Job’s Children, The Victims
Chapters 24 – 27 of the book of Job are often referred to as ‘scrambled’ poetic texts due primarily to the disconnected speeches of Job and his friends. This is the section that leads up to a dramatic interlude in chapter 28 and a poem about finding wisdom.
For today, we will continue with the theme of presenting Job as a courtroom drama. This is a study of Job’s children, who are the victims. The children are critical to understanding the depth of the suffering endured by Job, the plaintiff. They are introduced at the very beginning of the book in the second verse.
Numbers are important in ancient and epic literature. The number seven represents completion and sufficiency. Job had seven sons and three daughters which add up to 10, another important number that represents perfection and the ideal. The author of Job is presenting a perfect picture for one of the greatest families of the eastern world. These sons each had his own house and regularly enjoyed each others company for feasts and gatherings. The harmony that is expressed here can only highlight the fact that Job did a great job raising his children to love, care for and respect each other. Job provided for his family, shared his wealth with them and trained them to do the same with each other. He served not only as the patriarchic provider, but the priest of the family by offering sacrifices on their behalf. Feasts of the ancient world were not necessarily a time of rebellion or perversity, but were often characterized by excess indulgence, which is what Job was likely atoning for when he consecrated them.
As we will soon see in our reading, Job has other children besides the ones which are killed in chapter one. Throughout scripture, we see the classic cycle of:
Creation > Fall > Redemption
Job is ultimately redeemed in the end through the provision of children for posterity. As his ‘victimized children’ were with him at the beginning of the book, his ‘redemption children’ are with him at the end of the book. The Lord restores Job to a condition that is twice as great as he was before the tragedy. All of the flocks and herds are doubled in number, but the number of his children remains the same, because it was ideal from the beginning. However, his enjoyment of generations is what gets doubled. The average life span is 70 years (Psalm 90:10) and men are typically allowed to know up to 2 generations of children / grandchildren. Job is given 140 years and is able to know 4 generations of his descendants. Through his children, Job receives an enduring redemption and restoration from the Lord.
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