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Thursday, September 21st, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Job 22

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-11


Job 22:1 to Job 31:40

Eliphaz Speaks (22:1-30)

God Judges You for Your Wickedness (22:1-11)

Eliphaz is consistent in his view of God as transcendent, that is, as far above the life and affairs of men. At times his theology pushes him to the extremes of deism, with a God who is not only transcendent but actually absentee (see comment on Job 4:18-19). This seems to be the case here, for in verses 2 and 3 he declares that man’s righteousness and wisdom, whether absolute or relative, are of no concern whatsoever to God. Such an exaggerated view is of course completely at odds with the entire Old Testament revelation which, although viewing God as omnipotent and truly holy, nevertheless knows him to be concerned with the whole life of the world, individual, family, and nation.

In verses 4-11 Eliphaz leaves undeveloped this first theme and turns briskly to a personal attack on Job. In line with the fundamental presuppositions of the friends, namely that suffering was retribution for sin, and with his inability to explain Job’s suffering as either only apparent or ephemeral, he begins to list the actual situations of sin which might have caused the tragedy. For the first time Job is charged with specific sins, although the friends have hinted before at his sinful nature. Here Eliphaz strikes in the dark, and certainly there is no evidence for any of his charges. (Job refutes most of them in chapter 31.) Eliphaz guesses that Job has been unjust to the needy (vs. 6), that he has omitted the acts of kindness required by the Law (vs. 7), that he has supported the rich and the powerful in their grasping (vs. 8) , or that he has denied the rightful pleas of the ones who have been dispossessed (vs. 9). Something of this sort, Eliphaz is saying, is the explanation of Job’s present life of terror and darkness (vss. 10-11). It is interesting to note that when the list of sins is thus drawn up it concentrates on ethical and social misdeeds, a remarkable sign of the effectiveness of the prophetic teaching.

Verses 12-20

Perhaps You Think God Does Not Know (22:12-20)

Eliphaz next returns to his major emphasis, the transcendence of God, He hazards the thought that Job, believing also in a God far removed (vs. 12), has imagined that he was safe to speak error and blasphemy. In verses 13-14 Eliphaz seems to be referring to Job’s words, either in a deliberate misquotation or deliberate misinterpretation. The nearest parallel in Job’s speech is Job 21:22, which clearly does not mean what Eliphaz intimates. After repeating his basic contention that wicked men have no security, Eliphaz again quotes Job (vs. 17, see Job 21:14-15; vs. 18, see Job 21:16). This time the quotation is more accurate, although a different application is made. In Job’s speech it is a matter of the prosperity which the wicked enjoy in spite of their disregard of God; Eliphaz uses the words to point up the destruction that comes to the wicked, to the delight of the righteous, who have been mistreated by them (vss. 19-20).

Verses 21-30

Your Only Hope Is Repentance (22:21-30)

Although Eliphaz’ speech is generally hostile in tone, it does end with an appeal to Job rather than with blanket condemnation. He counsels Job to "return to the Almighty." This time he means not merely a patient waiting for God, but actual repentance. Since he is convinced that some definite sin lay at the root of Job’s misfortune, his best advice is that Job "humble" himself and "remove unrighteousness." With what must be taken as complete indifference to the actual situation, he further advises Job to give up his confidence in gold and other material treasures, and to make God his only treasure and delight (vss. 24-25). Once the speaker has embarked on this stream of argument he moves swiftly and smoothly to the imagined happy issue. All of this has been said before; its repetition is a reminder of the bankruptcy of the friends and of their total indifference to the facts. Eliphaz’ parting promise — and these are the last words we hear from him — is pathetic: "He delivers the innocent man; you will be delivered . . ." He has no other solution to offer, although this one is mockery. It stands at odds with the whole biblical message, for deliverance is never on the grounds of man’s innocency or the cleanness of his hands but always on the basis of the grace of God.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 22". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/job-22.html.
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