(As the whole book is recommended here, no hyperlinks are used - PN)
The book Job is rightly regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the Old Testament. Many commentaries and scholarly treatises have been written upon it. Detailed interpretation of the book is beyond the scope of this guide to the Bible; but the book 'speaks for itself'.
It was written probably about 400 B.C. but the subject matter - that of innocent suffering and the right attitude of the creature to the Creator - is of perennial interest and importance.
Within the setting of a 'fairy tale' which is not exclusively Jewish (cf. Hariscandra of Egypt) we have some of the deepest theological probings of the Old Testament.
The book so nearly resembles a Drama that it may easily be read in this manner from the following Synopsis:-
1. Job is portrayed as an innocent God-fearing character, who
suddenly suffers a series of terrible misfortunes, but yet retains
his integrity and faith in God.
Job 1 and 2
2. Job gives vent to his sorrow.
3. The first cycle of the speeches of Job's three friends and
Job's impassioned reply.
Job 4 - 14
4. The second cycle of speeches and Job's reply.
Job 15 - 21
5. The third cycle of speeches from two of his friends and Job's
Job 22 - 31
6. After Job's long speech (Job 22-31) there follows a
speech from a certain "Elihu" regarded by some as an
'unnecessary interpolation', but in reality advancing the argument
of the book greatly and contributing new and valuable insights
into the mystery of God's ways with mankind.
Job 32 - 37
7. The climax of the book comes in chapter 38 when God Himself
answers Job and overwhelms him.
Job 38 - 41
8. Job is overcome with shame and remorse and despises himself
for his rashness in questioning the sovereignty and wisdom of
9. God now reproves the friends of Job, but commends Job himself. The 'fairy tale' beginning of the book is now rounded off in a 'happy ever after' manner.