Uz In The Bible

Uz may be one of the most forgotten places in Scripture. Since it doesn’t appear on any maps, even biblical maps, we’ll start by disproving a common misconception.  Uz is not in Arabia and it’s not near Edom. Rather, Uz is in central Transjordania and some might say it’s the nexus between Edom and Moab.

The city of Uz (also known as Uz) is mentioned in the Bible six times. Three of these verses are specific mentions of the city whereas the other three are references relating to Job’s sojourn in Uz.

Uz was the sixth son of Nahor (Gen 22:20).  He was born in Haran, Aram-Naharaim, located in the northern part of Palestine in what is today southeastern Turkey. This city was associated with the Beth-Uz (Bethsaida) mentioned in connection with Peter’s ministry (John 1:44).

In the recent study of the Bible there is a great interest in ancient geography, archaeological discoveries and the pieces of history still hidden. An exciting story of one of them, once again shows that Bible is not only a book about God, it

Uz In The Bible

The faithful man Job lived in the “land of Uz” (Job 1:1). But where was the land of Uz? It’s tricky to identify as the name “Uz” seems to be an informal name applied by the Israelites to a region and not the formal name of a country. Job 1:3 says that Job was, “the greatest of all the people of the East.” But east of where?

One of the documents found along with the Dead Sea Scrolls is a non-Biblical document known as the “War Scroll”. It identifies Uz as being, “beyond the Euphrates.” But that document was written at least 1,000 years after Moses wrote the book of Job and locating Uz that far east does not match with the information the Bible gives us.

The first clues have to do with the raiders who destroy or steal Job’s herds and livestock. The first raiding party are “Sabeans” (Job 1:15). The Sabeans came from Saba, also known in the Bible as “Sheba”(see Post 14). Saba was located in southern Arabia, in what is now known as Yemen. The second raiding party are “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17), coming from Chaldea in southern Mesopotamia. The Chaldean tribes would later be absorbed into the Babylonian empire. So the land of Uz had to be somewhere within range of the raiding parties of both the Sabeans and the Chaldeans.

Lamentations 4:21 places Edom in the land of Uz, indicating that Edomite territory had grown or expanded into the land of Uz. This is supported by the fact that one of Job’s false comforters named Eliphaz, was a Temanite. Teman was a city in Edom not far from the spectacular city of Petra. (Although some scholars place Eliphaz in Tema, in northern Arabia). Another false comforter, Zophar is designated a “Naamathite”, which some suggest refers to a mountain in north-western Arabia. The third false comforter named Bildad is called a “Shuhite”. However that refers to his ancestry, not his place of residence. Bildad is a descendant of Shuah, a son of Abraham. Similarly, the younger, wiser companion Elihu is called a “Buzite” as he is descended from Buz, probably also a relative of Abraham.

Finally, Jeremiah 25: 20,21 refers to “all the kings of the land of Uz” and includes among them, the kings of Ammon, Moab, Edom even Philistia. Moses probably first became acquainted with the story of Job while he was dwelling for 40 years in the land of Midian (Top photo). The Midianites were nomadic and their borders were fluid but it seems that they dwelt just south of Edom and for at least a time Midian extended into Edom.

Uz In The Bible

The land of Uz in the Bible is the homeland of Job, the righteous man whose faith was tested through great suffering: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:1–3).

The exact location of the land of Uz is uncertain. Besides the reference to Uz in the opening verse of the book of Job as the country in which Job lived, the land itself is mentioned only in two other passages of Scripture. Jeremiah 25:20 remarks on the “kings of the land of Uz” as being among many kings and officials being judged in the Lord’s wrath. Here the land of Uz is associated with Edom (verse 21). In Lamentations the connection with Edom recurs: “Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked” (Lamentations 4:21).

The book of Job states that Job lived near the desert (Job 1:19) but that the territory was fertile for farming and raising livestock (Job 1:3, 14; 42:12). These verses also tell us that Job was the greatest of all “the people of the East” who lived in the land of Uz. And in Job 1:17 we read that Job’s homeland was vulnerable to Chaldean raiding parties. If we piece all these details together, the land of Uz appears to have been located to the east of the land of Israel and east of Edom in northern Arabia.

The New American Commentary: Job suggests Wadi Sirhan, a two-hundred-mile-long depression in the northernmost part of Saudi Arabia, as the most likely contender for being the land of Uz: “It is the catchment for the waters that run off Jebel Druz and is capable of supporting large herds of livestock such as Job had. . . . It was close enough to Edom to be occasionally linked with it, yet it was also within striking distance for Chaldean raiders” (vol. 11, p. 47).

Uz is also the name of three Old Testament figures. The first is the son of Aram and grandson of Shem (Genesis 10:22; 1 Chronicles 1:17). The second is Abraham’s nephew, the son of Nahor and Milcah and brother of Buz (Genesis 22:21). Finally, an Edomite living in Seir was named Uz. He was one of the sons of Dishan the Horite (Genesis 36:28; 1 Chronicles 1:42). The connection between Edom and the land of Uz strongly suggests that Uz was inhabited by descendants of this Horite man from Seir. From him, the land of Uz most likely inherited its name.

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