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Bible Commentaries
Job 32

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-5

1. The introduction of Elihu 32:1-5

A short prose pericope (Job 32:1-6 a) breaks into the poetic body of the book. Its purpose is to introduce Elihu, as the prose prologue to the whole book (chs. 1-2) introduced the other characters.

Elihu may have been a relative of Abraham, since a man named Buz was a descendant of Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Genesis 22:20-21), and Elihu was a Buzite (cf. Jeremiah 25:23). A man named Ram (Job 32:2) was an ancestor of David (Ruth 4:19-22).

Elihu was angry. The writer mentioned his burning anger four times in these verses (Job 32:2 [twice], 3, 5). He was angry with Job because Job considered himself right and God wrong. This is the meaning of "he justified himself before God" (Job 32:5). Furthermore, he was angry with Job’s three companions because they had failed to prove Job worthy of God’s punishment (Job 32:3). One writer suggested that Elihu served as a covenant mediator between Job and God (cf. Job 9:33; Job 16:19-22; Job 19:21). [Note: H. D. Beeby, "Elihu-Job’s Mediator." South East Asia Journal of Theology 7:2 (October 1965):33-54.]

Verses 1-24

F. Elihu’s Speeches chs. 32-37

Some critical scholars believe that a later editor inserted chapters 32-37 in the text of Job. [Note: See William Ewart Staples, The Speeches of Elihu: A Study of Job XXXII-XXXVII, pp. 12-24, and David Noel Freedman, "The Elihu Speeches in the Book of Job," Harvard Theological Review 61:1 (January 1968):51-59, for support of this view. See John Peter Lange, ed., Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, vol. 4. Chronicles-Job, pp. 268-73, for a summary of the arguments with rebuttals. See also Larry J. Waters, "The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32-37," Bibliotheca Sacra 156:621 (January-March 1999):28-41.] Many conservatives believe there is ample external and internal evidence indicating that this section of chapters fits into the argument of the book.

". . . the Elihu speeches (chaps. 32-37), which seemingly interrupt the argument of the book, actually set the stage for the Yahweh speeches. Elihu appears as a type of mediator (an impartial witness) who speaks on behalf of God (Job 36:2) by rebuking the three friends (cf. Job 32:3; Job 32:6-14; Job 34:2-15; cf. Job 35:4) and by suggesting that Job needed to repent of his pride which developed because of his suffering (cf. Job 33:17; Job 35:12-16). He recommended that Job should exalt God’s works which are evident in nature (Job 36:24 to Job 37:18) and fear Him who comes in golden splendor out of the north (Job 37:22-24). These basic ideas of Elihu are either assumed or developed by the Lord in His speeches." [Note: Parsons, p. 141.]

Verses 6-22

Elihu’s reasons for speaking 32:6-22

Elihu began by voicing his respect for Job’s three friends (Job 32:6-10). They were older than he, and for this reason, he said, he had refrained from speaking until now. However, he had become convinced that advancing age does not always bring wisdom with it. Rather, wisdom comes from God. "A spirit in man" and "the breath of the Almighty" (Job 32:8) evidently refer to the Spirit of God (cf. Genesis 41:38-39; Exodus 31:3; Numbers 27:18-21; Isaiah 11:2; Daniel 5:11-12). Elihu was saying that Job’s three friends were not wise. To get them to listen in spite of what he had just said, he asked ten times that they pay attention to his words (Job 32:10; Job 32:20; Job 33:1; Job 33:12; Job 33:31; Job 33:33; Job 34:2; Job 34:10; Job 34:16; Job 37:14). He set himself up as still another wise man, wiser than his elders.

"Almost all modern interpreters have found Elihu to be insufferably wordy. . . . This loquacious style to some degree makes all the speeches in chapter 3-41 difficult for the modern reader to appreciate." [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 1002.]

"His professed modesty is belied by his self-importance and pomposity." [Note: Rowley, p. 207.]

The ancients in the Near Eastern world esteemed rhetoric and elaborate wording.

Elihu proceeded to evaluate these three men further (Job 32:11-14). They had failed to refute Job. They believed they were right, and that since Job had failed to repent, God was the only Person who could convince him that he was a sinner (Job 32:13). However, Job had not refuted Elihu, who planned to use different arguments to persuade his hearers (Job 32:14). Finally, Elihu explained to Job why he wanted to speak (Job 32:15-22). Among other reasons, he was going to talk because his elders had fallen silent. The "spirit within" (Job 32:18) Elihu was probably his own human spirit, not the Holy Spirit, in view of what follows (Job 32:19-20).

Verses 6-33

2. Elihu’s first speech 32:6-33:33

Before Elihu began presenting his views (ch. 33), he first had to gain the attention of his elders and explain why he wanted to speak (Job 32:6-22).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 32". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-32.html. 2012.
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