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Job’s attitude rebuked 15:1-16
Specifically, Eliphaz accused Job of speaking irreverently (Job 15:1-6) and of pretending to be wiser and purer than he was (Job 15:7-16). For a second time one of his friends said Job was full of hot air (Job 15:2-3; cf. Job 8:2). The east wind (Job 15:2) was the dreaded sirocco that blew in destruction from the Arabian Desert.
"Eliphaz was using one of the oldest tactics in debate-if you can’t refute your opponent’s arguments, attack his words and make them sound like a lot of hot air.’" [Note: Wiersbe, p. 32.]
Eliphaz judged that Job’s iniquity (better than "guilt," Job 15:5) caused him to speak as he did.
"This is another debater’s trick: when you can’t refute the speech, ridicule the speaker." [Note: Ibid.]
Eliphaz felt insulted that Job, a younger man, had rejected the wisdom of his older friends. This was an act of disrespect on Job’s part, and Eliphaz interpreted it as a claim to superior wisdom. Job had made no such claim, however; he only said he had equal intelligence (Job 12:3; Job 13:2). He did not claim to know why he was suffering as he was, only that his friends’ explanation was wrong. Eliphaz interpreted Job’s prayers of frustration to God as rebellion against God (Job 15:12-13), which they were not. We need to be careful to avoid this error too. Eliphaz was correct in judging all people to be corrupt sinners (Job 15:14), but he was wrong to conclude that Job was suffering because he was rebelling against God.
C. The Second Cycle of Speeches between Job and His Three Friends chs. 15-21
In the second cycle of speeches, Job’s companions did not change their minds about why Job was suffering and the larger issue of the basis of the divine-human relationship. They continued to hold the dogma of retribution: that God without exception blesses good people and punishes bad people in this life. Galatians 6:7 says, "Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." However, it is wrong to conclude that we will inevitably reap what we sow before we die. Our final judgment will come after death. Job and his friends lacked this long view of life and focused on life before death. The spirit of Job’s "friends" did change, however, to one of greater hostility. They seem to have abandoned hope that direct appeals to Job would move him to repent, because they no longer called on him to repent. Instead they stressed the fate of the wicked and only indirectly urged him to repent. In their first speeches, their approach was more intellectual; they challenged Job to think logically. In their second speeches, their approach was more emotional; they sought to convict Job’s conscience.
"In the first [cycle of speeches] Eliphaz had emphasised [sic] the moral perfection of God, Bildad his unwavering justice, and Zophar his omniscience. Job in reply had dwelt on his own unmerited sufferings and declared his willingness to meet God face to face to argue his case. Having failed to stir his conscience, the friends see in him a menace to all true religion, and in the second cycle their rebukes are sharper than in the first, though their characters are still carefully preserved." [Note: Rowley, p. 107.]
1. Eliphaz’s second speech ch. 15
Job’s responses so far had evidently convinced Eliphaz that Job was a hardened sinner in defiant rebellion against God. [Note: Pope, p. 114.]
"There is a great change in tone between this address of Eliphaz and the first. There is no tenderness here. The philosophy of life is stated wholly on the negative side, and it was impossible for Job to misunderstand the meaning." [Note: Morgan, p. 208.]
The fate of the wicked 15:17-35
Perhaps Eliphaz wanted to scare Job into repenting with these words. As before, Eliphaz’s authority was his own observations (Job 15:17; cf. Job 4:8). To this he added the wisdom of their ancestors (Job 15:18-19; cf. Job 8:8). Probably Job 15:18 means wise men have not hidden their fathers’ traditions. In the ancient world, people considered it foolish to reject the traditions of the past.
Several troubles come on the wicked person because of his sin (Job 15:20-35). He writhes in pain-the same Hebrew word describes labor pains-all his life (Job 15:20 a; cf. Job 14:22). He dies earlier than the godly do (Job 15:20 b; cf. Job 14:5). He has irrational fears (Job 15:21 a). He suffers destruction while at peace (Job 15:21 b; cf. Job 1:13-19; Job 12:6). He experiences torment by a guilty conscience (Job 15:22 a). He feels he is a hunted person (Job 15:22 b). He is anxious about his basic needs (Job 15:23), and he feels distressed and in anguish (Job 15:24; cf. Job 7:14; Job 9:34; Job 13:21; Job 14:20). Job had confessed every one of these troubles. Eliphaz implied that Job had all the marks of a wicked man. He stressed the inner turmoil of the wicked in this list. He also reminded Job that God will destroy the wicked (Job 15:20).
The writer set forth Job 15:20-35 in a chiastic structure to emphasize the reasons for these judgments, which form the heart of the section.
A Judgments of the wicked Job 15:20-24
B Reasons for the judgments Job 15:25-26
B’ Reasons for the judgments Job 15:27-28
A’ Judgments of the wicked Job 15:29-35
The reasons for the judgments were essentially two: rebellion against God (Job 15:25-26) and self-indulgence (Job 15:27-28). Job 15:28 may mean, "He proudly lived in ruined cities and rebuilt houses previously unoccupied, thus defying the curse on ruined sites (Job 15:28; cf. Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34)." [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 74.]
Seven more judgments follow in Job 15:29-35. The wicked person will not prosper (Job 15:29) but will die (Job 15:30 a). His works will fail (Job 15:30 b-c) and he will suffer prematurely (Job 15:31-32 a; cf. Job 4:8). His wealth will fail (Job 15:32-33), he will experience barrenness (Job 15:34; cf. Job 3:7; Job 4:21; Job 8:22), and he deceives himself (Job 15:31). Note that Eliphaz began this section with a reference to childbirth (Job 15:20) and ended it with another reference to the same thing (Job 15:35). Not all these judgments are completely distinct from one another. Poetic parallelism often uses a slight restatement to make a more forceful impression rather than to express a different idea.
"It is a subtlety of our author that Eliphaz, who began by calling Job a wind-bag (Job 15:2), ends his own speech with a pile of verbiage. With tedious repetition, assertion not argument, he presents the doctrine ’you reap what you sow’ in several forms." [Note: Andersen, p. 179.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 15". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension