This book has its name from holy Job, whose most memorable history is described therein, touching his heavy visitation, unassailable impatience, and a much desired deliverance. We call it an history, because it contains a true account of what has happened, and it is not a moral representation or a poetical fiction of what can happen. This appears by the names of the persons, nations and countries recorded in it, but especially by the testimonies of the prophet Ezekiel and the apostle James, Ezek. 14:4; James 5:11, speaking of Job as of a worthy person, who had so lived in the world that he became very acceptable to God, and an example of virtues to people. It is the opinion of many that he lived in the time of the patriarchs, or when the children of Israel lived in Egypt, or having gone out from there, or were marching through the wilderness under the conduct of Moses, whom some do hold to have been the author and penman of this book. Now whereas his history begins here with the piety of his person, and the blessed state and condition of his family and children, it is soon followed with a very sad account, describing the manifold sufferings, that Satan, through his instigation and the holy permission and government of God, suddenly fell upon Job’s body, goods, and children, even to being mocked by his own wife. Here his patience did most wonderfully bear up, like a palm tree, against the weight of those terrible pressures. Being in this plight, there came three friends to visit him, men of great repute, to pity and comfort him. At first they held their peace, being dismayed and astonished with the greatness of his affliction, and the bitterness of the pain which was upon him. But when Job, through weakness of the flesh, broke out into great complaints, even to the cursing of the day of his birth, they began to dialogue with him. The three friends charge Job of hypocrisy, or wickedness, backing their argument partly upon those fearful judgments which they saw upon Job, partly upon some impatient and hasty expressions which they heard coming from him. They urge it much that God does only punish the wicked and bless the godly. And by reason thereof Job was assaulted with all manner of extremities, being cast out of the possession and enjoyment of all blessings, and plunged into a gulf of fearful afflictions. Through human infirmity and the bitter arguing and inveighing of his friends against him, made him sometimes break out very passionately. They jointly persisted in this that Job must be either a very wicked man or an odious hypocrite. They produce indeed many excellent proverbs, but they were wrongfully applied to the person of Job. And Job does vindicate himself, declaring the innocence of his conscience, and pointing to his earlier life. The arguments or evidence of his friends he overthrows by the general experience, which testifies, that God, for the most part, does visit the godly here with heavy judgments, and contrarily does often bless the wicked with a great deal of outward prosperity, and is far from inflicting always judgments upon them. In the main, he rests and relies firmly upon the upright beliefs of his own conscience, deeply impressed in him by the Holy Spirit, Who assured him that he was no such wicked wretch, or ever had been. He grants indeed that he is not able to stand before the Divine Majesty, not only of the absolute power of God and himself being but a poor creature, but also of His righteous judgment, confessing himself a poor sinner. Nevertheless he wishes, in regard of the quarrel which he had to bear from his friends, that in His judgment he might be judged. He was thus assured in his heart of his unfeigned godliness. Meanwhile it cannot be denied, but that, being provoked by the indiscreet and untimely railings of his friends, he spoke not sometimes with that reverence of God and of His government and judgments, as indeed became him. In the maintaining of his cause, he yielded nothing to his friends, but, when they ceased to answer, Elihu stood up in their place who opposed Job after another manner than his friends had done. He does not properly find fault with Job about his earlier life, but for some arguments which he had made use of in the debate with his friends. It seemed by Job’s answers that God did him wrong, to punish him so grievously, and to conceal the reasons. For this reason Elihu exhorts him to humility and sorrow, forasmuch as God is gracious to the afflicted who put their trust in Him. He makes it appear, against Job, that God in punishing does no wrong to anyone and is not accountable for any for His doing, and against the friends of Job, that God both does and may punish, not the wicked only, but the godly also. He takes his proof from the nature of God, Who is perfectly wise, powerful and just, and from His majesty, whereby He has the supreme and most absolute command over all creatures, which cannot but agree with His nature. Job, yielding to these exhortations, does hold his peace. In the meantime the Lord reveals Himself in a tempest, and reproves Job for having spoken unadvisedly of Him, and makes evident, as well by His own Divine attributes as by His works, touching partly the entire government of the world in general, and partly the creation and maintenance of certain wonderful and vast creatures in particular. After this address Job confesses his sin, gives God’s justice the glory, and manifests the sorrow of his heart. God rebukes the three friends of Job, and commands that they become reconciled with Him by Job’s intercession, and restores Job to his former prosperity, and by His blessing doubles it unto him. Now how long this visitation of Job continued is uncertain. The Hebrews perceive about the space of a year. Some set a shorter, and some a longer time. What God has not revealed exactly in this matter, is not needful for us to know more exactly.