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Monday, 10 March 2014

Moses the Ayoubian

I’ve been looking at the life of Job lately, and pondering just how it fits into the general scheme of Scripture. Job itself is a fascinating work: it’s quite possibly the first book of the Bible to be written. We know absolutely nothing about the author, but he must have lived some time after Job did, as the chronology of the book stretches out for one hundred and forty years. The format of the book lends credence to the idea of an inspired editor, collecting various pieces of data together into one highly poetic stream of discourses, sandwiched between an introductory and conclusive narrative.

1. Job has to be about the age of his friends Eliphaz the Temanite, a descendant of Esau, and Bildad the Shuhite, possibly a descendant of Abraham’s youngest son Shuah. So he couldn’t have lived any earlier than Eliphaz the father of Teman, who quite possibly is the same as Job’s friend. That would put his birth at around 2220 AM, the earliest date suggested by the Babylonian Talmud. And it’s quite likely that he was a fairly close relative of both, being descended, like them, from Abraham—in his case, most likely through Keturah.

2. Job’s story picks up after his ten children are grown, which would put his age around sixty. He then lived another 140 years, and it was very uncommon for someone to live that long after Abraham’s time. And any time after Moses’ generation is completely unreasonable.

3. Although written in Hebrew, the text of Job contains several archaic words, references to ice age conditions, mention of a monetary unit current in Jacob’s day, and a total lack of any Levitical system of worship. All of these features support the early date for Job’s life, as well as an eyewitness source for the historical data in the book.


4. The references to Job’s enemies in chapter one are quite compatible with an early date, but not a late one.


5. The reference to iron in ch. 19 and ch. 28 drive evolutionists to a late date, as they don’t believe iron-working had yet evolved by the beginning of the second millennium BC. Those of us who have read the history of those times know otherwise, so the early date is not threatened. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to these people that the reason there isn’t any archeological iron in the early layers is that it has long since rusted away by now.

Okay, so we’re going with the early date (not the earliest date, which is before Abraham). Job lived from about 1780 to 1580 BC, and his trials occurred around 1720. The question then arises, who compiled the book of Job in the 16th century BC? The most obvious answer is Moses, who was born in 1576 BC and was not only highly literate, but also a native speaker of Hebrew. 

Now, this is the interesting thing: how did Moses find out about Job? Well, it’s quite possible that Job was one of his own ancestors. The final words of the book are to the effect that Job died after living to see his great-grandchildren. What if one of those was Moses?

Let’s start with Job’s daughters: they are special because Job gave them an inheritance with their brothers. This means that, in addition to the dowery which every daughter was due from her father, they each received an eleventh of Job’s estate when he died (unless he disbursed it earlier). This was their own property which then passed on to their children when they died.

So, let’s say that Job’s last daughter, Keren, was born in 1700 BC, when he was eighty. That was the year that Jacob moved his clan to Egypt. It’s quite possible that when Jacob’s grandsons went looking for wives, that they may have lighted upon the daughters of Job, who had several things going for them: they were beautiful, they were rich, and they were godly. Not only that, Job’s family would also have been traveling the same roads to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. It’s not at all unlikely, in fact, that all three daughters married into the nascent nation of Israel, where their property rights would be respected. 

To carry it just one step farther, Job had three daughters; his second cousin Levi had three sons. If Kohath the son of Levi had married any one of the daughters of Job, Amram would have been Job’s grandson, and Moses his great-grandson. Some of Moses’ second cousins would have been the great-grandsons whom Job lived to see. And it stands to reason that Moses’ grandmother would have brought with her as part of her dowery an account of her famous father, brought up to date as far as her adulthood. It only remained for Amram, when he acquired the document by inheritance, to bring it up to date with the death of his maternal grandfather, before making it available to his son Moses to have copied for his personal library.

The Septuagint edition of Job differs from the Hebrew in many important particulars, indicating the possibility that for this portion of their translation, the Seventy used a local copy of the book that derived from one Moses had deposited in the Egyptian royal archives, with the attendant textual errors that had crept in independent of those in the edition preserved by the Hebrews.

There are several other mentions of Job in literature of the Middle East, all of dubious historical value. They’re all clearly based on the Scriptures themselves, and typically confuse Job with Jobab, the second King of Edom. That simply doesn’t leave enough time for Job to be a contemporary of Eliphaz, so I’m going with the theory that he was descended not from Abraham’s grandson, but from Abraham himself, through one of the sons of Keturah whom Abraham sent off ‘to the east.’

So, there we have it: Job was a descendant of Abraham, but not through the promised seed—so his ascending genealogy was of no interest to the Hebrew compiler. Job was an ancestor of some tribe of Israelites—quite possibly the Levites—but not through the male line, so that was of no interest to the compiler. It is for this reason that neither Job’s father, nor any of his sons, are mentioned by name in the account that has come down to us as Scripture. The fact that his daughters are named, however, is a strong an indication as we need that it was through at least one, and quite possibly all of them, that a major part of the nation that emerged from its Egyptian captivity was descended.

One more thing: remember the daughters of Zelophehad?

"The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren. And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses." --Numbers 27:8-11

The judgment Moses rendered in this case is reminiscent of the way Job’s daughters, one of whom was likely his own grandmother, received an inheritance that had passed all the way down to him. And it’s another indication that all three daughters may well have married into the same family.

If this hypothesis is correct, all men carrying the Cohen Haplotype on their Y-chromosome are descended from Job and his wife through one of their lovely daughters. And if the three sons of Levi married the three daughters of Job, all men carrying one of the other two Levitical haplotypes are, as well.

My son, who just read the foregoing, objected somewhat to its highly speculative content. In response, all I can say is that generations of Jewish rabbis did exactly the same thing for centuries, yet it didn’t keep them from being quoted with a growing level of authority.

Future centuries will reveal whether I am fit, or not, to stand in their number.

PS  'Ayoubian' is a fancy way of saying 'descended from Job.'

1 comment:

  1. love your speculations.
    it is great and probably tickles God's sense of humor that genetic studies show the word of God to be true.
    some yeas ago i read an account in which geneticists discovered that all people descend from one female. they decided to call her 'Eve' as a sort of joke.
    of course, the joke is on them.
    God's sense of humor to the front once again.
    link to you from 'Gorges Grouse'.

    ReplyDelete

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