Q: #177. How old was Job when his suffering occurred?
A: As with the previous question How long did Job suffer?, we cannot know for sure from the Bible. However, we can make a few inferences based upon what we read in Job.
First, Job was old enough to be married (Job 2:9)(Job 19:17)(Job 31:10).
Second, he had 10 children (Job 1:2). In addition, it appears that these 10 children were adults because they each had their own homes (Job 1:4), and Job made sin sacrifices for each of them (Job 1:5).
*** Note: Although the sacrificial system for sin had not yet been established in Job’s time, sacrifice for sin was not needed until a child reached 20 years old (Ex 30:14-15).
Third, Job had built a reputation as “the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3). This takes time.
Fourth, after his trials, Job was still young enough to father 10 more children (Job 42:13).
Now, keeping these facts in mind, let us look at tradition. Jewish tradition holds that Job’s latter years were twice his former years. If this is true, and the Bible says that Job lived 140 years after his trials (Job 42:16), then Job would have been about 70 when his trials occurred. The LXX, or Septuagint (Q: #178) also appears to confirm this.
This seems to fit well with our facts above, and also makes sense from several other points of view as well.
For one, after his trials, God gave Job double the number of livestock that were taken from him (Job 1:3)(Job 42:12). (Job 42:16) continues, saying that Job lived for 140 years after his trials. If Job was 70 at the time his trials began, and lived for 140 years after them, then God also gave Job double the years to live. This being the case, he would have lived to be 210 years old.
According to most scholars, the book of Job should be placed chronologically near the beginning of Genesis, just before Abraham. If this is true, then Terah, Abraham’s father, would have been living at the same time as Job, and lived to almost the same age: 205 (Gen 11:32).
*** Note: From the flood onward, people lived shorter and shorter lives. Abraham lived to be 175 (Gen 25:7). By the time of the Psalmists, a normal old age was about the same as ours today: 70-80 years old (Ps 90:10).
Finally, I believe that it is also important to consider (Job 42:16), which says that Job lived to see 4 generations of children and grandchildren during the 140 years of life after his trials. Now I am FAR from being a math expert, but as I see it, if you run the math, and figure out when each of these generations might have had children, and assume that it was in line with when Job had his first ten children, it also points to an age of about 70 for when Job may have faced his trials. (Or maybe not 🙂 )
At any rate, in my opinion, I do believe that based on the above, Job was probably in about the first third of his life, or 70, when his trials began.