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ELIPHAZ CLAIMS JOB CONDEMNS HIMSELF
This response of Eliphaz lacks the measure of self-restraint he had shown in his first address. He had first at least spoken with a measure of consideration for Job, but now he directly accuses him of gross sin and hypocrisy. He says in effect, if Job considered himself wise, why did he speak with empty knowledge, his words like the east wind? Eliphaz does not directly answer what Job has said, but accuses him of unprofitable talk and speeches that can do no good (vv.2-3). He says, "You cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God." But Job's words showed very definite fear and he had actually prayed to God in the presence of his friends. What was Eliphaz talking about?
He tells Job that his own iniquity leads him to speak as he does and that Job chose cunningly devised words to cover up his sin (v.5). Plainly, Eliphaz was strongly condemning Job, but he says that was not condemning him, but that Job's own words condemned him. He does not tell Job what words actually condemned him, but used this sweeping accusation to nullify all that Job had said. Of course this was grossly unfair, but he smugly insists, "Your own lips testify against you" (v.6).
DID JOB THINK HIMSELF WISER THAN OTHERS?
In this accusation of Eliphaz, suggesting that Job inferred that he was wiser than all others, Eliphaz is again absolutely unfair. Zophar had told Job, "O that God would speak and open his lips against you, that He would show you the secrets of wisdom" (ch.11:5-6). He inferred that he knew the secrets of wisdom, and Job did not. Job had answered this, "No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you" and he had protested, not that he was wiser than his friends, but that "I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you" (ch.12:2-3).
Therefore it was dishonest of Eliphaz to ask him, "Are you the first man who was born? or were you made before the hills? Have you heard the counsel of God? Do you limit wisdom to yourself?" (vv.7-8). Job had asked his friends virtually the same question that Eliphaz asks in verse 9, "What do you know that we do not know? He had said, "What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you" (ch.13:2), but Eliphaz accused him of claiming to be superior to them. Eliphaz ought to have reproved Zophar for assuming that he knew the secrets of wisdom and that Job did not, but the arguments of Eliphaz only exposed his partiality.
He proceeds also to imply that he and his friends were actually wiser than Job, for he tells Job, "Both the grey-haired and the aged are among us, much older than your father" (v.10). He had appealed to tradition before: now he says that not only tradition, but those who originated tradition, were on the side of these three men!
What does Eliphaz mean by asking, "Are the consolations of God too small for you, and the word spoken gently with you?" (v.11). No doubt he meant that he and his friends had brought the consolations of God to Job, and Job did not appreciate such help. Also, he says that they had spoken the word gently to Job. Why did Job not respond to this gentleness? Of course Job did not think their words were gentle, nor did he consider that they were showing him "the consolations of God." No wonder Job said in chapter 16:2, "miserable comforters are you all!"
Eliphaz considered that Job's heart was carrying him away and he was turning his spirit against God (vv.12-13). Why? Because his spirit was turned against what his friends were saying, and Eliphaz thought they were speaking for God. He could strongly reprove Job for his letting such words as Job spoke ever come forth from his mouth. But Eliphaz did not stop to consider that he needed to restrain such words as came from his own mouth.
GOD'S HOLINESS IN CONTRAST TO MEN
There is excellent truth in these verses, if Eliphaz would apply it as positively to himself as to Job, but he wanted to convict Job by the truth he expressed rather than take it seriously to his own heart. In any absolute sense, no man is pure or righteous, as verse 14 implies. But Eliphaz wanted Job to therefore confess to sins that Job had not actually committed. Yet if we think of Job as compared to other men, God had said that Job was the most righteous man on earth.
Eliphaz continues, "If God puts no trust in His saints (evidently angels), and the heavens are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!" (vv.15-16). From God's viewpoint this too is true, but would Eliphaz have appreciated it if Job called him "abominable and filthy?" Thus Eliphaz was seeking to use a general truth to convict Job of worse guilt than was actually true of Job.
THE STUBBORNNESS OF WICKED MEN
Though Eliphaz had shown mankind generally to be "abominable and filthy," now he dwells on the character and actions of wicked men, so that he does make a distinction between the wicked and the righteous, but he wants to compare Job to the wicked man. "I will tell you, hear me," he says, implying that this was the instruction Job needed. For he was depending on what wise men had told, receiving it from their fathers, showing again that tradition was most important to Eliphaz. He says, "No alien passed among them," that is, that there were none to disagree with their conclusions.
Thus tradition said, "The wicked man writhes with pain all his days" (v.20). Of course Job was writhing with pain, so this was another cruel thrust at Job. "And the number of years is hidden from the oppressor." Did he mean that Job did not know for how many years he would writhe in pain because he was guilty of being an oppressor? "In prosperity the destroyer comes upon him" (v.21). It was when Job was enjoying prosperity that trouble came suddenly to him, therefore Eliphaz concluded that Job must be a wicked man, for he did not stop to consider that others beside wicked men had trouble too. And because Job had expressed himself as despairing of any hope of returning from the dark state into which he had come, Eliphaz took advantage of this to further convict Job (v.22).
He speaks of the wicked wandering in search of bread, that is, some return to a former state. "Trouble and anguish make him afraid" (v.24). Therefore since Job admitted he was afraid because of his great suffering, Eliphaz considered this another proof of Job's wickedness. "He stretches out his hand against God, and acts defiantly against the Almighty, running stubbornly against Him" (vv.25-26). These were things that Eliphaz saw in Job, so that he felt himself right in comparing Job to wicked men. Certainly in all this Eliphaz showed painful lack of discernment and unfeeling cruelty.
THE RECOMPENSE OF THE WICKED
But now Eliphaz proceeds to warn Job as to what the wicked can expect to reap as reward for their wickedness. Though he built himself up with great prosperity, he would dwell in desolate cities, in houses that were coming to ruin (vv.27-28). His riches would dissipate (v.29). Darkness would overcome him, fire would dry up his branches. As he had lived in futile pursuits, futility would be his reward (vv.30-31). This would be accomplished before he had time to enjoy life (v.32). He may have grapes on his vine, but not ripe, cast off before being of any use. Blossoms on his olive tree, showing promise of fruit, would also be cast off before fruit came. "The company of hypocrites will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of bribery" (v.34). Eliphaz had before implied that Job was a hypocrite (vv.5-6), now he suggests that Job might be guilty of bribery too. At any rate, all that the wicked conceive is trouble, and this ends in futility (v.35). This is what he considered Job's end would be!
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 15". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30