Page images

every vessel of vinegar: Wipe not your seat with a fire-brand. Sit not upon a bushel. Pursue not animals with crooked claws. Stop not to cut wood upon a journey. Take not a swallow into thine house. Pare not your nails, while engaged in the solemnities of sacrifice. Devour not your own heart. Eat not your own brain. Wipe not away sweat with a sword. Make not libations to the gods from a vine which has never been pruned. Read not a poem to a beast.

One of these sayings, Pursue not animals with crooked claws, expresses the whole rationale of the Mosaical statute respecting unclean ravenous beasts: and another of them, Read not a poem to a beast, can scarcely fail to remind us of our Lord's own apophthegm, Cast not your pearls before swine.

[merged small][ocr errors]





To enter upon the doctrine of a future state in the Pentateuch, save in the way of mere incidental allusion, were irrelevant to the subjects discussed in it. Hence it is nugatory to look for any very striking or distinct or explicit notices of that doctrine in the volume of the Hebrew Law. But, what Moses could not properly enter upon in the Pentateuch, he has supplied, I am inclined to believe, in another work of a wholly different nature and style of composition. That work I suppose to be the book of Job.

Various have been the opinions entertained, respecting both the age in which Job himself flourished, the author of the book which describes his fortunes, and the drift and object of its composition.

I. Eusebius places Job two whole ages before Moses; concurring in opinion with many of the

Hebrew writers, who describe him as living in the days of Isaac and Jacob. Shuckford supposes him to have been contemporary with Isaac. Spanheim places him between the death of Joseph and the departure of Israel from Egypt. And Kennicott and Heath, assenting to the general arrangement of Spanheim, represent him as contemporary with Amram the father of Moses; Eliphaz the Temanite, whom they make the fifth from Abraham, being contemporary with both'.

II. So much for the man : nor has there been less discrepancy respecting the author of the book. Huet, Michaelis, and Kennicott, suppose

it to have been the production of Moses; adopting, in this particular, the sentiments of many of the most ancient Jewish and Christian writers. Grotius, Warburton, Heath, and Garnet, contend, that it was written at a late period of the Jewish history; and ascribe it variously to Ezekiel or to Ezra. Lowth and Peters favour the idea of Job himself being its author. And Magee supposes, that, while Job was its original author, Moses, in transcribing the work which might have fallen into his hands either in the land of Midian or in the neighbourhood of


See Magee's Disc. on the Atonement. vol. ii. mumb. LIX. p. 107, 108. Eliphaz was not the fifth, but the third, trom Abraham. His genealogical line was Abraham, Isaac, Esau, Eliphaz. See Gen, xxxvi. 10.

Idumea, made some small and unimportant alterations, which will sufficiently account for occasional and partial resemblances of expression between it and the Pentateuch'.

III. The object of the work likewise has excited no small degree of speculation.

Houbigant thinks, that it was composed for the purpose of shewing that a good man might be afflicted in this world without any imputation upon the divine justice; though, in the early ages, notoriously impious men were struck by the hand of heaven beyond the ordinary course of nature'. Warburton, taking up the same leading idea, contends, that it was written by Ezra for the comfort of the Israelites, when they found the extraordinary providence of the Theocracy withdrawn from them. Garnet deems it an ingenious allegory, in which the condition of Job is considered as descriptive of the sufferings of the Jews during the captivity'. Grey, the epitomiser of Schultens, contents himself with pronouncing it a perpetual document of humility and patience to all good men in affliction '. And Sherlock supposes it to have been written


Magée's Disc, on the Atonement. vol. ii. p. 120, 121, 126-128.

· Houbig. in lib. Job. lectori. apud Warburton.
s Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 2.
· Garnet on Job. See Gray's Key, p. 229.

Grey's Preface apud Warburton.

in opposition to the ancient doctrine of two independent principles, one of good, the other of evil'.


Respecting the age and family and country of Job.

The high antiquity of the age, in which Job himself flourished, seems to be very generally allowed, whoever might be the author of the book which records his trials: and, with respect to his precise epoch, I fully agree with Kennicott and Heath, that he ought to be esteemed the contemporary of Amram.

I. I shall give the chain of reasoning, by which I am brought to this conclusion : and, when the question of authorship comes to be discussed, other matters will occur which will lead to the same result.

1. Commentators are for the most part agreed in determining Idumea, a part of Arabia Petrea, to have been the country of Job.

This position has been maintained at large by Bishop Lowth: Kennicott considers him as having completely proved his point: Codurcus had long before maintained the same opinion: and

Sherlock's Dissert. ii. postfixed to Disc. on prophecy.

p. 236.

« PreviousContinue »