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"surely remember you, and bring you out of this land, "into that which he sware he would give to the pos"terity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I charge you "therefore, when God shall thus visit you, and bring you out of this land, that you carry up my bones with you." This he obliged them to by an oath. And Joseph, being an hundred and ten years old, died; and in order to perform their oath, they embalmed his body, and kept it in a coffin till the time of their deliverance should
St. Paul, commenting on this event (Heb. xi. 22.) says "By faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the "departing of the children of Israel, and gave command"ment concerning his bones." Thus, this excellent man, died, as well as lived, in faith. In firm dependence on the divine promises, he looked forward to the deliverance of the Church, not merely from Egypt, but from the bondage of Sin and Satan through the redemption of the Messiah. And it was in token of this expectation that he ordered his body to be preserved, and carried into the promised land. This his dying request was punctually observed, see Exodus xiii. 19. "And Moses took the "bones of Joseph with him." The Jews say that the bodies of all the patriarchs were taken with them at the same time; each tribe having preserved the body of its founder. From hence, probably, was derived the custom of men's carrying the ashes of their ancestors into their own country, as by Hercules among the Greeks; and long before, by the Egyptians and Chaldeans, whom the Arabians imitated in following ages.
HISTORY OF JOB.
MOSES, intending to carry on the history of Jacob and his family to the period of their deliverance from the Egyptian bondage, without interruption, lays aside the story of Job, which according to the series of time should come in during the Israelites' servitude, and before their deliverance for which reason it is inserted here, instead of placing it so far out of its due course of time as is done by the compilers of the Bible.
Various have been the conjectures concerning Job. Some suppose him to be descended from Nahor, the son of Terah, and brother of Abraham: others conceive him to be descended from Esau, and to be Jobab his great. grand-son. But the most probable opinion is, that he was a descendant from Abraham by Keturah, his second wife. With this, several circumstances concur: for Job is said to be the greatest and most considerable man for wealth of all the inhabitants of the East, into which country Abraham sent his sons by Keturah.* And amongst the people of the East are reckoned the Midianites,† descended from Midian, one of Abraham's sons by Keturah,†
• Keturab. Gen. xxv. 6.
+ Midianites. Judg. vi, 3, Keturah. Gen. xxv. 2.
Taking it for granted that this story is real, we shall proceed to consider the time wherein he lived. That Job lived before the law, may be gathered from his offering burnt-offerings in the land where he resided, which God accepted and commanded; which offerings were forbidden by the law in any other place than that which the Lord should choose in one of the tribes of Israel. And that he lived after Jacob, may be inferred from the character given him by God, " That there was none like "him in the earth,, for uprightness and the fear of God :" Which high encomium could not be allowed to any while Jacob lived, who was God's peculiar servant, descended from the father of the faithful, Abraham, in a direct line from Isaac: nor can it well be supposed that so great a commendation could be given, after the death of Jacob, to any while Joseph lived, who in various excellencies made as bright a figure as any in his time.
After these conjectures, though the precise time of Job's birth cannot with sufficient ground be ascertained: yet there is a general concurrence in opinion, that he
* Real. From the uncertainty who Job was, some have taken the liberty to question, Whether he was at all? Whether in point of fact, it be strictly true, that there was such a man as Job, who underwent those trials and sufferings, which in this book are recorded of him? Or, whether it was only an instructive and parabolical poem, devised and composed by some of the devout ancients, on purpose to instil into the reader those excellent principles delivered in it. But besides other arguments that might be urged to prove the reality of the story, drawn from the names of persons, people, countries, and some particular passages therein mentioned, the credit given to it by God through his prophet Ezekiel, ch. xiv. 14. and his apostle St. James, ch. v. 11. in citing it, and referring to it, is enough to gain belief with all who have a due regard for those writings, that it is a real history.
Allowing, however, the facts, it may be safely admitted that it is a poem of the dramatic kind; including some allegory, amplification, and poetical ornament. The facts are clothed in a dramatic manner, and the speeches, probably, may have received some enlargement from the author, which is a usual licence in this kind of writing.
+ Forbidden. Deut. xii. 13, 14.
That, &c. See Job i. 8. and ch. ii. Ș.
lived in the time of Israel's bondage in Egypt; some placing his birth* in the same year in which Jacob went down into Egypt; and the beginning of his trials in the year that Joseph died, being the seventy-first of Job's life.
Nor are there less various conjectures about the time of writing this story; some suppose it written after the death of Moses; others think it written by Moses himscif. The most probable opinion is, that it was really written by Moses while in the land of Midian. It matters not, however, who was the compiler: it is certain the whole story is an admirable commentary on the first book of the Pentateuch and therefore no great number of historical observations can be expected from it.
St. Jerom is unnecessarily curious in defining the style of it: it is sufficient, that in Job we have the character of an excellent person, exhibited to us by God himself, adorned with all the virtues that can render him acceptable to God, and desirable to men; in which he is elegantly and briefly described as performing his duty, fearing God, and shunning evil.
How considerable Job was in the world, may appear from the estimate of his stock, which consisted of seventhousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen, and five hundred she-asses.
As to domestic blessings, God had been very liberal to him, for he had seven sons and three daughters, who inherited their father's name, more than his virtues; being, it is thought, too much devoted to worldly pleasures. For when they were grown up, and removed from him, they took their turns in feasting from house to house,
Birth. It might not probably be so liable to exception, if Job's birth were set a little lower, as about the time of Jacob's death: And then Joseph, who survived his father about fifty-four years, will have been dead about sixteen years, before that extraordinary character was given of Job, in the seventieth year of his age. At which time, for any thing that appears, he might well be without competitor or equal. And there being somewhat more than sixty years between Joseph's death, and the birth of Moses; the story of Job may fitly enough fall within that interval of time.
every one his day, and invited their sisters to feast with them. When they had finished their round, pious Job, considering the dangers that attend such festive meetings, and fearing lest his children, in their youthful mirth and amusements, might have committed some extravagancies, he kindly sent and exhorted them to purify themselves, preparatory to a solemn offering up of sacrifices to their God; the good man himself, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings for them, according to the number of them all. And this he did from time to time after their feasts. This pious care of Job was highly acceptable to his Maker, who expressed his high esteem and approbation, at a time when the Sons of God* came to present themselves before the Lord;† at which time also Satan, the adversary, came among them, to seek an opportunity of doing mischief. Then the Almighty, to set forth Job as an exemplary pattern of righteousness, said to Satan; "Hast thou considered my servant Job, "that there is none like him in the earth; a man exactly good, and one that feareth God and shunneth evil ?" The malignant adversary, unwilling to admit that Job
• Sons of God. That is good angels; as on the contrary Satan is called the Angel of Death or it may refer to the assembly of pious men, the worshippers of Jehovah, who in early ages were called The Sons of God, Gen. vi. 2. God is present in such an assembly; and as good angels are probably present on such an occasion, (Luke xv. 7. 10. Eph. iii. 10.) so may evil spirits also.
+ Before the Lord. Some will have this convention of the good angels to be seal, but at the same time such as is agreeable to the nature of spirits; and that they met in a certain place, and Satan with them, before the angel, who in the room of God, presided over that assembly: but so, as Satan was seen of God and angels; but he, by reason of his fall, not able to see God or them. Others take it to be parabolically spoken, that the truth may be the better understood: for the decrees of God, the ministry of his angels, and the machinations of the wicked angels, are often in scripture expressed under the form of the judgments and counsels of kings; as we may see 1 Kings xxii. 19. Zech. iii. 1. But be it how it may, it is certain these things are not meant in a gross literal sense, but as God is pleased to accommodate himself to our understanding; for Satan can no other way be said to come into the presence of God, nor to talk with him, &c. nor the angels