This morning, I finished reading the book of Job. I had already planned to begin rereading it from tomorrow as the richness of this book’s symbolic use of the natural world is utterly breathtaking. I don’t feel ready to leave it yet! But it is instead the book’s end – Job’s daughters specifically – which has promptly propelled me straight back to the book’s beginning.
In the first verses of chapter 1, God gives us a description of the fortunes of Job, the man who was tested.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.Job 1:1-3
2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.
3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
The next few verses report that Job’s sons used to take it in turns to hold a feast in each of their homes. And each time they invited their sisters to eat and drink with them. After these days of feasting were finished, Job made burnt offerings to the Lord on behalf of his sons. Thus he did continually (v. 5; see Ex. 28:29, Ps. 50:8, Luke 18:1-8, Heb. 10:1).
This opening loop in Job’s chiastic structure is beautifully closed in the last verses of the book, as Job’s testing comes to its end. The LORD restores and even doubles the fortunes of Job after he prays for his three errant friends. Job’s 7,000 sheep become 14,000, his 3,000 camels become 6,000, and his yoke of oxen and female donkeys are likewise doubled (Job 42:12).
But look what happens next. Job’s fatherly grief turns to joy, as sons and daughters are again born to him. But with a difference. For here, though Job’s seven sons remain nameless as they were at the book’s beginning, God gives us the names of Job’s three daughters.
In an earlier post, I shared some of my thoughts about the significance of names and no names, both intentional and heavy with meaning. And in Job, God again gives and withholds names to catch our eye, to draw it to a wondrous mystery.
In the first daughter, Jemimah (יְמִימָה), we meet Job’s ‘little dove’, she who bore the olive leaf of peace to Noah, who flew away to her rest (Ps. 55:6), who nestles peacefully in the eyes of Solomon’s beloved (SoS 1:15, 8:10).
In Job’s second daughter Keziah (קְצִיעָ֑ה) is the strong, spicy aroma of ‘cassia,’ used in the holy oil of anointing (Ex. 30:23-25, Ps. 45:8), oil of pleasing fragrance, scent that entices the king (SoS 1:3,12).
And in Job’s third daughter, Keren-happuch (הַפּֽוּךְ׃), we find the ‘horn of kohl’, symbol of well-favoured beauty, claimed without right by Jezebel (2 Kings 9:30). This is the beauty that belongs to queens, mothers of Israel: Sarai (Gen. 12:11), Rachel (Gen. 29:17), Rebekah (Gen. 24:16) and Esther (Esther 2:7), all beautiful of form and face, fairest among women (SoS 5:9).
But wait – there’s more. For where Job’s three daughters had visited their brothers’ houses, dining as guests, according to the law given to Moses, these new daughters receive their own houses, “inheritances among their brothers” (Job 42:15).
And so, out of the ashes of Job’s suffering, God causes these three daughters to be born again to a living hope, and to “an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:3-5, Heb. 9:15).
Thanks be to God that we too are daughters of the king,
Christ’s glorious church,
born out of His perfect suffering,
without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27).
And as Job’s daughters, now qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Col. 1:12).
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.2 Corinthians 2:15