Job’s Character

Job 1: 1

Job’s character is described by the use of two pairs of qualities: blameless and upright, and one who feared God and turned away from evil. The first pair depicts Job as a morally good man, and the second pair as a religious person. The first word is translated in the King James Version (kjv) as “perfect,” which suggests a state of sinlessness. The idea is more exactly one of “moral integrity.” Upright translates a word having to do with “straightness” and again focuses upon Job’s honesty in his dealings. This first pair of terms in Hebrew is found in Psalm 25:21, translated by rsv as “integrity and uprightness,” and by tev as “goodness and honesty”; in Psalm 37:37 they occur in parallel. In many languages the first pair of descriptions used of Job are rendered idiomatically; for example, “having one heart” or “speaking with one mouth.” Also common are terms for straightness, “going on the straight road,” and confidence, “man on whose word people rest.”

Feared God is to say in the biblical way that Job was a religious man. He was one who turned away from evil, or who avoided evil as a result of his fearing God. tev, which says “who worshiped God,” has shifted this clause forward. However, there does not seem to be any advantage in doing this. This description of Job is repeated by God in 1:8 and makes it clear that Job did not bring his troubles on himself. Feared God may sometimes be translated “was faithful to God” or “showed respect for God.” In some languages it is not natural to turn away from an abstract idea like evil. Accordingly we may sometimes say “did not do as evil people do,” or “refused to follow the way that evil people go,” or “he said ‘No’ to people who did bad things.” Verse 1b may be rendered, for example, “Job was a good and honest man. He worshiped God and did nothing that was evil.” The parallelism in structure here is good to maintain, since it serves the purpose of slowing the information in what is otherwise a tightly packed paragraph.

Reyburn, W. D. (1992). A handbook on the book of Job (p. 31). New York: United Bible Societies.