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The First Speech of Eliphaz (Job 4, 5)
Eliphaz is the principal and probably the oldest of the three friends: cp. Job 32:6. He is also the most considerate. But the complainings of Job in Job 3 had evidently deepened in him the bad impression which must have been created by Job’s sufferings, and being ignorant of the true cause of his trials he draws false conclusions from them. Whilst admitting that Job is fundamentally a pious man, Eliphaz infers that his sufferings must be the punishment of some sin, and that therefore the correction which God is sending should be received with humility and the sin repented of. These premises, which are held by all the friends, are throughout denied and combated by Job.
1-11. Eliphaz gently rebukes Job for yielding to despair, since the godly do not perish under their affliction, but it is the wicked who reap the evil they have sown.
2. Note the courtesy of Eliphaz. He loses his temper in later speeches.
2-5. Eliphaz is greatly struck with the reverse in Job’s fortunes. He who had been the great comforter of those in distress is now overcome by his own troubles. Observe that Eliphaz quite underrates their severity, and ignores the wonderful resignation Job has displayed.
4. Cp. Job 29:12-17.
5. It is come] i.e. calamity.
6. RV ’Is not thy fear (of God) thy confidence, and thy hope the integrity of thy ways?’ ’Surely Job may reckon on the uprightness of his past life as a pledge of speedy deliverance! He must not despair. The v. is important as proving that the friends recognised Job’s fundamental goodness, into whatever sins he may have suffered himself to be betrayed.
7-9. Whereas gross sinners are sure to be cut off, the righteous man, though he may have to suffer for his faults, has reason to hope that he will not perish.
10, 11. The wicked, who are compared to lions, will certainly be destroyed: cp. Psalms 22:13.
12-21. By way of awakening in Job a sense of sin Eliphaz describes a vision in which was revealed to him the perfect purity of God, and the imperfection in His sight of men and even of angels. We have here one of the most wonderful passages in literature. The secrecy, the hush, the sudden panic, the breath that passes over the face, the hair erect with horror, the shadowy figure whose form he cannot discern, the silence broken by the voice, all combine to produce the impression of terror, and terror not of the definitely known, but of the vague and mysterious, leaving the imagination full play to heighten it.
15. A spirit] rather, ’a breath.’
17. RM ’Shall mortal man be just before’ (i.e. in the eyes of) ’God? Shall a man be pure before his Maker?’
18. He put no trust] because of their imperfections. Servants] attendant angels.
19. Houses of clay] perishing bodies: cp. 2 Corinthians 5:1. If spiritual beings like the angels were imperfect, how much more men with material bodies. Before] RM ’like.’
20. From morning to evening] i.e. in a day.
21. Doth not, etc.] rather, ’Is not their tent-cord (or tent-peg) pulled up in them?’ The falling tent is a figure of collapse and death. Even without wisdom] i.e. without having learnt the great lessons of life.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Job 4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17