There are customs and traditions throughout the Bible. Some of the same customs in the Bible are found in our culture today. Look through the customs below that are found in the Book of Job and see how many customs you recognize. They are listed in the order they appear in the book.
Job’s friends sat on the ground in silence with him for seven days and seven nights (Job 2:13). It is an Eastern custom based on this scripture that when one suffers misfortunes as Job did, he sits on “the earth.” Mourners today do not sit on the earth, but they do sit as close to the earth as possible, usually on a wooden stool or a hassock. Jewish law demands that the mourner not sit on chairs of normal height, to symbolize the mourner’s awareness that life is not the same, that he or she wants to stay close to the earth in which his or her loved one is now buried. Also, it was an Eastern custom for the person mourning to speak first. Therefore, the three friends remained silent for seven days and seven nights until Job spoke. Today when we sit with mourners, we should wait until they speak before we speak.
A “daysman” is mentioned in Job 9:33. A “daysman” also served as an arbitrator or umpire who, by consent of both parties, judged between them as he heard their arguments. Sometimes both were wrong; other times one was guilty and the other innocent. The “daysman’s” job was to bring the two to a peaceful settlement. It was to such a custom that Job alluded when he was having his differences with his three friends.
In Job 19:23-26, Job wanted his testimony to last. Therefore, he said, “O that my words were written . . . that they were graven with an iron and lead.” According to some authorities, Job referred to a process of writing which is still in our culture.
Found in Job 34:7 is the expression, “Drinking up scorning like water.” This is common expression among Arabs. They associate expressions of eating and drinking with everyday incidents. For example, if they are caught in the rain, they say “drinking a great rain.” If caught in a wind storm, they refer to it as “eating a strong wind.” They “drink up scorning like water.” Today we use such expressions as “drinking” in a sermon or “drinking” in a conversation, etc.
The act of repenting in dust and ashes” in Job 42:6 is often used in the Old Testament to denote humility, repentance, and death to one’s self. Job realized his true condition had been revealed before God. When he saw himself as God saw him, he could no longer face the Lord, his friends, or even himself.
Sometimes an individual puts on sackcloth and falls prostrate on the ground in the dust. He is then covered with ashes. Sackcloth symbolizes death, while dust and ashes symbolize burial. Job had come to the end of himself. He realized that no good thing dwelled in him, so by his repentance he turned from his old self to God and dying to self in sackcloth, dust, and ashes.