Like the rest of the Bible, the book of Job teaches that man is a unified being with two “aspects” or “parts:” body and soul or spirit (Matt. 10:28; Luke 16:22-23; 23:43, 46, 52). Thus Elihu speaks of God’s gathering man’s “spirit” and man’s body turning again to “dust” after death: “If he [i.e., Jehovah] set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:14-15).
Like Ecclesiastes 12:7 (“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”), Job 34:14-15 refers to the dissolution of man into his two constitutive “parts,” according to his original creation in Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
The statement that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” is echoed in Job 34:14 (“if he [i.e., God] gather unto himself his spirit and his breath”) and especially in Elihu’s confession, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (33:4; cf. 12:10), and Job’s reference to his breath and nostrils: “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils” (27:3).
Turning to man’s material dimension, Elihu affirms, “I also [like Job and all men] am formed out of the clay” (33:6). Being created out of the earth, Job knows that he will return whence he was formed: “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?” (10:9). Similarly, he speaks of those who “dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth” (4:19). As Elihu puts it, “man shall turn again unto dust” (34:15).
This teaching on man’s physical constitution in the book of Job is in perfect accord with the opening chapters of the Bible, for “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7) and Jehovah said to Adam after the fall, “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (3:19). So basic to Job is the scriptural view that man, as to his material dimension, was created out of dust, dwells in a body of clay and will return to ashes, that that ancient, patient saint even refers to the maxims and arguments of his three “friends” as weak as the earthly nature of man: “ashes” and “clay” (Job 13:12).
Look at Job, formed out of dust, sitting among the ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd made out of clay (2:7-8)! His breath is failing (17:1), painful (7:19; 9:18) and noxious, so that even his wife shrinks from him (19:17)! No wonder the book of Job speaks so often and movingly of man’s nature, echoing Genesis 2:7!
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 2
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
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