Aristeas.

A Jewish historian.


Attributed author(s).
Aristeas.

Text(s) available.
On site (present page in Greek and English).
Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.

Useful links.
Aristeas in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).

Aristeas the exegete was an ancient Jewish historian. Only a single fragment of his work is preserved, thanks to Eusebius, who is quoting from Alexander Polyhistor.

From Eusebius, Preparation 9.25:

Ακουε δε οια και περι του Ιωβ ο αυτος ιστορει·

But hear also such things as the same man relates concerning Job:

Αριστεας δε φησιν εν τω περι Ιουδαιων τον Ησαυ γημαντα Βασσαρανυιον εν Εδωμ γεννησαι Ιωβ κατοικειν δε τουτον εν τη Αυσιτιδι χωρα επι τοις οροις της Ιδουμαιας και Αραβιας. γενεσθαι δ αυτον δικαιον και πολυκτηνον κτησασθαι γαρ αυτον προβατα μεν επτακισχιλια, καμηλους δε τρισχιλιας, ζευγη βοων πεντακοσια, ονους θηλειας νομαδας πεντακοσιας ειχε δε και γεωργιας ικανας. τουτον δε τον Ιωβ προτερον Ιωβαβ ονομαζεσθαι. πειραζοντα δ αυτον τον θεον εμμειναι, μεγαλαις δε περιβαλειν αυτον ατυχιαις. πρωτον μεν γαρ αυτου τους τε ονους και τους βους υπο ληστων απολεσθαι, ειτα τα προβατα υπο πυρος εκ του ουρανου πεσοντος κατακαηναι συν τοις ποιμεσι μετ ου πολυ δε και τας καμηλους υπο ληστων απελαθηναι ειτα τα τεκνα αυτου αποθανειν, πεσουσης της οικιας αυθημερον δε αυτου και το σωμα ελκωσαι. φαυλως δε αυτου διακειμενου ελθειν εις επισκεψιν Ελιφαν τον Θαιμανιτων βασιλεα και Βαλδαδ τον Σαυχαιων τυραννον και Σωφαρ τον Μινναιων βασιλεα, ελθειν δε και Ελιουν τον Βαραχιηλ τον Ζωβιτην παρακαλουμενον δε φαναι και χωρις παρακλησεως εμμενειν αυτον εν τε τη ευσεβεια και τοις δεινοις. τον δε θεον αγασθεντα την ευψυχιαν αυτου της τε νοσου αυτον απολυσαι και πολλων κυριον υπαρξεων ποιησαι.

Aristeas says, in his book concerning the Jews, that Esau married Bassara in Edom and begat Job. This man dwelt in the land of Uz, on the borders of Idumaea and Arabia. He was a just man, and he was rich in cattle, for he had acquired seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female asses at pasture; and he had also much arable land. Now this Job was formerly called Jobab; and God continually tried him and invoked him in great misfortunes. For first his asses and oxen were driven off by robbers; then the sheep together with their shepherds were burned up by fire which fell from heaven; and not long after that the camels also were driven off by robbers; then his children died from the house falling upon them; and the same day his own body also was covered with ulcers. And while he was in evil case, there came to visit him Eliphaz the king of the Temanites, and Bildad the tyrant of the Shuhites, and Zophar the king of the Minnaei, and there came also Elihu the son of Barachiel the Zobite. But, when they tried to exhort him, he said that even without exhortation he should continue steadfast in piety even in his sufferings. And God, being pleased with his good courage, relieved him from his disease, and made him master of great possessions.

Τοσαυτα και περι τουτων ο Πολυιστωρ.

Such are the things that Polyhistor [wrote] concerning these things.


Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on Aristeas (the exegete):

Emil Schürer writes: "A fragment from the work of one otherwise unknown, Aristeas περι Ιουδαιων, in which the history of Job is briefly related in accordance with the Bible, is given in Euseb. Praep. ev. ix. 25. The history itself presents nothing worthy of remark, but the personal accounts both of Job and his friends are supplemented on the ground of other scriptural material. Thus it is said of Job, that he was formerly called Johab, Ιωβ being evidently identical with Ιωβαβ, Gen. xxxvi. 33. Upon the ground of this identification Job is then made a descendant of Esau, for Jobab was a son of Serach (Gen. xxxvi. 33), and the latter a grandson of Esau (Gen. xxxvi. 10, 13). According indeed to the extract of Alexander Polyhistor, Aristeas is said to have related that Esau himself 'married Bassara and begot Job of her' (τον Ησαυ γημαντα Βασσαραν εν Εδωμ γεννησαι Ιωβ). Most probably however this rests upon an inaccurate reference of Alexander Polyhistor; for Aristeas, who was quoting from the Bible, must certainly have called Johab not the son, but correctly the great-grandson of Esau. From Gen. xxxvi. 33 is also derived the name Bassara as the mother of Job (Ιωβαβ υιος Zαρα εκ Βοσορρας, where indeed Bosra is in reality not the mother, but the native place of Jobab). Our author already used the LXX. translation of the Book of Job. It is moreover remarkable, that in the supplement to Job in the Septuagint the personal accounts of Job are compiled exactly after the manner of Aristeas. Freudenthal thinks it certain that this supplement was derived from Aristeas." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 208-209)

James Charlesworth writes: "Aristeas the Exegete is known only through a quotation of about sixteen lines from Alexander Polyhistor that is preserved in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica (9.25), which was translated into English by E. H. Gifford (Eusebius. Praeparation for the Gospel. Oxford: Clarendon, 1903). The Greek is reprinted in A.-M. Denis' Fragmenta pseudepigraphorum quae supereunt graeca (no. 23, pp. 195f.). The fragment concerns Job, called 'Johab,' and reveals dependence upon the Septuagint (see N. Walter, no. 607, p. 293; B. Z. Wacholder, no. 605, col . 438); hence Aristeas the Exegete lived in the period between the completion of the Septuagint and the time of Alexander Polyhistor (80-35 B.C.), perhaps around 100 B.C. He may have lived in Palestine or Egypt, but the data will not permit us to decide which country is more probable." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 80-81)