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The Land of Uz and the Land of Us

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When we read that Job lived “in the land of Uz,” it sounds odd to our modern ears (Job 1:1). Job might as well have lived in the Land of Oz. Our unfamiliarity with Uz makes it easy to dismiss.

The Land of Uz and the Land of Us

(Photo: Mountains of Edom and Arabah from Timna Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The mention of the “land of Uz,” as well as many other geographical references in Scripture, can appear to be throwaway statements.

But they’re not. Not at all. Why?

The land of Uz too closely resembles the land of us.

The Land of Uz

Determining the location of the land of Uz is no easy task:

  • Jeremiah makes a connection with Uz to Edom, the land of Esau (Lam. 4:21), while at the same time maintaining a distinction from it (Jer. 25:20-21).
  • Various people named “Uz” could suggest an Aramean location for the land of Uz (Gen. 10:22-23; 22:21; 1 Chron. 1:17).

Keil and Delitzsch offer a solution to its location:

The conflict may only be apparent since Gen. 10 (1 Chron. 1) is a table of nations, and Gen. 22:21 deals with Uz before the birth of Esau, the progenitor of the Edomites. Since, as Delitzsch notes, the Arabic name of Esau is is, Uz may be the place in what is now North Arabia where the two cultures (Aramean and Edomite) met or divided from a common origin. . . . This determination of the position of Uz is the most to be relied on. (Commentary on the Old Testament).

The geographical references seem to place the land of Uz somewhere in northern Arabia, with its close proximity to the wilderness as well as to land that could sustain livestock and agriculture (Job 1:3, 14, 19; 42:12).

Okay, great. But so what?

The mountains of Edom

(Photo: The mountains of Edom. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Land of Us

The “land of Uz,” as well as other geographical mentions in Scripture, can seem to prove the irrelevancy of the Bible. After all, who cares about geography? How does it help me today?

These references to places do more than establish, affirm, and identify the locations of events—as valuable as that can be. Geographical mentions uphold the truth that biblical accounts are not mere fables or myths—but history. The place name of the land of Uz gives credence to the life of Job. Other references to the man Job in Scripture offer the same affirmation (Ezek. 14:14, 20; Jas. 5:11).

Unchanging biblical geography affirms unchanging biblical truth.

The reality of Job’s land of Uz—wherever it was—suggests that the application of Job’s lessons can also work in the reality of our land—wherever it is.

 

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