Sivut kuvina

on circumstances and events unconnected with the main design of the parable, would greatly impair if not destroy its effect. Accordingly we find all parables brief and unencumbered with details ; in both which respects they are totally unlike the Book of Job. This book, then, cannot be a parable. Is it an allegory? No doubt an allegory may be far more extended than a parable; and in a lengthened allegory, like the Pilgrim's Progress, a detailed statement of names, places, etc., would not be inappropriate, because they might be introduced with special reference to the design of the work, and might all have an important bearing upon it. But where within the compass of the sacred volume, shall we find an extended allegory or fictitious narrative, unless this be one? To suppose the Book of Job an allegory is, then, opposed to the usage of the sacred writers; and the truth of the hypothesis cannot be admitted without proof. Besides, Job cannot possibly represent the Jewish people, according to the fancy of Garnett and Warburton ; for the whole mystery of his sufferings lies in their arising from no fault on his part; whereas those which befel the Jews are always represented to be the just desert and consequence of their national sins. Nor is there the slightest allusion in the whole book to the circumstances of the Jewish people during their exile or after their return. The reasons which have been assigned for regarding this book as entirely fictitious, are of very little weight. They are chiefly the interview between Jehovah and Satan in the prologue; the introduction of Jehovah as one of the speakers near the close of the poem; the highly figurative and poetic character of the composition, and the round and double numbers in the first and last chapters.

The interview between Jehovah and Satan with other angelic intelligences in the Conrt of Heaven is supposed to militate against the historical verity of the entire book. But it may be safely admitted that this interview is parabolical, and is designed to teach us the administration of Divine Providence in the government of the world, the existence and agency of good and evil angels, especially of Satan, the great adversary and accuser of the human race, and the

subjection of both to the control of the Almighty. Nor would this admission cast the least doubt on the substantial truth of the facts respecting Job himself, narrated in the book. A particular scene or passage in a'work may be parabolic in its nature without affecting the historical character of the remainder. The Bible abounds with representations of this sort. The prophetic visions of Isaiah, (vi: 1) of Ezekiel, (chap. i) of Paul, (2 Cor. ii: 24) and of John, (Rev. iv: 1—2) represent the proceedings of Providence with reference to our intellectual powers and modes of conception; and the vision of Micaiah, (1 Kings xxii: 19—23,) and that of Zechariah (ii: 13, iii : 1) furnish cases precisely parallel to this in every respect. Such visions or parabolic representations, introduced either from necessity or from some other cause, convey instruction just as truly and properly, as if they were exact copies of outward objects. The representation of Jehovah speaking out of the whirlwind, may be merely a strong and sublime effort of the author's imagination, by which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he terminates the controversy in the most masterly and dignified manner.

As to the poetic character of the work, this cannot be deemed a valid objection against the real existence of Job. It might be true that he lived and suffered in the manner recorded of him, and that such a discussion as is here related actually took place, though the speeches delivered on the occasion may have subsequently been put into their present poetic form by Job himself, or by some other per

Neither the historical nor the inspired verity of the book compels us to suppose, that the speeches of Job and his friends were originally uttered in the exact terms in which they are here recorded. But the substance of what was said, the ideas expressed by the different interlocutors during the protracted conference, are faithfully communicated under the garb of the sublimest poetry.* How much,


*“It is not necessary for the historical truth of the Book of Job, that its language should be a direct transcript of that actually employed by the different characters introduced into it; for in such case we should scarcely have a single book of real history in the world. The Iliad, the

if any, of what was said may have been spoken precisely as here recorded, it would be impossible for us to determine, and of no use for us to know. It is enough that, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the discussion between Job and his friends has been recorded in the present shape, as best adapted to accomplish the moral purposes for which the book was written.

It has been further alleged, that the round and double numbers which occur in the book, give to the whole narrative an artificial character unfavorable to its historical verity. But this is a circumstance which not uncommonly occurs in historical statements, without impairing the truthfulness of those statements. When it is said that the possessions of Job were exactly doubled, it is not necessary to suppose that this was in every respect literally true. The same remark applies to the round numbers. Suppose it were affirmed, that in a certain battle three thousand men were killed, should we infer, because a round number was given, that no persons whatever had been killed, or that no battle had been fought? Certainly not. Would it have been more satisfactory, or confirmatory of the truth of the main facts, if it had been stated with specific and minute accuracy that two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight were killed? Why should we apply more strict and rigid rules to the interpretation of the Bible, in order to disprove the historical character of any portion of it, than we do to other books ? It has been maintained, we are aware, by some, that every thing took place precisely as here related, and that the discourses of Job, of his friends, and of Jehovah, were delivered exactly in the form and words in which they are here expressed. But few in the present day, we apprehend, will be found to advocate this extreme and,

Shah Nameh, and the Lusiad, must at once drop all pretensions to such a description; and even the pages of Sallust and Cæsar, of Rollin and Hume, must stand upon very questionable authority.

It is enough that the real sentiment be given, and the general style copied; and this, in truth, is all that is aimed at, not only in our best reports of parliamentary speeches, but, in many instances, (which indeed is much more to the purpose,) by the writers of the New Testament, in their quotations from the old.-J. M. Good's TRANSLATION OF JOB; INTRODUCTION, PAGE 17.

as it seems to us, improbable view. “I hold,” says Luther, " that the Book of Job is a history, in a poetic form, of what happened to a person, but not in such words as those in which it is written."

With regard to the country of Job, or the scene in which the poem is laid, there has been a diversity of opinion among Biblical scholars. Some suppose it to have been the valley of Guta, near Damascus. But on this supposition the introduction of the book is at variance with the book itself; for here we meet with no Syrian, but only with Arabian and Egyptian scenes. Others regard Idumea, in Arabia Petræa, as the residence of Job. But there are two passages in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah which conflict with this opinion. In Lam. iv: 21, we read : “Rejoice and be glad, o daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.” At first view this passage would seem to indicate that Uz was a part of Edom. But a more careful examination of it shows that it was a distinct country, at that time in possession of the Idumeans. This is confirmed by Jer. Ixv: 20, in which the lands of Uz and of Edom are mention d as separate and distinct. The most probable opinion is, that Uz was situated in the northern part of Arabia Deserta, between Palestine and Idumea on the west, and the Euphrates, or Babylonia on the east. Ptolemy makes mention of a tribe in this region called Aloirac or Avdi

In the Septuagint Uz is rendered Avoitus, and in the Apocryphal Supplement to the Septuagint, it is said of Job, that “he dwelt in the land of Ausitis, on the confines of Idumea and Arabia.” This country is more entitled to the appellation of the East than Idumea, and would be nearer the Chaldeans and Sabæans, by whose incursions the property of Job is said to have been taken or destroyed.

The period in which Job lived is a different and distinct question from that of the composition of the book which bears his name, though the two have been often confounded. They may or may not synchronize. Even those critics who place the date of the book at a very late period of the Jewish state, acquiesce in the prevalent opinion as to the great antiquity of the age of Job. The current of internal evi

[ocr errors]

dence sets strongly in favor of the hypothesis, that the venerable sufferer lived at a very remote period. His great longevity clearly places him in the patriarchal times. He survived his afflictions one hundred and forty years, and was probably more than fifty years old when they occurred. The religion of Job is precisely of the same type with that which prevailed in the time of Abraham, and anterior to the institution of the Mosaic ritual. In its character it is strictly patriarchal,—a religion of sacrifices, but without any official priesthood. Job performed the functions of the priestly office in his own family, according to primitive usage. The only species of false worship mentioned in the poem is Sabianism, or the worship of the heavenly bodies, --the most ancient form of idolatry recorded in the annals of the human race.-(See chap. xxxi: 26-28.) The Satan also permitted by Divine wisdom to be the instrument of Job's affliction, belongs, as appears from the whole narrative, to the simple theology of patriarchal times, and not to the later period of the Hebrew commonwealth, as the advocates for the modern origin of the book have alleged. The simplicity of life, of manners and customs, moreover, which we find exhibited in the book, corresponds to that of the patriarchal age. And finally, the absence of all allusion to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and to the series of wonders which preceded and followed that event; to the revelations made to the Hebrew nation in the desert, and their journey to Canaan; or to the Mosaic law, rites and ceremonies, leads to the belief, that the events described in this book could not have taken place subsequently to the time of Moses; while the mention of names which occur among the descendants of Nahor, Keturah, Ishmael and Esau, renders it probable, that Job lived not more than three or four generations later than Abraham.

Who was the author of this book? Where and in what age did he live? These are questions which have greatly perplexed the learned, and which, with the limited information we possess, will never, perhaps, be answered in a manner entirely satisfactory. With regard to the time of its composition, critics have assigned periods differing not

« EdellinenJatka »