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indispensably necessary to the unravelling of the plot, which is not developed in the body of the poem. There are, it is
not a round number, is yet held sacred and mysterious by the orientals) and three daughters ; 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 1000 oxen, and exactly half the number of asses. In lieu of these, there are restored to him 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, 2000 oxen, and 1000 asses, exactly the duplicate of the former numbers ; together with exactly the same number of children as he had lost, seven sons and three daughters, and these from one wife. The same principle is found to extend to the years of Job's prosperity, which are multiplications of the number 70. These circumstances betray art and fiction in the narrator who has introduced these round numbers, which we know are the first to present themselves to the mind; it bears no appearance of chance or casualty, which, when it predominates in a series of events, produces a wonderful variety, but very little of regularity or equality. The name of Job too, which, in the Arabic, means returning to God, and loving him, and hating whatever is contrary to him, is so adapted to the character of his latter years, that we can never suppose it a name given to him by his parents, but invented by the author of the story.
A fourth argument is, that the scene is laid in Arabia, yet the poem abounds so much in imagery borrowed from Egypt, that it is plain that country must have been extremely well known to the author, and indeed predominant in his mind, as I have endeavoured to prove in a Dissertation recited before the R. S. of Gottingen.
But the most powerful of all proofs is, that some things appear in the book of Job which could not possibly bave place in a true history. At a period when the longevity of the Patriarchs was reduced within the limit of two hundred years, Job is said to have lived 140 years after his malady, and therefore could not be very ancient when he fell into this malady: nevertheless he upbraids his friends with their youth, (who, by the way, could not be very young, since Elihu, ch. xxxii. 6, 7. 9. reverences their hoary age), and adds, that “ he would have disdained to set their fathers with the dogs of his flock," ch. xxx. I. But what is more extraordinary, these saine men boast of their own age, and seem to exact a degree of reverence from Job as their junior: thus Eliphaz, ch. xx. 10. “ With us are both the grey-headed and the very aged men much older than thy father.” These passages, therefore, so directly contradict each other, that they cannot be connected with true history. The opprobrium which he casts upon the birth of his friends seems also an inconsistency, cb. xxx. 1-6. as it is incredible that so noble and rich a man should ever have chosen bis friends from the meanest of the people.
It remains only to remove one objection, with which those who contend for the historical truth of the book of Job may press us. Job is quoted by Ezekiel along with Noah and Daniel, whom we know to have been real persons, and they are proposed by James as an example of patience, (Ezek. xiv. 14. 20. James v. 11.); as if it were improper or indecent to recommend the virtues of fictitious characters to our imitation, or as if this were not in fact the end of delineating such characters. Neither is there the least impropriety in instancing the same virtues in real and fictitious characters. Suppose a father to recommend to his daughters the examples of Lucretia and Pamela, as models of chastity and virtue, who would esteem such a discourse reprehensible, or think that it either took from the truth of the bistory, or gave a reality to the fiction?
To return to the point from which we set out: This poem seems to treat of the affliction which may sometimes bappen to good men, at the same time that the author seems to wish to accommodate the consolation to the people of God, and to represent their oppression under the character of Job. To this opinion
true, phrases extant in the exordium, in which some critics have pretended to discover the hand of a later writer: the
it is objected by our Author, that there appears nothing in the book like an allusion to the manners, rites, or affairs of the Israelites. Of the latter I shall treat, when we come to speak of the application of this poem to the history of the Israelites. As to the manners, they are what I called Abrahamic, or such as were at that period common to all the seed of Abraham at that time, Israelites, Ishmaelites, and Idumæans. But perhaps it may be thought necessary to instance those customs which were peculiar to the Israelites, and by which they were distinguished from the Arabians: this, however, would not display much judgment in the author of a poem, the scene of which lies in Arabia; besides, that most of the peculiar customs of the Israelites, those I mean which distinguished them from the other descendants of Abraham, were either derived from the Egyptians, or were taught them by Moses: and who would require, that such things as the paschal lamb, and the Mosaic feasts and priesthood, should be introduced into such a poem? The frequent allusions, however, to the country and the productions of Egypt abundantly answer this objection; insomuch, that though the scene is laid in Arabia, one would imagine the actors had been Egyptians. Nor are there wanting allusions to the circumstances of the Israelites. These, like Job, lost their children and possessions by the tyranny of Pharaoh ; and, if I am not mistaken, the disease is the same which affected Job, with that which prevailed among the Egyptians by the command of Moses.
From these circumstances I am much inclined to the opinion which attributes this book to Moses. For is it to be imagined, that a native of Idumæa should crowd his poem with images and figures borrowed from Egypt? Or what native of Arabia (for it must be allowed that the book of Job has some allusions peculiar to Arabia) was so likely to intermingle the imagery of both countries as Moses? To these may be added the allusions to the Isles of the Blessed, which common to the book of Job and the Mosaic writings. I am well aware that there is more of the tragic, more of strong poetic feeling in this book, than in the other relics of Mosaic poetry, which has induced our Author to remark the discrepancy of style. But how different are the language and sentiments of a man raging in the heights of despair, from those which are to be sung in the temple of God? We must also remember, that the poetic style of an author in the flower of his youth is very different from that of his latter days. If Moses were really the author of this poem, he composed it about the age of forty years; but the rest of his poems were written between the 85th and 120th year of his age: at which period I am often surprised to meet with so much vigour of language and sentiment; and no other difference of style have I been able to discover.-M.
If I might hatter myself that the reader would not be wearied with replications and rejoinders, I would request bis attention to a few animadversions on these remarks of the Gottingen Professor. For, though I thought it my duty to state bis arguments as fully as I could, consistently with the limits of this work, I must confess that I do not myself feel by any means convinced; nor dare I venture to affirm, upon any such presumptive proofs, that the book of Job is altogether fabulous. I think it by no means follows, that because a book contains some things which may with propriety be termed poetical fictions, it has no foundation whatever in fact. The poems of Homer contain more fictions of this kind than any commentator has pretended clearly to discover in the book of Job; and yet no sober critic has denied that there ever was such an event as the Trojan war, on which those poems are founded.
I cannot help thinking with our Author, that such a man as Job might very
arguments however of these critics, I cannot esteem of any great force or importance.
That these points should be accounted of a very ambigupossibly have existed, and that the leading facts concerning his sudden depression and consequent misfortunes might really have bappened; and yet that the poet, in relating these facts, may have added such machinery, and other poetical ornaments, as appeared necessary to enliven the story, and illustrate the moral. Though we should not contend with the learned Professor for the literal acceptation of the exordium; though we should even admit with him, that it is not probable any such conversation ever took place between the Al mighty Governor of the universe and the great enemy of mankind, as is related in the first chapter; yet it by no means follows, that the inspired writer had no grounds whatever for what he describes perhaps poetically. The manner in which the Deity and the other celestial intelligences are spoken of in this poem appcars necessary, when the human mind is called upon to contemplate their actions; and may be considered as a kind of personification in accommodation to our limited faculties, and is common in many other parts of Scripture.
With regard to the objection founded on the round numbers, I think it very weak when applied to the children of Job; and as to the cattle, the event being recorded some time after it took place, it is hardly reasonable to expect that the numbers should be specified with the utmost exactness : indeed, nothing could be more awkward or ungraceful, in a poetical narration, than to descend to units; and when the numbers are doubled at the conclusion, I look upon it as no more than a periphrasis, expressing, that the Lord gave to Job twice as much as he had before.
As to the name; it is well known that all the names of the ancients were derived from some distinguishing quality, and not always given at their birth, as with us. (See Essays Historical and Moral, Ess. vi. p. 119.) Nay, the objection, if admitted, would strike at the authority of a considerable part of Holy Writ; for, not only many of the persons recorded there take their names from circumstances which occurred late in life, but, in some instances, from the very circumstances of their deaths, as Abel from Habal, vanity or nothingness, because he left no offspring.
There appears, at first sight, something more formidable in the argument founded on the inconsistencies which he boasts of having detected; nevertheless, I can by no means grant it all the credit which its author seems to claim. Both the expressions of Elihu and those of the other friends are very general, and I think improperly applied by the Professor ; for the passage referred to, chap. xv, 10. by no means proves that the friends of Job were older than he : “ with us or among us,” seems to imply no more than this, " older persons than either you or we are with us, or of our sentiments.” Still more general is the complaint of Job, chap. xxx. I.; indeed so general, that to a fair examiner it is impossible it should appear to have any relation at all to the friends of Job, as he is simply complaining of his altered state, and among other evils mentions the loss of that respect which he was accustomed to receive from all ranks of people, insomuch, that now even the young, the children, presume to hold him in derision. The other argument is by no means conclusive, namely, that which is founded on the supposed opprobrium on the birth of his friends, as really I cannot conceive any part of this speech to have the least reference to them; or, if it have, it is easy enough to suppose, that their fathers or themselves might have been raised to opulence from a mean station : and indeed such a supposition is absolutely necessary to give any point to the sarcasm of Job, admitting that it ought to be understood in the light our commentator seems to intend.-T.
ous nature, and should cause much embarrassment and controversy in the learned world, is nothing extraordinary; but that the main object and design of the poem should ever have been called in question, may justly excite our astonishment. For, though many passages be confessedly obscure; though there be several which I fear no human skill will ever be able to unravel; and though the obscurity consist chiefly in the connexion of the incidents and the sentiments, it by no means necessarily follows that the whole is involved in impenetrable darkness. The case, indeed, is far otherwise ; for one and the same light, though at intervals overcast, shines on through the whole, and, like a conducting star, uniformly leads to the same point. If, then, any person will follow this guidance without perplexing himself with obscurities which he will occasionally meet, I have very little doubt but that he will clearly discern the end, the subject, the connexion, and arrangement of the whole work. It will, perhaps, be worth while to put to trial the efficacy of this maxim : set us,
therefore, for the present, pass over those obscurities which might impede our progress; and, making the best use of those lights which are afforded by the more obvious passages, proceed with an attentive eye through the whole of the work, and observe whether something satisfactory is not to be discovered relating to the subject of the narrative, and the design and intent of the poem.
The principal object held forth to our contemplation in this production is, the example of a good man, eminent for his piety, and of approved integrity, suddenly precipitated from the very summit of prosperity into the lowest depths of misery and ruin; who, having been first bereaved of his wealth, his possessions, and his children, is afterwards afflicted with the most excruciating anguish of a loathsome disease which entirely covers his body. He sustains all, however, with the mildest submission, and the most complete resignation to the will of Providence : “ In all this,” says the historian, “ Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. And, after the second trial, “ In all this did not Job sinwith his lips.”+ The author of the history remarks upon this circumstance a second time, in order to excite the observation of the reader, and to render him more attentive to what follows, which properly constitutes the true subject of the poem; namely, the conduct of Job with respect to his
reverence for the Almighty, and the changes which accumulating misery might produce in his temper and behaviour. Accordingly we find, that another still more exquisite trial of his patience yet awaits him, and which, indeed, as the writer seems to intimate, he scarcely appears to have sustained with equal firmness, namely, the unjust suspicions, the bitter reproaches, and the violent altercations of his friends, who had visited him on the pretence of affording consolation. Here commences the plot or action of the poem: for when, after a long silence of all parties, the grief of Job breaks forth into passionate exclamations, and a vehement execration on the day of his birth; the minds of his friends are suddenly exasperated, their intentions are changed, and their consolation, if indeed they originally intended any, is converted into contumely and reproaches. The first of these three singular comforters reproves his impatience; calls in question his integrity, by indirectly insinuating that God does not inflict such punishments upon the righteous; and, finally, admonishes him, that the chastisement of God is not to be despised. The next of them, not less intemperate in his reproofs, takes it for granted that the children of Job had only received the reward due to their offences; and with regard to himself, intimates, that if he be innocent, and will apply with proper humility to the divine mercy, he may be restored. The third upbraids him with arrogance, with vanity, and even with falsehood, because he has presumed to defend himself against the unjust accusations of his companions; and exhorts him to a sounder mode of reasoning, and a more holy life. They all, with a manifest, though indirect allusion to Job, discourse very copiously concerning the divine judgments which are always openly displayed against the wicked, and of the certain destruction of hypocritical pretenders to virtue and religion. In reply to this, Job enumerates his sufferings, and complains bitterly of the inhumanity of his friends, and of the severity which he has experienced from the band of God: he calls to witness both God and man, that he is unjustly oppressed; he intimates, that he is weak in comparison with God, that the contention is consequently unequal, and that, be his cause ever so righteous, he cannot hope to prevail. He expostulates with God himself still more vehemently, and with greater freedom; affirming, that he does not discriminate characters, but equally