Job, Testament of

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JOB, TESTAMENT OF (Gr. Διαθήκη τοῦ Ιωβ), Greek pseudepigraphon purporting to reveal the secrets and last wishes of *Job. In its present form the Testament of Job is closely linked with the Greco-Jewish historian *Aristeas, who flourished about 100 b.c.e., and with the Greek version of Job. It is likely, however, that a Hebrew or Aramaic model was known to the author(s) of the Testament of Job. This explains the Palestinian background of certain terms as well as the kinship with such works as the Testaments of the Twelve *Patriarchs and *Jubilees.

The author(s) of the Testament of Job aimed to present a Job who would conform to the stringent ideals of the pietistic sects more than the canonical figure. Omitting the lengthy discourses, they are a richer narrative than found in Scripture. By making Job the narrator and by introducing hymns and a chorus, the work frequently resembles a Greek tragedy. The integrity of the work, however, has been compromised by later additions. The double self-identifications, first as Job and afterward as Jobab (Gen. 36:33), and the allusions to missing sections suggest that parts of the book are abridgments of a larger pseudepigraphon. The view that a Christian retouched this book is to be rejected since no Christian would have invented a Jesus-like Job. More likely is the link of the original version of the Testament of Job with the Qumran sect, and the present Greek text with the *Therapeutae of Alexandria. The Palestinian version was probably the source of the talmudic traditions about Job.

Despite the unsatisfactory state of the text, the Testament of Job tells a moving story. Jobab (Job) the son of Esau, the king of Edom, reveals his secrets to his seven sons and three daughters by his second wife Dinah, Jacob's daughter. It is God who instigates the antagonism between Job and Satan. An archangel tells Job that the Lord wishes him to destroy the popular shrine where the people worshiped Satan's image. Job is forewarned that Satan will avenge the wrong done to him, but he is also promised that, if he endures Satan's trials, his final exaltation is assured. Job now assumes an even higher role than that ascribed to Abraham. He becomes a protagonist in God's struggle against evil. Describing his own remarkable deeds of charity and hospitality, Job relates how Satan disguised himself as a beggar to gain entrance into his home. Failing in his purpose, Satan succeeds in persuading the king of Persia to besiege Job's city. Job's fellow citizens pillage his palace, killing his ten children by his first wife, Sitis. Again with God's permission, Satan, appearing in the form of a whirlwind, smites Job with a plague, ulcers, and worms (cf. Genesis Apocryphon, 20:16ff.). The hero's patience is exemplified by his putting back on his body every single worm that crawled off. Suffering from hunger, Sitis (etymologically related perhaps to Satan or sotah, "unfaithful wife") unknowingly barters her hair to Satan for three loaves of bread, whereupon she addresses Job: "The feebleness of my heart has crushed my bones, rise then and take these loaves of bread and enjoy them, and speak some word against the Lord and die" (Job 2:9). Job realizes that it is Satan who is speaking through Sitis' mouth. After selling herself into slavery, Sitis reappears momentarily as Jobab's royal friends come to visit him. She begs them to dig up her ten sons from the ruins, but Job refuses permission, saying that they are now in the presence of God. When Sitis dies in her master's stable, Satan speaks through Elihu, who unjustifiably upbraids Job for his overbearing pride and boasting. The evil Elihu is thereupon damned in a long hymn led by Eliphaz. In the last part of the book (which may be an addition by another hand), the angels come to take Job's soul. He divides his possessions among his sons, but to his daughters he offers miraculous belts which would enable them to bless the approaching angels. Although it was quoted in James 5:11, Pope Gelasius i (492–496) removed the Testament of Job from the apocrypha, as a result of which it was lost, and recovered only in the 19th century. Its novel characterization of the antagonists, its lively use of dialogue, and deep understanding of human feeling make the Testament of Job a classic among the perennial attempts to reinterpret the meaning of the most tragic of biblical figures.


M.R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota, Series 2 (1897), lxxii–cii, 104–37; R.H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times (1949), 70–72; M. Philonenko, in: Semitica, 8 (1958), 41–53; em, 5 (1968), 1119.

[Ben Zion Wacholder]