Jobs Disease

Job's Disease.

The opinion that the malady under which Job suffered was elephantiasis, or black leprosy, is so ancient that it is found, according to Origen's Hexapla, in the rendering which one of the Greek versions has made of 2:7. It was also entertained by Abulfeda (Hist. Anteisl. p. 26), and, in modern times, by the best scholars generally. The passages which are considered to indicate this disease are found in the description of his skin burning from head to foot, so that he took a potsherd to scrape himself (2:7, 8); in its being covered with putrefaction and crusts of earth, and being at one time stiff and hard, while at another it cracked and discharged fluid (7:5); in the offensive breath, which drove away the kindness of attendants (19:17), in the restless nights, which were either sleepless or scared with frightful dreams (Job 7:13-14; Job 30:17); in general emaciation (Job 16:8); and in so intense a loathing of the burden of life that strangling and death were preferable to it (Job 7:15). In this picture of Job's sufferings the state of the skin is not so distinctly described as to enable us to identify the disease with elephantiasis in a rigorous sense. The difficulty is also increased by the fact that שׁהַין (shechin', a sore, Sept. ἕλκος) is generally rendered "boils." But that word, according to its radical sense, only means burning, inflammation — a hot sense of pain, which, although it attends boils and abscesses, is common to other cutaneous irritations. Moreover, the fact that Job scraped himself with a potsherd is irreconcilable with the notion that his body was covered with boils or open sores, but agrees very well with the thickened state of the skin which characterizes the disease. SEE LEPROSY.

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