Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Job: Written in Arabic?

7. Whether the writer of the book was Job? Whether it was first written in Arabic? Whether it was written or translated by Moses? It appears probable that Job, or one of his friends, kept a record, and that from these in a later time a history was composed.


Also concerning the writer of this book, it is variously disputed. That it was written by Job himself, or at least one of Job’s friends, and that in the Arabic language, later translated into Hebrew by Moses, was already of old asserted by Pseudo-Origen, book I Commentarii in Jobum, and by others after him, with others thinking that it was written in the Hebrew language, in which it appears today, by Job himself. But, that the book was not first written in Arabic, and afterwards translated, these things appear to argue with sufficient force: the manner of the Hebraic meter, the pure Hebraism in the first and last chapters, and the custom of the Hebrews of calling Arabia the קֶדֶם/East, and the Arabs בְּנֵי־קֶדֶם, the children of the East: it is evident that it was not written by Job in Hebrew, because he was an Arab, and for that reason perhaps the book teems with Arabisms. Others make the writer of the book Moses, whether he wrote that history before all others, either from the tradition of the Arabs, or by Divine inspiration: or translated it from Arabic or Syriac for the use of his nation. Thus the Hebrews, and the Christians, both the ancient, and the more recent a great many. In Bava Batra, chapter 1, thus the Hebrews: משה כתב ספרו ופרשת בלעם ואיוב, Moses wrote his own book, and the section of Balaam and Job. Which opinion not long ago Manasseh Ben Israel attempted keenly to defend, de Resurrectione mortuum, page 123. But others with good reason call it into question, because both the style of the book of Job little agrees with the style of the books of Moses: and expressions occur in Job, to which you will find nothing similar in Moses, but a number of similar things in the Psalms, Proverbs, and Prophetic writings: the book of Job was never conjoined with the Mosaic books: and the Septuagint Translators, or whoever sewed that strip at the end of Job, relate that the History of Job was first composed in Syriac letters, and would not have passed it over in silence, if they had reputed Moses as the author.[1] To us it is more probable than the rest that either Job himself after his restoration, or one of Job’s friends, kept Records, or journals, in accordance with ancient custom, traces of which are conspicuous in the book itself, Job 3:6; 19:23, even indeed in vernacular Arabic, which the frequent Arabisms argue: that is placed almost beyond the risk of doubt, both by his most ardent prayer, that his words might be printed in a book, Job 19:23 (to whom satisfaction was undoubtedly given), and by that fact that from elsewhere those speeches of Job and his friends were not able to be known. And those Records or domestic accounts, preserved in the Church, furnished for some sacred writer the material, to be clothed in the form in which the book of Job appears today. But at what time precisely, and by what midwife or amanuensis, whether before Solomon or later, this book was gathered from documents or Records of this sort, and was found in the Church of the Hebrews, it is not likewise evident. At least this is certain, that before Ezekiel, who in Ezekiel 14:14 reflected upon the history, the writing was on record in the Canon. Some conjecture that about the time of David and Solomon it was embellished, from the style of writing resembling that of David and Solomon, if you remove the idioms and Arabism of those speaking. We leave that undetermined.

[1] The Septuagint postscript to Job: “This man is described in the Syriac book as living in the land of Ausis, on the borders of Idumea and Arabia: and his name before was Jobab; and having taken an Arabian wife, he begot a son whose name was Ennon. And he himself was the son of his father Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and of his mother Bosorrha, so that he was the fifth from Abraam. And these were the kings who reigned in Edom, which country he also ruled over: first, Balac, the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dennaba: but after Balac, Jobab, who is called Job: and after him Asom, who was the governor out of the country of Thæman: and after him Adad, the son of Barad, who destroyed Madiam in the plain of Moab; and the name of his city was Gethaim. And his friends who came to him were Eliphaz, of the children of Esau, king of the Thæmanites, Baldad sovereign of the Sauchæans, Sophar king of the Minæans.

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