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"My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you" (Job 42:5).
The Tomb of Job is named for the Prophet Job who survived a series of disasters designed by God in order to test his obedience and faith. Though Job is defined by his struggles, he is ultimately rewarded and lives a happy and wealthy life until his death. Many Rabbinical scholars believe that Job may have actually existed and could have been one of the three advisors to the Pharaoh consulted on a law concerning the number of births per Jewish family. In this passage from the Talmud, Job remains silent despite his opposition to the Pharaoh’s birth policy, and is in turn punished by God with a series of catastrophic events (1).
A circular compound on the hillside of Jabal Al Qar marks the location of the Tomb of Job near Salalah, Oman. The compound contains a simple mosque—designed with a flat roof and one minaret—as well as the domed shrine, which holds the Tomb of Job. Under the shrine’s dome, a rectangular hole and mound of dirt, covered in cloth, mark the location of the tomb. Located nearby is a second unknown tomb, as well as a footprint believed to be that of Job himself (2).
Though the majority of information about the Tomb of Job exists about this particular location, there are other sites that are believed to also be Job’s Tomb: in particular, the city of Urfa, Turkey and the Chouf District, Lebanon (3).
However, the Tomb of Job site in Salalah, Oman fits with many biblical narratives and research. The Book of Job itself refers to Job as having come from southeastern Arabia—and even mentions tribes such as the Chaldeans and Sabeans which originated in nearby Arabia and Yemen. Further, Job is called the greatest of all of the children of the east, a fact which fits with Oman’s eastern relationship to the Holy Lands (4).
To reach the Tomb of Job, drive 30 km northwest of Salalah by taking westbound roads to Mughsail and then following Ittin Road and the signs towards the tomb. After about 22 km, turn left at the sign to An-Nabi Ayyub (5).
Records of the Jewish community in Oman stretch back to as early as 950 C.E. when Buzurq ibn Shahriyar wrote about the Sohari Jewish merchant Ishaq bin Yahuda in his book “Book of the Wonders of India.” According to this text, Ishaq bin Yahuda was an Omani Jew who traveled to China were he amassed a great fortune before attempting to return to Oman when his ship was robbed and he himself was murdered (6).
Alongside this record of Omani Jews, the British Lieutenant J.R. Wellsted also wrote about the Jewish communities of Oman in his book “Travels in Arabia,” published in the 1800s. In his memoirs, Wellsted described the treatment of Omani Jews as well-integrated into society—and particularly notes that they are not required to wear any identifying clothing, live in a specific Jewish quarter, or cross the street for Muslim citizens. Wellsted also reported that the Jewish community was most involved in professions relating to silver, banking, and liquor sales, but were allowed to work in various other trades as well (7). Although Wellsted noted a community of about 20 Jewish families and a small synagogue in the city of Sohar, he only recorded a handful of Jews living in Muscat who had fled to Oman from Iraq (8).
By about 1900, J.G. Lorimer recorded in the Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf that the Jewish community in Oman had disappeared. Similarly, during the 1930s, Betram Thomas mentioned the Omani Jewish community, but only referred to them as the manufacturers of the fired bricks typical of Jewish sites across Oman (9). A final recording of the Jewish community in Oman, the book “Sohar: Culture and Society in an Omani Town” by Frederik Barth, relates that the Jews of Oman had largely left the country by the 20th century (10).