Job: A Commentary Style Study Part 3

The story of Job is a profound and very unique story. Let's look at the story through the Lense of ancient material concerning Job and his life.

Welcome to Job: A Commentary Style Study Part 3

If you have followed along in my Job study part 1, you will have found that the book of Job consists of cycles in the way it was written and put together in our canon. In part 2, we did an exegesis study of the book, following the story and poetry narrative by simply allowing connecting scripture references to guide our thought processes.

In this final part 3, we are going to expand our study beyond the traditionally used Masoretic Hebrew translation of the canonized Job and add some early translations and commentary available to us concerning the story of Job. Doing this is not meant in any way to degrade the canonical text, but rather just meant to give us a broader perspective of how some of the earliest teachers and writers wrestled with the story, sometimes even adding details for clarification to their particular audience of the day.

Additional Early Manuscripts on the Story of Job

To my knowledge thus far in my journey of studying Job, there are 4 primary sources that are worth looking at, when it comes to early translations and added commentary style material relating to the story.

1. Rabbinic Literature - Targums of Job
2. Dead Sea - Targums of Job
3. The Testament of Job
4. Septuagint Translation of the Book of Job.

Rabbinic Literature Targums of Job

Manuscripts known as the targums of Job exist both from rabbinic traditions and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most people would classify these targums as para biblical or rewritten Bible, since they add information to the biblical narrative and edit it. Below are some representative examples of Rabbinic Targums of Job easily comparable to the canonical hyperlinked reference.

1. Clarifying that Job was a gentile (Tg. Job 1:8).

Then the Lord said to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is no one like him in all the land of the gentiles—a blameless and upright man, who fears from before the Lord and turns aside from evil?”

2. Noting that Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was Job’s wife (Tg. Job 2:9).

His wife, Dinah said to him: “Are you still holding fast to your integrity? Bless the Memra of the Lord and die.”

Compare this to Testament of Job (chapter 1), in which she is his second wife.

On the day Job fell ill and was about to pass away he called his 7 sons and 3 daughters and told them: my children, stand around me, so that I will tell you what the Lord has done concerning me. I am your father Job, and however much has happened to me, I have endured all. You are my chosen children; you are honorably the seed of your father Job. I am from the seed of Esau, brother of Naor. Your mother is Dinah, from whom you are born. My first wife passed away with her children through a bitter death. Listen my children and I will tell you what happened to me.

3. Depicting Satan as approaching God during an annual time of judgment (Tg. Job 1:6; 2:1)

And it happened on the day of judgment at the beginning of the year that the sons of the angels came to stand in judgment before the Lord, and Satan also came in their midst to stand in judgment before the Lord.
Now on the day of the great judgment, the day of the remission of offences, bands of angels came to stand in judgment before the Lord. Satan also came in their midst to stand in judgment before the Lord.

4. Referring to the prophets and the destruction of the Sanctuary (Tg. Job 3:1-5)

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. And Job spoke out and said: “Perish the day on which I was born and—the angel who registered the conception—the night that said: ‘A man has been created.’ May that day be darkness; may God from above not seek it and may the morning light not shine upon it. May darkness and the shadow of death stain it; may cloud rest upon it; may they terrify it like the bitter things of the day, the grief which troubled Jeremiah at the destruction of the Sanctuary and Jonah when he was thrown into the sea of Tarshish.

5. In Job 42:6, instead of despising himself, repenting in dust and ashes, he despises his wealth and is comforted (same root as “repent”) concerning his sons who are dust and ashes (Tg Job 42:6).

"Because of this I have loathed my wealth and I am comforted concerning my sons, who are dust and ashes.”

Other additions are very similar to themes in the New Testament and Pseudepigrapha from around the first century AD. Below are 4 examples.
1. Judgment and Gehenna (Tg. Job 3:17, 38:23)

There the wicked who do penance cease from the wrath of Gehenna, and there the disciples find rest whose strength has been spent in the Law.
The snow which I have reserved for the time of trouble in Gehenna, and the hail for the day of the war of Pharaoh and the fight of the Egyptians.

2. Resurrection (Tg. Job 11:17, 14:14)

And when your days have cleared away your body which has moldered in the earth will rise; the obscurity of (its) darkness will be like the morning.
If a wicked man dies, is it possible that he can live (again)? If this were the case all the days of my service, I would wait until the transformations of my life would come.

3. The future kingdom of God (Tg. Job 36:7)

He will not withhold his eyes from the just, but he will make them sit upon the throne of his kingdom with established kings, and he builds them up for ever and they are exalted.

4. New wine bursting wineskins (Tg. Job 32:19)

Behold my belly is like new wine that is not opened; like flasks, small flasks, new wineskins, it is split.

Dead Sea Targum of Job

Two versions of Aramaic translations of Job were found in separate caves near Qumran. Cave 11 and Cave 4. Both of these closely resemble the canonical Hebrew text of Job. The more substantial of the two, cave 11, covers about 15 percent of the text of Job (Job 17:14–42:11). The fragments from Cave 4 are very limited, covering only Job 3:5–9 and 4:16–5:4. These are among the earliest Aramaic targums in existence. In the various forms of Dead Sea Scrolls notation, these can be referred to as: 11Q Targum Job and 4Q Targum Job.

Additions, Possible Edits, and Relationship to Rabbinic Targums

In the Cave 11 version, Job does not “repent” in dust and ashes as in the canonized Masoretic Text (the traditional Hebrew Bible), but rather, he falls to pieces and becomes dust and ashes, apparently innocent. It also appears to preserve a short ending to the book at Job 42:12, stopping abruptly at the restoration of Job’s wealth. Elihu’s speeches in chapter 27–32 are included, which some had previously presumed were later additions. Because these targums from the Dead Sea Scrolls closely reflect the Hebrew original, they are valuable in providing insights into the Aramaic of that time period.

The differences between Targum Job from Rabbinic literature and Targum Job from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that they are two different versions. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ version is much closer to the canonized Masoretic Hebrew and may represent the earliest compilation of Job (with a shorter ending) entirely. It is possible that the Rabbinic version of Targum Job is an edited version (perhaps over a long period of time) of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ version, but this is very difficult to determine; the two versions are certainly distinct in the extant copies.

Testament of Job

Just like the Testament of the Patriarchs, The Testament of Job, is a pseudepigraphal text which portrays Job telling his life story in a farewell address to his children as his death drew near. The text provides purported details about Job not found in the biblical account.

In this testament, he tells them that he is of the generation of Abraham, a descendant of Esau, and was known as "Jobab," (Genesis 36:33-34 compare Septuagint Job 42:17) a rich ruler of the land of Uz, before God changed his name to "Job" because of his martyrdom. His second wife, their mother, was Dinah, the daughter of Jacob.

An Overview of The Testament of Job Narrative

Like Abraham, Job changed from idolatry to worshipping the true God, maker of heaven and earth. The text treats Job’s suffering as a forewarned and willingly accepted consequence of his destruction of a temple of Satan. He was told by the archangel of God to prepare for a life-long battle with Satan, but at the same time he had been promised lasting renown as a great spiritual athlete and a crown of amaranth in the world to come, after the resurrection. "I shall from love of God endure until the end," Job said, and received from the angel the seal of life.

Chapters 1–27 speaks of Job's conflict with Satan. These chapters review Job’s great deeds and his life before the attacks, and catalogue his hospitality, charity, wealth, and piety as well as his astonishing losses and afflictions. Of the 130,000 sheep he owned he separated 7,000 for the clothing of orphans, widows, poor, and sick. 800 dogs watched his sheep (compare Job 30:1), and 200 his house. Of his 9,000 camels he caused 3,000 to work for the poor, and he sent out ships laden with goods for the feeble, sick, and unfortunate. Of the 130,000 (340,000, Mai's text) wild asses in his possession, he set 500 aside, and the offspring and all the proceeds from these were given to the needy.

The four doors of his house were opened to the poor, who came from all parts of the country to enjoy his hospitality. Thirty tables loaded with all kinds of food were set for the strangers, twelve of them for widows, and none were turned away hungry. Of his 3,500 yokes of oxen, 500 were for the use of the poor. He employed fifty bakeries for the bread of the poor and assigned special slaves to serve them at the tables. Some poor persons were hired for that purpose, so that they might support themselves, and he likewise released many poor from their indebtedness.

The milk of his cows and ewes flowed in such plenty that by-passers were invited to take a share (compare Job 29:6), and the servants that distributed the meat among the widows and the poor were so overburdened with their task that they broke out into complaints (compare Job 31:31). At the table slaves played on harps and on other musical instruments, and he himself took the cithara, intoning a song of thanksgiving and praise to God. After each feast held by his children in turn, to atone for any possible offenses committed by them through pride, he not only offered sacrifices (compare Job 1:5) but also gave gifts of charity to the poor.

Unlike the story of Job in the biblical canon, in this text, Job confronts Satan directly. Job outlasts him like a champion wrestler and Satan slinks away, ashamed. Job uses his experience to exhort his children to patience, declaring that “patience is better than anything” (T. Job 27:7)

Chapters 28-38 relay a series of debates with his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who like Job, were kings, and had come with their bodyguards to see him, and were dumfounded at finding Job, in such a state. Eliphaz offered a song of lamentation, in which all joined, recalling all Job's former splendor, each segment ending with the refrain "Whither has thy glory gone?" Job in his reply pointed to "the splendor and glory that will be mine at the right hand of the Savior in heaven among the Holy Ones in the imperishable world. Kings perish and their glory vanishes like the shadow in a mirror, but God's kingdom lasts forever, and its glory is in the chariot of my Father".
This dialogue with his three friends demonstrates that Job’s heart is fixed on heavenly things, not his earthly losses.

Chapters 39–44 cover the death Job’s first wife, judgment on Elihu, who in the Testament is cast as an evil King, Job's restoration. The character of Job’s first wife, named Sitis (or Sitidos) id greatly developed in Testament of Job (but unnamed in the biblical account). It also describes her tragic death as she mourned the loss of her children and was oppressed by Satan.

Chapter 45:1-3 reads Job's final exhortation to his children: “Do not forget the Lord. Do good to the poor. Do not overlook the helpless. Do not take for yourselves foreign wives” (T. Job 45:1–3).

Chapters 46–50 feature the division of the inheritance. One brief sentence mentions that his seven sons received his earthly estate (T. Job 46:1). The rest of the section describes the heavenly rewards given to his three daughters, an even greater inheritance than the sons received. As his soul ascends to heaven on a chariot, his body is left for burial and he is mourned by the poor, the orphans, the widows and all the helpless people whom Job had blessed in his life (T. Job 51–53).

Authorship and Date
Testament of Job was likely written by a Hellenistic Jew in Egypt. This is supported by the description of Job as “the king of all Egypt”. (Job 28:7). Some scholars suggest that aspects of the Testament reflect practices similar to the Therapeutae, a Jewish sect in Egypt mentioned by Philo in his writing "On the Contemplative Life".
Though the date of composition of this testament is uncertain, Collins suggests a date between 100 BC and AD 150.

Textual History
The Testament of Job was originally written in Greek and shows signs of influence from the Septuagint. The earliest manuscripts still available include:
• One fragmentary Coptic manuscript (fifth century AD)
• Four Greek manuscripts (eleventh–sixteenth century AD)
• Three Old Church Slavonic manuscripts

Themes in the Testament of Job
Modern interpretations of the story of Job and the lessons to be gleaned from his life remain diverse, but A number of themes in this Testament fit well for an audience who seek to walk in obedience to Gods commanded mission for His people. below are some of the ones that stand out the most.
1. Hospitality (T. Job 9:7–10:7)
2. Enduring the loss of wealth (T. Job 16, 20, 31–32)
3. The rejection of idolatry (T. Job 2:1–5:3)
4. Care for the needy (T. Job 53:1–8).
The Testament of Job is further characterized by the presence and importance of a heavenly realm and the prominent, sympathetic, and often positive role women play.

Septuagint Translation of the Book of Job

the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Job is one-sixth shorter than the Hebrew text (and offering an alternative ending and rearranged and imported material). Even though some characterize the LXX as an epitome of the longer Hebrew version, the Greek translation reflects an ancient translator’s struggle to make sense of some of the difficult Hebrew. Some details in the LXX (dating 3rd century BC) will neither be found in the biblical book of Job, nor in the targums, but can be found in the Testament of Job. this has led some to believe that the LXX may have had some influence on the scripting of the testament of Job (dating between 100 BC to 100 AD).

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