William Blake's Book of Job



     These pages are devoted to the study of the art of William Blake by means of a combination of text, poems, and images brought together with the use of the internet. It uses a complete proof edition of William Blake's The Book of Job (1825), Blake's poetry and prose, and assorted internet links to paintings by Blake, Caravaggio and others. The site as a whole does not attempt to explain or interpret Blake's images so much as to experience them as part of a poetic and creative enterprise. Blake will make the declarative statements; the web site will ask questions; and the reader may interact and respond as she or he sees fit.
     The method for reading Blake's Job used here is fashioned from Joseph Wicksteed, Blake's Vision of the Book of Job, A Study (New York, 1910) and S. Foster Damon, Blake's Job:  William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job with an introduction and commentary (Providence, Rhode Island, 1966).  But full responsibility for the actual site is the designer's.
     Blake's blunt and justly famous statement  "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's/ I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create"* in the poem Jerusalem is proof enough that Blake did not merely "illustrate" the Book of Job.
     The table below allows the reader to move quickly around among the twenty-one plates.  The plates tell a story in sequence, but they also have structural relationships with other plates.  There is a certain architecture to the work.  Possible connections between plates are provided as links back and forth between plates (e.g. plates i and xxi are nearly the same?).  Since Blake read and used the King James Bible, a link is provided to the KJV on line.

*William Blake Archive, University of Virginia: the archive includes other illustrated texts (not Blake's Job as yet) and  David Erdman, ed., The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake in a searchable electronic form.

Here begins the text of William Blake, The Book of Job.

plate i plate ii plate iii plate iv plate v plate vi plate vii
plate viii plate ix plate x plate xi plate xii plate xiii plate xiv
plate xv plate xvi plate xvii plate xviii plate xix plate xx plate xxi


Text of Job in the King James Version.
Reader's Guide

plate i


Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name (Matthew vi: 9; Luke xi: 2)

Thus did Job continually Job i: 5)

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there was born unto him seven sons and three daughters (Job i: 1-2)

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (II Corinthians ii: 14)

...they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians ii: 14)



I beheld... the Ancient of days (Daniel vii: 9)

Hast thou considered my servant Job (Job i: 8)

The Angel of the Divine Presence (not in the Bible; it signifies Satan, but Hebrew letters beneath his name identify him as "King Jehovah", Job's false God - from S. Foster Damon, Blake's Job (E.P.Dutton, 1966)

...shall I see God (Job xix: 26)

...thou art our father (Isaiah lxiv: 8)

...when I awake, with thy likeness (Psalm xvii: 15)

When the Almighty was yet with me, When my children were about me (Job xxix: 5)

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them (Job i: 6)



The fire of God is fallen from the heaven (Job i:16)

And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power (Job i:12)

Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell among the young men, and they are dead (Job i:18-19)



And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing... and the Sabeans fell upon them... and yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword (Job i:14-15)

From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it (Job i:7)

...and I only am escaped alone to tell thee (Job i:15)

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee (Job i:16)



Did I not weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? (Job xxx:25)

Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life (Job ii:6)

So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord (Job i:12)

And it grieved him at his heart (Genesis vi:6; Blake is referring here to God's repenting of having created Adam?)

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire (Psalm civ:4)



Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job i:21)

...and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (Job ii:7)



What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job ii: 10)

And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent everyone his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. (Job ii:12)

Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord (James v: 11)



Lo, let that night be solitary, let no peaceful voice come therein (Job iii: 7).

Let the day perish wherein I was born (Job iii: 3)

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great (Job ii: 13).



Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly (Job iv: 17-18).

Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up (Job iv:15).



But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job xxiii: 10).

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me (Job xix: 21).

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job xiii:15).

...the just upright man is laughed to scorn (Job xii: 4).

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And dost though open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? (Job xiv: 1-3).



My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest (Job xxx: 17).

My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat (Job xxx: 30).

...the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment (Job xx: 5).

...for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light....his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness (Second Corinthians xi: 14-15).

Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions (Job vii: 14).

Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead into the rock forever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me ["though consumed be my wrought Image" in above text] (Job xix: 22-27)

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped (Second Thessalonians ii: 4).



For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not (Job xxxiii: 14).

In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumbering upon the bed (Job xxxiii: 15)

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction (Job xxxiii: 16).

That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man (Job xxxiii: 17).

If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand... Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down into the pit: I have found a ransom (Job xxxiii: 23-24).

For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings (Job xxxiv: 21).

I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid (Job xxxii: 6)

Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living (Job xxxiii: 29-30).

Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou (Job xxxv: 5).

If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him?... If thou be tighteous, what givest thou him? (Job xxxv: 6-7).



Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? (Job xxxviii: 2)

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind (Job xxxviii: 1)

...who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind (Psalm civ: 3)

Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? (Job xxxviii: 28)



Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? (Job xxxviii: 31)

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job xxxviii: 7)

Let there be light (Genesis i: 3)

Let there be a firmament (Genesis i: 6)

Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear (Genesis i: 9)

And God made two great lights (Genesis 1: 16)

Let the waters bring forth abundantly (Genesis i: 20)

Let the earth bring forth the living creature... cattle, and creeping thing, the beast of the earth (Genesis i: 24).



Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? (Job xxxvi: 29).

Also be watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about his counsels (Job xxxvii: 11-12).

Behold now behemoth... He is the chief of the ways of God (Job xl: 15, 19).

...he is a king over all the children of pride (Job xli: 34).

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee (Job xl: 15).




Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering (Job xxvi: 6).

Canst though by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? (Job xi: 7).

...the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Revelation xii: 10).

It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? (Job xi: 8).

...now shall the prince of this world be cast out (John xii: 31).

But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked (Job xxxvi: 17)

...even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke x: 17-18).

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (First Corinthians 1: 27).



...he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up (I Samuel ii: 6).

...we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (I John iii: 2)

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visiteth him? (Psalm viii: 3-4).

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee (Job xlii: 5)

...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John xiv: 9)

I and my father are one (John x: 30)

If ye had known me, ye should have known my father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him (John xiv: 7).

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me (John xiv: 11)

...he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father (John xiv: 21).

...for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John xiv: 17).

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you (John xiv: 28).

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father (John xiv: 28).

...he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (John xiv: 21).

...and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John xiv: 23).

And... the Father... shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever (John xiv: 16).

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive (John xiv: 17).



...the Lord also accepted Job (Job xlii: 9).

...and my servant Job shall pray for you (Job xlii: 8).

And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends (Job xlii: 10).

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew v: 44).

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew v: 45).

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew v: 48).



The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up (I Samuel ii: 7).

Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God (Job xxxviii: 41).

...every man also gave him a piece of money (Job xlii: 11).

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever (Psalm cxxxvi: 23).



How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (Psalm cxxxix: 17).

And in all the land were found no women so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren (Job xlii: 15).

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there (Psalm cxxxix: 8).



Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation xv: 3).

So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (Job xlii: 12).

After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days (Job xlii: 16-17).

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure (Hebrews x: 6).

Start of Blake's Book of Job

"Problem of Job"