Online Bible Study – Job 1:1-22

Scripture: Job 1:1-22


Our Bible study today is the first in a six week series on the Book of Job. We begin, appropriately, at the beginning. Even in Biblical terms this first chapter can be a little strange to read.

It starts off by introducing us to Job. Job’s name is in some ways a summary of the book we are about to read. The name “Job” is a play on words. In Hebrew it has similarities to two different words. One can be translated as “where is the (divine) father.” The other is “the persecuted/hated one.” One the one hand, his name is an affirmation that God is a divine parent who cares. On the other hand it reflects the difficulty that Job is about to face and his perspective on himself as events unfold.

The text says that Job is from the land of Uz. Neither modern Biblical scholars nor the people of ancient Israel had any idea where Uz was. This detail, along with the double meaning of Job’s name, are good indications that we are not to read what follows as history. They act as the Biblical equivalent of “long ago and far away.” This allows the reader to explore the questions that Job presents with a certain amount of distance which would not be possible if the book was a history.

The remainder of the first five verses give us a picture of Job and his life. He is an extremely prosperous man. These verses emphasize not only his prosperity but also his piety. It is notable that the last verse in this section shows Job making offerings to God on behalf of his children in case they have sinned.

At verse six the scene shifts. We are now in the heavenly court where we are presented with the two central questions of the book. It is important to note here that the Satan we see in this section isn’t the Satan of the Book of Revelation. The word Satan is best translated as accuser and he acts as the prosecuting attorney in God’s court. This figure is not an enemy of God but rather a part of the court that has a job to do.

We are all familiar with Job as a book about the causes of human suffering but this section presents a second central theme. Why worship God? When God points out Job’s piety, Satan points out that God has so protected and blessed Job that it is no wonder that Job is faithful to God. Would he still find God worthy of worship if he were deprived of all of the blessings that have been showered upon him? God agrees that Satan has a point and allows the Satan to do whatever he likes to Job’s family and possessions although he is not to harm Job himself.

It is important at this point that we shouldn’t take this scene as literal truth. Human suffering doesn’t happen because God and the Satan design an experiment or make a bet. Rather this scene is used to set up the rest of the story which will allow for a broader consideration of the two main themes.

The final section of this chapter shows disaster falling upon Job, who loses everything at one fell swoop. As the chapter closes we see Job continuing to bless God in spite of his misfortune, showing us a glimpse of his reaction through the rest of the book.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What does it mean to worship God?
  2. What is difference between worshipping God and believing in God?
  3. Is it possible to believe in God and not worship him? Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever asked the questions that the Book of Job asks? What conclusions did you come to?