There’s not a lot to tell us when Job lived, and it doesn’t really matter; but there are some clues. Job is widely believed to be Jobab, who is Esau’s great grandson. As for his four friends:

  • Eliphaz is named Esau’s son (Eliphaz is also Job’s great uncle)
  • Zophar is Jacob’s great-great grandson
  • Bildad is Abraham’s grandson (through Shuah, from his marriage to Keturah after Sarah died)
  • Elihu, who is the youngest of the four men who speak in the book of Job, is named as a descendent of Judah, through Ram.

Elihu and Zophar’s ancestors (Hezron and Naaman respectively) were listed as going to Egypt with the rest of Jacob’s family during the famine. Elihu and Zophar must have left Egypt before the Exodus: they appeared in the east, living with Esau’s descendents as one of Job’s companions; neither man is listed as amongst Hebrews who live Egypt during the Exodus.

So some people think that Job lived while Jacob and his descendents were in Egypt. This is why you’ll see that the book of Job is straight after the book of Genesis in a chronological ordering of the events of the Bible, which is the order we’re going through this year.

Of course, all this depends on the Elihu, Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz mentioned in Job being named accurately after their tribes: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. It also depends on Jobab and Job being the same person. Given the importance of genealogies, it is probably right, but you wouldn’t want to stake your salvation on it!