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In Job 1:5, it is written,

5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. KJV, ©1769

ה וַיְהִי כִּי הִקִּיפוּ יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה וַיִּשְׁלַח אִיּוֹב וַיְקַדְּשֵׁם וְהִשְׁכִּים בַּבֹּקֶר וְהֶעֱלָה עֹלוֹת מִסְפַּר כֻּלָּם כִּי אָמַר אִיּוֹב אוּלַי חָטְאוּ בָנַי וּבֵרְכוּ אֱלֹהִים בִּלְבָבָם כָּכָה יַעֲשֶׂה אִיּוֹב כָּל הַיָּמִים Mechon-Mamre, ©2016

Does Job offer sacrifices to atone for the sins of others, i.e. his sons?

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Job lived 140 years (Job 42:16), a long life, similar to the patriarchs. For that reason it is said that he lived during the period of the patriarchs. During the patriarchal age, the head of the family also covered the function of offering sacrifices. In other words, he was the priest of his family. (1)

So Job, conceived by the writer as living in patriarchal antiquity, is said to have offered sacrifices vicariously for his sons (Job 1:5). (2)

It is clear that Job took his role as the family's priest very seriously, and this ritual of sacrifice was an expression of the entire family's contrite attitude toward God. As priest of his family he interceded for each member lest any thought disrupt their relationship with God. (3)

Additionally, he interceded for his friends (Job 42:8-9):

8 Now therefore, take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I do not unto you aught unseemly; for ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.' 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them; and the LORD accepted Job.
(Job 42:8-9, JPS 1917)


Notes

  1. Other examples are Noah (Gen 8:20), Abraham (Gen 12:8), Isaac (Gen 26:25) and Jacob (Gen 35:7).
  2. James Orr, Editor. (1925). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3: K-P. (p. 2019). Chicago : The Howard-Severance company.
  3. Hartley, J. E. (1988). The Book of Job (New International Commentary on the Old Testament). (p. 70). Grand Rapids, MI : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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