied: “What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for awhile. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills.” With these words, Job again prostrated to his Lord. 

When Iblis saw this, he felt frustrated, so he again addressed Allah: “I have stripped Job of all his possessions, but he still remains grateful to You. However he is only hiding his disappointment, for he places great store by his many children. The real test of a parent is through his children. You will see how Job will reject You.” 

Allah granted Iblis authority but warned him that it would not reduce Job’ faith in His Lord nor his patience. 

Iblis again gathered his helpers and set about his evil deeds. He shook the fountain of the house in which Job’s children were living and sent the building crashing, killing all of them. Then he went to Job disguised as a man who had come to sympathize with him. In a comforting tone he said to Job: “The circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers.” Having said this, Iblis waited anxiously hoping Job was now ready to reject Allah. 

But again Job disappointed him by replying: “Allah sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator.” then Job prostrated to his Lord. At this Iblis was extremely vexed. 

Iblis called on Allah. “O my Lord, Job’s wealth is gone, his children are dead, and he is still healthy in body, and as long as he enjoys good health he will continue to worship You in the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more children. Grant me authority over his body so that I may weaken it. He will surely neglect worshipping You an will thus become disobedient.” 

Allah wanted to teach Iblis a lesson that Job was a devoted servant of his Lord so He granted Iblis his 3rd request but placed a condition: “I give you authority over his body but not over his soul, intellect or heart, for in these places reside the knowledge of Me and My religion.” 

Armed with this new authority, Iblis began to take revenge on Job’s body and filled it with disease until it was reduced to mere skin and bone and he suffered severe pain. But through all the suffering Job remained strong in his faith, patiently bearing all the hardships without complaining. Allah’s righteous servant did not despair or turn to others for help but remained hopeful of Allah’s mercy. Even close relatives and friends deserted him. Only his kind, loving wife stayed with him. In his hour of need, she showered her kindness on him and cared for him. She remained his sole companion and comforter through the many years of suffering. 

Ibn Asaker narrated: “Job was a man having much wealth of all kinds; beasts, slaves, sheep, vast lands of Haran and many children. All those favors were taken from him and he was physically afflicted as well. Never a single organ was sound except his heart and tongue, with both of which he glorified Allah, the Almighty all the time day and night. His disease lasted for a long time until his visitors felt disgusted with him. His friends kept away from him and people abstained from visiting him. No one felt sympathy for him except his wife. She took good care of him, knowing his former charity and pity for her.” 

Therefore Iblis became desperate. He consulted his helpers, but they could not advise him. They asked : “How is it that your cleverness cannot work against Job, yet you succeeded in misleading Adam the father of man, out of Paradise?” 

See also Ibn Kathir, p. 168ff. 

The following story was documented by Ibn Kathir 

Prophet Ayoub (A) was Allah’s thankful, repentant, patient and steadfast worshipper. Allah the Almighty has praised Him in the Quran thus:  


“Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance to Us” (Saad 38:44).  

Ibn Kathir narrates that once Iblis (satan) heard an angel praising Ayoub (A) to other angels, extolling his noble character, patience and remembrance of Allah and describing him as “the best creature on earth today, and an excellent model for the worshippers of Allah.” The angel also added that Allah had blessed him with long life and plenty of riches, yet he was never haughty or selfish. His family, servants, the needy and the poor, all had a share in his good fortune. He bought slaves to set them free and made those who received his charity feel as if they were doing him a favor.  

Overhearing all this, Iblis became annoyed and planned to tempt Ayoub (A) and lead him to disbelief. First, he tried to distract him from his prayers by whispering to him about the good things in life, but as a true believer, Ayoub would not let evil thoughts tempt him. Iblis, then tried to attribute ulterior motives to his constant glorification of Allah, projecting his worship as being motivated from greed to safeguard his wealth. Iblis thus said to Allah, “If You deprive him of his wealth You will find that he will no longer mention Your name and his praying will stop.”  

Allah told Iblis that Ayoub (A) was one of His most sincere devotees whose worship stemmed from his heart and had nothing to do with material gifts or favors granted to him. To prove His devotee’s depth of sincerity and patience, Allah allowed Iblis to do whatever he wished with Ayoub (A)’s wealth.  

Delighted, Iblis gathered his helpers and set about destroying Ayoub (A)’s cattle, servants and farms, depriving him of all his possessions. Then in the guise of a wise old man he approached him and said:  

“All your wealth is lost. Some people say that it is because you gave too much charity and that you are wasting your time with your continuous prayers to Allah. Others say that Allah has brought this upon you in order to please your enemies. If Allah had the capacity to prevent harm, then He would have protected your wealth.”  

Steadfast in his faith, Ayoub (A) replied: “What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for a while. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills,” and he prostrated before his Lord.  

Frustrated with his failure, Iblis again addressed Allah:  

“I have stripped Ayoub (A) of all his possessions, but he still remains grateful to You. However, he is only hiding his disappointment, for he places great store by his many children. The real test of a parent is through his children. You will then see how Ayoub (A) will reject You.”  

Allah again granted Iblis authority, but warned him that it would reduce neither Ayoub (A)’s faith in his Lord nor his patience.  

Iblis gathered his helpers and brought the house in which Ayoub (A)’s children were living, crashing down, killing all of them. Disguised as a man who had come to sympathize with him, he said:  

“The circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers.”  

The faithful believer of Allah replied, disappointing Iblis once again:  

“Allah sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator.”  

Saying this he prostrated to his Lord. Extremely vexed, Iblis again called on Allah:  

“O my Lord, Ayoub (A)’s wealth is gone and his children are dead, but he is still healthy in body, and as long as he enjoys good health he will continue to worship You in the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more children. Grant me authority over his body so that I may weaken it. He will surely stop worshipping You and will thus become disobedient.”  

Allah granted Iblis his third request but placed a condition:  

“I give you authority over his body but not over his soul, intellect, or heart, for in these places reside the knowledge of Me and My religion.”  

Armed with this new authority, Iblis afflicted Ayoub (A)’s body with disease, reducing it to mere skin and bone. He suffered severe pain yet remained strong in faith, and patiently bore all the suffering without complaints. Hopeful of Allah’s Mercy, he neither despaired nor turned to others for help. Although he had lost all his children and was deprived of his wealth and physically afflicted, he still continued to glorify Allah the Almighty day and night. His disease lasted for a long time. His friends felt disgusted and his close relatives deserted him. The sole companion and comforter through many years of his suffering was his kind and loving wife.  

Iblis became desperate. He consulted his helpers but they asked him:  

“How is it that your cleverness cannot work against Ayoub (A), yet you succeeded in misleading Adam, the father of man, out of paradise?”  

Iblis went to Ayoub (A)’s wife in the form of a man. “Where is your husband?” he asked her.  

She pointed to an almost lifeless form crumpled on the bed and said: “There he is, suspended between life and death.”  

Iblis reminded her of the days when he had enjoyed good health, wealth and children. The painful memory of years of hardship overwhelmed her. She burst into tears and asked her husband:  

“How long are you going to bear this torture from our Lord? Are we to remain without wealth, children or friends forever? Why don’t you call upon Allah to remove this suffering?”  

Ayoub (A) sighed, and replied softly:  

Iblis must have whispered to you and made you dissatisfied. Tell me, how long did I enjoy good health and riches?”  

She replied, “For eighty years.”  

Then he asked, “How long have I been suffering like this?”  

She said, “Seven years.”  

Then he told her: “In that case I am ashamed to call on my Lord to remove the hardship, for I have not suffered longer than the years of good health and plenty that I enjoyed. Your faith seems to have weakened and you are dissatisfied with the fate decreed by Allah. If I ever regain health, I swear I will punish you with a hundred strokes! From this day, I shall not eat or drink anything from your hand. Leave me alone and let my Lord do with me as He pleases.”  

Crying bitterly, with no other choice, she left with a heavy heart. In his helpless state, Ayoub (A) turned to Allah, not to complain but to seek His mercy:  


“And (remember) Ayyub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: ‘Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.’ So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us” (Al-Anbiya 21:83-84).  

Almighty Allah further says in the Quran:  


“And remember Our slave Ayyub (Job), when he invoked his Lord (saying): ‘Verily Shaitan (Satan) has touched me with distress (by ruining my health) and torment (by ruining my wealth)!’ (Allah said to him): “Strike the ground with your foot: This is (a spring of) water to wash in, and a cool and (refreshing) drink.” And We gave him (back) his family, and along with them the like thereof, as a Mercy from Us, and a Reminder for those who understand (Sad 38:41-43).  

Ayoub (A) obeyed Allah’s instructions, and almost immediately his good health was restored. Meanwhile, his faithful wife who could no longer bear to be parted from her husband returned to beg his forgiveness, and to serve him. On entering the house, she was amazed at the sudden change she saw. Ayoub (A) had regained his health! She embraced him and thanked Allah for His mercy.  

Ayoub (A) was now worried about the oath he had taken to punish her with a hundred strokes if he regained health. He did not wish to hurt her but could not break a promise to Allah. Therefore, Allah in His wisdom and mercy, came to the assistance of His faithful servant, and instructed him:  


“And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath” (Sad 38:44).  

Thus Allah the Most Merciful rewards His faithful and grateful servants. 

Source: Ibn Kathir  

This story should remind us that we should never make our worship and sincerity toward Allah contingent on our perceived blessings. Allah tests us in many ways and we should, therefore, be steadfast in His worship constantly 


The Life of Holy Job (H.N. MacCracken, Archiv fur das Studium… 1911) 

Syttyng on the Dongehill, this gode and blessed man, 

Cam his wyf and to hym seid, “yet in thi simplicite, 

Thou here art permanent corset thi god and dye than, 

Thou beste what is thi pacienceNowe in thyn aduersite, 

This shalt thou neuer recouer, trust verily me.” 

Job said, “folysshe woman, I counsel the be styll, 

For be that takyth gode thing sumtyme must take ill.” 


This sore syk man syttyng on this foule Dongehill, 

There cam mynstrelles before hym, pleying meryly, 

Mony had he none to reward aftyr his will, 

But gave theym the brode Scabbes of his sore body, 

Whiche turned vnto pure golde, as sayth the story, 

The mynstrelles than shewid and tolde to Job his wife,  

That he so reward them where fore she gan to stryfe. 


Than saying vnto Job in angre this woman, 

“To mynstrelles and players thou [y]evyst golde largely, 

But thou hidest thi gode from me lyke a false man”; 

And with many seducious words openly, 

There hym rebuked with langage most sharply, 

Job all sufferd and thout yt for the best, 

To obserue pacience and so live in rest. 


La Pacience de Job 





See p. 180 on instruments 


According to 1971 edition, p. 368, after l. 5971 

Adont vont querir les bestez et menent a Job, et sonant les instrumens et dit…. 


John Calvin Sermons on Job  1509 1564  

So then we shall see how Job (besides the misery that he endured) was also tormented both by his friends and by his wife, and (above all) by such as came to tempt him spiritually. 

Cf. Sermon 9 on Chapter 2 – p. 46 in old French pdf