Job 1:3
(3) The men of the east.--This term is indefinite with regard to the three districts above mentioned, and might include them all. The Arabs still call the Hauran, or the district east of Jordan, the land of Job. It is said to be a lovely and fertile region, fulfilling the conditions of the poem.

Verse 3. - His substance also; literally, his acquisition (from קָנָה, acquirere), but used of wealth generally. Seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses. Note, first of all, the absence of horses or mules from this list - an indication of high antiquity. Horses were not known in Egypt till the time of the shepherd-kings (about B.C. 1900-1650), who introduced them from Asia. None are given to Abraham by the Pharaoh contemporary with him (Genesis 12:16). We hear of none as possessed by the patriarchs in Palestine; and, on the whole, it is not probable that they had been known in Western Asia very long before their introduction into Egypt. They are natives of Central Asia, where they are still found wild, and passed gradually by exportation to the more southern regions, Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Arabia. Note, secondly, that the items of Job's wealth accord with those of Abraham's (Genesis 12:16). Thirdly, note that Job's wealth in cattle is not beyond credibility. An Egyptian lord of the time of the fourth dynasty relates that he possessed above 1000 oxen and cows, 974 sheep, 2,235 goals, and 760 asses (Rawlinson's 'Egypt,' vol. 2. p. 88). Further, the proportion of the camels is noticeable, and implies a residence on the borders of the desert (see the comment on ver. 1). and a very great household; literally, and a very great service, or retinue of servants. Oriental emirs and sheikhs consider it necessary for their dignity to maintain a number of attendants and retainers (except, perhaps, in feudal times) quite unknown to the West. Abraham had three hundred and eighteen trained servants, born in his house (Genesis 14:14). Egyptian households were "full of domestics," comprising attendants of all kinds - grooms, artisans, clerks, musicians, messengers, and the like. A sheikh, situated as Job was, would also require a certain number of guards, while for his cattle he would need a large body of shepherds, ox-herds, and the like (see Birch's 'Egypt from the Earliest Times,' p. 44). So that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. The Beney Kedem, or "men of the east," literally, sons of the east, seems to include the entire population between Palestine and the Euphrates (Genesis 29:1; Judges 6:3; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10; Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:28, etc.). Many tribes of Arabs are similarly designated at the present day, e.g. the Beni Harb, the Beni Suhr, the Bani Naim, the Bani Lain, etc. It would seem that the Phoenicians must have called themselves Beni Kedem when they settled in Greece, since the Greeks knew them as "Cadmeisns," and made them descendants of a mythic "Cadreus' (Herod., 5:57-59). The name "Saracens" is to some extent analogous, since it means "Men of the morning."

1:1-5 Job was prosperous, and yet pious. Though it is hard and rare, it is not impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. By God's grace the temptations of worldly wealth may be overcome. The account of Job's piety and prosperity comes before the history of his great afflictions, showing that neither will secure from troubles. While Job beheld the harmony and comforts of his sons with satisfaction, his knowledge of the human heart made him fearful for them. He sent and sanctified them, reminding them to examine themselves, to confess their sins, to seek forgiveness; and as one who hoped for acceptance with God through the promised Saviour, he offered a burnt-offering for each. We perceive his care for their souls, his knowledge of the sinful state of man, his entire dependence on God's mercy in the way he had appointed.His substance also was seven thousand sheep,.... For which he must have a large pasturage to feed them on, as well as these would produce much wool for clothing, and flesh for food; this part of his substance or possessions is mentioned first, as being the largest, and most useful and profitable:

and three thousand camels; creatures fit to carry burdens, and travel with, and were greatly valued on that account, especially in the deserts of Arabia, near to which Job 54ed; and that not only because they were strong for this purpose, but because they could endure much thirst and want of water for a long time; See Gill on Leviticus 11:4, it seems by this that Job carried on a commerce, and traded in distant parts, whither he sent the produce of his lands and cattle, and trafficked with them: these camels might not only be he, but she camels also, according to the Septuagint version, which might be kept for breeding, and for their milk: Aristotle observes (z), some of the inhabitants of the upper Asia used to have camels, to the number of 3000, the exact number here mentioned; and by the number of these creatures the Arabians estimated their riches and possessions (a); and so sheep are by the Greeks called as it is thought, from the Arabic word "mala", to be rich (b); the riches of other people, and of particular persons, as of Geryon, Atlas, and Polyphemus, are represented as chiefly consisting of their flocks, and also of their herds (c), as follows:

and five hundred yoke of oxen; to plough his land with, of which he must have a large quantity to employ such a number in, see 1 Kings 19:19

and five hundred she asses; which must be chiefly for their milk; and no doubt but he had a considerable number of he asses also, though not mentioned, which, as well as the others, were used to ride on, and also to plough with, in those countries; it may be rendered only asses as by some, and so may include both: Aristaeus, Philo, and Polyhistor (d) give the same account of Job's substance in the several articles as here:

and a very great household: this must be understood of his servants only, since his children are before taken notice of; and the same phrase is rendered "great store of servants", Genesis 26:14 and in the margin, "husbandry" or "tillage", large fields and farms; and the sense comes to much the same, whether it is taken the one way or the other; if great store of servants, he must have large farms and many fields to employ them in; and if a large husbandry, and much ground for tillage, he must have many servants to manure and cultivate them: now these several articles are mentioned, because, in those times and countries, as has been observed, the substance of men chiefly lay in them, and according to them they were reckoned more or less rich; not but that they had gold and silver also, as Abraham had, Genesis 13:1, and so had Job, Job 31:24, but these were the principal things:

so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east; that lived in Arabia, Chaldea, and other eastern countries; that is, he was a man of the greatest wealth and riches, and of the greatest power and authority, and was had in the greatest honour and esteem: now these temporal blessings are observed, to show that grace and earthly riches are compatible, that they may, and sometimes do, meet in the same person; as also to point at the goodness of God, in bestowing such blessings on this good man, thereby fulfilling the promise made to godliness and godly men, which respects this life, and that which is to come; and they are mentioned chiefly for the sake of the loss of these things after related, whereby the greatness of his loss and of his afflictions would be the more easily perceived, and his patience in bearing them appear the more illustrious; for by how much the greater was his substance, by so much the greater were his losses and trials, and the more remarkable his patience under them.

(z) Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 50. (a) Leo African. Descript. Africae, l. 9. p. 745. (b) Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alkoran. (c) Vid. Homer. Odyss. 14. ver. 100, &c. Virgil. Aeneid. l. 7. ver. 537. Justin e Trogo, l. 44. c. 4. Theocrit. Idyll. 11. ver. 34. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 17. & l. 13. Fab. 8. (d) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 25. p. 430.

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