Some things are to be premised in the general concerning this book before I come to the particulars.
1. That this was no fiction or parable, as some have dreamed, but a real history, which is sufficiently evident, both from the whole contexture of the book, wherein we have an exact and distinct account of the places, persons, and things here mentioned, with their several circumstances; and especially the succeeding penmen of Holy Scripture, who mention him as a real and eminent example of piety and patience, as Eze_14:14 Jam_5:11.
2. That this is a canonical book of Scripture, which is manifest both from the style and matter of it, and from the tacit approbation given to it by Ezekiel and James, in the places now cited, and from that quotation taken from it as such, 1Co_3:19, and from the unanimous consent of the church, both of Jews and Christians, in all ages.
3. The time in which Job lived, and these things were said and done, most probably was before Moses, and in the days of the ancient patriarchs. This may be gathered,
1. From his long life, which, by comparing Job 1 with Job_42:16, could not want much of two hundred years; whereas, after Moses, men's lives were far shorter, as is manifest.
2. From that considerable knowledge of God and of the true religion which then remained among divers Gentiles, which after Moses's time was in a manner quite extinguished.
3. From the sacrifices here commonly used; whereas, after the giving of the law, all sacrifices were confined to the place of the tabernacle or temple, to which even the Gentiles were to repair when they would sacrifice to God.
4. From the way of God's imparting his mind to the Gentiles at this time by dreams and visions, agreeably to God's method in those ancient times; whereas afterward those discoveries were withdrawn from the Gentiles, and appropriated to the people of Israel.
5. Because there is not the least mention in this book of the children of Israel, neither of their grievous afflictions in Egypt, nor of their glorious deliverance out of it, though nothing could have been more seasonable or suitable to the matter which is here discoursed between Job and his friends.
4. The penman of this book is not certainly known, nor is it material for us to know; for it being agreed who is the principal author, it is of no moment by what hand or pen he wrote it. But most probably it was either,
1. Job himself, who was most capable of giving this exact account; who as in his agony he wished that his words and carriage were written in a book, Job_19:23-24, so possibly, when he was delivered from it, he satisfied his own and others' desires therein. Only what concerns his general character, Job_1:1, and the time of his death, Job_42:16-17, was added by another hand; the like small additions being made in other books of Scripture. Or,
2. Elihu, which may seem to be favoured by Job_32:15-16. Or,
3. Moses, who when he was in the land of Midian, where he had opportunity of coming to the knowledge of this history and discourse, and considering that it might be very useful for the comfort and direction of God's Israel, who was now oppressed in Egypt, did by his own inclination, and the direction of God's Spirit, commit it to writing. And whereas the style seems to be unlike to that of Moses in his other writings, that is not strange, considering the differing nature of the books, this being almost all poetical, and the other merely historical, for the most part, or plain precepts or exhortations. And for the Arabic words here used, it must be remembered that Moses lived forty years in Midian, which was a part of Arabia, in which he must needs learn that language.