Background of Job
There is no clear context for the writing of Job, though a strong case can be made for the period of Israel’s exile in Babylon or the years immediately following. Questions about the meaning of suffering and God’s participation in the tragedies of life are common throughout history, whether in the lives of individuals or, perhaps, in the experience of a whole community or nation. During and after the exile, God’s people were forced to consider what went wrong in their unique relationship with God. Were the ancient promises of God’s love and protection no longer valid? Whose fault was it that king and The Jerusalem temple, unlike the tabernacle, was a permanent structure, although (like the tabernacle) it was a place of worship and religious activity. On one occasion Jesus felt such activity was unacceptable and, as reported in all four Gospels, drove from the temple those engaged... were destroyed and many sent into exile? The prophets and the history in The judge who anointed the first two kings of Israel and Kings had made a connection between the sins of the people and the terrible consequences. During the exile, many began to question the simplistic idea that all suffering is caused by the sin of the sufferer. Lament psalms and Ecclesiastes are other examples that raise hard questions about God’s justice. Some people who are innocent, like Job, also suffer. The book of Job could well emerge from such a time of questioning.