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Question about Job 1:4: What does “every one his day” imply?

Job 1 4 cropped

 

Question: Job 1:4 – Is there a majority scholarly agreement with regards to what “every one his day” means? What is “his day”? I was always under the impression that it was each one’s birthday… What do you say? Is there scholarly agreement in general? If so, what is the majority scholarly opinion? ~Bob

The question regards: Job 1:4 “His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.”

The answer to the question is found generally in the next verse.  Job 1:5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

It appears that Job 1:4 concerns a cycle of dinners (perhaps ceremonial and celebratory) with each of the sons taking a turn hosting the rest of the family. Seven sons, seven days of feasting. Habel translates, “Now his sons used to hold feasts in the house of each in turn. They would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a round of feast days was over, Job would…”

Clines notes the possibility that these represent birthday celebrations for each son on his special day, but thinks like most others that it is more likely a more concentrated week of celebration every year, or every so often.

Pope imagines a once a year feast cycle at “ingathering” or the feast of booths, believing that the story is rooted in a post-Moses Israelite community. Alden, however, sees the roots of this book in a story more ancient than Mosaic regulations… thus, he sees here in Job 1:4 more ancient feast concerns than those detailed in the Pentateuch.

Habel notes that the term “feast” has a breadth of associations both cultic and non-cultic. I.e. both social and religious. He doubts that these in vs. 4 are religious, else their father would no doubt attend them. Such periods of feasting are often noted to occur in celebration of birthdays, marriages, treaties, and the cessation of various levels of hostilities. Just so, several authors are careful to dismiss any notion that the seven sons cycle is an unending weekly extravagance, or a bacchanalia of sorts but rather a common punctuation of special occasions.

Hence, Habel does not regard this cycle of feasts as innately sinful and insists that these feasts are not an excuse for their deaths. Clines too is adamant on this score. It’s the point of the introduction. Neither Job nor his children are getting their just desserts in this affair. Rather, these feast cycles afford the author an opportunity to demonstrate Job’s great character, standing as a divine mediator even for unknown, unremembered, potential sins against God.

Job is the focus here, not the sons and daughters.

The wealth of the whole family, tumbling from Job’s blessing, is seen in each son having his own place; they thrive like princes, says Clines. Even so, the family lives in harmony and under Job’s priestly and fatherly attendance to their piety.

The message of Job 1:4 is solely, “Job was awesome and neither he nor his family specifically deserved what happened to them.”

 

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