Yov (Job), Iyov


How nice to have the excuse to write about one of my favourite characters in the whole of the Tanach, an opportunity I would not have expected to have, given that TheBibleNet has no realistic expectation of ever getting beyond the Torah and the history and the Prophets and reaching into the Literature as well. However, an Yov (Job) does indeed appear in the Torah, in Genesis 46:13 to be precise, which names him as a son of Yisaschar; though Numbers 26:23/24 gives Yashuv (ישוב), and 1 Chronicles 7:1 may give Yashiv (ישיב) or Yashuv, the Masoretic text unable to decide whether the Yud (י) is an error for a Vav (ו). 

The sons of Yisaschar were Tol'a (תולע), Puvah (פוה in Numbers; פואה in Chronicles and Judges; Puvah/פוה in Genesis), Yashub or Yov (ישוב/יוב), and Shimron (שמרון).

No root in Yehudit exists to explain Yov, unless we treat it as an error for Yovav (יובב), which it could be; possibly a diminutive, in the way that Av-Raham is sometimes Avi and Yedid-Yah became David. Yovav is taken to mean "a desert", but properly it means "a crying out" or "a place where wild beasts cry out" in the sense of John the Baptist's "a voice crying in the wilderness" (John 1:23); as a figure of speech it sums up the story of Yov to perfection. Yovav appears in Genesis 10:29 and 1 Chronicles 1:23 as a region of the Yoktanite Arabs; in Genesis 36:33 and 1 Chronicles 1:44 as the name of an Edomite king; and in Joshua 11:1 as the name of a Canaanite king. Having said all of which, it probably had nothing to do with Yovav, and was simply an Assyrian or Babylonian name, rendered as best as possible phonetically in Yehudit.

In fact, all the internal textual evidence of the Book of Job makes clear it never was a Beney Yisra-El story in the first place. It is set in Uts (
עוּץ), which is in Edom (see Genesis 10:23 - the text is significant because it separates Uts from Yovav genealogically), but the style and language is Babylonian; it was probably brought back to Yehudah in a Yehudit translation by the first returning exiles in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE; though it is possible the story was already known before then.

Is Yov the son of Yisaschar the same as the protagonist of the Book of Job, whose name is written as 
אִיּוֹב and therefore pronounced Iyov? The answer has to be: no, he is not.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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