Post 29 – The faithful man Job lived in the “land of Uz” (Job 1:1). But where was the land of Uz? It’s tricky to identify as the name “Uz” seems to be an informal name applied by the Israelites to a region and not the formal name of a country. Job 1:3 says that Job was, “the greatest of all the people of the East.” But east of where?
One of the documents found along with the Dead Sea Scrolls is a non-Biblical document known as the “War Scroll”. It identifies Uz as being, “beyond the Euphrates.” But that document was written at least 1,000 years after Moses wrote the book of Job and locating Uz that far east does not match with the information the Bible gives us.
The first clues have to do with the raiders who destroy or steal Job’s herds and livestock. The first raiding party are “Sabeans” (Job 1:15). The Sabeans came from Saba, also known in the Bible as “Sheba”(see Post 14). Saba was located in southern Arabia, in what is now known as Yemen. The second raiding party are “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17), coming from Chaldea in southern Mesopotamia. The Chaldean tribes would later be absorbed into the Babylonian empire. So the land of Uz had to be somewhere within range of the raiding parties of both the Sabeans and the Chaldeans.
Lamentations 4:21 places Edom in the land of Uz, indicating that Edomite territory had grown or expanded into the land of Uz. This is supported by the fact that one of Job’s false comforters named Eliphaz, was a Temanite. Teman was a city in Edom not far from the spectacular city of Petra. (Although some scholars place Eliphaz in Tema, in northern Arabia). Another false comforter, Zophar is designated a “Naamathite”, which some suggests refers to a mountain in north-western Arabia. The third false comforter named Bildad is called a “Shuhite”. However that refers to his ancestry, not his place of residence. Bildad is a descendant of Shuah, a son of Abraham. Similarly, the younger, wiser companion Elihu is called a “Buzite” as he is descended from Buz, probably also a relative of Abraham.
Finally, Jeremiah 25: 20,21 refers to “all the kings of the land of Uz” and includes among them, the kings of Ammon, Moab, Edom even Philistia. Moses probably first became acquainted with the story of Job while he was dwelling for 40 years in the land of Midian (Top photo). The Midianites were nomadic and their borders were fluid but it seems that they dwelled just south of Edom and for at least a time Midian extended into Edom.
All the clues point to the land of Uz being to the south and east of the promised land of Israel. During the lifetime of Job, Uz seems to have initially occupied the north-western part of Arabia, probably near the shores of the gulf of Aqaba. Over the years, the expression, “land of Uz” was applied to a broader area of land to the south and east of Israel including Edom, Moab and Ammon.
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