Q&A: Were all Job's children killed or not? Job 1:2; Job 1:18-19; Job 19:17

Were all Job's children killed or not? Job 1:2; Job 1:18-19; Job 19:17

Question

Were all Job's children killed or not? Job 1:2; Job 1:18-19; Job 19:17

Answer

Job 1:2 He had seven sons and three daughters.

Job 1:18-19 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brothers house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

Job 19:17 (KJV) My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body.

Job 19:17 (NIV) My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers.

The term children more than likely means his brothers - those from the same womb as Job - and as translated in the NIV. D. J. A. Clines states:
Job's brothers are literally the sons of my belly ([the Hebrew] more often womb, but in Deut 28:53; Ps 132:11; Mic 6:7 of the father). Many have argued that the phrase must mean my own sons (NJPS; cf. Gordis), airily brushing away the problem that according to the prologue Job's sons are all dead; writes Dhorme, Since he is using hyperboles, the poet does not bother to reconcile this allusion with the Prologue (similarly Duhm, Pope, Habel). There is, however, no parallel lapse on the part of the poet anywhere in the book; the friends may be allowed to let their rhetoric carry them away into thoughtless generalities that contradict the realities of Job's experience (e.g., 5:25; 8:7; 18:19), but Job himself, so particular in recounting his past in chap. 29, is not going to have utterly inappropriate allusions put in his mouth (and the death of his children is alluded to in the dialogues: 8:4; cf. 29:5). Some have thought the children of concubines are meant, though there is no direct reference to concubines at all in the book (though cf. on v 15). Grandchildren are even more unlikely, since Job's children in chap. 1 seem to be unmarried. The further suggestion that [the Hebrew] should be understood from the cognate Arabic baṭn clan (Wetzstein; W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia [new ed.; ed. S. A. Cook; London: A. and C. Black, 1903] 34; Hlscher, de Wilde) flounders on the lack of Heb. parallels. There is no probability at all in the idea that the Heb. means her womb, the suffix being third person (M. Dahood, Or 32 [1963] 498500; Psalms I, 11; Blommerde). The best solution is clearly that the sons of my womb are the sons born from the same womb as Job, i.e., his uterine brothers (so Peake, Driver-Gray, Fohrer, Rowley) (elsewhere such are specified as my brother[s], the son[s] of my mother [Gen 43:29; Judg 8:19]).

Clines, D. J. A. (2002). Vol. 17: Word Biblical Commentary: Job 1-20. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).