“There Was a Man Named Job, Who Was Pleasing to Others”

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Some of you may be aware that I posted a link to a youtube video on the Book of Job proposing the interpretation that Job isn’t the righteous man, at least at the start of the book, that he’s always presented as. That in fact, God may have been working in his life, allowing struggles, to bring Job from an outward righteousness and legalistic worldview to a grace filled relationship with God that would bring honesty about his shortcomings before God and dependence upon God.

To view the original post, click here

An objection that was thrown back at me was Job 1:1. Here’s what Job 1:1 says in the KJV:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

Upon first glance, this looks like an incredible commendation of Job and his relationship with God. I must admit that it threw the view presented by the video into serious question.

But I’ve learned something throughout the years. If I don’t understand a passage of Scripture, or what I’m reading doesn’t seem to fit with other things, it’s an invitation being extended to me to dive deeper and mine for the treasure God is waiting to reveal.

I’d like to share my findings with you, having come out on the other end of this journey. As always, I like to not only share my answers, but how I arrived at those answers. Here was my approach:

1) Using the Hebrew concordance on blueletterbible.org I looked up every time the two Hebrew words, translated in the KJV, as “perfect” and “upright,” were used and noted all the different ways those words were translated in the KJV. This step revealed that that these same two words were translated several different ways, which told me that precision wasn’t in view in the translation process. 

2) I took the opposite approach and looked up, using the KJV, all the Hebrew words that were translated perfect or upright to compare how they are used and the variation in meaning between these words. This step revealed that there are 13 Hebrew words translated as “perfect” in the KJV and 13 more that are translated “upright.” Again, definitely not a sign of precision. And let me also say that in looking at how these terms are used and their Hebrew lexicon definitions and ranges of meaning, there is definitely much more precision in the Hebrew than in the English in the use of these words.

3) I then went back and found the Hebrew words used in the book of Job to help me see how these various words were used in what is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible. Of the 13 words translated “perfect” in the KJV, only 3 are used in the book of Job. Of the words translated “upright” only 1 is used.

So without further ado, here is what I discovered about the “perfect” and “upright” Job:

PERFECT

1) תָּמִים – H8549

This Hebrew word, pronounced tamiym, means complete in the sense that something is “as it should be.” It is used to convey a state of truth, health and integrity. Here are the verses in Job that use this term:

“I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright H8549 man is laughed to scorn.”- Job 12:4 (same Hebrew word translated “perfect” and “upright” in different verses)

“For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect H8549 in knowledge is with thee.” – Job 36:4

“Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect H8549 in knowledge?” – Job 37:16

2) תָּם – H8535

This Hebrew word, pronounced tam, means complete in the sense that something or someone is pleasing to others. It is used to convey lacking nothing, physical strength, beauty, a quiet person, morally innocent, integrity and pure. Here are the verses in Job where this word is used:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect H8535 and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” – Job 1:1 (the verse in question)

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect H8535 and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?’ – Job 1:8

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect H8535 and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” – Job 2:3

“Behold, God will not cast away a perfect H8535 man, neither will he help the evil doers:” – Job 8:20

“If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, H8535 it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, H8535 yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect H8535 and the wicked.” – Job 9:20-22

3) תָּמַם – H8552

This Hebrew word, pronounced tamam, means complete in the sense that something is finished. Here’s how it’s used in Job.

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? H8552” – Job 22:3

“Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended. H8552” – Job 31:40

UPRIGHT

Now let’s move on to the words upright. As I said earlier, there is only one Hebrew word used in the book of Job translated upright.

1)  יָשָׁר – H3477

This Hebrew word, pronounced yashar, means correct, in the sense of “to do the right thing.” Here’s how it’s used in the book of Job:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, H3477 and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” – Job 1:1

“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 H3477 man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” – Job 1:8

“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 H3477man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” – Job 2:3

“Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous H3477 cut off?” – Job 4:7

“If thou wert pure and upright; H3477 surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.” – Job 8:6

“Upright H3477 men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.” – Job 17:8

“There the righteous H3477 might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.” – Job 23:7

“He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, H3477 and it profited me not;” – Job 33:27

So what do we gather from looking at these various words and how they are used in book of Job?

First, let’s re-translate Job 1:1 with our much more precise meanings of these words. I’ll put parentheses around the part I modified:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was (pleasing to others. He lacked nothing, had physical strength and was outwardly handsome. He was a quiet person, morally innocent, having integrity and purity. He did the right thing), and was one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, being strong, being handsome, or being pleasing to others, but this creates quite a different perception than to say Job was “perfect.” There’s also nothing necessarily wrong with doing the right thing, having integrity and being morally innocent. However, when it comes to these areas, the reason why we do the “good” things we do and the source of power these “good” things originate from makes all the difference in the world.

I just want to point out two things in reference to this.

1) Notice throughout the book that Job refuses to acknowledge that he’s done anything wrong. Time and time again he points to his righteousness and states that he has been unjustly treated with his afflictions.

2) Notice as well what God allows Satan to have permission to do to Job. He first allows Satan to attack Job’s wealth and family. After successfully managing through this, though Job is not happy, and his wife seems ready to abandon Job and God, Satan is allowed to touch Job’s health, which then brings out Job’s “prosperity gospel” friends out of the woodworks trying to get Job to confess of his horrible sins that have caused this fate to fall upon him.

My picture of Job at the beginning of the book is now shifting to seeing him as I would any “good” person. You know, the type that others call a “good” person, the ones who label themselves as a “good” person, but it’s all outward, it’s all to please others, while inwardly they are missing the point.

Not to say that God can’t cause bad things to happen to “good” people, because He’s free to do so, but there may be much more to God’s allowance of Job’s trials than at first meets the eye.

Going an extra step, is it possible, as Job is categorized as wisdom literature, that the book of Job teaches a similar message as the book of Ecclesiastes? In both cases, you have an incredibly wealthy and powerful man who was well respected by many and seemed to lack nothing, but by the end of the book you are left asking the question, “What does all of that stuff matter apart from God?”

The book of Job ends in much the same way as Ecclesiastes. With a call to put your whole trust and value in God. He is the one with all the answers. He knows the end from the beginning. He is the author and finisher of our faith.

I throw these things out for further discussion. I’m interested to go back and re-read Job and see if the Job at the end of the book is different than the Job at the beginning.