Doctrinal Matters: Bible Interpretation
When Did Job Live?
When Did Job Live?
Neither the book of Job nor any other book of the Bible indicates forthrightly when God’s servant Job lived upon the Earth. Furthermore, no biblical genealogies with chronological information, such as that found in Genesis 5 and 11, help in approximating the century in which Job lived. Nevertheless, various clues within the book of Job seem to indicate Job lived sometime after the Flood, but long before the time of Moses.
First, Job’s postdiluvian status seems apparent from a question Eliphaz raised in his final speech. While accusing Job of wickedness, Eliphaz asked: “Will you keep to the old way which wicked men have trod, who were cut down before their time, whose foundations were swept away by a flood?” (Job 22:16, emp. added). As Wayne Jackson noted: “That this is a reference to the Flood of Noah’s day is almost universally conceded by scholars” (1983, p. 58).
Second, that Job was a patriarch who lived prior to the time of Moses, and probably closer to the time of Abraham, seems evident from the following facts:
Like other patriarchs of old (Genesis 8:20; 12:7-8; 31:54), Job, as the head of his family, offered up sacrifices to God (Job 1:5; cf. 42:8). In the book of Job, there is no mention of the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle, the temple, the Law of Moses, etc.
Unlike Israelite law, where the family inheritance was passed on to daughters only in the absence of sons (Numbers 27:1-11; 36:1-13), Job gave his daughters “an inheritance among their brothers” (Job 42:15).
Job’s material wealth was measured, not in money, but in the amount of livestock he owned (Job 1:3; 42:12), which is more characteristic of patriarchal times.
Finally, that Job lived long before the time of Moses seems evident by the fact that the longevity of his life is more comparable to the long lives of the patriarchs who lived around 2200 B.C. The book of Job reveals that Job lived long enough to marry, become “the greatest of all the men of the east” (1:3), and then witness his first 10 children reach at least the age of accountability (1:5), and probably much greater ages (cf. 1:13,18). Then, after suffering greatly, losing all of his children and his material wealth, God blessed Job with 10 more children and twice as much wealth (42:10-13). The book of Job then concludes: “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (42:10-17, emp. added). Thus, it would appear that Job lived well into his 200s or beyond. Interestingly, the Septuagint testifies that Job died at the age of 240—an age more comparable to the ancestors of Abraham (e.g., Serug, Abraham’s great-grandfather lived to be 230—Genesis 11:22-23).
Jackson, Wayne (1983), The Book of Job (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications).