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perhaps with Noah himself; whereas in the seventh generation, the standard of human life was reduced to about two hundred years; which was 'a shadow compared with the longevity of Noah and his sons.
There is also another passage, not noticed by Dr. Hales, which much corroborates this statement. Eliphaz, to gain credit to one of the traditions of the ancients, which he is going to repeat to Job, declares it to be
What wise men have delivered,
And no stranger passed among them.-Chap. xv. 18, 19. The word rendered the earth' may indeed be rendered • the land,' but with somewhat less probability. If we render “ the earth,' the reference will be to that generation of men who had not yet been settled in their respective portions of lands, but were holding in undivided possession all the earth which they could occupy, being the only family of human beings on its surface—"no stranger passed amongst them.” If the translation, the land,' be substituted, the reference will be then to the same generation—the fathers of those sages, with whom Eliphaz had conversed as the first settlers in the country. And as we know that it was in the days of Peleg that the earth was divided, it was then that Joktan, his brother, took
possession of Arabia, from whom, on account of his local situation, we may suppose Job to have been descended. At
a The only doubt respecting the accuracy of the deductions from this passage, is that wbich is rendered • former generation, is rather the first generation'-not the first generation of mankind, certainly, for their fathers are spoken of. The first generation must mean the first settlers in Arabia-Joktan and his family.' Whether these were the fathers or the grandfathers of the present race may not be quite certain; but the probability is, not more distant than the latter, from the freshness of the traditions which they quote ; not earlier, from the reflection on the curtailing of days,' which the present generation experienced.
the period, too, when each respective family had recently taken possession of their new settlements, their occupations would for some time prevent much intercourse between the nations- no stranger passed among them.' This state of things in the age of Job two hundred and seventy-seven years after that event was much altered, both for purposes of war and of commerce ; excursions had been made into each other's territories, and travellers passed by the way.'
It appears also, from Sir William Jones, that it must have been very nearly at the epocha here assigned to the trial of Job, that Zabianism, or the worshipping of the luminaries of heaven, began to make progress in Arabia: “ The people of Yemen,” he says, “ very soon fell into the common but fatal error of adoring the sun and the firmament ; for even the third in descent from Joktan, who was consequently as old as Nahor, took the sirname of Abdu-Shams, or servant of the sun;' and his family, we are assured, paid particular honours to that luminaryo.” It was in these circumstances, that Job protests his innocence of ever having been betrayed into this rising corruption of the times.
If I had looked on the light when it shone forth,
For I should have denied El from above. And if it is clear, as many authors suppose, that Chimah and Chesil, in chap. ix. 9, and xxxviii. 31, 32, denote the constellations Taurus and Scorpio, and that they are mentioned as the then cardinal constellations of Spring and Autumn, it is pointed out by Dr. Hales, and others, that by astronomical calculation respecting the precession of the equinoxes, about the same age, must be ascribed to the trial of Job.
a Asiatic Researches.
Whether the interpretation of these passages, on which this last argument rests, be quite clear or not, there seems abundant evidence to acquiesce in the date assigned by Dr. Hales: “B.C. 2337 ; or, eight hundred and eighteen years after the deluge; one hundred and eighty-four years before the birth of Abraham ; four hundred and seventyfour years before the settlement of Jacob's family in Egypt, and six hundred and eighty-nine years before their exode, or departure from thence.”
Such is the date of the trial: it will be seen, however, as we enter upon this singular piece of antiquity, that considerable portions of the former part of the work are professedly * sayings,' or 'parables,'handed down by tradition from the times of their fathers, and their fathers' fathers, which brings us near to the times of Noah and his sons.
We may therefore use the very appropriate language of Mr. Good, even with somewhat more emphasis than himself, on his hypothesis of the date of the Book of Job, that it is " A DEPOSITORY OF PATRIARCHAL RELIGION, the best and fullest depository in the world,”—“ we obtain a clear and decisive answer to the questions which have so often been proposed-What is the ultimate intention of the Book of Job? And for what purpose is it introduced into the Hebrew and Christian canons ?” -“ For the
purpose of making those canons complete, by uniting as full an account as is necessary of the dispensation of the patriarchs, with the two dispensations by which it was progressively succeeded.” “ The Book of Job is that very book which gives completion to the Bible, by adding the dispensation of the earliest ages to that of the law, and of
& Chron. vol. ii. p. 58.
the gospel.” With those persons, therefore, who would read the books of the Sacred Scripture in chronological order, a practice attended with very great advantage, the perusal of the Book of Job should follow the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis, as belonging to the patriarchal times, previous to that new era in the church of God, which commenced with the call of Abraham
Esteeming what has been mentioned as the ultimate object of the enrolling of this book in the canon of Scripture, we may learn its more immediate object from the Apostle James“ Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” St. James had said, in general, that we must “ take the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and of patience.” He particularizes the case of Job, because his sufferings were very great: we chiefly know him from his trials; and because in this scripture we learn, more at length than in any other, that the Lord has always an end and wise design in the trials and afflictions of his servants, however extraordinary and unaccountable they may at the time appear; and that when this end of the Lord' is seen, it will be found, as we learn from the case of Job, that, however grievous for the present the affliction may be, we shall be compelled to count them happy that endure.' That same chastening Father, whose hand had seemed so heavy, and his chidings, perhaps, so severe and cruel, will be demonstrated, in the end, to have been“ very pitiful and of tender mercy" towards us in all his dealings with us.
a According to Dr. Hales's Chronology, Job died forty-four years before the birth of Abraham, who entered Canaan a little more than a hundred years after Job's death.
This is the great moral of the story of Job. In so early
did the wisdom of God see fit to read this lesson to his church: for it seems to hold good under every dispensation, under the patriarchal as well as the gospel, that through much tribulation' we may be called to “enter into the kingdom of God, not, indeed, as a thing of course, or of necessity, but still as often seen to be fit and conducive to good, in the manifold wisdom of God, in making us partakers of His holiness.
This lesson, so requisite to be known by the church in all ages, and somewhat hard to be learned, was taught at this very early period. And though the dispensations of the covenant of grace have varied, and, in some things, that which was glorious once has now no glory, by reason of that which excelleth ; yet the instructions to be learned from the patience of Job;' and from the end of the Lord,' as seen in his trial, are as useful and as much needed as ever. Nothing since revealed has superseded these instructions. We live under the same Providence, it is the same chastening Father ; there is the same need for correction unto righteousness. The same trial of faith now worketh patience, and there is the same blessing to “ the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him."
Some vulgar notions, indeed, are still current about · Job, the most patient man.' But we do not, in fact, find Job, in all respects, a model of patience, in the common acceptation of the term. The word, however, strictly signifies persevering continuance,' or 'constancy,' in pursuit of, or waiting for, an object, rather than the bearing of trouble with an equal, undisturbed mind. It is not what affliction finds in the mind, but what it works or produces. “ Tribulation worketh patience."