Introduction to Job

Why study Job?

It's in the Bible!  II Timothy 3:16-17

Many people associate the book of Job with grief and hardship. People who don't know much about the bible understand that Job dealt with a tough situation. People associate Job with hardship the way they associate Judas with betrayal.

Many people who have at least some bible knowledge think of grief and hardship when they think of Job. This year our annual theme is going back to the basics. If we think of the aspect of Job that deals with grief and suffering, we are aware that these are things every person deals with. This is a common ground we share with people in the world who we are trying to reach, teach and influence.

You don't have to wait until you are "over the hill" to experience grief and suffering. What we define as "suffering" is different for each of us, and it changes as we grow older as well. As we grow older, stronger in our Christian walk, and wiser, we continue to experience suffering. It does not leave us while we are in this life. Like taxes, we simply can't be rid of it.

However ...

Although people quickly associate the book of Job with grief and suffering, these things are not what the book is primarily about. It obviously contains grief and suffering, but the theme is something else entirely. So what could this be?

As we progress through the book and the class we should come to the realization of some themes other than grief or suffering. I have my own idea of what the book is primarily about so I don't want to influence anyone's thinking so early on as to what I think it is.

Confirmation bias

About the book of Job

The land of Uz
Lamentations 4:21
Probably somewhere in the Edomites' land
When was it written
Widely varying estimates, many between 1800 and 2000 B.C.

When did the events in the book occur?

Possibly around the time Abraham was alive
Job carries out priestly duties—Job 1:5
Before the law was given to Israelites
See genealogy chart for more details

Job's wealth

7,000 sheep

Sheep produce wool, milk, meat, cheese
Feta cheese and ricotta cheese are from sheep's milk
How much do sheep eat?
Using a 130lb. ewe as our baseline each sheep would need between 3 and 3.5 lbs of food per day
Alfalfa or clover hay, or grass with mixed hay
24,500 lbs of food per day
100 sheep need 30 to 100 acres depending on grazing availability
2100 acres = 3.28 square miles
7000 acres = 10.93 square miles

3,000 camels

Camels provide milk, meat, hair for textiles, human transportation, bearing loads, materials for tents, clothing, bedding, and accessories as well as yarn
3,000 camels need 1500 acres or 2.34 square miles
Camels eat up to 9lbs of vegetables per day
27,000 lbs of food per day

500 yoke of oxen

Likely means 1,000 oxen, 2 per yoke typically
A Virgate is the amount of land able to be plowed by a pair of oxen in a plowing season. This is equivalent to 30 acres
23 square miles could be plowed by this many oxen per season
Oxen eat up to 30 lbs of food per day
30,000 lbs of food per day

500 female donkeys

Donkeys guard sheep, assist in breaking young calves, provide recreational riding, are able to carry heavy loads, and are a good companion animal.
Donkeys eat up to 5% of their body weight in food daily
A typical weight for a donkey is 400 to 500 lbs
16 lbs of food per day
8,000 lbs of food per day
Donkeys don't need as much space to themselves as they are more social
One-third of a square mile


Very many!


7 sons, 3 daughters

Job Chapter 3

In verses 3 through 10 Job curses his day of birth. Job does this in a number of ways but the bottom line is that he wants the day to be forgotten, removed from history and the calendar.

Verse 8

Possibly referring to people who perform rituals or ceremonies with elements we would recognize as witchcraft. I don't believe Job is literally asking for this type of person to actually carry this thing out. It may be that his frustration and utter devastation is influencing him to use language extreme in severity to convey his desire to have never been born. It could be similar to someone saying the phrase "I would do anything for…" but it ends up not being the literal case.

Verses 11-19

Why wasn't I given the luxury of dying at birth?
What's the benefit of having that happen?
Compare to 3:26—Job has no rest
Job would be around people who accomplished impressive things
3:17—There is no more trouble from the wicked, no tasks to complete, slaves are free


Job sees the world as a whole and can't help but wonder why people in misery are burdened with life while the release of death eludes them.


To a person in misery, death is better than any treasure

Point to Consider

Do we ever wonder why a fabulously wealthy person who "had it all" would commit suicide? Do we think they are crazy or selfish? Are we inclined to say things like "I would never take my life if I had their money" or "How bad could it have possibly been?" Remember Robin Williams.


I have no rest; what I fear has happened.
Imagine everything you have insurance for going away.
Most of what we fear does not happen in our lives. But for Job, it did.
Chapter 3 is not the ramblings of a crazy person. Job is utterly crushed and speaking out of the bitterness of his misery. He does not blame God.

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