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There are such manifest resemblances of thought, of general style, and of phraseology," between the Book of Job' and the Introduction to Proverbs, that we can hardly be wrong in supposing that they proceeded from the same circle. A comparison of the two works seems to me to warrant the conjecture that the latter is the older. The writer of 'Job' has read and admired the Introduction to Proverbs, and this noble work is the channel through which the inspiring impulse reached his own mind. He heartily accepts the proverb-writer's doctrine of the divine origin of true wisdom (see chap. xxviii.); but God has revealed to him a deeper view of the problem of evil. The earlier writer had said that trouble is to be accepted thankfully as a paternal discipline. Sad experience, under a higher guidance, has taught the author of 'Job' that this is not to be taken as unconditionally correct-that it is, in fact, but a fragment of the truth; and hence he puts the statement of Prov. iii. 11, 12 into the mouth of one of Job's friends (Eliphaz), who, though pious and intense, was certainly narrow-minded in a degree, perhaps, proportionate to his admirable intensity. A doctrine which at one time had done good service as an expression of religious moral philosophy, had now become an obstacle to faith, and needed widening. This widening was committed, in God's educative providence, to the author of Job.' His talent was not that of a prophet, but partly that of a moralist or 'wise man,' and partly that of a poet. Hence he makes the problem of the unmerited suffering of the righteous the subject of a reflective poem, with a slight dramatic tinge. He exchanges the vague treatment of the consulting moral physician for an imaginative reproduction of concrete facts. There seems to have been an ancient tradition alluded to by Ezekiel (xiv. 14, 20) of a righteous and much-tried man, whose name, like that of Priam among the Greeks, had become the symbol of immeasurable woe. This our poet adopted as the framework of a comprehensive discussion of his problem, at the same time imbuing it with a new and higher significance. And be it remarked in passing, that the treatment of this ancient tradition by the author of 'Job' is a sufficient warrant for the illustrative use which Christian preachers make of the Old Testament narratives, infusing into them an even higher meaning than was possible to the author of Job.' The question which arose before the mind of the latter was this: How could it be that an innocent man like Job was overtaken by such an awful calamity; and more than this, how can there be so large a class of innocent unfortunate ones consistently with the Divine righteousness? For Job, like Dante in his pilgrimage, and like Goethe's Faust, has a
The most palpable of these resemblances are the following:Prov. iii. II, comp. Job v. 17.
Prov. iii. 14, 15
cf. Job xxviii. 15-19.
Prov. viii. 10, II
Prov. iii. 19, 20, cf. Job xxviii. 26, 27.
twofold character, individual and typical. As an individual, he is one of the most striking figures of the Old Testament. He is not merely a patriarch in the already remote youth of the world, but the idealized portrait of the author himself. In the rhythmic swell of Job's passionate complaints, there is an echo of the heart-beats of a great poet and a great sufferer. The cry, 'Perish the day in which I was born' (iii. 3), is a true expression of the first effects of some unrecorded sorrow. In the life-like description beginning 'Oh that I were as in months of old' (xxix. 2), the writer is thinking probably of his own happier days, before misfortune overtook him. Like Job (xxix. 7, 21-25) he had sat in the broad place' by the gate, and solved the doubts of perplexed clients. Like Job, he had maintained his position triumphantly against other wise men. He had a fellow
feeling with Job in the distressful passage through doubt to faith. Like Job (xxi. 16), he had resisted the suggestion of practical atheism, and with the confession of his error (xlii. 2-6) had recovered spiritual peace. But there is yet another aspect to the personality of the author of 'Job'-his open eye and ear for the sights and lessons of external nature. He might have said with a better right than Goethe, What I have not gained by learning, I have by travel.'" He is such a one as Sirach describes (Ecclus. xxxix. 4), 'He will travel through strange countries, for he hath tried the good and the evil among men ? From a wide observation of nature he derived the magnificent scenery-scenery, however, which is much more than scenery, for it furnishes important elements of his sacred philosophy. Not that the imagination is allowed to be inactive; indeed, one may ask, Where in the Bible is the imagination allowed to be dormant, and would the Bible have conquered its place in the world's respect had it been otherwise? No; our poet devoted his imagination, as his next precious offering, in the service of religion. For the full and free consideration of his subject, he felt that he required an absolutely clear medium, disengaged from the associations even of the true, the revealed religion. And is he not in this point also a warrant for the apologetic' treatment to which we, like the author of 'Job,' though in other forms, are obliged to subject our religion? With a poet's tact, and with a true sympathy for doubters, he created an ideal medium, in which hardly anything Israelitish is visible. The elements which he fused together came from the three countries with which he seems to have been best acquainted-Arabia, Judah, Egypt. From Arabia he takes the position which he assigns to Job, of a great agriculturist-chieftain. The stars of the Arabian sky must have deepened his unmistakable interest in astronomy (ix. 9, Xxxviii. 31-33). Personal knowledge of caravan-life seems to have suggested that most touching figure, which our own Cowper has so finely, though so inaccurately paraphrased (vi. 15-20). And the same
desert regions doubtless inspired those splendid descriptions of the wild goat, the wild ass, and the horse (chap. xxxix.), which extorted a tribute of admiration from the traveller Humboldt. But neither agricultural life alone, nor the phenomena of the desert, have furnished him with sufficient poetical material. He who would rise to the height of this great argument' must have gained his experience of life on a more extensive and changeful theatre. From Judah, then, the poet borrows his picture of city-life, which presupposes a complex social organism, with kings, priests, judges, physicians, authors, and wise men. This description of the sessions of Job in the gate (chap. xxix.) is distinctly Judæan in character. It was the Nile-valley, however, which supplied the most vivid colours to his palette. He is acquainted with the Nile and its papyrus-boats (ix. 26), with the plants which grow on its banks (viii. 11, xl. 21), and with the habits of the two wonderful animals (Behemoth,' or the hippopotamus, and the Leviathan,' or the crocodile'), which frequent its banks (xl. 15-xli. 34). He is no less familiar with mining operations (xxviii. I-II), such as were practised since the earliest times by the Egyptians. But the author of Job' is no mere observer of details. Phenomena are in his eyes but manifestations of the perfect and allruling, but incomprehensible wisdom of God (chaps. xxviii., xxxviii. -xli.). From us,' a great preacher has said, the wonder of these things [in too many of our moods] is gone. . . . We have entered the way where light dwelleth,' and can name the incandescent chemicals from which it comes. The wild ass,' and the 'unicorn'are they not stuffed in our museums? and in the nearest Zoological Gardens may you not see Behemoth in his reeds, moving his tail like a cedar'? But the author of 'Job' looked at the unicorn with an eye quickened by the thought of God. Orion and the Pleiades above, the forests and the torrents below .. the neck of the war-horse, the scales of Leviathan, are marvels in his eyes-the speaking fragments of an almighty life behind. From us, the wonder of these things is gone.' But the more we live ourselves into the Bible, and not least into the inspired and inspiring poem 'Job,' the more the wonder comes back to us. "My Father made them all.' It is still the calming thought of a higher than human strength and wisdom-especially wisdom-in which the racked brains of both the ancient and the modern thinker can alone find repose. Certainly an intellectual solution of the problem of Providence was withheld as much from the Hebrew poet as from any of his
But the author of 'Job' tends constantly to rise above the sphere
Such at least is the prevalent view of these animals. To M. Chabas, the Egyp tologist, however, the descriptions seem to have a fabulous tinge, which contrasts with the accurate pictures of the desert animals. He also remarks that the Egyptians often represented animals which can never have existed out of wonderland (Etudes sur l'antiquité historique, prem. éd., pp. 391–3).
James Martineau, Hours of Thought, first series, pp. 315, 316.
of individual life. He has an eye for political changes, which occur in the East with such startling rapidity.
He leadeth counsellors away stripped,
He looseth the belt of kings,
And bindeth a cord upon their loins
He leadeth priests away stripped,
And bringeth the firmly rooted to a fall (xii. 17-19).
A still deeper impression has been made upon him by the hard lot of the poor, and the prosperity of the wicked rich
A land is given into the hand of a wicked man;
The face of its judges he covereth ;
If not (He), who then is it? (ix. 24.)
And again he passionately asks—
Why do the wicked live on,
Become old, yea mighty in power? (xxi. 7.)
It must be clear to all that in such passages the hero has become a type of the righteous man suffering undeservedly. And this is confirmed by the numerous passages which are quite unsuitable for an individual, even when a sufferer like Job. His complaints are often really hyperbolical, and lower one's estimate both of himself and of his poet, unless we recognize the fact that he is a type of a class (hence those strange lapses, by which Job is made to use expressions suggestive of a plurality of persons, xvii. I, xviii. 2, 3, xix. II, xxvii. II, 12), and—inasmuch as every righteous sufferer is a type of the Ideal Sufferer, and Job is a 'representative man'-a foreshadowing of the life and sufferings of the world's Saviour. Who can fail to have been struck by the repeated resemblances between the complaints of Job and those put into the mouth of pious sufferers by the Psalmist's? I have sought to show elsewhere that even a literary exegesis is not satisfied by the theory that these vehement complaints in the Psalms are the issue of personal troubles; and I may now state my conviction that the only way to rescue the credit of Job (his only Ehrenrettung, as our German friends would say) is to regard him as an unconscious prophet of Christ.
The truth is that the author was moved by a twofold impulse-a didactic one as well as a poetic. It may please him to assume the personality of Job, but he is supremely disregardful of what Western critics call the unities of time and place. It is no mere Arabian emir who addresses us, nor are we expected to throw ourselves back in imagination into an age of intellectual simplicity. Relatively to us, indeed, the problem of Job' may be a simple one; but relatively to the patriarchal age, it is highly subtle and complicated. From a purely literary point of view, the author of this wonderful work stands foremost among psychological poets.' He has drawn an un
rivalled picture of a great character tested and refined by a vast calamity. He has also not indeed solved, nor even tried theoretically to solve, the problem of human suffering; but at least concentrated into a focus the data for its discussion, so far as they could be derived from the experience of his day. And since he has done this for the first time, and has thrown his thoughts into a peculiar and striking artistic form, his work is not only material for the literary historian, but a classic for all times.
T. K. CHEYNE.