New European Version: Old Testament

Deeper commentary on this chapter

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The Satan in Job (Job 1 and 2)

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Job 1 [English & Russian]

Other material relevant to this chapter:

The Satan In Job: A Fellow Worshipper?

Job's Satan: An Angel-Satan?

The Deconstruction Of The Satan Myth In Job

Themes In Job

The Names Of God In Job

Job's Spiritual Growth

Allusions To Job In The New Testament

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CHAPTER 1 Dec. 2 
The Prologue: Yahweh, Job and the Satan
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and turned away from the evil. 2There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3His possessions also were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the children of the east. 4His sons went and held a feast in the house of each one on his birthday; and they sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5It was so, when the days of their feasting had come to an end, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts. Job did so continually. 6Now it happened on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh, that Satan also came among them. 7Yahweh said to Satan, Where have you come from? Then Satan answered Yahweh and said, From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8Yahweh said to Satan, Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is none like him in the land, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil. 9Then Satan answered Yahweh and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Haven’t You made a hedge around him and around his family, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will renounce You to Your face. 12Yahweh said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power. Only on himself don’t put forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of Yahweh. 
Tragedy Strikes Job
13It fell on a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, 14that there came a messenger to Job and said, The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15and the Sabeans attacked and took them away. Yes, they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you. 16While he was still speaking, there also came another and said, The fire of God has fallen from the sky and has burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you. 17While he was still speaking, there came also another and said, The Chaldeans made three bands, and swept down on the camels, and have taken them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you. 18While he was still speaking, there came also another and said, Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, 19and behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men, and they are dead. I alone have escaped to tell you. 20Then Job arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground and worshiped. 21He said, Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be the name of Yahweh. 22In all this, Job did not sin, nor charge God with wrongdoing.


1:6 The common idea that Satan in Job was a sinful cosmic being who brought evil upon Job against God’s will and tried to make him sin is wrong. “Satan” is only mentioned in the first two chapters of Job and nowhere in the book is he defined as a fallen angel. The word means ‘adversary’ and of itself has no negative connotation; it can be used about good people (Mt. 16:21-23). “Sons of God” can refer to believers (Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:17-18; 1 Jn. 3:7). Angels do not bring false accusations against believers “before the Lord” (2 Pet. 2:11). It cannot be conclusively proved that Satan was a son of God - he “came among them”. Satan is described as “going to and fro in the earth”. There is no implication that he was doing anything sinful. Zechariah 1:11 implies that this is a Hebraism for observing. How can Satan be in heaven and also on the earth in Job’s time when, according to popular belief, he was thrown out at the time of Adam, or in 1914, according to the “Watchtower”? There cannot be sin or rebellion against God in heaven (Ps. 5:4-5; Hab. 1:13; Mt. 6:10; Ps. 103:19-21); Angels don’t sin (Lk. 20:35,36 cp. Rom. 6:23). The major theme of the book of Job is that Godbrought the problems into Job’s life and that eventually they made him a more righteous person (Job 2:10; 16:11; 19:21; 23:16; 42:11). Job did not believe that only good things came from God; he nowhere complains about Satan bringing the problems. Job realized that his sufferings had made him come to know God in practice rather than just in theory (42:5). Seeing that problems make us more righteous people if we respond correctly to them (Heb. 12:5-11), why would a sinful, wicked being, who wants to turn us away from God, bring these things into our lives, when actually they only make us more righteous and closer to God? The fact that Satan and the sons of God were in “the presence of the Lord” and presented themselves “before the Lord” (2:7; 1:6) does not necessarily mean that they were in heaven. The representatives of God carry the name of God, e.g. the angel which led Israel through the wilderness was called “the Lord” because it carried God’s name (Ex. 23:20-21), but it was not God himself in person (Ex. 33:12,20). Similarly, priests represent God (2 Chron. 19:6) and to come before them was to come “before the Lord” (Dt. 19:17). Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord” (Gen. 4:16) - not out of heaven but probably away from the presence of the angel - cherubim. Jesus was presented as a baby “before the Lord” (Lk. 2:22)- i.e. before the priest. Satan had to get power from God (2:3-6); he had none in his own right, indeed, God brought Job to Satan’s notice (1:8). Job often comments about God being the source of his sufferings (9:24). Job didn’t believe anyone apart from God was responsible. There is no indication that anything Satan did was sinful. Satan never actually says or does anything wrong; he simply makes the observation that there may well be a relationship between Job's service of God and the material blessing which God has given him. He is then empowered by God to bring calamities into Job's life. Time and again is it stressed, that God brought the problems upon Job, not satan independently (1:12,16; 2:3,10; 6:4; 8:4; 19:21; 42:18). Even if the “satan” (adversary) to Job was an angel, there is no reason to think it was sinful. An angel asked Abraham to offer Isaac to find out exactly how obedient Abraham would be (Gen. 22:12; see too Dt. 8:2).An evidently righteous angel was called a “satan” in Numbers 22:22. If we follow through the argument of the book, the logical answer of Job to the friends' allegations would have been "I'm suffering because Satan has it in for me! He's doing this, not God!". For the friends were reasoning that God was bringing such affliction into Job's life because Job was a sinner. The fact Job doesn't make this obvious retort indicates that "the Satan" wasn't understood by either Job nor the friends as a personal supernatural being of evil. The “sons of God” - the believers at that time - presented themselves before a priest or angel, perhaps at a religious feast. Someone there, maybe one of the worshippers, reflected that it was not surprising that Job was such a strong believer, seeing that God had so richly blessed him. God gave that person the power to afflict Job, to demonstrate that Job’s love of God was not proportionate to the blessings God had given him. Maybe the Satan was composed of Job’s three “friends” - they are rebuked at the end of the book (notice that “satan” is not rebuked here by name). Their discussions with Job indicate that they had their doubts as to his integrity and suspected that his faith was now weak because God had taken away the blessings from him (4:5,7). The prologue to Job is a literary device to place theological problems before us, e.g. of the relationship between service of God and receipt of blessing, and sin and suffering. The friends insist that "the destroyer" [by which they surely meant an early equivalent to 'the devil' of popular belief today] had touched Job- whereas Job insists that it is God who had destroyed him (15:21 cp. 19:10; 13:21). In some ways the book of Job is a deconstruction of the popular Persian and Canaanite myths about a 'satan' figure. Job, both in the story of his sufferings and his specific words, seeks to demonstrate that the essential issues in life is being "just with God", and not whether or not we are touched by the hand of an evil being; for the hand of God which touched Job (19:21) is the hand of 'satan' into whom God delivered Job temporarily (Job 1:12). Job says that the attitude of the friends is wrong- they should be looking into themselves, rather than fantasizing about the action of some unseen evil being they imagined (19:28,29). The book of Job is a dialogue concerning evil and suffering, with three popular views being represented by the three friends. These views are examined and corrected by the personal history of Job, as well as by the epilogue and prologue to the book. Eliphaz seems to be representative of the idea that Job is being hit by supernaturally controlled evil- Eliphaz speaks of a force of darkness (22:10,11) and sinful or faulty Angels living in an unclean Heaven (4:18; 15:15). Yet the answer to all this is that the Satan figure is under God's control, all Job's misfortunes come from God and His Angels- one of whom may have been called 'the adversary' ('Satan')- are in fact perfectly obedient to Him and not disobedient. And finally, Eliphaz and the friends are rebuked for their various wrong understandings, with God declaring Himself supreme and ultimate sovereign. Bildad's view of Angels in 25:5 "The stars are not pure in God's eyes" is corrected by God in Job 38:7, when He says that "the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy".