Bible Study – Job
Class Two: Job 1: 1-5

From the Orthodox Study Bible.

1.  Faithful Job and His Children

1 There was a man in the land of Austis, whose name was Job.  That man was true, blameless, righteous, and God-fearing, and he abstained from every evil thing.

2 Now he had seven sons and three daughters,

3 and his cattle consisted of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred female donkeys in the pastures.  Moreover he possessed a very large number of house servants.  His works were also great on the earth, and that man was the most noble of all the men in the East.

4 His sons would visit one another and prepare a banquet every day, and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

5 When the days of their drinking were ended, Job sent and purified them; and he rose early in the morning and offered sacrifices for them according to their number, as well as one calf for the sins of their souls.  For Job said, “Lest my sons consider evil things in their mind against God.”  Therefore Job this continually.

From Fr. Patrick Reardon

The first chapter of Job describes him, in fact, as the embodiment of the ideals held out in the first psalm. Job “walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, / Nor stands in the path of sinners, / Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” On the contrary, he is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, / That brings forth its fruit in its season, / Whose leaf also shall not wither; / And whatever he does shall prosper.”

Whereas the “man” in the first psalm is clearly a Jew, whose “delight is in the law of the Lord,” Job is only a man—any just man, anywhere. St. John Chrysostom drew special attention to the fact that Job is only a man, not a Jew. That is to say, Job does not enjoy the benefits of the revelation made to God’s chosen people. The only revelation known to Job is that which is accorded to all men, namely, that God “is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The first verse of Job introduces the narrative prologue (1:1–2:13) preceding the lengthy and complicated dialogue that forms the long central core of the book. This prologue contains six scenes:

(1) an account of Job’s life and prosperity in 1:1–5;

(2) the first discussion in heaven in 1:6–12;

(3) Job’s loss of his children and possessions in 1:13–22;

(4) the second discussion in heaven in 2:1–7;

(5) Job’s affliction of the flesh in 2:7–10;

(6) the arrival of Job’s three friends in 2:11–13.

Chapter 1, then, contains the first three of these six scenes.

In the first scene (1:1–5) [this is the one we are covering today] Job is called a devout man who feared God, a man who “shunned evil.” He thus enjoyed the prosperity promised to such folk in Israel’s wisdom literature. As we have reflected in our introduction to this book, Job is the very embodiment of the prosperous just man held up as a model in the Book of Proverbs.


From the Orthodox Study Bible footnote

Note that Job was “blameless” and “abstained from every evil thing.”  Does that mean he is perfect?

·      Ecclesiastes 2:20/21.  For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.

·  Hebrews 4:15.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.


St. Gregory the Great (he does literal and then two allegoricals)

On the description of Job. But it is the custom of narrators, when a wrestling match is woven into the story, first to describe the limbs of the combatants, how broad and strong the chest, how sound, how full their muscles swelled, how the belly below neither clogged by its weight, nor weakened by its shrunken size, that when they have first shewn the limbs to be fit for the combat, they may then at length describe their bold and mighty strokes. Thus because our athlete was about to combat the devil, the writer of the sacred story, recounting as it were before the exhibition in the arena the spiritual merits in this athlete, describes the members of the soul1, saying, And that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil; that when the powerful setting of the limbs is known, from this very strength we may already prognosticate also the victory to follow.

On sacrifices for his children (literal).  This circumstance demands our discreet consideration, that, when the days of feasting were past, he has recourse to the purification of a holocaust for each day severally; for the holy man knew that there can scarcely be feasting without offence; he knew that the revelry of feasts must be cleansed away by much purification of sacrifices, and whatever stains the sons had contracted in their own persons at their feasts, the father wiped out by the offering of a sacrifice; for there are certain evils which it is either scarcely possible, or it may be said wholly impossible, to banish from feasting. Thus almost always voluptuousness is the accompaniment of entertainments; for when the body is relaxed in the delight of refreshment, the heart yields itself to the admission of an empty joy. Whence it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Exod. 32:6.

More on the sacrifices (allegorical).  For we rise up early in the morning, when being penetrated with the light of compunction we leave the night of our human state, and open the eyes of the mind to the beams of the true light, and we offer a burnt offering for each son, when we offer up the sacrifice of prayer for each virtue, lest wisdom may uplift; or understanding, while it runs nimbly, deviate from the right path; or counsel, while it multiplies itself, grow into confusion; that fortitude, while it gives confidence, may not lead to precipitation, lest knowledge, while it knows and yet has no love, may swell the mind; lest piety, while it bends itself out of the right line, may become distorted; and lest fear, while it is unduly alarmed, may plunge one into the pit of despair. When then we pour out our prayers to the Lord in behalf of each several virtue, that it be free from alloy, what else do we but according to the number of our sons offer a burnt offering for each? for an holocaust is rendered ‘the whole burnt.’ Therefore to pay a ‘holocaust’ is to light up the whole soul with the fire of compunction, that the heart may burn on the altar of love, and consume the defilements of our thoughts, like the sins of our own offspring.

Saint Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, vol. 1 (Oxford; London: John Henry Parker; J. G. F. and J. Rivington, 1844), 34.

St. John Chrysostom

On wealth and temptation.  Do you not see that for people not on the alert wealth becomes the basis of falsehood.  This man was not like that, however, though: although he was wealthy, it was for you to learn that had wealth as an inclination towards evil, and that it is not wealth that is responsible [for sin] but free will.  [notes that later he also avoided the temptations of poverty].  Later, Job will explain how he came to be like this. 

On harmony.  Great harmony, the highest of goods; they were brought up to share their meals, keeping a common table, which makes no little contribution to good relations.  Do you see, dearly beloved, enjoyment accompanied by security?  Do you see family dining?  Do you see the well-knit group?

On the purification.  It was not from some bodily contamination, there being no Law by that stage, but from a mental one….: it was for sins that were hidden and not acknowledged [and he would certainly have done more if they were obvious]… This very process, in fact, became also instruction for his children, not only removal of their sins; people who are aware that punishment is God’s prerogative for both thoughts and sinful acts – their father, after all, would not have offered sacrifice if were not a sin he was anxious to cancel – and who constantly are instructed in this by sacrifices would be more hesitant if something like this happened in their case… Note how he gave them a lesson in harmony also in his sacrifice, offering one calf for them all as if for a single person… Which love in particular made him do it?  In my view, love for God and then love for his children.

Robert Charles Hill.  St. John Chrysostom Commentaries on the Sages, Volume One – Commentary on Job.  Holy Cross Orthodox Press.

What we will cover next week:

Satan is Permitted to Test Job; Job 1: 6-12.

Direct download: 20240124-Job01_1-5.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 11:07am EDT