Chiasmus is a fun word. It turns out the Bible is full of chiasms. But what are they? Wikipedia, trustworthy as it is, has a fairly good description. Here’s another. A simple example is Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:16:

A. First
B. Last
B’. Last
A’. First

I’ve come across three possible chiasms in my study of Job so far. Some proposed chiasms are unlikely, but many are clearly intentional and quite illuminating.


Job Chapter 1 (thanks to Involuted Speculations)

This one seems very likely to me as it’s clear in the text and has theological implications. I’d recommend you go re-read Job 1 with this chiasm in view because it’s quite impacting.

A. Job’s righteousness asserted (1:1)
B. Job’s children (1:2)
C. Job’s wealth (1:3)
D. Job’s children feasting (1:4-5)
E. God’s dialogue with Satan (1:6-12)
D’. Job’s children feasting (1:13)
C’. The loss of Job’s wealth (1:14-17)
B’. The death of Job’s children (1:18-19)
A’. Job’s righteousness reasserted (1:20-22)

Here’s some observations that are worth mentioning:

  • The centre of the chiasm (and the chapter) is God’s dialogue with Satan (E). Everything before points towards this event, and everything after results from it.
  • The two mentions of feasting (D, D’) is not accidental. It seems to represent the wealth and joy of Job’s family; the feasts are an outpouring of their health and happiness. The fact that everything began to be taken on a feast day (D’) is also intentional. Satan waited for a specific moment to strike: “Now there was a day…” (Job 1:13 ESV). Job’s losses began on a day that was associated with the overflowing joy.
  • Job interceded for his family during the feasting (D), and we can expect he would have done the same for the second feast. This makes his loss even more striking and apparently undeserved.
  • Despite everything that happened to his possessions and family, Job’s righteousness remained (A, A’). This is central to a correct understanding of the book of Job. Job’s suffering was not the result of his character, children or possessions, instead it was a result of the dialogue between Satan and the LORD. (A, A’) bookend the chapter to emphasize that fact.

I’ll post more chiasms in the future. In the meantime, does anyone see any more implications of this chiasm?