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D. The Third cycle of Speeches between Job and His Three Friends chs. 22-27
In round one of the debate Job’s friends probed his intellect, and in round two they probed his conscience. In round three they probed specific issues.
"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 whom God designated as His servant belonged to the devil." [Note: Kline, p. 477.]
We could summarize the criticisms of Job’s three companions in their speeches as follows.
|Cycle||Accusation against Job|
|First||"You are a sinner and need to repent."|
|Second||"You are wicked and God is punishing you."|
|Third||"You have committed these specific sins."|
4. Job’s third reply to Bildad chs. 26-27
Job’s long speech here contrasts strikingly with Bildad’s short preceding speech (ch. 25). In the first of these two chapters, Job addressed his remarks to Bildad’s most recent comments. In the second, he broadened his view to include all three of his companions. The "you" in Job 26:2-4 is singular in Hebrew, but the "you" in Job 27:5 is plural.
Job’s denial of his friends’ wisdom ch. 27
Since Job 27:1 begins, "Then Job continued . . .," Job may have paused and waited for Zophar to respond. However, we have no third speech by him in the text. Evidently Job proceeded to elaborate further on Bildad’s "wisdom" but broadened his perspective and addressed all three friends. "You" in Job 27:5; Job 27:11-12 is plural in the Hebrew text.
Job began by affirming his innocence (Job 27:1-6). For the first time he took an oath that his words were true. "As God lives" means that what he was saying was as certain as God’s existence. Job wished that his enemies would suffer the fate of the wicked (Job 27:7-23). In so saying, Job was claiming that he was on the side of the righteous, and all who were against him were wicked. Rowley regarded this section as Zophar’s third speech. [Note: Rowley, p. 175.]
"Imprecatory rhetoric is difficult for Westerners to understand. But in the Semitic world it is still an honorable rhetorical device. The imprecation had a juridical function and was frequently a hyperbolic (cf. Psalms 109:6-15; Psalms 139 [sic 137]:7-9) means of dealing with false accusations and oppression. Legally the false accusation and the very crimes committed are called down on the perpetrator’s head. Since his counselors had falsely accused Job of being wicked, they deserved to be punished like the wicked." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 971.]
Again Job called upon God. His friends never did, as far as the text records.
Some writers have regarded Job 27:13-23 as Zophar’s third speech. [Note: E.g., H. L. Ellison, A Study of Job, p. 88.] Still, this section is consistent with Job’s argument in the immediate context (Job 27:7-10) and previously (Job 24:18-25).
"In the following strophe Job now begins as Zophar (ch. xx. 29) concluded. He gives back to the friends the doctrine they have fully imparted to him. They have held the lot of the evil-doer before him as a mirror, that he may behold himself in it and be astounded; he holds it before them, that they may perceive how not only his bearing under suffering, but also the form of his affliction, is of a totally different kind." [Note: Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Book of Job , 2:72.]
Job asserted that the wicked would experience punishment eventually. Though he believed God was not being just with him, he could not escape the conviction that God must deal justly. It was this antinomy that made Job so uncomfortably anxious to obtain a reply from God. He agreed with his companions that God punishes the wicked. This is what normally happens in life (Job 27:13-23). Nonetheless he disagreed that this is always true in every case.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 27". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany