When one refers to the Gemara in Bava Basra 15 there are numerous suggestions as to when Iyov lived. Opinions range from it being only a parable and that he never truly existed, to living during the times of the brothers and Yaakov1, during the time of the meraglim (spies), (the disputed opinion that he lived during the Second Temple period), that he lived during the time of Achashveirosh, in the days of the kingdom of Sheba2 and also in the period of Chaldeans by Nevuchadnezzar3.
Why is there such a sense of mystique surrounding Iyov with such diverse views over his existence? He would have to have lived a very long life if he lived into these latter periods?
The Midrash however, seems to be quite clear over how many years he lived. In Bereishis Rabbah 61:4 it writes:
עִקַּר שָׁנָיו שֶׁל אִיּוֹב לֹא הָיוּ אֶלָּא שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, נִתּוֹסַף לוֹ מֵאָה וְאַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, דִּכְתִיב (איוב מב, טז): וַיְחִי אִיּוֹב אַחֲרֵי זֹאת מֵאָה וְאַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה
"Iyov's years was to have lasted on 70 years, 140 additional years were added, as it says (Iyov 42:16) "And Iyov lived after this, 140 years.""
And in Bereishis Rabbah 57:4 it writes:
רַבִּי לֵוִי בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר חֲלַפְתָּא אָמַר בִּירִידָתָן לְמִצְרַיִם נוֹלַד וּבַעֲלִיָּתָן מֵת, אַתָּה מוֹצֵא עִקַּר שָׁנָיו שֶׁל אִיּוֹב לֹא הָיוּ אֶלָּא מָאתַיִם וְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים, וְעָשׂוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרַיִם מָאתַיִם וְעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וּבָא שָׂטָן לְקַטְרֵג וְגֵרָה אוֹתוֹ בְּאִיּוֹב
"Rabbi Levi in the name of Rabbi Yosi son of Chalafta said, he was born when they (the Bnei Yisrael) went down to Egypt, and died when they went up (from Egypt), so you find that the lifetime of Iyov was only 210 years, and the Bnei Yisrael were in Egypt for 210 years, and the Satan came to prosecute and directed it on to Iyov"
So it would seem that there is quite a lot of evidence to demonstrate that he lived throughout this period (i.e. during the Bnei Yisrael's time in Egypt, which would include him being around the time of Yaakov and the bros, and thus marrying Dina etc.). So two questions:
- Why are such a divergent range of opinions suggested?
- How can we account for these other opinions that he lived in a much later period e.g. in the days of Achashveirosh, Sheba and the Chaldeans specifically?
Do any sources make sense of this?
1 The gemara suggests that he married Dina which would fit this bracket
2 Refer to Iyov 1:15
3 Refer to Iyov 1:17