Genealogy of Job

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Job, Old Testament


My wife is having difficulty finding out who Job's parents were as well as when he was born. She is reading the bible through again this year, and in going through the genealogy, she has not located the info she wanted. Any help would be appreciated.


Neither Job nor his ancestors are ever mentioned in any of the genealogies. The main reason for this is that the writer remains completely anonymous. Moreover, scholars still have no idea when this book was written. They have proposed dates as early as the tenth century BCE and as late as the fourth century BCE (around the time of the exile). There are no forensic clues within the story that might help locate it in time. Scholars have relied upon phrases or word studies for help, but, ultimately, to no avail. Most opt for a time between the 10th and 7th centuries, but even that, is a three hundred year spread.

This does not mean, however, that scholars have nothing to say about the author. Indeed, he is commonly thought to be among the greatest wise men in all Israel. He was certainly well educated as evidenced by his broad vocabulary. He has a vast knowledge of nature and knows well the habits of animals. He was familiar with precious stones, listing over thirteen by name. He understood weather patterns and could read the stars. He also described mining, hunting, and trapping practices of ancient Israel. He was well versed in other cultures, especially Egypt. Noted parallels between the Book of Job and ancient Ugaritc texts cannot be that coincidental. He also knew his own patriarchal history, which included ancient names for God and past ethical standards. He was, of course, very spiritually minded. And lastly, he was a devout servant of Yahweh and struggled mightily with the disconnect between a just God and unjust circumstances.

The best scholars can do is place Uz in the "East," possibly in Edom. There is a little more information in the Greek and Latin versions of the Book of Job. There, it states that Job dwelt in Ausitis on the confines of Idumea and Arabia. It continues that his original name was Johab. He married an Arabian woman and fathered Ennon. Job's father was Zerah who was from the lineage of Esau – five generations from Abraham. They were natives of Bozrah. The text continues that Job reigned in Edom succeeding Balak, the son of Beor. (In the Hebrew Bible, Balaam is the son of Beor.) Following Job were Husham and then Hadad, who was the son of Bedad and who defeated the Midianites in the fields of Moab. His city was named Arith. His three friends were Eliaphaz, a descendant of Esau and king of Teman, Bildad, king of the Shuhites, and Zophar, king of the Naamathites. Several church Fathers as well as Philo, Aristeus, and Polyhistor attested to the accuracy of this genealogy.

Others suggest that Job was contemporaneous with Moses (1300 BCE). In the Pseudepigrapha, one finds The Testament of Job. That claims Job was a king in Egypt. It also tells us the name of his wife, Sitidos. One Talmudic Tractate claims the Book of Job was written by Moses. (Another claims it dates back to the time of Jacob, that Job is the son of Uz who was the son of Nahor who was the brother of Abraham.) Still others claim that Job was one of the advisors to Pharaoh during the time of Moses; indeed, he was present when Pharaoh decreed that all the male Hebrew infants should be drowned. Even though he did not agree with the decree, he said nothing to dissuade Pharaoh from implementing it. This was, presumably, the sin for which he would be punished – the sin of silence.

Are any of these scenarios possible? Of course, but it should be obvious that scholars are not in agreement on any of them. Perhaps it is best to accept the deliberate anonymity presented by the author of Job and to acknowledge that certain things cannot be known.

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