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Job meaning


Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Job.html

🔼The name Job: Summary

He Will Fatherize
Returning, water-carrier
Enemy, The Persecuted
From the noun אב ('ab), father.
From the noun אוב ('ob), a noun that means "(s)he who returns" or "(s)he who reflects".
From the verb איב ('ayab), to be an enemy.

🔼The name Job in the Bible

Job was a man from Uz, whose unfortunate test by satan became fuel for the greater discussion of what sin is and does (Job 1:1).

Sin (literally: to miss your mark/goal) is whatever makes a person deviate from perfection. How YHWH manages the universe is hard to guess at, and also why some of us lose our children to violent people or natural forces. Why do some of us get cancer, plunge into insanity or bankruptcy or any kind of destructive temptation? Has it all to do with God choosing the least of evils? The consequences of sin are inescapable, and sadly the consequences of our neighbor's sin may easily affect us.

Some of us die, and we don't know why. But we have the promise that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

After his ordeal Job has seven sons, who remain unnamed, and three daughters of astonishing pulchritude. "And in all the land no women were found so fair as Job's daughters" — Job 42:15. Their names are Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-happuch (42:14).

Job is mentioned only once in the New Testament. The epistler James refers to Job (spelled Ιωβ, Iob) as an example of endurance (James 5:11).

🔼What Job might really be about

The story of Job is among the oldest of the Bible and plays at the time of the patriarchs. We know this because of certain very clear hints. Job's children were old enough to be eating and drinking in the house of the oldest (Job 1:10). Since there were ten of them, and Job lived another 140 years after his ordeal (42:16), his total life span would neatly match the norm of the patriarchal record. Furthermore, his wealth was measured in life stock (1:3), rather than precious metals, as was the custom in later times. Other hints comes from word usage, such as Shaddai, and other customs, such as patriarchal priesthood (1:4).

All this means that Job's friend Eliphaz the Temanite was roughly a contemporary of Eliphaz, the son of Esau, and the father of Teman, who built the city where obviously the Temanites resided. And that means that the two might as well be the same person!

We know precisely nothing about who wrote Job, or more importantly: why it was written in the first place. Some maintain that Job is entirely historical, and a real-time accurate description of what transpired, which would mean that the author of Job invented journalism thousands of years prior to the formal introduction of that particular technique. Others believe that Job is wholly fictional, and though brilliant, basically somebody's idea of a good yarn. Here at Abarim Publications we understand the Bible to be not historical (because that would subject the Word of God to time and causality) but algorithmical: it describes the software of reality, so that the events of the story will always happen wherever the conditions are comparable. The story of Job did not happen once upon a time, but will always happen in exactly the same way wherever the chess pieces are set the same.

Here at Abarim Publications we can't help but note that the story of Job is presented as a fable, with Eliphaz as the elephant, Zophar as the bird and Bildad as the grazing herd animal. In that particular presentation, satan embodies the carnivorous predator — and read our riveting online e-book How The Mind Works for a much more elaborate look at this. The Book of Job, ultimately, is then themed upon the question of how mankind, rather than the mighty elephant, the high-flying bird or the massively populous herdling, was able to rise above animal kind and create farms and later parks and wildlife reserves where all living creatures could enjoy a management whose complexities they couldn't have begun to contemplate.

Job and Elihu would both be hominids, with Job the much older and more primitive generation(s) and Elihu the much younger and more learned and sophisticated generation(s). Note that God scolds the three older friends (Job 42:7) but not Elihu, which implies that God actually uses Elihu as mouth piece to proclaim the final chapters of Job: YHWH begins to answer Job out of the whirlwind as soon as Elihu's declares that God will not do violence to justice and universal righteousness (which is why men fear him), nor will he favor the proficient (Job 37:24).

The key here is that Job and his three friends consistently demarcate the good from the bad, which marks a bi-polar world view, which is a polytheism. Monotheism begins in the understanding that the whole of reality is one single unified network in which all things, no matter how remote or alien, are connected to all other things. And that the only law that governs the whole is the law that governs the whole: the same inviolable law for every single node in the entire network (Exodus 12:49, Matthew 5:45). This is why God shows no favor (Romans 2:11).

Darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it. Foolishness is not the opposite of wisdom but the absence of it. Evil is not the opposite of good but the absence of it. As God himself says: "I am YHWH, and there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me. That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no One besides Me. I am YHWH, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity. I am YHWH who does all these" (Isaiah 45:5-7).

But regardless of its presentation as fable, here at Abarim Publications we suspect that the story of Job is not about an unfortunate gentleman and his four inconsiderate friends, but rather a review of the greater debate as it was conducted between the five major strands of theology in the Levant and in the patriarchal era; meaning that the Book of Job is an ancient piece of comparative theology.

In that particular model, Job would obviously represent a proto-form of Hebraic Yahwism, whereas Eliphaz would represent the belief system of Edom at large. Note that both Job and Eliphaz lived in Edom — Job in Uz and Eliphaz in Edom's capital Teman — and the friendly friction between Job and Eliphaz may in fact be a re-visitation of the brotherly friction between Jacob and Esau (the story of whom in turn is either journalism, fiction or something even better). In fact, the motif of the thinker versus the doer, which is reflected in the Jacob and Esau cycle, obviously also exists in Job-of-Uz versus Eliphaz-of-Teman (but also note that Yahwism is nevertheless all about practically applicable knowledge and skills and very little about the kind of theoretical thinking that the Greeks would be so famous for). But the bottom-line difference between the two is that Eliphaz believed that good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people, while Job was obviously convinced that it doesn't work that way.

Which particular wisdom tradition Zophar the Naamathite stands for is hard to estimate at this remove, but his name and ethnonym, as well as the themes of his speeches, seem to suggest that Zophar believed that man's highest attainable good is well-earned pleasure and enough peace to enjoy it (Job 11:13-19).

Bildad the Shuhite probably had something to do with Baal and Bel centered theology: any sort of religion that cries out to some "Lord!" but only because everybody else is and not because anybody actually knows who or what they are talking about. Young Elihu, son of Barachel of Buz of Ram, probably represented the theology that most corresponded to Israel's or even specifically that of the Jews: a theology largely based on information technology and itself a precursor to modern science and the Internet.

Obviously all other reality models were and are inadequate and ultimately sternly spoken to by YHWH himself (Job 42:7). But the author of the story adds the important nuance that Job-and-Elihu's model was right only by the grace of the Lord, and existed not just to its own benefit, but to pray for Job's three helpful but erroneous friends (42:8), very much in the same way that Abraham's blessing would be not just for him but for all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3, 22:18, 28:14, Psalm 22:27, Acts 3:25).

🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Job

The origin of the name Job is unclear, even unknown says BDB Theological Dictionary perhaps a touch too confident. BDB also submits that comparable versions of our name occur in other Semitic languages, where they mean No Father or Where Is My Father?. But whatever the connection, it's obvious that the name Job, איוב ('yob), closely resembles the word for father, namely אב ('ab), and may even be understood as He Will Fatherize (perhaps alike our English word "patronize," which similarly stems from the Latin word for father, namely pater):

Excerpted from: Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary

The noun אב ('ab) means father, but describes primarily a social relationship rather than a biological one. That social fatherhood was the defining quality of the community's alpha male, the one around whom all economy revolved and from whom emanated all instructions by which the 'sons' (בן, ben) operated. It's unclear where this word אב ('ab) comes from but the verb abu means to decide.

The father of any animal is, of course, its male parent, but humanity is not a physical matter but a mental one: our celebrated ratio depends entirely on our language, and so do subsequent law and civilization. Physically, humans are entirely identical to animals — Psalm 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10 — and our physical, biological father is not necessarily the same as our mental father. One's mental father is the one who gets to download his operating system into our head: what Paul was to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2). The mental father of most of us Westerners is the State (which regards our biological moms and dads as a mere breeding couple: their brood belongs to whoever gets to educate them), and our youngest generations have social media protocols as father.

A father is someone who teaches, and the father-son relationship is a teacher-pupil relationship. And that relationship can, and very often does, derail from either end:

A father who himself is little more than a slightly advanced pupil — a so-called new father — may, in his enthusiasm, completely overwhelm the pupil. Such a new father may forget that his job is strictly lunar: to merely reflect a much greater realm, a solar realm, of knowledge from which he too derives his light. The pupil, likewise, who has never been exposed to any sort of systematic knowledge, may be seduced into believing that the greatness of the tutor derives from the tutor, rather than from God in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and fall in love with the tutor with the love that was designed to drive a person to God. Such a pupil is literally a lunatic, but such a tutor is satanic. Perhaps many tutors are highly attractive to their pupils by accident but some do it deliberately and know exactly what they are doing.

A new father may even forget that the world has two sets of rules of engagement: one set of rules that govern the dynamics of two parties of equal weight but opposite polarities (in which masculinity is the tendency to be individual and thus to compete, whereas femininity is the tendency toward collectivity and thus to cooperate) that governs the dynamic between husband and wife, or government and population, or God and creation, and so on. The second set governs the goings on between parties of unequal weight (masters and slaves, kings and servant girls, humans and animals, and so on), and parties of equal polarity (either masculine or feminine). A new father is in some way or form also a new husband, and his house is not only peopled by his wife but also all the children that he gets to instruct. These are complicated matters and sometimes new fathers can't keep the two apart and erroneously apply to wrong set of rules to the wrong relationship. The Greeks glorified the romantic relationship between tutor and pupil, but the Hebrews condemned it.

Some commentators derive our name Job from the difficult noun אוב ('ob), mostly meaning moonshine or lunacy or even witchcraft. The plural of this word, namely אבות ('obot) is spelled identical to the plural of the word for father, namely אבות ('abot). The plural of father obviously occurs all over the Bible, but the plural of אוב ('ob) occurs only in Job 32:19, where young Elihu says: "Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, like new 'obot it is about to burst." This seems to evoke the image of a young tutor who is barely able to keep himself from believing he's more than a mere full moon, reflective only of God's wisdom:

Excerpted from: Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary

The difficult word אוב ('ob) has to do with feelings of adoration that a young pupil might feel for their older teacher. These feelings are entirely natural and stem from a person's sex drive, but the obvious responsibility of the older teacher is to tell the student that their perfectly fine feelings should be directed toward God, from whom all wisdom comes, not to some teacher who happens to have reflected some of God's majestic and life giving nature (a senior's predatory abuse of a pupil's adoration is told in the story of Aquarius, the water-bringer, the boy who goes to the well to get water for the people back home).

In literature, this same dynamic is often metaphorized as the light that comes from the sun, that gives life on earth and enlightenment to men, whereas the moon has no light of its own and is only a reflector of the light that is from the sun. Someone who adores the moon for its light is a lunatic. And any moon that proclaims to be the sun is satanic.

Our noun אוב ('ob) was also the word that described the spirit of a witch or medium (1 Samuel 28:7). A parallel in our modern world would be entertainer (including prostitutes and narcotics) who dazzles his audience but not to have them contemplate the wonders of the laws of physics.

Hence NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Returning, perhaps a bit too liberally implying that Job was named after his correction and his return to righteousness. Our noun אוב ('ob) does not describe a virtuous returning (of a water-carrying boy to his home) but rather a vicious getting lost in the seductive lure of a witch, a corrupting teacher or a seductive woman at a well.

Other commentators (HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, for instance) see similarities with the verb איב ('ayab), meaning to be an enemy:

Excerpted from: Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary

The verb איב ('ayab) means to be hostile to or to be an enemy. Noun איבה ('eba) means enmity.

The noun איבה ('eba), meaning enmity occurs a mere four times in the Bible, but perhaps most notably in God's decree to the serpent: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Genesis 3:15). This implies that as long as there is enmity in the world, the head of the snake is bound to the heel of man, and the two might even be thought of as occupying the same space, or the same symbol: that of the moon. If our name Job indeed comes from the word for enmity, it should be noted that from the word for heel, namely עקב ('aqeb) comes the name Jacob. From the word for seed, namely זרע (zara'), comes the name Nazareth (or so we here at Abarim Publications propose). From the word for head, namely ראש (ro'sh), comes our English word "race" or kind or species.

Alfred Jones indeed derives the name Job from this verb איב ('ayab) and is convinced that the name Job is a passive form and thus means The Persecuted. Renowned theologian Gesenius agrees with Jones (or rather: Jones agrees with Gesenius) and reads Object Of Enmity.

Note that Elihu is a Buzite, from בוז (buz), contempt, which implies that Elihu is a contempted one, not one who does the contempting. This obviously concurs with what Isaiah said about the Christ: "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (Isaiah 53:3).

If the three friends represent the three main animal groups: elephants, herdlings and birds, then Job represents the flat-footers (mice, rabbits, apes), the natural home-builders and mystics (see our article on Jacob for more on this) who eventually spawned the much despised naked ape, the squirmy runt of the great ape family who failed at everything and was even driven out of the jungle and onto the savannah, where he invented information technology and would inherit the earth and domesticate and cultivate it. Note that the restored Job's three daughters relate to the three friends: Zophar (wild bird) to Jemimah (dove), Bildad (wild herdling) to Keziah (domesticated flocks in stables and cordoned off pastures), and Eliphaz (elephant) to Keren-happuch (horn of eye-beautification).

🔼The enemy

A child that grows and learns but not yet understands the core nature of the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), is bound to be at odds with both perfection and liberty. But no sane parent would therefore conclude that the child is the enemy of proper behavior. The child grows into a man, but no sane man would regard any version of the child he once was, or the less learned generations that bore him, as enemies. The man's enemy were the generations of those who were not the man, who wanted to tear the man apart. Now that the man is an adult, he understands that the wholeness of his human kind — the language and rationality that binds humanity into a harmonic whole — could only have come about when the child not only survived the attacks from external predators, but also managed to ditch the internal qualities that kept it from maturing and uniting. Maturing means resisting both the lure of dead-ends and the threat of predators, both external and internal, and engaging in dialogues with the "heads" of different kinds of being, both external and internal.

Job's debate with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar teaches him how to withstand his internal elephant, herdling and bird, so that he may grow into man: a creature defined by the freedom that comes from the perfect law of liberty, the very purpose of the Gospel (Galatians 5:1, Luke 4:18).

A Hebrew audience would probably hear Enemy for the name Job, and perhaps indeed a passive form of the verb, so that the name-bearer becomes the object of hostilities, specifically those imposed on Job by God. Others understand perhaps that God is never an enemy to a righteous man, nor of the imperfect child that still needs to win its many battles on the way to righteousness.

Some have noted with some concern the casual parallel between the names Job and satan, as both may mean enemy or enmity. But with immediate relief we also note the parallel between the office of Job and that of Christ. It's clear that Job finds himself in the thick of the debate between the great schools of thought of his day, and Jesus had the same problem. Careless observers may conclude that both Job and Christ were partakers in that debate, and pretty much personify one particular side of it. People who have actually read the Bible will understand that although Christ's cultural and historical context may have forced his themes and wording somewhat, he himself has nothing to do with any particular religion (in Christ there's neither Jew nor Greek; Galatians 3:28). Christ has to do with humanity's collective understanding of natural law (Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16-17), and a society derived from both that understanding (Isaiah 9:6) and the individual's freedom to pursue that understanding and invest it in whatever one wants.

Factions always think they are right and the rest is wrong, and the more aggressively warring factions engage each other, the more humanity's uniform understanding of natural law, and thus human freedom, dignity, creativity and prosperity suffer. Hence Job's plight and Jesus' crucifixion. Satan, who embodies opposition of any kind, will always try to thwart consensus, and satan becomes greater when well-meaning factions become more vehement in their fight against the infidels.

Some say that the solution to this paradox lies in carpet bombing the opposition until no opposition remains. This method has been tried many times, but the bigger the bombs one aims to throw, the stronger opposition rises in one's own camp and the ultimate defeat of opposition necessitates the suicide of the victor. Others preach utter tolerance of anything until everybody glows with a purple haze of love. This too has been tried many times and invariably results in evil men taking control of deeply weakened societies, causing rot and cancer at the social level.

Both the book of Job and the gospels conclude that human consensus must eventually prevail and opposition of any kind must eventually be overcome. But neither consensus nor the victory over opposition will be achieved by either violence or complacency, but by careful, critical and disciplined deliberations, non-biased study of creation, open mindedness and a discourse that is based on respect and fascination with other perspectives.

Opposition cannot be annulled by fighting it, because all aggression automatically generates opposition. Opposition can only be overcome by starving it from its need to exist.