Job Answers the Three & I Will Praise The Lord Of Wisdom

The way Job’s three friends talk about him is like the way rich people talk about the poor.

Astrology
Every time ancient Greece is mentioned, most people automatically think of democracy, the Olympic Games, mythology, philosophy, technology and various sciences such as mathematics and astronomy. It seems that very few are aware that the ancient Greeks were also superstitious, despite their logical thinking.

This perhaps explains why it was the Greeks who shaped the system of astrology into its modern day form, even though the first organized system of astrology arose during the 2nd millennium BC, in Babylon. The Greeks are Introduced to Astrology

The Babylonians were the first people to systematically apply myths to constellations and astrology and describe the twelve signs of the zodiac. The Egyptians followed shortly after by refining the Babylonian system of astrology, but it was the Greeks who shaped it into its modern form.

The Greeks borrowed some of their myths from the Babylonians and came up with their own. For that matter, even the word astrology – as well as the science of astronomy – is derived from the Greek word for star, “asteri.”

“And Job answered and said,

No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn” (12:1-4).

As before, Job’s reply is divided into two parts: He speaks to his three friends (12:2-13:9), then to God (13:20-14:22).  Job responses to the attacks of his friends with a  speech that is much longer than either of his first two.  The prosperous despise those who, like Job, have trouble. 

“He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly” (12:5-6). 

How and when did the Greeks were first introduced to astrology?
During the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, the Greeks were eventually introduced to the unknown cultures and cosmological schemes of Syria, Babylon, Persia and central Asia. It didn’t take too long after that for the Greeks to overtake cuneiform script as the international language of academic communication and part of this action was the transference of astrology from cuneiform to Greek.

Around 280 BC, Berossus, a priest of Bel from Babylon, traveled to the Greek island of Kos where he ended up teaching astrology and Babylonian culture to the local populations. This was the very first time that the world of astrology was transferred officially to the Hellenistic (and this Western) world of Greece and Egypt that was under Greek rule at the time.

Initially, the ancient Greeks that were known for their logical way of thinking, were skeptical about astrology and wondered about many things, such as why animals weren’t ruled by the same cosmic powers as humans for example.

By the first century BC two varieties of astrology were in existence: one that required the reading of horoscopes in order to learn accurate details about the past, present and future, while the other focused to the soul’s ascent to the stars and the search for human meaning in the sky.

In other words, the Greeks attempted to understand general and individual human behavior through the influence of planets and other celestial objects, while some used astrology as a form of dialogue with the divine.

Such statements concerning the prosperity of the wicked irked the counselors and made them brand Job as a man whose feet were slipping.

“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?

In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (12:7-12).

Job appeals to all creation to prove that God does what He pleases, as He states in the Book of Isaiah:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Is 55:11).

“With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.

Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.

The Zodiac and Ptolemy’s Contributions to Western Astrological Tradition Horoscopic astrology first appeared in Hellenistic Egypt. The earliest extant Greek text using the Babylonian division of the zodiac into twelve signs of thirty equal degrees each is the Anaphoricus of Hypsicles of Alexandria in 190 BC.

Furthermore, the sculptured “Dendera zodiac” – a bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera, containing images of Taurus and the Libra dating 50 BC – is the first known depiction of the classical zodiac of twelve signs. A very significant role in the development of Western horoscopic astrology was played by Greek mathematician, astrologer and astronomer Ptolemy, whose work Tetrabiblos laid the foundations of the Western astrological tradition.

Under Ptolemy the planets, Houses, and signs of the zodiac were first explained in great detail while their function set down hasn’t changed much compared to the present day. Ptolemy lived in the 2nd century AD, three centuries after the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes by Hipparchus around 130 BC.

Hipparchus of Nicaea was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician, who is credited with the invention of trigonometry, even though he’s best remembered for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes.

His lost work on precession, however, never didn’t move around until it was brought to prominence by Ptolemy. Moreover, Ptolemy decisively explained the theoretical basis of the western zodiac as being a tropical coordinate system, by which the zodiac is aligned to the equinoxes and solstices, rather than the visible constellations that bear the same names as the zodiac signs.

With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.

He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.

He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle.

He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.

He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.

He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty.

He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.

He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.

He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.

They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:13-25).

The theme of the above verses is stated in v 13: God is sovereign in the created world, and especially in history. 

Antiochus of Athens and Dorotheus of Sidon
Two very significant astrologers that with their works contributed in the evolution of Western astrology are undoubtedly Antiochus of Athens and Dorotheus of Sidon. Dorotheus was a first century AD Greek astrologer who lived and worked in Alexandria just like Ptolemy. He’s remembered for writing a didactic poem on horoscopic astrology known as the Pentateuch.

The Pentateuch, which was a textbook on Hellenistic astrology, has come down to us mainly from an Arabic translation dating from around 800 AD carried out by Omar Tiberiades .The text, fragmentary at times, is therefore not entirely reliable, and is further corrupted by interpolations by the later Persian translators.

Nevertheless, it remains one of our best sources for the practice of Hellenistic astrology, and it was a work of great influence on later Christian, Persian, Arab and medieval astrologers.

Antiochus of Athens is another significant Greek astrologer from the same Hellenistic Period. He made one of the earliest references to astrological reception, and discussed the twelves houses of the astrological chart, heliacal risings and settings, and the Lots.

Despite the fact that most of his writings are now lost, some very important fragments and extracts of his work have survived. He’s credited with writing Thesaurus, Eisagogika (an Introduction to astrology), and also an astrological calendar titled, On the risings and settings of the stars in the 12 months of the year.

His immense impact can be traced to many writers that followed him, such as the Neoplatonist Porphyry who heavily relies on Antiochus for definitions of technical terms used by Ptolemy in Tetrabiblos, and Rhetorius of Egypt, while there is also a later Byzantine epitome of his work.

The rest of the poem dwells on the negative aspects of God’s power and wisdom, e.g., the destructive forces of nature (vs 14-15), how Judges become fools (v 17), how priests become humiliated (v 19), how trusted advisers are silenced and elders deprived of good sense (v 20).  Contrast the claim of Eliphaz that God always uses His power in ways that make sense (5:10-16).

“Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.

What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.

Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.

But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.

Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.

Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?

Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?

Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?

He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.

Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?

Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay” (Job 13:1-12).

Job feels that his counselors have become completely untrustworthy (v 12).  He calls them quacks (v 4 and 16:2) and accuses them of showing partiality to God (since God is stronger than Job) by telling lies about Job (vs 7-8).  Someday God will examine and punish them for their deception (vs 9-11).

Kassite & Middle Babylonian
The Kassites were Hurrian speaking Highlanders from the Zagros Mountains who overran Babylonia after the Hittite destruction of Babylon at the end of the Middle Bronze Age.

They set up a Dynasty which lasted up until the 12th Century BC. when the Elamites destroyed Kassite power and themselves conquered Babylon.

In turn, it was the Second Dynasty of Isin, under Nebuchadnezzar I, who re-established Babylonian power and drove out the Elamites.

It is likely that the military organisation of the Babylonians during this period followed the Maryannu chariot warrior system along the lines of Mitanni.

Towards the end of the period, Aramaean invasions led to a decline in Babylonian power until the Chaldean and Neo-Babylonian Dynasties of the Iron Age, which will form a separate range.

“Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.

Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.

Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.

Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost” (Job 13:13-19).

No matter what happens, Job intends to seek vindication from God and believes that that he will receive it, and he also states that he will be silent and die if anyone can contend with him and prove that he is guilty of wrong doing.

“Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.

Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.

The Ruins of Babylon as they were in 1932.
Hanging Gardens
Scholars do not know where the Hanging Gardens were in Babylon, or even if they really existed, but ancient writers described them in detail.

The gardens are considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Philo of Byzantium writes (around 250 B.C.) that:
“The Hanging Gardens [is so-called because it] has plants cultivated at a height above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth.

This is the technique of its construction.
The whole mass is supported on stone columns, so that the entire underlying space is occupied by carved column bases …” (Translation by Professor David Oates)

Another, later, account is by Diodorus Siculus (first century B.C.). He writes that the Hanging Gardens were built “by a later Syrian king to please one of his concubines; for she, they say, being a Persian by race and longing for the meadows of her mountains, asked the king to imitate, through the artifice of a planted garden, the distinctive landscape of Persia.”

Modern-day scholars have noted that Herodotus, who lived earlier than Philo, does not mention the Hanging Gardens.

There are also no known Babylonian records of the site.

Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.

How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?

Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?

For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.

Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.

This inscription, made in the name of Tiglath-pileser I, a king of Assyria, records the conquest of Babylon.
It was made more than 3,000 years ago.
Archaeologically little is known about the early history of Babylon.

Ancient records suggest that more than 4,000 years ago, at a time when the city of Ur was the center of an empire, Babylon appears to have been a provincial administration center.

“Babylon had not been an independent city,” writes researcher Gwendolyn Leick in her book “The Babylonians” (Routledge, 2003).

She notes that in 1894 B.C., after the Ur-based empire had collapsed, the city was conquered by a man named Samu-abum.

He was an Amorite, a Semitic-speaking people from the area around modern-day Syria.

He proceeded to turn Babylon into a petty kingdom made up of the city and a small amount of nearby territory.

Babylon would remain this way until, six kings later, a man named Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) ascended the throne.

He was the ruler who would go on to turn this once small kingdom into a great empire.

Kassite period
Ultimately Hammurabi’s empire was not to last, falling into decline after his death.

In 1595 B.C., the Hittite ruler Mursili I captured Babylon, bringing the rule of Hammurabi’s successors to a close.

Researcher Susanne Paulus notes in a 2011 paper published in the journal Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte (Supplements to the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Legal History) that, adding insult to injury, the Hittites seized the statue of Marduk, who had become a principal god of the Babylonians.

In the chaos that followed these events, a people called the Kassites (also known as the galzu) came to power in Babylon. They had access to good horses, giving them a military advantage.

They appear to have made an effort to win over the people of Babylon, “they brought back the statue of the major deity, Marduk, which had been stolen by the Hittites, and restored his cult in Babylon” Paulus writes.

“The Kassite kings restored the temples of the Babylonian gods, while their own pantheon had little influence.”

And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten” (Job 13:20-28).

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). 

The introduction to chapter 14 expressing the pessimistic theme that man’s legacy is trouble and his destiny is death.

“He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.

Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;

Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?

As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:

So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

Top level: Mesopotamian Gods in symbolic form, Second level: animals and deities playing musical instruments (detail), “Unfinished” Kudurru, Kassite period, attributed to the reign of Melishipak, 1186–1172 B.C.E., found in Susa, where it had been taken as war booty in the 12th c. B.C.E. (Louvre)
The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who gained control of Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire after ca. 1531 B.C. to ca. 1155 B.C. (short chronology).

Their Kassite language is thought to have been related to Hurrian, and not Indo-European or Semitic although the evidence for its genetic affiliation is meager due to the scarcity of extant texts.

History

The original homeland of the Kassites is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in Lorestan in what is now modern Iran, although, like the Elamites, Gutians and Manneans, they were unrelated to the later Indo-European/Iranic Medes and Persians who came to dominate the region a thousand years later.

They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century B.C. when they attacked Babylonia in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-iluna (reigned ca. 1749-1712 B.C.), the son of Hammurabi. Samsu-iluna repelled them, as did Abi-Eshuh, but they subsequently gained control of Babylonia circa 1570 B.C. some 25 years after the fall of Babylon to the Hittites in ca. 1595 B.C., and went on to conquer the southern part of Mesopotamia, roughly corresponding to ancient Sumer and known as the Dynasty of the Sealand by ca. 1460 B.C.

The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna.

The circumstances of their rise to power are unknown, due to a lack of documentation from this so-called “Dark Age” period of widespread dislocation.

No inscription or document in the Kassite language has been preserved, an absence that cannot be purely accidental, suggesting a severe regression of literacy in official circles.

Babylon under Kassite rulers, who renamed the city Karanduniash, re-emerged as a political and military power in Mesopotamia.

A newly built capital city Dur-Kurigalzu was named in honor of Kurigalzu I (ca. early 14th century B.C.).

Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved.

They ruled Babylonia practically without interruption for almost four hundred years, the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history.

It is believed that the name of the Kassites is preserved in the name of the Kashgan River, in Lorestan.

O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:2-13).

Job’s spirit now appears to rise above the despair engendered by his rotting body.  Although resurrection in the fullest sense is not taught here, Job is saying that God so desires He is able to hide Job in the grave, then raise him back to life at a time when the divine anger is past.

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?

My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

And surely the mountains falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.

The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.

Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.

His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.

But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn” (Job 14:14-22).

Job’s pessimism arises not form skepticism about the possibility of resurrection from the dead but rather from God’s apparent unwillingness to do something immediately for a person like him, whose life has become a nightmare of pain and mourning.

I Will Praise The Lord Of Wisdom 

From the Kassite period of Babylon (the second half of the second millennium B.C.) comes an Akkadian poem titled “I will praise the Lord of Wisdom.” 

Because it concerns a pious sufferer, it is often compared to Job, although it’s formally more similar to certain Biblical pslams in which an individual describes some illness of calamity he has suffered but praises God for having delivered him (e.g., Ps 30; 116).

* In this Akkadian text the poet (named Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan) says much that is similar to Job’s lamentation.

* Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan considers himself helpless before his god, Marduk (a false god which God tells us to stay away from, it’s idolatry – Ex 20:3-5), who is merciful but whose anger is like a raging storm (see Job 12:13025).

* Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan laments about friends and family having abandoned him (see vs 4; 19:13-20).

* Like Job, he exhaustively describes his physical afflictions (see 7:5) prior to his healing.

Shubshi-meshre-Shakka was delivered after having seen three godlike persons – two men and a woman – in his dreams (chs 38-42).

In other respects, however, the Akkadian psalm is very different from Job.  It focuses on omens, magical spells and dreams as well as listing rituals of healing at the gates of the temple of Markuk. 

In contrast, the book of Job contains no ritual or magical elements.  Instead, its protagonist is a righteous sufferer, and it wrestles with fundamental issues of God’s governance of the world.

Here too God tells us to leave such things alone – Duet 18:9-12 – because all types of magic comes from Satan.  If you ride with Satan you cannot ride with God: 

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils (1 Cor 10:21). 

Job is not healed by magic but by God Himself after he has heard and understood God’s answer to the questions he has raised.