When was the Book of Job written?

by Rick Brentlinger
(Pace, FL, USA)

Job, painted between 1500-1503<br>by Albrecht Dürer, 1471-1528

Job, painted between 1500-1503
by Albrecht Dürer, 1471-1528



I believe the Book of Job was written during the time of the patriarchs, 1900 to 1700 BC. This date makes the most Biblical and historical sense given the evidence, some of which I will list below.

Liberal scholars insist the Book of Job was written around the 6th or 5th century BC. They believe that Sumerian stories containing themes similar to the Book of Job were written around 1700 BC. Therefore, because both the Sumerian and the Job stories wrestle with similar questions, liberal scholars conclude the Job story MUST be derivative from the Sumerian stories.

On the other hand, many conservative scholars date the book of Job to 1900-1700 BC, the time period known as the time of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If Job can reasonably be dated in the time of the patriarchs, it becomes a very real possibility that the Sumerian stories derived from Job via oral tradition, instead of vice versa. So the question before us is:

Based on the evidence, can we
reasonably date the Book of Job
to the time of the patriarchs?

  1. Eusebius, AD 263–339, places events in the Book of Job two ages before Moses, that is, in the patriarchal period, eighteen hundred years before Christ and six hundred years after Noah’s flood.

  2. Job is written in Hebrew, with some Syriac and Arabic expressions. Linguistically this indicates a use of language similar to the time of the Jewish patriarchs, when the Shemitic tribes spoke a common tongue and had not branched into different dialects, Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic.

  3. The religion of Job is that practiced among the patriarchs before God gave His law to Moses: sacrifices performed by the head of the family; no officiating priesthood, no tabernacle or temple, no consecrated altar.

  4. In the Hebrew text, Job 42:11 uses the word, קְשִׂיטָה qesiytah, meaning piece of silver or piece of money to describe the offerings brought to Job. Qesiytah is only used two other times in the Hebrew Old Testament, Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32, both times referencing money in the lifetime of the patriarch Jacob.

  5. In Job 42:15, Job allowed his daughters an inheritance along with their brothers. Hundreds of years later, under the law of Moses, if a man’s sons were living, they received the inheritance, not the daughters, Numbers 27:8.

  6. If Job was written in the 6th - 5th century BC, it is reasonable to believe there would be some mention of the priesthood, the law of Moses, the temple, Jewish religious feasts. Because these are not mentioned, it is reasonable to conclude that Job was written before God gave Moses the law around 1450 BC.

  7. According to Job 42:16, Job lived another 140 years after the events described in the Book of Job. Because he already had immense wealth and a large family, Job must have been at least 40 years old when events in Job began. 40 + 140 = 180 years old. That long a life matches the long lives of the patriarchs. Abraham lived 175 years according to Genesis 25:7.

  8. The Bible describes Job's immense wealth by numbering his herds, Job 1:3; 42:12. The patriarch Abraham’s wealth is also described in relation to his vast herds, Genesis 12:16, 13:3, 5ff. The patriarch Jacob’s wealth is also described in relation to his herds, Genesis 30:33-43.

  9. That Sumerian and Egyptian literature bearing some similarity to Job were written around the time of the patriarchs indicates similar age for the Book of Job rather than indicating that Job is a thousand year younger derivative work.

  10. Some personal names in the book of Job were common names during the patriarchal period: Sheba (Job 6:19), Genesis 10:7, 28; also Abraham’s grandson Sheba, Genesis 25:3; Tema (Job 6:19), Genesis 25:15, another of Abraham’s grandsons; Eliphaz (Job 42:9), the son of Esau, Genesis 36:4; Uz (Job 1:1), Abraham’s nephew, Genesis 10:23
Our common sense conclusion is that the liberal scholars are wrong. The Book of Job was written in the time of the patriarchs, 1900-1700 BC. This link about Job from Ancientopedia provides solid reasons why Job is not derivative from the Sumerian stories. And if you want to do more in depth study, here is the best list of online commentaries on the Book of Job.

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Comments for When was the Book of Job written?

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Sep 08, 2012
curious
by: Anonymous

there is one thing in the book of Job that contradicts what you have stated here plus I have heard that it was written before the flood which if what i am about to say is true that would make sense. In Chapter 39 verse 9 and 10 it speaks of the Unicorn as if it were present not past and most who believe in the flood believe that the unicorn perished as did the Dinosaurs which I believe is mentioned in Chapter 40 beginning in verse 15 to the end of the chapter it says God is speaking of a Hippo but the scripture does not support it now both animals were destroyed by the flood. I have a reason for asking will give the reason if you get back to me

Rick's comment: I don't believe the mention of the unicorn indicates a later date for Job. Here is a link which explains use of the word unicorn in the King James Bible.

Why does the Bible mention unicorns?

Sep 13, 2012
job older than we think
by: Anonymous

i believe job to be an account of when the glaciers were receeding much older than your dates perhapse 15000 bc from a time we know little about. i believe it but i don't think we have the dates right. evidence exists around the world of a pre flood global civilization from this time.

Easter island ,Peru,Greece,jereuslem,balbek and egypt are examples of very ancient sites either destroyed or abandon at that time.

Dec 20, 2013
Job described an ice age
by: Nick

Noah probably had the dinosaurs (dragons or tannin/n) with him on the Ark. Don't worry, there was plenty of room as they were likely juvenile.

The Ice age was described in Job. But the dates gathered by modern science must know the exact preexisting conditions to determine age. this has always been an issue with carbon 14 & radiometric dating. It's not reliable in the slightest.

Remember, superheated water sprung from the earth during the flood, separating the continents, dropping the sea floor, raising up mountains, & destroying life. That much high pressure superheated water would cool much more rapid in the upper atmosphere and freeze many animals inside newly formed glaciers. that's why we find mammoths froze standing up with erections (from suffocation) & vertically fractured bones.

Apr 04, 2015
Interesting
by: Victor King

Thanks for your help in my search to date the book of Job but I was wondering if this site is for real? Can you be a gay christian? What scripture does this come from? Not trying to be insulting but the only time I read of homosexuals is swhen God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of it and where He says to not to do it.

Rick's comment: Yes, we're for real. There are lots of real gay Christians who love God, believe the Bible and live for Jesus. Please click on any NavBar link under, What The Bible Says, to see why the general consensus about the Clobber passages is wrong. And I'm glad we can be a blessing to you about the date of Job. Many thanks for stopping by.

What must I do to be saved?

Jun 05, 2016
The Book of Job Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence
by: Gertoux

The Book of Job is full of fascinating paradoxes: despite it’s being the oldest book of the Bible (Job 19:23), it is very badly known. Despite the fact that many details, even insignificant, about the life of Job are known this character is merely regarded like the Good Samaritan (a parable), despite the main question all over the book being "why evil prevails?"

The answer would be: "please, look at the hippopotamus and the crocodile" (Job 40:-42:6), which is poetic but quite absurd. However, as Maimonides had already understood a long time ago the Book of Job includes profound ideas and great mysteries, removes great doubts, and reveals the most important truths (The Guide for the Perplexed III:22).

Indeed Job lived (1710-1500) near Bozra in Idumea and received a deep and detailed answer, when the Israelites were suffering in Egypt (the Hyksos), in order to know when and how the evil angel, Leviathan a.k.a. Satan, would be defeated by Behemoth the first creature of God (Job 40:19).

In a surprising manner, archaeology has shown that all the geographical and historical details in the Book of Job are accurate and reliable.
https://www.academia.edu/5613976

Jul 13, 2016
on the book of job
by: kibretu tadele

it is very very interesting that your Biblical information about job. God bless you.

Aug 07, 2016
Can you provide sources for the dates?
by: Anonymous

I have never heard that Job was from the dates that you provided I have always heard it was from the 1500's. Your first point should not be Eusebius he is widely regarded as being of low credibility if I were to do this article it would just focus on what the text of job itself says.

Rick's comment: My reasons for dating Job to the time of the patriarchs are found in the numbered list in the article. The patriarchs are almost universally acknowledged to be in the 1900 to 1700 BC time frame.

I mentioned Eusebius to indicate that someone within 350 years of the apostolic era believed Job was an ancient book instead of a work written in the 6th to 5th century BC time frame.

Good point about focusing on what the text of Job says. I do point out the use of language in Job, worship practices mentioned in Job, method of gauging wealth in Job's time period and names in Job which were common names in the patriarchal time period.

Aug 07, 2016
Can you provide sources for the dates?
by: Anonymous

I am responding to your response. From what I have seen the stories of the patriarchs are believed to have been written in the 5th-6th century and set around 1900-2000. also they are not widely accepted as being historical figures. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham#Historicity_and_origins http://www.answers.com/Q/Did_Abraham_exist
those are a few websites that show problems with it.
My point about eusebius is I hear he isn't very credible.

Rick's comment: Discounting Eusebius because you heard he isn't very credible is not a persuasive argument. The testimony of Eusebius to the antiquity of the book of Job is persuasive because it is 1700 years old.

That means, in the AD 300-330 time frame, the Christian community believed the story of Job was contemporaneous with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I certainly agree that Eusebius was too effusive in his praise of the Emperor Constantine but that does not discredit his views on the antiquity of the book of Job.

The links you provided rely on the new archeology and reject biblical archeology. They reflect the liberal unbelieving position, not a conservative Bible believing position. These links discuss that.

Current attitudes concerning Bible history and archeology.

The ages of the antediluvian patriarchs

Ancient Middle Eastern Culture and the Bible

I write from the perspective of a born again blood washed saved gay Christian man who believes the Bible is God's inspired inerrant revelation of Himself to the human race. I therefore approach the Bible with a believing heart, trusting the truth of the biblical narrative. Hope this is helpful.

Aug 08, 2016
Can you provide sources for the dates?
by: Anonymous

Biblical archaeology is the bible says it so let's twist anything we find to fit. I agree the book of job is from a later time than around the 6th century. If you think the bible is inerrant does gay Christian mean something other than what one might think?

Rick's comment: I believe your description of biblical archaeology is off the mark. Amateur archaeologists probably sometimes assume facts not in evidence but trained biblical archaeologists are as well educated and competent in their field as other archaeologists.

No, gay Christian means precisely what it says.

Nov 07, 2016
Dating of Job
by: Anderson

One of the better commentaries on dating the book of Job, BRAVO!


Rick's comment: Thank you Anderson.


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