Many people are often curious as to the time period of Job’s life. Whenever I see a reoccurring question come to me I often write a short article on it to assist others who must have the same question as well. This article is being written during the week that we are preparing for Torah parashah Sh’lach Lecha about the 10 spies been sent to the land of Israel because it is said that Job died on the 29th of Sivan during this same time period, three months after the Exodus.
How to calculate the timeframe of Job’s life:
While there is not an exact reference for the date Job died, we can extract it from the Scriptural clues. According to the Scriptures he was a contemporary with Eliphaz (Job 4:1) who was the son of Esau the father of Theman (Genesis 36:11; 1 Chronicles 1:35-36) and Esau was abot 40 when he had his first son which puts his birth somewhere after 2148 A.M. when Eliphaz was born.
In Eliphaz’s talk to Job he said, “What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us? With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.” Job 15:9,10
Eliphaz mentioned Job’s father, and he indicated that he knew him. He also mentioned that one of them (indirectly pointing back to himself) was older than his father. Eliphaz mentioned that he was older than Job’s father (Issachar), and that was very true. We remember that Esau married when he was only 40 years old (Genesis 26:34), and he took two wives. Jacob didn’t get married until he was about 70 years old. So of course Esau’s sons were older than Jacob’s sons. This was exactly what Eliphaz said – that he (Eliphaz) was older than his father (Issachar). So this scripture supports the assertion that the genealogy from Genesis is connected to Job.
Another proof focuses on what God said about Job.
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” So, as a result we see that Job lived during a time when there were no other people better than him. During which period of time were there no others with Job’s righteousness?
Returning to the Genesis genealogy, we find that Job must have lived after all the sons of Jacob died and before Moses – in a time in which there were no other faithful people.
It is important to consider (Job 42:16) when calculating his age as the passage says that Job lived to see 4 generations of children and grandchildren during the “140 years of life after his trials”. “If God doubled Job’s remaining years the way he doubled his possessions (Job 42:10)…”28 then Job was about 70 when he was tested and lived 140 more years to be about 210 years of age.
A midrash found in Baba Bathra 15a-b states,
“The span of Job’s life was from the time that Israel entered Egypt till they left it.” Interestly enough Israel was in Egypt exactly 210 years so it fits perfectly!
Since Job died in the year of the Exodus and the Exodus occurred 2410 A.M (years after creation) then that puts his death in 2410 A.M and Job’s birth 210 years before at about 2200 A.M
The Israelites lived 210 years in Egypt, from Jacob coming down to Egypt until God brought our people out from Egypt. According to the above midrash Job lived these same 210 years. The Egyptians didn’t start slavery until Levi, the longest living of the Tribes of the Lord, died. Levi was 43 when he came down to Egypt and Levi died at 137. Rashi says: “These are the names of Levi’s sons by their lineage: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; and the span of Levi’s life was 137 years” (Exodus 6:16). “Why number the years of Levi? To make known the days of slavery, for as long as one of the tribes lived there was no slavery…and Levi lived the longest.” Thus the Israelites lived royally for 94 (137-43=94) years in Goshen and then experienced 116 years of progressively worsening slavery.
According to the books of Jasher and Jubilees, Job was one of Pharaoh’s councilors when Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile, but let every girl live” (Ex. 1:22).
When the children of Israel left Egypt and came to the border of eretz Israel three and a half months later at the end of the month of Sivan, Moshe ordered the spies to, “find out weather the tzaddik Iyov (Job) who resides there, is still alive. If he has passed away the inhabitants are without spiritual merits, and we will surely overcome them. Even though we are weaker, Hashem will assist us because the Canaanim do not have merits to shield them.” Amazingly, on the very day the Spies entered (the 29th of Sivan), God made a miracle on their behalf and arranged that just on that day, Job, the righteous citizen of the land, should die. Job was respected and revered; therefore, his death signaled a national day of mourning. Everyone attended his funeral, and this great outpouring of people distracted the people and permitted the spies to go undetected. No one paid attention to them, and no one hampered their movements! Upon the return of the spies 40 days later Joshua and Caleb later addressed this issue saying “their protection [lit. their shadow] has left them. As Rashi explains, they were referring to the death of Job the last worthy man among them Rashi 14:9
Understanding the timeframe of the Author of Job:
It is said that Moses wrote the monumental Book of Job before he fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian. Moses was 20 when he killed the Egyptian and 80 when he stood before Pharaoh proclaiming: Let My people go (Ex. 5:1).
The Talmud Baba Bathra also states that Moses wrote the Book of Job. Commentators say that Pharaoh was referring to the Book of Job that Moses was teaching the Israelites to give them hope: Let heavier work be laid upon the men; let them keep at it and not pay attention to deceitful promises.” (Exodus 5:9).
Moses could well have written the Book of Job, and the section on Balaam as the opinion in the Talmud. According to the midrash there was a yeshiva learning Torah in Goshen in Egypt throughout the 210 years. The first Rosh Yeshiva was Levi, then Kohath, then Amram. Moses studied Torah in that yeshiva until the age of 20.
The midrash Sekel Tov Exodus 2:11 states on Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen(Ex. 2:11)…”Some time after that”, that is to say, he was in the king’s palace until then… He was 20 years old.
The Book of Job was a monumental work of 42 chapters, sophisticated Hebrew, many speakers, deep philosophy, similar phrasing found in the Siddur, Psalms, Proverbs and widely quoted in the Talmud and in Rashi. Only one who was trained in Highest Schools could write such a story to encourage the children of Israel in their deep plight of suffering, reminding them that at times even the righteous suffer!
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