Questions and Answers: Was Job a Real Person?
Was Job a real person?
In a single day, the patriarch Job lost all ten of his children, all of his livestock, and many of his servants. And if all this was not enough, Job’s body then became diseased from head to toe, his wife urged him to “curse God and die,” and the comforting counsel of three of his “friends” quickly gave way to judgmental accusations.
Based upon the extent of the suffering mentioned above, and the time frame in which it all occurred, some critics tend to doubt that Job was a real person. Rather, they think he simply was fabricated to teach a lesson about human suffering. Perhaps, they say, he is to be valued like such parabolic figures as the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), or the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21).
If Job were not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible apart from for the book that bears his name, those who claim he was not a real person might be able to argue their position more confidently. But the fact is, Job is mentioned in three different verses in Scripture (outside the book of Job), and in all three passages he is considered a real, historical figure.
The first two places in which his name can be found are Ezekiel 14, verses 14 and 20. In verse 14, the prophet stated: “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Verse 20 records: “[E]ven though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”
Ezekiel’s point in both verses was that the ungodly conditions in the land were such that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that city, no one else would be saved. Ezekiel spoke of all three of these men as being real, historical people, not legendary characters.
Job also is mentioned in the latter part of the book of James. In 5:11 we read: “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord.” Obviously, James was not writing through inspiration about an imaginary person. Although, admittedly much about Job remains a mystery, we can know that he was a real person who suffered in every way like you and me, and yet remained faithful to his God.