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Sacrificial Fathers and the Death of Their Children: How the Story of Job Challenges the Priestly Tradition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2022

Mark A. Awabdy
South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies;
Tobias Häner
University of Vienna/Cologne University of Catholic Theology;
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Job’s burnt offerings for his sons and daughters followed by their death (Job 1) resembles the sequence of Aaron’s burnt offerings for himself and his sons followed by the death of his oldest sons (Lev 8–10). Within this common sequence of events, the two stories share a cluster of important, identical lexemes. Although it is not impossible that these features could have resulted unintentionally from a shared scribal culture, the textual evidence is strong enough to indicate that the scribe of Job’s prologue alludes to the priestly inauguration story of Leviticus 8–10. By reading Job after Leviticus, one sees the sharp contrast between the divine silence following Job’s intermediary sacrifices (Job 1:5, 18–19) and the divine response both to Aaron’s and to Nadab and Abihu’s sacrifices (Lev 9:22–10:3). This study clarifies how the story of Job rejects a mechanistic understanding not only of traditional wisdom, but of the Priestly cultic tradition of ancient Israel and Judah.

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Introduction: Revisiting Intertextuality in Job

Many interpreters have argued that the book of Job displays an intertextual dialogue with the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Hebrew Bible.Footnote 1 Some hear Job’s test as an echo of Abraham’s (Gen 22); notably, both are approved as loyal worshippers of Yhwh who offer a burnt offering on behalf of their children.Footnote 2 In Job’s initial lament, his wishful cry for darkness (חׁשך יהי, Job 3:4) can be heard in place of God’s effective command for light in the Priestly creation account (אור יהי, Gen 1:3).Footnote 3 The portrait of Job, including his death “old and full of days” (Job 42:17), is thought to be reminiscent of the Patriarchs of Genesis.Footnote 4 Furthermore, many perceive in Job a reconsideration of the Deuteronomic model of blessings and curses (Deut 28),Footnote 5 while Raik Heckl argues that the Joban framework alludes to 1 Samuel 1–4 (DtrH) and thereby acts as a sort of “counter-history against the deuteronomistic theology of history.”Footnote 6 Others have contended that Job interfaces with both the Deuteronomic and the Priestly traditions of the Torah, presenting on the one hand a “critical debate about the understanding of God in Deuteronomy,”Footnote 7 and on the other, “a critical evaluation of the theocratic order of the Priestly Code.”Footnote 8 Yet, others would retort that Job cannot be reduced to a categorical critique of either D or P, because “Leviticus’ general reflection on God’s justice reaches forward to the Book of Job,” since, in the end, neither Leviticus nor Job resolves theodicy, but rather omits theological explanations for misfortune, disease, and barrenness.Footnote 9

Many of these studies claim that Job relates intertextually to other texts in the Hebrew Bible, but their true belief in their claim is not always justifi d as knowledge.Footnote 10 David Carr’s indictment is apropos: “In conclusion, much of the superstructure of past and present theories regarding the growth of the Bible is undermined by problematic or nonexistent arguments regarding the direction of dependence. Moreover, as these claims of intertextual dependence proliferate, the implausibility of the overall result expands exponentially.”Footnote 11 Of particular interest to us in this essay is the claim that Job relates inner-biblically to the sacred texts relating to Israel’s priesthood and cultic sacrifice. In Job 12:19, the sole and terse reference to “priests” (כהנים) in the book, Job decries God’s removal of priests, which contributes to the chaotic society surrounding Job.Footnote 12 Of course, this verse offers no evidence that it refers to priests in the Aaronic tradition, so one is forced to move on to the cultic echoes in Job’s narrative framework. Samuel Balentine concludes that “priestly imagery that provides Job’s profile in the Prologue and Epilogue is oblique and elusive,”Footnote 13 but has also claimed that, in addition to the inclusion of burnt offerings (עלה) in Job 1:5 and 42:8, several features in the portrayal of Job suggest that the book aims at questioning the priestly system of the Torah. In particular, the characterization of Job as “blameless” (תם) brings to mind the prerequisite of sacrificial animals as “unblemished” (תמים, Lev 22:19, 21; Num 19:2; Ezek 43:22–23), and by the lexical correspondence of ׁשחין (Job 2:7; Lev 13:18–20, 23), he compares Job’s disease and restoration to the skin disease instructions in Leviticus 13–14.Footnote 14 On the whole, Balentine perceives in the Joban narrative a “challenge to the priestly system of rituals.”Footnote 15 His reflections on Job’s priestly profile and the implied critique of the Torah’s priestly system are thought- provoking, but the textual evidence he presents is scant.Footnote 16

JiSeong James Kwon takes another path forward. He sees the linguistic commonalities as evidence that the scribes who composed Job and those who composed the Priestly and Holiness writings in the Pentateuch had all been enculturated in the rhetorical and lexical idiom of Jerusalem’s temple school.Footnote 17 From separate perspectives, the authors of Job and Leviticus had studied and drew freely from a shared scribal tradition. In ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Israel, the evidence points to a long-standing, common practice of enculturating the literate elite by pushing them toward oral and written mastery of their culture’s textual tradition, including seminal works like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Instruction of Kheti, Homer, and core texts of the Jewish Bible.Footnote 18 So also, the narrative artistry of LeviticusFootnote 19 and of the prologue-epilogue of Job is a witness to scribes who would have approached cognitive mastery of Israel’s revered corpus through rigorous recitation and memorization.Footnote 20 With this scribal framework in view, one could explain away any cultic interconnections between Leviticus and Job as arising from Jerusalem’s institution of temple scribes.Footnote 21

Defining the Relationship between Job 1–2 and Leviticus 8–10

As one appreciates ancient scribal culture and discounts “problematic or nonexistent arguments regarding the direction of dependence,”Footnote 22 one must not throw out the possibility that Job relates intertextually to salient texts in the Hebrew Scriptures. In this essay, we will argue that the scribes who composed the saga of Job 1–2 allude to the honored Torah story of Leviticus 8–10. Before contemplating the direction of influence between these stories, the evidence for literary reuse in one direction or the other can be seen in a cluster of shared lexemes and a common plot sequence: Aaron sacrifices to Yhwh for the possible sin of himself and of his sons, the oldest of whom are then killed (Lev 9:8–10:2), even as Job sacrifices to Yhwh for the possible sins of his sons and daughters, who are then killed (Job 1:4–5, 13–19).

Having touched upon scribal culture, three additional terms should be defined in our methodology: allusion, direction of dependence, and visual versus memorized reuse. First, inner-biblical allusion is probably the best descriptor for Job’s reuse of Leviticus 8–10. On a spectrum from more to less knowable, Stead classifies an intertext as a genetic relationship between two texts ranging from citation → quotation → allusion → echo → trace, with citation reusing the most and trace reusing the fewest identifiable shared elements.Footnote 23 Job never cites or quotes Lev 8–10, but the critical mass of identifiable shared terms and phrases, discussed below, moves us beyond trace and echo to allusion.Footnote 24 Second, in claiming an allusion, we must provide the evidence for the direction of literary influence from the source text to the alluding text. In his clear synthesis, Bergland offers nine indicators for the direction of dependence, five of which are apropos to our study:

Figure 1

Third, ancient scribes consulted source texts visually, but more customarily pulled source texts from memory and integrated them fluidly into their new compositions. From memory a scribe could either quote a source identically or adapt it at will, often making it difficult for us to distinguish memorized and visual reuse. In fact, all the indicators for the direction of dependence noted above can also characterize memorized reuse. Even so, there are some special marks of memorized reuse that might also be evident in our case study:

Figure 2

In sum, the textual data presented below indicate that the scribe of Job’s prologue, through the voice of the implied narrator, alludes to Leviticus 8–10, but whether the allusion was constructed from memory or visual consultation remains an open question.

How Job’s Prologue Alludes to the Priestly Inauguration Story

Leviticus 8–10 and Job 1–2 share the same combination of lexemes in a coherent storyline: sanctifying (קדׁש factitive piel), sacrificing of burnt offerings (עלה), blessing (ברך), mentioning drinking wine (יין), and narrating the sudden death of some or all of the protagonist’s children (מות wayyiqtol third person pl.) by means of natural elements (“fire”/“wind”) that issue from the supernatural (יהוה מלפני/יהוה פני מעם). This combination of lexemes within the shared sequence of intermediary sacrificial performance followed by the death of the protagonist’s offspring indicates a genetic or intertextual relationship. This begs the question that Carr and others rightly would raise: Does Job reuse Leviticus or does Leviticus reuse Job? The directionality indicators presented in the body of this essay suggest that Job alludes to Leviticus and not vice versa. It is essential to note that Job’s cult is presented narratively as neither Israelite (Aaronic) nor Judahite nor Yehudite (1:1), but as Yahwistic, that is, the narrator presumes that Job’s cultic devotion to the deity Yhwh (יהוה) was in adequate continuity with the cultic expectations of Yhwh of Israel, Judah, and Yehud.Footnote 27 Consequently, the narrator’s representation of one non-Israelite Job as a cultic devotee of Yhwh by name authorizes, even orients, interpreters to compare Job’s cultic worldview with that of Moses and Aaron.

Now let us examine the lexemes shared by these two narratives. First, Moses places Aaron and his sons, and Job places his sons and daughters, into a holy state, expressed in Hebrew through the factitive-resultative piel of קדׁש (Lev 8:10–12, 15, 30; Job 1:5).Footnote 28

Figure 3

The narratives are obviously different. Moses sanctifies only Aaron and his four sons,Footnote 29 whereas Job sanctifies his daughters, too, and, in the end, honors his new daughters by naming them and giving them an “inheritance among their brothers” (42:14–15).Footnote 30 In the case of Moses, the sanctifying ritual at the priestly installation of Aaron and his sons is described at length (Lev 8:7–30).Footnote 31 In the case of Job, no details are given on how the sanctification was accomplished.Footnote 32 It remains open whether a sanctifying ritual was preparatory for Job’s sacrifices—“and sanctify them [ויקדׁשם], and he would rise and offer burnt offerings [והעלה בבקר והׁשכים עלות]”Footnote 33—or he sanctified them which necessitated (resulted in) sacrifices, “and sanctify them [ויקדׁשם], so he would rise and offer burnt offerings [בבקר והׁשכים עלות והעלה].”Footnote 34 Moses’s performance constitutes a singular act, a rite de passage, while Job’s was habitual: “This is what Job always did” (Job 1:5).

While fully appreciating these differences, we see the shared factitive-resultative קדׁש as indicative of Job’s lexical dependence on Leviticus.Footnote 35 Usage of the piel of קדׁש is revealing: In contrast to the function of the piel of קדׁש as a Leitwort in the Lev 8 narrative (5x), the piel of קדׁש in Job 1:5 is an anomaly in the book of Job. Two other biblical narratives report the sanctifi ation of persons (factitive-resultative קדׁש): Moses sanctifies the people in preparation for the Sinai theophany (Exod 19:14), and Samuel sanctifies Jesse and his sons in preparation for the sacrifice (זבח) prior to David’s anointment (1 Sam 16:5).Footnote 36 However, neither mentions burnt offerings, and only in Lev 8–10 and Job 1 do some or all of the “sanctified” persons die as each narrative unfolds.Footnote 37 Here the direction of dependence indicator of modification is also relevant.Footnote 38 It is inconceivable that Leviticus’s scribes, probably based in the Temple, would develop Yhwh’s instructions to sanctify Aaron’s children from the sparse, elusive practice of the foreign protagonist, Job, but it is entirely conceivable that Hebrew scribes would cast Job’s custom as a non-Israelite modification of an already established Priestly Torah in Leviticus.

Second, both Aaron and Job offer burnt offerings (עלה). Moses and Aaron offer burnt offerings as part of a sacrificial sequence (Lev 8–9), whereas Job offers only burnt offerings (עלות, 1:5).Footnote 39 Job’s lexical dependence on Lev 8–9 is not established by עלה alone but is shown to be more likely by its contrasting frequencies in the two books.Footnote 40 The noun עלה plays a prominent role in Lev 9, occurring ten times in twenty-four verses, more often than in any other chapter in Leviticus,Footnote 41 but by contrast the forty-two-chapter book of Job is framed by its only two occurrences of עלה, initially offered by Job (עלות,1:5) and finally by Job’s friends in obedience to the divine command (42:8–9, עולה).Footnote 42

Furthermore, in both narratives the sacrifi es have an expiatory purpose. According to Lev 9:7, Aaron is explicitly commanded to sacrifice on behalf of himself and the people (העם ובעד בעדך), but the context suggests that his sons are implicitly included in the term בעדך, since they were anointed for priestly service (8:2, 6, 13, 14, etc.) and would assist their father in the sacrifices (9:9, 12, 18).Footnote 43 For Aaron’s sacrifice for himself and his sons, this entailed a burnt offering (עלה), presumably for both unknown or unidentified impurity and sin (as Lev 1:4), but also a sin offering for any exposed violations (as Lev 4:1–5:26).Footnote 44 Given that these offerings were inaugural—not a response to identified sin—the burnt and sin offerings of Lev 9:8–14 are understood to atone for offenses against God unknown to Aaron, but either known or unknown to Aaron’s sons. In any case, Aaron’s sacrifices were explicitly to “make atonement” (piel כפר). Like Aaron, Job also sacrifices burnt offerings on behalf of his children (כלם מספר), and like Aaron, Job sacrifices to maintain a clear conscience that his household honors Yhwh and does not incur Yhwh’s judgment.Footnote 45 In Job’s prologue, however, there is an obvious omission of any technical term for expiation (such as כפר or הקרב + חטאת). This omission points toward Job’s conceptual dependence on Lev 8–10.Footnote 46 That is, how Job thought his intermediary sacrifices relate to Yhwh in the narrative is unclear, but becomes clear if Job was trying to make atonement for his children, just as the esteemed Aaron did for his (Lev 8–10).Footnote 47 The expiatory purpose of Job’s offerings differs from the sacrifices of Noah (Gen 8:20) and Jacob (Gen 31:54),Footnote 48 which are often put forward as parallels to Job 1:5.Footnote 49 Instead, knowledge of Lev 1:4, 4:1–5:26, and Lev 9:8–14 sets the precedent for Job’s idea that his burnt offerings (עלות), one for each of his children, would remove offenses against God unknown to Job (אולי חטאו), but either known or unknown to Job’s children (1:5). Also, the periodic repetition (כל־הימים) suggests that Job’s עלות were aimed at expiating transgressions committed by his children inadvertently (cf. בׁשגגה in Lev 4–5), not subject to paternal reproof.Footnote 50 In light of Leviticus 8–10, Job’s burnt offerings are not merely an “obsessional manie de perfection,”Footnote 51 but the conviction that allegiance to his deity, Yhwh, demanded a relentless and precise sacrifi mediation for his children. The consecrated Aaronic priests and loyal Job alike had to “obey their instructions implicitly, and accept arbitrary punishment without complaint.”Footnote 52

Third, “blessing” (ברך) plays an important role both in Leviticus 8–10 and Job 1–2. At the climax of the inauguration of the priesthood, Aaron blesses the people in the only two verses in Leviticus that employ ברך (9:22, in 9:23 together with Moses). In the Joban prologue, prominence is given to the verb ברך by its sixfold repetition with different meanings.Footnote 53 The evidence does not verify Job’s lexical dependence on Lev 9:22–24,Footnote 54 but does point to Job’s conceptual dependence; that is, Job 1–2 cannot be appreciated without Lev 9:22–24.Footnote 55 To be specific, there appears to be a deliberate gap (Leerstelle) in Job 1:1–3 in that divine blessing for Job is expected from the narrator’s description of his well-being, but it is never stated.Footnote 56 The Satan stands alone as the one who states that Job has been blessed by Yhwh (Job 1:10), and readers must wonder if his claim is true or not. After all, the Satan (הׂשטן) means “the Adversary” (NJPS), and he is the one who cunningly interrogates Yhwh and instigates Job’s horrific pain (Job 1–2). Leviticus 9:22–24 supports the Satan’s claim, portraying a worldview in which obedient sacrifices are one of the prerequisites of Yhwh’s blessing of his people.Footnote 57 Presuming that worldview, Job’s sacrifices come into view as aimed at preventing the possible loss of his divinely blessed status. Both Aaron’s and Job’s offerings, besides expiating sins that are unknown to them, are understood as supporting Yhwh’s blessing. Even as the narrator in the Moses story makes clear that it is Yhwh who blesses his covenant people (Lev 9:22–24; Num 6:24–27),Footnote 58 the narrator of Job’s epilogue makes clear that Yhwh had indeed blessed Job in the first half of his life and even more in the second (Job 42:12).

Fourth, the narrators of each story reveal “the presence of Yhwh” (יהוה פני[ל]) as the point of origin from which (מן/מעם) issues a natural element that causes the death of the protagonists’ children.Footnote 59

Figure 4

This similarity is significant since, on the one hand, the locution “going out from the presence of Yhwh” (יצא → מן → פנים → יהוה)—shared by Lev 10:2 and Job 1:12 (and 2:7)—is rare in the Hebrew Bible,Footnote 61 and, on the other hand, in both stories natural elements are employed by the supernatural to bring about the death of the father’s progeny. In addition, both stories are set in the desert (סיני במדבר, Lev 7:38; המדבר, Job 1:19), and the wayyiqtol, “and they died,” narrates the death of the fathers’ children (וימתו, Lev 10:2; וימותו, Job 1:19). This distinctive collection of shared lexemes and the shared convictions suggest a genetic link between Lev 10:1–3 and Job 1:12, 18b–19c, but do not reveal the direction of literary influence.Footnote 62 For that, other intertexts are determinative.

In Leviticus, the lethal element is “fire” (אׁש), which inverts Yhwh’s endorsing fire (אׁש, 9:24) and subverts Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire (זרה אׁש, 10:1). The verbal correspondence between Lev 9:24, where the fire emanating from the divine presence devours the offerings, and 10:2, where the fire from the same source devours Nadab and Abihu, is striking,Footnote 63 and sharpens the contrast between the legitimate sacrifices reported in Leviticus 9 and the illegitimate offering of Aaron’s oldest sons in 10:1. It underlines that the death of Aaron’s children originated directly from a divine verdict. In Job, instead, the divine origin of the calamity that causes the death of Job’s children is blurred, as it is the Satan, not the “great wind” (גדולה רוח, Job 1:19) that “went out from the presence of Yhwh” (1:12). With that said, the stories of Nadab and Abihu and Job share the important conviction that the divine presence cannot be conjured. Many biblical interpreters have puzzled over the nature of the transgression committed by Nadab and Abihu,Footnote 64 but Gary Anderson has cogently argued that the elusiveness of their infraction is actually the intentional way the Priestly authors underscore that the divine presence cannot be conjured magically by performing some legal or ritual formula.Footnote 65 In its present canonical position within the Writings after the Torah, the story and speeches of Job can be seen as an extended illustration of that strong Priestly conviction.

At the same time, the narrator’s relative clause at the end of Lev 10:1 makes it clear that Nadab and Abihu transgressed their divine orders (אתם צוה לא אׁשר “which he had not commanded them”),Footnote 66 and by this clause their death is justified by the narrator. This reveals a contrast between the rhetorical power of each narrative: the death of Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1–3) reinforces the authority of Yhwh’s sacrificial regulations (Lev 1–9),Footnote 67 whereas the death of Job’s children raises questions about the efficacy of the sacrificial regulations Job had adopted (Job 1:4–5, 18–19). There is also a contrast between the characters’ reactions to the death of the children. In Leviticus, Yhwh pronounces the theological reason for their death, while Aaron remains silent (10:3); whereas in Job, Yhwh remains silent, while Job pronounces the theological reason for their death, “Yhwh has given, Yhwh has taken away” (Job 1:21).

Fifth, both narrators juxtapose drinking wine with death.

Figure 5

The divine blessing of grapes and wine in the land is assumed elsewhere in Leviticus (23:13; 26:5), but, by contrast, the prohibition of Lev 10:9 on the heels of 10:1–3 may insinuate that Nadab and Abihu were influenced negatively by alcohol when they enacted their strange fi ritual, which Yhwh “had not commanded them.”Footnote 69 Similarly, the blessing of eating and drinking wine in Job 1:13, 18 is tainted by Job’s fear: “ ‘It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts’ ” (בלבבם אלהים וברכו בני חטאו אולי, 1:5).Footnote 70 Bildad the Shuhite reasserts Job’s concern as an indicting conditional: “ ‘If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the hand of their transgression’ ” (Job 8:4; cf. 5:3–4; 21:19–20; 27:14). The implication for both Job and Aaron is that their children may have been under the influence of alcohol before their death.

To be clear, the lexical dependence of Job 1:18b–19c on Lev 10:9 cannot be validated, but three observations intimate inner-biblical reuse and at least leave open the possibility that the scribe of Job 1:18–19 alludes to Lev 10:9.Footnote 71 First, the prohibition of wine (and other alcoholic drinks) is infrequent in the Torah, occurring only in Lev 10:9 and Num 6:3 (for Nazirites).Footnote 72 As with the Lev 10:9 prohibition, a negative aura surrounds the eating and wine-drinking of Job’s children since Job is concerned they may have cursed God in their hearts (Job 1:5, 13, 18). Second, although the motif of eating and drinking recurs often in biblical narratives as an expression of festive joy, it is highly uncommon that wine is explicitly mentioned in this context, as is the case in Job 1:13, 18.Footnote 73 Third, there is only one other episode in the Pentateuch in which Nadab and Abihu are mentioned, Exod 24:9–11. By invitation in Exod 24:1, Moses, Aaron, seventy elders, Nadab and Abihu “ate and drank” (ויׂשתו ויאכלו, 24:11) in God’s presence on Sinai; also by invitation, Job’s daughters came “to eat and drink” (ולׁשתות לאכל, Job 1:4) with their brothers.Footnote 74 The mention of Nadab and Abihu by name and their nearness to God links Exod 24 with their dramatic death in Lev 10:1–3, 9.Footnote 75 Likewise, Job’s sons and daughters eat and drink wine and die a dramatic death (Job 1:4–5, 18–19),Footnote 76 but where is God’s presence in the festivities and death of Job’s children? It is intriguing to us that in his closing soliloquy, Job places the presence of God and of his children in synthetic parallelism, “when the Almighty was still with me, when my children were around me” (Job 29:5 NRSV).

Reading Job 1–2 against the backdrop of Lev 8–10 illuminates a contrast between the mourning rites of Aaron and of Job at the death of their children.

Figure 6

The thematic and lemmatic similarities could be an echo,Footnote 77 maybe specifically an echo resulting from memorized reuse,Footnote 78 but the direction of influence cannot be demonstrated from these texts alone. Rather, because of the other surrounding evidence for an allusion outside these verses, one might also compare Aaron’s customs with Job’s. Aaron and his surviving sons are prohibited from performing conventional mourning rites because Yhwh’s anointing oil was on them (Lev 10:6–7; the high priest in 21:10; cf. Ezek 24:16–18), whereas Job had no such constraint (Job 1:20).Footnote 79 The priests were not to shave bald spots on their heads or shave off the edges of their beards (Lev 21:5; cf. 19:27), but Job, not a vocational priest, shaves his head in grief (Job 1:20), and then at the culmination of his affliction, he mourns ritually with his friends (2:12–13).Footnote 80 The freshly anointed priests had to remain together day and night for seven days in the tent of meeting (8:33–35; see Exod 29:30), and similarly, Job’s friends remained seven days and seven nights “with him” (אתו, 2:13). Job’s friends show him sympathy and sit with him in silence (2:13), which sharply contrasts Moses’s lack of sympathy for Aaron’s family (esp. 10:16) and Moses’s string of verbal directives to Aaron (10:3–5, 6–7, 12–15). Perhaps the most salient contrast is Yhwh’s silence toward Job, broken only after the aggravating dialogues (Job 38:1), whereas Yhwh speaks immediately and directly to Aaron and his remaining sons to give them their vital priestly vocation (10:8–11).

Implications for Interpreting Job

Job’s probable allusions to the priestly inauguration story in Leviticus 8–10 expose certain ambiguities in Job’s prologue, speeches, and epilogue. We begin with Job’s dense prologue. First, hearing its resonances with Leviticus 8–10 leads us to consider the only other short story in Leviticus, which involves the blasphemy and death of the son of Shelomith in 24:10–23. If the standard of Leviticus 24 were upheld, the transgressions of Job’s children would demand their death without any possibility of expiation, since “blessing God” (בלבבם אלהים וברכו, Job 1:5) is understood as a euphemism for a blasphemous utterance (tantamount to ארר, קלל, נקב).Footnote 81 Most commentators, however, interpret the phrase merely as “the extreme to which they may have descended without anyone else being aware.”Footnote 82 Still, it remains unclear whether Job’s vicarious sacrifice would be effective without the offenders’ remorse and confession.Footnote 83 Second, Job’s sacrifice seems questionable because it is aimed at expiating transgressions only thought of (בלבבם), but not executed, or possibly not committed at all (אולי).Footnote 84 At the same time, however, Job, in contrast to Aaron (Lev 9:7), does not immolate for himself.Footnote 85 Therefore, when read against the cultic expectations of Leviticus 8–10 and 24, the father Job in 1:5 either does too much—by expiating for sins not committed or, if blasphemy was uttered, by offering atoning sacrifices in vain—or too little—by not atoning for himself or admonishing his children toward remorse and confession.Footnote 86 These concluding reflections on Job 1:5 are based on knowledge gaps in the story, which generate curiosity for readers.Footnote 87 The language and theology of Leviticus 8–10 expose these gaps and call attention to the ambiguities of Job’s cultic practice that sit uncomfortably next to his unassailable integrity and devotion to Yhwh (1:1, 5, 8, 20–22).

In the speeches of Job 3–41, it has often been noted that the friends do not admonish Job to resort to sacrifi offerings, nor do they or Job use cultic vocabulary. However, when Bildad in his first speech mentions the possible sins of Job’s children engendering God’s retribution (8:4), this recalls Job 1:5, 19 and reminds us of God’s retribution against the sins of Aaron’s sons (Lev 10:1–3). From this perspective, Bildad’s subsequent advice—“if you seek God and seek the favor of the Almighty, if you become pure and upright” (8:5–6)—demands, at least in part, Job’s observance of the sacrificial cult.Footnote 88 His assurance that “God will not reject one who is blameless [תם]” (v. 20) may also bring to mind the “unblemished” (תמים) state of sacrificial animals acceptable to God. It should be said that this literary context for Bildad’s speech is conjectural and comes into view only in a synchronic reading.

Finally, in Job’s epilogue, Yhwh commands Job’s friends to sacrifice burnt offerings for themselves and tells Job to intercede on their behalf (42:8).Footnote 89 If one infers that Job was healed from his skin disease (42:10, 17), although the narrator is strangely silent about this,Footnote 90 this would have happened in the storyline in 42:10–17 only after 42:8. According to Lev 21:23, Israel’s priests with “an itching disease or scabs” (ילפת או גרב [v. 20]) were banned from offering Yhwh’s sacrifices. This could be part of the reason that Job’s friends offer their own burnt offerings, whereas Job is commanded to intercede only: a physically whole Job offers burnt offerings in 1:5 for the potential sins of his children (1:5), but a skin-diseased Job cannot approach Yhwh to offer burnt offerings for the sins of his friends (42:8). In any case, Job does not repent because of known sin (42:6; cf. 1:1, 8; 2:3; 31:1–40),Footnote 91 which correlates with the detail that, “These friends need repentance and expiatory sacrifices, but Job requires neither (42:7–8).”Footnote 92 However, the location of 42:7–9 as part of the epilogue, against the opening scenes in Job 1–2 and against Israel’s cultic tradition (à la Lev 8–10), creates an ambivalence.Footnote 93 In contrast to the unmistakable divine responses to the offerings of Aaron (Lev 9:22–24, positive) and Nadab and Abihu (10:1–3, negative), there is no known divine response to Job’s burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. Divine silence is followed by tragic death (Job 1:19), and Job loses whatever semblance of control he thought he was maintaining.Footnote 94 The reader’s memory of the death of Job’s sanctified children (1:5, 19) raises suspicion about what will ensue from the sacrifices of Job’s friends and his intercession for them (42:8). The result of their actions is told by the narrator: “And Yhwh lifted Job’s face” (איוב את־פני יהוה ויׂשא, 42:9c).Footnote 95 Whatever this means,Footnote 96 it cannot mean that Yhwh’s cult is now, at last, a hermetically sealed system that one can employ to control the divine and one’s own life.Footnote 97 No longer could Job or his friends trust in their integrity and cultic devotion to Yhwh to insulate themselves from economic crisis, disease, the death of their children, or even the deafening silence of Yhwh.


In this article, we have identified in Leviticus 8–10 and Job 1–2 a shared narrative sequence and a dense collection of key identical lexemes. We have argued that the textual data is adequate to conclude that the scribes of the book of Job, enculturated by memorizing and producing Judah’s sacred texts like the Torah,Footnote 98 have infused Job’s story with allusions to the priestly inauguration story of Lev 8–10. In short, reading Job’s prologue after Leviticus illuminates the absurdity of the death of Job’s children in the face of Job’s devotion to Yhwh through intermediary sacrificial performance. More generally, the sudden death of Job’s children after Job’s sacrifices on their behalf challenges the cultic tradition of Israel as a whole. While at first glance it seems that the book of Job is situated exclusively in the realm of Wisdom, questioning the retribution principle on which the books of Psalms and Proverbs are largely based, the experiences of Job, a loyal devotee of Yhwh, oppose a mechanistic understanding of the Priestly worldview of the Pentateuch.Footnote 99 Most notably, the death of Job’s children for whom he so faithfully sacrificed burnt offerings incurably wounds human trust in the reliability of any priestly cult of Yhwh. Job’s burnt offerings for his children do not avert their death (1:5, 18–19), as Aaron’s do (Lev 9:24–25). Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, die for their transgression (Lev 10:1–3), whereas the reason Job’s sons and daughters die eludes Job entirely and cannot be explained by the Priestly worldview of sin, divine retribution and sacrifice (Job 1:6–19; 2:1–7; 38:1–41:34). The story of Job, of course, is not alone in its critique. In fact, the Priestly scribes already inserted this criticism into their writings: The ambiguity of Nadab and Abihu’s transgression illustrated that mastering cultic rituals will never enable the priests to conjure Yhwh’s presence.Footnote 100 Neither would Job’s cultic mastery (1:5) or cries of lament (3:1–31:40*) empower him to conjure Yhwh’s presence.

On one level, Job illustrates how “priests who stand inside the rituals that bind a fragile world to a holy God are most attuned to their tasks when they know themselves vulnerable to the wounds of this world.”Footnote 101 However, human reliance on these rituals to always “bind a fragile world to a holy God” is undermined by the book of Job, especially in contrast to the reliable system presented in Leviticus 8–10. Consequently, in his ongoing priestly mediation for those who transgress Yhwh (42:8), Job remains vulnerable not merely to suffering, but to a cultic system that fails to explain or terminate his suffering. Through the barrage of speeches, the narrator displays Job as a full character with a complex set of emotions that bleed into the epilogue (Job 3:1–42:6).Footnote 102 Even as Job’s blessings invert his sufferings (42:10–17), his “restoration rings hollow.”Footnote 103 For Job to be a human, which the narrator insists, Job must have been indelibly marked by his former agony (as 2:12–42:6), and anyone who has tasted life’s cruelty imagines him carrying the painful memories and scars of his recent past. He has learned what it feels like to “fear God with no effect” (1:9, החנם).Footnote 104 In contrast to effectual Priestly theology in which cultic intermediaries influence God’s response by their ritual obedience (Lev 9:22–24) or transgression (Lev 10:1–3),Footnote 105 Job, also an intermediary (Job 1:5; 42:8), faithfully offers sacrifices that neither protect his children nor elicit any revelation of divine acceptance (1:5),Footnote 106 but he never abandons his integrity and devotion to Yhwh. Job’s cultic efforts add another layer to his sense of futility: “Will I be condemned? Why then should I waste effort” (9:29).Footnote 107 But it is precisely these feelings of futility that deepen Job’s longing for the God who “does great things that we cannot understand” (37:5b).Footnote 108



This article was part of Tobias Häner’s research project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project number M2395-G24.


1 Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, “Intertextuality: Allusion and Vertical Context Systems in Some Job Passages,” in Of Prophets’ Visions and the Wisdom of Sages: Essays in Honour of R. Norman Whybray on His Seventieth Birthday (LHBOTS 162; ed. Heather A. McKay and David J. A. Clines; Sheffi JSOT Press, 1993) 257–80; ibid., “The Enigma of Job: The Deconstruction of God in Intertextual Perspective,” JNSL 23 (1997) 1–19; Konrad Schmid, “Innerbiblische Schriftdiskussion im Hiobbuch,” in Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen: Beiträge zum Hiob-Symposium auf dem Monte Verità vom 14.–19. August 2005 (ed. Thomas Krüger, Manfred Oeming, Konrad Schmid and Christoph Uehlinger; Zürich: TVZ, 2007) 241–61; Katharine Dell and Will Kynes, eds., Reading Job Intertextually (LHBOTS 574; New York: T&T Clark, 2012); see also the list of references provided by John E. Hartley, The Book of Job (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991) 11–15.

2 Sara Japhet, “The Trial of Abraham and the Test of Job: How Do They Differ?” Hen 16 (1994) 153–72; Hans Strauß, “Zu Gen 22 und dem erzählenden Rahmen des Hiobbuches (Hiob 1,1–2,10 und 42,7–17),” in Verbindungslinien: Festschrift für Werner H. Schmidt zum 65. Geburtstag (ed. Axel Graupner, Holger Delkurt and Alexander B. Ernst; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2000) 377–83; Andreas Michel, “Ijob und Abraham. Zur Rezeption von Gen 22 in Ijob 1–2 und 42,7–17,” in Gott, Mensch, Sprache. Schülerfestschrift für Walter Gross zum 60. Geburtstag (ed. Andreas Michel and Hermann-Josef Stipp; Arbeiten zu Text und Sprache im Alten Testament 68; St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag, 2001) 73–98; Timo Veijola, “Abraham und Hiob: Das literarische und theologische Verhältnis von Gen 22 und der Hiob-Novelle,” in Vergegenwärtigung des Alten Testaments: Beiträge zur biblischen Hermeneutik. Festschrift für Rudolf Smend zum 70. Geburtstag (ed. Christoph Bultmann, Walter Dietrich and Christoph Levin; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002) 127–44.

3 On these nuances of the jussive based on whether the speaker is superior (God) or inferior (Job), see Bruce K. Waltke and Michael O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990) 568–69. On Job 3:4 and Gen 1:3, see Michael Fishbane, “Jeremiah IV 23–26 and Job III 3–13: A Recovered Use of the Creation Pattern,” VT 21 (1971) 151–67, at 153–55; Leo Perdue, “Job’s Assault on Creation,” HAR 10 (1986) 295–315; idem, Wisdom in Revolt: Metaphorical Theology in the Book of Job (Sheffi Almond Press, 1991) 91–103; idem, Wisdom and Creation: The Theology of Wisdom Literature (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994) 142–49; and Yohan Pyeon, You Have Not Spoken What is Right About Me: Intertextuality and the Book of Job (StBibLit 45; New York: Lang, 2003) 88–95.

4 Jiseong James Kwon, “Divergence of the Book of Job from Deuteronomic/Priestly Torah: Intertextual Reading between Job and Torah,” SJOT 32 (2018) 49–71, at 65–66.

5 David Wolfers, Deep Things out of Darkness: The Book of Job; Essays and a New English Translation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 111–18. He argues that Deut 28 represents “the disguised but unmistakable model for the description of the prosperity and downfall of Job in the Prologue” (14); on intertextuality between the narrative framework of Job and Deut 28, see also: Raik Heckl, Hiob—vom Gottesfürchtigen zum Repräsentanten Israels: Studien zur Buchwerdung des Hiobbuches und zu seinen Quellen (FAT 70; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010) 381–92; Kwon, “Divergence,” 56–58; Konrad Schmid, “Innerbiblische Schriftdiskussion,” 249–52.

6 Raik Heckl, “Die Figur des Satan in der Rahmenerzälung de Hiobbuches,” Leqach 10 (2012) 89; cf. idem, Hiob, 381–430.

7 Markus Witte, “Job in Conversation with the Torah,” in Wisdom and Torah: The Reception of Torah in the Wisdom Literature of the Second Temple Period (ed. Bernd Schipper and Andrew Teeter; JSJSup 163; Leiden: Brill, 2013) 81–100, at 97; see also Schmid, “Innerbiblische Schriftdiskussion”; Markus Witte, “Does the Torah Keep Its Promise?: Job’s Critical Intertextual Dialogue with Deuteronomy,” in Reading Job Intertextually (ed. Katharine Dell and Will Kynes) 54–65; Kwon, “Divergence.”

8 Konrad Schmid, “The Authors of Job and Their Historical and Social Setting,” in Scribes, Sages, and Seers: The Sage in the Eastern Mediterranean World (ed. Leo Perdue; FRLANT 219; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2008) 145–53, at 151.

9 Mary Douglas, Leviticus as Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 251.

10 From Plato’s Theaetetus, also Meno and other works, his age-old question of epistemological justifi remains relevant: “What must be added to true belief in order to get knowledge?”

11 David M. Carr, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) 144. This does not discredit verifiable examples of inner-biblical interpretation, skillfully explored by many readers, such as Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

12 Samuel Balentine, “Job and the Priests: ‘He Leads Priests Away Stripped,’ ” in Reading Job Intertextually (ed. Katharine Dell and Will Kynes) 42–53.

13 Balentine, “Job as Priest to the Priests,” ExAud 18 (2002) 29–52, at 32.

14 Ibid., 39–44; also idem, “Job and the Priests,” 48–52. Job’s skin disease, a physical defect, does not abrogate his metaphorical blamelessness (תם). Katharine Dell (“What Was Job’s Malady?” JSOT 41 (2016) 61–77, at 64 n. 6) recalls Duhm’s argument, in his 1892 Das Buch Jesaia, “that the suffering servant had a skin disease, which raises the question whether disease is always a result of wickedness given that the suffering servant is blameless/a sacrifi

15 Balentine, “Job as Priest to the Priests,” 46.

16 See also the criticism of Balentine’s reading by Kwon, “Divergence,” 66–69.

17 Drawing from the important work of Karel van der Toorn, JiSeong James Kwon argues that the resemblances between Job and Second Isaiah are best explained not as intertextual dependence, in one direction or the other, but as independent texts emerging from an elite literate scribal culture in Judah: Scribal Culture and Intertextuality: Literary and Historical Relationships between Job and Deutero-Isaiah (FAT 2/85; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016); see Karel van der Toorn, Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007) 63–89.

18 David M. Carr, Writing on the Tablet of the Heart: Origins of Scripture and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) 287–93.

19 See Christophe Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch: A Study in the Composition of the Book of Leviticus (FAT 2/25; Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2007) 69–110.

20 Carr, Writing, 292. Likewise, Karel van der Toorn (Scribal Culture, 103) observes, “The scribes in training studied the classics through immersion in the text…. Students chanted the texts, copied them from dictation, and committed them to memory; it was a process of ‘enculturation’ through memorization.”

21 In his analysis of “The Temple Workshop and Temple Library” in the ANE and Israel, van der Toorn (Scribal Culture, 63–89) makes a strong case for the temple, rather than royal scribes, as the primary locus: “I now want to go one step further and demonstrate that the temple was the more likely center [than the royal palace] of production of the traditional literature that came to constitute the Bible. First, there is evidence in the Bible for the temple as a center of written law; second, there is evidence, biblical and extrabiblical, for the temple as a center and archive of written oracles; and third, there is evidence for the temple as a center of education and scholarship…. While the temple scribes in Israel were responsible for teaching the scribal craft, they were also the ones who created the bulk of the biblical literature” (86, 89).

22 Carr, Formation, 144.

23 Michael Stead, The Intertextuality of Zechariah 1–8 (LHBOTS 506; New York: T&T Clark, 2009) 21–23.

24 Yitzhak Berger concludes that “an especially dense cluster of similarities might prove decisive even where each of them, taken individually, could otherwise have been seen as coincidental: the larger the number of moderately suggestive parallels, the more compelling they become when considered together”: “Ruth and the David-Bathsheba Story: Allusions and Contrasts” JSOT 33 (2009) 253–72.

25 For the purpose of this essay, we have renumbered these indicators articulated by Kenneth Bergland, Reading as a Disclosure of the Thoughts of the Heart: Proto-Halakhic Reuse and Appropriation Between Torah and the Prophets (BZABR 23; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2019) 70–71. The other four indicators he lists are “reference to a source,” “lack of integration,” “confl and recombination,” and “linguistic dating.”

26 Ibid., 102–6. Additional marks of memorized reuse include: “amalgamation/blending of source texts” and “oral register” (ibid., 104–6). Bergland has drawn these marks especially from Carr, Writing, 4–5, 36, 41, 42, 44, 77–78, 159.

27 This adequate continuity is presumed on different levels, but most simply by the narrator’s use of יהוה twenty-nine times in the prologue and epilogue but only three times in the human and divine speeches (Job 1:6, 7[2x], 8, 9, 12[2x], 21[3x]; 2:1[2x], 2[2x], 3, 4, 6, 7; 12:9; 38:1; 40:1; 40:3, 6; 42:1, 7[2x], 9[2x], 10[2x], 11, 12).

28 See Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 401; also Bill Arnold and John Choi, A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (2nd ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) 54–55. The wayyiqtol ׁש in Lev 8:30 is probably epexegetical, that is, “and he sanctifi explains the effect of the sprinkling ritual (Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 558).

29 It is unknown if Aaron had any daughters because our sole source, the Priestly genealogy in Exod 6:23, excludes the names of daughters; for example, Miriam is not mentioned with Moses and Aaron (Exod 6:20) but is identifi elsewhere as their sister (Exod 15:20; Num 26:59; 1 Chr 6:3).

30 Karl Wilcox argues that Job, whose household had been prejudicial in favor of his sons, through suffering gained empathy for his daughters resulting in a more ethical treatment of his second set of daughters (42:14–15): “Job, His Daughters and his Wife,” JSOT 42 (2018) 303–15.

31 Following Hieke, one can roughly divide Lev 8 into three parts: The ordination offering (vv. 22–29) stands at the core of the ritual, while vv. 6–13 and 30–35 describe respective preparatory rites. The ritual involves: washing Aaron and sons (8:6), clothing Aaron with priestly vestments (8:7–9), anointing the dwelling place, its furnishings, and Aaron’s head (8:10–12), clothing Aaron’s sons (8:13), followed by a sequence of sin, burnt and ordination offerings (8:14–29), then sprinkling the anointing oil and ram’s blood on Aaron and his sons (and their vestments [8:30]), and fi eating the meat of the ordination offering while remaining in the meeting tent for seven days (8:30–35). See Thomas Hieke, Levitikus 1–15 (HThKAT 6; Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2014) 338.

32 The immediate context probably implies the presence of Job’s children, with an elided object of the wayyiqtol ׁשלח (“sent for them”); see David Clines, Job 1–20 (WBC 17; Dallas: Word, 1989) 16–17; Benno Jacob, “Erklärung einiger Hiob-Stellen,” ZAW 32 (1912) 278–87, at 278–79; and Choon Leong Seow, Job 1–21: Interpretation and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013) 270.

33 The wayyiqtol is followed by two weqatal verbs, indicating imperfective aspect in past time, that is, a customary aspect; see Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 527–29. See also Friedrich Horst, Hiob (BKAT 16; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1968) 12; also Dariusz Iwanski, The Dynamics of Jobs Intercession (AnBib 161; Rome: Pontifi Biblical Institute, 2006) 129–31; also Jacob, “Hiob-Stellen,” 278–79.

34 The two weqatal verbs would still convey a customary aspect, but can also be seen as the consequence of the wayyiqtol (see Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 533–34); see also Clines, Job 1–20, 16; also Georg Fohrer, Das Buch Hiob (KAT 16; Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1989) 78.

35 See number two in the list of indicators of direction of dependence in Fig 1 above.

36 The verb ׁש in the piel recurs ten times in the wayyiqtol form (Gen 2:3; Exod 19:14; 20:11; Lev 8:10, 15, 30; Num 7:1 [2x]; 1 Sam 16:5; 2 Chr 7:7; 29:17; Job 1:5), but humans (not things) are sanctifi only in the four passages mentioned above. In a few other narratives, ׁש occurs in the piel with persons as direct objects, but the sanctifi is only commanded, not narrated (Exod 13:2; 28:3, 41; 29:1, 33; 30:30; 40:13; Josh 7:13; Joel 2:16). In Exod 29:7 and 40:13, Yhwh already commanded Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons, but in 29:7, the verb קדׁש is not used. In Exod 40, like Lev 8, the divine commands are implemented (Exod 40:16), but unlike Exod 29:15–18, Exod 40 does not parallel Lev 8 concerning the burnt offerings (the עלה in 40:29 is for the tent, not the priests). Furthermore, neither Exod 29 nor 40 show any of the other analogues to the Joban prologue mentioned in this essay; the same is true for 1 Sam 7:1.

37 Burnt offerings (עלה) are immolated in Exod 24:5, but without a direct connection to the “sanctifi in Exod 19:14; in 1 Sam 16:5, Samuel offers a זבח, not an עלה.

38 See number one in Fig 1 above.

39 See James Watts, “ŌLĀH: The Rhetoric of Burnt Offerings,” VT 56 (2006) 125–37, at 133. As Watts notes, the burnt offerings (עלה) can be preceded by sin offerings (חטאת), as is the case in Lev 8–9, yet the former have priority: “The ‘ōlāh came fi [Lev 1] to emphasize the religious ideal of self-less devotion to God.”

40 See number two in Fig 1 above.

41 Only in the burnt offering prescriptions in Lev 1:3–17 does the noun עלה recur more frequently with respect to the length of the pericope (eight times in fi verses); in Lev 4, the noun is used nine times in thirty-fi verses. In all other parts of Leviticus, עלה occurs never more than fi times in a textual segment.

42 Memorized reuse is also plausible, as synonymous verbs are used: “sacrifi [ׂשה ] your sin offering and your burnt offering [ואת־עלתך]” (Lev 9:7) and “and offer burnt offerings [עלות והעלה]” (Job 1:5). See number six in Fig 2 above.

43 Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16 (AB 3; New York: Doubleday, 1991) 172–77. Milgrom infers from Lev 9:7: “This sequence is essential. The priests cannot atone for others until they have atoned fi for themselves (b. Yoma 43b; cf. Heb 5:1–4; 7:23–28; 8:1–7).” Furthermore, we interpret קח לך in 9:2 as a ל of advantage, “Take for yourself” (not an ethical dative; see Waltke and O’Connor, Hebrew Syntax, 206–7), which, like v. 7, implies, “Take for you and your sons,” in distinction from the community’s offerings prescribed in v. 3, “Take (you all) a male goat for a sin offering….” (לחטאת ׂשעיר־עזים קחו). The OG translators of Lev 9:7 (LXXGött with major witnesses) presumably wanted to make clear that Aaron’s sacrifi for himself were for his family as well: “and propitiate for yourself and your house [καὶ τοῦ οἴκο σο]” (> MT SP [no Qumran mss]).

44 On this view of Lev 1:4, see Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, 17277.

45 See Lev 8:35; 9:22–10:3; 16:1–2.

46 See number three in Fig 1. Cf. number eight in Fig 2.

47 The expiatory function of Job’s sacrifi is highlighted also in Iwanski, Job’s Intercession, 13639, based on their direct connection with sin.

48 Georg Fischer, Genesis 1–11: Übersetzt und Ausgelegt (HThKAT 1; Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2018) 480. As Fischer points out, the expiatory function is absent in Gen 8:20; even more so in Gen 31:54, where the term זבח is used instead of עלה. In the Patriarchal History, the locution hiphil of עלה + לעלה, recurs also in Gen 22:2, 13.

49 See Clines, Job 1–20, 16. Leo Perdue observes that “since some efforts are made to depict Job as a semi-nomadic patriarch, it is important to note that he, like the patriarchal leader of families and clans, is given the responsibility for serving as the chief cultic functionary, that there is no reference to any priesthood or centralized cultic site, and that the participants are the members of the family (Wisdom and Cult: A Critical Analysis of the Views of Cult in the Wisdom Literature of Israel and the Ancient Near East [SBLDS 30; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977] 167). However, Perdue does not consider the expiatory function that associates Job’s sacrifi with Aaron’s but distinguishes Job’s from those of the patriarchs in Genesis.

50 As Milgrom (Leviticus 1–16, 228–29) points out, ׁשגגה (Lev 4:2, 22, 27; 5:15, 18; 22:14; 9x in Numbers) is best translated as “inadvertent wrongdoing,” committed by conscious negligence (i.e., accidentally) or by exposed ignorance (i.e., erroneously); these inadvertent faults were expiated by a חטאת. In distinction, ׁשם offerings (i.e., Lev 5:1719) were designated to atone for sin committed unconsciously. As Milgrom argues elsewhere, the distinction between חטאת and ׁשם is an important background to the confl between Job and his friends. See “Cultic Segagah and its Infl in Psalms and Job,” JQR 58 (1967) 115–25.

51 Clines, Job 1–20, 15.

52 Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure (London: Routledge, 1969) 94–95, cited by Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, 567.

53 Job 1:5, 10, 11, 21; 2:5, 9. In some of these verses, the verb ברך appears to be used in an intentionally ambivalent way; see Tod Linafelt, “The Undecidability of ברך in the Prologue to Job and Beyond,” BibInt 4 (1996) 154–72.

54 See number two in Fig 1 above.

55 See number eight in Fig 2. Of the six occurrences of ברך in Job, four have the metaphorical meaning “curse God” (1:5, 11; 2:5, 9), which could be evidence of metaphor and wordplay (number four in Fig 1). That is, “one of the texts [Job 1–2] uses a concept metaphorically that is meant literally in the other text [Lev 9:22–23]” (Bergland, Reading, 71).

56 With Alan Cooper, “Reading and Misreading the Prologue of Job,” JSOT 46 (1990) 67–79, at 69–70; Seow, Job, 253.

57 Yhwh’s blessing is clear from Aaron’s blessing, then Moses and Aaron’s blessings of the people, the appearance of the glory of Yhwh, and his consumption of the sacrifi (9:22–24).

58 On Num 6:24–26 as supplying the content of the blessing in Lev 9:22–23, see Mark A. Awabdy, “The Holiness Composition of the Priestly Blessing,” Bib 99 (2018) 29–49.

59 The importance of the Nadab and Abihu episode in Lev 10:1–3 is supported by its early reception in several texts (Lev 16:1; Num 3:4; 26:61; 1 Chr 24:2) and by its plotline that serves as an analogy or template for other stories, such as the rebellion and catastrophic death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (see Hieke, Levitikus 1–15, 385).

60 “And they died” (וימותו) is the translation of NJPS, NET, et al., highlighting the intertext shared with Lev 10:2, “and they died” (וימתו).

61 Besides Lev 9:24, a verse that is linked to 10:2, the closest similarity is found in Gen 4:16 (Cain). In Num 16:35, it is again “fi and in 17:11, it is “wrath” that “goes out from Yhwh.” Both passages are thematically linked to Lev 10:1–3, as they all deal with legitimate or illegitimate incense offering. In total, the wording used in Lev 10:2 (יהוה מלפני) occurs 15 times in the HB, while יהוה פני מעם (Job 1:12) is unique (cf. 2:7, יהוה פני מאת).

62 See distinctiveness and thematic correspondence in Bergland, Reading, 70. Also, the slight morphological differences between the intertexts of Lev 10:1–3 and Job 1:12, 18b–19c could be indicative of memorized reuse (see number six in Fig 2 above). That is, “parallel passages bearing marks of literary reuse may use alternate lexemes or phrases in similar contexts … they testify to reuse of texts that are memorized rather than visually consulted” (ibid., 103).

63 The close link between Lev 9:24 and 10:1 is highlighted in Roland Gradwohl, “Das ‘Fremde Feuer’ von Nadab und Abihu,” ZAW 75 (1963) 288–96, at 289; see also Nihan, Priestly Torah, 89–93; and Hieke, Levitikus 1–15, 386.

64 The main point of divergence lies in the interpretation of זרה אׂש (Lev 10:1), which some believe refers to an idolatrous or Zoroastrian cult, or claiming prerogatives by Nadab and Abihu. For the idolatrous interpretation, see Richard Hess, “Leviticus 10:1: Strange Fire and an Odd Name,” BBR 12 (2002) 187–98; for Zoroastrian, see John Laughlin, “The ‘Strange Fire’ of Nadab and Abihu,” JBL 95 (1976) 559–65, and for priestly prerogative see Rolf Rendtorff, “Nadab and Abihu,” in Reading from Right to Left: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honour of David J.A. Clines (JSOTSup 373; ed. J. Cheryl Exum and Hugh Williamson; London: Sheffi Academic, 2003) 359–63. However, with Milgrom (Leviticus 1–16, 597), the term points to the source of the fi namely, that Nadab and Abihu took (or kindled) other fi than the fi kindled on Yhwh’s altar (Lev 9:24).

65 Gary A. Anderson, “ ‘Through Those who Are Near Me, I Will Show Myself Holy’: Nadab and Abihu and Apophatic Theology,” CBQ 77 (2015) 1–19, esp. 18.

66 As Watts points out, the phrase is contradictory to the formula, את־משה יהוה צוה ׁשר, that is repeated in Lev 8–10 like a refrain (8:4, 9, 13, etc.): “The intrusion of the negative, lō’, ‘not,’ in the familiar refrain comes like a thunderclap, an aural shock to a listening audience just as YHWH’s consuming fi presented a visual shock to the watching Israelites in the story.” See James Watts, Ritual and Rhetoric in Leviticus: From Sacrifi to Scripture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) 106–7.

67 James Watts claims that Lev 10:1–3 “aims to persuade its audience that the Aaronide priests hold a legitimate monopoly over Israel’s cult.” See Ritual and Rhetoric, 129 (cf. also Hieke, Levitikus 1–15, 385–6). However, in our view, the emphasis of the text itself lies more on the divine than on the priestly authority (“which he had not commanded them” [Lev 10:1b] in contrast to “as Yhwh commanded Moses” [Lev 8:4, 9, 13, 17, etc.]) and, consequently, on the authority of the ritual regulations of Leviticus.

68Your sons … the young people” follows the NRSV, while “and they died” is from the NJPS.

69 A West Semitic priestly installation ritual from LB Emar involved the consumption of wine and beer during the week and on the fi day of the ritual (Hess, “Leviticus 10:1,” 187–98). That the consumption of alcohol might have been the reason for the ritual transgression of Nadab and Abihu—an interpretation that is found already in Rabbinic literature—has been suggested again by Wolak. As he points out, it is only here in Leviticus (10:8) that a divine command is revealed to Aaron, instead of Moses; see Arthur Wolak, “Alcohol and the Fate of Nadab and Abihu: A Biblical Cautionary Tale Against Inebriation,” JBQ 41 (2013) 219–26.

70 Eating and drinking of Job’s children is reported three times in the prologue (Job 1:4, 13, 18), two of which explicitly mention “wine” (1:13, 18). On בני as “my children,” including Job’s daughters, see Wilcox, “Job, His Daughters,” 306 n. 7.

71 It is plausible that the simplifi of drinking “wine and strong drink” (Lev 10:9) to drinking “wine” (Job 1:18) reflects a scribal omission indicating memorized reuse (see Bergland, Reading, 104).

72 Otherwise, the drunkenness of priests, as well as prophets, is the object of prophetic critique (see Isa 28:7).

73 In the patriarchal narratives, the motif of eating and drinking occurs, e.g., in Gen 24:54; 25:34; 26:30; however, only Gen 27:25 explicitly mentions wine, as Jacob deceives his father Isaac.

74 The connection between Exod 24:9–11 and Lev 10:1–3 is highlighted by Rendtorff, “Nadab and Abihu,” and Hieke, Levitikus 1–15, 382–83.

75 Also MT Lev 16:1: “Yhwh spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, when they approached Yhwh’s presence and died [וימתו יהוה לפני בקרבתם].” Subsequently, the Nadab and Abihu episode is referred to by name in Num 3:2–4; 26:60–61; 1 Chr 24:1–2. Watts (Ritual and Rhetoric, 123–29) argues for allusions to Lev 10 in 1 Kgs 12–14 (Jeroboam and his sons, Abijam and Nadab), 1 Sam 3–4 (Eli and his sons) and 2 Sam 18–19 (David and Absalom), while Hieke (Levitikus 1–15, 382) claims a structural analogy to Gen. 4–5.

76 One might recall Eli’s sons eating and dying (1 Sam 2:12–25), but without the mention of drinking or wine; see Heckl, “Die Figur des Satan,” 81–93.

77 An echo is less knowable than an allusion (Stead, Intertextuality, 21–23).

78 It is plausible that Job 1:20 and 2:12–13 reuse Lev 10:6–7 from memory, indicated by the alternate lexemes in similar contexts (number six in Fig 2 above) and word-order alteration (number seven in Fig 2). Also, the shared lexemes could indicate that Job 2:13 alludes to Lev 8:35, but this cannot be corroborated.

79 On reading Job as a ritual framework of mourning practices, see David Lambert, “The Book of Job in Ritual Perspective,” JBL 134 (2015) 557–75.

80 The priests in Job’s society apparently have been led away by God, shamefully “stripped,” that is, “barefoot” (ׁשולל). The adjective ָלל ׁשֹו, only attested in Job 12:17, 19; Mic 1:8, probably means “really stripped off, meaning barefoot” (HALOT 4:1442; listed as “ָלל ׁשֹו I” DCH 8:305), but possibly “mad” (listed again under “ָלל ׁשֹו II” DCH 8:305).

81 The OG resolves the issue by avoiding the implication of blasphemy: “Perhaps my sons thought bad things in their mind toward God” (NETS 670; ); Aquila instead maintains the implication: “and they blessed God in their hearts”().

82 Clines, Job 1–20, 16.

83 Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, 373. Milgrom contends that a sin committed by intention, as בלבבם “in their hearts” might suggest, may be rendered eligible for sacrifi expiation provided that the sinner shows remorse (אׁשם) and makes a confession (והתודע, cf. Lev 5:5). In that case, the vicarious sacrifi performed by Job would be ineffective.

84 Edwin Good, In Turns of Tempest: A Reading of Job with Translation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990) 193. Good calls Job’s cultic practice “magical.” However, for Konrad Schmid, Job’s preventive sacrifi are a “theologische Absurdität.” See “Das Hiobproblem und der Hiobprolog,” in Hiobs Weg: Stationen von Menschen im Leid (ed. Manfred Oeming and Konrad Schmid; Biblisch-Theologische Studien 45; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 2001) 9–34, at 30. Clines (Job 1–20, 17) credits Job with an “extraordinary scrupulousness,” and Jürgen Ebach even asks whether he might have already been sick before the strikes by the Satan. See Hiobs Post: Gesammelte Aufsätze zum Hiobuch, zu Themen Biblischer Theologie und zur Methodik der Exegese (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1995) 71.

85 This failure of Job is pointed out by Manfred Oeming, “ ‘Il offrait un Holocauste pour chacun d’eux’ (Job 1,5): Pourquoi pas pour lui-même? Opfer und Nicht-Opfer im Hiobbuch,” RHPR 93 (2013) 49–65.

86 Meir Weiss notes: “It is odd that on the one hand Job’s apprehension should be so slight, and on the other, that his fear concerned the greatest sin of all, blasphemy.” See The Story of Job’s Beginning: Job 1–2; A Literary Analysis (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1983) 30.

87 On curiosity and suspense created by knowledge gapping, see Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1985) 265–67.

88 This reading is suggested also by Oeming (“ ‘Il offrait un Holocauste,’ ” 61), who claims implicit prompts to offer sacrifi also in the friends’ speeches in 5:8; 11:13–15 and 22:21, 30.

89 A similar connection of sacrifi and intercessional prayer is found also, e.g., in 2 Macc 7 and LXX Dan 3:24–45 (noted by Bernd Janowski, Sühne als Heilsgeschehen [WMANT 55; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1982] 269–70); however, these considerations go beyond the scope of our study.

90 With Jeremy Schipper, “Healing and Silence in the Epilogue of Job,” WW 30 (2010) 16–22, at 17; also Dell, “Job’s Malady,” 76.

91 Although Job’s speech about God is vindicated (42:7), before this happens in the narrative, the basic sense of 42:6 is that “Job feels disgust (at his earlier words) and repents.” See Michael Fox, “Job the Pious,” ZAW 117 (2005) 351–66, at 364 (see also 364–66, where Fox surveys other interpretations).

92 Troy Martin, “Concluding the Book of Job and YHWH: Reading Job from End to Beginning,” JBL 137 (2018) 299–318, at 301. Schipper (“Healing and Silence,” 17) further notes that “the unusual silence in the epilogue of Job regarding any healing of Job’s skin diseases undermines the friends’ rhetorical connections between diseased skin and wrongdoing.”

93 This ambivalence is signaled by the divergent interpretations of Job 42:8–10 in recent articles: Thomas Krüger, “Job Spoke the Truth about God,” in “When the Morning Stars Sang”: Essays in Honor of Choon Leong Seow on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (ed. Scott Jones and Christine Yoder; BZAW 500; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018) 71–80; André LaCocque, “Justice for the Innocent Job!” BibInt 19 (2011) 19–32; Phillippe Guillaume and Michael Schunck, “Job’s Intercession: Antidote to Divine Folly,” Bib 88 (2007): 457–72; Jean Lévêque, Job ou le drame de la foi (LD 216; Paris: Cerf, 2007). The background of Lev 8–10 is relevant, along with Num 23, as suggested by Schmid, “Innerbiblische Schriftdiskussion,” 248.

94 With Karen Langton, “Job’s Attempt to Regain Control: Traces of a Babylonian Birth Incantation in Job 3,” JSOT 36 (2012) 459–69, at 467. Job’s efforts to control and his awareness of his loss of control are manifest throughout the book, although it is beyond verifi to say that Job’s sacrifi were intended “to control his fate by controlling the piety of his children (1.5).”

95 The wayyiqtol past narrative (ׂשא), if not consequential, is sequential, moving directly from the actions of Job and his friends (two prior wayyiqtol verbs) to Yhwh’s action (see Arnold and Choi, Hebrew Syntax, 97–99).

96 “Yhwh accepted Job’s prayer” (many versions); “Yhwh had respect for Job” (NET); “Yhwh showed favor to Job” (NJPS); “Yhwh removed Job’s shame” (a possibility based on this idiom in Job 11:15; 22:26); or very freely with the LXX, “and he [the Lord] abolished their sin through Job” (), which correlates with the common view that, “his prayer is to accompany their burnt offerings to seal their forgiveness” (Paul Cho, “Job 2 and 42:7–10 as Narrative Bridge and Theological Pivot,” JBL 136 [2017] 857–77, at 875).

97 On Job’s struggle for control and his sense of the powerlessness of his words (esp. in chs. 3, 31), see Langton, “Job’s Attempt,” 459–69 and Abigal Pelham, “Job’s Crisis of Language: Power and Powerlessness in Job’s Oaths,” JSOT 36 (2012) 333–54.

98 See “Introduction” above, appropriating the work of Carr, Formation, 144; idem, Writing, 152, 287–93; van der Toorn, Scribal Culture, 63–89, 103; and Kwon, Scribal Culture.

99 “What is at stake is not only the conventional dogma that God prospers the righteous and punishes the wicked. It is also, and perhaps even more fundamentally, the Priestly tradition’s advocacy for the effectiveness of the entire ritual system”: Samuel Balentine, Job (SHBC; Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2006) 482.

100 Anderson, “Nadab and Abihu,” 15–19.

101 Balentine, “Job as Priest to the Priests,” 49.

102 On full characters and types, see Adele Berlin, “Characterization in Biblical Narrative: David’s Wives,” JSOT 23 (1982) 69–85.

103 Abigail Pelham, “Job as Comedy, Revisited,” JSOT 35 (2010) 89–112, at 110.

104 Following Tod Linafelt and Andrew Davis, “Translating חנם in Job 1:9 and 2:3: On the Relationship between Job’s Piety and His Interiority,” VT 63 (2013) 627–39, who make the case that חנם in 1:9 and 2:3 is best rendered “with no effect” or “without effect,” that is, “with no achieved purpose.”

105 As Israel Knohl contends, “the foremost concern of the priests is the maintenance of the Presence of God, which is the main focus of the cult taking place in the Tent of Meeting” (The Sanctuary of Silence: The Priestly Torah and the Holiness School [Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007] 152). Similarly, Nihan (Priestly Torah, 90, 93) concludes: “Yahweh cannot be approached, even by Moses [Exod 40:35], and the gap between God and man remains insuperable. After Ex 40, Lev 1–10 recounts the gradual abolishment of this gap…. Yahweh’s presence among his people, demonstrated in 9:23, involves new obligations, fi and foremost as regards Israel’s cultic representatives, the priests (10:1ff.). The possibility given to Israel to bridge the division between sacred and profane, simultaneously implies that this division may continuously be transgressed, and therefore become blurred, as shown by the profanation of Nadab and Abihu who are guilty of precisely this: presenting Yahweh with a זרה ׁש (v. 1), an ‘unholy’ offering” (italics in original).

106 Such as the theophany and endorsing divine fi in Lev 9:22–24. Instead, neither Job nor the reader knows if atonement has been affected (as in Lev 1:4) or even if his burnt offerings ascended as “a pleasing aroma to Yhwh” (ליהוה ריח־ניחוח, as in Lev 1:9, 13, 17).

107 Our translation of 9:29 and 37:5b.

108 As Michael Fox concludes, “Job was needy, and he yearned for divine fellowship. When God appeared in the whirlwind, he brought his fellowship” (“The Meanings of the Book of Job,” JBL 137 [2018] 3–18, at 18).

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