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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
Job 22

 

 

Introduction

JOB 22

THE THIRD SPEECH OF ELIPHAZ:

HIS FALSE CHARGES ACCUSING JOB OF SPECIFIC SINS

"The only thing new in this speech of Eliphaz was the list of specific sins he charged him with committing."[1] In this evil speech, "We have the most brutal, the most harsh, and the most unjust words spoken against Job in the whole book."[2] Satan's malicious campaign against Job is about to fail, and this accounts for the increased savagery and injustice of his attacks through his instruments, the alleged friends of Job. Not for one moment can we agree with Blair that, "What Eliphaz said, in the main, was good."[3] How can a Christian writer refer to the malicious lies which Eliphaz uttered against Job's character as `good,' with no evidence or support whatever, except the prompting of his own evil imagination, - how can any of that be `good.'?

"It was one of the unhappinesses of Job, as is the case with many an honest man, to be misunderstood by his friends."[4] "The lamentable fact is that the friends endorsed Satan's view of Job as a hypocrite. Thinking to defend God, they became Satan's advocates, insisting that he (Job) whom God designated as his servant, actually belonged to the devil!"[5]

"The second cycle of these dialogues had practically exhausted all the real arguments."[6] And in the third cycle that begins here, only Eliphaz tried to clinch the discussion by his barrage of shameful sins with which he shamelessly charged Job. Bildad replied with what some have called "a short ode," and Zophar apparently withdrew from the contest.

Job 22:1-3


Verses 1-3

THE IRRELEVANT PRELUDE TO ELIPHAZ' SPEECH

"Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

Can a man be profitable unto God?

Surely he that is wise is profitable unto himself.

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous?

Or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect?"

Rawlinson referred to these lines as "irrelevant";[7] but actually, there was a terribly wicked thrust in these words. "Eliphaz here thinks that it is for man's sake alone that God created him,"[8] and that God laid out the rules, which if a man follows them, he shall be happy and prosperous, and that if he does not follow them, illness, misfortune and destruction shall be his portion.

That view expressed here by Eliphaz completely ignores God's love of mankind (John 3:16), the passionate desire of God Himself that man should love his Creator (Mark 12:30), and the joy in heaven over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7). It is impossible to imagine a more evil proposition than the one Eliphaz advocated here.


Verses 4-11

THAT LIST OF SPECIFIC SINS WHICH ELIPHAZ CHARGED TO JOB

"Is it for thy fear of him that he reproveth thee,

That he entereth with thee into judgment?

Is not thy wickedness great?

Neither is there any end to thine iniquities.

For thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for naught,

And stripped the naked of their clothing.

Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,

And thou hast witholden bread from the hungry.

And as for the mighty man, he had the earth:

And the honorable man, he dwelt in it.

Thou hast sent widows away empty,

And the arms of the fatherless have been broken.

Therefore snares are round about thee,

And sudden fear troubleth thee,

Or darkness, so that thou canst not see,

And abundance of waters cover thee."

Eliphaz here was sailing through the wicked imaginations of his own heart. Job was guilty of none of these things. The envy and hatred he had for the former estate of Job as a mighty man of wealth and power appear here in the specifics of these imagined sins of Job. They were precisely the things that were usually charged against the rich by those who were envious of them or hated them.

"Thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for naught" (Job 22:6). "The law required that a garment taken as a pledge had to be returned before sundown (Deuteronomy 24:10-13)."[9]

"The mighty man, he had the earth" (Job 22:8) "This is an oblique reference to Job as an arrogant land-grabber who dispossessed his weaker neighbors."[10]

"Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee" (Job 22:1). "The very things that Bildad had predicted concerning the wicked in a general sense (Job 18:8-11) were here applied specifically to Job."[11] The thrust of the words of Eliphaz here was the blunt allegation that, you are getting exactly the punishment that your inhuman sins deserve.


Verses 12-16

ELIPHAZ WARNS: JOB CANNOT HIDE HIS SINS FROM GOD

"Is not God in the height of heaven?

And behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

And thou sayest, What doth God know?

Can he judge through the thick darkness?

Thick clouds are a covering to him, so that he seeth not;

And he walketh on the vault of heaven.

Wilt thou keep the old way

Which wicked men have trodden?

Who were snatched away before their time,

Whose foundation was poured out as a stream."

Eliphaz parades himself as a mind-reader in this passage. He charges that Job thinks that God is so high and far away that he cannot see Job's sins, and that God cannot see what Job did on cloudy days.

"Wilt thou keep the old way which wicked men have trodden" (Job 22:15)? Such unfeeling, ignorant and insulting words must have been particularly obnoxious to Job.

"Whose foundation was poured out as a stream" (Job 22:16). Our American Standard Version translators evidently missed it here. Foundations cannot be `poured out' because they are not liquids. The KJV has, "Whose foundation was overflown with a flood"; and the RSV has, "Their foundation was washed away." Kline,[12] DeHoff[13] and Driver[14] interpreted this as a reference to the flood; and Driver gave the literal meaning as, "The foundations of whose houses were carried away by the Deluge."[15] However, Pope disputed this interpretation, stating that, "Many interpreters incorrectly take this line to refer to the Flood; but the thought is only of the sudden destruction of the wicked, exactly as in Jesus's parable (Matthew 7:26)."[16] Pope himself is in error here, because Eliphaz was not referring to some local flood, but to the destruction of wicked men walking in the "way of old" (Job 22:15), which is clearly a reference to some specific event of great antiquity. In all the editions which we have consulted, the marginal references list Genesis 6:5,13,17 as shedding light on what is written here. These, of course, refer to the Deluge.


Verses 17-20

A CLUMSY EFFORT TO REPLY TO JOB'S WORDS IN JOB 21:14

"Who said unto God, Depart from us;

And what can the Almighty do for us?

Yet he filled their houses with good things:

But the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

The righteous see it, and are glad;

And the innocent laugh them to scorn,

Saying, Surely they that did rise up against us are cut off,

And the remnant of them the fire hath consumed."

"Who said unto God, Depart from us, etc." (Job 22:18). Eliphaz in this and the following verse quoted the words Job had spoken in Job 21:14-16. This is an elaborate and clumsy effort of Eliphaz to turn Job's own words against himself. Job had said that the wicked who said such things prospered; but Eliphaz here asserted that the generation which was lost in the Deluge had said exactly the same thing. He thus contradicted Job, saying, "On the contrary, it is those who come to ruin who have dismissed God."[17] It should be noted here that what Eliphaz attributed to the ante-diluvian generation was his own personal invention, as the Scriptures do not confirm the words he attributed to them.

It is tiresome to this writer, the manner in which so many make excuses for Eliphaz and Job's other friends. They were not merely mistaken; they were not free of guilt in their treatment of Job; they were not true and honest; THEY WERE SINNERS; ENGAGED IN SATAN'S WORK! This is a necessary deduction from the fact that God Himself ordered them to bring sacrifices and seek the prayers of Job that they might be forgiven (See Job 42).

"The righteous see it, and are glad" (Job 22:19). This is by far the nastiest thing any of his friends said. Driver gave the meaning here as, "The righteous see the fate which habitually befalls the wicked, and are glad."[18]

This was Eliphaz' declaration that he and Bildad and Zophar were happy to see Job reaping what he sowed, getting what he deserved, having his sins exposed, and his hypocrisy revealed!

Eliphaz ended with his plea for Job to confess his wickedness, and repent of it, assuring him, guilty as he was, that God would deliver him if he would only clean up his dirty and sinful hands.

We find it impossible to view this as any kind and thoughtful remonstrance on the part of Eliphaz. Having thrust a dagger into Job's heart with his sinful accusations against him, he here twisted it in these final words.


Verses 21-30

"Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace:

Thereby good shall come unto thee.

Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth,

And lay up his words in thy heart.

If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up,

If thou put away unrighteousness far from thy tents.

And lay thou thy treasure in the dust,

And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks.

And the Almighty will be thy treasure,

And precious silver unto thee.

For then shalt thou delight thyself in the Almighty,

And shalt lift up thy face unto God.

Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he will hear thee;

And thou shalt pay thy vows.

Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee;

And light shall shine upon thy ways.

When they cast thee down, thou shalt say,

There is lifting up;

And the humble person he will save.

He will deliver even him that is not innocent:

Yea, he shall be delivered through the cleanness of thy hands."

This final shot from Eliphaz was loaded with the most slanderous insinuations against Job. Exactly as some rabble-rouser will preach "non violence," in such a manner as to cause violence, Eliphaz pretended to be talking about repentance, forgiveness and blessings, but what he was really doing was heaping charge after charge upon the head of Job.

Job 22:21 stated that Job did not know God.

Job 22:22 stated that Job rejected God's law.

Job 22:23 stated that he had left God, and that he dwelt in unrighteousness.

Job 22:24 stated that gold was his treasure.

Job 22:25 implied that he loved silver, not God.

Job 22:26 stated that he did not delight in God.

Job 22:27 stated that his prayers were not heard, and that he was not paying his vows.

Job 22:28 stated that Job was in darkness.

Job 22:29 stated that he was soon to be cast down.

Job 22:30 stated that Job was not innocent, and that his dirty hands needed cleaning!

May God deliver all of us from that kind of "consolation" and "comforting" from our friends!

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 22:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/job-22.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, January 19th, 2020
Second Sunday after Epiphany
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