Scholars have said that before Roman times we have very little historical
information about Arabia (e.g. Anthony Nutting, The
Arabs, 1964, Mentor 1965, p.14) . But the Book of Job is recognized as one of the masterpieces of world literature. In
university English literature courses the King James translation of this book is often used as required reading. And at least a
thousand years before Roman time it gives us 42 chapters about Job the Arab. Even if we doubt that the events happened as
they are recorded, the book gives us very rich information about the Arab culture of that day.
Although the book is written in Hebrew, and is part of the Jewish and
Christian Bible, it is about an Arab who lived in the land
of Uz (Job 1:1). Uz is identified as territory occupied by the tribe of Edom (Lamentations 4:21). The Edomites were
descended from Esau who was a grandson of Abraham (Genesis 25:25-26). Esau had been excluded from Abrhaham's
genealogical line (Genesis 27:34-41), and he moved away from Canaan to the land of Seir which is another name for Edomite
territory (Genesis 32:3, 33:16, Ezekiel 35:15). In previous chapters we have shown how they became connected with the
The Jewish writer of Genesis gives us a full chapter about the genealogies
of the original Arabs in that area (Genesis 36:1-43).
This information could only have come from Arab sources. Obviously the Edomites were counted by their Jewish cousins as
children of Abraham. From the Book of Job we can see that Job served the same God as Abraham (1:1), and the Arabic
word for God (Allah) is a variant of the Hebrew names El and Elohim. Arabs practiced the circumcision of their male children
(Genesis 17:9-12, 23-26), and they shared fully in Abraham's blessing (Genesis 17:20). There is also an interesting reference
to ruakh elohim, the Holy Spirit of God (Job 33:4). But Satan is viewed as an evil spirit who accuses or tempts
(1 Chronicles 21:1, Psalm 109:6, Zechariah 3:1, Matthew 4:1-11 and throughout the New Testament).
Job worshiped God at a stone altar more like a barbecue, in the same
way as Abraham did (Genesis 12:7, 8, 13:4, 18), but
as we have seen the religion of Ishmael had no time for priests and temples for animal sacrifice.
Before tragedy struck the family, Job's seven sons and three daughters
used to gather for a monthly family feast "eating and
drinking wine" in each others' houses (Job 1:2, 4, 13, 18, 19). This proves they were not wandering bedouin but were settled
in a large oasis town. They were attacked by a raiding party of Sabeans (an Arab tribe from Saba in the Yemen). They took
away Job's donkeys and oxen and killed the farm hands (Job 1:14-15). Sheet lightning destroyed the flock of sheep (1:16). In
another raid three columns of Hamites from Mesopotamia took away the camels (Job 1:17). And Job's seven sons and three
daughters were killed when their house was destroyed by a tornado (1:19). Job himself was afflicted with "loathsome sores"
and was put out of his home (as lepers were among the Jews) to sit by the garbage dump (2:7-8).
The main part of the story is about the visit of three Arab friends
who first sat silently for a week with their friend Job to
sympathize with his sufferings (2:11). Then they, and another Arab who joins them, offer a series of legalistic and judgmental
arguments demanding Job's repentance (4:7, 17, 8:6, 20, 11:6, 14, 22:5-10). Job's Abrahamic faith in God remains steadfast
throughout (2:10, 5:8, 12:10, 31:26-28, 42:10). A particularly beautiful expression of faith is : "You have granted me life and
steadfast love and your care has preserved my spirit" (12:10). This idea of God's steadfast love comes throughout the Psalms
(5:7, 6:4, 18:14, etc.), and in every one of the 26 verses of Psalm 36. This suggests that among Arabs Abrahamic faith in
God's love had continued as it did among faithful Jews. Jesus explained that this kind of faith had to avoid Pharisaic legalism on
the one hand and Sadduccee denial of the resurrection and spirituality on the other (Matthew 16:12).