Job’s Integrity—Why So Remarkable?
“Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!”—JOB 27:5.
1. Who was Job, and how do we know that he was a real person?
JOB was an outstanding man in history. Not only did he possess great material wealth but he was respected as a compassionate judge and leader. The Bible says that he “came to be the greatest of all the Orientals.” (Job 1:3; 29:12-25) He is noted, along with Noah and Daniel, as a very righteous man. (Ezekiel 14:14, 20) The Bible also features Job as an example for Christians to follow, thus showing that he was an actual person in history.—James 5:11.
2. How can we determine when Job underwent the testing by Satan?
2 Job lived in the land of Uz, in what is now Arabia. Although not an Israelite, Job was a worshiper of Jehovah, something that Jehovah drew to Satan’s attention. God’s statement that “there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright,” reveals that there was no other outstanding servant of God living at that time. (Job 1:8) Thus, Job’s testing by Satan must have occurred while his distant cousins, the Israelites, were in slavery in Egypt—sometime during the years following the death of the outstanding integrity keeper Joseph in 1657 B.C.E. and before Moses entered upon his course of integrity.
3. Who wrote the book of Job, and why was he able to get the information?
3 Moses evidently wrote the book of Job. But how could he have learned about Job’s testing? Well, after Moses was forced to leave Egypt in 1553 B.C.E. he settled in Midian, not far from the land of Uz. (Exodus 2:15-25; Acts 7:23-30) At that time, Job was living out the final 140 years of life with which Jehovah blessed him. (Job 42:16) Later, when the Israelites were near Uz toward the end of their wilderness journey, Moses could have heard about the last years of Job’s life and his death.
Job’s Limited Knowledge
4. (a) What was evidently the source of Job’s knowledge about Jehovah, and why would he no doubt be in communication with the descendants of Abraham and Isaac? (b) How did Job become a man of outstanding integrity?
4 When Job was tested, his knowledge of God and his purposes was limited, since no part of the Bible had yet been recorded. However, Job would have known something about Jehovah’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. This is because Job was evidently a descendant of Abraham’s brother Nahor, through Nahor’s firstborn son Uz. Furthermore, the brother of Uz was Bethuel, the father of Isaac’s wife Rebekah and the great-grandfather of Joseph. (Genesis 22:20-23) Job no doubt came to treasure whatever knowledge he had of Jehovah’s communications with Abraham and his descendants, and he was anxious to please Jehovah. Thus Job became a man of outstanding integrity, a man blameless and completely devoted to Jehovah.
5. What, in particular, makes Job’s integrity so outstanding?
5 Not long after Joseph’s death in Egypt, Job’s integrity became a subject of controversy between Jehovah God and Satan in the invisible heavens. Yet Job had no knowledge of this controversy that centered around his integrity. And it is, in particular, his ignorance regarding why he was suffering that makes his unbreakable integrity so remarkable. For the benefit of all God’s servants afterward, however, Jehovah had Moses record the details of the controversy regarding Job’s integrity.
The Issue of Job’s Integrity
6. (a) How did an assembly in heaven reveal the existence of an issue between God and Satan? (b) When did this issue originate, and what did it include?
6 The book of Job draws back the veil of invisibility, and we are provided a view of a meeting of angels that took place before Jehovah God in heaven. There Jehovah reminds Satan, who is also present, that there is “no one like [Job] in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” (Job 1:8) Clearly, an issue exists that involves Job’s integrity. But it is not a new one. The issue was implied when Satan turned Adam and Eve away from God and, in effect, said: ‘Just give me the chance, and I can turn anybody away from serving you.’—Genesis 3:1-6.
7. What suggestions was Satan obliged to offer to account for Job’s integrity, and how did the Devil challenge God?
7 Now, during this official meeting in heaven, Satan is obliged to offer his suggestions as to the basis for Job’s integrity. “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God?” he asks. “Have not you yourself put up a hedge about him and about his house and about everything that he has all around? . . . But, for a change, thrust out your hand,” Satan challenges, “and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.”—Job 1:9-11.
8. (a) How did Jehovah respond to Satan’s challenge? (b) What terrible blows did Satan deliver to Job?
8 Jehovah accepts Satan’s challenge. He trusts Job’s integrity completely, answering Satan: “Look! Everything that he has is in your hand. Only against him himself do not thrust out your hand!” (Job 1:12) Satan strikes quickly against Job. Raiding Sabeans take off with Job’s 1,000 oxen and 500 she-asses, killing all their attendants except one. Next, Satan sends a fire from heaven to consume Job’s 7,000 sheep along with their attendants, sparing only one of the men. Then Satan causes three bands of Chaldeans to take off with Job’s 3,000 camels, killing all but one of the attendants. Finally, Satan sends a great wind that strikes the house where Job’s ten children are feasting, and they all die. Afterward, in quick succession, the survivors of these disasters report the terrible news to Job.—Job 1:13-19.
9. What made Job’s calamities particularly hard to endure, yet what was Job’s response to them?
9 What calamities! Even if Job understood who had caused them, they would be difficult to bear. But he did not. He did not know that he was the center of a controversy in heaven and that Jehovah was using him to demonstrate that there are people who will hold to their integrity despite all the unjust suffering that Satan may bring upon them. Yet, stricken with grief and even thinking that somehow God was responsible for his losses, Job said: “Jehovah himself has given, and Jehovah himself has taken away. Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed.” Yes, “in all this Job did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God.”—Job 1:20-22.
10. (a) What further concession regarding Job did Satan request, and why was Jehovah willing to grant this? (b) What were the consequences to Job of the miserable state to which he was reduced?
10 How humiliating for Satan, at another meeting of angels, to be reminded by Jehovah regarding Job: “Even yet he is holding fast his integrity”! But Satan does not give up. He now challenges that if he is given the opportunity to strike Job physically, Job will curse God to his face. Trusting in Job’s integrity even to this extent, Jehovah gives permission, only warning Satan not to take Job’s life. So Satan ‘strikes Job with a malignant boil from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.’ (Job 2:1-8) Job is reduced to such a disgustingly miserable state that his relatives and friends shy away, and former acquaintances mock him.—Job 12:4; 17:6; 19:13-19; 30:1, 10-12.
11. What further blow did Job have to endure, and what made his integrity keeping in the face of all his troubles so remarkable?
11 Then yet another blow! The faith of Job’s wife weakens. She says to him: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he tells her: “As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not accept also what is bad?” As the account says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9, 10) And when you remember that the reason for his suffering has been concealed from Job, how truly remarkable his integrity is!
Another Form of Attack
12. (a) Who were the men that came to comfort Job? (b) How did Satan use these men to test Job further?
12 But Satan is not through. He raises up three men of supposed wisdom who either knew Job personally or had heard of his reputation as “the greatest of all the Orientals.” Evidently they are considerably older than Job. (Job 1:3; 15:10; 32:6) Two of them are distant relatives. Eliphaz the Temanite is a descendant of Abraham through Teman, a grandson of Esau, and Bildad the Shuhite is a descendant of Abraham’s son Shuah. (Job 2:11; Genesis 36:15; 25:2) Zophar’s ancestry is uncertain. Ostensibly these three come to comfort Job, but actually Satan uses them in an effort to undermine Job’s integrity. Just as political interrogators posing as friends have undermined the loyalties of prisoners and turned them against their own governments, Satan hoped that his “comforters” would turn Job against his God.—Job 16:2, 3.
13. (a) What did Job’s visitors do on their arrival? (b) When the speaking began, what course did it take?
13 When they arrive, the three visitors spend seven days and seven nights silently observing Job’s excruciating pain and extreme humiliation. (Job 2:12, 13) Eliphaz, evidently the oldest, finally takes the lead in speaking, setting the mood and general subject theme for what turns into a three-round debate. Eliphaz’ speech, as well as the speeches of his companions that follow, is made up largely of accusations. After each of his accusers speaks, Job, in turn, answers, refuting their arguments. Zophar does not take part in the debate’s third round, evidently feeling that he can add nothing more. Thus Zophar makes only two speeches, while Eliphaz and Bildad each deliver three.
14. What kind of arguments did the three use against Job, and how did Satan use a similar tactic against Jesus?
14 Eliphaz’ speeches are longer, and his language is somewhat milder. Bildad’s language is more biting, and Zophar’s even more so. Their arguments are cunningly designed to achieve Satan’s purpose of breaking Job’s integrity. They often state actual facts, but the setting and application are wrong. Satan used the same tactic against Jesus. Quoting a scripture that says that God’s angel would protect his servant from harm, Satan invited Jesus to prove he was God’s son by hurling himself down from the temple. (Matthew 4:5-7; Psalm 91:11, 12) Job for an extended period faced similar satanic reasoning.
15. What did Eliphaz argue was the source of Job’s troubles?
15 In his opening speech, Eliphaz argues that Job’s troubles are God’s retribution for his sins. “Who that is innocent has ever perished?” he asks. “According to what I have seen, those devising what is hurtful and those sowing trouble will themselves reap it.” (Job 4:7, 8) Going on, Eliphaz claims that God does not trust his servants. “In his servants he has no faith,” Eliphaz says, “and his [angels] he charges with faultiness. How much more so with those dwelling in houses of clay.”—Job 4:18, 19.
16. How did Bildad follow up Eliphaz’ assault, and what unfair illustration did he use?
16 Bildad follows up the verbal assault. “If you are pure and upright,” he says, “by now [God] would awake for you and he would certainly restore your righteous abiding place.” Bildad notes that papyrus and reeds dry up and die without water and truthfully concludes that “all those forgetting God” will also. But how erroneous for him to apply this illustration to Job and to add, “The very hope of an apostate will perish”!—Job 8:6, 11-13.
17. What potent remarks did Zophar make?
17 Zophar’s remarks are even more potent. ‘O that God would speak and tell you what he thinks!’ he, in effect, says. ‘God knows what you have done. He is punishing you far less than you deserve. Get rid of your sins and leave all your badness, and then you will have security and many friends.’—Job 11:4-6, 14-20.
18. In the second round of the debate, how did the three continue their assault on Job?
18 In the second round of the debate, Eliphaz continues the assault on Job’s integrity. ‘Why, God does not even trust the angels, how much less someone like you! A wicked man is always in trouble.’ (Job 15:14-16, 20) Bildad, angered by Job’s steadfast resistance to their arguments, in effect says: ‘Your light will be extinguished. All memory of your existence will die out. That is what happens to those forgetting God.’ (Job 18:5, 12, 13, 17-21) Zophar, alluding to Job’s previous prosperity, asks: ‘Do you not know that the joyful cry of the wicked is short, and the rejoicing of an apostate is for a moment? Heaven uncovers the errors of the wicked.’—Job 20:4, 5, 26-29.
19. (a) According to Eliphaz, what value does God place on man’s integrity? (b) How did Bildad finish the verbal assault on Job?
19 Opening the debate’s third round, Eliphaz asks: ‘Can any man be of value to God? Even if you were blameless, would God benefit by it? Return to God,’ he says, ‘and straighten out your affairs. Then you will be restored.’ (Job 22:2, 3, 21-23) Bildad finishes the verbal assault. ‘Who on earth can boast that he is clean?’ he asks. ‘God is so glorious that even the moon and the stars are less than nothing to him. How much less is man, who is but a worm in his sight!’—Job 25:2-6.
Job’s Defense and Correction
20. (a) How did Job answer the argument that suffering is a punishment from God for sins? (b) What was Job’s determination, and how do we know that his integrity really mattered to God?
20 Despite his terrible suffering, Job never for a moment gives in to his tormentors’ deceptive arguments. If suffering is a punishment from God for sins, he asks, “why is it that the wicked themselves keep living, have grown old, also have become superior in wealth?” (Job 21:7-13) And contrary to what Job’s accusers say, Jehovah does value integrity keepers who thereby provide an answer to Satan’s taunt that he can turn anybody away from serving God. (Proverbs 27:11; Psalm 41:12) Job is confident of his own integrity, exclaiming: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) No, he has not done anything to deserve what has befallen him.
21. What did Elihu say to Job’s false comforters, and what needed correction did he give Job?
21 The young man Elihu is attentively taking in every word of this extended debate. He now speaks, telling Job’s false comforters that nothing they have said has proved Job to be a sinner. (Job 32:11, 12) Then, turning to Job, Elihu says: “Your words I kept hearing, ‘I am pure without transgression; clean I am, and I have no error. Look! Occasions for opposition to me he finds, he takes me for an enemy of his.’ . . . In this you have not been in the right.” (Job 33:8-13; 6:29; 13:24, 27; 19:6-8) Yes, Job displayed too much concern with vindicating himself. Yet, at the same time, he never condemned God or lost confidence that God would do what is right.
22. (a) After listening to Jehovah, what was Job’s response? (b) What did God require of Job’s false comforters, and what was the final outcome to Job?
22 A storm starts brewing as Elihu completes his speech, and Jehovah himself speaks out of the windstorm: “Who is this that is obscuring counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins . . . Let me question you, and you inform me.” After listening to Jehovah, Job acknowledges that he spoke rashly, without full knowledge, and repents “in dust and ashes.” Then Jehovah denounces Eliphaz and his two companions, instructing Job to intercede for them. Thereafter Job is restored, and he is blessed with seven sons and three beautiful daughters and twice as much livestock as he had before. Living 140 years longer, Job dies “old and satisfied with days.”—Job 38:1-4; 42:1-17.
23. How should Job’s integrity affect us?
23 Truly, Job was a remarkable man of integrity! He had no way of knowing that he was being made the target of Satan’s wicked challenge. This emphasizes his integrity all the more because even though he believed that all his suffering was from God, still he would not deny God or curse him. What a lesson for us, since we do know the source of the tests of our integrity! Surely, we should be moved to imitate Job’s example and go forward in Jehovah’s work regardless of anything God’s Adversary can bring against us.
Can You Answer?
□ What factors make Job’s integrity so remarkable?
□ Who visited Job, and what did Satan hope they would accomplish?
□ What arguments did the three use against Job?
□ What defense did Job make, but how was he corrected?
□ What was the outcome, and how should we be affected?
[Picture on page 13]
Satan sent three “comforters” to turn Job against God