Job is one of the most well-known figures in the Bible, known for his great wealth and his immense suffering. The Book of Job provides some clues into just how rich Job was before and after his period of tribulation.
Job’s Vast Wealth and Possessions Before His Suffering
The Book of Job introduces Job as an extremely wealthy man. Some key indicators of his vast riches include:
- Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters, which was considered a huge family and sign of wealth in ancient times. Raising multiple children was a luxury only the affluent could afford (Job 1:2).
- Job owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a huge number of servants (Job 1:3). Owning thousands of livestock was a clear sign of his massive wealth and assets.
- Job was considered the greatest man in the East – meaning he was likely one of the wealthiest men in that region (Job 1:3).
- After losing everything, Job still had 7 sons and 3 daughters again at the end – implying he was wealthy enough to raise and provide for such a huge household again (Job 42:13).
In the ancient world, wealth was primarily measured in livestock and servants. So based on the number of possessions described, Job was likely one of the richest men of his time.
Job Had At Least 10,000 Animals
One key indicator of Job’s vast wealth was the incredibly large number of livestock he owned. The Book of Job specifically mentions:
- 7,000 sheep
- 3,000 camels
- 500 yoke of oxen (1 yoke = 2 oxen, so 500 yoke = 1,000 oxen)
- 500 female donkeys
If we add up all the animals listed, the totals are:
So at minimum, Job owned over 10,000 animals before his period of testing and suffering began. This was an enormous amount of possessions that required a huge household and many servants to manage. It showed Job’s incredible wealth.
Job Owned At Least 1,000 Servants
In addition to livestock, Job had a huge household with many servants.
The Book of Job mentions:
- Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters (Job 1:2). His children would have had their own households with servants.
- Servants would have been needed to tend each type of livestock – shepherds for sheep, camel drivers, oxen keepers, etc.
- Household servants would have been used to cook, clean, run errands.
- Farm laborers would have planted and harvested crops on Job’s lands.
Managing 10,000+ animals and a family as large as Job’s would have required at least 1,000 servants. Some scholars believe Job may have had up to 10,000 servants working for him.
Having thousands of servants was another clear sign that Job was an extremely influential and wealthy patriarch in ancient times.
Job’s Wealth After His Suffering
After Job’s period of suffering, the Bible says God restored Job’s riches twofold (Job 42:10). Some specifics on Job’s wealth after suffering include:
- Job was given 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (Job 42:12). This was double the number of livestock he had before.
- Job was blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters again, meaning he had the means to provide for and raise another 10 children.
- Job presumably had at least 2,000+ servants to manage his new, even larger flock of animals.
- Job lived 140 years after his suffering and saw 4 generations of his descendants (Job 42:16), meaning he was extremely wealthy even into old age.
Clearly Job was restored to at least twice as much wealth as he had before his tribulations. While no exact monetary value is given, Job remained an incredibly prosperous patriarch even after enduring his trials.
Was Job the Richest Man in the World?
Within the context of Job’s story, he is described as “the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3). This implies he may have been the wealthiest man in that region.
However, Job did not live in isolation. Other biblical figures like Abraham and Solomon are also described as tremendously wealthy. Looking at their possessions and influence can help put Job’s riches in perspective:
- Abraham – Had 318 trained fighting men (Genesis 14), hundreds of servants, large flocks and herds. Abraham was extremely influential and wealthy in his day.
- Solomon – Amassed great fortunes through taxes, trade and tribute payments (1 Kings 10). His annual income included over 25 tons of gold. Solomon was likely one of the wealthiest rulers in the ancient Near East.
While no definitive ranking exists, Job was clearly among the richest men of his time. However, he likely did not exceed the wealth of regional rulers like Solomon. Within the context of the ancient world, Job provides an archetype for a profoundly wealthy patriarchal figure.
Job’s True Riches Were His Faith and Virtue
While Job was materially wealthy, the Book of Job ultimately teaches that his faith and virtue were far more valuable. Job remained steadfastly loyal to God despite the loss of all his possessions.
In this sense, Job models how righteousness is the only true and lasting “wealth.” Worldly goods proved fleeting, but Job’s faith in God was priceless. This key lesson transcends any monetary estimate of Job’s riches.
In summary, Job was an extremely affluent patriarch based on the following:
- Job owned over 10,000 livestock including sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys.
- Job required the service of at least 1,000 household servants and laborers.
- Job was still wealthy enough after his suffering to have 10 more children.
- Job was considered the greatest man in the East during his time.
While an exact monetary value cannot be fixed, Job was clearly among the wealthiest figures of his era. More importantly, the Book of Job uses his riches as a backdrop to teach profound lessons about faith in the face of suffering. Job’s patience and virtue represent his most valuable “possessions” that endure.