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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2006

Was Job a Real Person?

Based upon the degree of suffering that Job endured, and the short time frame in which it all occurred, some people believe that Job was not a real person. Instead, they think he simply was made up to teach a lesson about human suffering. Perhaps, they say, he is to be valued like such Bible-story figures as the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), or the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21).

If Job were not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, apart from the book of Job, those who claim he was not a real person might be able to argue their position more confidently. But the fact is, Job is mentioned in three different verses in Scripture (outside the book of Job), and in all three passages he is considered an actual person.

The first two places where his name is found are Ezekiel 14, verses 14 and 20. In verse 14, the prophet stated: “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Verse 20 records: “[E]ven though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Ezekiel’s point in both verses was that the ungodly conditions in the land during his day were such that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that city, no one else would be saved. Ezekiel spoke of all three of these men as being real people, not legendary characters.

Job is also mentioned in the latter part of the book of James. In chapter five we read: “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord” (verse 11). James, who was writing through inspiration, was not writing about an imaginary person!

Finally, that Job was a real person is stated plainly by God within the book of Job itself. In his second “speech” to Job, God declared that the mighty behemoth was “made along with you” (40:15). If Job were just a fairy tale character, God certainly would not have spoken as having “made” him. Even though much about Job remains a mystery, we can know that he was a real person who suffered far more than you and me, and yet remained faithful to his God—just like we must do.



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