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Chiasmus in the book of Job #1

July 3, 2012
tags: ,

Chiasmus is a fun word. It turns out the Bible is full of chiasms. But what are they? Wikipedia, trustworthy as it is, has a fairly good description. Here’s another. A simple example is Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:16:

A. First
B. Last
B’. Last
A’. First

I’ve come across three possible chiasms in my study of Job so far. Some proposed chiasms are unlikely, but many are clearly intentional and quite illuminating.


Job Chapter 1 (thanks to Involuted Speculations)

This one seems very likely to me as it’s clear in the text and has theological implications. I’d recommend you go re-read Job 1 with this chiasm in view because it’s quite impacting.

A. Job’s righteousness asserted (1:1)
B. Job’s children (1:2)
C. Job’s wealth (1:3)
D. Job’s children feasting (1:4-5)
E. God’s dialogue with Satan (1:6-12)
D’. Job’s children feasting (1:13)
C’. The loss of Job’s wealth (1:14-17)
B’. The death of Job’s children (1:18-19)
A’. Job’s righteousness reasserted (1:20-22)

Here’s some observations that are worth mentioning:

  • The centre of the chiasm (and the chapter) is God’s dialogue with Satan (E). Everything before points towards this event, and everything after results from it.
  • The two mentions of feasting (D, D’) is not accidental. It seems to represent the wealth and joy of Job’s family; the feasts are an outpouring of their health and happiness. The fact that everything began to be taken on a feast day (D’) is also intentional. Satan waited for a specific moment to strike: “Now there was a day…” (Job 1:13 ESV). Job’s losses began on a day that was associated with the overflowing joy.
  • Job interceded for his family during the feasting (D), and we can expect he would have done the same for the second feast. This makes his loss even more striking and apparently undeserved.
  • Despite everything that happened to his possessions and family, Job’s righteousness remained (A, A’). This is central to a correct understanding of the book of Job. Job’s suffering was not the result of his character, children or possessions, instead it was a result of the dialogue between Satan and the LORD. (A, A’) bookend the chapter to emphasize that fact.

I’ll post more chiasms in the future. In the meantime, does anyone see any more implications of this chiasm?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. ljhooge permalink
    September 11, 2012 1:08 am

    Do you mind if I use this on my chiasmus blog?

    • mydigitalseminary permalink
      September 11, 2012 12:57 pm

      Hi, you’re more than welcome to use this in your blog. Thanks for visiting!

    • mydigitalseminary permalink
      September 12, 2012 9:25 am

      If you wouldn’t mind linking the chiasm to this page when you put it up, that would be nice

      • ljhooge permalink
        September 12, 2012 1:01 pm

        No Problem. Thanks.

        By the way, nice blog. I’ll be dropping in from time to time. 🙂

      • mydigitalseminary permalink
        September 12, 2012 3:09 pm

        Thank you! I’ll be checking out your blog regularly as well.

  2. ljhooge permalink
    September 11, 2012 1:11 am

    More please 🙂

    • mydigitalseminary permalink
      September 11, 2012 12:59 pm

      I had the intention of posting a few more from Job as I prepared to teach it this Fall, but I’ve put my study on hold because I’m teaching Philippians/Colossians instead.

  3. ljhooge permalink
    September 11, 2012 11:51 am

    Here’s my chiasmus blog:


  1. Job 1 – The Testing of Job « Biblical Chiasmus
  2. Is The Book of Job a Chiasm? « My Digital Seminary

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