- The historical setting (1:1 - 2:13)
- Job's dialogue with his three friends (3:1 - 31:40)
- The speeches of Elihu (32:1 - 37:24)
- God intervenes to speak (38:1 - 41:34)
- The conclusion of the matter (42:1-17)
Authorship, date, and background The book of Job is listed among the five poetical books, which include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs (Solomon). The poetical books are not historical or prophetical works. The book of Job nowhere indicates who the author might have been. Jewish tradition has suggested writers from the time of Moses to the time of Ahasuerus. The events recorded in the book suggest a time frame early in the second millennium B.C. But this does not mean the book was authored at that time or even shortly later. Scholars have placed the date anywhere from the time of Moses to the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile. In all probability a date around the age of Solomon is preferable.
Job does not make reference to historical events, although Job himself is said to have come from the land of Uz, which may been located in the southeastern Edom. Job's three friends are spoken of as having come from the Temanites, the Shuhites, and Naamathites. Elihu is called a Buzite. The main character, Job, was a wealthy man who lived a seminomadic existence. He was a real person, and the story tells how he was suddenly caught up in a series of disasters such as many people have faced in all ages. Thus the background for the book is applicable to all ages and all circumstances. The heart of the problem for Job was to find an answer to the dilemma why there is human suffering and how a loving God can allow it. It is further complicated by the inescapable fact that Job had really done nothing, humanly speaking, to deserve the disasters as a punishment for transgressions.
Characteristics and content S.J. Schultz has said that the book of Job exhibits "vast resources of knowledge, a superb style of forceful expression, profoundity of thought, excellent command of language, noble deals, a high standard of ethics and a genuine love for nature." The literally style is poetry with a prose introduction and epilogue. It is regarded by many as one of the truly great literally works of all times. The writer skilfully describes the contest between Job and his friends as they labor over the question of the cause of the Job's plight. He faces the inquisition after losing his children, his possessions, and his great wealth. His own body is wracked with sores and he himself reaches the place where he wishes he had never been born.
Neither Job nor anyone else has ever been able to solve the problem that is posed in this book. But answers to the question emerge in a somewhat different pattern. Clearly it is shown that the thoughts and ways of God are beyond man's ability to understand them. He can only accept what God allows, believing that in the end all is for the glory of God and for the good of the sufferer. This does not answer the question, "Why me?", but it does provide a framework for acceptance of what may not always be understood. Moreover, Job teaches that God sometimes uses suffering to purify and strengthen the suffering soul. The third lesson Job teaches is that a believer must love God wholly apart from whether God sends blessings or disasters into his life.
What Job does not know is that in his case it is Satan who seeks permission from God to afflict him with the expectation that he will lose his faith, curse his God, and allow Satan to win a victory over the Almighty. Job's friends never do see the rightness of Job's defense until they are rebuked by God, who allows Job to pray for his friends. The final answer the life of Job brings to every believer is that God will deliver his suffering people either in this life or in that which to come.