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God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 1:43-45 Jobab and Job

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 21, 2023

The rulers of Edom
43 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel: Bela son of Beor. The name of his city was Dinhabah. 44 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bizrah reigned as king after him. 45 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites reigned as king after him.

The third list of Esau’s line (verses 43-54) gives the names of earlier Temanite and Horite chieftains of the region before Esau arrived. They trace their history as far back as Bela son of Beor—certainly not the same Beor who was the father of Balaam in the days of Moses. There are eight “kings” in this list, suggesting a history that goes back at least a hundred and perhaps two hundred years, assuming each king ruled between 12-25 years.

Bela’s city was Dinhabah, which means “robber’s den.” This is not the same word Jeremiah uses in Jeremiah 7:11 and which Jesus has in mind when he declares that the money changers are making his Father’s house “a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13). The name of course leads us to suspect that Bela was either not a very nice man, or else that he cleaned up the place of its robbers and thieves and took over their hideout as his own refuge city to bring stability to the region.

His successor, Jobab, leads us to an interesting possibility. As we saw in verse 23, there was another Jobab in these days, a man from the line of Shem and the grandson of Eber. He would have been four generations older than Abraham, and so these men could have been either contemporaries, or even (but this is doubtful) the same man. The latter possibility is possible if the Edomites, who were severed in their ties from the line of Shem due to the division of languages, did not recognize that this “ancient king” was actually a close relative.

This is a good place to explain why this Jobab might possibly have been Job. I will do this with numbered points.

  1. We believe that Job was a real, historical man, in accord with Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20 and James 5:11. Old and New Testament authors speak about him under divine inspiration as an historical and true person.
  2. We believe that the book of Job as we have it in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is an accurate presentation of an incident in this man’s life. Although the book only presents about two or three weeks in detail, this tragedy and his godly response to it are well worth inclusion in God’s word.
  3. We suspect that the document we have was not written during Job’s lifetime, nor shortly afterward, but may have been written much later, just as Moses wrote Genesis long after the events even of the final chapters of the book.
  4. We suspect that the book of Job was written during the lifetime of Solomon. Luther said at his dinner table, “It’s possible that Solomon himself wrote this book, for the style is not very different from his. At the time of Solomon the story… was old and well known. It was as if I today were to take up the stories of Joseph or Rebekah. The Hebrew poet, whoever he was, saw and wrote about those temptations. Whoever wrote Job, it appears that he was a great theologian” (Table Talk, LW 54:80). In my comments on Job, I found 29 affinities between the Psalms of Asaph and the language of the book of Job. It is my opinion that Asaph, who was from the time of David and Solomon, either wrote Job himself or was greatly influenced by the language of the author.
  5. The circumstances of the places are consistent. King Jobab lived “in the land of Edom” (Genesis 36:31) and Job lives “in the land of Uz” (Job 1:1) which was one of the primary regions of the kings of Edom (Lamentations 4:21) and which is proved by the raids of the neighboring Chaldeans and the presence of his Temanite and Shuhite friends.
  6. The descriptions of their public offices are consistent. Moses says that Jobab was a king who reigned (Genesis 36:33). Job’s possessions could hardly be those of a private citizen (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoked pair of oxen, 500 female donkeys, Job 1:3), and he is called “the greatest of all the men of the East” (Job 1:3). Furthermore, Job’s own king did not come to his aid even when such a terrible disaster struck him. How can we understand this unless Job himself was king in every respect? The men who did come to console him are rulers and wise men of other nations. Also, Job has a king’s dignity: princes, elders and officials rose for him and were silent before him (Job 29:8-9). He was dressed like a king with a robe and a turban (Job 29:14). His office was a man who “rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him” (Job 29:12). He also “took up the case of the stranger” (Job 29:16). Finally, Job himself says: “I sat as their chief. I dwelt as a king among his troops” (Job 29:25).
  7. Names are similar. Moses lists an Eliphaz who is the father of Prince Teman, and Job counts a certain Eliphaz—without a doubt named for the above—who is a descendant of Teman (and his father Eliphaz). Also, the name Job is simply a contraction of Jobab.
  8. The lifespans are consistent. Job had a very long life. After his adult children were killed in a storm, he became the father of ten more children, living another 140 years after the tragedy of the book (Job 42:16). This suggests a lifespan of around two hundred years or more. No one reached that kind of lifespan from the time of Moses onward, and such an age fits the time of Abraham and Isaac.
  9. Various ancient authors have the same judgment. The Latin translator of Tobit refers to Job’s friends and relatives as kings (Tobit 2:14-15). And in the Greek Septuagint, the translator adds to the conclusion: “These were the kings who reigned in Edom, over which country he (Job) ruled. The first was Balak (Bela) the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dennaba (Dinhaba). After him was Jobab, who is called Job.”
  10. To these we add that men such as Augustine and Ambrose of Milan also thought that Jobab and Job were the same man. Eusebius concurs, using Job as an example of the many who were justified by faith before the time of Moses. The pagan writer Aristeas also thought that Job and Jobab were one and the same man, saying that “Job was known as Jobab before the calamity befell him.”

While I do not insist that this opinion is correct, it is a forceful argument. I include it here to show by one minor example how deeply ancient Christians delved into the holy Scriptures. Their desire was to mine every golden nugget of God’s truth. The love for the word of God leads us to wonder, to ask, to ponder, and to search the Scriptures. Of course, the most important truths that the Bible presents are familiar and clear: our salvation from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead into everlasting life. This was the testimony of Job, who said about salvation, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” and about the resurrection, “even after my skin has been destroyed, nevertheless, in my own flesh I will see God. I myself will see him. My own eyes will see him, and not as a stranger” (Job 19:25, 26-27). What a blessing to share our faith with men like Job, who believed as we do in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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