Here the problem is the same as that of the book of Job. To these doubts the prophet could only reply that Jehovah will keep a record of the faithful and in his good time will reward them.
V. The Problem of Suffering in the Literature of the Period. As was natural, this problem of innocent suffering was prominent in the literature of the period. It became especially insistent at this time, because it had ceased to be the problem of the community, and had become that of individuals or of a class. While the nation rested under the shadow of misfortune, a solution of the problem was found in the consciousness of national guilt and in the hope that the affliction would be but temporary. The old dogma that virtue was always rewarded and wickedness punished continued to satisfy Israel's leaders. When, however, a considerable class in the community were conscious that they had committed no crimes worthy of the bitter persecutions and calamities that overtook them, and that it was often just because of their virtue and the steadfastness with which they clung to the nobler ideals of their race that they were thus assailed, the current interpretations of evil were no longer satisfactory. When in time many of them went down to the grave crushed by affliction and the objects of the taunts and revilings of their wicked pursuers, the insufficiency of the current explanation of misfortune was tragically demonstrated. To their minds Sheol or the grave offered no solution, for, as among all early Aryan and Semitic peoples, it was thought of as the dark, passionless, joyless abode of the shades.
In most of the psalms of this period the poets who speak in behalf of the afflicted class, like the author of Malachi, expressed the hope that Jehovah would speedily come to their deliverance and signally vindicate and reward them. The heroism and fidelity that they represent can only be fully appreciated in the light of this discouraging period when evil was regnant. It was apparently at this time that the great poet, who speaks through the book of Job, presented, with the spirit and method of a modern philosopher, the lot of these innocent sufferers. He also proved for all time that misfortune is not always the evidence of guilt, and that the current doctrine of proportionate rewards and the explanations that were adduced to support it were in certain cases absolutely untenable.
Section XCVIII. THE PROBLEM AND TEACHINGS OF THE BOOK OF JOB
[Sidenote: Job 1:1-5] There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. And that man was blameless and upright; he feared God and turned away from evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also included seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she asses, and an exceedingly large number of servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the peoples of Palestine. And his sons were accustomed to hold a feast in one another's house each on his day. And they were wont to send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of their feasting were over, Job used to send and sanctify them, and he rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, Perhaps my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts. Thus Job did continually.
[Sidenote: Job 1:6-11] Now on a certain day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, Satan also came among them. And Jehovah said to Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down on it. And Jehovah said to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God, and turns away from evil. Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his household, and about all that he hath, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions are increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
[Sidenote: Job 1:12] Then Jehovah said to Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power; only put not forth thy hand upon him. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah.
[Sidenote: Job 1:13-19] Now on a certain day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking in their eldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, The oxen were plowing and the asses were feeding beside them, when the Sabeans suddenly attacked and captured them, and they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you. While that one was yet speaking, another came and said, The fire of God has fallen from heaven, and has burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you. While that one was yet speaking, another came and said, The Chaldeans made three bands, and raided the camels and took them away, and they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you. While that one was yet speaking, another came and said, Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking in their eldest brother's house, when there came a great wind from over the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead. I alone have escaped to tell you.
[Sidenote: Job 1:20-22] Then Job arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground and worshipped; and he said:
Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return thither! Jehovah gave and he hath taken away; Blessed be the name of Jehovah!
In all this Job sinned not, nor reviled God.
[Sidenote: Job 2:1-6] And on a certain day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, Satan came also to present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said to Satan, Whence comest thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down on it. And Jehovah said to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil; and he still remains steadfast in his piety, although thou incitest me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; surely he will curse thee to thy face. And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, he is in thy power: only spare his life.
[Sidenote: Job 2:7, 8] So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with a malignant eruption from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took a potsherd with which to scrape himself; and he sat among the ashes.
[Sidenote: Job 2:9, 10] Then said his wife to him, Do you still remain steadfast in your piety? Curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak like one of the foolish women. We receive good at the hand of God, shall we not also receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
[Sidenote: Job 2:11-13] Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came each from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to show their sympathy for him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off and knew him not, they raised their voice and wept; and all tore their robes, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, without any one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.
[Sidenote: Job 3:2, 11, 13-15, 17-19] Then Job began to speak and said:
Why did I not die before birth? Why did I not expire when my mother bore me? For now would I have lain down and been quiet, I would have slept, then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellors of the earth, Who built up ruins for themselves; Or with princes who possessed gold, Who filled their houses with silver. There the wicked cease from raging, And the weary are at rest. There the prisoners have peace as well, They hear not the voice of the taskmaster. The small and the great are there, And the servant is free from his master.
[Sidenote: Job 3:20-22, 25, 26] Why is light given to the suffering, And life to those in anguish, Who long for death but it comes not, And search for it more than treasures, Who rejoice with great exultation, And are glad when they can find the grave? For the thing which I feared has come upon me, And that of which I was afraid has overtaken me. No peace nor quiet, have I, No rest, but trembling seizes me.
[Sidenote: Job 4:1-7] Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said:
If one tries to speak with you, will you be impatient, But who can restrain himself from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, And have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have upheld him who was falling, And you have made tottering knees strong. But now, that it is come to you, you are impatient, It touches yourself and you lose courage. Is not your piety, your trust, Your hope the integrity of your ways? Remember now who, being innocent, perished? Or where have the upright been destroyed?
[Sidenote: Job 4:17-19] Can mortal man be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his maker? Behold, he trusteth not in his own servants, And his angels he chargeth with error; How much more the dwellers in clay houses, Whose foundation is laid in the dust?
[Sidenote: Job 5:17-22, 26, 27] Happy is the man whom God correcteth, Therefore reject not the chastening of the Almighty. For he causeth pain and bindeth up; He woundeth and his hands heal. He will deliver you out of six troubles, Yea, in seven, no evil shall touch you, In famine he will redeem you from death, And in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hid from the scourge of the tongue; You shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes. At destruction and want you shall laugh, And you need not fear the beasts of the earth. You shall come to your grave in a ripe old age, As a sheaf garnered in its season. Lo this, we have searched out, so it is; Hear it and know it yourself.
[Sidenote: Job 6:1-4b] Then Job answered and said:
Oh, that my bitterness were weighed, All my calamity laid in the scales! Then would it be heavier than the sand of the seas; For this reason my words are rash. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, Their poison my spirit drinks up. [Sidenote: Job 6:8-10] Oh that I might have my request, And that God would grant that for which I long: Even that it would please God to crush me, And that he would let loose his hand and cut me off! Then this would be my consolation, I would exult in pain that spares not.
[Sidenote: Job 6:11-13] What strength have I still to endure? And what is mine end that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my body made of brass? Behold there is no help in me, And wisdom is driven quite from me.
[Sidenote: Job 6:14, 15, 20-23] Kindness from his friend is due to one in despair, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. My brothers have been as deceptive as a brook, As the channel of brooks that disappear. For now you are nothing, You see a terror and are afraid. Did I say, 'Give to me?' Or, 'Offer a present to me of your wealth?' Or, 'Deliver me from a foeman's hand?' Or, 'Redeem me from the oppressor's power?'
[Sidenote: Job 6:24-39] Teach me and I will hold my peace, And make plain to me wherein I have erred. How agreeable are upright words! But what does a reproof from you reprove? Do you think to reprove mere words, When the speeches of the desperate are as wind? You fall upon a blameless man, And you make merchandise of your friend. Now therefore be pleased to look upon me; For surely I will not lie to you. Turn ere you let injustice be done, Yea, turn again, my cause is righteous. Is there injustice on my tongue? Can not my taste discern what is evil?
[Sidenote: Job 7:1-6] Has not man a hard service on earth? And are not his days like the days of a hireling? As a slave who sighs for the shadows of the evening, And as a hireling who looks for his wages, So am I given months of misery, And wearisome nights are appointed me. When I lie down, I say: 'When shall I arise, and the night be gone?' And I am full of unrest until the dawn. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; My skin hardens, then breaks out again. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, And are spent without hope.
[Sidenote: Job 7:9, 10] As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away, So he who goes down to Sheol shall come up no more, He shall return no more to his house, Nor shall his place know him any more.
[Sidenote: Job 7:11, 19] Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the bitterness of my spirit. Am I a sea, or a sea-monster, That thou shouldest set a watch over me? When I say, "My bed shall comfort me, My couch shall ease my complaint;" Then thou frightest me with dreams, And terrifiest me through visions: So that I myself choose strangling, And death rather than my pains. I loath life, I would not live always, Let me alone, for my days are as a breath, What is man, that thou exaltest him, That on him thou directest thy thought, That thou visitest him each morning, And testest him each moment?
[Sidenote: Job 7:20, 21] If I have sinned, what have I done to thee, O watcher of men? Why hast thou set me as thy target? And why am I a burden to thee? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression and take away mine iniquity? For now I shall lie down in the dust, When thou shalt seek me, I shall not be.
[Sidenote: Job 8:1-2] Then answered Bildad the Shuhite and said,
How long will you speak these things? And the words of your mouth be like a mighty wind? Doth God pervert justice? Or doth the Almighty pervert righteousness?
[Sidenote: Job 8:3-6] If your children sinned against him, And he delivered them to the consequences of their guilt; You should earnestly seek God, Let him take his rod away from me, And let not his terror make me afraid, Then would I speak and not fear him, For in myself I am not thus fearful.
[Sidenote: Job 10:9-15] Remember that as clay thou hast fashioned me, And wilt thou again turn me into dust? Hast thou not poured me out as milk? And curdled me like a cheese? Thou hast clothed me with a skin and with flesh, And knit me together with bones and with sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favor, And thy care hath preserved my breath. Yet these things thou didst hide in thy heart; I know that this is thy plan: If I sin, then thou watchest me, And if I be just, yet I cannot lift up my head!
[Sidenote: Job 10:20-22] Are not the days of my life few enough? Let me alone, that I may have a little cheer, Before I go whence I shall not return, To the land of darkness and of gloom, The land dark as blackness, Gloom without a gleam or ray of light.
[Sidenote: Job 11:1, 7-9] Then answered Zophar, the Naamathite, and said:
Shall the multitude of words be unanswered? Can you find the depths of God? Can you reach the perfection of the Almighty? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than Sheol; what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea.
[Sidenote: Job 11:13-15] If you set your heart aright, And stretch out your hands toward him; If iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, And let not unrighteousness dwell in your tent. Then you shall lift up your face without spot; And you shall be steadfast, and have no fear. And make your supplication to the Almighty. If you are pure and upright, Then he will prosper your righteous habitation.
[Sidenote: Job 9:1-7] Then Job answered and said: Verily I know that it is so, But how can a man be made just with God? If he be pleased to contend with him, He cannot answer him one of a thousand. He is wise in mind and mighty in strength; Who has defied him, and remained unharmed? He who removeth mountains and they know it not, And overturneth them in his anger, Who shaketh the earth out of its place, So that its pillars tremble, Who commandeth the sun and it rises not, And on the stars placeth his seal.
[Sidenote: Job 9:16-20, 24] If I called and he answered me, I would not believe that he had heard my voice. He who crusheth me with a tempest, prey of And multiplieth my wounds without cause. He will not permit me to take my breath, But filleth me with bitterness, If we speak of the strength of the mighty, lo it is he! And if of justice, Who will summon him? Though I am righteous, my own mouth condemns me, Though I am perfect, it would prove me to be perverse. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; He covereth the faces of its judges; If not he, then who is it?
[Sidenote: Job 9:31-35] If I wash myself with snow, And cleanse my hands with lye, Yet thou plunge me into the filth, prove And mine own friends will abhor me. For he is not a man as I am, that I should answer him, That we should come together in judgment, There is no arbiter betwixt us, To lay his hand upon us both.
[Sidenote: Job 12:1-3] Then Job answered and said:
No doubt but you are the people, And wisdom shall die with you! But I have a mind as well as you, And who does not know these things?
[Sidenote: Job 13:7-12] Will you speak what is wrong for God? And will you talk deceitfully for him? Will you show favor to him? Will you contend for God? Would it be well, should he search you out? Or as one deceives a man, will you deceive him? He will surely reprove you, If secretly you show favor. Shall not his majesty overawe you, And dread of him fall upon you? Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defences are defences of clay!
[Sidenote: Job 13:13-18] Hold your peace that I may speak, And let come to me what will. I take my flesh in my teeth, And put my life in my hand. Behold he will slay me; I have no hope, But I will defend my ways before him. No godless man would come before him. Give careful heed to my speech, And let my declaration be in your ears. Behold now, I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be justified.
[Sidenote: Job 13:21-25] Withdraw thy hand far from me; And let not thy terror make me afraid. Then call and I will answer, Or let me speak, and answer thou me. How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why dost thou hide thy face, And regard me as thine enemy? Wilt thou harass a wind blown leaf? And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
[Sidenote: 14:7-10] For there is hope of a tree, If it will be cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its shoot will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, And its stock die in the ground; By the scent of water it will bud, And put forth its branches like a plant. But man dies and is laid low: Yea, a man expires, and where is he?
[Sidenote: Job 14:13-15, 18, 19] Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, That thou wouldst keep me in secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldst appoint over me a time, and remember me! If a man might die, shall he live again! All the days of my hard service would I wait, Until my release should come. Thou wouldst call and I myself would answer thee; Thou wouldst long for the work of thy hands. But the mountain surely falls, And the rock moves from its place, The water wears away the stones, Its floods wash away the dust of the earth.
[Sidenote: Job 15:4-6] Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite and said:
Verily, you do away with the fear of God, And hinder devotion before God. For your wickedness inspires your speech, And you choose the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; And your own lips testify against you.
[Sidenote: Job 16:1-3a, 4b] Then answered Job and said:
I have heard many such things; Troublesome comforters are you all. Is there no end to vain words? If you were only in my place, I could join words together against you!
[Sidenote: Job 16:11-13a] God delivereth me to the ungodly, And casteth me into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, and he shattered me, He seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces, He hath also set me up as his target, His arrows encompass me round about.
[Sidenote Job 16:18-21] O earth, cover not my blood, And let my cry have no resting place. Even now behold my witness is in the heaven, And he who voucheth for me is on high. He will be found to be my friend, To God my eye pours out its tears. And he will maintain the right of a man with God, And between a man and his neighbor!
[Sidenote: Job 18:1, 5-7] Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said:
The light of the wicked is put out, And the flame of his fire does not shine, The light is darkened in his tent, And his light above him is put out. The steps of his strength are shortened, And his own counsel shall cast him down.
[Sidenote: Job 19:13-16] Then Job answered and said:
My brothers keep far from me, And my acquaintances are like strangers to me. My kinsmen have ceased to know me, Even the guests in my house have forgotten me. My maids regard me as a stranger, I am an alien in their sight.
[Sidenote: Job 19:23-27] Oh, that my words were now written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead They were engraved in a rock forever! But I indeed know that my Vindicator liveth, And at last he will stand upon the earth: And after this, my skin, is destroyed, Then I shall behold God, Whom I myself shall see on my side, Mine eyes shall behold, and not a stranger.
[Sidenote: Job 20:1-4] Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said:
Not so do my thoughts give answer to me, Because of this my haste is mine! I have heard the reproof which puts me to shame; But with wind void of understanding you answer me. Have you not known this from of old, Since man was placed upon the earth, That the exulting of the wicked is short, And the joy of the godless but for a moment?
[Sidenote: Job: 21:1, 7-8] Then answered Job and said: Why do the wicked live, Grow old, and attain great power? Their descendants are established in their sight, And their offspring before their eyes. Their households are secure from terror, And the rod of God is not upon them.
[Sidenote: Job 22:1-6] Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered, and said, Is a man of any account to God? Surely a wise man is of account to himself. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that you are righteous? Or is it gain to him that you are upright? Is it because of your fear of him that he reproveth you, That he entereth into judgment with you? Is not your wickedness great? And there is no end to your iniquities.
[Sidenote: Job 22:26, 27, 28] If you return to the Almighty and humble yourself, If you remove unrighteousness far from your tents. You shall make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, And you shall pay your vows. You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established for you. And light shall shine upon your ways.
[Sidenote: Job 23:1-6] Then Job answered and said,
Even now my complaint is bitter, My stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him! That I might come even to his throne! I would set forth my cause before him, And fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, And understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? Verily he would give heed to me.
[Sidenote: Job 25:1-4] Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
Dominion and terror are with him; He maketh peace in his high places. Is there any number to his armies? And upon whom does not his light arise? How then can man be just with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?
[Sidenote: Job 26:1, 27:2, 4, 5] Then Job answered and said,
As God liveth, who hath taken away my right, And the Almighty, who hath made my life bitter, Surely my lips do not speak unrighteousness, Nor does my tongue utter falsehood, Far be it from me that I should grant that you are right; Until I die I will not give up my innocence.
[Sidenote: Job 27:7-9] [Then Zophar answered and said]:
Let mine enemy be as the wicked, And let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous. For what is the hope of the godless, When God requireth his life? Will God hear his cry, When trouble comes upon him?
[Sidenote: Job 29:1-5] And Job again took up his parable and said,
Oh, that I were as in the months of old, As in the days when God watched over me, When his lamp shined upon my head, And by his light I walked through darkness; As I was in the prime of my life, When God put a covering over my tent, When the Almighty was yet with me, And my children were about me.
[Sidenote: Job 30:16-21] But now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have taken hold of me. The night bores through my bones, And my gnawing pains rest not. By reason of great wasting my garment is crumpled together; It binds me about as the collar of my coat. He hath cast me into the mire, And I am become like dust and ashes. I cry to thee but thou dost not answer me. I stand up, but thou dost not regard me. Thou art turned to be cruel to me; With the might of thy hand thou persecutest me.
[Sidenote: Job 31:5-8] If I have walked with falsehood, And my foot has hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in a just balance, That God may know my integrity. If my step has turned out of the way, And my heart followed my inclination, And if any spot besmirches my hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat, And let the produce of my field be uprooted.
[Sidenote: Job 31:35-37] Oh, that there was someone to hear me! See, here is my signature, let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder; I would bind it to me as a crown; I would declare to him the number of my steps, As a prince would I draw near to him.
[Sidenote: Job 38:2-7] Then Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, and said,
Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words that lack knowledge? Gird up thy loins now like a man, And let me ask of thee and inform thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who determined its measures that thou knowest? Or who stretched out the line upon it? On what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its corner-stone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
[Sidenote: Job 38:8-11] Or who shut up the sea with doors, When it broke forth, and issued out of the womb; When I made clouds its garments, And thick mists its swaddling-bands, And marked out for it my bound, And set bars and doors, And said, Here shalt thou come, but no further; And here shall thy proud waves stop?
[Sidenote: Job 38:39-41] Canst thou hunt the prey for the lioness, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, When they couch in their dens, And abide in the covert to lie in wait? Who provideth at evening his prey, When his young ones cry to God, And wander to seek for food?
[Sidenote: Job 40:8,9] Will the fault-finder contend with the Almighty? He who argueth with God, let him answer it. Wilt thou even annul my judgment? Condemn me, that thou mayest be justified, Or hast thou an arm like God? And canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
[Sidenote: Job 42:1, 2, 3, 5, 6] Then Job answered Jehovah and said:
I know that thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of thine can be restrained. Therefore, I have uttered that which I did not understand; Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, But now mine eye seeth thee, Therefore I loath [my words], And repent in dust and ashes.
I. The Structure of the Book of Job. Like most of the books of the Old Testament, Job is, without reasonable doubt, the work of several different writers. The prose introduction (1-2), with its corresponding conclusion (42:7-17), was probably once an independent story. The words of Jehovah in the epilogue (42:7) clearly implies that, as in 1 and 2, Job had endured the test and had meekly submitted to the afflictions which Satan, with the divine approval, had sent upon him, and that on the other hand his friends, like his wife, had urged him to curse God and die. The language and phrases of this prose story are radically different from those in the poem which constitutes the main body of the book. The unique explanation of why Job was afflicted that is given in the opening chapters is also completely ignored in the poetic dialogues (3-31). Likewise the problem of whether or not Job fears God for naught, raised in the prologue, is not taken up again except in the concluding prose epilogue. In the prose story Job's piety conforms to the popular standards, while in the poetic sections he is measured by the loftier ethical principles laid down by the pre-exilic prophets (cf. chap. 31). In form, therefore, in aim, and in content, the prose story differs fundamentally from the great dramatic poem which constitutes the real book of Job. The main body of the book is found in chapters 3-27, 29-31, 38:1-40:14, and 42:1-6. At a few points the original order has apparently been disarranged and later hands have frequently supplemented the older sections, but the literary unity of the whole is obvious. In three cycles of speeches the problem of innocent suffering is fully developed and the current solutions presented. In conclusion the voice of Jehovah comes to Job calling him forth from himself to the contemplation of the larger universe which manifests the divine wisdom and rulership.
The Elihu speeches in 32-37 are evidently from a still later author or authors who wished to rebuke Job's seeming impiety and the failure of his friends to bring forth a satisfactory explanation of the suffering of the innocent. Its independence is shown by the presence of many Aramaic words, by the lack of literary vigor, and by the frequent repetitions, which distinguish it sharply from the writings of the author of the main body of the book. Elihu and his contributions are also completely ignored in the rest of the book and at points where, if they were original, certain references would be almost inevitable. These speeches, in fact, are simply a fuller development of the argument of Eliphaz found in the fifth chapter. They also incorporate many suggestions drawn from the speeches of Jehovah in chapters 38 and 39.
II. Dates of the Different Parts. The classic Hebrew style and the absence of Aramaic words indicate that the prose story is the oldest section of the book. It also reasserts in modified form the dogma current far down into the Persian period, that if the righteous but patiently bear affliction they will surely in the end be richly rewarded. It contains a message well adapted to the needs and beliefs of the Jewish people during the calamities of the Babylonian period. Its conception of Satan as the prosecuting attorney of heaven, and of Jehovah as a transcendental ruler surrounded by a hierarchy of angels, is closely akin to that which first appears in the second chapter of Zechariah. The references to Job in Ezekiel 14:14,20, as one of the three heroes of popular tradition famous for their piety, implies the existence during the exile of a story closely akin to if not identical with the one found in the prologue and epilogue of the book of Job. Such a story was probably current long before the days of Ezekiel, but in its present form it was not committed to writing until the latter part of the Babylonian or the beginning of the Persian period.
The first part of this story was evidently used by the author as an introduction to the great dramatic poem. He thereby deliberately protested against the solution of the problem of innocent suffering suggested by the ancient story. The poem itself cannot be dated earlier than the middle of the Persian period. In it the great ethical and social standards of the pre-exilic prophets are fully accepted. Its marvelous breadth of vision also implies an advanced stage in Israel's thinking. The problem of suffering with which it deals is not merely that of the nation but of the individual or of a class within the Judean community. It is precisely the problem that confronted the author of Malachi and to which he refers in 3:13-16. It is the same problem that bulks largely in the psalms of this period and finds its noblest solution in Isaiah 53. All its affinities, therefore, confirm the conclusion that it comes from the middle of the fifth century B.C. and is probably slightly older than Isaiah 49-55, which presents a more fundamental treatment of the problem of human suffering. The author still holds the old, prophetic conception of the universe (38:4-6), and is unaffected by the priestly thought and tendencies which became especially prominent during the closing years of the Persian period.
The Elihu speeches and the supplemental poem in description of wisdom in 28, and of the behemoth and leviathan in 40:15-41:34, probably come from the Greek period.
III. The Prose Story. In the prose story Job is pictured as a man of superlative piety and prosperity. According to the popular standards of the earlier day he lived a blameless life. His afflictions came simply as a means of demonstrating the unselfish character of his piety. In rapid succession he is stripped of all his possessions and afflicted by the vilest of all diseases, apparently the loathsome tubercular leprosy. Even his wife tempts him to curse God and die, but he fully meets the test, and, according to the testimony of the concluding epilogue, receives Jehovah's approval and is restored to the joys of family, reputation, and riches. It is obvious that, as in the stories found in the opening chapters of Genesis, this is a popular narrative freely adjusted to the ends which the story-teller wished to attain. The incidents recorded are not in keeping with the ordinary experiences of life, but belong rather to the realm of popular fancy. As a reference in Ezekiel implies, it was probably, like the similar stories regarding Noah and Daniel, a heritage from the common Semitic lore. In fact, a recently discovered Babylonian tablet tells of a famous king of Nippur, Tabi-utul-Bel by name, whose experiences and spirit corresponds closely to those of the hero of this prose story.
The message of the prose story of Job, as it was sent out to the Jewish race, was that it was not always possible to understand the reason why the righteous were afflicted, but that if they faithfully met the test restoration to Jehovah's approval, with the honor and reputation that necessarily follow, were assured. To the nation such a message was not without its practical application and value, but it failed completely to meet the individual problems that became pathetically insistent during the middle of the fifth century B.C.
IV. The Poem of Job. In the later poetic version of the story (which begins with the third chapter) Job himself is the embodiment of the problem of innocent suffering. His friends' suppositions and condemnations add still another burden to his weight of woe. More intolerable, however, than loss of possessions, health, and reputation is his sense of being forsaken and condemned by Jehovah. Job cannot shake himself entirely free from the belief, which had been inculcated in his mind from earliest infancy, that calamity was a sign of divine displeasure, and therefore of sin on the part of the victim. In the series of monologues and dialogues between Job and his friends he voices every phase of the great problem and makes it concrete and objective. With marvellous psychological truth and insight the author has presented the different phases of feeling through which an innocent sufferer in Job's position naturally passes. At times Job is intemperate in his speech and at other times he yields to despondency; again his faith overleaps all obstacles and he holds for the moment a clear belief in the ultimate vindication not only of himself but of Jehovah's justice.
His friends, on the other hand, formulate at length the current Explanation of suffering. Job in his sharp retorts makes clear the Inapplicability of the arguments and the limitations of the dogmas which they constantly reassert. In the concluding speeches of Jehovah the author with masterly skill takes Job out of his little circle into the larger world of nature, and brings him face to face with the evidences of Jehovah's might, wisdom, and gracious rulership of the great universe and of the complex life of those who inhabit it. Above all, Job learns to know God, not through the testimony of others, but by direct personal experience, and this knowledge begets humility and trust.
V. Progress in Job's Thought. The thought of the book of Job is characteristically Oriental. Instead of moving straight on from premises to conclusion it constantly reverts to the same themes yet advances along independent, parallel lines. Its progress is not objective, as is usually the case in a drama, but almost entirely subjective. These parallel lines of progress are: (1) the conviction gradually crystallizing into certainty that the current explanations of suffering are in certain cases inadequate and false. While viewed from one point of view this conclusion is merely negative, it nevertheless opened the eyes of Job and his generation to a larger conception of Jehovah and a far broader interpretation of the universe and of the laws which regulate it. The second is that he is guilty of no crime commensurate with the calamity which had overtaken him. Overwhelmed by misfortune and the reiterated charges of his friends, only through a superhuman struggle did Job ultimately attain the unshaken conviction that he was indeed innocent in the sight of God and man. The third line of progress is that, if not in the present life, in that beyond the grave his reputation would not only be vindicated but he himself would be fully conscious of that vindication.
As is illustrated by the third chapter, Job in common with his race still shared the belief that for the ordinary individual life beyond the grave was a shadowy existence, far removed from Jehovah's presence. This conception of the life after death was inherited by the Israelites from their Semitic ancestors, and was held in common by most ancient peoples, both of the East and of the West. The Babylonians believed, however, that certain favored mortals, as, for example, the hero of the flood, were transported to the abode of the gods, there to enjoy blessed individual immortality. The same belief is the foundation of the Hebrew stories regarding Enoch and Elijah. This belief was apparently the germ which in time developed, as in the twelfth chapter of Daniel, into the widespread conviction that the grave would not hold those who had been loyal to Jehovah, but that he would surely raise them again to a glorious life. In the book of Job it is possible to trace the birth-pangs of this broader hope. Conscious of his innocence and confronted by the grave, Job repeatedly voices the deep conviction that God, because he is just, will raise his afflicted servant from the grave and accord to him that justice which seems excluded from his present life. This solution of the problem of innocent suffering is not given the central place by the author of the book of Job. It is safe, however, to conjecture that if the appearance of Jehovah had not furnished to the author's mind a more satisfactory conclusion, the vindication after death would have been the solution offered. At several points Job approaches very close to the belief in individual immortality which became a commonly accepted tenet in the trying days of the Maccabean struggle.
The fourth line of progress is that Jehovah, after all, must be just and that he will right the seeming wrongs of life. In his opening speeches Job gives free vent to the anguish and impatience that fills his tortured mind. With a boldness strangely foreign to Hebrew thought, he charges Jehovah with injustice and speaks of him as a cruel monster that watches man, his helpless prey, and takes cruel pleasure in the pain which he inflicts. As the discussion progresses Job's mind becomes calmer, and the conviction that God, after all, is just comes more clearly to expression. His strong utterances gradually yield to this quieter mood. Even before he hears the voice of Jehovah, Job has attained an attitude of trust, though he is still groping in darkness. Thus with marvelous fidelity to human nature and experience the author of the book of Job would have made a great contribution to the problem with which he was dealing even had he not added the concluding speeches of Jehovah.
VI. Significance of the Speeches of Jehovah. To many Western readers the concluding speeches of Jehovah are unsatisfying. They lack the emphasis on Jehovah's love and that divine tenderness in addressing the heroic sufferer which to us would seem to have been a satisfactory conclusion to the great drama. This element is furnished in characteristically concrete form by the epilogue of the book, in which Job's prosperity is restored in double measure and he is personally assured of Jehovah's favor. The severe and realistic author of the great poem, however, knew that in ordinary life such solutions are rare. In the speeches of Jehovah he does not introduce an altogether new element, but emphasizes motifs already developed in the earlier dialogues. The effect of these speeches upon Job are threefold: (1) They rebuke his over-accentuated individualism. (2) They reveal the fundamental contrast between the infinite God and finite man. In the light of this revelation Job plainly recognizes his presumption and folly in attempting, with his limited outlook, to comprehend, much less to criticise, the mighty ruler of all the universe. (3) After Job had thus been led out of himself into personal companionship with God he was content to trust his all-wise guide, even though he recognized his own inability to fathom the mysteries of the universe or to solve the problem of innocent suffering. Thus the great contributions of the book of Job to the problem of suffering are: (1) A clear and scientific presentation of the problem; (2) a bold sweeping aside of the insufficient current theological explanations; (3) a vastly enlarged conception of Jehovah's character and rule; and (4) that attitude of faith which comes from a personal experience of God and which trusts unreservedly, even though it cannot see or divine the reason why, and in that trust finds peace and joy.
Although the thought of the book of Job is profound, and it deals in a masterly manner with a fundamental human problem, it is more than a mere philosophical discussion. Its primary aim is to set forth the vital truth that God is not to be found through current theological dogmas or intellectual discussions, but through personal experience. This is the dominant note throughout the book. The greatest calamity that overtakes Job in his hour of deepest distress is the sense of being shut away from God's presence.
Oh! that I knew where I might find him, That I might come even to his throne!
As he looks back fondly to the happy days of old the fact that stands forth above all others is that
The Almighty was yet with me.
Looking forward to a possible vindication after death his hope centres in the belief that
Thou wouldst call and I myself would answer thee; Thou wouldst long for the work of thy hands.
When at last Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, it was not so much the thought expressed as the fact that God had spoken directly to him that brought penitence and peace:
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, But now mine eye seeth thee. Therefore I loath my words, And repent in dust and ashes.
Section XCIX. THE TRAINING AND MISSION OF THE TRUE SERVANT OF JEHOVAH
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:1-3] Hearken to me, ye coastlands, And listen, ye distant peoples: He hath called me from the womb, From my mother's lap made mention of my name. He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of his hand he hid me, He made me a polished arrow, In his quiver he concealed me, And he said to me, Thou art my servant, Israel, in whom I will glorify myself.
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:4] But I said, I have labored in vain, I spent my strength for nothing and vanity, Nevertheless my right is with Jehovah, And my recompense with my God.
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:5, 6] And now, thus saith Jehovah, (He who formed from birth to be his servant, To bring Jacob back to him, And that Israel might be gathered to him; For I was honored in the sight of Jehovah, And my God became my strength): It is too little a thing to be my servant, To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the survivors of Israel; Therefore I will make thee the light of the nations, That thy salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:7] Thus saith Jehovah, The Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, To him who is heartily despised, To the one abhorred of the people, a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, Princes and they shall do homage, Because of Jehovah who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel who hath chosen thee.
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:3-9b] Thus saith Jehovah, In a time of favor I answer thee, And in a day of deliverance I help thee, And I make thee a pledge to the people, To raise up the [ruined] land, To reapportion the desolate heritages, Saying to those who are bound, 'Go forth,' To those in darkness, 'Show yourselves!'
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:9c-11] They shall pasture along all ways, Even oh all the bare hills shall they graze. They shall not be hungry nor thirsty, Neither shall the glowing heat nor the sun smite them, For he who hath pity on them shall lead them, And to gushing fountains will he guide them. And I will make all mountains a road, And highways shall be built up.
[Sidenote: Isa. 49:12,18] Behold, these come from afar, And these from the north and west, And these from the land of the Syenites! Shout with joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Let the mountains break forth into shouts of joy! For Jehovah hath had pity on his people, And will show mercy to his afflicted ones.
[Sidenote: Isa. 50:4-6] The Lord Jehovah hath given me the tongue of a trained disciple? To give to the fainting a word of help, he waketh me early, Early he waketh me, that I may listen as a disciple. The Lord Jehovah hath opened mine ear, And I have not been wilful nor turned back rebelliously.
[Sidenote: Isa. 50:6, 7] My back I gave to smiters and my cheek to those who plucked the beard, My face I hid not from insult and spitting, For my Lord Jehovah is my helper; so that I am not confounded. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
[Sidenote: Isa. 50:5, 9] He is near who justifieth me, who will contend with me? let us stand up together! Who is the adversary to oppose my cause? let him draw near to me! Behold the Lord Jehovah is my helper; who is he that can harm me? Lo, they shall all fall to pieces like a garment, the moth shall consume them.
[Sidenote: Isa. 50:10] Who among you feareth Jehovah, let him hearken to the voice of his servant? Who walked in darkness, having no light, Let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely on his God?
[Sidenote: Isa. 52:13-18] Behold, my servant shall prosper, He shall be raised up and highly exalted. Even as many were appalled at him, So shall many nations tremble, Kings will close their mouths before him, When what has not been told them they see, And what they have not heard they perceive.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:1-2b] Who believed what has been reported to us, And to whom was Jehovah's might revealed? For he grew up before us as a young shoot, And as a root out of dry ground.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:2c-f] He had no form that we should regard him, Nor appearance that we should delight in him. His appearance was more disfigured than any man's And his form than any human being's.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:3] He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of suffering and acquainted with sickness; Like one for whom men hide their face, He was despised so that we esteemed him not.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:4] Surely our sickness he himself bore, And our sufferings—he carried them, Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, Smitten of God and afflicted.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:5] But he was wounded for our transgressions, Crushed because of our iniquities; The chastisement for our well-being was upon him, And through his stripes healing came to us.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:6] All of us, like sheep, had gone astray, We had turned each to his own way; While Jehovah made to light upon him The guilt of us all.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:7] Yet when afflicted he opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter, And like a sheep dumb before her shearers, So he opened not his mouth.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:8] By an oppressive judgment was he taken away, Yet who of his generation considered That he had been cut off from the land of the living; For our transgressions had been stricken to death?
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:9] And his grave was made with the wicked, And among evil-doers his burial mound, Although he had done no violence, Neither was deceit in his mouth.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:10-11b] Yet Jehovah was pleased to crush him; Through giving himself as an offering for guilt, He shall see posterity and length of days, And the pleasure of Jehovah will be realized in his hands; Out of his own suffering he shall see light, He shall be satisfied with his knowledge.
[Sidenote: Isa. 53:11c-12] My righteous servant shall make many righteous, And himself will bear the burden of their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, And with the strong shall he divide spoil, Because he poured out his life-blood, And was numbered with transgressors, And himself bore the sins of many, And interposed for transgressors.
I. The Different Portraits of Jehovah's Servant. Isaiah 49-54 contains three distinct portraits of the ideal servant of Jehovah. Each in turn develops characteristics suggested in the preceding. These descriptions are interspersed with exhortations addressed to Jehovah's servant Israel and assurances that God will fully restore Jerusalem and bring back her scattered children. These three portraits of the type of servant that Jehovah required to realize his purpose in human history, together with the earlier portrait in 42:1-7, supplement each other. In the first of these four (42:1-7) the prophetic qualities of the servant are especially emphasized. Like the earlier prophets, he will not fail nor be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth. His task is to open blind eyes and to deliver prisoners from the darkness of ignorance and sin in which they were sitting. In the second picture (49:1-9a) the world-wide mission of the servant is emphasized. He is called not only to gather the outcasts of Israel, but also as an apostle to bring light to all the nations of the earth. In this passage for the first time appears that note of suffering and ignominy which is the lot of the true servant of Jehovah. In the third portrait (50:4-10) the servant is pictured as a disciple, attentively listening to the divine teachings, learning the lessons which will fit him in turn to become a teacher of men. The last and fullest picture (52:13-53:12) describes at length his suffering. A strong contrast is drawn between his present shame and ignominy and the future glory and victory which he will achieve through his voluntary and complete self-sacrifice. These pictures embody the prophet's ideal, and they can be fully understood only in the light of their historical background.
II. The Prophet's Purpose. In his earlier poems this great unknown prophet dealt largely with the interpretation of Israel's past history and the proclamation of the coming deliverance (40-48). His chief aims in chapters 49-55 may be briefly epitomized as follows: (1) to interpret the inner meaning of the period of adversity through which the Jewish race was then passing; (2) to make absolutely clear the character and quality of the service that Jehovah required of his chosen people, if they were to realize his purpose in human history; (3) to inspire them all to make the needed sacrifices and thus to prove themselves true servants of Jehovah; (4) especially to make plain to the innocent and faithful sufferers in the Judean community the real meaning and value of their present shame and suffering, if bravely and voluntarily borne.
III, Character and Condition of Those to Whom the Prophet Appealed. From the allusions in the prophecies themselves it is possible to determine the classes that the prophet had in mind. In 49:2 his address is to the coast lands and the distant peoples who lived at the extremities of Israel's horizon. It is not probable, however, that he anticipated that his message in its present form would go out as it has to all races and nations; rather his attention was fixed on the scattered members of his own race, those who lived in the north and the west and in the distant city of Syene, far up the Nile (49:12). In 49:3 he clearly identifies the nation Israel as Jehovah's servant, whom he makes declare:
Jehovah said to me, Thou art my servant, Israel, in whom I will glorify myself.
It is evident, however, that the prophet has especially in mind the Judean community amidst which he lived and for which he worked. In 54, as elsewhere, he calls upon this group of discouraged Jews to enlarge their tent, for their period of punishment is over and their foundation and walls are about to be rebuilt. At last they shall cease to tremble at the fury of the oppressor. In 51:18-20 he addresses Jerusalem directly and gives a vivid picture of its condition before the appearance of Nehemiah:
Rouse thee! Rouse thee! stand up, O Jerusalem, Who hast drunk at Jehovah's hand the cup of his wrath! The bowl of reeling thou hast drunken, hast drained! There is none to guide thee of all the sons whom thou hast borne, And none to take thee by the hand of all the sons whom thou hast reared. These two things have befallen thee—who can condole with thee? Desolation and destruction, famine and the sword—who can comfort thee?
IV. The Task and Training of Jehovah's Servant. The term servant means literally slave, not in the Western sense, but in that of the ancient East, where a slave was often a privileged member of society. In many a Hebrew household the slaves, next to the children, enjoyed the protection and consideration of the master of the household. He was under obligation to guard their welfare and interests. On the other hand, slaves, like Eleazar in the story of Abraham (Gen. 26) faithfully cared for the interests of their master and spared no effort to carry out his commands. Semitic usage had also given the term slave a significant meaning. The faithful officials of all Oriental kings called themselves his servants or slaves. It was the common term expressing, on the one hand, confidence and protection, and on the other, devotion, loyalty, and service. Most of Israel's patriarchs, kings, and prophets are spoken of as the servants or slaves of Jehovah. Haggai, in his address to Zerubbabel, called him Jehovah's servant. In Deuteronomy 32:36 the people of Israel are called the servants of Jehovah, and, as has been noted, in the prophecies of the II Isaiah they are frequently referred to as the servant of Jehovah. The term, therefore, was well chosen to express that complete devotion And loyalty to Jehovah which the prophet aimed to evoke from his fellow-countrymen. It was also free from the kingly associations and material interpretation that were connected with the word Messiah.
The prophet's aim was to present so vividly the task and methods of the true servant of Jehovah that all would recognize a personal call to duty. He emphasizes three distinct yet related elements in the mission of the servant. They were: (1) To free the prisoners from their captivity, whether imprisoned by walls of stone or brick or under the tyranny of fears and false ideas. (2) To restore the scattered tribes of Israel and thus to lay the foundations for a renewed national life that would furnish concrete evidence to all the world of Jehovah's power to deliver. (3) To go beyond the narrow bounds of their race and to bring to the nations that were groping in the darkness of heathenism the knowledge and truth that had been imparted to Israel. Thus the unknown prophet laid the foundations for that Kingdom of God, that dominion of God in nature and in the minds of men that was the guide and inspiration of all later prophets and the goal for whose realization the Great Teacher and Prophet of Nazareth labored and died.
The prophet places great emphasis upon the training of Jehovah's servant. He declares that from birth Jehovah formed him to be his servant. In [50:4-7] he is spoken of as a trained disciple attentively listening to the words of his divine teacher, never rebelling at the bitterness of the needful discipline, but ever seeking to prepare himself to give to the fainting a word of help. The steadfastness with which he endures shame and bitter wrongs is the evidence of his ability as a disciple and an essential part in his preparation for his exalted mission.
V. Methods of Jehovah's Servant. In accomplishing his task the servant is to use definite instruction, but his teaching is to be illustrated by his own character and attitude. By the voluntary, uncomplaining endurance of ignominy and suffering he is to do Jehovah's work and win the grateful recognition, not only of his divine Master, but of all succeeding generations. Through a keen analysis of life the prophet had attained to a clear appreciation of the inestimable value of voluntary self-sacrifice. He saw that it was the most effective means of uplifting the race and leading mankind to accept God's mastery over their minds and lives. The truth here presented is illustrated in human experience as clearly to-day as in the past. The self-denying service of parents is absolutely essential if their children are to attain to the noblest manhood and womanhood. Only through the self-sacrificing labors of those who love their fellow-men can social evils be removed and society attain its highest development. The low standards in the business and professional world can be raised only as certain men, with the spirit and courage of the ancient prophets, make their own personal interests and popularity subservient to the rigorous demands of justice. It is the law of life that he who would elevate the standards of his associates and thus lead men to the fullest realization of the divine ideals must ordinarily do it in the face of opposition, ignominy, and seeming failure. It is this quiet, heroic self-sacrifice—the heroism of the commonplace—that the great prophet proclaims is the absolutely essential characteristic of Jehovah's servant. Despised by his contemporaries, the victim of persecution and calamity, he must do his task, leaving the reward and the appreciation to Jehovah and to the enlightened sense of later generations.
VI. Realization of the Ideal of Service. The portrait is so concrete that the question naturally arises, Who was the servant of whom the prophet was speaking? Undoubtedly the tragic experiences of such prophets as Jeremiah suggested many elements in the picture. For half a century that faithful servant of Jehovah suffered, often shrinkingly, yet voluntarily, a constant martyrdom. Upon him fell the persecutions of his countrymen. Yet in the life of later Judaism those principles for which he lived and died gained acceptance and application. Of him it may be truly said:
He was numbered with trangressors, And himself bore the sins of many, And interposed for transgressors.
The unknown author of these immortal poems spoke out of the depth of his own painful experience and doubtless in a large degree realized the ideals of service which he thus effectively set forth. Those of his contemporaries who, amidst persecution and insults, in their lives embodied the ideals of the earlier prophets were crushed like Jeremiah because of the iniquities of others; but by thus pouring out their life-blood they brought healing to their race. Nehemiah, in responding to the call of service and in turning his back upon the allurements of the Persian court in order to rebuild the city of his fathers, proved himself a faithful servant of Jehovah. With true insight the Christian Church has always recognized that in the character and life of Jesus is found the only complete realization of this ancient ideal of service. With the immortal chapters of the II Isaiah he was clearly familiar, and from them he doubtless received many suggestions regarding his divine mission and the methods by which it was to be accomplished. Their author was clearly speaking to his contemporaries; but in portraying the way in which Jehovah's purpose in human history could alone be realized he presented an ideal which has a permanent significance in the thought of the human race, Paul rightly recognized that the same responsibility to make this ideal a reality rested upon him, and all who would serve God, when he quoted the words of 49:6 (cf. Acts 13:47):
"I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles That thou shouldst be for salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth."
Section C. NEHEMIAH'S WORK IN REBUILDING THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM
[Sidenote: Neh. 1:1-3] Now in the month of Chislev [November-December, 446 B.C.], I was in Shushan the royal palace, when Hanani, one of my kinsmen came, together with certain men from Judah, and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left from the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, The survivors who are left from the captivity there in the provinces are in great misfortune and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been destroyed by fire.
[Sidenote: Neh. 1:4-11b] Now when I heard these statements I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and made supplication before the God of heaven, and I said, 'I beseech thee, O Jehovah, the God of heaven, the great and terrible God, who keepeth the covenant and showeth kindness to them who love and keep his commands; let thine ears now be attentive and thine eyes open, to hear the supplication of thy servant, which I am now making before thee, day and night, for the Israelites thy servants, while I confess the sins of the Israelites, which we have sinned against thee, as I also and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very wickedly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which thou didst command thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word which thou didst command thy servant Moses, saying, "If ye trespass I will scatter you abroad among the peoples; but if ye return to me, and keep my commands and do them, then, though your outcasts were at the ends of the earth, yet will I gather them thence and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, there to cause my name to dwell." Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let thine ear be attentive to the supplication of thy servant, and to the supplications of thy servants, who delight to fear thy name; and give success to thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.
[Sidenote: Neh. 1:11c-2:8] Now I was cupbearer to the king. And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when I had charge of the wine, that I took up the wine and gave it to the king, and I had not beforetime been sad. And the king said to me, 'Why is your countenance sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart.' Then I was greatly afraid, and I said to the king, 'Let the king live forever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?' And then the king said to me, 'For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, 'If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may rebuild it.' And the king said to me (and the queen was also sitting by him), 'For how long will your journey be? And when will you return?' Then it pleased the king to send me; for I set him a time. Moreover I said to the king, 'If it please the king, let official letters be given me to the governors of the province beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's park, that he may give me the timber to make beams for the gates of the castle, which belongs to the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter. And the king granted me this, according to the hand of my God which kindly cared for me.
[Sidenote: Neh. 2:9-16] Then I came to the governors of the province beyond the River, and gave them the king's official letters. Now the king had sent with me military officers and horsemen. And when Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the Ammonite slave, heard of it, it troubled them exceedingly, that one had come to seek the welfare of the Israelites. So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. And I arose in the night, together with a few of my followers, and I told no man what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem, neither was there any beast with me, except the beast upon which I rode. And I went out by night through the Valley Gate, toward the Dragon's Well and to the Dung Gate, and investigated carefully the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and where its gates had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the Brook Kidron and investigated carefully the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the rulers did not know where I went or what I did, neither had I as yet told it to the Jews nor to the priests nor to the nobles nor to the rulers nor to the rest who did the work.
[Sidenote: Neh. 2:17-20] Then I said to them, 'You see the bad condition in which we are, how Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates are destroyed by fire. Come and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more an object of reproach.' And I told them of the hand of my God, which had kindly cared for me, as also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. And they said, 'Let us rise up and build.' So they strengthened their hands for the good work. But when Sanballat, the Horonite, and Tobiah, the Ammonite slave, and Geshem the Arabian heard it, they jeered at us and despised us, and said, 'What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?' Then I answered and said to them, 'The God of heaven, he will give us success, for we his servants will proceed to build; but you shall have no portion nor right nor memorial in Jerusalem.'
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:1, 2] Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his kinsmen the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they laid its beams and set up the doors, even to the Tower of the Hundred, and to the Tower of Hananel. And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:3-5] And the Fish Gate the sons of Hassenaah built; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Meremoth and Meshullam and Zadok and the Tekoites repaired the wall; but their nobles did not bend their necks in the service of their lord.
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:6-12] And the Old Gate Joida repaired; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, which belongs to the jurisdiction of the governor of the province beyond the River, repaired. Next to him Uzziel, one of the goldsmiths, repaired. And next to him Hananiah, one of those who prepare sweet ointments, repaired. And they fortified Jerusalem even to the broad wall. And next to them Rephaiah, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. And next to them Jedaiah repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush and Malchijah and Hasshub repaired another section, even to the Tower of the Furnaces. And next to him Shallum, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, together with its dependencies, repaired.
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:13, 14] The Valley Gate Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired; they built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and also built a thousand cubits of the wall to the Dung Gate. And the Dung Gate Malchijah, the ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, together with his sons, repaired.
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:15-27] And the Fountain Gate Shallun, the ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired; and he built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and he also built the wall of the Pool of Siloam by the King's Garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David. After him Nehemiah, the ruler of half the district of Bethzur, repaired to the place opposite the Sepulchres of David, even to the pool that was made and to the House of the Warriors. After him Rehum the son of Bani repaired. Next to him Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. After him their kinsmen Bennui, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired. And next to him Ezer, the ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the bend in the wall. After him Baruch repaired from the bend in the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth repaired another section, from the entrance to the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib. And after him the priests, the men of the Plain of the Jordan, repaired. After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah repaired beside his own house. After him Binnui repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the bend in the wall and to the corner. After him Palal repaired opposite the bend and the upper tower that stands out from the royal palace of the king, which is toward the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah repaired, to the place opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the tower that stands out. After him the Tekoites repaired another section, opposite the great tower that stands out and to the wall of Ophel. And the temple servants dwelt in Ophel.
[Sidenote: Neh. 3:28-32]
Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanum the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berschiah repaired opposite his chamber. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Gate of the Watch Tower and to the ascent of the corner. And between the ascent of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.
[Sidenote: Neh. 4:1-5] Now when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, his anger was aroused and he was very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his kinsmen and the army of Samaria and said, 'What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they leave it to God? Will they sacrifice? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, although they are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was with him, and he said, 'Even that which they are building, if a fox should go up on it, he would break down their stone wall!' Hear, O our God—for we are despised—and turn back their reproach upon their own head and give them up as an object of spoil in a land of captivity, and cover not their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out from thy sight, for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
[Sidenote: Neh. 4:6-8] So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people were eager to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites, heard that the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem was progressing, so that the breaches began to be stopped, they were very angry. And they all conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to produce a panic therein.
[Sidenote: Neh. 4:9-14] But we made supplication to our God, and set a watch as a protection against them day and night. Then the Judean community said, 'The strength of the burden-bearers is broken, for there is much rubbish; so that we shall not be able to rebuild the wall. And our adversaries have said, "They shall neither know nor see, until we come into their midst and slay them and bring the work to a standstill."' And it came to pass that when the Jews who dwelt by them came, they said to us ten times, 'From all the places where they dwell they will come up against us.' Therefore I stationed in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the protected places, I set there the people by their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And when I saw their fear, I rose up and said to the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, 'Be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and terrible, and fight for your kinsmen, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.'
[Sidenote: Neh. 4:15-23] And when our enemies heard that their plan was known to us and God had brought it to nought, we all of us returned to the wall, each to his own work. And from that time on, while half of my servants were engaged in the work, half of them held the lances, the shields, the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers stood behind all the house of Judah. Those who built the wall and those who bore burdens were also armed, each with one of his hands engaged in the work, and with the other was ready to grasp his spear; and each of the builders had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he who sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said to the nobles and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, 'The work is great and extensive, and we are separated upon the wall far from each other. In whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather there to us; our God will fight for us.' So we were active in the work, while half of them held the lances from the gray of morning until the stars came out. Also I said at that time to the people, Let each man with his servant lodge in Jerusalem, that they may be a guard to us by night and may labor by day. So neither I, nor my kinsmen, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who accompanied me, not one of us took off our clothes, each had his spear in his hand.
[Sidenote: Neh. 6:1-9] Now when it was reported to Sanballat and to Tobiah and to Geshem the Arabian and to the rest of our enemies, that I had rebuilt the wall and that there was no breach was left in it—though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates—Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, 'Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.' But they planned to do me injury. So I sent messengers to them, saying, 'I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down; why should the work cease, while I leave it and come down to you?' And they sent to me in this way four times, and I gave them the same answer. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same way the fifth time with an open letter in his hand, in which was written, 'It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu confirms it, that you and the Jews plan to rebel, and that this is the reason you are building the wall, and that you would be their king, and that you also have appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem, saying, "There is a king in Judah." And now it will be reported to the king to this effect. Come now, therefore, and let us take counsel together.' Then I sent to him, saying, 'No such things have been done as you say, but you have devised them in your own mind.' For they all would have made us afraid, thinking, 'Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it may not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen thou my hands.
[Sidenote: Neh. 6:10-14] And when I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up at home, he said, 'Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they are coming to slay you in the night; yes, in the night they are coming to slay you!' And I said, 'Should such a man as I flee? And how could anyone like me [a layman] enter the chief room of the temple and still live? I will not enter.' Then I perceived and it was clear that God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me, because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him, that I should be alarmed and act accordingly and sin; and it would have given them occasion for an evil report, that they might reproach me. Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their acts, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.
[Sidenote: Neh. 6:15, 16] So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard, all the surrounding nations feared and fell in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been done by our God.
[Sidenote: Neh. 6:17-19] Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and those of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah had taken oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam, the son of Berechiah, as wife. Also they praised his good deeds before me and reported my words to him. Then Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.
[Sidenote: Neh. 7:1-3] Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites had been appointed, I placed my brother Hanani and Hananiah the commander of the castle in charge of Jerusalem; for he was a faithful man, and more God-fearing than many. And I said to them, 'Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while watchmen are still on guard, let them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint watches consisting of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch and each opposite his own house.'
[Sidenote: Neh. 7:4, 5a] Now the city was wide and large; but there were few people in it, and the households were not large. Therefore my God put it into my mind to gather together the nobles and the rulers and the people.
[Sidenote: Neh. 12: 31, 32, 37-40] Then I had the rulers of Judah take their position upon the wall, and I appointed two great companies that gave thanks, and the first went to the right hand upon the wall toward the Dung Gate. And behind them went Hoshaiah and half of the nobles of Judah. And by the Fountain Gate, they went straight up the stairs of the city of David, at the ascent of the wall, above the house of David, even to the Water Gate on the east. And the other company of those who gave thanks went to the left, and I after them, with the half of the nobles of the people, upon the wall, above the Tower of the Furnaces, even to the broad wall, and above the Gate of Ephraim and by the Old Gate and by the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, even to the Sheep Gate; and they stood in the Gate of the Guard. So the two companies of those who gave thanks in the house of God took their position, and I, and the half of the rulers with me.
I. Nehemiah's Memoirs. Fortunately the author of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah has quoted at length in the opening chapters of Nehemiah from the personal memoirs of the noble patriot through whose activity the walls of Jerusalem were restored. They are the best historical records in the Old Testament and they shed clear, contemporary light upon this most important period in the evolution of Judaism. The narrative is straightforward and vivid. It lights up the otherwise dark period that precedes Nehemiah and enables the historian to bridge with assurance the century that intervened before the apocryphal book of I Maccabees throws its light upon the course of Israel's troubled history. The detailed description of the rebuilding of the walls in Nehemiah 3 is probably from the Chronicler, but it reveals an intimate acquaintance with the topography and the later history of Judah's capital.
II. Nehemiah's Response to the Call to Service. The presence of a deputation from Jerusalem (including Nehemiah's kinsman Hanani) in the distant Persian capital of Susa was not a mere accident. Nehemah's response to their appeal and the epoch-making movement which he inaugurated reveal the presence of an impelling force. Probably back of all this movement was the work of the great prophet who speaks in Isaiah 40-66. In all that Nehemiah did that influence may be seen. In the fervent and patriotic prayer that he uttered on learning of conditions in Jerusalem he used the term servant or servants of Jehovah eight times in six short verses. It also echoes the phraseology and thought of the II Isaiah.
The king under whom Nehemiah served was evidently Artaxerxes I. In Nehemiah 12:10-11 the Chronicler states that Eliashib, the high priest in the days of Nehemiah, was the grandson of Joshua, who shared in the rebuilding of the temple in 520 B.C. Eliashib was also the great-grandfather of Jaddua, who was high priest in Jerusalem in 332 B.C., when Alexander conquered Palestine. References in the recently discovered Elephantine letters, as well as in the history of Josephus, confirm the conclusion that Nehemiah set out upon his expedition in the spring of 445 B.C. Like all those who ministered personally to the Persian kings, he was probably a eunuch and still a young man. The true piety which is revealed in his prayer, the courage shown by his daring to appear with sad face in the presence of the absolute tyrant who ruled the Eastern world, and his tact in winning the king's consent to his departure indicate that he was a man of rare energy and ability. Artaxerxes I was famous for his susceptibility to the influence of court favorites. The queen referred to in 1:6 was probably the queen-mother Amestris, who exercised commanding authority in the Persian court. Without the royal consent and the resources and authority granted him, Nehemiah could hardly have accomplished the large task which he undertook. The arduous journey of fifteen hundred miles over mountains and barren deserts was enough to daunt a man reared in the luxury of an Oriental court, but Nehemiah was inspired by an ideal of service which recognized no obstacles.
III. Obstacles that Confronted Him. The high-priestly rulers do not appear to have welcomed Nehemiah with enthusiasm. Some of them, at least, later sought to undermine his work. It is not difficult to infer the reason for their apathy. Intrenched wealth and authority are usually conservative, especially if conscious that their position is easily assailable. As the sequel proved, these leaders of the community were simply intent upon self-aggrandizement, even at the expense of the dependent members of the community. A revolutionizing work like that proposed by Nehemiah was certain to affect their vested interests and to reveal their cruel selfishness. Certain of their families had also intermarried with neighboring chieftains; and they were quite content with the existing conditions. A second obstacle was the opposition of the hostile peoples who surrounded the little Judean community. On the east the Ammonites had apparently pressed in and occupied the ancient Hebrew territory as far as the Jordan. Tobiah, the Ammonite, who figures prominently in Nehemiah's narrative, was probably one of their local chiefs. Gashmu, the Arabian, represented the half-civilized Bedouin tribes that had invaded the territory of Judea from the south and east during the period of weakness following the destruction of Jerusalem. Possibly he belonged to the Edomites who then held Hebron and all of the southern part of Judea. Nehemiah also refers to the descendents of Israel's ancient foes, the Philistines, living in the city of Ashdod. On the north the superior resources of Samaria had asserted themselves, and these survivors of the ancient Israelites who lived among the hills of Ephraim had grown into a powerful nation that overshadowed the struggling Judean community. These northerners, however, still worshipped at Jerusalem and were closely allied with the Jews. At their head was Sanballat, the Horonite, who probably came from Bethhoron, in southwestern Samaria. Each of these peoples inherited the feeling of hostility with which their fathers had regarded the people of Judah, and looked with suspicion upon any movement to re-establish Jerusalem's former strength and prestige. Furthermore, the men of the Judean community itself lacked courage and training. With inefficient helpers and with opponents within and without the community, Nehemiah's task seemed well-nigh impossible. That he succeeded in the face of all these obstacles in rebuilding the walls in the incredibly short period of fifty-two days is only explained by his superlative skill, devotion, and energy.