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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Job 1

Verses 1-22

Job 1:1 . The land of Uz. Moses is always correct in calling countries after the name of the first possessor. Uz was in the east beyond Jordan, and south of mount Hermon. It fell to the lot of the half tribe of Manasseh, but was partly possessed by the children of Esau. Jeremiah says, “Rejoice, oh daughter of Edom, thou that dwellest in the land of Uz.” This has given rise to what is unproved, that Job is the Jobab of Esau’s race. In keeping to the text of Moses we are safe, that Job was the son of Uz, the son of Nahor. Genesis 22:21. This country fell under the empire of Zenobia, whose capital was Tadmor, afterwards called Palmyra. 1 Kings 9:18. Whose name was Job. In all the editions of the Septuagint, except the complute, there is the following account of this patriarch, which has much the appearance of probability. “He is signified in the Syriac to have dwelt in the land of Uz, upon the confines of Edom and Arabia. His name before was Jobab. He had an Arabian woman for his wife, and a son whose name was Ennon. His father’s name was Zare, or Zarethy, a descendant of the sons of Esau. His mother’s name was Bossorrao: hence he was the fifth from Abraham.” One that feared God. אלהים Elohim, reverens que Numinis, as Schultens reads. This name occurring here, as in Genesis 1:1, is an indication that Moses really did transcribe the book of Job, for שׁדי Shaddai, the Almighty, is the name occurring twenty times in this book.

Job 1:5 . When the days of feasting were gone about; by which it appears that those weekly feasts were celebrated at the festival seasons. The Jews ate unleavened bread at the passover for seven days, and rejoiced at the feast of tabernacles for the like number of days. Nuptial feasts comprised a week. Judges 14:12. It may be my sons have sinned, and cursed God; by profane songs, and bacchanalian speeches. Job therefore offered seven victims, accompanied with other illustrations, without which they could not appear in the religious assembly of their father. Exo 19:10 . 1 Samuel 16:5.

Job 1:6 . There was a day, a sabbath or other festival day, when the sons of God, the sons of great and good men assembled for religious worship. This phrase is purely patriarchal, and designates the superior antiquity of the book of Job. It equally designates the public worship which was maintained by the holy patriarchs. And Satan, the adversary, the accuser, came also. The Arabians, says Schultens, call the serpent Satan, because he elevated his head. By the sons of God many understand the holy angels, assembled in convocation before the Messiah, the Eternal WORD and WISDOM of God. Schultens refers this to the angels, Genesis 28:12.

Job 1:15 . The Sabeans, inhabiting a country south-east of Uz. Among the Greeks, Zeus Sabazius was the name of the Most High God, agreeing, no doubt, with the Hebrew phrase, “The Lord of sabbaoth.” The father of the Sabeans, after the manner of all the tribes that populated the earth, had claimed divine descent, as the offspring of God. They were a race of great strength and stature. Isaiah 45:14. As the worship of the Sabeans overspread the earth, we may here notice its characters. They worshipped fire, and declared their altars to be the gods. They worshipped the hosts of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars. This worship had its origin in Chaldea, and is reckoned the most refined species of idolatry. It is severely condemned by Job 31:26; Job 31:28. “If I beheld the sun when it shined, and the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this were an iniquity punishable by the Judge.” See on Deuteronomy 4:19. Sabianism prevailed not only among all the race of Shem and of Ham, and had cities and temples dedicated to the sun, as Heliopolis in Egypt; but down to the time of Jeremiah, it had a strong hold of the idolatrous Jew. See on Jeremiah 7:18.

Job 1:18 . Drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house. This last and severest stroke fell on the house where the sin of Epicurean pleasures began. The eldest brother should have been the guide of the younger branches of his family.


The name of Job comes down to us free from reprehension. His love and study of truth, piety, and justice are attested by the divine oracle. Euseb. præp. 7. This amazing and most instructive history opens with a description of the situation and prosperity of Job. His grand characteristic was piety, which attracted the notice of heaven more than all his other endowments. This is the poorest man’s comfort: he cannot be rich like Job, but he may be holy and happy, far preferable in the eyes of heaven to the glare of worldly pomp. Job served God on the broadest scale of patriarchal covenant: all his virtues as a judge, a master, and a man, were of the most distinguished kind. The riches of grace seem to encrease in his soul more than the abundance of wealth which crowded his gates.

God gave him the richest blessings of the covenant. Health and peace multiplied in his house, prosperity attended all his measures; his cattle and riches encreased beyond example in the history of man. His city flourished, and all the surrounding district had the highest appearance of opulence and industry.

But his piety was more than his wealth; and so remarkable, that it seemed to encrease with his riches. He was perfect and upright, and eschewed evil. He attended not the routine of feasts established by his sons; they being married, or placed in houses of their own, were not now immediately under their father’s controul; this good man, on the contrary, when their feasting was over, rose up early on the sabbath to sanctify them by sacrifices, and to bring them to repentance for their intemperance and imprecations. So the piety of a father may for a while avail for incorrigible children, but the day will soon come when God will no more be entreated.

We have next a view of the angelic ministry. All is order and harmony in the spiritual world. Angels receive their commissions, and render account of their success; but Satan also approached the skirt of the crowd. Thus it is in all our religious assemblies. Angels crowd the house of God; they listen while we pray, and take pleasure to hear the gospel preached. But Satan is in the throng, noting our faults that he may accuse us; let us therefore watch and pray.

As on a fine summer day when clouds collect at noon, when the thunders roar, and the rain descends to cool and refresh the earth, so Job’s prosperity was interrupted by a cloud in the meridian of life. In this assembly, Satan insinuated that Job was untried; that he served God for a temporal good, and that if his substance was resumed he would curse as other men. If Satan thus watches our defects, if he accuses us in heaven, how should we examine our own hearts, and scrutinize the purity of our motives.

As the tempest beats most on the tallest trees of the forest, so the most exalted of human characters are often most exposed to public envy, and tremendous strokes of affliction. The accuser having received his commission to deprive Job of his substance, though he could not exceed it, so managed that the messengers should come in with tidings heavier and heavier, and that the strokes should be rapidly repeated while the heart was yet bleeding under successive wounds; and last of all, he heard that his sons and daughters were all killed by a supernatural tempest, while feasting and drinking wine in their elder brother’s house; and consequently, that they died unpurged by sacrifice for their sin. Let the drunkards and voluptuous learn, that vengeance is but suspended over their heads; and let the most holy and prosperous be aware, that a tempest from the Lord may hurl them into the dust, and abase them in a moment. God has but to blow with his wind, and they are carried away as the down before the blast.

We see Satan foiled in all his efforts, and all his calumnies and lies recoil on his own head. Job was not insensible of the strokes, he felt them to be great and heavy, but right reason and sound faith supported his soul. He justly concluded, that God had resumed his own; and that as he came naked into the world, so he must return to his fathers. Therefore feeling his faith augmented by the stroke, he acquiesced, and blessed the name of the Lord, who had acted for some good end which he did not then think proper to reveal. How divine, how ample are the supports of piety. How little is the loss of substance, while a man retains his God. The good man has the happiness of heaven; and the greatest vicissitudes of life are unable to deprive him of his confidence.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.