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Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
—Job 19:23-27 (ESV)

Job says that his Redeemer will stand upon the earth. The coming physical arrival of God on Earth is a common Christian belief. But I'm not aware of any such belief being common among Jews, Hebrews, or other pre-Christian Yahwistic religious groups. Is there some other context for this statement? Is he speaking idiomatically? Does Job have some direct revelation from God on the matter?

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Tangentially related: Did Job believe in an afterlife where wrongs could be righted? –  Jon Ericson Nov 20 '12 at 17:46
    
I'll try to write a proper answer later, but in the meantime, the Jewish view is that the redeemer (messiah) is a human king who will restore God's temple (and do other things). God doesn't become human, but something changes with the coming of the messiah, including all the world worshipping God. –  Gone Quiet Nov 20 '12 at 19:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If we had nothing but the Book of Job to go by, and we had to interpret the Book of Job through the Book of Job, then we would be compelled to look at Job 9:32-33, which read as follows:

Job 9:32-33 (NASB)

32 For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. 33 There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.

The Hebrew word translated for “there is no” is יש with the negative לֹא. That is, Job was not implying by his choice of words that such an umpire did not exist, in which case he would have used the Hebrew word אין, but that in fact he was not present, and so he used יש with the negative לֹא. (In Spanish we would say, “no está” –not here– as opposed to saying “no hay” –none exists–.) For example, when God says to Satan that there was no righteous man on earth like Job (Job 1:8 and Job 2:3), we see the word אין, which means that no other man like Job existed. In fact, in the passage we are looking at (Job chapter 9) the word אין occurs twice in one verse (Job 9:10), suggesting that there is no amount of inquiry in existence or no number in existence, which can quantify the great things and wondrous works that God performs. (No finite quantifications exist!) But in the SAME CHAPTER (in Job 9:32) Job does not use the word אין, but the negative form of יש with the negative לֹא, which means that the arbiter, who would place his hand on both God and Job, is not “non-existent,” but that he is not present at hand at that moment. So we see this unidentified “umpire” early in the Book of Job who will arbitrate between God and man, but who is not present. Such an arbiter would have to be an equal party to both sides, since no mortal man places his hand on the most high God and calls arbitration on behalf of other human beings.

Fast forward to Job 19:25. Job’s “Redeemer” now appears. The Hebrew word for redeemer is גאל, which not only means someone who redeems something, but someone who fulfills justice by exercising the right of redemption. For example, the “גאל of blood” was someone who fulfilled divine justice by seeking the life of the killer (Numbers 35:19-27, Deut 19:6-12; and Joshua 20:2-5). The redeemer therefore exercised his right as a part of a legal proceeding. We are all familiar with Boaz, the redeemer, who entered the court at that time at the city gates, and received the shoe to close the legal proceedings in order to redeem both the land and Ruth the Moabitess. He exercised his legal right after another kinsman declined to exercise the same right. Boaz exercised the law, and therefore redeemed Ruth as an act of justice.

So who is this redeemer? He is the one “who lives” (Job 9:25) but who is not yet present. He is therefore the umpire, who will arbitrate between God and man, and therefore will fulfill justice “when he takes his stand on earth” (Job 9:25).

If Job had access to words of Enoch, who lived before Job (please reference Jude 1:14-15 for the words of Enoch), then Job would have known that when he comes to take his stand on earth, this umpire who will arbitrate justice is none other than the Lord himself.

[In the New Testament, he is revealed as the God-man, who is equal with man and is equal with God, and therefore is the priest-king according to the order of Melchizedek.]

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I think you mean לא, not לו. –  Gone Quiet Jan 9 '13 at 21:39
    
Yes! I took my two years of Biblical Hebrew classes in 1986-87, and I am a bit rusty as you can see. –  Joseph Jan 9 '13 at 21:46
    
So Job expects a redeemer, but not necessarily God incarnate? Interesting! –  Stephen Collings Jan 10 '13 at 13:00
    
@Remiel, the idea of the redeemer being God incarnate would have been extremely foreign (perhaps idolatrous) in Job's time. –  Gone Quiet Jan 10 '13 at 14:10
    
I'll look into the book of Enoch. Are there any other extra-biblical sources concerning pre-Abrahamic beliefs about a coming redeemer? –  Stephen Collings Jan 11 '13 at 14:32

"But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!" Isaiah 26:19 NLT

1“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." Daniel12:1-3 NLT

Job is not speaking from his own human initiative. He is prophesying as described in 2 Peter 1:21: "...those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

Job got his prayer answered in the affirmative--His words were written down in the unending Living Word of God.

Zechariah 14 describes the return of Messiah extensively as well as many of the other prophets.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! We're a little different from other sites. Please elaborate more and 'show your work' on how these passages are relevant to understanding Job 19:25 (this site doesn't take it as a given that the Biblical texts are continuous and/or necessarily interrelated, please build directly from the text in the question and logically explain the use of other texts to explain it - we are not a religious site). –  Dan Dec 18 '13 at 6:08

Adam Kadmon (as taught by the rabbis) is both Divine Light and Man. This is also the claim of the Christian Messiah. (See John 1:1-4.)

It is he that will fully reveal God to man. Another claim of Jesus. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father".

It is not common among Jews since it is only taught to faithful Jewish men over the age of 40. Job indicates a knowledge of the teaching.

There are variant teachings about Adam Kadmon, I use Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh for my research.

Although Adam Kadmon does not appear in the Biblical text, the question is if Hebrew Job could possibly believe that his redeemer would walk on the earth. Since modern Jews attribute the teaching of Adam Kadmon to ancient sources, the answer is Yes.

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Interesting answer. I had to look up Adam Kadmon. Could you point us more specifically where on inner.org you found your information on the topic? –  Jon Ericson Nov 27 '12 at 6:02
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"The two words which form the name Adam Kadmon allude to its paradoxical nature of being, on the one hand a created being--Adam--while on the other hand a manifestation of primordial Divinity--Kadmon." google adam kadmon site:inner.org changed the link above. –  Bob Jones Jan 9 '13 at 12:51

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