You might say Job was afflicted with boils having a malignant inflamation
This repeats 1:2. The devil wasted no time.
AND HE SMOTE JOB WITH EVIL BOILS: This might be the disease of Elephantiasis. Dr. Ho, a Chinese medical doctor in Seattle, Washington, believes it is an Oriental disease called yaws. He thinks the disease is not fatal because God told Satan to spare Job’s life. Or, it may have been terminal but God prevented it from being fatal in Job’s case. It may have been a painful type of cancerous leprosy for shichiyn with ra designating it as such. You might say Job was afflicted with boils having a malignant inflamation. The skin becomes like that of an elephant, with burning and ulcerous swelling. The skin looks like knotty, cancerous bark. The whole frame is in a state of progressive degeneration, generally leading to death. It is regarded as non-contagious, but Job sat on a dungheap outside the village, as lepers did.
In 7:4.5 the disease is described as flesh clothed with worms and clods of dust. The skin was broken and loathsome. Tossing to and fro all night, Job had no sleep. His breath was corrupt (17:14). Humanly speaking, the disease is terminal though people have suffered from it for 20 years. Job’s breath was so foul his wife would have nothing to do with him though he entreated her for the sake of their children, now deceased. Young children with whom 70 year-old-Job would like to have played, despised him. All his friends abhorred him. His bones were close to his skin and he escaped only by the skin of his teeth, so delicate was the balance between life and death. His bones were pierced in the night; his sinews, ,or muscles, had no rest. Emissions from the boils dripped onto his garments, stiffening them as though he were cast into the mire and had become as dust and ashes. He was so frightened by dreams and visions his soul chose strangling and death rather than life.
Commentator Zoeckler writes of a man named Beckmore who had visited a village in northern Sumatra where some people had this disease. It is hard to imagine the terrible form which the flesh had assumed, yet the person remained alive.
FROM THE SOLE OF HIS FOOT TO THE CROWN:
Generally, Elephantiasis attacks only certain parts of the body. In its worst form it covers the whole body.
(v.8) AND HE TOOK A POTSHERD TO SCRAPE HIMSELF WITH IT:
In the Dictionary of Medicine (p.432) Dr. Quain states the surface of integuments is often inflamed and there is a discharge of an acrid and offensive fluid from the lymphatics. Job would have used a potsherd to scrape the sore.
AND HE SAT DOWN IN THE MIDST OF ASHES:
This was a sign of mourning and, also, was expected of a leper who remained outside the village, often living in an environment reminding one of an ash heap. There was no curative value in the ashes.
Isaiah referred to mourning in sackcloth and ashes (Is.58:5) but real mourning goes deeper. Isaiah writes that Babylon’s nakedness will be known (47:3) and Jeremiah exhorts Judah to mourn in sackcloth and ashes because the firstborn will be wrested from them and destroyed by the sword (Jer.6:26). Ezekiel (27:30) prophesies the destruction of Tyre, saying the people will cast dust on their heads and wallow in ashes. The king of Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes at the preaching of Jonah, and an eclipse of the sun (Jonah 3:6). According to Lev. 13:46, lepers were to remain outside society. Leprous Job sat in ashes outside the camp although he lived prior to the time of the Levitical regulations. Ps.113:7 indicates that God raises the poor from the dust and the needy out of the dunghill.
Dr. George Howe, a biologist, once characterized Job’s disease as cancerous boils. It seemed to be that and more. Today cancer is a dreaded disease. Job’s disease seems to be the worst of cancer and of leprosy, though Dr. William Ho of Seattle discounts that idea. The hard skin, burning excretion, tossing all night, whole body covered with boils, and realization that the disease was terminal conspired to make it one of the worst diseases of any era. The victim appeared so horrible that wife, small children, and outcasts of society all turned away from him.
The disease deformed the body. It is permitted because of Satan and Christians need testing.
Source: Job and Science – Overview