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ably and satisfactorily written, especially by Bishop Louth", Archbishop Magee ", Dr. Hales, "and Mr. Good. Archbishop Magee observes" As to the place of Job's residence, there seems to be little doubt; commentators are mostly agreed in fixing on Idumea, a part of Arabia Petræa. Kennicott considers Bishop Louth as having completely proved this point. Corducus had long before maintained the same opinion ; and Dathe and the German commentators give it their support. The position of the land of Uz, (Lam. iv. 21) the residence of Job, and the several places named as the habitations of his friends, seem to ascertain the point. • Children of the east,' also, appears to be a denomination applicable to the inhabitants of that region, and is even pronounced by Dathe to have been appropriate.”
How far the appellation of the land of Uz' extended, we do not know ; but farther, probably, than what was afterwards properly called Idumea. Jeremiah's expression is, “ O daughter of Edom, that dwelleth in the land of Uz !" Perhaps some regions more to the east or northeast, were anciently included in the land of Uz. I am disposed to think so, because, in a remarkable passage of the Book of Job, the river Jordan seems to be referred to as a large river, perhaps the largest with which Job was familiarly acquainted a.
To ascertain the era when the Book of Job was written, great pains have been taken by many able and learned writers, and their labours have been rewarded with remarkable success.
Mr. Good pronounces its author to have been “a Hebrew by birth and native language, and an Arabian by long residence and local study.” He adds, “there is intrinsic evidence, that as a Hebrew he must have flourished and have written the work antecedently to the Egyptian exody. The annals of the world do not present to us a single nation so completely wrapped up in their own history as the Hebrews. Throughout every book, both in the Old and New Testament, in which it could possibly be adverted to, the eye of the writer turns to different parts of it, and dwells upon it with inextinguishable fondness The call of Abraham, the bondage and miracles in Egypt, the journeying through the wilderness, the delivery of the Law, the passage of the Red Sea and of Jordan, &c. &c., “ are perpetually brought before us, as ornaments and illustrations of the subject discussed. To none of these, however, does the Book of Job make the smallest reference.” He observes, moreover, that this poem “ is occasionally quoted and copied by almost every Hebrew writer, who had an opportunity of referring to it, from the age of Moses to that of Malachi ; especially by the Psalmist, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel-leading us by a collateral, though not quite so direct, a train of evidence, to a similar conclusion as to its high origin and antiquity.”
a Prælectiones. b Appendix to his Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement, &c. e Magee, vol. ii. 179. d hap. xl. 23. Comp. Jeremiah xxv. 20, 21.
These circumstances have led Mr. Good to adopt the conjecture of those who suppose the Book of Job to be a production of Moses ; that he composed it long before he wrote the Pentateuch, when, as an exile in Arabia, he served his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian ; that he there learned the particulars of Job's trial, whom Mr. Good supposes to have been a descendant of Esau. Professor Gognet, and the late Bishop Horsley, seem also to have been of this opinion. “A great difficulty,"
observes Archbishop Magee, “ hangs upon the hypothesis, that Moses was the author of this book, namely, that as he must have intended it for the Israelites, it is scarcely possible to conceive, although relating an Idumean history, he should not have introduced something referring to the particular state and circumstances of the people for whose use it was destined ; of which no trace whatever appears in the work.” And it is equally incredible, with respect to the characters introduced in the Book of Job, that, supposing them to be worshippers of Elohim, descended from Abraham, especially considering the theological character of the work, there should be no allusion in their conversations to the call of Abraham, or to circumcision, a religious rite which all the tribes descended from Abraham retained.
The argument which Kennicott and Mr. Good have advanced, to prove Moses to be the author of this book, “similiarity of style,' cannot be thought clear and decisive, when so good a judge as Bishop Lowth drew an opposite conclusion from what he conceived to be the material difference between the style of Job and the poetic style of Moses. And though Mr. Good thinks he perceives an • identity of manner' where the two works treat of creation, &c. ; yet Mr. Peters remarks, that “ the manner in which the creation, the fall, the deluge, and other parts of ancient history, are treated in the Book of Job, is widely different from that in which they aré spoken of in the books of Moses.” Arguments of this class must necessarily be very indecisive ; and indeed, should we assume the fact, that the Pentateuch and the Book of Job were the productions of different authors, we should still expect to find soine similiarity, and what some might call identity of manner,' in works which, comparatively speaking, ascend so near each other in remote antiquity, far above all other writings, and which possess, besides, one common source of divine inspiration.
“If Moses, therefore, as is probable,” Archbishop Magee observes," was the person who enrolled 'the Book of Job in the Jewish canon, there is sufficient ground for the conclusion; that it is not the production of Moses, but of some earlier age ; and it is the opinion of many distinguished commentators, that the poem is 'as ancient as its subject®, and that Job' was not only the hero, but the author of the work."?
What Mr. Good and others remark of the language in which the Book of Job is written, designating it as Hebrew slightly tinctured with an Arabian dialect, may well be supposed to answer to the character of the language spoken in Arabia in the earliest ages. It is the opinion of some of the first scholars, supported by very satisfactory arguments, that the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and other kindred dialects, were originally one and the same language. The language spoken by the fathers of mankind—the language of Noah and Shem; the language of Heber, the common stock, from whence the Hebrews, the Chaldeans, and the more ancient Arabians were descended. For Joktan, who first peopled Arabia, was the son of Heber, as was Peleg the progenitor in a direct line of Abraham. The language, therefore, in which the Book of Job is written, was probably the language spoken by the inhabitants of Arabia in his age, and differed as yet extremely little from the dialect of their ancestors".
a See Magee, vol. ii. 206, and Peters' Crit. Dis., p. 123–125.
b Michaelis observes, “ that one principal reason for our attributiog to the Book of Job, Chaldeac, Syriac, and Arabic expressions, may be the very great antiquity and uncommon sublimity of elevation which has occasioned a greater number of ataš as you sya, and expressions difficult to be understood, which commentators are constantly led to explain from these several languages ; not because the words strictly belong to them, but because there are more books, and better understood, in these languages than in Hebrew."-Mich. Not. et Epim. pp. 194, 195. See Magee, vol. ii. 194.
In pursuing the investigation, to determine at what period, before the age of Moses, the Book of Job was written, the same reasoning, which demonstrates its priority to the Exodus of the children of Israel, deduced from the total silence which it observes respecting the wonders of that great event, occurring so near the spot where the scene of the poem is laid, equally proves, as has been already intimated, that Job could not have been posterior to the call of Abraham, and the covenant which God made with him respecting ‘HIS SEED ;' at least, that if Job was contemporary with Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or posterior to them, he must have been of a different branch of the family of Shem, uninfluenced by this new dispensation. Because, if we suppose Job to have been descended from, or connected with the Father of the faithful, it seems impossible to imagine that his religious prospects would not have been in some measure affected by the Abrahamic covenant--an event which formed a new epocha in the history of the church, and, as it were, concentrated and gave a special direction to the religious hopes of believers in all subsequent ages. In the Book of Job, however, we have no allusion to this transaction, any more than to the Exodus, or to the law of Moses; we
Peters also remarks, (Crit. Dis., p. 143,) " there are expressions in this book of a stamp so ancient, that they are not to be met with in the Chaldeac, Syriac, or any other language at present known; and many which rarely occur elsewhere, and are difficult to be explained, are here to be found in their primitive and most simple forms." But of all others, as might well be supposed, the investigation of the Arabic language, though few of its ancient documents, beyond the time of Mohammed, have been preserved, has thrown great light upon many obscurities in this ancient work.--See the works of the two Schultens, Reiske, and Good.