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Bible Commentaries

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

- Job

by Multiple Authors

The Book of Job

Job the Man:

The book of Job is an account of the life of the man Job. Job was perfect, upright, one that feared God, and one who turned away from evil (Job 1:1). Job was also a man of great wealth (Job 1:2) who had been blessed with ten children (Job 1:3). Job was respected and sought out for council by both young and old (Job 29:6-11). Job met his responsibilities of one who is wealthy by helping those in need because he genuinely cared about people. Widows, fatherless, poor, aged, blind, lame, and those who mourned were helped by Job’s generosity (Job 29:12 ff). All those who experienced anguish in life were comforted and helped by this man of great faith (Job 4:3-5).

Satan Strikes:

Job’s character was impeccable in the eyes of God. Satan; however, comes to Jehovah and claims that the only reason Job is so perfect is because God has blessed him with great wealth and family (Job 1:9-10). Satan was confident that Job would renounce God to His face if he took away all God’s blessings and struck him with a terrible disease (Job 1:11; Job 2:4-5). God permits Satan to strike Job; however, the Almighty placed boundaries upon the man’s life (Job 1:11; Job 2:6). Satan goes about his dastardly work robbing the perfect and upright man of God of all his substance and even killing all ten of Job’s children. Job responds faithfully by saying, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah (Job 1:21). Once again, after Satan struck Job with a terrible disease, Job faithfully replies to his wife who had told him to curse God and die saying, What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips (Job 2:10).

Job’s Legendary Suffering:

The emotional strain of loosing all that you own and having your flesh experience a dreaded disease of great discomfort would be virtually unbearable. So horrid was Job’s disease that when his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar come to comfort him they were startled at his dreaded state, wept bitterly, and then sat in silence for seven days (Job 2:11-13). The depth of Job’s suffering is unfathomable as we consider a man who also lost his beloved ten children in death. Job’s suffering went even deeper. All those who respected Job in his wealth and health began to despise him. Job came to be the object of scorn as men were disgusted to even look upon him. Like a Quazi Motto (the Hunch Back of Notre Dame) of his day men gazed at him like a freak show, beat, and spit upon him (Job 16:10; Job 17:6-8; Job 30:10-15) (see also Christ’s suffering at Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30). Job’s own family, friends, and servants of his house came to be estranged from him (Job 19:13-16). Even Job’s own wife was no where to comfort him (Job 19:17). To make matters worse, the three friends who were suppose to be comforting Job charge him with secret sin (Job 4:7-9; Job 8:4-7; Job 11:6; Job 11:11-14; Job 20:12-15). Zophar believes Job is guilty of hoarding riches at the expense of the poor (Job 20:15-19). Elephaz charges Job with wickedness that has no end seeing that he is surely guilty of taking bribes against a brother, sending widows away empty handed, and caring nothing for orphaned children (see Job 22:5-11). Job’s three friends believe that if only Job would admit his error the Lord would relieve his suffering (Job 22:21-30). .

Job Maintains his Innocence:

Job does not give in to the pressures of his three friends. The man of God knows that he has done no sin worthy of suffering. Job said, I have not denied the words of the Holy One (Job 6:10) . Job demands that someone point up his sins so that he may be aware of it; however, as of yet there is no truth to his friends accusations (Job 6:24). Job professes, My foot hath held fast to his steps; his way have I kept, and turned not aside. I have not gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:11-12). Job makes a final declaration of his innocence at chapter 31 saying that he is not guilty of lusting after young women (Job 31:1-4) . He is not guilty of the heinous crime of adultery (Job 31:5-12). Job has not thought too highly of himself (Job 31:13-15), acted unmerciful toward those in need (Job 31:16-23), never put his confidence in riches (Job 31:24-28), has not rejoiced over the hardships and failures of those who hated him (Job 31:29-30), and has never tried to hide his sin from man or God (Job 31:33-34). Job was innocent in relation to violating God’s laws (Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20; Job 16:17).

Job’s statements of Faith:

Job is confident that God knows of his innocence (Job 16:19). No matter what level of suffering he experiences he is determined to hold on to his faith in God. Job said, Yet shall the righteous hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger (Job 17:9). Furthermore, Job said, But as for me I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand up upon the earth: and after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, Yet from my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:25-26). Job knows that his current distress is God’s way of proving him that he may come forth as pure gold (Job 23:10). All men are appointed to suffering (Job 23:14; see also 1 Thessalonians 3:3) and Job is reserved to his lot in life (Job 30:23). Job concludes, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). Job’s greatest statements of faith are found at the end of the book when God exposes his darkened counsel (Job 38:1 ff).

Job Debates his Friends:

Job uses sarcasm against his three friends at times yet he primarily speaks of facts (see Job 12:2). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar believe that Job is suffering because of a great sin in his life (Job 15:25; Job 33:12). If only Job would repent of this secret sin, that he refuses to admit, God would restore his health (see Job 22:21-30). Job maintains his innocence by saying that he is not like Adam of old who tried to conceal his sin from God (see Job 31:33). Job’s observation in life is that all mankind suffers whether they have committed sin or not (Job 21:25-26). Job has noticed that some wicked men live very happy lives and experience great wealth (Job 21:7-14). Job concludes that the wicked do not suffer now for their sinful deeds but they will in eternity (see Job 21:29-30). Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have thereby erred in their teaching (Job 21:34). Job soundly defeats his three friends in the debate over why man suffers on this earth (Job 13:12; Job 24:25).

Job’s Darkened Counsel (Job 38:2):

Though Job defeats his friends in debate he nonetheless makes very foolish accusations against God. Job believes that God is not fair in that He makes a man suffer who lives perfect and upright in life (Job 9:24; Job 10:3-4; Job 12:5-6). Job questions God’s justice (Job 10:8) and mercy seeing that God seeks to destroy him (Job 9:22; Job 10:8). Job’s darkened counsel is depicted in his faulty reasoning. Job has erroneously reasoned that God hates him (Job 16:9) and is against him (Job 6:4; Job 13:23-28). Job erroneously concludes that it is vain to strive for perfection in life if God is going to permit such a one to suffer (Job 9:29-35). Job has blamed God for all his misery (Job 16:11-14; Job 19:6-13; Job 19:21-22). Job believes there is no hope for such a one as himself (Job 19:10).

Job’s suffering gets the better of Him:

The anguish of loosing all one’s children, wife, possessions, friends, family, and respect in the community coupled with a dreaded disease works Job to the point of giving up. This man of God is kicked around and looked upon as the scourge of the human race. He views his agony as pain (Job 2:13 b), misery (Job 3:20), trouble (Job 3:26) and vexation with calamity (Job 6:1). Job came to a “desperate” state (Job 6:26) as he loathed (Job 7:16) and despised his own life (Job 9:21). Job said, My soul is weary of my life (Job 10:1) and Days of affliction have taken hold of me...” (Job 30:16-23) . Just when Job has taken all that he could take God steps in and speaks to him (see Job 38:1 through end of book).

Job Confesses his error and Repents:

Seeing that Job demanded that God give ear to his complaint (Job 23:1-7) God now demands that Job stand like a man and answer His divine questions (see Job 38:3; Job 40:7). God demands that Job explain how the earth was hung upon its axes, how the morning comes each day, how the sea is held in its boundaries, and to reveal what is in the depths of the ocean. God asks Job if he knows about the grass and needs of animals in remote areas where no man dwells. The Lord asks Job a multitude of questions regarding all of creation as well as the great behemoth and leviathan (see chapters 38-40). The Lord even uses sarcasm saying, Doubtless, thou knowest, for thou wast then born, and the number of thy days is great!” (Job 38:21). Job cannot answer these questions because he is not deity. If he could then God would admit that he has the power to save his own life (Job 40:14). Job has now been soundly defeated by Jehovah in debate. There is nothing for Job to say. He shuts his mouth in shame and admits his small account in the presence of Jehovah (Job 40:1-5). Furthermore Job confesses his error, loathes himself for such thoughts and words that he had spoken against the almighty, and repents (see Job 42:1-6). The Lord mercifully accepts Job’s humble confession and repentance and restores by twofold all the things that Job had lost. Job’s ordeal ends.

Seven Lessons from Job

I personally find seven important lessons from a study of the book of Job. The first and foremost talked about lesson is that of patience due to James’ mentioning Job in his New Testament book (see James 5:11). Secondly, we learn the importance of making a proper distinction between deity and flesh. Thirdly, we learn to precisely identify the Bible’s concept of personal perfection. Fourthly, we learn about one of Satan’s most effective tools against man. Fifthly, we learn that man’s environment is not the standard by which God judges (i.e., situational ethics). Sixthly, we learn that those who are wealthy in this life have responsibilities. Lastly, we learn the answer to the question, “Why does man suffer in this life?”

1. Patience:

At the conclusion of the New Testament book of James Christians are admonished to “Be patient (Greek – makrothumeo) therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord… ye have heard of the patience (Greek – hupomone) of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful” (James 5:7; James 5:11). James had earlier admonished the suffering Christians of chapter 1:2-4 to develop “patience” (hupomone) through their ill- fated happenings. The Greek hupomone means endurance and perseverance in the face of intense trials of life (see Moulton’s Greek Word study pp. 418). Note that James uses the Greek word “makrothumeo” at James 5:7 in relation to “waiting with patient expectation” for the coming of the Lord (Moulton 256). James was encouraging persecuted Christians to patiently endure their current trials of life because their expectation of Christ’s second coming would soon occur. James relates this to Job because the man of God endured the horrid suffering, earlier mentioned, by Satan and sinful men because he knew that his redeemer lived and that there was something better awaiting him in eternity (Job 19:25-26; Job 27:5-6) . Likewise, the suffering Christian today ought to patiently endure the hardships of this life knowing that our glory awaits us in heaven (see 1 Peter 5:6).

2. Know your Place:

People embarrass themselves when they make it apparent that they do not know their proper place. Likewise when man does not make the proper distinction between deity and flesh he shames himself. Jehovah had accused Job of reasoning by way of “dark counsel” (Job 38:2). Job had foolishly accused God of being unfair, unjust, and unmerciful. The only way one can successfully charge Jehovah with such error is to be His superior (i.e., deity). The Lord tells Job that when he can prove that he has the knowledge and power of deity He would admit that he was correct in his charges (Job 40:14). Many foolish men of darkened counsel attempt to take the place of deity by altering God’s revelation to fit their own beliefs (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1 ff). These foolish men take the kingdom of God by force (Luke 16:16). Such an endeavor is a futile exercise in fleshly reasoning and ends in man’s spiritual and eternal death (Romans 8:5-8). Let us all know our place before the Almighty Jehovah. We may study the science of God’s creation; however, God created it and put it in its proper order (see Psalms 33:6-9). Man can scarcely bear the weight of anxiety produced by his own life much less that of all eternity. The prophet Isaiah said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

3. Bible Perfection:

Jesus said, “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The apostles of Jesus Christ also taught that the Christian must be perfect (see 2 Corinthians 13:11; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 4:12). Job is identified as “perfect” by Jehovah (see Job 1:1; Job 1:8; Job 2:3). Bildad, like so many confused disciples today, refused to believe man can be perfect (see Job 25 all). What Bildad, and many others today, do not understand about Bible perfection is that it is not comprehensive but rather a current state of being. Job had sinned in his past yet the Lord identified him as perfect (see Job 13:23-28). Likewise, we all have sinned in our past and probably will stumble in the future (see 1 John 1:8-10). When sin occurs in the Christian’s life we are commanded to repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness (Acts 8:22). By the power of Christ’s blood man is forgiven and viewed as perfect (see Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 7:18-19; Hebrews 10:1 ff). Job’s perfection, like ours today, is found in a life of humility and effort in pursuit of the forgiveness of sins (see Job 1:5 ff; Philippians 3:15). Our ever present objective is heaven! Job, in the end, confesses his error and humbly repents before the Almighty as we all ought to do (Job 40:3-5; Job 42:1-6). The man of God rightly states, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). The Christian is to do no less today (see 2 Corinthians 7:10).

4. Satan’s Devices:

The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that we “are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). The devil’s business is to ruin men’s eternal soul (see Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan uses “devices” to draw men from truth into the lusts of the world (James 4:7; 1 John 2:15-17). The book of Job illustrates a great tool of Satan. Through Job’s three friends the devil tried to “convince” the perfect man of God that he was not perfect (see Job 32:12). Job; however, maintained his innocence through the whole ordeal. Many false teachers today will try to shake the Christian’s confidence by saying, “You can’t be perfect… no one can possibly know all truth… there is no way unity can be achieved in the church… surely God will not condemn us for one un-forgiven sin…” As Satan succeeded in the Garden of Eden so he succeeds with men today (see Genesis 3:1-6). Satan’s confidence in Job’s spiritual collapse; however, was proved wrong. Job was victorious over Satan and so you and I can be (Job 42:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4).

5. Situational Ethics:

A large part of Job’s darkened counsel was that he tried to justify his complaints against God due to his current distress (see Job 2:9-10; Job 7:11 ff; Job 10:1-2; Job 12:11-12; etc.). Many today believe that one’s environmental conditions determine their moral standing. Situational ethics is defined as “A system of ethics (the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession) based on brotherly love in which acts are morally evaluated (judged) within a situational context (position with regard to surrounding conditions and attendant circumstances) rather than by application of moral absolutes” (AHD 1145). The Bible reveals that man is not judged by his surrounding circumstances but rather by divine revelation (John 12:48) . The Lord condemned Job’s unlawful complaints and accusations and so He does to all who try to justify their wrong deeds by their environment (Job 38:1 ff). Consider two New Testament examples to illustrate this point. Many of the Hebrew Christians were being persecuted. They were made a “gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions… and the spoiling of your possessions” (Hebrews 10:33 ff). Though they had suffered much the fact remained that if they fall away from the Lord in sin it would be impossible to renew them to repentance as long as they continued in that sin (see Hebrews 6:5-6). Many of the Galatians had also attempted to escape the afflicting hand of persecution by accepting erring doctrines (see Galatians 6:12). Did Paul excuse the Galatians due to their persecution? No! Paul said, “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). God’s word is the only standard man is eternally judged by (see Daniel 5:27; Hosea 5:10-11; Amos 7:7-8; Matthew 7:21-24; Ephesians 2:20; etc.).

6. Wealth and Responsibility:

The Bible does not teach that it is sinful to have wealth. Job was a very wealthy man (Job 1:3) as was other Bible men such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the wise king Solomon. Job explains that the sin of having riches is the reaching after them (see Job 31:24-28). The apostle Paul wrote Timothy about riches saying, “But they that are MINDED to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some REACHING after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Those “minded… have a love for… and are reaching” after the riches of this world forget the cleansing of their sins and the importance of our eternal heavenly treasures as they enjoy what this immediate world offers. Those who do have the wealth of this world would do well to follow Job’s example and give to the poor, widows, aged, sick, and orphans (see Job 29:12 ff).

7. Why do people suffer in this life?

Job repeatedly asked God to explain why a righteous man was suffering (see Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20; Job 24:1 etc.). While the Lord never gives Job an answer to his question the man of God nonetheless draws some right conclusions. Job had observed that both the righteous and wicked suffer in this life (Job 2:10; Job 5:7; Job 21:25-26). Job even noted that there are times when the wicked prosper and are very happy while the righteous suffer (see Job 21:7-14). Solomon confirmed these observations saying, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness: and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all” (Ecclesiastes 2:14; see also Ecclesiastes 8:12-13; Ecclesiastes 9:1 ff). Job made further observations. Job stated that man is being tested and refined by God during these days of affliction that they may come forth as gold (see Job 23:10). The New Testament confirms Job’s observations as truth for today. Those who choose to permit suffering to refine (1 Peter 1:6-8) and strengthen (James 1:1 ff) them will never be disappointed. Rather than asking, “Why do I suffer,” we ought to look forward to a time when the anguish of this life will end. Heaven ought to be cherished and longed for by every right thinking man and woman because the groaning of this life that comes to all (see Romans 8:22-23) shall end for the faithful (see Revelation 21:1-7).


Introduction to Job and his Family (Job 1:1-5):

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1).

Uz is “the name of an undefined land mentioned in three OT passages; i.e., Jeremiah 25:20 ff; Lamentations 4:21 and Job 1:1. in Lamentations 4:21 it is the land where the ‘daughter of Edom’ dwelt. In these passages the land of Uz seems to be related to the Edomites and Seir” (ISBE v. 4, pp. 959). Job is identified as a perfect and upright man that feared God and turned away from evil.” History has known other such men. The Bible states that Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Ezekiel mentions Job’s name with that of Noah and Daniel as men that were righteous (Ezekiel 14:14). Job illustrated his fear of God in that he was obedient and turned away from evil. Those today who detest sin and turn away from it (Romans 12:9) are identified as “perfect” (see Matthew 5:48; Philippians 3:13-15) and God fearing (1 Peter 2:17).

And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the children of the east” (Job 1:2-3).

Job was not only a man who God recognized as perfect in his approach to life and Godliness but he had been blessed with seven sons and three daughters. Additionally, Job’s wealth goes down in history as one of the greatest among those who have substance. He was, in riches, “the greatest of all the children of the east.” The Bible tells us of righteous rich men such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Joseph of Arimathaea (Matthew 27:57). Here were men who did not put money before God.

And his sons went and held a feast in the house of each one upon his day; and they sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:4-5).

It seems that on each one of the seven days of the week one of Job’s sons would host a feast at their house and invite the rest of the family. At least once a week Job offered up burnt-offerings unto the Lord to expiate the possible sins of his sons. The sin of renouncing God in their hearts was a deep concern of Job’s. To renounces something is to “reject or disown” (AHD 1047). Job was conscientiously aware of the fact that through feasting and great wealth one may come to reject or disown God. The very work of Satan is to have man “renounce” God. To reject God and His laws would have eternal and fearful consequences. Job, being the concerned father that he was, did this “continually.” His family’s sanctification in the eyes of God was of utmost importance.

Satan is permitted to test Job (Job 1:6-19):

Now it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan also came among them. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:6-7).

Evil spirits are revealed in both the Old (see Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:19 ff) and the New Testament (see Matthew 25:41). The devil (Satan) is the prince of demons and is known by the name Beelzebub (cf. Matthew 12:22-28; see also Ephesians 6:10-12). The word “Beelzebub” = “master of the flies” (ISBE; v. 1, pp. 447). “Lord of filth or dung” (Thayer 100). No wander that those who sin are considered defiled by the Lord (cf. Judges 1:7-8). The Apostle Peter (and here in Job) tells us that Satan walks through the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Apparently Satan would stand before the Lord, in the spirit realm, with the sons of God.” The sons of God must be a reference to angelic spirit beings (see Daniel 6:22; Hebrews 1:4).

And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God, and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8).

The Lord and Satan enter into a conversation. The Lord asks Satan if he has considered Job. To consider one is to take account of one or think about carefully and seriously (AHD 313). While Satan roams throughout the earth seeking one to devour God asks him if he had thought about Job. Apparently the devil had considered Job. The Lord confirms Job’s righteous character as one who is perfect, upright, fears God, and turns away from evil. This verse is certainly thematic to the entire book. God permits Satan to consider Job in a testing manner. The rest of the book examines the result of such testing or considering.”

Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah” (Job 1:9-12).

Out of all the earth and the inhabitants thereof Job comes to God’s mind in relation to holiness and right living. Such a one is worthy for all to consider, even Satan. The Lord asks Satan about considering Job as though He was a challenge that Satan was unable to conquer. Satan’s reply is that the only reason Job so faithfully serves God is because he has everything that a man could dream of having. As Job has obeyed God the Lord has richly blessed him. Satan makes a statement of assumption saying, But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will renounce thee to thy face.”

While the Lord commends Job Satan urges that he be pushed to a point of not living so right. Satan states to God that Job will cave under the load of anguish if it were permitted. The Lord is confident in Job and thereby gives Satan the limited power of taking all that Job had. It seems that this is a great lesson for all of us today. God is confident that man can patiently endure the trials of this life and thereby would never put upon us something that we could not bear (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

And it fell on a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, that there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them; and the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away: yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:13-15).

Satan immediately goes to work against all that Job had. Satan begins with the family’s oxen and servants. The Sabeans, by sword, killed the servants and took the oxen (surely an evil spirit was brought to the Sabeans that they may make such a raid (see Judges 9:23)). The Sabeans were a “Semitic tribe who, it is generally believed, lived in South Arabia” (ISBE v. 4, pp. 253). Satan allows one servant to escape that the news may fall upon the ears of Job and cause him to renounce God to His face.”

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:16).

Job can scarcely gather himself to address the oxen and servants attacked by the Sabeans when another messenger comes in and tells him that his sheep and servants have been devoured by The fire of God fallen from heaven.” Kiel and Delitzsch explain the Hebrew word for heaven (i.e., shamayim) as a “wind of the desert which often so suddenly destroys man and beasts...” (pp. 277). We know that God did not send fire He sent Satan and it is Satan and his demons that are doing these things to Job.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, the Chaldeans made three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have taken them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:17).

The third wave of bad news. Notice that each time there is one survivor left to tell the story to Job. Satan is digging his claws into Job’s emotional and moral well being that he may put him to the test. Will Job renounce God?” Job’s wealth is further revealed in that this is the third set of servants that have been killed along with the taking of his property, namely, the camels.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house; and, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job 1:18-19).

The final blow to Job was the lives of his sons and daughters. Apparently Satan can not only take the form of angels of light (see 2 Corinthians 11:14), possess people of OT and early NT times (Acts 16:16-18), but he can also control the physical elements as God gives him the authority to do so (see demon study). All of Job’s children had gathered in their eldest brother’s house and all were killed. Note that each of these catastrophes are introduced by, While he was yet speaking...” Job has had one bucket of bad news after another pored upon him. This one had to sting beyond our imagination. To loose all your children at one time would be more than most could bear. Satan has allowed one man to return so that Job would hear the horrific news. The devil now watches and listens to Job’s response. Surely he will renounce God for such things. Satan’s name means adversary and there could be no better name for him to wear. Who else would do such things or desire that one would reject the Lord?

Job’s Response (Job 1:20-22):

Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped; and he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:20-21).

Satan, with wicked anticipation of seeing a man fall from grace, is greatly disappointed. This righteous, God fearing, perfect man who turned away from evil has maintained his faith in God. Job makes a historical statement that makes manifest a man’s true faith and hope in Jehovah. Job said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This statement places Job as one of the super men of faith within God’s word. He stands as an everlasting example of what faith and hope can mean to a man. Though Job lost all he had not lost God. All of humanity has the same power to overcome Satan (See 1 John 4:4).

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).

The 1901 American Standard Version Bible (ASV) has a footnote for the word “charged” saying its meaning is, “attributed folly to God.” Job did not blame God for what happen and thereby renounce him to his face as Satan would have loved to see done. Satan’s name in the Hebrew is Satan which literally means “adversary” (see Strong’s # 7854). Only an adversary of man would wish calamity upon a man and sit back to watch his reaction hoping that it would cause him to loose his faith in God.


Job 1:1—The verse does not begin with the standard Hebrew formula for a historical narrative “there was a man”—wayehi ‘is but rather with the expression “a man there was (‘is hay ah). This phrase indicates a new beginning without any reference to preceding events (e.g. 2 Samuel 12:1 and Esther 2:5).

There is strong evidence for two different locations for Job’s homeland—Uz. Technically the location is feasible in either one of the two options: (1) One suggests Hauran, and (2) the other to Edom. As Job is identified with “the people of the east,” (Job 1:3) Hauran, i.e., a location northeast of Palestine, is more in harmony with the claim in Job 1:3. Job is not described as a Jew but rather as a foreigner. This claim suggests that we should not connect Uz with any specific contact in Palestine. Lamentations 4:21 says that the daughter of Edom dwells in Uz. Yet in Jeremiah 25:20 Uz is described separately from Edom, but related to the Philistines. Uz is said to be a son of Dishan and related to the area of Seir in Genesis 36:28. Uz is the name of a son of Aram in Genesis 10:23 (see Josephus, Antiquities, 1.6.4) and of Nahor’s oldest son in Genesis 22:21. In a special appendix to Job in the LXX (Job 42:17), Job’s homeland is located near Idumea and Arabia. The above possibilities place Job in both the north and the south, but in all probability the suggestions that Hauran or a northern location is closest to the data found in the verse is to be accepted.

The root meaning of the name Job also presents a difficulty. In Hebrew the name is spelled ‘Iyyob (possible root ‘yb—meaning the hated one or aggressor). Job the person is pictured as a great near eastern potentate, who was in all probability a comparatively young man (Job 15:10). His character is analyzed in four virtues: (1) Blameless (Hebrew -tarn is similar in import to the Latin word integer, perfect or well rounded). His character is without flaw or inconsistency. The Hebrew word does not mean sinless; perhaps our English word “integrity” adequately expresses the connotation. (2) Upright (Heb. Yasar—life and behavior measured up to a standard; one who is upright in relations to others—see Psalms 25:21 for parallel between perfection and uprightness). (3) Fearing God means a relationship based on obedient reverences, cf. Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 16:6. (4) Avoiding evil—or turned away from evil means that Job deliberately and persistently chooses the good. Right living before God always means obedience to the will of the Lord; and reverence is the very foundation of obedience.

Job 1:2—Directly following the analysis of Job’s character, our text reveals the close connection between Job’s uprightness and the Lord’s reward (Psalms 127:3; Psalms 128:6) of many children. The grammar contains a consecutive waw which could be translated “and so there were born to him” as a result of his righteousness (compare with 1 Samuel 2:5; Ruth 4:15; and Job 42:13).

Job 1:3—Job’s blessings include such property as a seminomadic potentate might possess (Genesis 12:16; Genesis 24:35). The collective term miqneh is translated by substance in our A. V. text. The term usually designates cattle and sheep and does not include the main sign of the nomad’s wealth, camels and asses. The female asses were valued for both their milk and their foals. They were also easier to ride than the male asses. Job’s wealth was so enormous that he was the greatest (Heb. verb be, become great—Genesis 26:13) of all the easterners (Hebrew qedeni). In Genesis 29:1 the term describes the Arameans near the Euphrates. In Isaiah 11:14 the word refers to Israel’s enemies to the east, i.e., Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites in contrast to the Philistines on the west. (See also Judges 6:3; Judges 6:33; Judges 7:12; Jeremiah 49:8; Ezekiel 25:4).

Job 1:4—Though it is not clear from our text whether or not the sons were married, they had their own homes, like David’s two sons (2 Samuel 13:7; 2 Samuel 14:28). Like David’s daughters, Job’s unmarried daughters stayed in their father’s house (2 Samuel 13:7-8; 2 Samuel 13:20). It is not to be assumed that we are being confronted with incessant celebration, though the verb forms are in the perfect tense of habit. Probably, the feast was a yearly affair, such as found in Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:26; Numbers 29:35; and 2 Chronicles 7:9. This much is certain from our text—each of the seven sons had his celebration in his own house, and that their sisters were present at each meeting. Those commenters who suggest impropriety, rather than deep affection, have the disadvantage of being at variance with the entire spirit of the drama. Misfortune came upon Job’s household when there was no rational explanation for the calamity. We must also remember that not one of Job’s three friends suggested any impropriety within Job’s family.

Job 1:5—Apparently Job did not visit any of the festive celebrations. As soon as sons and daughters had completed the days of their feast, Job sends a summons to his sons. The purpose of the summons is to invite them to the sacrifices which he would offer, as in the case of Balaam, Numbers 23:1; Numbers 23:14; Numbers 23:29. The prescribed sacrifices in Job 42:8 are seven bulls and seven rams, as in the Balaam account. The term translated “burnt offerings” is not the term used for “sin offering,” but it is clear that the sacrifice is for the propitiation of sins which they might have committed during the heat of wine. Job rose up early (Heb. verb hsem means to rise early and also connotes quickly, urgently—Jeremiah 7:13; Hosea 6:4; Zephaniah 3:7) and offered the sacrifice. The Hebrew word translated “renounced” Elohim in our text literally means blessed. It is a euphemism for cursed and is so used in Job 1:11; Job 2:5; Job 2:9; 1 Kings 21:10; 1 Kings 21:13; Psalms 10:3.[30] The Hebrew word translated “heart” means even in the inner thoughts and attitudes. The Hebrew lev or levav means seat of the intellect and will more than of the affections and emotions.

Prologue - Job 1:1-22

Open It

1. Who is the greatest person you know?

2. Why do you think bad things happen to people?

3. What is the most disappointing thing that has happened to you this week?

Explore It

4. Whom did Job fear, and what did Job shun? (Job 1:1)

5. What kind of man was Job? (Job 1:1-3)

6. Who are the three main people in these events? (Job 1:1-22)

7. What is surprising about what happened to Job? (Job 1:1-22)

8. How did Job purify his children? Why? (Job 1:4-5)

9. What were the angels doing? (Job 1:6)

10. Where did Satan come from? (Job 1:7)

11. Why did Satan say that Job feared God? (Job 1:9-10)

12. What did Satan say Job would do if God took away everything Job had? (Job 1:11)

13. What authority did God give to Satan? (Job 1:12)

14. What happened to Job’s livestock? (Job 1:13-17)

15. What happened to Job’s children? (Job 1:18-19)

16. How did Job respond to the tragedies that happened to him? (Job 1:20-21)

17. In what way did Job not sin? (Job 1:22)

Get It

18. In what way do you fear God and shun evil?

19. Why do you think God gave Satan authority over everything Job had?

20. What kind of people are considered great in our society?

21. How does society view individuals who are blameless and upright?

22. If you had been in Job’s situation, how do you think you would have responded?

23. Why is it easy to praise God when circumstances are going well?

24. How do you usually respond when tragedies happen to you?

25. When do you feel most like praising God?

26. When do you feel most like cursing God?

27. For what type of events do people blame God?

28. For what sort of events do people blame Satan?

29. Why is it so hard to respond like Job when tragedies happen?

Apply It

30. What is one way you can fear God and shun evil today?

31. What is one step you can take this week to improve your reputation as a godly person?


Job is Smitten with Boils from Head to Toe (Job 2:1-10):

Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto Satan, From whence comes thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 2:1-2).

We are not told how much time has passed since Job had been put to the test by taking all that he owned including his ten children. One thing for sure Satan has not been discouraged over the loss of one battle. He continues to wage a war with the souls of men as he goes to and fro in the earth...” (see Luke 4:13). Apparently a regular reporting occurred between the angels and Satan. It does not seem that God is finished with Job’s test.

And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and turns away from evil: and he still holds fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3).

This is somewhat of a strange exchange of words to the human mind. Once again the Lord asks Satan if he had considered His servant Job. Satan had moved God to allow His servant to be rigorously tested and destroyed without cause (thematic). There are two interesting facts about this verse. First, God is using Job as an example of a man who has been severely affected by Satan’s wicked work yet he has maintained his faith. Satan is truly a looser in that he cannot have the souls of every man and woman. Those who truly believe in the reality of God and eternity will maintain their integrity with God come what may. Secondly, note that at this point of our study the Lord God Almighty states that the destruction of Job is without cause.” Throughout this study this will be something that seems to drive Job mad. Job does not know what you and I know as we read the book. Job is on earth and completely unaware of God and Satan’s conversation about him.

And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only spare his life” (Job 2:4-6).

Satan is to see that man is in control of his own eternal destiny. Though tempted and tried man has been created by God to withstand the forces of evil else God would not allow such a test to occur. God’s love for mankind is great and will not allow him to suffer temptation above that which he is able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Satan is sure that he can cause Job to renounce his allegiance to God if he is allowed to infect Job’s body to the bone with anguish and pain. Once again note the sovereignty and power that Jehovah possesses in that He sets the bounds for Job’s anguish as he did earlier (see Job 1:12). Though Satan is a spirit being able to possess, take goodly forms, and control the physical elements of the earth God is much higher than he.

So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself therewith; and he sat among the ashes” (Job 2:7-8).

Once again, only an adversary could go to a man and do such wickedness. The inward pain that Job felt is now accentuated by the outward physical anguish. Job is covered from head to toes in boils by the power of Satan. Keil and Delitzsch insert that the disease Job suffered must have been elephantiasis wherein the limbs become jointless lumps like elephant’s legs... The disease begins with the rising of tubercular boils, and at length resembles a cancer spreading itself over the whole body, by which the body is so affected, that some of the limbs fall completely away. Scraping with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching of th skin, but also remove the matter” (Keil and Delitszch pp. 281).

A potsherd is a “fragment of an earthen vessel. Scraping the boil with a potsherd will not only relieve the intolerable itching but also remove the matter” (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary; pp. 1023). With this fragment from a clay pot Job sits in deep sorrow within ashes and scrapes his body (see Jonah 3:6).

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? Renounce God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaks. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).

Much has been made of Job’s wife’s statement. Most remark that we should not be too hard on her due to the fact that she too has lost her children, wealth, and husband’s health. No matter how you slice it Job appropriately rebuked his wife for she recommended him to do something that was sinful. Let us recall that it is Satan who is attempting to have Job renounce (i.e., reject or disown) God (see Job 1:11; Job 2:5). While it must seem harsh to the human mind for a man to rebuke his wife as she does the biding of Satan let us all remember that the Lord Jesus Christ so spoke to Peter (see Matthew 16:23). Indeed Job’s wife, though in much anguish, spoke as a foolish woman.” There is no situation that permits sinful conduct or thoughts.

Job makes another historical statement in the face of his great physical and emotional trial. Job said, What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job faithfully maintained his faith and love for God during this trial and would in no way speak blasphemous words against the Lord. Ecclesiastes is a book that sets out to record Solomon’s observations in life. He has observed that some live good and others live evil yet good and bad things happen to all (i.e., there is no divine preferential treatment toward the righteous or discrimination against the unrighteous) (see Ecclesiastes 9:1 ff; Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13). God was not punishing Job but allowing these things to occur in his life. Job sorely disappointed Satan yet greatly pleased the Lord.

Job’s Three Friends come to Comfort Him (Job 2:11-13):

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and they made an appointment together to come to bemoan him and to comfort him” (Job 2:11).

Job’s three friends manifest their concerns for him by coming to visit. These three men come from different parts of the country to comfort their friend in his time of great suffering. News of Job’s legendary suffering experience had no doubt traveled far and wide. The three men plan to meet together and come to their friend that they may mourn with him and comfort him.

And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his robe, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:12-13).

The sight of Job’s condition must have been even more horrid that what they had heard. Job’s body sat swollen with boils upon boils. He may have been scarcely recognizable. So horrid was the sight that the three friends mourn in dust and sit on the ground with him for seven straight days and nights without a word. They gazed upon his suffering and took note of his great pain.


Job 2:1-3Job 2:1-3 a repeat Job 1:6-8 almost verbally. In Job 2:3 b “without cause” is the very same adverb as appears in Job 1:9 translated as “for nothing.” It is Satan’s cynicism, not Job’s integrity, that goes for nothing. Now Satan begins his sustained attack on the “individual” as against the corporate. Job’s ultimate concern is neither things nor family, but his integrity before Yahweh. Strip him of all his values and security symbols and he will still reverence God. The verb translated “holds fast” literally means to hold firmly or tenaciously to something. One may also hold firmly to anger (Micah 7:18; or to deceit—Jeremiah 8:5). In Job 27:6 we are told that he holds firmly to his innocence. The verb translated “movedst” or incited me against him generally is used in a negative sense—Job 36:18; Deuteronomy 13:7; Joshua 15:18. Yahweh even gives Satan his due for instigating the experiment.

Job 2:4—The proverbial saying “skin after skin” is meaningful only because of the following phrase—“all that a man has he will give for his life.” Then the Lord gives Satan permission to get under Job’s skin, anything short of his death. The Hebrew word translated “his life” (napso) means himself as a person. Satan does not want Job dead because then he could never prove that Job’s piety rested in self-interest. A martyr for a cause is hardly an appropriate example of radical self-interest.

Job 2:5—God has permitted Satan to only lightly touch Job, i.e., externally and superficially. Now, from “skin to skin” into the depths of Job’s being—flesh and bone. Surely now Job will revolt against Yahweh when He afflicts his bones and flesh. Such is Satan’s shrewd strategy. But stripped of honor and health, Job still fears God.

Job 2:7—Job is afflicted with some unnamed but disfiguring disease which causes continual pain and sleeplessness. The first disease has been identified with leprosy, because the ancients considered elephantiasis as a disease peculiar to Egypt.[39] The Hebrew word means ‘to be inflamed, hot’ Thus the disease which afflicts Job is an inflammation of the skin which causes sores and boils. We do not seek to minimize Job’s agony and alienation, but it seems idle to seek a precise identification of his disease. The symptoms of his despicable disease are presented throughout the Jobian drama: (1) inflamed eruptions—Job 2:7; (2) intolerable itching—Job 2:8; (3) disfigured appearance—Job 2:12; (4) maggots in his ulcers—Job 7:5; (5) terrifying dreams—Job 7:14; (6) running tears which blind his eyes—Job 16:16; (7) fetid breath—Job 19:17; (8) emaciated body—Job 19:20; (9) erosion of the bones—Job 30:17; (10) blackening and peeling off of his skin—Job 30:30.

Job 2:8—Because of the intolerable itching, Job takes a broken piece of pottery “to scrape himself.” How much Lord? He sat among the ashes. This describes the dunghill (mazbaleh) outside of town. Here the rubbish was thrown. Children, outcasts, and dogs came here. When tragedy came, men came here to sit (Isaiah 47:1; Jonah 3:6), or roll in the ashes (Jeremiah 6:26; Micah 1:10); or to throw ashes on their heads (Ezekiel 27:30).


1. The perfect approach to life is to be conscience of one’s current spiritual state (Job 1:5; Philippians 3:13-15). Satan’s work is to have man renounce (reject and disown) the Lord (see Job 1:5; Job 1:11; Job 2:9).

2. God empowers man to be victorious against the temptations of Satan (Deuteronomy 30:11; Romans 10:6-8; Philippians 4:13). Good and bad happens to all (Ecclesiastes 9:1 ff; Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13). When the bad times come we cannot murmur against God (Job 2:10).


Job curses the Day of his Birth (Job 3:1-10):

After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job answered and said: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night which said, There is a man-child conceived. Let that day be darkness; Let not God from above seek for it, Neither let the light shine upon it Job 3:1-4).

Seven days of silence have passed while Job and his three friends mourned his current state of anguish in boils. Job does not renounce the Lord or blame Him for his current state but rather curses the day of his birth. If such mental and physical anguish was what was in store for his life then it is a miserable life not worthy of anyone’s consideration.

Let darkness and the shadow of death claim it for their own; Let a cloud dwell upon it; Let all that make black the day terrify it. As for that night, let thick darkness seize upon it: Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; Let it not come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night be barren; Let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to rouse up leviathan” (Job 3:5-8).

The depths of Job’s anguish over the loss of his children, servants, substance, and bodily health are expressed. Words can only express so far as what a man’s heart experiences. Heartbroken, this perfect man of God contemplates the horrific day of his coming into the world. Job’s birthday is depicted as dark, cloudy, terrifying, and not deserving of even being considered among the days and month of the year. All those who look upon this day ought to view it as a cursed day. We may compare and contrast Job 2:10 with Job 3:1-10 and find somewhat of a change in pace for Job. At chapter 2 Job accepts his ill fate while now he begins to curse it.

Leviathan is the “proper name of a large aquatic animal, perhaps reflecting a mythological monster... Job 41:1-34, the most extended description of Leviathan, suggests to many the crocodile. In his confrontation with Job, the Lord’s point seems to be that while Job is no more a match for the poer of evil than he would be for a crocodile, Jehovah is Lord of both the natural order (Job 38:1 ff) and the moral order (Job 40:6 to Job 41:34) Sovereign even over Satan in the figure of Leviathan, His pet crocodile” (ISBE v. 3, pp. 109).

Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark: Let it look for light, but have none; neither let it behold the eyelids of the morning: because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid trouble from mine eyes” (Job 3:9-10).

Job flirts with the omnipresence and omnipotence of the Lord by saying that “it” “shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid trouble from mine eyes.” The day of Job’s birth is to be cursed because it did not stop a life that was destined to experience this legendary suffering.

Seven “Why” Questions to the Lord (Job 3:11-26):

Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when my mother bare me? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should suck?” (Job 3:11-12).

Job asks chronological questions regarding his cursed beginnings. The chronology of Job’s life, like all others, is conception in the womb, the actual birth, reception of the babe by its mother, and finally feeding the baby by the mother’s breasts. Job’s question is, “Why is it that I was permitted to make it this far?” Job has accepted his ill fate at Job 2:10, cursed the day of his birth from Job 3:1-10, and now asks questions (apparently to God) as to why he was permitted to live.

For now should I have lain down and been quiet; I should have slept; then had I been at rest, with kings and counselors of the earth, who built up waste places for themselves; or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been, as infants that never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster. The small and the great are there: and the servant is free from his master” (Job 3:13-19).

Job contemplates the supposed peace that the dead experience. If only he would have died at birth he would not now be suffering. He would be at peace with kings, princes, other infants that died at birth, the wicked, prisoners, the small and the great. Those who die no longer face the mental or physical anguish of the earth. Has Job forgot the joys of living? While it is easy for you and I to find fault with Job’s words we must also consider the anguish he is in. All men who experience true anguish in life must be given time to contemplate and come to know their limitations in this life of creation. The character that says, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away blessed be the name of the Lord” and “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” must be fully matured and developed. Often times the reality of that development takes anguish and time. Job is to now experience the reality of his statement made at Job 1:21 and Job 2:10.

Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?” (Job 3:20-22).

Job’s fifth question is why would life be given to such a person destined for misery? Job asks sixthly, “Why would life be given to those who would rather die than live out life?”

Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing which I fear comes upon me, and that which I am afraid of cometh unto me. I am not at ease, neither am I quiet, neither have I rest; but trouble comes” (Job 3:23-26).

Nothing of what living would expect to bring to people (i.e., joy, peace, and love) is now a part of Job’s life. Job is not at ease of mind, he has no quietness or rest. Job has nothing but trouble. The long days of thought are all that Job now has. Job thinks upon his beloved children and feels the pain of his boils. The longer this goes on the more troubled he becomes


Job 3:1-2Why Me, Lord? Except for Job 3:1-2, the entire section from Job 3:1Job 31:40 is in poetic form. This is important for understanding the text, as poetry is parallel in literary form, which means that each line is not necessarily a new thought. In between Job’s initial (chp. 3) and concluding (chps. 29–31) soliloquies, we encounter a series of alternate speeches by the three friends with Job’s response.[45] Eliphaz speaks first (chps. 4–5), after chp. 3, Zophar perhaps speaks last, before chps. 29–31. Thus, we are presented with nine speeches by Job’s friends alternating with eight responses from Job. The literary form is that of a lament, i.e., a prayer of petition in which Job appeals to God for a hearing, describes his destitution, anxieties, and attacks from his enemies, and asks God to break His silence and heal or explain his suffering. The three wise men attempt to console Job by entering in the lamentation. Each of the three consolers conveys his doctrine on retribution. Because of their concept of retribution, they come prepared to participate in a psalm of penitence, whereas Job cries out from the depth of his anguish in a psalm of innocence. Does suffering always imply guilt? Does a successful life always imply innocence?[46] Job’s consolers only manage to intensify his anguish. Here we are faced with the paradox—consolers that are not consolers. One of the results of this fact is that two subordinate themes enter Job’s lament: (1) denunciation of enemies, and (2) his oath of exultation. As Job’s condition worsens, the consolers persist in claiming that they are merely pronouncing God’s judgment on Job. As a result, he includes God as one of his enemies, i.e., the nature of God as presented by his calamitous comforters. The central issue in Job’s trial is the nature of God, not the nature of suffering and evil. If God loves him, why all the suffering? The ultimate answer is available only in the resurrected “Suffering Servant.” “After this” means after the seven days of silence (Genesis 15:14; Genesis 25:26). Job now breaks his silence as he “opened his mouth” and cursed the day of his birth. When he prospered, he perhaps never thought of such a response. Though Jeremiah (chp. Job 20:14-18) too cursed the day of his birth, he was mindful of the futility of cursing a past event. What will he do with the present? As with Job, he must face the present, but how and why? Many people in the twentieth century can identify with him. These verses are clearly the introduction to Job’s ensuing soliloquy.

Job 3:3—Job is so embittered that he wishes that life had never begun. Like Schopenhauer and Camus, Job is suggesting that suicide is the answer to unrelenting suffering. There is not one word suggesting this response as solution to Job’s plight. But why not? Only if there is a God to whom we will give account because neither suffering nor death is our ultimate concern. Job telescopes the night of conception and day of birth. The night is personified with power to know the sex of the child conceived. In the Near East, the news of the birth of a son is a momentous event. Job even curses the man who brought the news of his birth to his father. Note that Job does not include direct petition for relief but begins his soliloquy with the most radical assertion of his misery, utterly rejecting life itself. Other parallels, such as Jeremiah 20:14-18; 1 Kings 19:4; Jonah 4:3-8, reveal the realism of the biblical record. Each in his own way denies that the life that God has given him is good, and would have preferred not to have received it from him. Even in this rejection, there is affirmation of belief in God as creative source of life. Affirmation in the Midst of Resentment! The imagery conceives God as summoning the days to take their place as their turn comes. Even in Job’s denial, God is indispensable. If He can control the days, why not evil? Job, like others, wants darkness at noon. The good things in his life prior to his suffering did not produce such a response. “All sunshine makes the desert.” After western man moves into the 19th and 20th scientific revolutions and is less committed to Christian theism, we are confronted with “The Death of God” from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra to Rubenstein’s After Auschwitz.

Job 3:4—Our limited English vocabulary for darkness makes translation difficult in Job 3:4-6. Different words for darkness express everything that is mysterious and evil (Job 12:25; Exodus 20:21; Isaiah 5:20; Psalms 82:5; and see also Matthew 5:23).

Job 3:5—Our text (A.V.) translates salmawet as the “shadow of death.” If the older view is correct, i.e., that the word is a compound word from “shadow” and “death,” then the translation is sound; but more recent lexicography prefers salmut as the reading, thus the root for dark. May the day be eclipsed (M.T. kimrire yom) meaning “like bitterness of the day.” The word is used in the context where there is no thought of death—Amos 5:9; Job 28:3.

Job 3:6—“Let thick darkness seize it” in the sense of claim it for its own.

Job 3:7—Job asks that the night be “barren,” (Hebrew galmud), stony or unproductive. The word is used in Isaiah 49:21 for childlessness, i.e., barren. May the night never again see offspring, so that no one else experiences the misery known by Job. May the night be sterile, then surely suffering will cease.

Job 3:8—Out of his resentful heart comes only cursing. Curse—Curse! Here we have two different Hebrew words, both different from the one used in Job 3:1. Speiser has demonstrated that the word means to “cast a spell on.” Job calls for a professional curser, i.e., those “who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan,” (Hebrew liwyah, wreath, meaning something coiled). There has been much discussion concerning the supposed mythological allusion since Gunkel published his Schopfung und Chaos, 1895 (see esp. pp. 59–61), but the text makes perfectly good sense without any such origin for its imagery.

Job 3:9—The word nesep means twilight, either the morning as here and Job 7:4 or evening twilight as in Job 24:15 and Proverbs 7:9. The reference here is surely to the morning stars Mercury and Venus. If they had remained dark, Job’s day would not have come. Without the “light” of the dawn, he would not be able to see the new day.

Job 3:10—The A. V. correctly sees reference to Job’s mother’s womb from the literal Hebrew which says “my womb,” i.e., the womb from which I came. The night did not prevent the womb from conceiving, “nor hid trouble,” i.e., toil, sorrow and suffering from Job. Now the sufferer turns from God to himself, and a new factor enters Job’s complaint. The query “why” in Job 3:11-12, and again in Job 3:20, is a crucial new development.


Eliphaz speaks to Job and Shares His Vision (Job 4:1-21

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said, If one assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? But who can withhold himself from speaking? Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast made firm the feeble knees. But now it is come unto thee, and thou faintest; it touches thee, and thou art troubled” (Job 4:1-5).

Eliphaz can contain himself no more. He asks Job’s permission to speak. He knows Job very well and does not understand why he is saying the things that he is saying. Job had a reputation among mankind that was favorable. People knew of Job’s instructing people and giving strength to those who hands became weak due to their trials. People had fallen in discouragement and others were very weak due to the trials of life yet Job helped these people to their feet and gave them courage to continue in this life. Yet now the hour of trial has come to him and thou faintest and art troubled.”

We may all be well at giving advice to others in anguish. We may also make the immediate right response at the moment of our own anguish. Yet when the reality of the pain sets in will we continue to maintain the integrity of our words and actions of days gone by? The book of Job is a book that illustrates the reality of suffering in a man’s life and not merely surface instructions. The book could have ended with Job 2 and we would have learned lessons of being grateful to God no matter what comes our way. Yet Job is a book of reality. Life goes on after the initial anguish begins. How shall you and I deal with our anguish the remainder of our lives?

Is not thy fear of God thy confidence, and the integrity of thy ways thy hope? Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the upright cut off? According as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow trouble, reap the same. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger are they consumed. The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken. The old lion perishes for lack of prey, and the whelps of the lioness are scattered abroad” (Job 4:6-11).

Eliphaz questions Job’s ranting by asking him to think of any man who had ever perished being innocent (i.e., without sin). His point? God, by the blast of His anger against sinners, consumes the wicked from off the earth. While it is true that there are physical consequences to man’s sinful decisions it is not true that God brings suffering to those who sin as a means of chastising punishment. Solomon wrote, The way of the transgressor is hard (Proverbs 13:15) and Thorns and snares are in the way of the forward (Proverbs 22:5). Sinful men bring calamity into their lives by their sinful actions. The adulterer brings upon himself the wrath of a faithful husband. The sexually immoral are subject to various diseases. The smoker, drinker, and tobacco chewer bring upon themselves misery. Yet, God does not bring disease upon one to chastise him for wrong doing. Tom Witherspoon, and elder at the Floral Heights church of Christ, is not currently in a battle with prostrate cancer because he committed some sort of secret sin. The fact of the matter is that suffering, for no reason at all, comes to all men and God watches how we handle ourselves during these trying times (see Ecclesiastes 9:1 ff; Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13).

One may say, “But what about God’s punishment by means of the Assyrians and Babylonians against sinful Israel and Judah?” Let us recall that God very patiently awaited Israel’s repentance. Years and years went by before He unleashed Assyria and Babylon on Israel and Judah. The lesson of the major and minor prophets is that God is patient with sinners but He will never be ever patient. Job has done absolutely nothing wrong in receiving the ill treatment that he has received. The inspired word of God proclaims that he is perfect and righteous. Eliphaz, as we shall see, and his two other friends are mistaken about God’s methods.

Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a whisper thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern the appearance thereof; a form was before mine eyes: there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he puts no trust in his servants; and his angels he charges with folly: How much more them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth! Betwixt morning and evening they are destroyed: they perish for ever without any regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them? They die, and that without wisdom” (Job 4:12-21).

Eliphaz shares a vision he had with Job. Apparently the vision is of divine origin and the meaning is thereby truth. Eliphaz, in the presence of deity, trembled and shook as the image of God passed before him and stopped without form. We may be at a loss of words to describe why Job’s friends have misapplied the events of Job’s life to him. It may be best said by the Pulpit commentary. “However misapplied to his particular case may have been the speeches of Job’s friends, there can be no dispute concerning the purity and the sublimity of the great truths for which they here appear as spokesmen” (PPC, v. 7, pp. 75 Job).

Eliphaz’s vision teaches one great truth; i.e., The Sovereignty of God: Shall moral man be more just and pure than God (his Maker)? Those who think themselves so just that no calamity ought to ever befall them in life should consider the wisdom of God. The Lord proclaims, For there is not a just man upon earth, which does good and sins not (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Again, the Lord says, Let God be true, and every man a liar, as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged (Romans 3:4). Once again, For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Lastly, the Apostle John wrote, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Rather than questioning God regarding events in our lives we ought to humbly seek His forgiveness (see Romans 9:20-21). Let us therefore be silent in the presence of God and be mindful of our frailty in relation to the Great and Almighty God. The prophet Zechariah wrote, Be silent, all flesh, before Jehovah; for he is waked up out of his holy habitation (Zechariah 2:13). God is to be reverenced and feared among men (see also Habakkuk 2:18-20). Where is the boasting and glorying in our flesh? Such activity is utter foolishness (see James 4:16). Paul said, Where then is the glorying? It is excluded. By what manner of law? Of works? Nay: but by a law of faith” (Romans 3:27).

To support the great truth that man is fallible and God the essence of purity Eliphaz has seen, in a heavenly vision, man compared with angels. If spirit angels are not wholly trusted by God to be in absolute perfection to His laws how much more mortal man of houses of clay (i.e., flesh and bone from the dust of the earth) (see 2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6).

Furthermore man cannot be compared to the absolute just nature of God because they are frail and weak. They can be crushed with ease like a moth and day by day their fleshly bodies are growing older and weaker until they die. No man questions whether death shall come. Inadvertently man admits his frailty by not questioning his time of death. All shall die and all know this.

Man’s soul, as a tent-cord supports the tent, is plucked from him. Man has not set the laws in place for his eternity but God. Man’s soul will go to the place God deems right and thereby man is inferior to the creator.

What do we learn and what is the point of Eliphaz’s vision? The point is that man cannot possibly question God regarding the events of his life because he is week, subject to decay and death, and sinful. God, in His sovereign ways, has deemed man to live, to suffer, and to go on for eternity. Man’s appointment in this life is to suffer (1 Thessalonians 3:3). It matters not whether one attempts to live godly or ungodly. All suffer. This being the case how is it that I complain to God or question this? The Apostle Paul wrote, Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he still find fault? For who withstands his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus? Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Romans 9:19-21). The Lord, by His sovereign will, puts man to the test through various trials of life now so that he may be strengthened and truly fit for eternity (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).


Job 4:1—Enters Eliphaz! Since Job has broken his silence, Eliphaz is now free to speak. He is presumably the oldest, thus the wisest, thus first speaker. He is also the most gracious and most eloquent. His deep esteem and profound sorrow for Job leaps from each phrase he utters. Eliphaz has been shocked at the fact that Job had wished death and has uttered no prayer for the recovery of prosperity and joi de vie (joy of life). Eliphaz asks Job, “Could you bear it?” (literally “would you be weary?”), i.e., Are you physically and psychologically able to hear my analysis of your condition? To Job, his misfortune was an enigmatic mystery; to Eliphaz the calamities have been sent to punish Job for some sin or sins (see John 9 and Jesus’ rejection of this standard Jewish, but not Old Testament, concept). Eliphaz has come to help Job examine his conscience.

Job 4:2—Eliphaz declares that if only Job would repent of his sins he could regain God’s favor. The speech regularly starts with a question and reference to Job’s words. Eliphaz introduces the Doctrine of Retribution, i.e., Retributive Justice.

Job 4:3—First he gently appeals to Job’s own good advice to others in the past. But this type of counseling was already beside the point, because Job had already accepted the standard doctrine of retribution (Job 29:18-20), but now is beginning to challenge its adequacy simply because it does not explain his present existential situation. “With great delicacy and consideration” Eliphaz has now opened the first cycle of speeches.[63] The root of the word translated “instructed” (ysr) means discipline and in Job 5:17 the noun from this root means “discipline by suffering” (see Hebrews 12:3 ff). Job has instructed many. His instruction has strengthened them, i.e., from “weak hands” which hang down in helpless despair (Isaiah 35:3; Hebrews 12:12).

Job 4:4—His words have also strengthened “feeble knees” (see same scriptures as above for imagery).

Job 4:5—It is easy for a well man to give sound advice. Some commentators see sarcasm in Eliphaz’s word; but the psychoanalysis of a dead author should capture only the absolute minimum of everyone’s time, both authors and readers.

Job 4:6—Literally, “your fear” of God should sustain you. He should have confidence in his past faithfulness to God. After all, Job’s piety and integrity are not being questioned—yet. Job is blameless—Job 1:1—has confidence (kesel—confidence, here the form is kislahJob 8:4; Ecclesiastes 7:25. This root has polarized meaning, i.e., opposite, eg. confidence—folly), and thus has integrity or consistency.

Job 4:7—Is Job an exception to the rule? It is only casuistry to reply that Job is not in the category with the wicked because God has spared his life (Psalms 37:25; Proverbs 12:21; Ecclesiastes 2:10). Yet each of us can appreciate the dilemma of Job’s comforters. Each comforter, in his own way, sought recovery for Job. There is still hope, since he is alive. If Job will only confess his guilt and seek God’s grace, recovery would follow. Many of the modern specialists in healing are not radically different in their method than Job’s friends. The power of confession (e.g. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul) has long since been clinically proved. But the problem of theodicy is not thereby overcome. Why are some individuals signaled out for unbearably severe physical and spiritual torture? Suffering Servant—we turn to you! Help us to participate in the suffering of your fallen creation. Is suffering for discipline or destruction?

Job 4:8—“Those who plough iniquity” are those persons who are wicked. They who cultivate sin and perform it with intentional glee, also reap the results—Hosea 10:13 and Galatians 6:7.

Job 4:9—The wicked perish. This doctrine says that misfortune is divine retribution. This teaching is at the heart of America’s “Success Syndrome,” i.e., if you are prospering, you are being blessed; if you are in destitute circumstances, it is God’s way of expressing retributive justice. God’s justice is likened to a scorching hot wind. Thanks be to God Jesus repudiates this blasphemous and heretical instruction, Luke 13:1-5. The cross, the ten official Roman persecutions, the martyrdom of thousands of the faithful, if not millions, both in the classical church history and in the twentieth century, all speak against this doctrine.

Job 4:10-11—The image of the lion is common in Near Eastern Wisdom Literature—Psalms 17:12; Psalms 22:14; Proverbs 28:15; and Isaiah 30:6. When the roar dies down and the teeth of the lion are broken, it is powerless and can no longer hold the prey.


1. The metamorphosis of Job’s character occurs through this horrid ordeal. God has, by His sovereign will, permitted Satan to bring the worst of anguish upon Job’s emotional and physical being. Job looses all his material possessions and his ten children are killed. Job’s initial faithful response is, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah (Job 1:21). Again, after the second trial of his physical health Job replies, What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips (Job 2:10). This beautiful character is an initial model; however, as the days of anguish set in and the emotional and physical pain take its toll on this Godly man he beings to question things. Rather that speaking of the blessedness of God Job curses the day of his birth. Rather that praising God Job questions why such a retched man is permitted to live.

2. The book is thereby a testament of the development of a man’s true character. Job faithfully encouraged others who went through anguish (Job 4:1-5) and made the initial faithful response to his own anguish (Job 1:21; Job 2:10); however, he was to learn the reality of these statements rather than simply speaking empty words.

3. Our sovereign God permits man to suffer in this life because no one is without fault and without need of trials (Romans 3:23 see James 1:1 ff; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Job was not so righteous as to be beyond the scope of mental or physical anguish. Said trial was, by God’s omniscience, the perfect way to make Job truly perfect in all his ways.

4. Job will be made to come full circle. His words of faith at Job 1:21 and Job 2:10 will come to be a part of his true identity.


Eliphaz continues his speech to Job : “But man is born unto trouble” (Job 5:1-27):

Call now; is there any that will answer thee? And to which of the holy ones wilt thou turn? For vexation killeth the foolish man, And jealousy slayeth the silly one. I have seen the foolish taking root: But suddenly I cursed his habitation. His children are far from safety, And they are crushed in the gate, Neither is there any to deliver them: Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, And taketh it even out of the thorns; And the snare gapeth for their substance. For affliction cometh not forth from the dust, Neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; But man is born unto trouble, As the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:1-7).

Eliphaz tells Job that there is no other to turn to during times of vexation than to God. Some men’s reaction and eventual action to the trouble that all are born into proves him to be foolish and jealous. The Godly ought to recognize that man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.” No one is immune to the troubles of life (see Ecclesiastes 2:14).

But as for me, I would seek unto God, And unto God would I commit my cause; Who doeth great things and unsearchable, Marvellous things without number: Who giveth rain upon the earth, And sendeth waters upon the fields; So that he setteth up on high those that are low, And those that mourn are exalted to safety. He frustrateth the devices of the crafty, So that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; And the counsel of the cunning is carried headlong. They meet with darkness in the day-time, And grope at noonday as in the night. But he saveth from the sword of their mouth, Even the needy from the hand of the mighty. So the poor hath hope, And iniquity stoppeth her mouth” (Job 5:8-16).

While man lives out his life of being born unto trouble” God providentially involves himself in man’s existence. There is hope for man and therefore he ought to seek the Lord out every day of his life.

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: Therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up; He woundeth, and his hands make whole. He will deliver thee in six troubles; Yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he will redeem thee from death; And in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue; Neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and dearth thou shalt laugh; Neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace; And thou shalt visit thy fold, and shalt miss nothing. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, And thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, Like as a shock of grain cometh in in its season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; Hear it, and know thou it for thy good” (Job 5:17-27).

Elephaz has made it clear that he believes Job to be suffering emotionally and physically due to sin in his life (see Job 4:7-9). When God chastised man, therefore, he ought to be happy because he shall see God’s care and correct himself of his mischief. The problem is that Job is not being chastised for evil deeds but rather he is suffering because Satan wanted to provoke him to curse God.

Elephaz’s words have a ring of James 1:2-3. James said, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold trials; knowing that the proving of your faith works patience, and let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” The joy that James speaks of is to be understood from the perspective of man striving and obtaining perfection. While undergoing trials of life (i.e., health issues, financial difficulties, disappointments, heart wrenching events, etc) one learns that this world of anguish is not the desired place for eternity. Heaven will be the opposite of the anguish of earthly dwelling. The more we suffer here on this earth the greater our longing for heaven. We endure with patience because we desire a heavenly home of rest and comfort. Elephaz has job suffering due to sin and that is not the way God works.


Job 5:1-2—None of the holy ones (qedosim) can save man (Hosea 11:12; Daniel 4:10; Daniel 4:14; Zechariah 14:5; Psalms 89:7). Eliphaz warns Job against any form of lament. A sinner who refuses to repent cannot be forgiven, thus healed. This verse may be an apologetic against the Mesapotamian idea of a finite but personal god whom a man could rely on to make intercession to the greater gods (Job 9:33; Job 16:19; Job 16:21; Job 33:23-24). Perhaps Job 5:2 is a proverbial saying (Proverbs 14:30) which suggests that one should not get excited about that over which he has no control. Only the fool will die of indignation (A. V., jealousy).

Job 5:3-5—On center stage Eliphaz says that he himself has seen the fool take root. The unrighteous often strike deep into the earth their strange roots. Prosperity is thus effectively presented by an analogy with a vigorously growing tree. The effect of this experience of Eliphaz was that he immediately cursed (same verb as Job 3:8) the dwelling of the prosperous fool. In so doing, Eliphaz was merely expressing the prejudices of his cultural ethics. When misfortune visits the head of the family, the entire family suffers. They cannot receive justice at the city gate, which was the administrative center where justice was dispersed and other legal issues were considered (Genesis 23:10; Deuteronomy 21:19-21; Ruth 4:1-11; Amos 5:15). A helpless unfortunate person was not likely to receive much consideration in the gate (Job 31:21). The two lines in Job 5:5 are grammatically impossible, as they stand in the text, but their general sense is clear. Unfortunates, perhaps Bedouins, who function at the edge of cities and lands and seize what they can, are represented in the imagery.

Job 5:6—This verse refers to Job 4:8. Eliphaz commits a logical fallacy by asserting that because a fool meets disaster, all who meet disaster must be fools. He declares that Job is responsible for all of his misery. Sympathy will not be a major preoccupation of anyone who believes that prosperity is proof of God’s blessings.

Job 5:7—A contradiction appears once more in Eliphaz’s speech. If trouble comes naturally and inevitably to man, then this claim is in conflict with Job 5:6, which says just the opposite. Perhaps Dahood correctly renders the text—“it is man who engenders mischief itself.” The phrase “as the sparks fly upward” has generated endless and fruitless discussion. Perhaps the phrase—bene resep—might refer to the Resheph the Phoenician god of the lightning, which would be possible if the book is from the patriarchal period. The R. S. V. translation is superior to that of the A. V. As surely as sparks fly upward, man falls into sin, and he is responsible for his own decisions.


Job answers Eliphaz (Job 6:1-30):

Then Job answered and said, Oh that my vexation were but weighed, And all my calamity laid in the balances! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the seas: Therefore have my words been rash. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, The poison whereof my spirit drinketh up: The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me” (Job 6:1-4).

Eliphaz has told Job that he is suffering due to some wrong he has committed in his life (Job 4:4-9). Eliphaz has suggested to Job that he should take God’s correction and chastening with a happy disposition (Job 5:17). Such correction is for Job’s good (Job 5:27). Job seems to dismiss all that Eliphaz has said. His remarks do not take into consideration Elephaz’s charge of sin and consequential pain. Job knows that he has not erred against the Lord.

Job has identified his great pain (2:13b) as misery (Job 3:20) and trouble (Job 3:26). Job now identifies his pain with vexation and calamity.” Job justifies his remarks regarding his anguish by saying that his pain has been heavier than the sand of the seas,” and God’s arrows are within me, the poison has been drank...” Job concludes that God has set himself in array against me.”

Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? Or loweth the ox over his fodder? Can that which hath no savor be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? My soul refuseth to touch them; They are as loathsome food to me” (Job 6:5-7).

It seems that Job answers Eliphaz and says, “if you were in my condition you would do the same.” Job considers his reply a natural one seeing the condition of his mind and body.

Oh that I might have my request; And that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to crush me; That he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! And be it still my consolation, Yea, let me exult in pain that spareth not, That I have not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:8-10).

Seeing that it is natural for Job to desire death rather than continue in such agony he asks, once again, that God would grant him his request to die. Though Eliphaz has suggested that Job be happy in his pain Job stands firm stating, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” If Job has not sinned against God why should he be happy in this pain? Job maintains his innocence by saying, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”

What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is mine end, that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? Is it not that I have no help in me, And that wisdom is driven quite from me? To him that is ready to faint kindness should be showed from his friend; Even to him that forsaketh the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:11-14).

Job rebukes his friends for treating him as though he had the strength of stones and flesh of brass. Job states that he is flesh and blood and he is hurting. Job wants to know why they are saying these unkind things to him; i.e., Job, you have sinned and therefore take the chastening punishment of the Lord with happiness because it’s going to make you a better person. Job states that even those who care nothing for God’s laws ought to know this and show more compassion than they have.

My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, As the channel of brooks that pass away; Which are black by reason of the ice, And wherein the snow hideth itself: What time they wax warm, they vanish; When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. The caravans that travel by the way of them turn aside; They go up into the waste, and perish. The caravans of Tema looked, The companies of Sheba waited for them. They were put to shame because they had hoped; They came thither, and were confounded” (Job 6:15-20).

Job accuses his friends of being cold and unmerciful to one in such great anguish. Job, in a stinging fashion, compares his friends to cold uncaring people who would turn a needy caravan on a long journey. The caravan had hoped to be refreshed and rested by the company yet they received nothing. Such treatment causes the caravan to be confounded.

For now ye are nothing; Ye see a terror, and are afraid. Did I say, Give unto me? Or, Offer a present for me of your substance? Or, Deliver me from the adversary’s hand? Or, Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors? Teach me, and I will hold my peace; And cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:21-24).

Their very presence has done nothing for Job’s anguish. Job has asked nothing of his friends at this time of his great anguish yet they have heaped even more anguish upon him. To this point of the study we find that Job’s trial did not end with the loss of his property, children, and ill advice of his wife but it has now been extended to his close friends challenging his godliness. Job challenges his friends to find his error and he would gladly admit it and plead for forgiveness.

How forcible are words of uprightness! But your reproof, what doth it reprove? Do ye think to reprove words, Seeing that the speeches of one that is desperate are as wind? Yea, ye would cast lots upon the fatherless, And make merchandise of your friend. Now therefore be pleased to look upon me; For surely I shall not lie to your face. Return, I pray you, let there be no injustice; Yea, return again, my cause is righteous. Is there injustice on my tongue? Cannot my taste discern mischievous things?” (Job 6:25-30).

Job accuses his friends of scolding him for no reason. The only thing he has done is responded to his calamity with words that curse the day of his birth (Job feels this to be the natural reaction to such great pain and anguish). Job believes that he can positively discern good and evil. If there were evil in his life he would identify it; however, there is none. Job assures his friends that he is “not lying to their face.”


Job 6:1—Job now replies to Eliphaz’s first speech. Job is responding to the three friends (Job 6:2-30; plurals in Job 6:24-29) rather than Eliphaz alone. First Job defends his first soliloquy (chp. 3), for which Eliphaz had rebuked him. Because of his suffering (Job 6:2-7) he desires to die (Job 6:8-10). Being without hope and sympathy from his friends, Job seeks the friendship of death. Why is life so difficult (Job 7:1 ff), especially since he is innocent? Receiving no comfort from the three wise men, Job turns to God (probably from Job 7:1, certainly from Job 7:7—as remember is second singular). After an appeal to God’s compassion (Job 6:7-10), without restraint (Job 6:11) he asks why He plagues Job with impossible suffering (Job 6:12-21). Job’s three friends are bound to him by a covenant of friendship (hesed). Thus, they should not assume that Job is guilty of sin because of his suffering. Since they fail to express covenant concern and sympathy, Job turns to God. The speech falls into three parts: (1) Affirmation of his bitterness, (2) Disappointment in his friends (Job 6:14-30); and (3) Intensification of his complaint at his lot, and more open appeal against God’s treatment of him (Job 7:1-21).

Job 6:2—Job’s anguish (ha-as—A. V. as vexation—translated as impatience in Job 5:2 and displeasure in Job 10:17. The basic sense of the root is “happen,” hence “accident,” “misfortune”) is heavier than the “sands of the seas.” Job’s theme is not God’s indignation but his own undeserved suffering.

Job 6:3—Job’s anguish and calamity correspond in parallelism; either of them would outweigh the sand. Job admits (therefore) that his words have been wild but not unjustified. His speech has been “rash.”

Job 6:4—Job now names God (Shaddai—the Almighty, used by Eliphaz Job 5:17) as the author of his misery. Job, no less than Eliphaz, believes the suffering comes from God; but rejects Eliphaz’s claim that Job is unrighteous, thus deserving of his plight. Why is the pain harder to bear merely because he believes in God? The imagery of God as an archer appears frequently in the Old Testament—Deuteronomy 32:23; Ezekiel 5:16; Psalms 7:13; Psalms 38:2; Psalms 64:7. The poisoned arrows mentioned here are not referred to elsewhere in the Old Testament. The word translated “poison”—venom—is the same word as that used of the deaf adder in Psalms 58:4. Oil-soaked materials covering arrowheads were used in war. The “terrors” of God assault Job’s very existence; they “wear me down” (A. V. array against me), he boldly asserts. Paul uses the imagery of the flaming darts of Satan in Ephesians 6:16.

Job 6:5—Using powerful distress imagery (wild ass in distress for a lack of food—Jeremiah 14:6). Job suggests that it would be better to identify the cause of his suffering rather than explain it. The wild ass “brays” is used only here and Job 30:7, where it describes the agonizing cries of social outcasts. The second descriptive word is the verb translated “loweth” in A. V. It is used only here and in 1 Samuel 6:12, where it is used of cows deprived of their calves. Even the animals understand what Eliphaz fails to comprehend.

Job 6:6-7—Though the text is difficult in these uncertain verses, something nauseating is implied. Eliphaz’s counsel is tasteless; it lacks the salt of sympathy. The A. V.’s phrase “the white of an egg” might better be understood as “the slime of purslane” (so R. S. V., Rowley, Driver and Gray). The purslane is a leguminous plant which secretes mucilaginous jelly. Job rejects Eliphaz’s explanation as he (nephesh—soul) would reject tasteless food. In Hebrew psychology, “nephesh” (soul) is the seat of desire—Deuteronomy 24:15; Hosea 4:8; and, in particular—of appetite—Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 23:25; Isaiah 29:8; Micah 7:1; and Proverbs 23:2. The condition of Job’s flesh (lehem literally bread but here is flesh or meat), like Eliphaz’s comfort, is sickening—Job 7:5; Job 18:13; Job 30:30.


God’s Providence: God powerfully influences both nature and man’s life (Job 5:8-16).

1. Eliphaz misapplies the chastening rod of God. Eliphaz believes Job to be suffering due to sin in his life (see Job 4:7-9) and thereby advises Job to be happy in this time of great anguish (Job 5:17) because it is for his own good (Job 5:27).

2. Job views his agony as pain (Job 2:13 b),          (Job 3:20), trouble (Job 3:26), vexation and calamity” (Job 6:1) and in a desperate state of being (Job 6:26). Job accuses his friends of being cold and unmerciful to one in such agony (Job 6:15-20). Job reminds his friends that he is only flesh yet they are treating him as though he were made of stone and brass (Job 6:12).

3. Job maintains his innocence: Job said, I have not denied the words of the Holy One (Job 6:10). Again, Job states, Teach me, and I will hold my peace; And cause me to understand wherein I have erred (Job 6:24). Job has not sinned and therefore he wants to know why this is happening to him. Job too is mistaken about this affair. Job believes that God has set himself in array against me (Job 6:4). Job believes that God has a tight hold upon his life and desires for the Lord to loose his hand (Job 6:9). To this point of the book neither Job nor his friends fully understand why he is experiencing this great agony.


Job continues his remarks after Eliphaz’s Speech (Job 7:1-21):

Is there not a warfare to man upon earth? And are not his days like the days of a hireling? As a servant that earnestly desires the shadow, and as a hireling that looks for his wages: So am I made to possess months of misery, and wearisome nights are appointed to me” (Job 7:1-3).

Job depicts his agony as misery,” and wearisome nights.” No doubt every moment of his life was spent in agony (whether awake or sleeping). Job compares his life (and the life of all men) to a servant who works hard under the sun during the day and longs for the shade of the evening. Relief from shade and the reward of wages keep the laborer toiling on; however, the only thing that Job has to look forward to at the end of a day of suffering is more suffering. He longs for his reward which is death.

When I lie down, I say, when shall I arise, and the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day” (Job 7:4).

Job knows what he is in store for every evening as he lays down to sleep. Each night it is the same. Pain, anguish, and misery to the point that he says, When shall I arise and the night be gone?” He tosses and turns all night as he is unable to sleep due to the pain. Such a life is not living. Many have been in such anguish in their lives and there is nothing pleasant about it.

My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin closes up, and breaks out afresh. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope. Oh remember that my life is a breath: mine eye shall no more see good” (Job 7:5-7).

Whether figurative or literal the scene of worms, clods of dust on his flesh, breaks in the skin paints a picture of an awful unbearable disease. Job has lost all hope of being relieved from this dreaded painful disease. His life has passed by swiftly only to come to this day of anguish.

The eye of him that sees me shall behold me no more; thine eyes shall be upon me, but I shall not be. As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away, so he that goes down to Sheol shall come up no more He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more” (Job 7:8-10).

Job appears to believe that he is near the point of death. Those who now see him shall see him no more. He shall go down to Sheol (the grave and place of those who are dead). The dead do not come to their homes and neither do they go any place on the earth. Such a life is expired and is no longer.

Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit: I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I a sea, or a sea-monster, that thou set a watch over me? When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrify me through visions: so that my soul chooses strangling, and death rather than these my bones” (Job 7:11-15).

Job earlier said that animals naturally complain when they suffer (see Job 6:5) and thereby it is only natural for him to do so “in the bitterness of my soul.” Job, considering the great anguish he is experiencing, says, I will complain.” The situation, according the Job’s reasoning, demands complaining. Again, we see the change of heart from Job’s statements at Job 1:21; Job 2:10.

Job asks God several questions: Am I a sea monster or a wild ocean?” Such things of nature need to be controlled and tamed due to their wild nature. How has Job showed himself to be such a wild and out of control object? The times when he does look forward to rest on his couch he is terrified at night by dreams. It may be that Satan was permitted to interfere with Job’s rest by sending terrifying nightmares to him. Such events only make him renew his desire to die and be threw with this horrid ordeal.

I loathe my life; I shall not always live: let me alone; for my days are vanity. What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set thy mind upon him, and that thou should visit him every morning, and try him every moment?” (Job 7:16-18)

The days of pain and anguish drive Job to exclaim, “I loathe my life.” Job had earlier asked God to let loose his tight grip of anguish (see Job 6:9) and now confirms his understanding of God’s trying him every moment of his life (Job 7:18). To come to the point of loathing your very existence is to experience great anguish. Man’s life is likened unto one great trial period that must be endured before rewards are to be realized. Job is ready to end his probation.

How long wilt thou not look away from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? If I have sinned, what do I unto thee, O thou watcher of men? Why hast thou set me as a mark for thee, so that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? For now shall I lie down in the dust; and thou wilt seek me diligently, but I shall not be” (Job 7:19-21).

Job asks the Lord to turn his wrath from him at least for a moment (i.e., the time it takes to swallow spit down). Job tells God that if he has sinned please identify it and he will gladly beg His forgiveness. If the suffering Job is undergoing is due some sin then Job asks, “Please forgive me and remove the terrible anguish.” Job desperately wants God to release him from this ordeal.


“Having done such a thing there is loneliness which cannot be borne,” Pablo—For Whom The Bell Tolls

Job 7:1—Job’s friends reject his appeal. He then ceases to address them, as he returns to his lament. He compares life in general to forced military service, to the work of a day laborer, and to simple slavery, three wretched states of existence. Job vehemently retorts to Eliphaz’s easy optimism—Job 5:17 ff. Job believes in the validity of Nietzsche’s remark: “Great problems are in the streets.” Does the “human condition” consistently reveal a basic absurdity as well as an implacable nobility? Job’s condition is always the stuff of human revolt, not only against social institutions but ultimately against God. In western thought, men have long talked of “human nature,” but after the revolutions of the 18th–19th centuries in the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences, men began to talk of the “human condition,” which could be modified through the application of the scientific method. Here lies the challenge of our contemporary Job—Is a life of happiness through peace, prosperity, and progress possible, or is life really absurd? Twentieth century men will not take lightly to any naive suggestions which are grounded in the heresy of Utopia. We live, like Job, in a world which experiences the inveteracy of evil—Mark 7:21-23. We know that Dostoevsky is speaking of all of us in his Notes from Underground. A man will often, without rhyme or reason, do things which are irrational and absurd. Man has a passion to destroy. This passion, Dostoevsky exposes in his reflections on the Crystal Palace which was erected in London in 1851 to celebrate the Great Exhibition of Science. He foresees the coming clouds of totalitarian tyrannies (cf. America’s 1876 centennial and 1976 Bi-Centennial celebrations). Job understands that his experience, while exceptional in the intensity of his suffering, is typical in the fact of suffering. The word translated “hireling” is used of a laborer, and a mercenary soldier—Jeremiah 46:21. The imagery of warfare (Numbers 1:3; 1 Samuel 28:1) and hard work of one trapped in ceaseless toil are fused in Job’s lament.

Job 7:2—In Mesopotamia it was assumed that everyone (not in high political lineage) was a slave and servant of the gods. Every slave was compelled to work the long and hot days without respite—Matthew 20:12. They longed for the decline of the sun and the cooling breezes of the evening. The slave received wages every day—Deuteronomy 24:15, which was his endurance motive. To withhold his pay was prohibited—Leviticus 19:13; Malachi 3:5; Romans 4:4; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Timothy 5:18; James 5:4.

Job 7:3—Job now turns from contemplating man’s universal condition to his own affliction. Months[98] of vanity (Hebrew show may mean emptiness, vanity, or moral evil—Job 11:11; Job 31:5) and nights of wearisome anguish. When will the months pass away?

Job 7:4—The night, like the months, are long (middah—to measure—be extended, cf. Einstein’s relativity thesis and contemporary man’s preoccupation with time.) Killing time before time kills us, e.g. leisure, play, vacations, etc., and the quality of our lived time (Dilthey’s Erlebnis).[99] Job tosses and turns all night—his Long Day’s Journey Into Night. There is no relief even from the dawning (nasheph) of the day. Nasheph means morning light in contrast to ereb, evening twilight. Acute discomfort enslaves this vain searcher for peace. Even his dozing invites diabolic nightmares (Job 7:14). Unabating misery—Oh, come sweet Death! The grave is no darker than his nights of loneliness and despair.

Job 7:5—Job’s ulcers are repulsive to the sight and smell. His skin is covered with dirty scabs filled with worms. The scabs break open and run with pus.

Job 7:6—Is Job contradicting himself when first he claims that life passes so slowly (of course, in his condition the psychology of suffering is imperative for our understanding his statements), and now complains that it is too brief? Here we note a play on the words for hope (tiqwah) and thread. The same word is used in Joshua 2:18; Joshua 2:21 for the scarlet thread which identified Rahab’s house. As the weaver’s shuttle runs out of thread, so now Job’s existence is running out of hope. “Swift as a weaver’s shuttle fleet our days,” Browning.

Job 7:7—The pathos of this pitiful cry penetrates into the depths of every sensitive person. But will God hear? He has turned once more from his tormenting counselors directly to God. Life is at best transient (Psalms 78:39; Isa. 51:29; Jeremiah 5:13; Ecclesiastes 1:14; James 5:13 ff), and he will never again see prosperity and happiness. Until Tolkien’s eucatastrophe in the form of our Lord’s resurrection, neither Job nor any of his contemporaries could hope beyond suffering and the grave. Rashi observes that here Job denies the resurrection. But in Job 19:24-27 he reaches beyond the despair-creating view of man’s finitude and of the finality of death to something better than Sheol. Note contemporary man’s concern with death and his multiplication of his futile efforts to generate new men and new societies, where all are happy and prosperous.

Job 7:8—Time is too short to expect (hope for) his restoration. God alone will prevail.

Job 7:9“Vanish away” translates Hebrew which means “comes to an end.” Sheol (see Kittel article) is described as a place from which no traveler has returned—Job 10:21; a land of darkness and despair—Job 10:21 ff; as deep—Job 11:8; place where the dead are hidden—Job 14:13; place for everyone—Job 3:19 and Job 30:23. Only resurrection can break the spell of this despair.

Job 7:10The theme of the finality of death reoccurs several times—Job 7:21; Job 10:21; Job 14:10; Job 14:12; Job 14:18-22; Job 17:13; Job 16; Job 19:25-27; also Psalms 103:16 b for the second line.


Bildad’s First Speech (Job 8:1-22):

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, How long wilt thou speak these things? And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a mighty wind? Doth God pervert justice? Or doth the Almighty pervert righteousness?” (Job 8:1-3).

Bildad, the second friend mentioned at Job 2:11, can remain silent no more. Bildad believes that Job has ranted and complained for long enough. Bildad accuses Job of standing in judgment of God as though God had perverted justice and righteousness by afflicting him with this ordeal.

If thy children have sinned against him, and he hath delivered them into the hand of their transgression; if thou would seek diligently unto God, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; if thou were pure and upright: surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. And though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end would greatly increase” (Job 8:4-7).

Bildad delivers three if statements to Job: Why would Job pervert the justice and righteousness of God by complaining against Him when thy children have sinned and received their just reward? Job would be restored to good health and prosperity if only he would seek diligently unto God and make thy supplication to the Almighty.” Bildad concludes that Job has not admitted and prayed to God for forgiveness of his error. Finally, if Job were a pure and upright man the Lord would loosen His hand of wrath upon him. Bildad’s conclusions match that of Eliphaz’s; i.e., Job and his children have sinned and thereby have received their proper judgment.

For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and apply thyself to that which their fathers have searched out (for we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow); shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?” (Job 8:8-10).

Bildad challenges Job to look back through history and learn the lessons that those who have gone on before them had learned. When men suffered such horrid events it was due to their sin.

Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in its greenness, and not cut down, it withers before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hope of the godless man shall perish: whose confidence shall break in sunder, and whose trust is a spider’s web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold fast thereby, but it shall not endure” (Job 8:11-15).

The answer to Bildad’s rhetorical questions is “no.” Plants that are not preserved in their intended environments wither away and die. Likewise, the man who is intended to live righteously and justly by God will wither away if he continues in sin. To hold to hope while living contrary to God’s will is like putting hope in a fragile spider’s web.

He is green before the sun, and his shoots go forth over his garden. His roots are wrapped about the stone-heap, he beholds the place of stones. If he be destroyed from his place then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee. Behold, this is the joy of his way; and out of the earth shall others spring” (Job 8:16-19).

The ungodly are like fast growing plants in full sunlight with plenty of water. When this fast growing ungodly man suddenly dies all will deny knowing and having been a part of that person’s life. Such a person is worthless when dead and another shall take his place.

Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he uphold the evil-doers. He will yet fill thy mouth with laughter, and thy lips with shouting. They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the tent of the wicked shall be no more” (J0b 8:20-22).

Bildad seems to give Job the benefit of the doubt. God does not cast away perfect men and neither will he uphold evil-doers.” Job’s fate is in the hands of God yet the issue of his present distress lies in his own hands. Is he an evil doer? Will he make supplication to God? If Job does not admit his sin before God then he will be destroyed like the rush and flag with no water, destroyed like a spider’s web, and destroyed like a rapidly growing plant.


Job 8:1—Job concludes that even if God does finally respond to his outcries, it will be too late. Enters Bildad, the younger, less tactful comforter. He is scandalized by Job’s familiarity with God. A fundamental assumption in Bildad’s thought is that God can do no wrong. Concurring with Eliphaz, Bildad sets forth retributive justice as a solution to our dilemma. His world contains only two groups of people—the wicked and the righteous. Suffering is the evidence of sin; and Job’s only escape is repentance.

Job 8:2—The verb “say” (A. V. speak) is an Aramaism and means “a great wind” full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Bildad continues to concentrate on God’s justice, a question Job has never raised.

Job 8:3—God (Shaddai) and injustice are incompatible terms. Does God pervert (Heb. ye’awwet—distort) justice? The verb is repeated for strong emphasis (pervert—pervert) on the magnitude of Job’s sin. There is no need either to use different words, as does the LXX and Vulgate, etc., or to delete one, as do some commentators.

Job 8:4—Bildad does not hesitate to emphasize an obvious conclusion, that Job’s children were punished for their sinfulness. They received what they deserved. This verse strongly connects the Dialogue with the Prologue. The A. V. renders the verse so as to connect Job 8:4-6 (compare with the R. S. V.). Sin carries its own punishment. This is expressed in the translation “into the hand of their transgression.” Bildad’s inexcusable cruelty is apparent in his suggestion regarding Job’s children, i.e., they brought their deaths on themselves. Even though the Hebrew grammar expresses a conditional form, Bildad’s deadly apriori concept of God’s justice could only more intensely aggravate Job’s troubled spirit. (Eliphaz had already hinted at the same legalistic doctrinaire solution—Job 5:4).

Job 8:5—Bildad employs the same word used by Job 7:21, “seek,” (Heb. sihor). But Job had spoken of God seeking him, Bildad suggests that it is imperative that Job seek God, if he desires healing.

Job 8:6—The interrelationship between prosperity and piety is again emphasized (cf. American dream turned to nightmare is based on Bildad’s theology). Bildad uses anthro–pomorphism—A. V. “he would awake for thee.” Is the creator of the universe asleep or insensitive to Job’s tragedy? Bildad promises Job that God will—lit. “restore the habitation of thy righteousness,” if he will but follow his advice.

Job 8:7—Bildad unconsciously prophesies of Job’s future restoration (chp. 42), though not for the reason suggested by Job’s comforter. Bildad is correct in asserting that the wisdom of the ancients is in harmony with his claims—Job 15:8; Deuteronomy 4:32; and Ecclesiastes 8:9.


1. Job’s misery (vexation and calamity / Job 6:1) (pain, can’t sleep, and when he does sleep he is terrified by nightmares) (Job 7:3; Job 7:13).

2. Job justifies his complaining due to his agony (Job 7:11-15). Job said, I loathe my life (Job 7:16).

3. Job asks God to “leave him alone (Job 7:16; Job 7:19). Job continues to maintain his innocence (Job 7:20).

4. Bildad (as did Elephaz at Job 4:6-11) accuses Job and his children of sin and reasons that their sin is why death and anguish has come to his house (Job 8:4-7).


Job Answers Bildad’s Speech: Contemplation of the Sovereignty of Jehovah (Job 9:1-14):

Then Job answered and said, Of a truth I know that it is so: but how can man be just with God?”(Job 9:1-2).

What is so?” Job admits that Bildad’s words regarding God not casting away a perfect man and never upholding evil doers is the truth. Job continues; however, saying But how can man be just with God?” The perfect man is the just man. How can any man stand just before God and not be cast away? We all sin and therefore God will not uphold any of us (Job’s reasoning).

If he be pleased to contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?” (Job 9:3-4).

The man who attempts to contend with God on the basis of his righteousness cannot give answer to even one of a thousand accusations God will have against that man. The apostle Paul had said, “All sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Elephaz and Bildad’s speeches appear to be weighing heavy upon the heart of Job. They have accused Job of sin and consequential anguish. Job is saying, “Hasn’t everyone sinned?” This being the case, “Can any man ever contend with God and succeed?” Can anyone stand unscathed by God’s wrath? God is wise and mighty. No man can harden himself against His will and prosper.

Him that removes the mountains, and they know it not, when he overturns them in his anger; that shakes the earth out of its place, and the pillars thereof tremble; that commands the sun, and it rises not, and seals up the stars; that alone stretch out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea; that makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; that doeth great things past finding out, yea, marvelous things without number” (Job 9:5-10).

Shall man contend with a God that is able to do things the human mind can scarcely comprehend much less have dominion over them? Job’s point is that one that Jehovah deems cursed in life is doomed. There is no contending with one who possesses such great might. God has created the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades...” The “Bear” is a “great northern constellation” (ISBE, v. 1)... “The grouping of stars into constellations” (ISBE, v. 1).

Lo, he goes by me, and I see him not: he passes on also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he seizes the prey, who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (Job 9:11-12).

Job continues to contemplate the all wise and mighty God and the inferiority of man. God may travel past me yet my senses do not see Him, feel Him, or even perceive that He is near. God takes what He wills and no man has the ability to stop Him. When Job lost his children and his health he did not foresee this coming neither could he asks, “What are you doing?” No man has the ability to do this with the Almighty.

God will not withdraw his anger; the helpers of Rahab do stoop under him. How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?” (Job 9:13-14).

The name Rahab (translated from Heb. = “The proud One”) is a personification of evil in the world (see Job 26:12). “An OT poetic name for a powerful enemy of Jehovah; in some passages it refers to a historical empire hostile to Israel, in others to a demonic monster of some kind (see Psalms 89:10; Job 9:13; Job 26:12)” (ISBE, v. 4; pp 34). No matter how powerful one may appear they all stoop under the might of Jehovah. If the mightiest the world has to offer can do nothing but stoop beneath the Almighty then where does a man like Job stand. There is no questioning the sovereign of all creation by any creature spiritual or earthly. Recall that Job believes that God is against him for no good reason (see Job 6:4). Job sees that God has set His anger against him and he will not withdraw it (Job 9:13). The focus of Job is to find out the “why.”

Job concludes that there is no hope for the wicked and neither is their hope for the just (Job 9:15-35):

Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer; I would make supplication to my judge. If I had called, and he had answered me, yet would I not believe that he hearkened unto my voice. For he breaks me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds without cause. He will not suffer me to take my breath, but fills me with bitterness” (Job 9:15-18).

The Almighty sovereign God of creation is unapproachable in the mind of Job. Though Job may call unto the Lord and He answers yet would Job not believe that He would listen, much less give heed, to this weak and frail man’s request. Once God has determined to strike a man He will not turn his mind until the man is destroyed. Job views God as an Almighty power that could care less about man’s suffering and life. He is a God of anger and wrath in the eyes of Job. Job reasons that the Lord would not give heed to his cause because God has broken and wounded him without cause.” The cause is what Job is after. He has maintained his innocence in relation to sin and thereby cannot understand why he is going through this horrid ordeal (Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20).

If we speak of strength, lo, he is mighty! And if of justice, Who, saith he, will summon me? Though I be righteous, mine own mouth shall condemn me: though I be perfect, he shall prove me perverse” (Job 9:19-20).

Jehovah defines might and justice. No man, court system, or spiritual being has the ticket that condemns the Lord and summons Him to a court. He does nothing wrong. While the perfect God is not called into court Job is. Job; however, too is perfect and just. Yet because of God’s great might he cannot possibly think to be equal to Jehovah. If he is not equal then he must be perverse. If Job is perverse he is summoned to court. Note that Job defines Bible perfection as righteous.

I am perfect; I regard not myself; I despise my life. It is all one; therefore I say, He destroys the perfect and the wicked. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will mock at the calamity of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covers the faces of the judges thereof: if it be not he, who then is it?” (Job 9:21-24).

Job has said, “I wish I were dead” (Job 3:3 ff), “I loathe my life” (Job 7:16), and now I despise my life.” Job reasons saying, “I am perfect yet I experience calamity and therefore I despise my life.” If the perfect are not spared calamity then it is a despised life to live. No man, whether righteous or wicked, has hope of escaping the wrath of God once it has settled upon one. Job notes that the wicked prosper and are not called to court by judges. Job reasons further that if God permits these things to take place then He must be behind them in some way. If it is not the Almighty that is behind human suffering among the righteous then who is it? Job will answer this question at chapter 9:

Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that swoops on the prey. If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad countenance, and be of good cheer; I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. I shall be condemned; why then do I labor in vain” (Job 9:25-29).

Job has concluded that the righteous suffer calamity while the wicked prosper and this must be God’s will. Secondly Job contemplates the swiftness of which his life is passing by. He has lived an upright and perfect life yet his days “see no good.” Furthermore, Job considers his condemnation. While he has tried to live right God has condemned him through this horrid ordeal. Job, thereby concludes it is vain to labor in the laws of God and seek out a perfect life. The Apostle Paul; however, tells us that it is not vain to serve God (1 Corinthians 15:58). Job seems to be calling the justice and fairness of God into question.

If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet wilt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine won clothes shall abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, that we should come together in judgment. There is no umpire betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his terror make me afraid: then would I speak, and not fear him; for I am not so in myself” (Job 9:30-35).

Job considers the Almighty as inconsiderate and favoring no man (wicked or righteous) because of his calamity. No matter how morally clean Job may be Jehovah would have no care and would as soon through him in a ditch to mire him up again. Seeing that it is impossible that Jehovah be a man on equal terms with him to discuss the matter and neither is it possible that some umpire come between Job and God to plead Job’s case to the Lord. Job’s life is thereby hopeless and God has made it that way. Job has certainly lost his mastery over himself. He has charged God with being indifferent to his case and thereby hopeless. He has also charged God with not caring whether a man lives just or not due to the fact that he suffers such calamity. There continues to be a different approach to Job’s calamity between Job and his friends. Job has concluded that God, the Almighty, permits the just and unjust to suffer and therefore there is no reason for the just to be just (i.e., it is vanity).


Job 9:1-2—Job’s second response—chps. Job 9:1Job 10:22—has the same general structure as his first chps. 6—7. (1) He answers his friends, Job 9:2-24; (2) Brief soliloquy, Job 9:25Job 10:1 a; and (3) A direct address to God, Job 10:1 b–22. It is less personal than the previous speech; in fact, the three counselors are addressed only indirectly. The third section is another impassioned plea which subsides into an agonizing appeal for God to leave him alone. It is important to take note of the fact that Job responds more to the things asserted by Eliphaz than Bildad. His opening words contain a sarcastic recognition of the principle enunciated by the three friends, that no man can be righteous in God’s eyes. God’s justice is identical with his power, i.e., whatever he does is just—Job 4:12; Job 8:3; and Job 25:4.

Job 9:3—The verse in A. V. takes God as the subject of the verb. “Contend” is a forensic term meaning “go to court” with God, with the odds of winning “once in a thousand times,” literally “one from a thousand”—Deuteronomy 32:30; and Joshua 23:10.

Job 9:4—No one can challenge God and survive. One can never harden (object unexpressed) his heart (stands for intelligence) against God and win in the encounter—(Remember Pharaoh)—Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 10:16; 2 Kings 17:14; Jeremiah 7:26; Psalms 95:8; Proverbs 28:14; and Proverbs 29:1.

Job 9:5—The Hebrew text is to be preferred over LXX, etc., and thus we should take the meaning to be “suddenly,” i.e., before anyone realizes it, God has overtaken them. Job thus begins a doxology clearly more powerful than Eliphaz’s—Job 5:10-16. Content is limited to God’s power, not His love and mercy.

Job 9:6—For reference to the pillars, see Psalms 75:3; Psalms 104:5; and 1 Samuel 2:8. The verb translated “tremble” is found only here, and has root idea of “tremble with horror”—Psalms 18:7; Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10.

Job 9:7-8—God is presented as creator of the universe. Job is concurring with his three friends regarding God’s creative work in nature—Isaiah 44:24.

Job 9:9—The order and identity of these constellations varies in different texts—Job 38:31-32; Amos 5:8 : (1) The first constellation ‘ash, ‘ayish in Job 38:32, is probably Ursa major; (2) The second is kesil—fool is probably Orion; and (3) The third—kimah—is generally taken to be Pleiades—Psalms 78:26; Song of Solomon 4:16.

Job 9:10—Job ironically repeats Job 5:9 from Eliphaz. While he asserts that all of God’s works have ethical implications, Job maintains that God’s immeasurable power is used for His cosmic chess game of arbitrary play with his creatures.

Job 9:11—Job avers that he knows God’s presence only by His power, manifested in nature. As a result of God’s passing by, Job’s life lies in ruins.

Job 9:12—God “snatches away” (verb—hatap—found only here), and no one can stop Him. The LXX translation is basis of the A. V.’s “he seizeth the prey.” The LXX translator attempted to remove any reference to destructive action by God. But even the Greek of the LXX can also be translated “if he moves,” and not necessarily “if he destroys.”

Job 9:13—Job’s gratitude is now poisoned by more bitterness. God has all along only been preparing Job for torture. He thus denies the idea of strict moral causality, which has been presented by his friends. Man’s action—whether good or bad—makes no difference to God. Rahab (root—be excited or agitated) is used in Isaiah 30:7; Psalms 87:4 as designation of Egypt. Rahab is one of the sea monsters slain by God—Job 26:12; Psalms 89:11; Isaiah 51:9. It is not necessary to identify Rahab with the Babylonian Creation Epic; the Leviathan narrative already appears Job 7:12. The Source of Imagery (Formgeschichte) is one thing; its meaning is another.

Job 9:14—Here Job relates that it is impossible to face God in His cosmic court, because God would refuse Job’s summon. He would simply manifest His superior power, and Job would lie destroyed. The Hebrew which is translated as A. V. “how much less” can also mean “how much more,” or “how than.” How can Job expect to face God, if a sea monster cannot? Job would be so overwhelmed that he would be unable to choose his words in order to challenge God.

Job 9:15—Even though he is innocent, he cannot expect justice. The A. V. translates “whom though I were righteous,” but the term is forensic and probably should be translated as “in the right” or innocent. Similarly, the A. V. has “my judge,” but mesopeti—opponent—means “my accuser” or “adversary at law.” Job’s only recourse, since he cannot force a response from his adversary, is to cast himself on His mercy (first time for His theme to appear). Surely one of the central theological themes in Job is that man is hopelessly lost without God’s grace.

Job 9:16—Now God does answer Job’s summons. But Job does not have confidence in the sense of believing that God is listening, giving an ear, or paying any attention to his cries. Because God cannot be required to testify or justify His actions; He is responsible to no one but His own nature.

Job 9:17—God now is charged with “crushing” (A. V. “breaketh”) Job. The verb is used only here and in Genesis 3:15 which is often translated as “bruise,” but surely the context calls for crush or destroy. God crushes him without cause (same word as in Job 2:3) as though he were a mere trifle. God’s displeasure (ka’as as in Job 5:2 a) is not only reserved for the wicked; it also crushes the just.

Job 9:18The Hound of Heaven has filled Job with bitterness—Job 7:19; and Lamentations 3:15. Here we return to the theme of chapter 3.

Job 9:19—God’s power (koah) is here in parallelism with his judgment (mispat). God is supreme in power and thus subject to no summoner, Job included. The A. V. has “lo” from hinneh—behold. The Hebrew verb has a first person suffix “arraign me” instead “arraign him” (the difference is very slight but import is vast—yo’ideni—“arraign or summons me,” yo’idennu—arraign or summons him.” Surely this represents an effort to remove any suggestions that man could call God to account. Whether respecting power or justice, Job futiley confronts God.

Job 9:20—Even Job’s own speech condemns him. Is he saying that I am innocent; I am forced to assert my own guilt?

Job 9:21—He defends his innocence, though it may cost him his life. He would forfeit his life, but not his integrity in claiming his innocence. The intense emotional strain causes Job to cry that “I neither know myself nor care”—Job 7:16; Genesis 39:6; Deuteronomy 33:9.

Job 9:22—Is “truth forever on the scaffold and error forever on the throne?” The wicked and unjust triumph. Job shouts that God flouts justice indiscriminately. Job, like the late B. Russell, denies any moral order in the universe. This thesis also follows from contemporary attitudes expressed by Skinner, Crick, Monad, Wilson, Watson, et. al. God is indifferent to the human condition. Naturalistic humanism in all of its forms, but especially in its Neo-Marxian form, makes identical claims, while charging all non-naturalistic humanists with immoral behavior. If the universe is amoral, then there are different types of behavior, but no moral or immoral human acts. Job contradicts what Bildad has set forth in Job 8:20.

Job 9:23—The “scourge” (sot) means calamities in general, war, plague, disease, famine, etc., which take lives regardless of their spiritual condition and relationship to God—Isaiah 10:26; Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 28:18. Eliphaz has said (Job 5:22) that if Job accepted God’s discipline, he would ultimately laugh at famine and destruction. Job’s response to Eliphaz is that it is God who laughs when calamities (masas—melt, despair) come. Job says that God is not testing men by disaster, but rather destroying them.

Job 9:24—Job is enunciating a universal law, i.e., the miscarriage of justice. Earth has no definite article, and thus probably refers to more than the land. Shall the pious inherit the earth?—Psalms 37:9; Proverbs 2:21; Matthew 5:5. Job asserts just the opposite. He holds God solely responsible for the human condition. There is no Satan, or anyone else to blame. Job is actually challenging his friends to declare who is, if God is not, to blame?

Job 9:25—Complain—Complain. Job returns to a preoccupation with his own condition. From cosmic disorder to personal disorder, how pathetic. Life is passing so rapidly. It is no longer the weaver’s shuttle but the runner who serves as point of contrast—Job 7:6. The “courier” refers to a fast runner with the royal messenger service—2 Samuel 18:21-23; Isaiah 41:27; Isaiah 52:7.

Job 9:26—Reed means papyrus. (For different word, see Job 8:11.) Reed boats are very light and fast. Isaiah refers to reed vessels (kele gome)—Isaiah 18:1-2. The imagery from the second clause speaks of speed. The word “swoop” (TWS) refers in falconry to the swift swoop of the bird on the prey. The falcon can attain a speed in excess of 150 mph in such a swoop (for eagles—Job 39:27-30; Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 4:13; Habakkuk 1:8; and Lamentations 4:19. The “prey” (‘okel) is the general word for food.

Job 9:27—Literally, Job says “I will abandon my face,” i.e., I will change my countenance. His entire attitude will be changed. He will “be of good cheer” (Heb. “brighten my face”). Here we see change in two dimensions: (1) psychic, and (2) physical appearance.

Job 9:28—He no sooner decided to cheer up than he “became afraid” (same word in Job 3:25—dread). The dread fear haunted him with such intensity that his agony was only magnified.

Job 9:29Guilty without trial. (Read Kafka’s The Trial and compare). All of his efforts are futile.

Job 9:30—The Hebrew—seleg—means both soap and snow or snow water—Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 1:18, “I will make my hands never so clean”—bor, lye. In Malachi 3:2 the same word borit means the fuller’s lye soap. Lye is a vegetable alkali made from the ashes of plants—Job 22:30; Psalms 18:20; Psalms 18:24; Isaiah 1:25.

Job 9:31—The A. V. has “ditch”—sahat—which can mean the netherworld—Job 17:14; Job 33:22; Job 33:28. The context calls for filth; and the root suggests repulsive matter and slime, i.e., a characteristic of the netherworld. Job is saying if I wash my body, God would make it so filthy that my clothes would refuse to cover me.

Job 9:32—A fair trial before God is an impossibility. “Come together in judgment” means to go to court or before the law—Psalms 143:2. Here we see that a theology of commutative justice between man and God will destroy God’s transcendence and ensnare Him in the immanent trap that enslaves man. Zechariah 3:3-5 provides a beautiful background to the problem, where the acquitted defendant receives clean clothes. (Note New Testament reference to white garments, esp. in The Revelation—see my The Seer, the Saviour, and The Saved, 1972 ed. in this series of commentaries.)

Job 9:33—Since God is prejudiced by His despotic power, Job calls for an arbiter—mokiah—mediator, one who decides with equity—Genesis 31:37; Isaiah 2:4. Job is still searching for a just reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17 ff).

Job 9:34—Remove your rod (sebet—club) same word as in Psalms 23:4. To David, God’s rod was his defense against his enemies; for Job, God’s rod brings only violence and pain. To Job, the rod signifies coercion and intimidation.

Job 9:35—If there is no mediator, then I will speak for myself. But what shall I say that has not already been said?


Job Protests against God’s Treatment of Him (Job 10:1-22):

My soul is weary of my life; I will give free course to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; Show me wherefore thou contendest with me (Job 10:1-2).

We continue to compile Job’s statements regarding his disregard for his own life. He has wished to never have been born (Job 3:3), he said that he, Loathed my life (Job 7:16) and I despise my life (Job 9:21). Now Job says, My soul is weary of my life.” Job makes the same statement regarding his right to complain about his ordeal at Job 7:11 (He justifies his complaint due to his suffering / i.e., I am suffering at the hand of an angry God for no reason and thereby I have the right to complain). Now; however, it is as though he is saying that he will hold nothing back but rather say exactly what he thinks about this ordeal. While Job’s friends have condemned him Job pleads with God not to do so. Job gets back to his problem that plagues his mind day and night and that is, “What have I done to make God contend with me.”

Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thy hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Hast thou eyes of flesh? Or see thou as man sees? Are thy days as the days of man, or thy years as man’s days, That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin, Although thou knowest that I am not wicked, and there is none that can deliver out of thy hand?” (Job 10:3-7).

Job returns to the complaint about the wicked having a good o time in this life while the just suffer (see Job 9:24). Job asks God, his maker, how that He could allow one of his creation to suffer so much. Has God set his eyes and time solely upon Job to find some area of sin and then punished him to the full extent? Elephaz (Job 4:7-8) and Bildad (Job 8:4-7) have accused Job of sin. Job; however, continues to maintain his innocence by saying to God, Thou knowest that I am not wicked.” Previously we have read Job saying, I have not denied the words of the Holy One (Job 6:10). Again, Job states, Teach me, and I will hold my peace; And cause me to understand wherein I have erred (Job 6:24). Seeing that he has not sinned he has concluded that, God has set himself in array against me (Job 6:4). Job believes that God has a tight hold upon his life and desires for the Lord to loose his hand (Job 6:9).

Thy hands have framed me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast fashioned me as clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and lovingkindness; and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. Yet these things thou didst hide in thy heart; I know that this is with thee:” (Job 10:8-13).

Job reasons with God saying, “Have you framed my being as clay only to destroy me, bring me into dust, and curdle me like cheese?” Job asks the Lord, “Did you clothed me with flesh, skin, and bones and bless me with things in this life only to take me down?” Lastly, Job confidently states that God has hidden all Job’s existence in his heart. Job now states (regarding his being destroyed), I know that this is with thee.” Job had asked the question of where the source of his suffering comes from at Job 9:24 yet now states confidently that it is God’s doing.

If I sin, then thou markets me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet shall I not lift up my head; being filled with ignominy, and looking upon mine affliction. And if my head exalt itself, thou huntest me as a lion; and again thou showest thyself marvelous upon me. Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increase thine indignation upon me: changes and warfare are with me” (Job 10:14-17).

Job tells God that there is really no way for him to turn in this life. God has set his heart against him and there is absolutely no hope. If I sin you will not forgive. If I am wicked or righteous you (God) increase thine indignation upon me. Job concludes that there is no hope for such a one as he. Job knows that he has not sinned against God therefore his suffering must not be due to his sin or his righteousness. Why then is Job suffering?

Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me. I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and of the shadow of death; The land dark as midnight, the land of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as midnight” (Job 10:18-22).

Seeing that God has set himself in array against Job (see Job 6:4) he once again returns to the thought of wishing he had not been born (Job 3:3 ff).

Job begs God for a bit of relief from his agony before he leaves this world for the dark realm of the dead.


Now Job addresses himself to the “real” God. His three friends misunderstand his case. Job begins to theorize on the motives for his suffering—is God sadistic? Job 10:4; is He making a mistake? Job 10:5; is He jealous of men’s pleasure and happiness? All restraint is removed.

Job 10:1—My complaint is that “my soul is sick of life.” Job is conversing with himself. Does God have a secret motive for afflicting him?

Job 10:2—“Do not condemn me” reveals that Job as well as his friends concluded from his suffering that God holds him guilty.

Job 10:3—Dhorme translates “Is it profitable to thee?” Job here charges God with injustice. “Can there be any justification for such a state of affairs? Because God made both the righteous and the unrighteous, Job requests to know why men are not treated with equity.

Job 10:4—Job’s basic question is not does God have limitations, but can He really understand the human condition? The Hebrew Epistle declares that God not only is capable of identification with man but that His incarnation is proof—see also Philippians 2:5 ff; 1 Samuel 16:7.

Job 10:5—Are God’s days as limited as man’s; is that why He is quick to exact punishment, even before Job does evil?

Job 10:6—He does not believe that God has found any sin in his life, even though He continually searches for it.

Job 10:7—If God knows that Job is innocent, then why does He seek to extract a confession of guilt? He knows that no one can take Job from His hand. Why is He punishing Job, as though he is about to slip through His fingers?

Job 10:8-9—You formed me with your hands; why are you destroying your own creation? The potter-clay parallel is found in Genesis 3:19; Psalms 90:3; Isaiah 45:9; Jeremiah 18:4 ff; and Romans 9:20.

Job 10:10-11—The imagery alludes to the formation of the embryo in the womb. “Semen poured like milk into the womb, is coagulated like cheese, and finally bones and muscles are formed”—Psalms 139:13-16 and Ecclesiastes 11:5.

Job 10:12—By using imagery from the miracle of conception and birth, perhaps Job is affirming his belief in the providential order of God, before the suffering and pain befell him. This verse is of crucial importance for the understanding of chapters 9—10. “It shows that, although Job wrestles with God, he is conscious of his absolute dependence upon him” (Buttenweiser, Book of Job). The Hebrew text declares that God’s grace and covenant love, i.e., life and hesedPsalms 63:4 a, are gifts for which he could never be adequately grateful. Hesed means piety, mercy, love, grace, and expresses relationships within the context of covenant. Another Hebrew word, hen, expresses similar connotations with the exception of the covenant relationship. In this verse hesed conveys the marks of divine favor. God cares (literally visits) for Job. Care is also used in a negative sense of visit for punishment—Hosea 9:7, but here it means a gracious visitation. Before Job’s unbearable punishment came upon him, God graciously, providentially visited his life in constant watch-care.

Job 10:13—Job’s present condition has convinced him that God concealed His true attitude toward His “servant” Job. Job mournfully contrasts his life when he thought that God truly cared for him in his present state. God was all along preparing a victim for sacrifice. God’s calculated cruelty was part of His ultimate purpose.

Job 10:14—God was watching every act and thought of Job and had already determined to deal cruelly with Job. The word translated “mark” (same as preserved in Job 10:12) means guard or protectively watch over. God’s gracious (Hesed) watch has turned to hostility. God is no longer his protector; He is now his cruel accuser—Job 7:18-20.

Job 10:15—Does Job merit all this misfortune? He is sated with ignominy, guilt, shame, and misery—but why? Has God determined that Job suffer whether he is wicked or righteous? Job has no pride left; he cannot lift up his head—Judges 8:28; Judges 11:15; Judges 22:26. Job receives nothing from God but trouble and more trouble.

Job 10:16—If my pride (the sense of R. S. V. is best) causes me to lift up my head (Heb. “he lifts himself up”), God would immediately attack me as though I were unrighteous. God’s wonders in creation are now contrasted with His wonders (A. V. marvelous) in torturing Job.

Job 10:17—His bitterness now overflows in irony. God’s witnesses against Job are his sufferings. God is ever bringing “fresh attacks, hosts, warfare”—saba—against him. There is no relief; God is hounding him to his grave—Job 7:1; Job 14:14,

Job 10:18-19—He now returns to his lament over being born—Job 3:1 ff. Note the emphatic “lamah,” why? This is the same word our Lord cried from the cross, quoting Psalms 22:1; Matthew 27:46. This haunting theme opened the discourse. But since not being born is not a live option for Job, he just suffers. Still we see the supreme value of life. In all his suffering, Job shows no sympathy with the idea of Schopenhauer and Camus, et. at, that the ultimate philosophical problem confronting man is—Why not commit suicide, if we live in a meaningless, amoral universe?

Job 10:20—The Hebrew literally states that “my days cease.” In this verse as a whole, Job asks God to take His attention (watch-care) away from him, in order that he might find comfort. This verse and Job 10:21 a virtually quote Ps. 39:14 (or vice versa).

Job 10:21—Job aspires to go into “deep darkness”—Job 3:5; Psalms 23.

Job 10:22—This verse contains an abundance of synonyms for darkness. In Sheol, light is but darkness. He is wearing his shroud of despair as he describes the miserable prospects of death—Job 7:21; Job 14:20 ff; Job 17:13 ff; Job 21:32 ff. Job vainly attempts to harmonize the God of his past and present experience. Chaos (literally without order) reigns in Sheol as well as here. This presents bleak prospects indeed; even death will not help his situation. He is not prepared “to pull his cloak about him and lie down to pleasant dreams,” but “to be or not to be” that is still the question. Still “No light but darkness visible.” God created order; man sinned and disordered the universe—Genesis 1-3. Disorder reigns between: (1) Man and God; (2) Man and himself; (3) Man and others; and (4) Man and nature. These areas of disorder are in Job’s life and ours. He is our contemporary.


1. Job continues to maintain his innocence (Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20; Job 9:21; Job 10:7).

2. Job justifies his right to complain about his suffering seeing that he has done no wrong (Job 7:11; Job 10:1).

3. Seeing that Job is innocent he wants to know the “cause” of God permitting him to suffer (Job 6:24; Job 9:18; Job 10:2).

4. Job sees that once God has set himself in array against him (Job 6:4) and that He will not withdraw His anger (Job 9:13) until he is destroyed (Job 9:22; Job 10:8).

5. Seeing that Job is innocent yet God seeks to destroy him it is obviously vain to seek out a perfect and upright life (Job 9:29-35).

6. Consequentially, Job wishes he were never born (Job 3:3 ff), loathes his life (Job 7:16), despises his life (Job 9:21), and says, My soul is weary of my life (Job 10:1).

7. God is not fair to those who seek out perfection and righteousness in this life (Job 9:24; Job 10:3-4). God is not just in that He has fashioned man out of clay only to destroy him (Job 10:8)

8. There is no hope for Job. It doesn’t matter if Job asks God to forgive him of sin or continue in wickedness... God has set Himself in array against him and there is no hope (Job 6:4; Job 10:14-15).

9. Job, in a state of hopeless despair, tells God, Cease then and leave me alone...” (Job 10:20) (See also Job 7:16; Job 7:19).


Zophar’s First Speech (Job 11:1-20):

Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy boastings make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?” (Job 11:1-3).

Zophar, Job’s third friend to speak to him, feels duty bound to answer Job. Zophar considers Job’s charges against God and continued proclamation of innocence as boastings and mocking of God. The erring talk of Job must be answered and shamed.” Herein we find the importance of making sure that we are right before answering and shaming another brother. While the Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesian Christians to expose the dark deeds of others he by no means intended for the Ephesians to shame men in areas where no sin existed (see Ephesians 5:11).

For thou sayest, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes. But oh that God would speak, And open his lips against thee, And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth” (Job 11:4-6).

Zophar has listened to Job defend his innocence in response to Elephaz and Bildad’s charges of sin (see Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20; Job 9:21; Job 10:7). Zophar tells Job that if God were to speak to him He would expose Job’s sinfulness. Seeing that Job is such a great sinner Zophar concludes, Know therefore that God exacts of thee less than thine iniquity deserves.” Zophar believes that if Job got what he truly deserved it would be greater than the death of his children and loss of his physical health, it may be death.

Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than Sheol; What canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea. If he pass through, and shut up, And all unto judgment, then who can hinder him? For he knoweth false men: He seeth iniquity also, even though he consider it not” (Job 11:7-11).

Zophar praises the omniscience and omnipotence of God. Man cannot attain to the level of perfection of Jehovah (see Romans 11:33-34). God does not sin and He never will. The omniscient all seeing and all-knowing eye of God identifies false men and God sees all the sin committed by man. Zophar is telling Job that he, like all else, cannot go unnoticed by the Lord. Though God may not punish the wicked deeds of some men He nonetheless takes note of it.

But vain man is void of understanding, Yea, man is born as a wild ass’s colt. If thou set thy heart aright, And stretch out thy hands toward him; If iniquity be in thy hand, put it far away, And let not unrighteousness dwell in thy tents” (Job 11:12-14).

The man who refuses to identify his sins and plead with God for forgiveness is vain and void of understanding.” Job takes exception to this statement in chapter 12. Zophar recommends that Job put far away his iniquity and dwell in righteousness. Zophar is telling Job that he just needs to admit that he is not perfect and upright in heart.

Surely then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; Yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: For thou shalt forget thy misery; Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away, And thy life shall be clearer than the noonday; Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; Yea, thou shalt search about thee, and shalt take thy rest in safety. Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; Yea, many shall make suit unto thee. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, And they shall have no way to flee; And their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost” (Job 11:15-20).

Zophar tells Job that if he would only admit his error then all the misery he has experienced shall be forgotten. There is hope for those who admit their error before Jehovah. Job considered his life hopeless yet Zophar tells him there is hope (Job 10:14-15).


Job 11:1—Zophar, the third of Job’s friends, enters. He is the least original and most vitriolic of Job’s counselors. He is more intense in asserting Job’s guilt than Job is his innocence. In fact, Zophar claims that Job should be thankful that he does not get all the suffering that he deserves. His speech falls into three sections: (1) Zophar wishes that God would break His silence—Job 11:2-6; (2) God’s wisdom is beyond human comprehension—Job 11:7-12; and (3) Restoration from Job’s present situation is contingent on repentance—Job 11:13-20. He neither appeals to personal experience, as does Eliphaz, nor to the wisdom of the ancients, as does Bildad. His authority is identical with God’s authority; and his wisdom is self-authenticating. Therefore, Job fails to heed his advice at his own peril. The literary form of his speech is similar to that of Bildad, esp. Job 11:2-6 to Job 8:2; Job 11:7-12 to Job 8:3-4; and Job 11:13-19 a to Job 8:5-7. A thematic difference is that Bildad defended “divine justice,” while Zophar defends “divine wisdom” which must be defended against Job’s scandalous criticism. But like the other two friends, he, too, suggests that Job’s repentance is imperative if restoration to a happy prosperity is to be anticipated. His fundamental heresy, which is shared by contemporary western man, is that happiness will elude all non-prosperous persons.

Job 11:2—Zophar is annoyed by Job’s long speech.

Job 11:3—The word “boasting,” which is found in the A. V., comes from a Hebrew word generally meaning “idle talk,” i.e., babbling. Job has denied the doctrine of retributive justice—Job 6:28; Job 6:30; Job 9:21; Job 10:15; and in Zophar’s theology this means “mocking at religion” (A. V. “when thou mockest”)—Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:30.

Job 11:4—“My doctrine is pure” was understood by his friends to be an attack on their wisdom, by claiming a superior understanding. The phrase “in thine eyes” refers to God’s eyes. The problem is—If Job is saying that he is “pure in God’s eyes” (the Hebrew says “I am pure in your eyes”), why is he complaining about God’s injustice?

Job 11:5—Zophar believes that if God would break His silence, then Job would hear his indictment from God Himself.

Job 11:6—God’s wisdom is beyond the human mind’s comprehension. The Hebrew word hisplayim means double, not “manifold.” A. V. the sense is that God knows both the hidden and non-hidden. The last line declares that God gives Job less than he deserves.


Job Answers Zophar (Job 12:1-25):

Then Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, And wisdom shall die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: Yea, who knoweth not such things as these? I am as one that is a laughing-stock to his neighbor, I who called upon God, and he answered: The just, the perfect man is a laughing-stock” (Job 12:1-4).

Job’s patience with his three friends has worn thin. He has calmly disputed their claims of his error and maintained his innocence. Now he contends with them saying, “When you die wisdom will die with you” (as if to say you three think you are the only ones with wisdom). Job boldly proclaims, I have understanding as you; I am not inferior to you.” Yet one or both must be wrong! Job is the one undergoing the intense trial and therefore he considers this justification for his words. Job reveals to us that it is not only the ordeal of loosing his children and physical health but also the fact that he has become a laughing-stock to his neighbor.”

Job continues to question how that a just and perfect man can be a laughing stock to neighbors. The book of Job has clearly identified God’s view of man’s perfection. Job states that the perfect man is one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:1), upright (Job 1:8), opposite of evil doers (Job 8:20), righteous (Job 9:20), and is just (Job 12:4).

In the thought of him that is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; It is ready for them whose foot slippeth. The tents of robbers prosper, And they that provoke God are secure; Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these, That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this, In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:5-10).

Job considers his friends as men “at ease” in relation to hardships yet they poor contemptuous words of mockery at their friends misfortune. Job returns to his argument about God not being fair to the just, righteous and perfect. Robbers and they that provoke God prosper and are secure while the just suffer (see Job 9:24; Job 10:3). Job challenges his friends to ask the beasts, birds, the earth, and the fishes of the sea about God. Certainly they would teach and tell Elephaz, Bildad, and Zophar that God is in control of all every living thing as well as mankind.

Doth not the ear try words, Even as the palate tasteth its food? With aged men is wisdom, And in length of days understanding. With God is wisdom and might; He hath counsel and understanding. Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again; He shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening. Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up; Again, he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth. With him is strength and wisdom; The deceived and the deceiver are his. He leadeth counsellors away stripped, And judges maketh he fools. He looseth the bond of kings, And he bindeth their loins with a girdle. He leadeth priests away stripped, And overthroweth the mighty. He removeth the speech of the trusty, And taketh away the understanding of the elders. He poureth contempt upon princes, And looseth the belt of the strong. He uncovereth deep things out of darkness, And bringeth out to light the shadow of death. He increaseth the nations, and he destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and he leadeth them captive. He taketh away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth, And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. They grope in the dark without light; And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:11-25).

Job proclaims that it is as natural for him to question why he is suffering as it is for the ear to try words and for palates to taste food. Job has previously justified his complaining by looking to natural events (see Job 6:5-7; Job 7:11-15). Job looks to the providence of God and observes that He alone controls the outcomes in not only individual’s lives and courses of nature but also the direction of entire nations. Job’s point is that God is the one who is behind human suffering and every direction an animal, the earth, a man, or even nations take. Job wants to know what the point of serving such a one in perfect and just manner is if He controls every event of our lives (Reminds us of Romans 9).


Job 12:1—This is Job’s longest speech apart from his final soliloquy. Each of his three friends has spoken and has unanimously refused to accept Job’s claim to innocence. Now, after his attack on God, he turns with burning sarcasm on his three would-be counselors. In resume each has strongly asserted that a sovereign creator Lord governs the universe. In another doxology Job describes how God, in His own wisdom, guides the rise and fall of peoples, nations, and civilizations. Each participant in the drama has set forth God’s sovereignty as a theological truth but each generated a false deduction. In the concrete world of space-time, it is not often an easy task to decipher the presence of a holy, righteous God in human affairs. The friends reject the “mystery” explanations. But the empirical evidence does not always support the claims of God’s three would-be spokesmen. Job could endure this brief pitiful pilgrimage of pain if there could finally be happy reconciliation with God. But death is the end of everything (note this attitude is comparable to the contemporary Buddhist influence in American culture—“Live it up today; today is all you may have”). The speech hurtles us toward the same terminal despair as before in chapters 7 and 10. The speech falls neatly into three themes: (1) Job’s resentment of the assumed superiority of his friends and recognition of God’s power and wisdom (Job 12:2-25); (2) Rejection of the empty arguments of his friends and his determination to reason with God (Job 13:1-28); and (3) Painful acknowledgement of the brevity of life and the ultimacy of death (Job 14:1-22).

Job 12:2—Job addresses his listeners as “people of the land” Cam), who represent the upper class male citizenry. Only royalty and the priesthood rank above them. With biting sarcasm, Job suggests that wisdom will pass from the earth at their demise. They really have only a monopoly on ignorance.

Job 12:3—In view of Zophar’s comparison of Job with a wild ass in Job 11:20, Job asserts that he has ‘a heart,’ here in the American Version is translated ‘understanding’ (or comprehension). “I am not inferior to you” is repeated in Job 13:2.

Job 12:4—Job expected sympathy, but received scorn. Instead of support, his friends make him an object of derision, (Job 8:21; Jeremiah 20:7). To Job his afflictions are not God’s answers, but his despotic response to his cry for help. The just and blameless man is a laughing stock (Genesis 6; Genesis 9; Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20).

Job 12:5—This could represent an adage expressing general attitude toward anyone fallen into difficulties. Job’s prosperous friends have nothing but contempt for him in his misfortune. Job is here attacking the theology of the prosperous. The second line means that the Mends not only withhold help, they even intensify Job’s misfortune.

Job 12:6—There are a number of grammatical difficulties in this verse, but the meaning is probably “those who make a god of their own power” (Moffatt) are secure; at least the empirical evidence often suggests this deduction. This is Job’s presentation of the anomalies of God’s providence.

Job 12:7—Job begins by addressing all three Mends. Here the pronoun is in the singular, so he is focusing on one, presumably the last speaker, Zophar. The wisdom which is being exemplified by Job’s friends is common wisdom even to the lowest animals in God’s creation (Job 9:22-24). Job’s irony is resumed and concurs with the judgment of Oscar Wilde, that there is “enough misery in one narrow London lane to disprove the notion that God is love.”

Job 12:8—Why should Job’s friends emphasize God’s sovereignty over the universe, even the birds of the air and beasts of the field know it. Nature is “red in tooth and claw,” and only by brute predatory power do they prevail within nature.

Job 12:9—This is the only verse in the discourse which contains the sacred tetragrammaton (Yahweh). This is strange in that Job’s friends are Arabs, and not children of the covenant. But the root significance of Yahweh is probably at the heart of the discussion; i.e., the cause of everything is God. The phrase is a direct quotation of Isaiah 41:20 (or vice versa). See the quotation in Job 1:21 also. The pronoun “this” is obscure. To what does it refer? Perhaps to all that Zophar has said, or rather, all that Job has asserted in Job 12:4 ff concerning the amoral nature of the universe.

Job 12:10—God is Lord of every “human individual”—Jeremiah 32:27; Numbers 16:22; and Numbers 17:16. The words translated “life” and “breath” are the same ones rendered “soul” and “spirit” in Job 7:11.

Job 12:11—As the palate tastes food, so the intelligence of man evaluates available ideas. Job suggests that the ideas of his friends are not palatable—Jonah 3:7; Daniel 3:10; Eze 4:21; Proverbs 26:16; 1 Samuel 21:14.

Job 12:12—Taken as an assertion the content does not seem to accord with Job’s other words. But taken as a question with a negative implication, it accords with his previous evaluation. The discourse clearly reveals the futility of dialogue between persons whose ultimate presuppositions are mutually exclusive. Fruitful discussion requires a clear definition and the public awareness of the assumptions on which the discussion stands. Job and his friends have different views of God and His transcendence and immanence within nature and history.

Job 12:13God only has power and wisdom (2 Kings 18:20). Though Job’s friends have not asserted that might and wisdom are possessions which only the “old” may receive, neither does Job assert that God keeps all of this wisdom and power to Himself. The universe reveals God’s absolute power, but does not expose His cosmic expression of justice. If God is the ultimate source of all things (Job 12:13-21), then He is responsible for pain and suffering.

Job 12:14—God’s sovereignty is cosmic. And man, especially Job, cannot discern any moral dimension in His violence. The victims of God’s violence are from both the wicked and the righteous—Psalms 107; Isaiah 54:24ff. Compare the verbatim agreement of Psalms 107 and Job 12:21 a and 24b. Though God’s might may be applied with loving kindness and beneficence, Job sees only destructive violence and human ruin. The imprisonment to which God shuts up the universe is to be taken both figuratively and literally.

Job 12:15—Job presents an example of God’s amoral behavior by the extremes of flood and drought. God has the power to dominate the water systems of His creation, but He does so with complete disregard for man’s needs. God’s might is arbitrary and despotic.

Job 12:16—God’s wisdom is always efficient, i.e., it is always victorious. All of mankind falls into one of the two categories—deceived or deceiver. Thus far God has been scrutinized under three categories: (1) wisdom and power, (2) counsel and understanding, and (3) might and prudence—compare with Job 11:7-10. But Job denies Zophar’s conclusion about evil—Job 11:11.

Job 12:17—God makes all human counselors go stripped or barefoot—Micah 1:8. Perhaps the meaning is that God leads all would-be counselors into confusion or error.

Job 12:18—Here we encounter imagery of the liberation of prisoners (Isaiah 52:2; Psalms 116:16). In Job 39:5, the words are applied to a wild ass’s release from restraint. This verse contrasts former glory with present humiliation. The binding of a king’s loins is an image of being reduced to the status of a menial laborer. They are stripped of their royal robes and sandals and made to work with their hands and backs. Theirs have been troubled economic times, too.

Job 12:19—Even the established (‘etanim means perpetual, Jeremiah 5:14) authorities in the cultural are humiliated. Priests are mentioned only here in Job. Honored and influential persons are as nothing in the face of God’s power.

Job 12:20—The honored community leaders are baffled by a sudden turn from prosperity to ruin. Compare with persons who lost their fortunes in 1929 or since through bad investments. The spokesmen for the community are reduced to silence (deprived of speech, literally, removes the lip). Their discernment (taste-palate) is also removed.

Job 12:21Psalms 107:40 is identical with the first line of this verse and the second line of Job 12:24. The belt—Psalms 109:19 referred to here was used to strengthen the back, especially during hard labor. The word aphik normally means ‘water-channels’ but here ‘strong.’ Streams are called aphikim because they follow rapidly or strongly.

Job 12:22—God recovers plots and conspiracies out of the deepest darkness. Before Him, there is no hiding place. Nothing designed by men can be hidden from the sovereign Lord of creation. He exposes all secrets. Even Sheol cannot hide its prey from Him.

Job 12:23—Another example of the amoral nature of the universe is seen in the rise and fall of nations and civilizations. God’s arbitrary exercise of power is visible in the “rise” and “fall” of world powers.

Job 12:24—Where there is no intelligence (literally heart-rendered understanding in A. V.) no nation or civilization can long endure. When the organizing principle of any social group is either abandoned or forgotten, it does not have long to live. Compare the second part of this verse with Psalms 107:40 b, where the Hebrew is identical. The “no way” of A. V. is waste (Heb. tohu—Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:10) or disordered. The “formless” of our translations makes no sense, as matter cannot be formless, but it can be disordered. Job is here setting forth a philosophy of history and culture.

Job 12:25—Men grope in unrelieved darkness. They grope as blind men and stagger or wander—Job 12:24. When God removes understanding, men continue to move and function, but purposelessly (Psalms 107:27; Isaiah 19:14; Isaiah 24:20; Romans 1:18 ff; Proverbs 29:18; and John 1:18; Colossians 1:17; Ephesians 1:10). Life is meaningless to millions in our present world because nothing and no one organizes their lives meaningfully. But if the universe is purposeless and thus amoral, then what else could either Job or contemporaries expect? H. Thielicke says of our world—that it is the first generation which has “absolutized nothingness.”’


Job continues his reply to Zophar (Job 13:1-28):

Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, Mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you” (Job 13:1-2).

Elephaz, Bildad, and Zophar have observed things about God and consequentially charges against Job. Job says, wait a moment, I too have understanding and have made observations about God and man. I am not inferior unto you.” While one group maintains Job’s guilt and consequential sin the man Job continues to maintain his innocence and thereby has no answer as to why God is doing this to him. One must be correct or neither correct!

Surely I would speak to the Almighty, And I desire to reason with God. But ye are forgers of lies; Ye are all physicians of no value. Oh that ye would altogether hold your peace! And it would be your wisdom. Hear now my reasoning, And hearken to the pleadings of my lips (Job 13:3-6).

Zophar seems to have pushed the final button with Job. He has had all he can stand of his three friends forgers of lies... and physicians of no value.” Job requests that his friends would stop trying to help him and just be quiet. While he has listened to their stinging rebuke he now pleads with them to try to understand where he is coming from.

Will ye speak unrighteously for God, And talk deceitfully for him? Will ye show partiality to him? Will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out? Or as one deceiveth a man, will ye deceive him? He will surely reprove you, If ye do secretly show partiality. Shall not his majesty make you afraid, And his dread fall upon you? Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay” (Job 13:7-12).

Job now charges Elephaz, Bildad, and Zophar with sin. Due to their speaking un-righteously and deceitfully for God He will surely reprove you.” Job tells his friends that their memorable sayings about his sin and consequential suffering are as ashes and their defense as clay. Job tells his friends that their charges of sin are merely clay assumptions on their part.

Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak; And let come on me what will. Wherefore should I take my flesh in my teeth, And put my life in my hand? Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope: Nevertheless I will maintain my ways before him. This also shall be my salvation, That a godless man shall not come before him” (Job 13:13-16).

Job tells his friends to not speak to him any longer and to “leave me alone.” Job has concluded that God will “slay me; I have no hope.” Job has concluded that once God has set himself against one there is no hope for such a one (see Job 6:4; Job 10:14-15). Though there is no hope of living Job shall maintain my ways before him (i.e., I am innocent-see Job 6:10; Job 6:24; Job 7:20; Job 9:21; Job 10:7) as he has done all along. Job’s only hope is that he knows that a godless man will not stand in the day of judgment before God yet a righteous man will. Job has no hope on earth but there is hope after this life.

Hear diligently my speech, And let my declaration be in your ears. Behold now, I have set my cause in order; I know that I am righteous. Who is he that will contend with me? For then would I hold my peace and give up the ghost. Only do not two things unto me; Then will I not hide myself from thy face: Withdraw thy hand far from me; And let not thy terror make me afraid. Then call thou, and I will answer; Or let me speak, and answer thou me” (Job 13:17-22).

Job once more confidently affirms, I know that I am righteous and demands that his friends give a heedful ear. Job asks two things from his friends: First, take away their hands of reproach and secondly, stop trying to terrorize me with your fearful sayings.

How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, And holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou harass a driven leaf? And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? For thou writest bitter things against me, And makest me to inherit the iniquities of my youth: Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, And markest all my paths; Thou settest a bound to the soles of my feet: Though I am like a rotten thing that consumeth, Like a garment that is moth-eaten” (Job 13:23-28).

Job now challenges God with hiding his face and counting him as His enemy. Job maintains his innocence confidently before God. The only sins that Job knows of are the sins of his youth. Job wants God to tell him where he has messed up in life to deserve such treatment. He knows that he has not sinned against God and thereby demands that God tell him why he is causing all this suffering. Bold words from a man to Jehovah God.


Job 13:1—Job warns of defending God dishonestly: by opposing his experience to that of Eliphaz—Job 4:8; Job 4:12; Job 5:3; Job 5:27. He turns to face God with his charges regardless of the cost.

Job 13:2—This is a repetition of Job 12:3 b.

Job 13:3—Job’s “but as for me” is possibly a sarcastic response to Eliphaz’s use of the same phrase. He told Job “but as for me, I would seek God.” Job replies, “but as for me,” I will challenge him to defend His behavior. Job desires to “reason” (cf. Isaiah 1:18—reflective, reason together) with God. The term is a juridical word which means argue, reprove, reason in the sense of establish a case. Two emphatic words strongly set forth Job’s commitment to debate God, rather than his counselors. He denounces them.

Job 13:4—He accused his friends with forging a lie (“plasterers of lies”—verb means “to besmear” Psalms 119:69) to cover up the pain and agony which God causes. They are healers of no value (eli—may come from the root, not, i.e., worthless). Physicians, heal yourselves!

Job 13:5—Even a fool that is silent is counted among the wise—Proverbs 17:28. He implies that if his friends are truly wise they would show it by their silence. It is not their lot to shatter God’s silence.

Job 13:6—Hear (emphatic in Hebrew) my reproof—Proverbs 1:23-25. The noun is from a root to “argue my case” (Job 13:3). The R. S. V. is perhaps the best translation of this verse. Now to the impeachment in Job 13:7-9.

Job 13:7—Literally, you speak injustice (noun “wrong” Job 6:29; and parallel to deceit in Job 27:4). For God is in the emphatic position. The meaning is that—For God—you lie or speak deceitfully. Will you defend God by speaking “proverbs of ashes”?

Job 13:8—Will you present God your face as His defender? What would God think (and do) if He investigated your actions? If God is a foe of injustice, He would be your foe. God’s cause is always the “cause of truth.” He is not flattered by your present dishonorable behavior. Why show favoritism with God, if He is just?

Job 13:9—Sarcasm continues to flow as mighty waters from Job’s mouth. God is the sovereign creator of everything; He cannot be flattered. If God “searched” out the truth (same word used by Eliphaz Job 5:27) He would condemn you too.

Job 13:10Job’s prediction is later fulfilled, Job 42:7 f. The paradox here is seen as Job affirms his own righteous indignation against lying deceivers, and the creator of the universe seems less concerned than he is. This thesis is shared by contemporary naturalistic humanists who build their world-live view on the assumption of the inherent worth of the individual. Yet scientific naturalism’s “functional” view of man precludes any defense of such a universal value. There is no way to empirically justify a universal moral value.

Job 13:11—There is a magnificent play on words here in the Hebrew text. The parallelism between God’s majesty (se’etho) or “lifting up” and “show partiality” indicates that God’s face (lift up his face) will strike fear or horror not joy in the beholder.

Job 13:12—Job accuses his friends of coming to his aid with “proverbs of ashes.” (Zikrom—maxims or memorials) Their words serve no purpose; they are already dead. Their answers (gabbim) are like crumbling clay (4:70), with biting sarcasm he becomes more aggressive. “How long will you rake trifles” or debris (megabbeb)? Your words and arguments are useless bits of clay.

Job 13:13—The pronoun I is emphatic. Once more he is asking that his friends keep silent that he may speak to God.

Job 13:14—There is a problem in this verse in that it begins with “why.” But the sense is clear enough; since his life may pass away any moment, he will not hesitate to risk his life (Hebrew nepes) by confronting God (Judges 12:3; 1 Samuel 19:5; and 1 Samuel 28:21).

Job 13:15—With abandoned desperation, Job is prepared to challenge God. Yet (A. V. nevertheless is strong Hebrew adversative) absolutely nothing will cause Job to refrain from defending his innocence. His suffering is not self-entailed, his conscience is clear. He is not a rebel without a cause. Job is not revolting against God; rather he is going to face Him. Evil men inevitably run from the face or presence of God, as Adam did (Genesis 3:8) and Jonah.

Job 13:16—Perhaps he can be saved by boldness, as Dostoevsky mistakenly thought, that man could be saved by suffering, to whom all suffering was vicarious. To Job, his readiness to face God is his guarantee of innocence. He believes that if God should speak to him, He would do so favorably. But love alone knows the healing art.

Job 13:17—’Job calls for his opponents to listen carefully. Hear is a plural imperative—Job 13:6.

Job 13:18—Job says I will set my things in order (Genesis 22:9; Psalms 23:5; Job 23:4-5; Job 27:19) and gain for myself acquittal (Job 11:2).

Job 13:19—My things are in order—now “who can contend with me” (Isaiah 1:8)? Who can sustain the charge of guilty? If one could reveal to him his guilt, he would gladly become silent and acknowledge his wickedness—through silence.

Job 13:20—Spare me two things: (1) one request is negative, (2) one positive. The substance of Job’s present request has been presented before in Job 9:34; see also Isaiah 51:19; Jeremiah 2:13. God first gives Job peace “in suffering” before relief “from suffering.” Job addresses God directly throughout the remainder of his speech.

Job 13:21—Job’s two-pronged request is here stated: (1) “withdraw your hand” (yadecha) used in both positive sense of protection, and negative sense of afflicting pain and suffering (Exodus 33:22; and (2) do not use your sovereign power to terrify me.

Job 13:22—The imagery is that of a law court where Job offers to appear as either appellant or respondent—Job 14:15. The call is for either fellowship or indictment.

Job 13:23—Job boldly asks for God to list the number and nature of his sins. There are three different Hebrew words for sin used here: (1) root meaning to deviate from prescribed course; (2) root to miss attaining a goal or fulfilling an intentionally chosen goal; and (3) root form to revolt, freely rebel (Psalms 51).

Job 13:24—God does not break His silence.

Job 13:25—The A. V. harass should be translated something like terrify. Why should God, as sovereign of the universe, assail one so trivial and impotent to meet His challenge—Psalms 1:4?

Job 13:26—Has some sin in my youth brought on your bitter punishment? (Psalms 25:7) The word translated “bitter” is used of poison Job 20:14, and gall bladder in Job 20:25.

Job 13:27—The three images employed here suggest arrest and the impossibility of escape (Job 33:11). God draws a line and no one can step beyond it. Slaves were identified by markings on various parts of the body (Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 49:16), apparently also on the sole of the slaves’ feet, in order to make tracking easier.

Job 13:28—His life is rotten and like a pest-eaten vine decaying with no hope of recovery. This is despair conceived in the womb of pessimism and fathered by “manacles of the mind.”


Job speaks of Man’s Frailty (Job 14:1-22):

Man, that is born of a woman, Is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one, And bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. Seeing his days are determined, The number of his months is with thee, And thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; Look away from him, that he may rest, Till he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day” (Job 14:1-6).

Job seems to be calmed down after he has ranted and raved about the foolishness of his friends. Job looks to man and sees that he is born of a woman, lives a few days, and these days are full of trouble.” All of mankind faces troubles of some sort in life. Though man’s beginnings are likened unto a beautiful flower they soon fade in weakness. In this weakened state God judges man. You may recall that Jacob had made a similar response to Pharaoh of Egypt when he was asked how old he was. Jacob said, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Genesis 47:8

Job understands man to be those God closely watches and sets the limits of time upon their lives. Job then asks if the Lord could look away from him for a moment that he may enjoy a bit of rest before his time ends.

For there is hope of a tree, If it be cut down, that it will sprout again, And that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, And the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, And put forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and is laid low: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, And the river wasteth and drieth up; So man lieth down and riseth not: Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, Nor be roused out of their sleep. Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol, That thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:7-13).

Job considers the tree that even has hope. If a tree is cut down its stump may die but the roots will sprout new growth and it will live again. Yet when man dies there is no coming back to the earth. Job asks the question, “Once a man dies where is he?” There was apparently not much revealed at this point regarding man’s resurrection and life after death in. Job seems to hint at an understanding that this life is short, his suffering will be over once in Shoel, and then he prays that once God’s wrath is past that he would remember me.”

Solomon wrote, He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God has created each individual with an inner knowledge that enables him to have an understanding or yearning for eternity.” Man, by nature, exhibits this truth by having inner feelings of dissatisfaction with sinful things of this life. Not only so but God has given man the inner ability to know right from wrong (Romans 2:14-15). Man has been divinely created to perceive divine design from personal observations of the universe (Romans 1:20 ff). Man personally observes and knows innately that homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27) and marring the distinctive lines of male and female (1 Corinthians 11:14) goes against the divine design of God’s creation.

If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, Till my release should come. Thou wouldest call, and I would answer thee: Thou wouldest have a desire to the work of thy hands. But now thou numberest my steps: Dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, And thou fastenest up mine iniquity” (Job 14:14-17).

Job states that if a man shall live after he dies then he would patiently wait out his horrid ordeal. Now; however, is the present and God continues to watch over his sin and seal it up in a bag and hold it against him.

But the mountain falling cometh to nought; And the rock is removed out of its place; The waters wear the stones; The overflowings thereof wash away the dust of the earth: So thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth; Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not; And they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. But his flesh upon him hath pain, And his soul within him mourneth” (Job 14:18-22).

Just when Job seems to be making strides in understanding his plight he reverts to his error. Job continues to see God as one who removes and destroys hope from man. Job sees his life before him as one that God prevails over until his death. Once such a one as Job dies he will not know the honor that comes to his sons or anything else that happens on the earth. Meanwhile; however, there is nothing but pain and mourning that occupies the current life.


Job 14:1—Job continues to generalize his agonizing cry, returning to the theme expressed in Job 7:17. Man’s[160] frail origin betrays him to the suffering in an amoral universe. Life is so short (Job 7:6 ff; Job 9:25 f; Genesis 47:9). Here both pity and contempt are mixed as oil and water. His condition arouses the contrary feelings of wonder and despair. The Hebrew text will not sustain the assumption of some of the Church Fathers that this verse sets forth the doctrine of “original sin.” Job 14:7-12 are parallel strophes which sharply contrast man’s limitations, not just Job’s. Here we encounter another paradox; if Job is describing the condition of humanity, why is he preoccupied with his own plight? Wonder is a powerful human response to reality. Plato correctly claims that all series thinking (Philosophy) begins with wonder. Again in the decade of the ‘60’s wonder appeared in the Dionysian spirit re-dividius. Sam Keen’s Apology for Wonder can be celebrated only because of God’s Wonder, Christ (Isaiah 9:1 ff) “and His name dull be called wonder.” The Hebrew word is a noun-wonder, not an adjective, which is translated by “wonderful.”

Job 14:2—In Job’s powerful description he uses a verb “comes forth” which is often applied to plants—Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 40:6 f; Psalms 90:6; Psalms 103:15 f; Job 8:9; James 1:10 f. Nothing is more ephemeral than a flower. “Life’s but a walking shadow” (Macbeth) Even the longest life is but a brief flickering candle—Psalms 90:9-10 and filled with strife (rogez—also Job 3:17; Job 3:26).

Job 14:3—Why should God scrutinize one so ephemeral as man? To “open your eyes” means to focus attention on or to pay attention to. “Me” is in the emphatic position which focuses attention on Job.

Job 14:4—Pope, et al. suggest that this verse be deleted because the context speaks of the shortness of life and not his wickedness. Job is concerned with his sin and guilt in Job 14:16-17. “Who will give (Hebrew mi yitten) cleanness to the unclean?” The text says “not one,” but ultimately only God.

Job 14:5—Since man’s life is so short, why doesn’t God just leave him alone? The verse contains a rather fatalistic note. If God has determined (literally cut, perhaps engrave a statute on stone) everything and it is thus under his control, let these conditions suffice Him.

Job 14:6—God, stop your cruel surveillance of man. Let him alone—Ps. 39:14. Let him enjoy each day like a laborer who receives his reward each evening at the close of the work day (Job 7:1). Job’s attitude was completely at variance with that of Milton who ever lived “under the Great Taskmaster’s eye.”

Job 14:7—The figures now change to a tree. Trees can be cut down, but some species will sprout again. Even trees have more hope than men (Job 14:7-9 reveal Near Eastern custom of cutting trees off in order to produce new life.)

Job 14:8—A tree may not be completely dead, but drought retards its growth. The roots are withering in the ground.

Job 14:9—But the scent of water will bring new hope for life (Psalms 92:12 f; and Proverbs 14:11).

Job 14:10—There are two Hebrew roots for man in this verse, one “to be strong” and “to be weak.” (The word translated “laid low” in A. V. is h-l-s—weakening, defeating, or helpless; the “gibbor” is a strong person, translated in A. V. as “giveth up the ghost.”) Even a strong man dies and is no more (Joel 3:10). Job here reflects a very limited view of life after death.

Job 14:11—Though the contexts are different, the second line of this verse is identical with Isaiah 19:5 b. Dhorme’s point is well taken regarding the word rendered “sea.” The Hebrew term is used in a wider sense than the sea; it can mean a lake (Isaiah 19:5). The sea could not dry up; if it did it would not make any difference to the dead.

Job 14:12—When man lies down to pleasant dreams, “they shall not wake,” as long as the heavens do not burst.

Job 14:13—Job passionately longs for life. If there is a positive possibility of life after death, then Job could endure the present affliction. The abode of the dead (Sheol) could be Job’s hiding place. (Read Isaiah 26:20 and Amos 9:2.) Perhaps he is acknowledging a belief in life after death, or a strong desire that there might be one.

Job 14:14—The LXX omits the interrogative, and makes Job deliver a positive claim—“he shall live again.”‘ The image is derived from a military figure of soldiers being relieved after strenuous service—Job 7:1.

Job 14:15—Again two views of God are struggling within Job’s heart. He “longs for” the former days of fellowship with God, from which his present agony has cut him off. Job so deeply longs for this relationship with God (Hebrew, care, be pale, color of silver) (Genesis 31:30; Psalms 84:3; and Isaiah 29:22) that he is sick with care.

Job 14:16—This verse probably continues Job 14:15, so R. S. V., but not A. V. God is graciously watching over Job’s every step; then, all of a sudden, God is jealously observing every detail in his life. Job’s hope is in the future; perhaps God will change His attitude toward him. The negative particle “not” in Job 14:16 is inserted in order to smooth out the poetic parallelism. Job has vehemently complained—Job 7:12; Job 7:19, of God’s tyrannical observation, as a cosmic moral efficiency expert; now he hopes for grace rather than surveillance.

Job 14:17—The imagery reflects that of accounting or recording of Job’s sins. He seeks to be acknowledged as righteousness. Righteousness is always a correlate of right relations in our daily experiences. Job has come as a Titan hoping to meet God as an equal. There has been no room for “grace” in the relationship. Job desires to meet God face to face but “neither to change nor falter, nor repent." Job has sought justification by seeking righteousness. “Rather than seek help he would prefer to be himself with all the tortures of hell, if so it must be.” Job has come before God with a radical over-self estimate of himself; and therein is his “sickness unto death.’"

Job 14:18—How can man hope to escape destruction, since the greatest mountains can be leveled, and the deepest valleys covered over. Impermanence is the central theme.

Job 14:19—As water erodes the stones, so God is destroying (eroding) man’s hope. Job here dismisses the very possibility of life after death. We can hope—until that ultimate leveler—death smashes our last moment of life.

Job 14:20—In man’s last moment of struggle against death, he is defeated by the despair of finality. Death is extreme and permanent in its conflict with human hope. The phrase “sends them away” is a verb used euphemistically of dying—“The land from whose borne no traveler has returned”—Job 10:21; 2 Samuel 12:23; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Ecclesiastes 3:20; and Psalms 39:13.

Job 14:21—The dead have no knowledge—Ecclesiastes 9:5. This is the fate of all mankind. Even children, who think only of life, also share in this fate—Job 1:9. Consciousness in death is limited only to the dead individual, so claims Job. Those who “come to honor” are also “brought low.” The sense of R. S. V. is more in line with the text than that of the A. V.

Job 14:22—Job now abandons the traditional resolution of man’s troubles, that of leaving a prosperous family behind. But Job has no family. Whether the source be Job or classical naturalistic liberals, it is not very exciting to hope only in the survival of humanity—Job 18:13 and Isaiah 66:24.

The first series of speeches is ended. Job is enslaved more deeply in despair than in the initial lament. The “slough of despond” is deeper than his pain. “There he was ‘half in love with easeful death’“ here he stands alone before “the grisly terror” (Job, Interpreters Bible, Vol. III, p. 1015). But “Death Be Not Proud” for The Shattering of Silence is yet to come.


1. Zophar, like Bildad and Eliphaz before him, charges Job with sin (see Job 11:6; Job 11:11-14).

2. Job continues to identify the Bible concept of perfect.” The perfect man is one who fears God and turns away from evil (Job 1:1), upright (Job 1:8), opposite of evil doers (Job 8:20), righteous (Job 9:20), and is just (Job 12:4).

3. Job continues to justify his complaining and questioning the “why” or “cause” of his suffering (Job 12:11-12; see also Job 6:5-7; Job 7:11-15).

4. Job continues to maintain his innocence (Job 13:3-12).

5. Job continues to view his life as one of no hope (Job 13:15).

6. Job continues to believe that God’s wrath is being pored out upon him (Job 14:13) and thereby God is against him (Job 13:23-28). Job believes that God is not fair to those who strive for perfection in this life (Job 12:5-6; see also Job 9:24; Job 10:3).

7. Job considers eternity in light of his current suffering (Job 14:14).


Eliphaz Reaffirms his charges of Sin against Job (Job 15:1-35)

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said, Should a wise man make answer with vain knowledge, and fill himself with the east wind?” (Job 15:1-2).

We were introduced to Eliphaz (along with Bildad and Zophar) at Job 2:11. Eliphaz was the first of Job’s friends to speak to him (see Job 4:1 ff). Eliphaz, after listening to Job bemoan his situation, told Job that he is suffering due to some wrong he has committed in his life (Job 4:4-9). Eliphaz further suggested that Job take God’s correction and chastening with a happy disposition (Job 5:17) because such correction is for Job’s “good” (Job 5:27). Eliphaz has heard his two other friends likewise charge Job with sin and he has listened to Job’s response. Job has maintained his innocence and Eliphaz continues to be flabbergasted at Job’s unwillingness to admit that he has sin in his life. Job’s words, in the mind of Eliphaz, are as “vain knowledge and the east wind.”

Should he reason with unprofitable talk, or with speeches wherewith he can do no good? Yea, thou doest away with fear, and hinderest devotion before God. For thine iniquity teaches thy mouth, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty. Thine own mouth condemns thee, and not I; Yea, thine own lips testify against thee” (Job 15:3-6).

Eliphaz charges Job with spending useless time in speeches that will not remove his current distress. To plead one’s case of innocence, to justify one’s complaining against God’s chastening, to charge God with being against you is all useless in relation to gaining relief from the current distress. Job needs to admit he has sinned and repent before the God of heaven. Eliphaz believes that Job’s ranting and charging God with being unfair, unmerciful, and not listening to man’s affairs has in itself condemned him as a sinner.

Art thou the first man that was born? Or wast thou brought forth before the hills? Hast thou heard the secret counsel of God? And dost thou limit wisdom to thyself? What knowest thou, that we know not? What understandest thou, which is not in us? With us are both the grayheaded and the very aged men, much elder than thy father” (Job 15:7-10).

The conversation between Job and his three friends has turned more personal now. Job has charged his friends with being liars and deceitful (Job 13:4 ff) and his friends have charged him with having a disposition of superiority. The three friends Job is talking with are apparently men of great age (gray-headed and the very aged men).

Are the consolations of God too small for thee, even the word that is gentle toward thee? Why doth thy heart carry thee away? And why do thine eyes flash, That against God thou turnest thy spirit, and lettest words go out of thy mouth? What is man, that he should be clean? And he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?” (Job 15:11-14).

Eliphaz continues to treat Job as a sinner who is ungrateful for the provisions God has made for such a one as he. While Job has thought that God has set Himself in array (Job 6:4) with wrath (Job 14:13) against him Eliphaz says that it is Job that has actually set himself against God.”

Behold, he puts no trust in his holy ones; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight: how much less one that is abominable and corrupt, a man that drinks sin like water!” (Job 15:15-16).

Eliphaz reminds Job that there are even unclean angels (holy ones that have lost their sanctification) that God puts no trust in (see 2 Peter 2; Jude). How does Job think that God will consider his state of perfection seeing that he drinks sin like water?”

I will show thee, hear thou me; and that which I have seen I will declare (Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it; unto whom alone the land was given, and no stranger passed among them): the wicked man travails with pain all his days, even the number of years that are laid up for the oppressor” (Job 15:17-20).

Eliphaz confidently tells Job of his observations through the years regarding the wicked and consequential suffering. Eliphaz has concluded by careful observation that man suffers because of his sin.

A sound of terrors is in his ears; in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him. He believes not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword. He wanders abroad for bread, saying, where is it? He knows that the day of darkness is ready at his hand. Distress and anguish make him afraid; they prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle. Because he hath stretched out his hand against God and behaved himself proudly against the Almighty” (Job 15:21-25).

Eliphaz has furthered observed that the wicked have distress and anguish.” Job has repeatedly asked for the cause of his distress and anguish (see Job 6:24; Job 9:18; Job 10:2). Eliphaz answers Job’s question by saying, Job, you are suffering Because he hath stretched out his hand against God and behaved himself proudly against the Almighty.”

He runs upon him with a stiff neck, with the thick bosses of his bucklers; because he hath covered his face with his fatness, and gathered fat upon his loins; and he hath dwelt in desolate cities, in houses which no man inhabited, which were ready to become heaps; he shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall their possessions be extended on the earth. He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of God’s mouth shall he go away” (Job 15:26-30).

The man with a stiff neck... that is proud... that is blinded to his spiritual condition due to his substance...” shall be ruined. The wicked proud man shall live in desolate cities, he shall not be rich, his substance and possessions shall not continue, and he shall not depart from dark days of life.

Let him not trust in vanity, deceiving himself; for vanity shall be his recompense. It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green. He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive-tree. For the company of the godless shall be barren, and fire shall consume the tents of bribery. They conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity, and their heart prepares deceit” (Job 15:31-35).

Eliphaz pleads with the ungodly to not trust in vanity and neither be deceived by deluded visions of innocence where there is guilt. Eliphaz charges Job with putting his trust in his wealth and now its gone! The end of the wicked is barren and consumed with fire.


“Every man is a potential adversary, even those whom we love,” Reuel L. Howe

In times of crisis people tend to withdraw timidly. “We do not want anything to happen . . . Seven years we’ve lived quietly, succeeded in avoiding notice, living and partly living . . . but now a great fear is on us,” Chorus in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in The Cathedral

Men are mesmerized by the magic of media in our global village, yet “Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; and Universal Darkness buries All,” J. Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake

“God’s implicated in that cruelty if He has the power to control it,” Ivan in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

Job 15:1—The second cycle of speeches now begins. Eliphaz’s second speech—Job 15:1-35—has an entirely different ring to it than his first speech—chapters 4—5. In his first speech he looked on Job as a wise, God-fearing man—Job 4:3-6. Now after hearing Job deny his guilt, reject the thesis that his suffering is the inevitable result of his sins, and challenge God to explain his existential situation to him, Eliphaz’s deep insecurity finds expression in his attack on the person of Job. The encouraging tone of the first speech—reward to the righteous—has escaped from his consoling heart, and now the negative and menacing one—punishment of the unrighteous—controls the speech. He accuses Job with being a windbag, full of hot air. The word “wise” is emphatic in the text and means “a truly wise man.” Job’s claim to wisdom, which is in complete opposition to the wisdom of the ancients, is adjudged to be sheer arrogance. Job is now presented as a rebel without a cause; whereas Eliphaz in his first speech asserted Job’s essential piety, now he is hardened against the sovereign creator of heaven and earth. God’s moral perfection has been set forth in Eliphaz’s first speech, while Bildad eloquently presents His unchanging justice, and Zophar His omniscience (all knowing). Job’s responses have thus far failed to prick either their conscious or God’s concern for his suffering. Now in Eliphaz’s second speech, the irreligious and impious Job is confronted with his inevitable fate: (1) Job is rebuked for his irreverent rashness—Job 15:2-6; (2) Denounced for his presumptive confidence in his superior wisdom—Job 15:7-16; and (3) The doctrine of the fate of the wicked—Job 15:17-35.

Job 15:2—Job has claimed that his wisdom is not inferior to that of his friends—Job 8:2; Job 11:2; Job 12:3; and Job 13:2. This stance receives Eliphaz’s blistering denunciation—it’s all empty (ruah and hebet) knowledge. The parallel between Job’s words and the dreaded, hot violent searing sirocco winds is self-evident. If Job were truly wise, he would have better arguments.

Job 15:3—Eliphaz picks up a Jobian word from Job 13:3; Job 13:6, and deduces that Job’s arguments are profitless (lit. “which does not profit,” used five times in Job in this sense). The words are useless; they neither convince nor convict.

Job 15:4—Job’s words bring only pain and spiritual suffocation to man. His speech does away with reverence (sihah—meditation—Psalms 119:97-99, fear) of God—Job 4:6. In fact, Job’s words, if taken seriously, would destroy his religion, and impair the faith of others. The verb employed here means “to violate” the covenant or vow. This meaning of the first line of the verse is confirmed by the second line, as Eliphaz asserts that Job’s words are hindering—lit. “diminishing”—devotions in others. Eliphaz’s orthodoxy is both threatened and challenged. But Job remains a seeker after Truth who is still deeply pious. Still we hear their outcry—“What further need have we of witnesses?” Matthew 26:65.

Job 15:5—Job’s blasphemous utterances are too grounded in his diabolical desire to conceal his own evil heart. Job is, like the “crafty” (used here and Job 5:12) serpent of Genesis 3:1 ff, attempting to misrepresent God. The Hebrew can be translated several ways, but “your guilt teaches your mouth” is, in accordance with the parallelism of Job 15:5 b, to be preferred. Eliphaz, like his many contemporary counterparts, seeks to psychoanalyze Job, rather than answer his arguments. Job’s attempts to express his innocence, Eliphaz insinuates, are really efforts to hide his guilt (cf. Freudian rationalization).

Job 15:6—Eliphaz is arguing that Job’s own protestation of innocence is his own condemnation—Job 9:20. Thus far Job has admitted only of youthful sins—Job 13:26, but he has asserted that God could coerce him into a false confession of guilt—Job 9:20. Is not Job’s protest against God tantamount to self-incrimination? Job is convicted out of his own mouth.

Job 15:7—Eliphaz here questions Job with a blistering series of interrogations. Though we can often encounter the claims that this verse has reference to the Jewish myth of primeval man (‘adam haq-quadmon), there is neither need nor proof that this is the case here. Simply, the verse declares that if you were the first man (‘adam) you might be wise enough to say what you’re saying, but you are not. The first man did not steal God’s wisdom as Prometheus stole fire from the gods—Proverbs 7:25 and Psalms 90:2.

Job 15:8—Jeremiah derides the false prophets who talk like they have stood in God’s council room and heard Him speak directly to them—Jeremiah 23:18; Jeremiah 23:22. Jeremiah chides them by declaring that they have neither divine word nor mission. The word “council” (sod—meaning intimate and confidential) is one of the designations of the assembly of the gods. The usage of the council of the gods is at least as old as Mesopotamian and Canaanite antecedents. Eliphaz is asking Job whether or not he has a monopoly on wisdom—Ezekiel 28:11-19; Proverbs 8:22; Proverbs 8:26.

Job 15:9-10—Here we encounter questions which assume that Job is claiming the possession of “superior knowledge.” This is minimally odd in that he has never made such claims. He has only criticized “their” claims to “superior knowledge” of God’s will and purpose—Job 12:3; Job 13:3. His friends are actually the ones who are claiming “superior knowledge,” not Job. Wisdom is a virtue of seniority acclaims Eliphaz’s theme. Job has already rejected the thesis that wisdom is a necessary result of “old age”—Job 12:12. Senility and sagacity are not necessarily causally related—Wisdom of Solomon, Job 4:8-9.

Job 15:11—Eliphaz is claiming that the consolation of Job’s three friends is from God. Yet Job dismisses his friends as “miserable comforters”—Job 16:2. Perhaps the “deals gently” does apply to Eliphaz’s initial speech, but certainly not his second. His words (dabar—means creative and often relevatory. This is the Hebrew word for the Genesis creation account and the Ten Words or commandments) are scarcely to be termed “consolation,” unless his doctrine of “suffering is always merited” is to be understood as consolation. His words are identical with God’s, according to Eliphaz.

Job 15:12—Why do you allow your heart (feelings) to carry you away. The verb r-z-m is here translated “flash” in A. V.[174] The word means to wink or flash, perhaps in rage, not weakness as some suggest. Job is being rebuked for his uncontrolled passion, not his helplessness.

Job 15:13—Job is rebuked for his anger against God. Your spirit refers to Job’s anger. In anger you attack God by letting such words out of your mouth.

Job 15:14—The theme from Job 4:17 ff reoccurs here—Job 9:2 and Job 24:4. Eliphaz also quotes Job’s phrase—Job 14:1. “A man,” not the genus but a particular individual, whom Eliphaz need not name. The image suggests impurity not finitude. The Near Eastern negative attitude toward women is here apparent.

Job 15:15—Eliphaz returns to his thoughts expressed in Job 4:18; Job 25:5-6; Job 38:7; and Isaiah 40:25-26. The holy ones, perhaps angels, are not without fault before God—2 Peter 2:4.’

Job 15:16—The word translated “corrupt” (foul) appears in the Old Testament only in a moral sense—also Psalms 14:3; Psalms 53:3. Perhaps a proverbial saying—“a man sins like drinking water” presents Eliphaz’s judgment on Job. “One” is abominable, i.e., disgusting, revolting, loathed as R. S. V.—also Psalms 107:15; Psalms 119:163.

Job 15:17Here again is Eliphaz’s favorite theme, the destiny of the wicked. Once more the doctrine is supported by reference to the accumulated wisdom of the ages. (Compare Eliphaz’s claim with Psalms 73). Eliphaz’s unbridled eloquence is still not very convincing, though he claims revelation (hazah—prophetic gazing) as source for his message.

Job 15:18—Eliphaz is here claiming that his convictions are confirmed by the observation of past generations. “Tradition” confirms the accuracy of Eliphaz’s judgment. Where have we heard that claim before? (Even Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof, knew both the power of tradition and change.) Eliphaz, like his many successors, never learned that tradition is never to be necessarily identified with truth, either human or divine. The verse might contain a clue to the date of the book of Job. If the land is Canaan, which the text does not claim, Israel had undisputed control up to the fall of Samaria ca 722–1 B.C.; or perhaps the fall of Judah 586–5 B.C. Surely Delitzsch’s views are still appropriate—Eliphaz has reference to his own country and tribe—see Joel 3:17.

Job 15:19—The tradition of wisdom has been transmitted pure, uncontaminated by foreign influences.’ Edom was the proverbial home of wisdom—Jeremiah 49:7. Eliphaz’s provincialism shines forth in his belief that the purest wisdom is that in the possession of his own people. Remember, he is not a member of the covenant nation.

Job 15:20—Job has earlier asserted that robbers prosper—Job 12:6. Eliphaz responds to Job that the wicked are in constant agony—Isaiah 57:20 ff. The prosperity of the unrighteous man is hollow because he is tortured psychologically, by a guilty conscience—“all his days.”‘ The Hebrew text has mispar, which means “a number,” i.e., a few, but the parallelism calls for “all his days”—“all his years.” The word translated oppressor in the A. V., in Job 6:23; Job 27:13, comes from the root “to terrify,” or “to inspire awe” and means here a ruthless person. The verse means that the unrighteous are miserable and short-lived, but the pious are happy and long-lived.

Job 15:21—Eliphaz continues to describe the frightful calamities that come upon the corrupt man. The imagination of the wicked condemns him—Proverbs 28:1. Peace is an illusion to the impious. Prosperity is only temporal security to the wicked. There is a constant dread of coming destruction.

Job 15:22—Darkness (hosek), the figure of misfortune, hovers over the life and possession of the wicked. The condemning conscience of the wicked is haunted by the finality of darkness. The sword is waiting for the wicked. The threat of assassination generates constant dread. An evil conscience creates a constant apprehension of disaster.

Job 15:23—The verse means that the wicked-prosperous is always haunted by fears of poverty. This gnawing dread graphically portrays the frustration of the wandering wicked (so LXX). They expect the worst and receive the worst. The LXX attaches the phrase “a day of darkness” to Job 15:24, so others follow. The unbearable tyranny of a pessimistically conceived “day of darkness” is ever lurking at hand to bring all of existence crashing down.

Job 15:24—“A day of darkness” (from Hebrew of Job 15:23) terrifies him. Anguish and “sickness unto death” prevail against him. Misfortune is pictured as an army of vultures prepared for attack.

Job 15:25—A divine assault is imminent. Suddenly, Eliphaz switches to imagery portraying an attack on God. Job is here projected as one attacking God. An outstretched hand is a symbol of a threat—Isaiah 5:29; Isaiah 9:21; Isaiah 10:4; Proverbs 1:24.

Job 15:26—The picture of Job’s foolish defiance continues. Job stubbornly (stiff neck, insolently; LXX—hybris—pride) opposes God “with the thickness of the bosses of his shields,” i.e., the bosses (or convex side of shield turned toward the enemy) of his shields are set closely together for more protection against the Almighty.

Job 15:27—The image is one of gluttonous fatness, the characteristic of spiritual insensibility—Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 5:28; and Psalms 73:7; Psalms 119:70. This wicked insensitive person sits around and gets fatter. The Hebrew pimah means “blubber” or a superabundance of fat on the man’s loins. This imagery stands in marked contrast to Job’s present physical condition.

Job 15:28—Formerly inhabited cities, now desolate, were considered to be so because of God’s judgment. Again the same theology appears—failure means judgment; success means blessingJoshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34; Isaiah 13:20 ff; and Isaiah 34:13 ff. The wicked man, according to Eliphaz, is prepared to risk God’s curse in his idolatrous confidence in his own prosperity.

Job 15:29—Here we return to the theme of the fears of the wicked. Though there are lexical problems in this verse, the sense is clear enough. Dahood yields a relevant meaning. The stretching out of the shadow is a figure of the extent of a person’s influence—Psalms 80:8 ff. The A. V. makes little sense, and does speak to several important grammatical issues in the verse. The essence of the verse is that a wicked man’s influence will not long endure on the earth.

Job 15:30—Here the fate of the wicked is described. Darkness is an image of misfortune—Job 15:22 ff. The destiny of the wicked is not an accident, but rather it is set by God. The Hebrew text reads ruah—breath or spirit of God—and does not require repointing as some suggest. The verse describes the swift disaster of the unrighteous, whose security through prosperity will vanish like flames that reduce a forest to ashes.

Job 15:31—The verse might be ‘“congruous with a series of images based on plant life—Job 15:29-30; Job 15:32-33. He who trusts in emptiness will be rewarded by emptiness. The image of the tree from Job 15:30 continues into this verse. All of the promised greatness will not reach fulfillment, rather it will be rewarded with destruction—Job 4:8.”

Job 15:32—The subject “it” refers to his recompense which will be demanded of him before his number of years is finished, i.e., his end will be premature. If we take the LXX reading, “it will be withered,” rather than the Hebrew text, “it will be paid in full,” we continue the parallel, which speaks of palm tree and not a trading profit. His “branch”—Isaiah 9:13—supports the view that the “palm tree” should be supplied in the first line of the verse; therefore, the A. V. translation is probably not an adequate rendering of the verse. The metaphor becomes more vivid when we recall that the palm tree is the symbol of longevity.

Job 15:33—Delitzsch correctly observes that the vine does not cast off (Heb. lit. “treat with violence”—Isaiah 18:5) its unripe fruit. What then can be the sense of this verse? The tree will not produce mature fruit—Jeremiah 31:29 ff and Ezekiel 18:2. The second line of the verse beautifully symbolizes the point at stake. The Syrian olive tree bears during its first, third, and fifth years, but rests during the second, fourth, and sixth years. It also sheds many of its blossoms like snowflakes.

Job 15:34—The word translated “company” of impious in A. V. is the Hebrew term for “congregation” and is here used in a derogatory sense—Job 13:6; Job 17:8; Job 20:5; Job 27:8; Job 34:30; Job 36:13. Bribery is frequently condemned in scripture and is here used as a general term for injustice. The word rendered “barren” in A. V. appears also in Job 3:7 and should be translated “sterile.” The phrase “tents of bribery” carries the meaning that the wealth of the wicked has been obtained through deceptive and unjust means by either giving or receiving bribes. How appropriate an image for twentieth century industry and multi-national industrial combines 1

Job 15:35—At the beginning of his speech, Eliphaz attacked Job for filling his “belly” with the hot east wind—Job 15:1.

Here, once more, their belly (lit. their belly, though translated “heart” in A. V.) produced only deceit. Eliphaz’s conclusion is that misfortune is self-entailed. The penalty of the ungodly is premature death—Job 15:31-33, and lack of prosperity—Job 15:34.


Job condemns his friends approach to his Suffering (Job 16:1-22):

Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: Miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? Or what provokes thee that thou answerest? (Job 16:1-3).

Take note of the progression of greater irritation on the part of each of the sides (i.e., Job and his three friends who have accused him of sin) (see Job 12:1-3; Job 13:4 ff; Job 15:4-6; Job 15:16; Job 16:1-3). Job thinks that his friends should comfort him in his time of great distress yet they have proved themselves to be miserable comforters whose words of misery have no end.”

I also could speak as ye do; if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could join words together against you, and shake my head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your grief” (Job 16:4-5).

Job tells his friends that if they were in his condition (i.e., lost children, wealth, and health) he could join words with them regarding attempting to find fault. The difference between Job and his friends; however, would be that Job would strengthen you with my mouth... and assuage (make more bearable... ease one’s pain or burden) your grief.” This has been Job’s complaint against his friends. They do not even seem to care that he has suffered so much.

Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged; and though I forbear, what am I eased? But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast laid fast hold on me, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rises up against me, it testifies to my face” (Job 16:6-8).

Job believes that it doesn’t matter what he says these three friends are not going to try to empathize with him in his great pain. The three friends appear to be quick to lay hold of Job and charge him with sin.

He hath torn me in his wrath, and persecuted me; he hath gnashed upon me with his teeth: mine adversary sharpens his eyes upon me. They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully: they gather themselves together against me” (Job 16:9-10).

Job, once again, lays the blame of his suffering upon God who has torn me in his wrath and persecuted (or hated) me; he has gnashed me with his teeth.” Like God who hates me with wrath so his enemies (his three friends) also are against Job. Job believes that the world hates him (including God).

God delivers me to the ungodly, and casts me into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, and he brake me asunder; yea, he hath taken me by the neck, and dashed me to pieces: he hath also set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about; he cleaves my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he pours out my gall upon the ground. He breaks me with breach upon breach; he runs upon me like a giant” (Job 16:11-14).

Job has put the blame of his misery squarely upon the shoulders of God.” God has delivered Job to the ungodly, broken me asunder, taken me by the neck and dashed me to pieces, run over me like a giant, and God does not spare.”

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and have laid my horn in the dust. My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure” (Job 16:15-17).

Job’s historical suffering is depicted in the sackcloth of sorrow, the horn of his life is in dust, his face is fatigued by all the weeping, and his eyes show forth a man that has the shadow of death upon him. Though Job suffers so much he continues to maintain his innocence saying, Although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.”

O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no resting place. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high. My friends scoff at me: but mine eye pours out tears unto God, that he would maintain the right of a man with God, and of a son of man with his neighbor! For when a few years are come, I shall go the way whence I shall not return (Job 16:18-22).

These are some of the most beautiful words that we have heard from Job in a while. Through all of Job’s tears shed over the loss of his children and his physical calamity he is confident that the God in heaven will vouch for his innocence. Though Job’s friends scoff at him and accuse him of sin he is confident that God will not permit a righteous man to go on suffering this way.


Job 16:1-2—Job’s fourth reply continues the lamentation form and emphasizes the denunciation of enemies, who are his three friends and God. But suddenly in the midst of his response there is a sudden appeal to “a witness in heaven,” who will take up Job’s defense. But the speech ends, as do his previous responses, with consideration of approaching death and Sheol. He begins with statement of weariness. He has heard all of this unprofitable talk before. The A. V. translates ‘amal as miserable, which is a good rendering. Eliphaz has offered “divine consolation”—Job 15:11. Using a cognate word, Job accuses them of being “miserable consolers” (wearisome is not strong enough).

Job 16:3—Their comfort only serves to increase his suffering. He turns their talk—Job 8:2; Job 15:2—upon them by calling them purveyors of “windy words,” which only irritate—Job 6:25.

Job 16:4—In Job 16:4-5 the pronouns are plurals, thus Job is speaking to all three friends. Were our positions only reversed, I would have no difficulty playing a pious moralist, “shaking my head in scandalized self-righteousness” (Job, Soncino, p. 81). How Job actually conducted himself in the past in similar circumstances is projected in Job 4:3 ff. Job further encroaches on his self-righteous friend by crying out that he too “could join words together” as Eliphaz had done—Job 15:2 Off. The imagery of the shaking of the head is associated with mockery and derision—2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Psalms 22:8; Psalms 109:25; Lamentations 2:15; and Matthew 27:39. As in all cultures, “body language” can have different meanings in different circumstances.

Job 16:5—Job continues to heap scornful sarcasm on the heads of his helpers. Mere words have no power to console. The word translated “solace” is a noun from the root used in Job 2:11. The original meaning of the verb was “to be agitated.” (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Lexicon, have “quivering motion” for the noun.) Time-honored cliches will not and cannot heal when removed from a sympathetic heart of the utterer.

Job 16:6—In Job 16:5, “your grief” is unexpressed in the Hebrew text. Here the noun is expressed and also a passive form of the verb. Job here presents his alternatives by forcibly depicting his dilemma. Neither vehement protestation nor silence would bring him healing. Both his physical and mental anguish tenaciously hold his soul in a state of unwelcome torture. Here we have mah as a negative rather than interrogative—Job 31:1. Job is not asking “What?” but rather strongly asserts that nothing eases his suffering.

Job 16:7—The subject of this verse is probably “my sorrow” rather than God (“he hath made” A. V.) Though the second line does have “thou hast made” (note the change of person and shift to the third person in Job 16:8), the best sense seems to be “my pain hath made me weary” (the same verb is intransitive in Job 4:2, verb translated “weary” is used with sense of appall or devastate). Some commentaries emend -’adati—my company—to ra’ati—my calamity—at least this emendation has the dubious honor of making sense, which is not a characteristic of the Hebrew text as it now stands.

Job 16:8—Job’s calamity has seized (Heb. kamat—seize, grasp tightly) him (A. V. laid fast hold) and is a witness against him. In the eyes of his friends, his suffering was evidence of his sin. The witness of his calamity “has risen against me” (Heb. phrase stands immediately after “witness” and should remain there in translation), “my gauntness or leanness” is evidence to men of my guilt—Psalms 59:12; Nahum 3:1; Hosea 7:3; and Hosea 10:13.

Job 16:9—Job here pictures God as a ferocious animal tearing him apart with His teeth. The verb satam means to bear a grudge or sustain hate against—Job 30:21; Genesis 49:23; Genesis 50:15; Psalms 55:3. The hate was so intense that he “gnashed his teeth”—Psalms 37:12—in anger—Matthew 8:12 and Acts 7:54. The imagery of “sharpness” comes from a verb used of sharpening a sword—Psalms 7:12. Here it means looking sharply as does an animal for its prey. God, like an animal pursuing its prey, is concentrating His hostility on Job.

Job 16:10—There is no expressed subject in this verse, but these are the people who like jackals follow God’s attack by their assaults. All the figures in this verse are human actions “wide mouth”—desire or greed—Job 29:23; Isaiah 5:14. They insult or talk openly behind (“struck me”—A. V. has “smitten me”) his back and mobilize against him—1 Kings 22:24; Micah 5:1; Matthew 5:39; Luke 6:29.

Job 16:11—Job says that God has delivered him to the ungodly (Heb. young boys—’awil), perhaps a sarcastic denial of their status as wise men and supposed accumulation of wisdom because of their age. Their behavior toward Job is described in Job 30:9 ff. The word translated “casteth” is the verb ratah which means to “wring out” (see Brown, Driver, Briggs). He is asserting that God has cast him into the hands of wicked men who “wring” him out.

Job 16:12—Suddenly and unexpectedly God attacks him. How? Through whom? This verse makes a couplet with Job 16:13 a, both emphasizing the archer and target—Job 6:4; Psalms 64:7; Lamentations 3:12. God is directing the attack on Job, though the volleys come from human archers. He is the target—1 Samuel 20:20.

Job 16:13—The word for archers—rabbim—is also found in Jeremiah 50:29. Here we are faced with mixed metaphors. Job is a target; God shoots arrows at him. “His reins” is a metaphor of the most sensitive and vital part of the body, his kidneys. He slashes me open. “He pours out my gall” (used only here and stands for liver, i.e., seat of emotions in Hebrew psychology) upon the ground. In other words, God has dealt him a death blow.

Job 16:14—Now Job metaphorically compares his body to that of a fortress which is being repeatedly assailed—Job 30:14. He feels like a stronghold being stormed by warriors, not giants as A. V.

Job 16:15—Here appears the same word as in Genesis 3:7 for “sewed.” Sackcloth is the symbol of mourning and was worn next to the body—2 Kings 6:30. The sewing of it on his skin was a sign of permanent mourning. Literally the text says “I have caused my horn to enter,” which is a symbol of pride or strength[188]—Psalms 75:5; Psalms 89:17; Psalms 92:10; and Psalms 112:9.

Job 16:16—Involuntary weeping is a symptom of leprosy, which could be Job’s physical ailment. His face is red, i.e., inflamed (verb chamar) from crying. Eyelids stand for his eyes. The word salmawet should not be translated as “the shadow of death” as in A. V., but possibly as the blackness around the eyes of a sick person. There is no allusion to death in this verse, so the translation should conform to the basic theme of the verse.

Job 16:17—This cruel suffering has come upon me, though I have done no violence—Isaiah 53:7. He completely rejects the possibility of his guilt; thus he once more asserts that his suffering is unmerited. When the hands are unclean, prayer is unacceptable to God—Isaiah 1:15; Job 11:13 ff. In Job 31:7 he affirms that his hands are clean, and here that his prayer is pure. Job’s last possession is the certainty of his integrity before God.

Job 16:18—Shed blood cries out for vengeance—Genesis 4:10; Genesis 37:26; Isaiah 26:21; Ezekiel 24:8, hence the effort to hide it in the dust. Job desires that his blood remain uncovered as a protest and appeal to God for vindication. Dahood presents strong evidence that the A. V. rendering of “resting place” should be “burial place.” Here it is improbable that Job thinks of vindication while still alive. The passage (Job 16:18Job 17:9) shows a very important development towards Job 19:24 ff.

Job 16:19—Exegetically and theologically, it would be very difficult, even impossible, to deny that the witness in heaven is Job’s mediator, redeemer (or Vindicator—S. Terrien in Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. Ill, 1025–1029), even though God is already Job’s Accuser, Judge, and Executioner—Job 9:33; Job 19:25; and Job 33:23-24.

Job 16:20—“My scorners (melisay) are my friends” (Rowley, p. 150), so as I turn from them, I turn to God with tears streaming down my face. The above word for friend (re’a) is used of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—Job 2:11; Job 32:3; Job 42:10; and Jesus in John 15.

Job 16:21—The one to whom Job turns is surely the same person as the witness of the preceding verse, and the vindicator of Job 9:33 and Job 19:25 (see bibliography on this verse). This is one of the most profound verses in all scripture. Job appeals to God, who had indicted him with cruel agony and as the God of his faith the object of Job’s faith is also Lord of justice and righteousness, the one who will “maintain the right” (verb from which the word umpire is derived in Job 9:33). Now he pleads that God might present the case to himself. (Note the significance of the Incarnation in explaining the wonderful things here disclosed.) “A son of man” simply means a person, i.e., Job. Neighbor comes from the same word that is translated “friend” in Job 16:20. The neighbor is not God, as some suggest, rather a fellow human being.

Job 16:22—Job here lapses into the thought of the inevitability and finality of death that has been expressed before—Job 7:9 ff and Job 10:21.


Job continues his response to Eliphaz (Job 17:1-16):

My spirit is consumed, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me. Surely there are mockers with me, and mine eye dwells upon their provocation” (Job 17:1-2).

Job feels that his life is about to expire. Time is running out for Job and in his end he considers his friends who provoke him with their lack of empathy for a man who has so much trouble in his life.

Give now a pledge, be surety for me with thyself; who is there that will strike hands with me? For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them. He that denounces his friends for a prey, even the eyes of his children shall fail” (Job 17:3-5).

Job speaks to God yet in the hearing of his friends. Job says that God has hid understanding from their heart and this is the reason they are accusing him of sin rather than comforting him in his hour of great calamity. Job proclaims that the guilt of such heartless men shall see their children at fault as well.

But he hath made me a byword of the people; and they spit in my face. Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow. Upright men shall be astonished at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the godless. Yet shall the righteous hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger” (Job 17:6-9).

Job reveals that not only is his suffering due to a loss of his children, riches, and health but also the fact that the surrounding people have considered him a cursed being and so they spit in my face” out of disdain for such a one as Job. The consideration of heinous sin has crossed the minds of the public and so out of disdain for such a filthy man as Job they spit in his face. Job considers the fact that there may be others in the same circumstances as himself. Innocent men who have clean hands in the matter of sin yet they suffer. Job concludes that such men will wax stronger and stronger because they know their innocence.

But as for you all, come on now again; and I shall not find a wise man among you. My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. They change the night into day: the light, say they, is near unto the darkness” (Job 17:10-12).

Job’s days of life and purposes have come to an end. Shall there be a wise man found among Job’s friends and those who strike and spit in his face?

If I look for Sheol as my house; if I have spread my couch in the darkness; if I have said to corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, thou art my mother, and my sister; where then is my hope? And as for my hope, who shall see it? It shall go down to the bars of Sheol, when once there is rest in the dust” (Job 17:13-16).

Job contemplates the consequence of desiring death due to his calamity and suffering. If he looks forward to Sheol (the realm of the dead), the place of corruption and the worm, then he has indeed given up on all hope of surviving this ordeal. Though he die with any glimmer of hope there will be no one to notice it.


Job 17:1—Job sees his vindication in heaven, not on earth where his condition is hopeless. To him, death is inevitable, but his estrangement from God is not permanent. Speaking under intense emotional strain, he gasps that my “spirit” (ruach) is consumed, my days are extinct (za’ak—extinguished, snuffed out). The grave (instead of plural, we take this as singular with enclitic particle -m) is all ready for me.

Job 17:2—The verse begins with a formula introducing an oath—“I swear that” (as in Job 31:36)—there are mockers around me. The noun is abstract, which yields the meaning of “mockery” (Brown, Driver, and Briggs—give “truly mockery surrounded me”). Eliphaz’s illusory promises of Job’s restoration Job adjudges to be mockeries.

Job 17:3—The LXX omits Job 17:3 b to Job 17:5 a. The giving and taking of pledges was common practice, and the risk was great—Genesis 38:17-20; Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:6-17; Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; and Ecclesiastes 9:14-18. The striking of the hand ratified the pledge. Job is asking God, not his friends, to ratify a pledge—see Hebrews 6:13 ff.

Job 17:4—The verse answers the question found in the second line of Job 17:3. The suffix “their” attached to the word translated “heart” means that Job is referring to the three friends. He appeals to God (the “who” of Job 17:3) since his friends have deprived him of insight. In the great temple hymn book, Psalms 13:3-5; Psalms 30:2; Psalms 37:19; and Psalms 41:11, we read of the common prayer of the innocent sufferer that his foes not be allowed to triumph over him. The friends’ hands have not been raised to strike a pledge or guarantee, until Job’s innocence can be established. No one will risk providing Job’s bail until his trial is arranged. Job is left alone. God is responsible for Job’s condition and his friends’ lack of understanding.

Job 17:5—This is a very cryptic verse. The K. J. V. follows the old Jewish interpreters in taking heleq in sense of flattery or smooth. The translation of the A. V. “He that denounceth” connects the root of the Hebrew word to “divide” or “share” and assumes the same meaning as in Jeremiah 20:10. The imagery of this verse is rather simple, though the grammar is not. It means that Job’s friends are represented as turning against him for no higher motive than an informer’s share of his property. The second line asserts that their children will suffer for their lack of compassion. In Job 17:4, Job declares that God would not permit his friends to triumph, and he asserts that their treacherous behavior will negatively affect their offspring—Job 6:27 and Job 13:7-11.

Job 17:6—God is referred to in the third person—“He has made me” an object of scorn of the neighboring people (lit. peoples—’ammim). Culturally, the bitterest insult and expression of contempt is to spit in someone’s face—Job 30:10; Isaiah 1:6; Matthew 26:6; Matthew 27:30. (The K. J. V. follows Rashi, who mistakenly identifies Topheth with top.)

Job 17:7—The verb employed here expresses eyesight dimming with age—Genesis 27:1; Deuteronomy 34:7. Here grief causes the dim eyesight—Psalms 6:8. Job’s body has deteriorated to a skeleton.

Job 17:8—Righteous men are deeply perplexed when they see what is happening to me. The more they observe, the more indignant they become. Righteous men “are appalled,” same verb found in Isaiah 52:14 as astonished, while the “innocent stirs himself up against (verb means arouse self to excitement—pleasurable in Job 31:29; here it is negative excitement) the prosperity of the godless,” i.e., unrighteous. Job 17:8-10 are removed by some editors, but see Dhorme, Job, p. 248–51, for defense of their integrity; note Pope, Job—rejection and reasons for so doing, p. 130.

Job 17:9—Job taunts his friends. He contradicts Eliphaz—Job 15:4. Though he cannot intellectually resolve the moral anomaly of the universe, the righteous man will hold to that which is right. Neither mystery nor anomaly will cause him to abandon the path of righteousness. Blommerde well sums up the verse “because of the misery which has befallen the just Job, the righteous are astonished. This is against all rules; they have to cling to their force, to defend themselves against this trial of their faith.”

Job 17:10—Job challenges his friends to renew their attack on him. Your unsympathetic words will only expose your unfeeling folly. Repetition of their old words will not convince Job of their validity. Their assaults on him fail once more.

Job 17:11—The verse reflects Job’s deep emotions. Convulsed with fear, Job acknowledges that death is near. His plans or purposes (Zechariah 8:15; Proverbs 2:11; Proverbs 8:12) are thwarted. Plans shattered—now what? The literary form here is problematic, but could very well express Job’s heightening of his emotion-charged speech. Prodding ever deeper into his inner self, Job cries out that even his desires (Heb. root yaras’ or ‘aras—translated as thoughts in A. V.) are destroyed.

Job 17:12—This verse does not appear in earliest LXX texts. Job’s mockers distress him so that his nights turn into days. Sleepless nights and distress-filled days add up to dark despair. (Pope’s comments on this verse that it is incompatible with context is indefensible; compare with Dhorme’s defense.) Is light near to brighten Job’s darkness before dawn?

Job 17:13—His morbid preoccupation with death returns in this verse and continues through Job 17:16. He is resigned to death without any hope, even in the time of abandonment. Is Sheol the best Job can anticipate?

Job 17:14—Job speaks to corruption (Heb. root—act the tragic darkness of the book, lighting it up suddenly, although only for a short time.” corruptly) as though it is his origin and destiny. Job feels the closest kinship with “corruption”—Ezekiel 19:4; Ezekiel 19:8; Job 33:18; Job 33:22; Job 33:28; and Psalms 16:10.

Job 17:15—His prospects are poor; thus he predicts the ultimate end of his hopelessness. He has no hope of the future prosperity, which his friends have suggested.

Job 17:16—The only ones who will see his hope will go down to Sheol with him. Note that even here Job is not presenting extinction, only a less than noble destiny for the righteous. The bars probably stand for the “gates of Sheol.” Job is here asserting that his last hope for a happy and prosperous life will be carried to the grave. Only in Sheol does he have a future. Though the Hebrew noun “rest” is translated so in A. V., probably the meaning of the second line of this verse is best described by R. S. V.—“Shall we descend together into the dust.”


1. The argument between Job and his three friends is intensifying. While Job’s friends have accused him of sin and consequential suffering Job has maintained his innocence. Job has accused his friends of being liars, deceitful to God, and no value as a friend who needs comfort (Job 13:4 ff). Job, very sarcastically says, no doubt wisdom will die when you all die (Job 12:2). Job’s three friends are all miserable comforters (Job 16:2). Eliphaz returns the cutting words to Job saying, Thine iniquity teaches thy mouth, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).

2. Job has repeatedly asked for the cause of his distress and anguish (see Job 6:24; Job 9:18; Job 10:2). Eliphaz answers Job’s question by saying, Job, you are suffering “Because he hath stretched out his hand against God and behaved himself proudly against the Almighty (Job 15:25).

3. Job does not believe that anyone at all cares for him. God hates Job (Job 16:9), Job’s friends do not care for him (Job 16:4-5; Job 16:20), and everyone else stares at him as though he were a freak show (Job 16:10) even striking him and spitting in his face (Job 16:10; Job 17:6). Job appears to all like Quazi Motto of the Hunch Back of Notre Dame.

4. Job blames God for all his misery (Job 16:11-14). Job maintains his innocence (Job 16:17).

5. Job is confident that God knows his innocence (Job 16:19). Job is also confident in his righteousness and strength. He will not falter (Job 17:9). His resolve of innocence has not wavered. This is the patience of Job that James speaks of (see James 5:11). Job has endured the suffering placed upon him by Satan. His body and emotional well being has been stricken and afflicted. Job is an outcast of society. No one is standing with Job yet he proclaims Yet shall the righteous hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger (Job 17:9).

6. Job’s eyes poor out tears because of his suffering (Job 16:20).


Bildad reveals the life of the Unrighteous and those who Know not God (Job 18:1-21):

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, How long will ye hunt for words? Consider, and afterwards we will speak” (Job 18:1-2).

We were introduced to Bildad at Job 2:11 and heard his speech at Job 8. Bildad had charged not only Job but also Job’s children with sin and thereby the consequential punishment and suffering (see Job 8:4-7; Job 8:20). Bildad takes his turn to speak to Job once more. Job has continued to maintain his innocence and to take sharp shots at his friends for their lack of care and concern (Job 12:2; Job 13:4 ff; Job 16:2). Bildad considers Job’s accusation regarding the three friends being liars, deceitful to God, and miserable comforters and says, How long will ye hunt for words.” Bildad’s point is that Job’s words of condemnation directed at others will not save him. Bildad request that Job consider these things and after he has considered them they will be able to speak to each other.

Wherefore are we counted as beasts, And are become unclean in your sight? Thou that tearest thyself in thine anger, Shall the earth be forsaken for thee? Or shall the rock be removed out of its place? Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, And the spark of his fire shall not shine (Job 18:3-5).

Bildad can scarcely believe his ears as he listens to Job make his accusations against him and his two other friends. Bildad asks Job, “How is it that you can possibly consider us ‘as beasts and unclean in your sight?’ Bildad states that Job is asking his friends to do what is not natural; i.e., accept their friend for his error and pride. Bildad, in effect, says “no, we will not do this.” You are wicked Job and the light of your life is going to be put out.

The light shall be dark in his tent, And his lamp above him shall be put out. The steps of his strength shall be straitened, And his own counsel shall cast him down. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, And he walketh upon the toils. A gin shall take him by the heel, And a snare shall lay hold on him. A noose is hid for him in the ground, And a trap for him in the way. Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, And shall chase him at his heels. His strength shall be hunger-bitten, And calamity shall be ready at his side. The members of his body shall be devoured, Yea, the first-born of death shall devour his members. He shall be rooted out of his tent where he trusteth; And he shall be brought to the king of terrors. There shall dwell in his tent that which is none of his: Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. His roots shall be dried up beneath, And above shall his branch be cut off. His remembrance shall perish from the earth, And he shall have no name in the street. He shall be driven from light into darkness, And chased out of the world. He shall have neither son nor son’s son among his people, Nor any remaining where he sojourned. They that come after shall be astonished at his day, As they that went before were affrighted” (Job 18:6-20).

Bildad, with a sweeping short statement, tells Job what he can expect out of a life of sin. The sinful man will have nothing go right in his life. Calamity shall be ready at his side (Job 18:12). No one will remember this man of anguish and he will be chased out of the world (i.e., there is no place for such a one). All will be astonished to hear of the horrid life of the wicked.

Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, And this is the place of him that knoweth not God” (Job 18:21).

Bildad clearly states that such calamity is the life of the unrighteous and those who know not God.” Job surely gets Bildad’s point. Job is a sinner (unrighteous man) and thereby he suffers as all others in times past have suffered for their wicked choices in life.


Job 18:1—Bildad’s second speech (Job 18:1-21) reveals a consciously restrained lack of feeling. He attacks Job for his lack of appreciation for ancient wisdom, his abusive language, and also implies that Job cannot expect to be exempted from the universal law—that suffering is inevitably punishment for sin—Job 12:6. The content of the speech is largely composed of a legalistic tirade concerning the fate of those “who know not God.” The tone of the speech is exhausted by a “warning” and threat syndrome. There is not one word of consolation to be found in it. Bildad always addresses Job in the plural (you as plural is obscured in our translations), perhaps as a member of the class of unrighteous persons. His speech is divided into two parts: (1) Job 18:2-4; and (2) Job 18:5-21.

Job 18:2—The first part of his speech seeks an answer to the question: Why is Job so contemptuous of his friends? He charges that Job is so egocentric that he expects God to change the laws of creation for him. Bildad suggests that Job has spoken long enough and should stop long enough for his friends to give rebuttal. Dhorme suggests that the Hebrew word translated in A. V. as “consider” is a rhetorical device which is used to ask Job to be intelligent, i.e., if the dialogue is to continue, Job must show some signs of intelligence, thus far absent.

Job 18:3—Bildad resents Job’s comparison of his friends as “dumb beast”—Job 16:9-10. Line two in A. V. hardly conveys what the text says—“Why are we stupid” from tamah, to be “stopped up” intellectually, not unclean as A. V. (so Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Lexicon)—Psalms 73:22.

Job 18:4—Bildad asserts, without feeling, “that Job is the cause of his own suffering” because he refuses to take the proper means to remove God’s judgment from himself and his household. The rock is sometimes an epithet of God, probably so here. The law of retribution is as solid and firm as a rock and is part of the structure of the universe. Bildad alludes to Job’s remarks in Job 16:9—to the effect that God has “torn me in His wrath.” He retorts that Job has torn himself. If the established order of the universe dictates that suffering is the empirical proof of sin, does Job think that this order is to be modified for him?[198] The last phrase is a quotation from Job 14:18 b. Please note the certain dreadful doom of the hardened evildoer (Job 18:5-21)

Job 18:5—This verse initiates the second part of Bildad’s speech. Job’s sole remaining possession is the horrible memory of his past prosperity and present agony. The Hebrew tenses convey the meaning that this is a condition which is continuous. The light burning in a house is symbolic of continuous prosperity—Job 21:17; 1 Kings 11:36; Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 20:20; and Proverbs 24:20. The extinction of these symbols of happiness and prosperity is a mark of judgment on the household. Failing light is a sign of disaster, (cf. Jesus said that “I am the light of the world,” John 8:12).

Job 18:6—The tent implies that the event is occurring in the patriarchal age (see discussion of possible date for authorship)—Job 5:24; Job 8:22; Job 12:6; and Job 15:34. Bildad’s speech progresses with the use of proverbial sayings:

(1) Job 18:5-7—sinner’s light goes out;

(2) Job 18:8-11—deterioration to downfall;

(3) Job 18:12-14—final condition;

(4) Job 18:15-17—extinction of his race and names; and

(5) Job 18:18-21—horror of his fate. His home is engulfed by darkness—“his lamp above him shall be put out.”

Job 18:7—Like the strength of an aging man, the fortunes of the wicked will fail. Metaphorically, “the steps of his strength” expresses the confident stride of a prosperous man—Psalms 18:36. The evil motives of an unrighteous man will ultimately “throw him down,” i.e., bring him to calamity and ruin.

Job 18:8-9—This verse and the next develop the image of the perils in the path of the wicked. Bildad uses a variety of terms for the traps and snares which the wicked will encounter in life. The steps of the unrighteous man are reduced to a feeble hobble, then ensnared by his own evil motives. The net (for catching birds—Proverbs 1:17; Psalms 140:5) and toils (lit. network, webbing—things interwoven) are means of his own destruction. Probably the latter snare has reference to “webbing” placed over a pit to catch an animal—suddenly and unawares. This is Bildad’s description of Job’s ensnaring himself. In Job 18:9 the world of an evil man is full of traps. The “gin” is a fowlers trap—Hosea 9:8. The term “snare” comes from a root meaning veil—Isaiah 47:2. Probably it refers to a trap made from some kind of mesh.

Job 18:10—A rope, or cord, lies hidden in the ground—Isaiah 8:14; Jeremiah 48:44; Psalms 74:7; Psalms 140:6; and Proverbs 5:22. This type is used to ensnare birds and smaller animals. The term “trap” (root means to capture) in the second line is found only here and probably is a general descriptive word for any catching device.

Job 18:11—Bildad is here referring to an actual experience which a wicked person will have, not one caused by a fearful conscience. The verb translated “chase” is usually employed to denote the scattering of a group, but here of an individual. The image suggests bewilderment and almost total emotional and intellectual confusion. See also Psalms 38:18.

Job 18:12—Trouble and calamity, about to seize him, are ravenously hungry. The Hebrew text can be saying “Let his strength be hungry.” Dahood’s emendations suggest “hungry one” is an epithet of mot—death. The second line literally says “to or for his rib” which, as the Targums suggested, can mean wife. But the general sense is that misfortune is always ready and able to bring him to destruction.

Job 18:13—Here is a cryptic reference to the lethal disease that is consuming Job’s body. The Hebrew texts make no sense—lit. “It shall consume the limbs of his skin.” Perhaps the late G. E. Wright’s suggestion at least produces a meaningful line—“By disease his skin is consumed.” Wright’s suggestion, reinforced by the one provided by Sarna, reveals the essence of the meaning of this verse. “The firstborn of mot will devour his skin with two hands, yea with his two hands he will devour (him).” The firstborn of death is probably a metaphor for Job’s deadly disease. Death is firstborn—bekor, i.e., heir with rights of primogeniture—Psalms 89:28. Disease is death’s firstborn.

Job 18:14—The wicked is marched from the security of his own tent, then conducted into the presence of the “King of Terror.” This phrase is a personification of death, as “firstborn” is of disease.

Job 18:15—The Hebrew literally states “In his tent no trace of him remains. . . .’“ Perhaps the brimstone or sulphur is to be understood as disinfectant.

Job 18:16—Bildad returns to his metaphor based on vegetable life—Job 8:11 ff; Job 14:7 ff. Destruction of root and fruit is proverbial—Amos 2:9. Here the image refers to progeny and posterity. Branches is a collective term as in Job 14:9, and they “shall be cut off.” Nothing will remain of Job’s household.

Job 18:17—Job and his posterity will be completely cut off from the earth. His children are destroyed, and even his name will be erased from memory—Psalms 9:6; Psalms 34:16; and Psalms 109:15 b.

Job 18:18—The Hebrew word found here and translated as “world” expressed the finality, totality, and cosmic absence of his name. The verbs are in the indefinite third person and are equivalent to the passive voice, meaning “They shall chase or drive him from light into darkness”—Job 3:20 and Job 17:13.

Job 18:19The feared fate of the extinction of the family is set before Job. Nothing could be more disastrous than the demise of a man’s household. A lack of progeny is a lack of God’s blessings.

Job 18:20The “day” is his final day or fate—1 Samuel 26:10; Jeremiah 11:7; Ezekiel 21:29; and Psalms 37:13. The words translated before and after are literally “behind” and “before”—meaning followers and predecessors. The A. V. “were affrighted” is literally “they laid hold on horror,” Job 21:6—“laid hold on shuddering.” Perhaps the best translation would be “over his end coming generations will be appalled, and his contemporaries will be seized with shuddering.”‘

Job 18:21—Bildad summarily assures Job of his fate, as a member of the class of the wicked. Job, can you not see the irrefutable proof that you are a godless man? Here again Bildad’s truth is half a lie. Severity, not sympathy flows from his lips. Violent indignation, but no mercy, is heaped upon Job’s pitiful head. Is there no “grace” in a world of suffering? Surely Job will later cry—“In my hands no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling.” But not yet!


Job reveals the vast Despair and Calamity of his Life (Job 19:1-29):

Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: Ye are not ashamed that ye deal hardly with me” (Job 19:1-3).

What Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar consider words to help their friend out of his misery Job considers to be a vexing of my soul and breaking me in pieces with words (see also Job 16:2 where he refers to his three friends as miserable comforters). Job tells his friends that they have reproached him ten times. To reproach is to “put blame on another... to bring shame upon; disgrace” (AHD 10:49). The Hebrew word for ten times is often times used to indicate “many” (see Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:41; Numb. 14:22 etc.). Job’s friends have blamed him of sin “many” times so far in this discourse. Their illegal blaming and lack of empathy for the innocent should have been cause for their shame yet there is none with them.

And be it indeed that I have erred, Mine error remaineth with myself. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, And plead against me my reproach; Know now that God hath subverted me in my cause, And hath compassed me with his net” Job (Job 19:4-6).

Job is desiring sympathy from his friends. It seems that Job is saying that even if I am being punished for some sin will you please not join in with God to utterly destroy me. To subvert is to “destroy completely, ruin” (AHD 1214). Job believes that God is the one responsible for all his misery.

Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry for help, but there is no justice. He hath walled up my way that I cannot pass, And hath set darkness in my paths. He hath stripped me of my glory, And taken the crown from my head. He hath broken me down on every side, and I am gone; And my hope hath he plucked up like a tree” (Job 19:7-10).

Job explains to his friends that he cries out to God for destroying him without cause yet God does not hear. There is no help for the one God has set himself against. Job believes that it is God who has stripped him of all that would bring him glory (i.e., his children and his wealth). There is no hope for one that God is against.

He hath also kindled his wrath against me, And he counteth me unto him as one of his adversaries. His troops come on together, And cast up their way against me, And encamp round about my tent. He hath put my brethren far from me, And mine acquaintance are wholly estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, And my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in my house, and my maids, count me for a stranger; I am an alien in their sight. I call unto my servant, and he giveth me no answer, Though I entreat him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife, And my supplication to the children of mine own mother” (Job 19:11-17).

Job believes that God has “kindled his wrath against me and counts me as one of his adversaries.” Remember earlier we noted that Job believed that God hates him (see Job 16:9). God is responsible for separating Job from his own brethren, his friends, kinsfolk, maids, servants, and even his own wife. Job’s brothers and sisters in the flesh also have estranged themselves from him. Job’s life is filled with misery and loneliness.

Even young children despise me; If I arise, they speak against me. All my familiar friends abhor me, And they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:18-20).

The world is against Job (even children speak against him). Job’s friends hate him and all whom Job at one time loved now have turned against him. Somehow Job remains alive by the skin of my teeth.”

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; For the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as God, And are not satisfied with my flesh?” (Job 19:21-22).

Job, at what appears to be the lowest point a man could come, begs his friends to have pity upon him and stop accusing him of things he has not done. Job asked the second great question of his epic suffering. Job asks, Why do ye persecute me as God and are not satisfied with my flesh?” Job’s friends ought to be satisfied that God has afflicted such a great sinner rather than continuing to hurl insulting words at him.

Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead They were graven in the rock for ever! But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth: And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, Then without my flesh shall I see God; Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side, And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. My heart is consumed within me” (Job 19:23-27).

Great words of faith are spoken by Job here. He has showed sparks of hope even though in despair he wonders if there really is any. Job has said that he will not give up his faith in God and the right way of life even though he suffers this unjust cause (see Job 17:9). Job now states that he knows that God (his redeemer) lives, will stand upon the earth, and then without my flesh shall I see God.” Job believed that after he dies he would be with God and see God. Different translation state that Job believed he would see God “in my flesh” (see also the 1901 ASV footnote on this verse). This answers the question that Job previously asked when he said, If a man die shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Job considers the resurrection of his diseased body as the only hope of relief that he has.

If ye say, How we will persecute him! And that the root of the matter is found in me; Be ye afraid of the sword: For wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, That ye may know there is a judgment” (Job 19:28-29).

Job ends his speech with a serious warning to his friends. If these friends continue to associate Job’s suffering with his sin and thereby persecute him with unfriendly words then they should be afraid of the sword that punishes.” Job reminds his friends of God’s judgment of mankind in addition to the resurrection of the dead. The discussion and or argument has reached a climax. Job will not toy with their accusations any longer.


Job 19:1—Job’s comforters show no development in their encounter with him. In contrast, Job has analyzed his position as the result of their criticism. Job thus becomes our great paradigm of growth through suffering. We either see our troubles through God, or God through our troubles. What alternatives are available? In this, Job’s central discourse, he achieves a profound faith, which enables him to triumph over his destructive despair. He truly attained “hope in time of abandonment.” New power and pathos enter Job’s literary style.

This new power retouches themes which are set forth in his earlier speeches:

(1) validity of a clear conscience, Job 6:30; Job 9:29; Job 10:7; Job 16:17, which the righteous judge would ratify if only He would hear them—Job 10:2; Job 10:7; Job 13:23; Job 16:21;

(2) knowledge that God must yearn for him as he does for God—Job 7:8; Job 7:21; Job 10:8-9; Job 14:15; and

(3) his hope that God will finally vindicate him—Job 14:13-15; Job 16:19-20.

Job’s response to Bildad contains four parts:

(1) His impatience with his friends—Job 19:2-6;

(2) God’s abandonment and attack—Job 19:7-12;

(3) Laments his forsaken condition and appeals to his friends once more—Job 19:13-22; and

(4) His certainty concerning his vindication—Job 19:23-29. Does the speech present God’s attitude change toward Job? Is He his enemy? The change is only apparent and temporary. Though Job’s friends are uncharitable, and God is silent in the presence of his agonizing cries, Job waits for vindication. But until then!

Job 19:2—His friends have grievously wounded (tormented) Job by their insinuations. “Vex” is not strong enough for the Hebrew word; the same verb is used in Isaiah 51:23 of Israel’s tormentors. In Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:12, the same word is used to describe the suffering which God inflicted on Israel. The verb (dk’) translated as “break me in pieces” is used of the penitent in Isaiah 57:15 and Psalms 51:17. It means “crush” and is here employed to describe the effects of the charges from Job’s friends. “I am crushed” by your insinuations, not led to repentance.

Job 19:3—The figure 10 is to be understood as a round number and not as Rashi took it as referring to the number of speeches—five for Job and five for friends—Genesis 31:7; Genesis 31:41; Numbers 14:22. His friends have wronged him. The verb is found only here and does not call for endless proliferation of emendations. Job is enduring God’s silence; need they add their inhumane treatment to his already overburdened life?

Job 19:4—This is a very difficult verse whose meaning is not self-evident. Perhaps the best understanding is found in the R. S. V. There it is translated as a hypothetical sentence, though there is no hypothetical particle present. This move enables us to understand the verse without it being an admission of guilt of secret sin, which Job has consistently denied. Taking the verse to mean “Even if I have sinned, I have not injured you” (Rowley, Job, p. 167).

Job 19:5—Job chides his friends for assuming an air of superiority. If taken as a rhetorical question, the answer is clearly positive. The verb translated “magnify” has a negative sense here as in Psalms 35:26; Psalms 38:16. The last line contains a verb used in Job 16:21 and here means “plead my disgrace against me.” His humiliation is taken as proof of the accuracy of their charge.

Job 19:6—This verse is proof that Job 19:4 does not contain a confession of guilt. Bildad has asserted that the godless man is caught in his own net in Job 18:8. The word for net is a different one from any employed by Bildad. Here the image is one of a hunter’s large net into which animals are driven.

Job 19:7—Job’s friends have built their arguments on the doctrines of “divine justice” from the assumption that he is “conscious of his own innocence.” The verse begins with emphatic appeal to “injustice”—Habakkuk 1:2 and Jeremiah 20:8. The same verb “cry aloud” appears in Job 24:12; Job 19:12; Job 30:28; Job 35:9; Job 36:13. Yet, his pitiful cries for help go unheard. God remains silent.

Job 19:8—Job has been hemmed in; restrictions surround him—Lamentations 3:7; Hosea 2:6; Job 3:23; Job 13:27; Job 14:5. In Job 1:10 Satan had asserted that God had placed protective barriers around Job. Perhaps darkness should be amended to “thorn hedge.”

Job 19:9—The crown of glory (kabod—LXX doxa) is a metaphor for esteem. Job’s crown of righteousness has been removed from him—Psalms 8:5. Shame as a garment is an image used in Job 8:22. Honor is a garment to be worn by the godly, or removed from—stripped off—the unrighteous—Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:3. Job was once a prosperous man who enjoyed an honorable reputation; now he has nothing.

Job 19:10—The metaphors are rich and varied. In this verse God has pulled Job down as one wrecks a building. The second metaphor is that of a tree uprooted—Psalms 52:5. The common verb—halak—meaning “walk” used metaphorically as a way of life, i.e., life style, here appears as an image of death, death as a way of existence.

Job 19:11—The metaphor now shifts to warfare. God will not cease His aggression against Job. God is pictured as a leader directing one attack after another on Job—Job 10:17; Job 16:12 ff. The Hebrew text has the plural, “his adversaries,” but here it is God and probably should be in the singular, “his adversary.”

Job 19:12—The military metaphor is extended. Here the troops are raising a siege ramp. But there is a strong conflict between the image of the siege ramp and a tent. One does not need to besiege a tent with an attack force. Perhaps this tension suggests the inequity of it all.

Job 19:13—God’s apparent hostility produces human hostility. Isolation and loneliness are radically contrasted with the sequence of relationships which develop from less to more intimate: (1) “My brethren”—Job 19:13 a; (2) “men of my family”—Job 19:17 b; (3) “my intimate friends”—Job 19:19. All of the intimate relationships necessary for life have been ripped apart. Total estrangement is Job’s pitiful lot.

Job 19:14—Job has a right to expect his most intimate friends to stand by him in his great hours of darkness—Psalms 88:18. In his most desperate hours, he is abandoned by all those with whom he has had intimate interpersonal relations. To whom can he turn? Who cares?

Job 19:15—Even “the sojourners” of his house rejected him. He even lost the respect of his maidservants and obedience of slaves; this is the depth of humiliation. Job has experienced a totally broken existence, from alienation to humiliation.

Job 19:16—He has sunk so low that even his personal servant ignores him. This is the bitterest form of humiliation and proof of the incredible depth into which he has fallen—Psalms 123:2. His social status has been obliterated; even the slaves will not respond when he personally calls them.

Job 19:17—Job’s skin is ravaged with eruptions and itching—Job 2:7-8; Job 2:12; Job 7:5; Job 7:14; Job 16:16; Job 19:20; Job 30:17; Job 30:30. Now halitosis is added to his other symptoms. His physical appearance is appalling, and has contributed to his social ostracization. The second line in the A. V. does not represent the Hebrew text which literally says “the sons of my womb.” This cannot refer to Job’s children, as they are already dead. Since there is no mention of concubines, it probably does not refer to their children. The best meaning in this context is Job’s mother’s womb—Job 3:10. Womb is used for “body” in Micah 6:7 and Psalms 22:9-11. The phrase would ordinarily mean Job’s children, but this is all but precluded by the present context.

Job 19:18—Even the children show disrespect for Job, as he rises and attempts to walk. Such disrespect calls for drastic punishment—2 Kings 2:23. Perhaps the second line means that even little children “turn their backs” on Job, rather than “speak against” him.

Job 19:19—Literally the first line says “men of my intimate group” or his bosom friends—Genesis 49:6; Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 15:17; Jeremiah 23:18; Psalms 25:14; Psalms 55:15—“have turned against me.”

Job 19:20—Though the general meaning is obvious, the verse has failed to yield up its grammatical secrets to those whose very lives have been spent in studying this language. The essence is—I have nothing but my bones and the skin of my teeth (Brown, Driver, Briggs understand this as “gums”), and I am nothing.[211] Mere survival is the only claim he can make. The verse has a certain proverbial tone about it. At least it is possible that the meaning is that suggested by Pope—“my flesh rots on my bones, my teeth drop from my gums.” The LXX suggest that the translators had a different Hebrew text before them “under my skin my flesh is corrupted; my bones are held in (my) teeth.”

Job 19:21—The repetition of “have pity on me” is a powerful rhetorical device. The hand of God has “stricken” me (same verb used in Isaiah 53:4).

Job 19:22—His friends are here accused of imitating God by their ceaseless hounding of Job. They are inhuman. Job is their prey. The idiom means “and will not stop calumniating me.” How appropriate for our age which is preoccupied with the humanization of man, without the redemptive activity of God in the world.

Job 19:23—Job still holds out hope of the vision of God (Job 19:23-27). The foregoing appeal has fallen on deaf ears, as is apparent from the following speech. At the conclusion, job is completely alienated from: (1) family; (2) men, i.e., intimate friends; and apparently (3) God. Yet out of his depth of despair, he achieves a heightened faith in God which maintains that He will “Shatter His Silence” in the future. But for the existential moment, Job will endure this cosmic muteness. Note how his traditionalist friends have appealed to the wisdom of the past, how Job is enduring the present, and that only the future holds the solution to his dilemma.’ If neither the past nor the present provide clues to the presence of God (i.e., a transcendent creator-redeemer God who is immanent in nature-history-social institutions-individual lives), where, if there are any, are the clues of God’s love and mercy? Since the first scientific revolution, western man has been moving in a naturalistic-humanistic direction. This process called for the death of God and the humanization of man. Oh, Job is our contemporary. Has God abandoned us? Job wants the protestation of his innocence to survive after his death in the form of a book or scroll. Seper usually means book or scroll. But the verb here means “to engrave.” We now have the copper treasure scroll from Qumran; perhaps it is an illustration of what Job had in mind. He surely wanted his record to be permanent.

Job 19:24—A lead stylus could not make an impression on even the softest stone; therefore, the lead here must be to fill the incisions made by an iron tool. An ancient example of the use of lead in stone is Darius I’s Behistun Inscription.

Job 19:25—Here is the central verse of the entire book. Job knows that there is no immanent power within man or nature that can meet his needs. If death is the ultimate and absolute monarch of all life, then the late Heidegger is correct—all of reality moves toward death—Sein zum tode. The ultimate answer to evil, suffering, and death comes in this peak passage—Job 19:25-27. Despite the “but,” this verse must not be separated from the foregoing; i.e., these words in Job 19:23 are to be recorded in stone. The word go’el (see Book of Ruth, Ruth 4:4-6) means next of kin who was obligated to exact justice in a feud—Deuteronomy 19:6-12; 2 Samuel 14:11; Leviticus 25:25; Leviticus 25:48. The go’el is the defender of both widow and orphan and the enslaved—Proverbs 23:10-11. God is Israel’s go’el or deliverer from Egyptian bondage—Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13; exile, Jer.; dispersion—Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:20; and Isaiah 52:9. God also delivers the individual from death—Psalms 103:4; Lamentations 3:58. Job’s concluding remarks in Job 19:26 b clearly reveal that his redeemer is God. The word ‘aharon is here taken as adverbial “at last.” If it is taken as parallel to go’el, it should be taken as adjectival in the sense that the “first and last” is guarantor—Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12. His vindicator is living and will stand on the earth. The Hebrew hay—alive or living—is a designation for God—Joshua 3:10; Hosea 1:10. Job’s God is a living God. The much discussed Ugaritic example concerning Baal is upon scrutiny no parallel. The Vulgate changes the Hebrew and reads “I shall rise,” meaning that Job shall experience resurrection. The phrase “upon the earth” literally reads “upon the dust.” Here is an expressed hope in God’s victory over Sheol. Job’s answer comes by resurrection. Ultimately our Lord’s resurrection is not merely an historical event; it is a history-making event—Matthew 22:32. Death in Sheol never means extinction or annihilation, only existence that is less to be desired; as many claim, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists (Soul Sleeping), Armstrongites, et. al.

Job 19:26—The problems of translation and understanding are great in this verse. Dahood maintains that the expression in this verse sets forth “the doctrine of the creation of a new body for the afterlife”—1 Corinthians 15. Job expects to “see God,” but not until after death. He does not say how he will be conscious of his vindication (compare with Job’s earlier words—Job 14:21 ff). Here is one of the Old Testament highwater marks in the development of a belief in resurrection, which culminates in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This fact is the very essence of the Christian faith. It is an objective fact which must be subjectively appropriated, resulting in a Christian world-life style of existence. It must be more than a legalistic doctrinal orthodoxy, but not less than orthodox. Jesus alone has revealed the true nature of Job’s God—John 1:18—The Great Explanation. Job’s desire is to see (hazah—see a vision, a revelation) God—Job 42:5. He is certain of two things: (1) His Vindicator will vindicate his innocence; and (2) He will see his God.

Job 19:27—God will appear on Job’s behalf (Heb. “on my side”) and break His silence. Job will see Him for himself, not through someone else’s eyes. When he sees Him, He will appear as a friend, not as an enemy or stranger. Job is overcome with emotion (heart—lit. “my kidneys wear out in my bosom”). In Hebrew psychology, the bowels and kidneys are regarded as the center of emotions, as was the heart of intelligence. It is wonderful, but not too wonderful to be possible.

Job 19:28—The verse is another problem text. Job is probably charging his friends with prejudice—Job 6:14-30; Job 13:7-11; Job 17:4-5; and Job 19:1-5—and persistent persecution, though the Hebrew text changes to indirect speech “in him” rather than direct discourse expressed in the A. V.’s “in me.” Though the meaning is clear, it is one of the examples of grammatical confusion in the verse.

Job 19:29—If you continue persecuting me, you will be judged by the sword (lit. “because the iniquities of the sword are wrath”—Isaiah 31:8; Isaiah 34:5 ff). After Job’s great assertion in Job 19:25-27, he now lapses back into his not so obscure despair. In Babylonian literature, the sword is a symbol of Nergal, the god of war; perhaps the ideograph has Near Eastern application. Contemporary man is troubled over the very existence of God. Here Job adds to our anxiety by declaring that God will manifest objective wrath in the form of judgment—Romans 1:18 ff.


Zophar’s answer condemns Job (Job 20:1-29):

Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Therefore do my thoughts give answer to me, Even by reason of my haste that is in me. I have heard the reproof which putteth me to shame; And the spirit of my understanding answereth me. Knowest thou not this of old time, Since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the godless but for a moment? Though his height mount up to the heavens, And his head reach unto the clouds; Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: They that have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: Yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. The eye which saw him shall see him no more; Neither shall his place any more behold him (Job 20:1-9).

We anxiously await the response of Job’s friends to such a dramatic and genuine plea for mercy from Job only to be disappointed in Zophar’s answer. Zophar considers Job’s ranting and concludes that Job has been permitted to shame, triumph, and have a bit of joy for only a moment. He, like all other wicked men, shall perish for ever like his own dung.” Job, Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar do not sound too much like friends right now.

His children shall seek the favor of the poor, And his hands shall give back his wealth. His bones are full of his youth, But it shall lie down with him in the dust. Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, Though he hide it under his tongue, Though he spare it, and will not let it go, But keep it still within his mouth; Yet his food in his bowels is turned, It is the gall of asps within him (Job 20:10-14).

Zophar, in a round about way, accuses Job of hiding his sin while enjoying the passing pleasures. Though Job hide his sin it will no doubt find him out.

He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again; God will cast them out of his belly. He shall suck the poison of asps: The viper’s tongue shall slay him. He shall not look upon the rivers, The flowing streams of honey and butter. That which he labored for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down; According to the substance that he hath gotten, he shall not rejoice. For he hath oppressed and forsaken the poor; He hath violently taken away a house, and he shall not build it up” (Job 20:15-19).

For the first time in this study we find an actual accusation against Job; i.e., he has swallowed down riches... and oppressed and forsaken the poor.” Job’s friends believe that his secret sin has something to do with his riches. Job must have received his riches by fraud yet God shall cause him to vomit them up again.”

Because he knew no quietness within him, He shall not save aught of that wherein he delighteth. There was nothing left that he devoured not; Therefore his prosperity shall not endure. In the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: The hand of every one that is in misery shall come upon him” (Job 20:20-22).

Zophar depicts Job as a rich man who had no scruples. Job devoured all the riches that he could get his hands upon. Zophar concludes, His prosperity shall not endure.” Such legendary suffering has conjured up in the minds of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar the most heinous of sins; i.e., Job robbed the poor to gain the degree of wealth he had. Now, the hand of all those he oppressed to gain his riches shall be upon him.

When he is about to fill his belly, God will cast the fierceness of his wrath upon him, And will rain it upon him while he is eating. He shall flee from the iron weapon, And the bow of brass shall strike him through. He draweth it forth, and it cometh out of his body; Yea, the glittering point cometh out of his gall: Terrors are upon him. All darkness is laid up for his treasures: A fire not blown by man shall devour him; It shall consume that which is left in his tent. The heavens shall reveal his iniquity, And the earth shall rise up against him. The increase of his house shall depart; His goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath. This is the portion of a wicked man from God, And the heritage appointed unto him by God” (Job 20:23-29).

Zophar explains that God’s wrath has been pored out upon Job for his greedy spirit and sinfulness. God has taken away all that the wicked man Job has obtained by fraud and greed at the expense of the poor. The wicked man Job is now appointed the legendary suffering he is now experiencing.


Job 20:1—Zophar explodes with anxiety at Job’s charges and closely parallels Bildad’s speech in chapter 18. Both deal with the destruction of the godless. More heat than light flows from Zophar’s speech. In his passionate speech, he once more emphasizes the insecurity of the prosperity of the unrighteous. Every “syllable of his remorseless invective” is irrelevant, even if true. Bildad’s tirade in chapter 18 and Zophar’s irrelevant speech in chapter 20 together frame Job’s marvelous credo in chapter 19. His is a living faith; theirs is a rigid retribution-oriented religion. Two characteristics of Zophar’s speech are: (1) greater hostility than before, and (2) use of crude imagery, especially in Job 20:7; Job 20:15.

Job 20:2-3—Zophar has almost choked on his silence; now in exasperation he must speak. The verse begins with taken—“therefore”—which suggests something is missing. For the first time one of Job’s friends admits to being impressed by his speech. “I hear censure which insults me.” (See Isaiah 53:5 for same word—censure—as chastisement.) Zophar’s thoughts cause him to intervene once more. Perhaps the line means that he is boiling over inside and cannot control his hostility. (Brown, Driver, Briggs gives “thy inner excitement.”) He claims to speak out of (Heb. preposition min—source from which) knowledge which Job does not. Job has shamed him; he must respond. There is a possibility that the phrase “shameful rebuke” refers to homosexual abuses—Job 31:31. Dhorme very nicely handles the grammatical problems in Job 20:3 b by translating the verb in a causative sense—“a wind (or impulse) arising from my understanding prompts me to reply,” Job, p. 290.

Job 20:4—Zophar is not asking himself if he knows but “Do you not know?” If the wicked prosper, it is only for a brief time. He continues to maintain the invariableness between ungodliness and disaster. The success of the wicked in contrast to the suffering of the righteous plagues the writers of our biblical wisdom literature. Zophar once more expounds his traditional, standard answer—. The answer has always been the same—Deuteronomy 4:32.

Job 20:5—The solution to the problem presented by the prosperity of the wicked is that it is only for a short time—Psalms 73. Empirically this is not a happy solution, either for individuals or groups, nations, haves and have nots. It is the kind of talk that revolutions are made of. Ultimately the only consolation of the righteous is in resurrection. The rejection of resurrection possibilities is the basis of twentieth century efforts at the humanization of man, through socio-political means. Central to this naturalistic humanism is a denial of a vertical dimension to sin, which leaves only a horizontal vision of salvation, which becomes merely better and more factors which generate a positive response to daily existence. One of the Christian faith’s deadliest foes is contemporary Neo-Marxism which comes in well-tailored sheep’s clothing, first to Italy, then to France, on to England, then perhaps the USA with our socialistic democracy as its noblest habitat. When Capitalism lost God as a transcendent moral basis of stewardship, only materialistic hedonism remains. Christ, our risen Lord, is our only and ultimate consolation. Joy and grace co-mingle in His empty tomb and ascension.

Job 20:6—His loftiness, i.e., his eminence, is only momentary. But great will be the fall—Matthew 9:24 ff. As Strahan has well declared, “It is not Zophar’s sermon against pride that makes him a false prophet, but his application of it to Job.”

Job 20:7—Zophar sinks to a new low in his use of the brutally inelegant metaphor—2 Kings 9:37. His vigorous coarseness is bested only by his boorish brutality.

Job 20:8—Job is contrasted to a dream which is gone upon awakening. He will be as unavailable as a night vision; continued chase will only cause future crisis—Psalms 73:20 and Isaiah 29:8.

Job 20:9—The verb translated “saw”—sazapJob 28:7—means “to catch sight of” and emphasizes the brevity of the appearance. The image has appeared before in Job 7:8; Job 7:10; Job 8:18; Psalms 1:4; Psalms 103:16.

Job 20:10—The poverty of the wicked will force their children to beg from the poor, so destitute is their condition. Perhaps Zophar is suggesting that the sons of the wicked will be forced to return to those whom he has made impoverished through his illicit gain. It is also possible that “hands” in the second line stands for “offspring.”

Job 20:11—Here the imagery suggests that the wicked will die prematurely, i.e., “full of youth”—Psalms 55:23.

Job 20:12—The riches of the ungodly are like sweet food in the mouth which turns to poison in the stomach. Evil is compared with something tasty. “The sweetness of sin turns into the gall of retribution, and riches wrongfully acquired must be vomited up again” (Rowley, Job, p. 178)—Hebrews 11:15. Sin is so sweet that it is hidden under the tongue to retain maximum pleasure for as long as possible.

Job 20:13—The verb translated spare means have “compassion on,” implying that Job loves sin so much that “he has compassion” on it and will not let it go. His secret sins are concealed in his mouth.

Job 20:14—The sweet-tasting food has become poison. The enjoyment of sin metamorphizes into tragic bitterness and destroys the imbiber—Proverbs 20:17. Pliny expresses the ancient belief that “it is the gall which constitutes the poison of asps.”

Job 20:15—The figure is in keeping with Zophar’s coarse rhetorical devices. The evil greedy man must vomit up all his ill-gotten wealth. Here God does not administer an emetic to cause the unrighteous to disgorge the poison; the evil person is so sick that he self-imposes the vomiting.

Job 20:16—The poisonous greed proved the undoing of the ungodly. Greed generates oppression; oppression generates alienation. The central problem of western economic man, from Keynes to our gross national product, is that greed is the dynamic which enables unwise and unreasonable men to make decisions as though infinite economic growth is possible. Perhaps we note here the assumption that the darting tongue of the viper is the actual source of poison.

Job 20:17—The time of enjoyment for the wicked is passed. The joy of leisure is an unavailable goal for the ungodly. The nature of work and leisure are once more fundamental issues in our culture, and for the same reason as is suggested in our text. The flowing rivers will not be available to evil men. Refreshments for the leisure time of the greedy, which are honey and curds—Judges 5:25 and Isaiah 7:14—will also avoid them.

Job 20:18—The wicked cannot swallow the profit of labor (one Hebrew word extended in A. V., “that which he labored for”). The metaphor depicts one who is gagging, i.e., one who cannot swallow what is in his mouth. “The profits of his trading” is choking him, therefore, not rejoicing.

Job 20:19—The wicked have callously abandoned the poor to their fate, after oppressively mistreating them. The second line declares that the wicked man does not enjoy the fruit of his violence, even though he will not abandon it. He is not satisfied even after violently oppressing the powerless poor. Dahood renders the verse, For he crushed the huts of the poor, “He has sacked a house which he did not build.”

Job 20:20—The greed of the wicked is insatiable. This verse repeats the same thoughts as found in Job 20:19. Those with insatiable appetites defeat themselves. How appropriate these thoughts are for 20th century America, in light of the conditions in the Third and Fourth Worlds.

Job 20:21—The verse is not emphasizing gluttony for food, but an oppressive aggression which consumes the pitiful powerless poor. It repeats the same thoughts as Job 20:19-20, but makes emphasis with different metaphors.

Job 20:22—The imagery suggests that avarice consumes the wicked. Anguish in the midst of luxury: how can this be? The contradictions continue—“all the blows of misfortune pour upon him,” Dhorme. This is an excellent translation of the Hebrew which literally says “every hand or force of one in misery” will fall upon him.

Job 20:23—What seems to be self-destructive results of the behavior of the wicked is really God’s judgment upon their lives. God, too, sends abundance, abundance of His wrath. While the ungodly person is filling his belly, He (God—not in text but must be the subject) will send His burning anger upon him (Hebrew is lechum—bowels—inner feelings, emotions).

Job 20:24—The metaphor changes from fiery rain from heaven to that of heavy iron weapons. While trying to elude one death-dealing weapon, another will fall on him. There is no hiding place—Amos 5:19 and Isaiah 24:18.

Job 20:25—The image is a description of the wicked wounded by an arrow, seeking to withdraw it from his body. Finally, the glittering point (lit. lightning-flashing point of the arrow) is pulled out of the gall—Job 20:14Deuteronomy 32:41; Nahum 3:3; Habakkuk 3:11.

Job 20:26—Same image as expressed in Job 15:22. The consuming fire is not of human origin, and it will destroy everything.

Job 20:27—Job has already asked for a heavenly witness, and that the earth not silence the witness of his blood—Job 16:18 ff. Here heaven and earth will combine their witness against him.

Job 20:28—The word translated “depart” (yigel) means “to go into exile.” Others will carry away his prosperity into their tents. Nothing remains his own. The flood (torrents for niggerot2 Samuel 14:14), like the fire in Job 20:26, has its origin in the purposes of God. The expression of divine judgment will result in the total destruction of the wicked.

Job 20:29—This is the conclusion of Zophar’s speech and repeats what he has already asserted—Job 5:27; Job 18:21—the end of the wicked is destruction.


Job answers in the same aggressive tone as Zophar (Job 21:1-34):

Then Job answered and said, Hear diligently my speech; And let this be your consolations. Suffer me, and I also will speak; And after that I have spoken, mock on. As for me, is my complaint to man? And why should I not be impatient? Mark me, and be astonished, And lay your hand upon your mouth. Even when I remember I am troubled, And horror taketh hold on my flesh” (Job 21:1-6).

The pleasantries of introductions have ceased. Job’s friends are convinced that he is a secret sinner. Zophar has gone as far as accusing Job of defrauding the poor to gain wealth. Job requests that these men hear diligently my speech and then you may mock me all you like.” Job tells the three men that his complaint is not with them but with God. Therefore, if they so desire to mark him as a wicked man then go ahead yet he tells them to please shut their harsh mouths.

Wherefore do the wicked live, Become old, yea, wax mighty in power? Their seed is established with them in their sight, And their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, Neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; Their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, And their children dance. They sing to the timbrel and harp, And rejoice at the sound of the pipe. They spend their days in prosperity, And in a moment they go down to Sheol. And they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21:7-14).

Job challenges his friends who have said all along that the wicked are punished by God and there is no joy for them in this life. While Job’s three friends say that this is what they have observed in life Job says that what he has observed is that the wicked live, grow old, have great power, safety, joy, and prosperity. God’s rod of anger is never upon them. Even though these wicked say to God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways yet they continue to prosper.

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? Lo, their prosperity is not in their hand: The counsel of the wicked is far from me. How oft is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out? That their calamity cometh upon them? That God distributeth sorrows in his anger? That they are as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away?” (Job 21:15-18).

Job asks the question, “Why should we serve the Almighty... And what profit is there in praying” if the wicked rejoice in prosperity and the righteous suffer? The point being that if it is God’s intention to punish the wicked while they live yet the common observance is that many wicked are getting away with foul living then why even serve God.

Job asks another question to his friends. Job asks, “How often have you actually seen a wicked man suffer calamity due to his wicked deeds upon the earth?”

Ye say, God layeth up his iniquity for his children. Let him recompense it unto himself, that he may know it: Let his own eyes see his destruction, And let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty. For what careth he for his house after him, When the number of his months is cut off? Shall any teach God knowledge, Seeing he judgeth those that are high? One dieth in his full strength, Being wholly at ease and quiet: His pails are full of milk, And the marrow of his bones is moistened. And another dieth in bitterness of soul, And never tasteth of good. They lie down alike in the dust, And the worm covereth them” (Job 21:19-26).

The answer to Job’s question regarding why they don’t see the wicked suffer would no doubt be, God lays up his iniquity for his children.” Job has a problem with that answer. If it be the case that a man’s wickedness is punished in his children then where would the wicked man’s learning of right and wrong be? Job says, “What I see is the just and unjust living and dying alike even though they have two different courses in life.” There has to be another reason for the suffering than God punishing the wicked.

Behold, I know your thoughts, And the devices wherewith ye would wrong me. For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? And where is the tent wherein the wicked dwelt? Have ye not asked wayfaring men? And do ye not know their evidences, That the evil man is reserved to the day of calamity? That they are led forth to the day of wrath? Who shall declare his way to his face? And who shall repay him what he hath done? Yet shall he be borne to the grave, And men shall keep watch over the tomb. The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, And all men shall draw after him, As there were innumerable before him. How then comfort ye me in vain, Seeing in your answers there remaineth only falsehood?” (Job 21:27-34)

Job knew the thoughts of his friends only because they had made them manifest. They had wronged Job in that they have falsely accused him and attached a sin to him that did not exists (i.e., Job, you have defrauded the poor to gain your riches). Job explains to his friends that God does not punish the wicked in this life but in the life to come. The judgment day will be a day of wrath for the ungodly. Job has openly exposed his friends postulations of guilt and error toward Job as falsehood and vain comfort.”


Job 21:1—For the sixth time Job responds to Zophar out of the depths of his realistic experience. Here we vividly see the radical distinction between his experience and the a priori theories of his three friends. Job confronts their thesis that the righteous are happy and the wicked are miserable with a counter claim—that the wicked are often prosperous. This Jobian speech falls into five sections:

(1) Job appeals for a hearing—Job 21:2-6;

(2) The wicked prosper—Job 21:7-16;

(3) He asks, Do the wicked suffer?—Job 21:17-22;

(4) Death levels everyone and everything—Job 21:23-26; and

(5) Universal experience contradicts the arguments of his three comforters—Job 21:27-34. It is the only fully polemical speech from Job.

Job 21:2—Eliphaz had identified his words with “the consolation of God”—Job 15:11. Now Job asks them to consider real consolation. He has emerged victorious over the temptation presented to him by both his friends and his wife. He has asserted his faith that God knows his innocence and will ultimately testify to it. He still believes in God’s goodness and has a basis from which to reject the accusing recommendations of his friends. He passes from mere defensiveness to frontal attack. Theologically, his friends have attacked him from behind the bulwark of the eternal universal principle of retributive justice. Job brilliantly and relentlessly undertakes to falsify the principle from which they continually deduced so many erroneous conclusions. First, it is not universally self-evident that God sends retributive justice in this life (note similar argument in Kant’s Critique of Practical Judgment). Secondly, God does not destroy the godless in a moment—Job 21:5-6; and thirdly, that the impious do not always prosper, but they often do—Jeremiah 12:1 ff; Ecclesiastes 7:15. Job asks only for their discreet silence and attentive ears.

Job 21:3—The verbs preceding this verse are all plural, but here this one is in the singular. Job is focusing attention on Zophar’s just-ended discourse on the fate of the wicked. After what I have to say, you will no longer mock me.

Job 21:4—Job’s complaint is against God, not man. He would expect at least sympathy from man. He receives no consolation from either God or man. He is protesting the moral anomalies that God allows in His world. Job has inquired of God, but God remains silent; therefore, Job is impatient (lit. “my spirit is short”).

Job 21:5-6—Laying one’s hand over the mouth is the gesture of awe and voluntary silence. Job’s friends will be silent when they hear and understand his argument concerning the prosperity of the wicked. He shudders at the very thought of an amoral universe.

Job 21:7—Zophar (and Plato’s Republic) had said—Job 20:11—that the wicked die prematurely. Job counters with evidence to the contrary. Job asks “why?” (maddna—“from what cause”; lamah—Job 3:20; Job 7:20—“to what purpose?” Jesus on cross—Psalms 22; Matthew 27—how do you explain it?) Zophar’s argument is sophistry. If one dies early in life, then he was wicked. The same applies to Bildad’s arguments in Job 18:5-21. One could never refute such an a priori position. Not only do many wicked live long lives, but their prosperity continues unbroken—Job 15:20; Job 18:5; Job 20:5. Other Old Testament spokesmen were also disturbed about this same phenomena—Jeremiah 12:1 ff; Psalms 73:13; Habakkuk 1:13; and Malachi 3:15. The evidence does not support Zophar’s claim that the prosperous wicked never attain a level of true happiness. The holy pagan, moral atheist, the good-living humanist might be as “happy” as the righteous man, then or now. If ex hypothesi happiness is God’s gift, is He not encouraging unbelief by such indiscriminate bestowal of prosperity?—Matthew 5:45. The only motives advanced by Job’s friends for serving God have been: (1) fear of punishment and (2) hope for reward. This kind of motivation will never produce truly pious people (note arguments against these by Kant and Hannah Arendt).

Job 21:8—Job directly contradicts the claims of Bildad concerning the fate of the wicked which he stated in Job 18:5-21. He first attacks Bildad’s assertion that Job’s ill-fated prosperity and progeny are proof of ungodliness. The wicked have (lit. lipnehem—before them) their offspring.

Job 21:9—Here Job sets the security of the ungodly against Eliphaz’s claim in Job 5:24. He had promised Job security in his tent if he would accept his present condition as God’s judgment and repent. In Job 9:34 Job complained that there was no “mediator” to remove God’s rod of anger from him; here he asserts that the ungodly do not feel the rod of wrath—Job 15:28; Job 18:14; and Job 20:28.

Job 21:10—Another mark of God’s blessing was fertility in herds and flocks—Deuteronomy 28:14; Psalms 144:13 ff. If this is a sign of God’s blessing, then He is blessing many wicked people with success. Compare this argument in a Christian critique of the American Dream, i.e., if you are successful, it is a sign of God’s providential presence; if you are a failure, it is a warning to get right with God.

Job 21:11—Here we note a beautiful picture of peace, progress, and prosperity as children are playing and singing like happy little lambs. But the children of the wicked are as numerous as a herd or flock—Psalms 107:41. (Note contemporary preoccupation with leisure and play (see J. Moltmann’s A Theology of Play. New York: Harper & Row, 1975), Zechariah 8:5.

Job 21:12—For similar descriptions of revelry of the wicked, see Isaiah 5:12 and Amos 6:5, perhaps in their worship of Baal. The same mode, but not motive, is employed in the worship of God. Festivity and celebration are marks of both pious joy as well as sensual revelry.

Job 21:13—The wicked often know intense prosperity and come to a peaceful ripe old age. In peace (A. V. has “in a moment”) they go down to Sheol (suggesting suddenly, which is not the point here). They have a long and complete life, with little or no suffering and no lingering illnesses.

Job 21:14—Radical self-interest is no motive for them to acknowledge God. They already have everything they want. In modern times, from Machiavelli to Mao, radical self-interest has been the basis of totalitarianism. In our own culture it is the basis of hedonistic materialism. What profit is there in knowing God? The happy people have no self-interest to induce them to worship God.

Job 21:15—The wicked have no obligation of love or gratitude to worship God. This philosophy of religion says that we will give if we get in return. But the righteous man desires above all else to know God and His ways—Psalms 16:11; Psalms 25:4. The perverse reject God, while they continue to prosper.

Job 21:16—The verse is notorious for its grammatical complexities. Perhaps the R. S. V. gets at the meaning better than the A. V., which is: God does not concern Himself with wicked, but leaves their prosperity to themselves; that is their sole and ultimate award. Job then says that the counsel of the wicked is removed far from him in the sense that despite their success, Job does not wish to be prosperous on their terms.

Job 21:17—Job admits that there is some evidence for the claims of his friends, but not enough to claim universal inevitability of the law of retribution. In a moral universe, everyone is responsible for his or her own deeds—Job 18:5-6; Job 18:10 ff; Job 20:7; Job 20:22; Job 20:26-28; Job 27:20 ff; Psalms 1:4. Job asks, Where are the examples which you set forth as universal proof?

Job 21:18—The metaphors here also appear in Psalms 1:4; Job 27:20; Isaiah 17:13. The images are figurative for destruction. Compare the claims of David and Job.

Job 21:19—“You say” represents nothing from the Hebrew text, but probably is an appropriate addition which suggests a response to a question. Perhaps Job is responding with a proverb or current saying. The verse presents the ancient view that a man’s sins are visited upon his children—Exodus 34:7 and Deuteronomy 5:9. He objects that this is unjust. Moses forbids the application of this “law” in Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 31:29; Ezekiel 18; John 9:1-3; and Matthew 27:25. The vital interrelationship between sin and its consequences must receive careful consideration in light of the biblical view of “corporate personality” and contemporary Systems Analysis Models. There was repercussion throughout all creation when man first sinned, and the empirical evidence sustains the biblical claims regarding the fragmentation of relationships between God and Man, Man and Self, Man and Others, and Man and Nature.

Job 21:20—The wicked ought to receive the retribution themselves, not their children as “Let his own eyes see his destruction” (punishment) suggests—Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15; and Revelation 16:19.

Job 21:21—What concern does a dead man have for his house?—Ezekiel 18:2; Jeremiah 31:28 ff. The Qumran Targum has what “interest for God in his house” after his death? What difference does God make to a dead ungodly person?

Job 21:22—Who can teach God anything? Shall even the “high ones” (Heb., ramin, probably angels and not God as claimed by both Blommerde and Dahood) teach Him: It would make little sense of God instructing Himself—Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Job 22:13; Job 15:2; Psalms 73:11. Job is asserting that moral considerations alone do not explain the varieties of human experience, for the intensity of either happiness or despair.

Job 21:23—One dies “in his perfection,” i.e., prime of life. Death levels everyone—Job 21:23-26. One person dies in prosperity, another in poverty.

Job 21:24—The Hebrew hardly says what the A. V. provides in the first line. The first word is a hapaz (does not appear elsewhere) but perhaps is a euphemism for “buttocks” which is plump or fat (emend halab—milk—to heleb—fat). The second line contains figures (moist bones are figures of health) which suggest that the person is well fed or prosperous. Death takes them all, regardless of social status or physical condition.

Job 21:25—The verse is Job’s description of himself—Job 3:20 and Job 7:7.

Job 21:26—The ungodly and the righteous share the same—death—Ecclesiastes 2:14 ff. It is the dissimilarity in the human fate, rather than retribution, which moves Job—Job 17:14; Isaiah 14:11 b.

Job 21:27—Job has thus far claimed that there is no evident connection between happiness and virtue—Job 21:19-21; Job 21:23-26. The friends will simply not face the truth of the blunt realities of life—Ecclesiastes 8:14; Job 21:34 b. He knows that his friends meant him while they were claiming that the wicked are destroyed; Job is destroyed; therefore, Job is wicked—Job 4:7. His suffering is the price paid for his sins. He says that they have violently wronged him (word translated wrong is stronger than our English word).

Job 21:28Nadib means a rich prince. Here the implication is a wealthy but wicked prince who has exploited the poor—Job 20:19. God’s vengeance has swept his house away—Job 8:15; Job 8:22; Job 18:15; Job 18:21; Job 15:34.

Job 21:29—Any wayfarer (those who travel the roads, not necessarily a world traveler) could tell Job’s friends that their claims are not universally the case—Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 2:15; Psalms 80:13; Psalms 89:42; Proverbs 9:15. The daily experience (signs or monuments) of many will refute their claims. Why do they persist in their a priori evaluation of the wicked and the righteous, when the evidence refutes their claims?

Job 21:30—Those who travel the roads report that wicked men are delivered (lit. brought away from, A. V. preserved—but the English meaning is not that of the Hebrew) and led to safety on many occasions—Job 20:28; Deuteronomy 32:35; Isaiah 26:20; Jeremiah 18:17; Ezekiel 7:19; Zephaniah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:18; and Proverbs 11:4.

Job 21:31—The reference here is to the successful, powerful despot, not God as some assume. Who would publicly rebuke a tyrant: The way (halak—life style; way of life) represents the behavior pattern of the wicked but successful man.

Job 21:32—There is abundant evidence that wicked men are honored in both life and death. They are so “respected” that men watch over their tombs. Perhaps there is reference to Near Eastern custom that effigy of important dead persons watch over their own tombs. Whether this be so or not, Job is claiming that often the wicked are buried in pomp and much circumstance. How different from his own situation.

Job 21:33—Burial was often in a ravine or valley—Deuteronomy 34:6. After the rains, the clods would become as hard as rocks and so continue to mark the grave. He has no beautiful mausoleum only “clods” to identify the spot where the earth entombs his once strong body. Perhaps the metaphor speaks of a funeral procession. The wicked often have a peaceful death and posthumous fame.

Job 21:34—Thus Job’s speech completes the second cycle. He dismisses the arguments of his friends as vain in view of the rocks of reality. Their answers are perfidy (Heb. ma’al—sacrilegious attack on God). The things they have been saying on God’s behalf are all lies when tested against experience.


1. Job accuses his friends of vexing his soul, breaking him in pieces with their discouraging words, reproaching him (blaming him of sin), and persecuting him (Job 19:1-3; Job 19:22).

2. Job continues to blame God for his misery (Job 19:6-13; Job 19:21-22). Job had previously concluded that God hates him (Job 16:9).

3. Job believes there is no hope while among the living (Job 19:10).

4. Job depicts the depth of his misery (Job 19:13-20) (the whole world [and even his wife] appear to be against him).

5. Job pleads with his friends to have pity and empathy due to his great suffering (Job 19:21).

6. Job; however, will not give up a righteous life (see Job 17:9). Job knows that his redeemer lives and will one day walk the earth. Job believes that he will be resurrected from the dead and then all will be good (Job 19:25-26).

7. Zophar accuses Job of hiding his sin (Job 20:12-15).

8. Zophar believes that he knows the identity of Job’s sin. Job must be guilty of hoarding riches at the expense of the poor (Job 20:15-19) and therefore his punishment is equated to the greatness of his sin (Job 20:20-22). Due to Job’s great sin God has appointed him to suffering (Job 20:29).

9. Job has seen something different than his friends in the area of the wicked suffering. Job’s friends have maintained that their observations in life is that those who live sinful lives suffer at the hands of God. Job contends that he too has made observations and he has not seen the wicked suffer. The wicked; quite to the contrary, have wealth and happiness (Job 21:7-14). Suffering does not occur only in the lives of the wicked (Job 21:25-26). The wicked do not suffer now for their wrong deeds but rather they will suffer in eternity for their unjust deeds (Job 21:29-30). Seeing that Job’s friends have gotten this wrong they are filled with “falsehood (Job 21:34).


Eliphaz believes he knows Job’s Sin (Job 22:1-20):

Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said, Can a man be profitable unto God? Surely he that is wise is profitable unto himself. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? Is it for thy fear of him that he reproveth thee, That he entereth with thee into judgment?” (Job 22:1-4).

Job has exposed the error of his friends. They have concluded that Job suffers because he is a sinful man. Job has countered their accusations by saying that they needed to look around them and take note that the wicked of this world are not punished for the most part. We anxiously await Eliphaz’s answer because Job has exposed their erroneous thinking. Eliphaz presents the facts. Job you are suffering, you have admitted that the suffering is from God, you must have done something wrong. God would not punish you for your righteousness.

Is not thy wickedness great? Neither is there any end to thine iniquities. For thou hast taken pledges of thy brother for nought, And stripped the naked of their clothing. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, And thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; And the honorable man, he dwelt in it. Thou hast sent widows away empty, And the arms of the fatherless have been broken. Therefore snares are round about thee, And sudden fear troubleth thee, Or darkness, so that thou canst not see, And abundance of waters cover thee” (Job 22:5-11).

Zophar had named Job’s thirst for riches at the expense of the poor as his sin (see Job 20:15-19). Eliphaz now names Job’s sin: i.e., taken bribes, stripped men of their clothing, and unmerciful to the needy. Eliphaz states that Job suffers because of his great wickedness that has no end.

Is not God in the height of heaven? And behold the height of the stars, how high they are! And thou sayest, What doth God know? Can he judge through the thick darkness? Thick clouds are a covering to him, so that he seeth not; And he walketh on the vault of heaven. Wilt thou keep the old way Which wicked men have trodden? Who were snatched away before their time, Whose foundation was poured out as a stream, Who said unto God, Depart from us; And, What can the Almighty do for us? Yet he filled their houses with good things: But the counsel of the wicked is far from me. The righteous see it, and are glad; And the innocent laugh them to scorn, Saying, Surely they that did rise up against us are cut off, And the remnant of them the fire hath consumed (Job 22:12-20).

Eliphaz finally gives Job answers to his questions. Job’s friends have accused him of sin and consequential suffering (such is their observation of the wicked). Job counters by saying, “Then why are there many wicked that do not suffer at all?” Eliphaz now accuses Job of questioning God’s omniscience. God is in heaven and certainly sees all. Eliphaz explains that while it may appear that the wicked are prospering their time of God’s wrath will come upon them. Eliphaz warns Job not to desire the things of the wicked just because they are not immediately punished.

Eliphaz calls upon Job to Repent that he may regain God’s Favor (Job 22:21-30):

“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: Thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, And lay up his words in thy heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, If thou put away unrighteousness far from thy tents” (Job 22:21-23).

Eliphaz has accused Job of taking bribes, stripping men of their clothing, and being unmerciful to the needy (see above at Job 22:5-11). Eliphaz encourages Job to receive God’s laws and do them. Eliphaz promises Job that if only he would admit his sin and turn away from it God would build him up.

And lay thou thy treasure in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks; And the Almighty will be thy treasure, And precious silver unto thee. For then shalt thou delight thyself in the Almighty, And shalt lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he will hear thee; And thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee; And light shall shine upon thy ways. When they cast thee down, thou shalt say, There is lifting up; And the humble person he will save. He will deliver even him that is not innocent: Yea, he shall be delivered through the cleanness of thy hands” (Job 22:24-30).

Eliphaz instructs Job to put God at the top of his interest rather than riches. If only Job would humble himself before God there would come seasons of refreshment to his suffering. Eliphaz had previously accused Job of being “proud” (Job 15:21) and now request that his friend would humble himself before God and admit his error. Eliphaz says many truthful things in relation to getting one’s priorities straight and maintaining a humble spirit that admits one’s wrong; however, he errs by equating Job’s suffering to his sin.


Job 22:1—The third cycle of speeches now begins. From the very beginning Eliphaz has found Job obstinately perverse. The movement in the content of the speeches has thus far been along three lines of thought: (1) In earlier speeches the three friends have argued from their preconceived notions of God’s nature to the conclusion that Job has sinned and that his suffering can be alleviated only through his repentance. (2) The second cycle develops the thesis of the fate of the wicked and that the universe is governed by moral structures and (3) in the third series to turn with vehemence upon Job and charge him with grave sins. Their assumptions about God, evil, and suffering are once more in evidence; their conclusions follow from their presuppositions, not the evidence in Job’s life, as anyone else’s. Eliphaz returns to his earlier theme that repentance would lead to Job’s restoration. His speech contains four divisions: (1) Since God is disinterested, i.e., silent, Job’s suffering is proof of his sins—Job 22:2-5; (2) Eliphaz’s deduction concerning Job’s sin—Job 22:6-11; (3) Eliphaz’s envisagement of Job’s assumption concerning God’s silence—Job 22:12-20; and (4) Eliphaz’s promise and appeal to Job—Job 22:21-30.

The central issue in this speech is the distance between God and man because of sin.** If man suffers, it is a result of his personal sins. Eliphaz here abandons all efforts at gentleness. In his first speech (chps. 4—5) he set forth encouragement; in his second speech (chp. 15) he spoke of Job’s irreverence; and now he openly charges Job with hypocrisy and secret sins. The principle from which Eliphaz begins his reasoning is true, i.e., God is just (Romans 3:21 ff), but it is not the entire picture; God is also loving. By isolating God’s love and justice, Eliphaz distorts the entire relationship between God and man. Eliphaz still cannot understand how anyone can serve God “for nothing.” Somebody must gain from it. Is it man, or is it God?

**Note the history of this fundamental problem of the relationship between God’s immanence and transcendence: (1) There is no separation between God and man because there is no God, naturalistic atheism; (2) Kierkegaard’s total separation, God as “wholly other”; (3) After Hegel’s phenomenologically based pantheism the separation is only one of degree. From the Newtonian world Machine Model to 19 “Organiamic Model—Evolutionary naturalism is its 19th dress; (4) Kierkegaard Buber-Otto-Barth in neo-orthodoxy; (5) God is totally immersed in reality—Death of God, Revolutionary political, Liberation Theologies of all types; and (6) Biblical alternatives.

Job 22:2—God can derive no possible advantage from man, but a pious life style can benefit man. God would gain nothing by deviating from strict justice in dealing with human behavior (Elihu expresses the same theme in Job 35:7). “God doth not need either man’s work or his gifts”—Milton. Job has previously used this argument—Job 7:20. Man cannot harm God; why then should God care what man does? He should just leave man alone.

Job 22:3—Is it any advantage (note parallel word in the second line “gain”) or pleasure (Job 21:21) to God, if you are righteous? Can a gebher (strongest specimen of man) be useful to God? Can a professional wise man give instruction to the Almighty? As a theologian of transcendence, Eliphaz dismisses these ludicrous possibilities—Isaiah 62:5; Luke 15:7; Luke 17:10.

Job 22:4—Both Testaments witness to our unprofitableness and God’s gracious concern. Eliphaz has used the word yirah (fear, reverence, piety) before (Job 4:6) in the sense of piety. He is assuming that since God is disinterested, His relationship to man must be our advantage and not God’s. The A. V. translation “fear” is quite inappropriate in this discussion.

Job 22:5—Job will later protest that he is innocent in Job 31:5 ff, which also contains his response to Eliphaz’s charges. Job’s accuser has no evidence; his accusations are derived from his presuppositions. The two words for sin in this verse are (1) “wickedness”—resha, loose, ill-regulated; and (2) pesha—deliberate and premeditated; and Job 34:37 speaks of adding pesha to hattah—miss attaining of goal (see Brown, Driver, Briggs). Eliphaz declares that if God’s discipline is not for your piety, then it must be for your sinful rebellion. If your suffering is limitless and God is just, then your sins must also be boundless.

Job 22:6—Eliphaz begins analysis of specific sins—Job 22:6-11. Hebrew law required that if a poor man gave his undergarment in pledge for a given transaction, that the creditor must return it by sundown, so the debtor would have at least this covering to protect him against the chill of the night—Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:10-13; Amos 2:8; Ezekiel 18:12. Here Eliphaz charges that Job in his greed has stripped the poor debtors and reduced them to nakedness (strongly denied in Job 31:19-22). Where is the evidence for this charge? Does he bring some mistreated poor to witness against Job—Galatians 6:1?

Job 22:7—Eliphaz continues to confront Job with the violation of the standard list of social crimes which the wealthy and powerful could commit with impunity. The next accusation hurled against Job is that he has neglected basic hospitality to the poor—Isaiah 58:7; Isaiah 58:10; Job’s response is Job 31:16 ff. The charge is more serious than mere neglect; he is charged with calloused indifference to even the minimal needs of the poor—Matthew 25:35; Matthew 25:42. The adjective “weary” is used of the thirsty—Isaiah 29:8; Jeremiah 31:25; and Proverbs 25:15. Then, as now, piety demands social expression. There can be no private piety.

Job 22:8—Job is identified as a “man of arm,” i.e., a person of wealth and rank. Here we read of an oblique reference to Job as a land-grabber—Isaiah 5:8. He is also described as the favored man (lit. lifted of face—Isaiah 3:3), i.e., on the basis of his wealth.

Job 22:9—Supposedly, Job has sent widows away empty handed. He also crushed the arms of orphans. To exploit defenseless orphans or widows was a most heinous crime—Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 22:3. Job responds to these charges in Job 29:12 ff and Job 31:16 ff.

Job 22:10What Bildad (Job 18:8-11; Job 19:6) has earlier predicted of the ungodly in general, Eliphaz here specifically applies to Job. In retribution for his sinful acts, God spreads snares or traps all around Job. Terrified with sudden dread, Job falls into the traps with paralyzing fright. The snares are proof of Job’s evil deeds, according to Eliphaz.

Job 22:11—Job, do you not understand the true cause of your troubles?—in contrast with Isaiah 58:10-11. The crushing misfortunes are metaphorically expressed by blinding “darkness” and destructive “floods.” The second line in this verse is verbatim found in Job 38:34 b. Water and darkness are figures for the perils of death and Sheol—Psalms 69:2-3; Job 9:31 a.

Job 22:12—God’s transcendence is understood here in the sense that He is so far off that He is unconcerned with man’s condition—Psalms 10:4; Psalms 73:11; and Isaiah 29:15—or as the Psalmist concludes—Psalms 14:2; Psalms 33:13 ff, He is so high that He observes every event that transpires in nature-history. Yet, Eliphaz argues in Job 22:13 that transcendence is understood by Job to mean indifference. Job has actually used this theme to describe the practical atheism of the prosperous who go unpunished in spite of their impiety—Job 21:14-15. Eliphaz deliberately distorts Job’s discourse in order to identify him with the ancient wicked—Job 22:15 ff.

Job 22:13—Eliphaz intentionally distorts Job’s theology as he asks, Does the vast distance create darkness so God cannot discern human deeds? The dark cloud partially hid God from human visibility—Exodus 20:18; 1 Kings 8:12; and Psalms 18:10. This verse contains the first overt distortion of Job’s position concerning God’s transcendence—Job 7:19; Job 10:6; Job 10:14; Job 14:3; Job 14:6.

Job 22:14—God is only concerned with the “circle”—Proverbs 8:27; Isaiah 40:22—of the heavens, not with the events on the earth, so declares Eliphaz, perhaps in response to Job’s question in Job 21:22. God is elsewhere depicted as riding upon the clouds—Isaiah 19:1—and making the clouds his chariots—Psalms 104:3. “Vault” or dome carries a connotation not presented in the creation narratives or here. God is not described as being outside an enclosed world.

Job 22:15—Eliphaz next asserts that the attitudes espoused by Job have brought destruction on the ancient wicked. The old way—Jeremiah 6:16—is best translated “the dark path,” or the way of darkness or ignorance (see Job 42:3ma’lin ‘esah—“darkening counsel”; the noun occurs in Ecclesiastes 3:11, darkness or ignorance, Ecclesiastes 2:14 and Proverbs 2:3). The wicked walk the path of ignorance of God’s presence.

Job 22:16—The foundations of their existence collapsed from beneath them, swept away as by a flood—Matthew 7:26. They were snatched away without warning.

Job 22:17—Compare with Job 21:14-16. Eliphaz is commenting on remarks of some of the ancient wicked. He remembers what Job has claimed, in order to assert that his prosperity was only a prelude to his devastation.[

Job 22:18—Eliphaz again distorts Job’s words—Job 21:16—in order to assert that the God he scorns was the source of his prosperity. Any forthcoming disaster was merited. The blessings which the wicked receive will become to them a curse. God’s ultimate overthrow of the wicked is proof of His just rule over the affairs of men.

Job 22:19—Compare with Psalms 107:41 a and Psalms 69:33, almost verbatim. For imageries depicting the righteous rejoicing over the destruction of the wicked, see Psalms 52:6 ff; Psalms 69:32; and see Psalms 107:12 for rejoicing over the victories of the righteous.

Job 22:20—Eliphaz argues from remoteness to impartiality—see Zophar’s use in Job 11:7-20. “Our adversaries,” i.e., the wicked and their possessions (not as A. V—remnant) are destroyed.

Job 22:21—Eliphaz entreats Job to reconcile[248] or yield (“agree with God”—verb means be accustomed to—Numbers 22:30; Psalms 139:3) himself to God, promising him great material felicity in reward—Job 5:17-27; Job 11:13-19. This results in Job’s submission to God; then he will be at peace.”[249] Eliphaz still claims that the rewards of the righteous constitute its attraction.

Job 22:22—The only occurrence of the word Torah in Job is here. It means instruction or revelation and is one of the most precious words in the Old Testament. (Torah is not to be confused with the legalistic view of nomos, esp. see Romans and Galatians, which dominated Rabbinic Judaism in the time of Jesus and Paul.) His “words” is parallel in line two and reflects a scribe taking dictation from God.

Job 22:23—If you become reconciled to God, “you will be built up” (reading te’aneh for tibbaneh). The passive form of the verb build (b ny) is used in Jeremiah 12:16; Malachi 3:15 of persons made prosperous, implying here healing or restoration.

Job 22:24—Eliphaz is promising Job the restoration of his wealth if he will but return to God. God will make his gold as common as dirt. The word translated “treasure” in A. V. means ore, or that which is dug out of the earth. The text has only “Ophir” which symbolizes the highly prized gold from that location—Genesis 2:11 ff; Genesis 10:29. Gold and precious stones will be his in abundance.

Job 22:25—Eliphaz exhorts Job to make God, not gold or silver, his treasure. Job vigorously responds to this charge in Job 31:24 ff, though Eliphaz means that God’s favor brings wealth. Dhorme is probably correct in claiming that “your gold,” which is the plural of the word in Job 22:24 a, is gold as it leaves the crucible, i.e., ingots of gold. The word rendered “precious” probably means “heaps of,” i.e., a large amount of silver (see Brown, Driver, and Briggs).

Job 22:26—Eliphaz asserts that if Job will make God his treasure, then he will be able to lift up his head in confidence as in Job 10:15; Job 11:15; Job 27:10; and “delight yourself” in Psalms 37:4 in God alone. The metaphor of “face to face” implies the fact of reconciliation.

Job 22:27—God’s silence will be broken, and His presence will be restored to Job—Genesis 28:20 ff and Psalms 66:13 ff. If the prayer was answered, the one making the request would make a vow to sacrifice to God—Isaiah 58:8-9.

Job 22:28—If Job would return to God, the light of constant success would shine on his way. Instead of darkness, he would walk in light—Job 19:8; Job 22:11. If Job “will decree a thing and it will stand for you” means that God will fulfill his purpose.

Job 22:29—The righteous man (Heb. saddiq) has great influence with God—Genesis 18:21-33. Daniel, Noah, and Job were credited with great powers of influence—Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; but is emphatically rejected by Ezekiel 14:12 ff; Ezekiel 18 and Jeremiah 31:29-30. Here we see an early form of the Rabbinic concept of Zekut Abot, which gradually develops into the Roman Catholic theology of the merits of the saints.

Job 22:30—The Hebrew ‘i naki can be rendered as “island of the innocent” or “him that is not innocent”—as A. V. The first line then means that by the cleanness of Job’s hands, the wicked shall be delivered—Job 42:8; Genesis 18:27 ff; and 1 Samuel 12:23. The vicarious life and prayer is unquestionably set forth, though many commentaries attempt to remove the vicarious element.


Job Concludes that God is trying him that he may be Perfected (Job 23:1-17):

Then Job answered and said, Even to-day is my complaint rebellious: My stroke is heavier than my groaning” (Job 23:1-2).

Job, in complete defiance of his friends admonition, states that he will indeed continue to complain about his suffering. The reason he continues to complain is that his anguish brought on by God is even heavier than the groaning it causes.

Oh that I knew where I might find him! That I might come even to his seat! I would set my cause in order before him, And fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, And understand what he would say unto me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? Nay; but he would give heed unto me. There the upright might reason with him; So should I be delivered for ever from my judge” (Job 23:3-7).

Job considers aloud some of his contemplation regarding talking with God about the reason for his suffering. If only I could find God and set my cause before him through argument. Job confidently believes that if only he could talk and reason with God about this matter he could be delivered from this anguish. Job continues to be confident in his innocence.

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; And backward, but I cannot perceive him; On the left hand, when he doth work, but I cannot behold him; He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. But he knoweth the way that I take; When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:8-10).

Job believes that God is hiding himself from him... God does not want to reason with him regarding this suffering. Job thereby draws the conclusion: God knows my suffering. God is trying me and upon completion of this trial I shall come forth as gold.” The steps of Job’s transformed character may be seen in the fact that he has determined not to sin against God during this trial (Job 17:9). Job’s faith is depicted in that he believes he will be delivered from this horrid ordeal in the resurrection of the dead (Job 19:25-26). Now we find Job making the clearest step of faith and understanding yet. Job concludes, seeing that he is innocent of sin and God seems far from him, that he is being tried by God that he might come forth as gold. Job knows that trials make a man perfect and if he will endure he shall be pure as gold (see James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6 ff). The more man suffers in this life the more he gains an understanding of his dependency upon the Lord for all eternity.

My foot hath held fast to his steps; His way have I kept, and turned not aside. I have not gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:11-12).

Eliphaz’s admonition to Job that he should repent of his sinful deeds is now answered. Job continues to maintain his innocence. Job is confident that he has kept God’s laws and that his true treasure is found in the words of the Lord (rather than riches).

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? And what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth that which is appointed for me: And many such things are with him. Therefore am I terrified at his presence; When I consider, I am afraid of him. For God hath made my heart faint, And the Almighty hath terrified me; Because I was not cut off before the darkness, Neither did he cover the thick darkness from my face” (Job 23:13-17).

Job believes that God has determined, by purpose, to appoint him to affliction that he might be more perfect than before. Such an appointment from the part of God toward a man causes Job to be afraid and terrified at the Almighty. To know that the Almighty Jehovah God has appointed you to suffer is indeed a terrifying thought. All God’s saints have an “appointment” with suffering at the hands of wicked men (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4). The Apostle Paul tells us that suffering has been “granted” to the saints (Philippians 1:28-30). Jesus explained our suffering by saying that the world hated him and lashed out at him because he exposed their dark deeds (John 7:7). Likewise, as we expose men’s sins we will suffer their wrath. The trials Job participates in; however, are not due to his exposing someone’s sins but rather it is the suffering that all the world experiences as a part of life. Three forms of suffering exist. The suffering that is brought to man by no part of his own (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6 ff), the suffering which we bring upon ourselves due to exposing men’s sins (John 7:7), and the suffering that we bring upon ourselves due to errant judgment (see Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 22:5).


Job contemplates the eternal reward and abode of the Wicked (Job 24:1-25):

Why are times not laid up by the Almighty? And why do not they that know him see his days? There are that remove the landmarks; They violently take away flocks, and feed them. They drive away the ass of the fatherless; They take the widow’s ox for a pledge. They turn the needy out of the way: The poor of the earth all hide themselves. Behold, as wild asses in the desert They go forth to their work, seeking diligently for food; The wilderness yieldeth them bread for their children. They cut their provender in the field; And they glean the vintage of the wicked. They lie all night naked without clothing, And have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, And embrace the rock for want of a shelter. There are that pluck the fatherless from the breast, And take a pledge of the poor; So that they go about naked without clothing, And being hungry they carry the sheaves. They make oil within the walls of these men; They tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. From out of the populous city men groan, And the soul of the wounded crieth out: Yet God regardeth not the folly” (Job 24:1-12).

Job posses a question: Why is it that God does not take notice of the things that are going on around Him? And again, why is it that those who do know God do not see good days? The untrustworthy, thieves, and merciless find food for their children in the world yet the righteous have no covering in the cold, no shelter, they lack clothing, and they go hungry. Men groan out to God for relief from the wicked, Yet God regards not the folly.” Job has already answered these questions. Job has taken note that the wicked often live sumptuously upon the earth while the righteous go hungry. Job has concluded that there will be a day of judgment when the wicked will suffer for their deeds yet now is not their time (see Job 20:27-29).

These are of them that rebel against the light; They know not the ways thereof, Nor abide in the paths thereof. The murderer riseth with the light; He killeth the poor and needy; And in the night he is as a thief. The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, Saying, No eye shall see me: And he disguiseth his face. In the dark they dig through houses: They shut themselves up in the day-time; They know not the light. For the morning is to all of them as thick darkness; For they know the terrors of the thick darkness. Swiftly they pass away upon the face of the waters; Their portion is cursed in the earth: They turn not into the way of the vineyards. Drought and heat consume the snow waters: So doth Sheol those that have sinned” (Job 24:13-19).

Job continues to identify the wicked. The wicked are murderers, merciless to the poor, and a thief and adulterer by night. When the morning comes they will not greet the day with labor but rather they sleep and wait for the night to come again. Job identifies these wicked as those cursed in the earth.” That which awaits these wicked sinners is Sheol. The Hebrew word Sheol is defined as, “A Hebrew proper noun without clear etymology and with a relatively wide range of meanings (mainly death, the grave, hell, the next world, the nether world) making it difficult to determine which of its meanings is in view in any given OT passage” (ISBE v. 4, pp. 472). The ISBE goes on to say on page 473 that “Nowhere in the OT is Sheol described as a place of torment or punishment for the wicked. At most it is a place of confinement away from the land of the living.” I disagree with this last statement due to the fact that Job has used the word Sheol as the dwelling place of wicked sinners here and has also indicated that the wicked, though not punished now, will be punished in the afterlife (i.e., in the resurrection on into eternity) (see Job 21:29-30).

The womb shall forget him; The worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And unrighteousness shall be broken as a tree. He devoureth the barren that beareth not, And doeth not good to the widow. Yet God preserveth the mighty by his power: He riseth up that hath no assurance of life. God giveth them to be in security, and they rest thereon; And his eyes are upon their ways. They are exalted; yet a little while, and they are gone; Yea, they are brought low, they are taken out of the way as all others, And are cut off as the tops of the ears of grain. And if it be not so now, who will prove me a liar, And make my speech nothing worth?” (Job 24:20-25).

Those who die sinners will not be remembered by the just. The wicked again are identified with those who show no mercy to widows. Though the wicked man’s present life may seem secure and prosperous, His (God’s) eyes are upon their ways. They are exalted: yet a little while, and they are gone.” Job, for the first time, has acknowledged the fact that God’s eyes are upon the wicked. God does not just overlook their deeds but rather He sees and permits them to be exalted for a season but then squelches them out.


Job 24:1Job’s reply continues. As in chapter 21, he moves from his specific experience to man’s experience in general. He describes the oppression of wicked, unscrupulous princes and the resultant misery of the poor enslaved by the burdens engendered by poverty. This section of Job’s speech is a negative parallel to Job 21:7-17. There God did not punish the impious; here He does not recover the poor from oppression. These two emphases are fundamental in the Old Testament doctrine of God, i.e., that He will judge the wicked and liberate the oppressed. Where is the evidence for God’s righteous providence in His dealings with man? Job here reflects upon the cosmic dimensions of human misery. Why are “the times” of judgment (not in the text—added in R. S. V.) for wicked not evident?—Job 18:21; Psalms 36:11.

Job 24:2—The LXX adds the subject, “the wicked,” to line one and renders as “the wicked remove the landmarks.” The Law strictly condemns such action—Deuteronomy 19:14; Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:10; and Hosea 5:10. The powerful wicked not only remove the boundary stones but also seize the flocks of their weaker neighbors, and openly pasture them on stolen land. The images here are crystal clear; the powerful aggressively dispossess the weak, and nothing is done about it. Does God know about this? Does He have any compassion at all?

Job 24:3—The defenseless orphans and widows are reduced to abject poverty. Members of these classes had only one animal, and thus they would be rendered without any means of support after their ass or ox was plundered. The wicked publicly flaunt the helpless. Even the Babylonians imposed fines on a person who takes the ox of one in distress (The Code of Hammurabi, No. 241)—2 Samuel 12:4; Deuteronomy 24:17; and Exodus 22:26. All pledges from the poor were to be returned if they were necessary for livelihood. Job asks God what He does about the behavior of such calloused men. Their heinous crimes against the poor must be judged if we dwell in a moral universe.

Job 24:4—The poor are deprived of their rights—Amos 4:1. The poor, once deprived, have no place to turn. This is suggested in the Hebrew text as it has “are hidden together.” The normal sense of the reflective form means that they hide themselves, which makes perfectly good sense here.

Job 24:5—Hopelessly oppressed, the poor have been destroyed by extortion and diabolical degradation. Even Plato in his Laws and The Republic held that only the elite minority had a claim to human rights and privileges. Our own American history has its own record of depriving thousands, sometimes millions, of their rights, originally from God as beings in His image.

Job 24:6—The poor subsist on the type of food used to feed animals. What “a precious livelihood.” They gather their fodder (A. V. provender), and the shift from plural to singular means each one gathers his own. The A. V. renders an uncertain word “glean.” Gleaning was an authorized occupation of the poor. If the “reaping” found in line one is that of a hired laborer, then the parallel would necessitate that the gathering of grapes would be done by those being paid for the work. Often, the rich are adjudged to be wicked, and sometimes they are!

Job 24:7—The abject poverty of those described in this verse leaves them without clothing in the cold night wind. Misery begets misery—no food, no clothing, no shelter from the cold. Here Job starkly contrasts the poor and the wicked rich—Job 24:2-4. Job’s agonizing description continues; his heartbreaking picture of human privation versus privilege is further enlarged.

Job 24:8—The poor embrace the rocks in the mountains since they have no other shelter. They cling (Genesis 29:13) to the security afforded by the rocks. Hardly a more devastating picture could be sketched to reveal their exposure and wretchedness. Their dearest friends are the rocks.

Job 24:9—In transition, the imagery takes us from one exploited group to another. The verse presents a problem to many commentators (egs. Kissane, Gray, Dhorme, Pope, et al), but does it necessarily interrupt the account of the poor as is alleged? Job has thus far described the meagre possession of the poor, the humiliating circumstances under which scavengers reek out a minimal subsistence. We have toured the cities and the desert places; now we must face those in slavery. Those harsh taskmasters are heartless creditors and take a pledge from off of the poor. The Hebrew means to take something that is on the poor, i.e., their clothing, not merely something from the poor. The first line relates a cruel tyrant removing a baby from his mother’s breast while she is being sold at auction. The parallel line suggests taking the clothes from their back (see Brown, Driver, Briggs).

Job 24:10—This verse confirms the need to modify the weak A. V. translation and also verifies that their clothes have been removed as pledge, in that they are here described as naked. They are starving and yet must carry the sheaves of their masters. Even animals were not treated like these outcasts—Deuteronomy 25:4. In Israel one could not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Here a laborer is hungry while working in the midst of abundance. How torturing it would be to carry food, which one could not eat, when one is starving. The “haves” and the “have nots” are still with us. Though there are “have nots” in our own midst, the Third and Fourth Worlds are largely composed of the poor, and with Job our contemporary we must ask why it occurs and how can we do anything about it? This presents an enormous challenge to our Christian conscience. Neo-Marxism and various species of socialism are presently being set forth with Messianic vengeance, as though the world’s problems are all caused by hedonistic capitalism. The problem is human nature, not per se our socio-politico structures. Socialism has one consistency—failure.

Job 24:11—The Hebrew text can be rendered “between their rows”—(as R. S. V.), i.e., “among the olive rows of the wicked they make oil.” Dhorme rightly points out that this would be a strange place to press olives, and thus emends the text to read “between the millstones.” In sight of mouthwatering succulent grapes, they are panting with thirst.

Job 24:12—In Job 24:12-16 Job focuses attention on violators of the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth commandments, i.e., murderers, adulterers, and thieves, who compose “the city of men.” From the city men cry out because of violence and social anomie. Men cry out, but God pays no attention (same idiom in Job 23:6) to the moral malaise. The Hebrew term rendered “folly” in A. V. means tastelessness—Job 1:22—or unseasoned and implies a lack of moral savor; yet God remains silent.

Job 24:13—Why do these wicked people escape divine retribution? Earlier he describes those who steal because of the circumstances of their poverty; but here Job describes those who are dominated by a wicked heart. The sin described here is more than an act of unrighteousness; it is that the sinner does not abide in the light of God’s moral universe.

Job 24:14—The first violator of the light is the murderer. The destitute condition of the social structure in which one finds this kind of rebel is clear from the type of persons they prey on. Why the needy and poor; why not more profitable prey? Job is not describing the affluent part of society. The same type of person kills in the daylight and steals in the darkness of the night—Job 24:16.

Job 24:15—As the prostitute seeks the double protection of disguise and darkness—Proverbs 7:9—here the adulterer also seeks the hiding power of darkness. These violators of light seek only to perform transgressions in secret—Ruth 3:14.

Job 24:16—Generally a thief would gain entrance by digging through the wall of the house (Exodus 22:1), not an adulterer—Matthew 6:19. The first verb “he digs” is in the singular; but the second verb is in the plural, “they shut themselves up.” The reference in the plural refers to all three groups who commit their dark deeds hiding from the day. The verb here means “to set a seal upon” night and suggests that the thief had marked the house that he would enter come nightfall. But more probably, the seal identifies the person. The purpose of the seal is to keep unauthorized persons from “opening” or “identifying” something. The image conveys a search for security. Perhaps Job is saying that these criminals are as secure as if they were “sealed.” God does nothing about their malignant evil deeds. None (they) of the groups discussed know the light. All wicked people hide from the light because it terrorizes them—Ezekiel 8:8; Ezekiel 12:5; Ezekiel 12:7. In the Code of Hammurabi, digging is the thief’s mode of entry (No. 21).

Job 24:17—Just as ordinary people fear the darkness of the night, the wicked dread the day light. This is every man’s long day’s journey into night.

Job 24:18—It must be acknowledged that these verses (Job 24:18-24) are problematic. They probably express the viewpoint of his friends, rather than Job.** After his description in Job 24:2-17 of the oppressions which are inflicted upon the poor, the question arises: What is the fate of the evil-doers?—Job 8:4. Are they protected in their wicked life style? It is possible to understand Job 24:18-24, as do Davidson and Driver, as the common attitude introduced by Jobian irony? The singular pronoun “he” represents a member of the class expressed by the plural “their.” The wicked person is carried along hopelessly by the flood—Job 20:28; Hos. 10:17. They derive no happiness from their estates (A. V. their portions); because they are cursed, they are also unfruitful. They know that their vineyards are unfruitful and do not visit them, because there are no grapes to tread. It is not self-evident that these images are at variance with Job’s theology, as Rowley et al contend.

**The R.S.V. represents Job 24:18-21 as Job’s citation of the views of his three friends, and Job 24:22-24 as his reply; but there is no indication of this in the text. Dhorme transfers them to Zophar’s third speech, following Job 27:13, so Terrien in Interpreter’s Bible, Job, pp. 1088–1089; Pope transposes the Job 24:18-20; Job 24:22-25 to Job 27:23, Job, p. 179.

Job 24:19—The heat is so intense that snow water is dried up. The verb rendered “consume” means to seize violently or tear away (see Brown, Driver, Briggs); as the snow dissolves in the intense heat, so does the wicked in Sheol. Job uses the same image in Job 6:15 ff of those who have abandoned him.

Job 24:20—The wicked man is even forgotten by his own mother’s womb (rehem). Only the worms who are eating his body find pleasure in him. Wickedness will ultimately be broken to pieces as a tree—Job 19:10.

Job 24:21—The images refer to the ungodly who exploit and mercilessly oppress the poor women without sons. Swift retribution shall be his reward—Job 24:24.

Job 24:22—The metaphor used in the A. V. presents a powerful God using His might to destroy the confidence of the wicked. The ambiguity of the grammar raises the question of whether or not it is who rises in condemnation or the ungodly who rises in health (note “he draws,” “he rises” probably with God as subject). Either is possible from the Hebrew text—Deuteronomy 28:66.

Job 24:23—Job seems to be bitterly claiming that God watches over the wicked so that their path is secure.

Job 24:24—The wicked are, in the midst of their exaltation, cut off like flowers or heads of grain before the reaping knife—Psalms 103:15 ff; and as all others, they fade and wither. This is his description of the fate of the wicked.

Job 24:25—Many critics suggest that it is with this verse that we return to Job’s words. The conclusion of Job’s speech may refer especially to Job 24:2-12. This bitter indictment of God’s injustice is Job’s final words in this speech. Life is pictured in all its ugly anomalies which might be evidence for an amoral universe. He concludes, If I am mistaken about my description of the actual state of affairs, you may call me a liar and my words empty, as you have previously charged. Now to Bildad’s third speech.


1. Eliphaz identifies Job’s sin and concludes that this is the reason Job is suffering: Eliphaz accuses Job of great wickedness that has no end. Job has taken bribes against a brother, taken clothing from the poor, given no water to the weary, withheld bread from the hungry, sent widows away empty handed, and cared not for orphans (Job 22:5-11).

2. Eliphaz calls upon Job to Repent: Eliphaz believes that if Job would humble himself and admit his error to the Lord his suffering will be relieved (see Job 22:21-30).

3. Job concludes that God is testing him: When God has tried me I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

4. Job maintains his innocence (Job 23:11-12).

5. Man has an appointment with suffering (Job 23:14).

6. Job asks God a question that he has already answered: Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous sometimes suffer (see Job 24:1 ff).

7. God’s eyes are upon the wicked (Job 24:23).

8. The Transformation of Job’s character: Job finally admits God’s good intentions for his suffering (Job 23:10). Job has accepted the fact that his current state of suffering has been appointed to him by God (Job 23:14). Job now understands that God has not overlooked the deeds of the wicked but rather has a future day reserved for them that they may suffer eternally. Now they prosper yet then shall they suffer for ever (see Job 24:20-25).


Bildad gives his third reply to Job (Job 25:1-6):

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,” (Job 25:1).

This is now Bildad’s third and final response to Job. Bildad had first replied to Job at chapter 8. Bildad (as did Elephaz at Job 4:6-11) accused Job and his children of sin and reasons that their sin is why death and anguish has come to his house (Job 8:4-7). Bildad again replies to Job at chapter 18. Bildad, once again, explains that the lot of all the wicked is suffering. He concludes saying, Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, And this is the place of him that knoweth not God (Job 18:21).

Dominion and fear are with him; He maketh peace in his high places. Is there any number of his armies? And upon whom doth not his light arise? How then can man be just with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even the moon hath no brightness, And the stars are not pure in his sight: How much less man, that is a worm! And the son of man, that is a worm!” (Job 25:2-6).

Bildad seems to have misunderstood Job. Job has not professed perfection in that he has never sinned. Job admitted the sins of his youth at chapter 13:23-28. Job’s point is that he has not now sinned to deserve the current distress. Bildad is correct in that all men sin and fall short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). We have all been worm like in sin; however, God forgives those who make their prayers of sacrifice in humility before him. Job was perfect not in the sense of never having sinned but rather in that he had always recognized error and made the proper sacrifices to take care of those sins (see Job 1:1-5).


Job 25:1—As with the preceding chapter 24, there are a considerable number of textual problems in the following three chapters. The chapters 25–27 contain the third speech of Bildad, the eighth response of Job, and the third speech of Zophar. One cannot but be struck by the brevity of Bildad’s speech. He fails miserably in responding to Job. Let the facts of history stand, but the spirit with which Bildad sets them forth must be forever false.

Job 25:2—God alone is Lord, the omnipotent Creator of the universe. His magnificence inspires awe. Perhaps the imagery In line two stems from His reordering the chaos among the heavenly beings—Job 21:22; Job 40:9 ff; and Isaiah 24:21. The peace comes in the form of retribution—Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20 ff and Revelation 12:7-12. The Qumran Targum contains the more specific reference to God in line one—“dominion and grandeur are with God.”

Job 25:3—Bildad’s thesis is that God’s power is His purity—Job 4:17; Job 15:14. The symbolism here expresses the universal beneficent rule of God. His light emanates and illuminates the entire creation. Nothing is concealed from God’s sight.

Job 25:4—The argument of Eliphaz in Job 4:17 and Job 15:14-16 is repeated in Job 25:4-6. In comparison to God who can presume to be righteous? No human can be faultless—Ecclesiastes 7:20. The verse has no reference to what classical protestant and Catholic theology has called “original sin.”

Job 25:5—Eliphaz had contrasted men and angels—Job 15:15; now Bildad contrasts men and the brightness of the moon and stars. In contrast to God’s radiance, all creation pales into darkness. What then is man—a little lower than the angels! In this verse physical light is contrasted with ethical light or righteousness—Psalms 8:3-4 and Ecclesiastes 7:20.

Job 25:6—To Bildad, the smallness of man is symbolic of his worthlessness. In the text the first word suggests “decay” and the second “abasement.” No man should have the brashness to assert his innocence before God. Certainly no “worm” should argue with God about his integrity or seek self-vindication. Man is only fit to be compared to a maggot—Job 7:5; Job 17:14; Job 21:26—or to a worm—Psalms 22:6; Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 41:14. Bildad not only repeats arguments first uttered by his friends; he introduces a Jobian vocabulary seeking to ensnare Job in his own words. Bildad, like Eliphaz, is a forerunner of Islamic Monotheism, which ignores the facts of good and evil, the nature of God beyond power, and Job’s moral integrity before his holy God.


Job answers Bildad (Job 26:1-14):

Then Job answered and said, How hast thou helped him that is without power! How hast thou saved the arm that hath no strength! How hast thou counseled him that hath no wisdom, And plentifully declared sound knowledge! To whom hast thou uttered words? And whose spirit came forth from thee?” (Job 26:1-4).

Job’s friends had come to comfort him in his anguish (see Job 2:11 ff). They had failed miserably at their objective (see Job 16:1-3). Job once again explains to his three friends that they have failed him in the area of comfort. Job’s point is that their council and wisdom does not descend from the Lord. If Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar’s knowledge and wisdom did not come from God then where did their theories of sinners suffering now for sin committed on earth come from? Job has won this argument and has proven that his three friends speak from their own mind rather than from the mind of God.

They that are deceased tremble Beneath the waters and the inhabitants thereof. Sheol is naked before God, And Abaddon hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over empty space, And hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; And the cloud is not rent under them. He incloseth the face of his throne, And spreadeth his cloud upon it. He hath described a boundary upon the face of the waters, Unto the confines of light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble And are astonished at his rebuke. He stirreth up the sea with his power, And by his understanding he smiteth through Rahab. By his Spirit the heavens are garnished; His hand hath pierced the swift serpent. Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways: And how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:5-14).

There are three terms that we need to identify:

1. Sheol has already been defined and discussed in this study as the place of the grave or dead (see Job 24:19).

2. Rahab is a name that personifies the wicked (see definition at Job 9:13-14).

3. Abaddon is “the realm of the dead... Abaddon belongs to the realm of the mysterious. Only God understands it (Job 26:6; Proverbs 15:11). It is the world of the dead in its utterly dismal, destructive, dreadful aspects, not in those more cheerful aspects which include the concept of activities. In Abaddon there are no declarations of God’s loving-kindness (Psalms 88:11)” (ISBE v. 1, pp. 2).

The omnipotence of God can scarcely be understood by man. God is in complete control of all that man knows of existence. God’s all seeing eyes are even upon those who have died and his omnipotence is no match for the wicked of all time. Job reveals the omnipotence of God and the frailty of man’s understanding. Man has no clue as to how the omnipotence of God is to be interpreted. How does God see into Sheol and Abaddon? How did God hang the earth upon nothing? How does he stir up the sea with his power? There are things about God’s ways that man has no clue. Job’s point is clear. Man’s suffering on this earth is not due to his sin (for the most part) it occurs due to the unsearchable means of God (Job is partially correct yet better hit the nail on the head at Job 23:10 when admitting that God is trying him that he may come forth pure).


Job 26:1—As the text stands, from chapter 26 to 31, we have Job’s final response to his critics. The beautiful symmetry of the cycles of speeches seems to be broken when Zophar does not respond in the final stage of the debate. But that is only a literary consideration. We are left with baffling obscurities when we attempt to follow the continuity between the transitions. Nevertheless, the irony in the speech seems to fit better in Job’s response, as he has delivered himself on the theme before—Job 13:12; Job 16:2; Job 19:2; Job 19:21. His sarcastic self-assurance leaps forth from every word, far from confessing his own moral malaise; he taunts his friends for failing to bring him God’s consolation. Despite many textual enigmas, we encounter some of the loftiest insights ever vouched safe to a tortured human spirit concerning the greatness and grandeur of God. Job will eventually cry out in resignation—“Can a man by searching find out God?” He responds with a resounding No!

Job 26:2—In an almost violent burst of sarcasm, Job responds to the irrelevance of Bildad’s speech. The speech is composed of two parts: (1) Job’s confrontation with Bildad, Job 26:2-4; and (2) Job’s unmodifiable protestation of innocence, the extent of which is one of the technical problems which shall be passed in this commentary.

There is no legitimate reason to assume that because “you” is singular this implies that Bildad or Zophar is addressing Job. Job has not been giving them counsel, and counsel before his calamity seems pointless. For the sarcasm in Job’s speeches, see Job 4:3-4; Job 6:25; Job 12:2; Job 13:1 ff; and Job 16:2 ff. Elsewhere Job addresses his friends in the plural, except in Job 12:7 ff; Job 16:3; and Job 21:3. Since Bildad’s speech was dominated by God as all powerful, it is most likely that Job is asking what consolation he has brought to him in his hours of despair. Bildad’s cold comfort reveals little concern or compassion in bringing consolation to this cosmic contender.

Job 26:3—As short as Bildad’s speech was, it was the bearer of abundant (Heb. rendered “plentifully declared” in A. V.) wisdom in only five verses. His speech was packed with superabundant wisdom explaining why one wicked man dies at the peak of his life without disease or despair, who has all along been robbing, murdering, and committing adultery, while another wicked man dies enslaved and embittered of spirit. Explain that, Bildad, if you are so wise.

Job 26:4—Though the Hebrew can be translated either as “To whom” (in A. V.) or “with whose help,” the latter is perhaps to be preferred. Thus, Job is saying that he is as wise and informed as they are—Job 12:3; Job 13:2—and who are they to give him instruction on the sovereignty of God and that awe is the only appropriate human response. The word rendered spirit is neshamah and is translated as the “lamp of the Lord” in Proverbs 20:27. Job is ironically asking, Is the source of your wisdom, revelation, and illumination God? In essence he is saying as Rashi has suggested, “Who does not know this?” Job’s friends have often claimed that they were speaking of God—Job 15:11; Job 20:2; Job 22:22.

Job 26:5—From Job 26:5-14 we have the theme of God’s omnipotence set forth again. He is absolute authority over heaven and earth and Sheol (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). Bildad has previously declared God’s greatness; now Job declares his own faith in the greatness of God. The dead (A. V. renders “deceased”—repa’imIsaiah 14:9; Isaiah 26:14; Psalms 88:10) are still in God’s control. They cannot hide from Him, even in Sheol—2 Samuel 22:5 and Psalms 18:4. Even the inhabitants of Sheol tremble before God. The reference here, according to the parallelism, is to the inhabitants of Sheol, not fishes, etc.

Job 26:6—For this imagery see Psalms 89:8; Proverbs 15:11; and Amos 9:2. Abaddon is another name for Sheol and is a perfect parallel in this verse. This parallel description of Sheol is found only in the Wisdom Literature Job 28:22; Job 31:12; Psalms 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; and Proverbs 27:20. Abaddon comes from a root meaning ruin or destruction and is a personal name translated as Apollyon in Revelation 9:11. No one and no place holds secrets from God.

Job 26:7—The Hebrew word for north (Sapon) originally was the name of the mountain of Hadad or Baal, the Syrian weather-god. The Ras Shamra texts from Ugarit relate how Baal-Hadad constructed his temple on the heights of Mount Sapon. The mountain lay directly north of Palestine; thus we know why Sapon means north in the Old Testament—Isaiah 14:13. The parallel is between the “stretched out” heavens—Genesis 1-3—not “firmament” but that which is “stretched out” or pounded outward; Psalms 1—Job 4:2; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:12; Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 51:15. There is no mythological implication in this description which transcends all primitive concepts of cosmography. Nor need we recall the great advancements made in astronomy among the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks, especially Pythagoras—ca 540–510 B.C.—in order to understand Job’s descriptions. The earth stands on nothing—Job 26:11.

Job 26:8—Job stands in awe at the clouds pictured as full of water but which do not burst under the weight of their burden—Job 38:37; Proverbs 30:4.

Job 26:9—The verse presents several problems, specifically as given in the A. V. God hides the face (Heb. ‘hz—grasp, hold—used of barring gates in Nehemiah 7:3; Matthew 6:6; perhaps we should read kese—full moon—instead of kisse—throne—as in A. V.) of the full moon by covering it with the clouds. Even the bright light of the moon is under His authority. Though this requires some emendation, it keeps the parallelism and sets forth God’s sovereignty which is Job’s thesis in this verse.

Job 26:10—God “has described a circle,” which means that He has set a limit or boundary—Genesis 1:4; Genesis 1:7; Genesis 1:14; Job 22:14; Proverbs 8:27. The editors of the Qumran Targum render the Hebrew “aux bords de la limite”—reinforcing the limitation of a boundary suggested by the text and the parallel—darkness in line two—2 Samuel 22:8; Isaiah 13:13; and Joel 2:10. Darkness suggests limitation. God here transcends all pagan mythological dualism; He alone controls chaos.

Job 26:11The earth is here called “the pillars of heaven.” The pillars quiver (Heb. yeropepu—tremble or shake) at God’s rebuke. That which holds up heaven responds when God breaks His silence—Psalms 18:14 ff; Psalms 29:6; and Psalms 104:32.

Job 26:12—The verb (‘rg—disturb or stir up—Isaiah 51:15 and Jeremiah 31:35) suggests that the powerful water supply which the heavens sustain is powerless when He intervenes—Rahab might refer to Egypt—Psalms 87:4—and the experience of the parting of the waters. When God liberates, nothing stands in His way—Job 7:12; Job 9:13; Jeremiah 10:12. He is claiming that it is by God’s wisdom and understanding, not His power, that He is victorious.

Job 26:13—The text probably refers to the clearing of the skies after a storm. The word rendered “garnished” in the A. V. is siprah—brightness. The wind referred to is, in all probability, the wind which clears the clouds out of the skies after a storm—Job 3:8; Isaiah 27:1; and Revelation 12:3. The second line has the same word that appears in Isaiah 51:9 for pierced or wounded. If they are present, part of the author’s literary style only, the mythological motifs, e.g. the fleeing serpent or Leviathon—Job 3:8 and Isaiah 27:1—are present only to show the sovereignty of God over nature.

Job 26:14—Again the author skillfully evoked imagery portraying God’s infinite power. The secret of God’s power will forever elude the seeker, and the solution to God’s providential control over creation will only baffle and frustrate until in complete faith-trust he rests in His everlasting arms through resignation to God’s wisdom and justice. He finally confesses that only God has infinite wisdom and knowledge. Though man has only heard a “soft whisper”—Job 4:12, he stands in “awful dread” at what he has heard. He must wait for The Shattering of Silence, but until then, He reveals all that we can manage. God’s word, like thunder, cannot be leisurely contemplated and comprehended—Job 37:2; Job 37:5.


Job’s Parable of his innocence (Job 27:1-23):

And Job again took up his parable, and said, As God liveth, who hath taken away my right, And the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul: (For my life is yet whole in me, And the spirit of God is in my nostrils); Surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness, Neither shall my tongue utter deceit (Job 27:1-4).

Job continues to blame God for his vexed soul. Though God has vexed Job’s soul with great anguish he will not renounce Him. Job vows to never use his lips to sin against God while life is within his nostrils. Job has illustrated this great resolve previously at chapter 17:9 and it is this spirit that defines the patience of Job (see James 5:11).

Far be it from me that I should justify you: Till I die I will not put away mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. Let mine enemy be as the wicked, And let him that riseth up against me be as the unrighteous. For what is the hope of the godless, though he get him gain, When God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry, When trouble cometh upon him? Will he delight himself in the Almighty, And call upon God at all times?” (Job 27:5-10).

Job will in no way commend or agree with the erring accusations of his friends. They have accused him of sin and he knows that this is not the case. He will not give in to their erring assumptions. Job has adequately proved their error. His three friends have taught that man suffers now for their sin and this is not true. They are wrong and he has won this part of the debate (see Job 24:25). Seeing that he has proved their theory wrong he continues (and will ever continue) to maintain his innocence before God. Those who accuse him falsely shall pay the eternal price of the godless and at that time there will be no justifying one’s self and neither shall their be help. An underlying lesson of Job may also be the fact that when God’s people have truth with them they ought never to let the wicked accuse them of sin. Let us take our stand on truth and never let the wicked cause us to question our stand before the Lord.

I will teach you concerning the hand of God; That which is with the Almighty will I not conceal. Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; Why then are ye become altogether vain? This is the portion of a wicked man with God, And the heritage of oppressors, which they receive from the Almighty:” (Job 27:11-13).

Job’s confidence in his innocence and guilt of his friends has come to the point of Job calling upon his friends to repent of their wickedness (they have called upon Job’s humility and now it is Job that reveals to them that they are the vain,” “wicked,” and oppressors). Job challenges their humble spirits to admit their wrong because, Ye yourselves have seen it (i.e., Job has effectively disproved their arguments). The hard hearted wicked will receive their reward from the Almighty.” Job, in his state of intense suffering, has found himself trying to help his three friends out of their error.

If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword; And his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread. Those that remain of him shall be buried in death, And his widows shall make no lamentation. Though he heap up silver as the dust, And prepare raiment as the clay; He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, And the innocent shall divide the silver. He buildeth his house as the moth, And as a booth which the keeper maketh. He lieth down rich, but he shall not be gathered to his fathers; He openeth his eyes, and he is not. Terrors overtake him like waters; A tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth; And it sweepeth him out of his place. For God shall hurl at him, and not spare: He would fain flee out of his hand. Men shall clap their hands at him, And shall hiss him out of his place” (Job 27:14-23).

Job explains that it matters not what man may obtain in this life; i.e., many children, much silver, many cloths, and build houses. If a man die rich in this would but poverty stricken with God he will be everlastingly punished. God shall hurl at him, and not spare.” Job continues, thereby, to reveal the fact that punishment for wickedness comes to man after this life passes. Job has previously stated this point in his arguments against Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad (see Job 21:29-30; Job 24:13-19).


Job 27:1—The preceding chapter contains the most powerful cosmological section in the dialogue for insight and scope of expression. All the verbs in Job 27:5-11 are participles or the imperfect describing God’s constant Lordship over nature. Now Job resumes his response to Bildad by his inflexible protestation of innocence—Job 27:1-6. Job continues his parable (masal—not always a parable, mesalim—collections in Book of Proverbs; brief saying—1 Samuel 10:12; longer saying—Isaiah 14:4; taunt or mock—Deuteronomy 28:37), preferably discourse, taunt, or mock here. Masai is often associated in parallel with hidah—riddle or dark saying as in Psalms 49:5; Ezekiel 17:2; Habakkuk 2:6. It also appears in contexts with words of derision such as Deuteronomy 28:37; 1 Samuel 10:12; Isaiah 14:4; Jeremiah 24:9; and Habakkuk 2:6. Clearly masal covers a wide variety of literary compositions, thus we should not be alarmed that Job is not uttering a “parable.”

Job 27:2—The verse is introduced by an oath formula “as God lives”—1 Samuel 14:39 and 1 Samuel 2:27. The tension, still unresolved, is present here as Job swears by the God (El—see my theological essay “Is Job’s God in Exile?” in this commentary), who has wronged him, i.e., “made my soul bitter”—Job 7:11; Job 10:1; Job 21:25. The fact that Job made his vow in God’s name suggests that he loved Him. Near Eastern custom would suggest this. From this curious tension the ancient rabbis deduced that Job served God out of love—Job 7:11; Job 10:1; Job 21:25; Job 34:5; Job 36:6; and Ruth 1:20.

Job 27:3—Job is affirming that though he is suffering, he still has control over his mental faculties. The conviction of this battered giant remains unshaken. The use of first person pronoun (12 occurrences) in Job 27:2-6 is our assurance that Job has introspectively searched out his past and does not remember a single unrighteous act. He will maintain his integrity (tummahJob 2:3) until his death. As long as my life (nephesh—derives from God—Genesis 2:7; and returns to God—Job 34:14) is intact and God’s ruah enlivens me, I will swear loyal allegiance to Him.

Job 27:4—He contends that all along he has spoken the truth. This is the content of the oath. He swears in El’s name to speak only the truth in defending his innocence. The A. V. rendering of “utter” derives from a verb which means moan—Isaiah 38:14; meditate—Psalms 1:2; devise—Psalms 2:1; and here speak—Psalms 71:24; “deceit” is the same word found in Job 13:7.

Job 27:5—As long as Job lives, he will not grant his friends the right to assert his guilt. The formula used, “far be it from me,” implies that there is something profane in the idea which he is rejecting—2 Samuel 20:20. So long as he lives, he could not deny his own integrity before God. I could never “justify you” (the pronoun is plural), i.e., admit that you are correct regarding my righteousness; the A. V. rendering of “will not put away” comes from a word meaning withhold and also appears in verse two.

Job 27:6—The heart is the Hebrew seat of intelligence, reason—Job 2:9; 1 Samuel 24:6. Job denies any awareness of sins such as his consolers had charged to him—Job 22:6-9. Nothing new is advanced in this speech, but he continues to scorn Bildad’s defense of God, and to affirm his own innocence.

Job 27:7—In this present text, Zophar gives no response. Some affirm that Job 27:7-23 are inappropriate on Job’s lips, and ascribe the verses to Zophar. The lot of the wicked, i.e., those without God and hope, is inevitable punishment. Though the words are strong, they are not vindictive but rather express the author’s abhorrence of evil.

Job 27:8—The verb rendered “get gain” means gain by violence, cut off, break off—Ezekiel 22:27. Note that Job 27:9 speaks of God’s deafness to the prayers of the wicked. The verse is relating how lonely and isolated the wicked are, even in this life. The ultimate fate of the wicked is again death. Only the godly man can pray to God; all ears are deaf to the ungodly (Heb. haneph—as a class of men). Why do his friends implore him to pray for forgiveness, if God does not hear the prayers of the haneph—ungodly?

Job 27:9—The verse continues the point from Job 27:8—If I am unrighteous, God will not hear my prayer for forgiveness. Job presents them with a theological dilemma of their own making. How devastating.

Job 27:10—The same verb rendered “delight” himself has already appeared in Job 22:26. It is useless to pray to God in times of trouble if we have ignored Him in all other circumstances (“at all times”).

Job 27:11—He here launches on a new theological theme that of God’s immoral behavior “in governing the universe.” The “you” is again plural. Both Job and his friends claim superior knowledge.

Job 27:12—How can you be uninformed concerning the universal phenomenon of God’s injustice, if you are so wise? He charges them with intense futility, i.e., lit. “become vain with a vain thing.”

Job 27:13—These words are almost identical with Zophar’s in Job 20:29. The wicked man is singular, but oppressors is in the plural. The preposition ‘im should be translated from and not with (as in the A. V.) Shaddai, the almighty. The portion or judgment is from God.

Job 27:14—Numerous children were thought to be a great blessing; here they are for destruction—Job 5:4; Job 18:19; and Job 21:8; Job 21:11. The sword is to break (pss—shatter, scatter) his offspring.

Job 27:15—His survivors, i.e., children, not destroyed by the sword will be left to the fate of death by pestilence—Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 18:2. The Hebrew text literally says “His survivors will be buried in death by death,” a death which befits the ungodly. Not to be buried—2 Kings 9:10; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 14:6; Jeremiah 22:19—or mourned—Psalms 78:64; Jeremiah 22:10—was a disaster. The strange phrase above could perhaps yield better sense by taking de Vaux’s suggestion that bamot—rather than—bammawet—is a cultic word for tomb. Contrast with Job 21:32 where Job declares that the wicked often have a large funeral.

Job 27:16—The image here suggests abundance—Zechariah 9:3. After the family is destroyed, their possessions follow the same fate. Silver and elaborate garments are greatly valued, see Genesis 24:53; Joshua 7:21; 2 Kings 5:22 ff; and Zechariah 14:14.

Job 27:17—The only ones who will prosper are the righteous. What the ungodly accumulate will be divided by the godly—Psalms 39:6; Proverbs 13:22.

Job 27:18—The A. V. rendering of “as”—“as moth”—is inappropriate since moths do not build houses. The imagery here comes from the harvest season when a watchman or guard builds temporary shelter from which to watch over unharvested crop. One could hardly derive this since from the A. V. the verbs (banah—he builds, ‘asah—he makes) are not parallel. The verb “he makes” refers to the flimsy shelter (sukkah) which the watchman constructs.

Job 27:19The rich lie down, but for the last time. The swiftness of the destruction of the wicked is here vividly expressed. The rendering of the A. V., “he shall not be gathered to his fathers,” expresses the Hebrew “will do so no more.” The second line containing the phrase “and he is not” is an attempt at rendering the Hebrew, which can be either “it is not” or “he is not” and expresses the fact that a dying man is conscious of his own demise.

Job 27:20—Dahood renders this verse “terrors will overtake him like a flood, night will kidnap him like a tempest”—Job 22:11. As in Job 27:19, calamity calls him from his night chambers. The wicked man is haunted by terrors night and day—Isaiah 28:17; Hosea 5:10; and Amos 5:24.

Job 27:21—The east wind causes restless and sleepless nights; thus it signifies all that is unpleasant. This sirocco wind is scorching and violent, destroying man’s peace—Job 15:2. Even the climatic conditions crash in on the ungodly.

Job 27:22—The A. V. makes little sense. There is neither subject nor object to “hurl” (word God is not in the text) in the text, but the implication is that of a deadly missile.

Job 27:23—The ambiguities of this verse largely stem from the unexpressed subject of the verbs of Job 27:22-23, which may be God, east wind, or “one man.” The metaphors here convey derisive mockery and contempt—Lamentations 2:15. The rendering of the A. V. “men shall clap their hands at him,” understands the text as an indefinite third person “one claps” or “men clap.” When death and destruction come to the wicked, men scornfully clap their hands, while hissing (a gesture of horror) at the very thought of them—Jeremiah 49:17; Ezekiel 27:36; Zephaniah 2:15.


Defining, Locating, and Placing Value on Wisdom (Job 28:1-28):

Surely there is a mine for silver, And a place for gold which they refine. Iron is taken out of the earth, And copper is molten out of the stone. Man setteth an end to darkness, And searcheth out, to the furthest bound, The stones of obscurity and of thick darkness. He breaketh open a shaft away from where men sojourn; They are forgotten of the foot; They hang afar from men, they swing to and fro” (Job 28:1-4).

Man searches out silver, gold, iron, and copper in the remote parts of the earth where no light shines. Man enters these remote mines down shafts hanging on ropes away from all civilization.

As for the earth, out of it cometh bread; And underneath it is turned up as it were by fire. The stones thereof are the place of sapphires, And it hath dust of gold. That path no bird of prey knoweth, Neither hath the falcon’s eye seen it: The proud beasts have not trodden it, Nor hath the fierce lion passed thereby” (Job 28:5-8).

Man turns the earth for bread (farm land produce) and he goes under the earth for treasures such as sapphires and gold dust. Man treads in areas under the earth that no beast has ever seen or taken a step in.

He putteth forth his hand upon the flinty rock; He overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out channels among the rocks; And his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the streams that they trickle not; And the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light” (Job 28:9-11).

Man’s ingenuity is depicted in his ability to overturn mountains and re-rout streams to gain their treasures. The earth’s hidden treasures are brought out into the daylight for all to see.

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; Neither is it found in the land of the living. The deep saith, It is not in me; And the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, With the precious onyx, or the sapphire. Gold and glass cannot equal it, Neither shall it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal: Yea, the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, Neither shall it be valued with pure gold” (Job 28:12-19).

Though man may uncover earth’s treasures that animals have no knowledge of they cannot likewise find wisdom. Job asks, But where shall wisdom be found?” Wisdom is not to be found in the earth within a mine shaft. Not only can wisdom not be found like precious metals in the earth but wisdom is not equal in value to precious metals or stones. Job states, Yea, the price of wisdom is above rubies.

Whence then cometh wisdom? And where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, And kept close from the birds of the heavens. Destruction and Death say, We have heard a rumor thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, And he knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven; To make a weight for the wind: Yea, he meteth out the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, And a way for the lightning of the thunder; Then did he see it, and declare it; He established it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:20-28).

If wisdom cannot be found in the earth and neither is its value to be compared to precious stones such as rubies then, Whence comes wisdom?” Furthermore, Job asks, “Where is the place of understanding.” Wisdom and understanding are to be identified within the heart of that man or woman who fears God and departs from evil. Solomon wrote, The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; but the fool despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7). Solomon connected a fear of Jehovah with wisdom and instruction.” Solomon again writes, Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Man evidences his fear toward God when gratefully submitting to His commandments (see Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 6:2; Revelation 14:17 comp. to John 15:5-10). To know the laws of God and to faithfully act on them is wisdom defined. The apostle Paul wrote, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13). James writes, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves (see James 1:22-25).

To connect Job chapter 28 with the preceding chapters is somewhat difficult. Job has proved his case regarding the wicked not suffering now for punishment of their sinful deeds. Both the just and unjust suffer for no apparent cause other than to be refined in the purification process. This being the case Job continues to live right. What other course is there to take? Those who search out wisdom and find it through a knowledge and obedience to God’s law will all come to this conclusion. Though life is difficult at times the wise thing to do is continue to fear God and keep His commandments.


Job 28:1—The theme of this marvelous chapter is the transcendence of divine wisdom and its inaccessibility to man. Man may discover certain dimensions of God’s wisdom, but human efforts can never completely fathom the divine purpose.[283] This beautiful portion of Job falls into three divisions:

(1) There is no known road to attain wisdom—Job 28:1-11;

(2) No price can purchase it—Job 28:12-19 (Job 28:14-19 are missing from the LXX); and

(3) God alone possesses it, and only when God makes it available through special revelation can man possess it—Job 28:20-28.

How appropriate this great poem is to contemporary homo faber (man the maker). The Promethian spirit is once more upon us. Technologically dominated man operates on the mythological assumption of his unlimited possibilities. From the Greeks to twentieth century man, optimism has always outrun his concrete performance. This verse clearly means that every valuable thing in creation has a dwelling place. The verse begins with “for” which continues to trouble commentators because it suggests a logical sequence to something which is no longer in our text. The emphasis in Hebrew is on the “there is” a source (Heb. mosa—“place of coming forth,” i.e., the mining of silver and gold). Mosa is used of water in 2 Kings 2:21; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 58:11; Psalms 107:33; 2 Chronicles 32:30; and of the sunrise in Psalms 65:9; Psalms 75:7. In this verse the translation requires “mine,” and there are only a few references to mining in the Old Testament—Deuteronomy 8:9; Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 27:12. After the excavations of the late Nelson Glueck, we have confirmation of the presence of a great copper refinery, from the time of Solomon, near Ezion geber. Silver was not mined, to our knowledge, in Palestine but was imported from Tarshish—Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 27:12. (On Tarshish, see Herodotus, IV. 152.) The name Tarshish is probably derived from the Akkadian word meaning “refinery.”[284] Gold was imported from Ophir—Isaiah 13:12; 1 Kings 10:11; 1 Chronicles 29:4; and Sheba—Psalms 72:15 and 1 Kings 10:2. The verse is concerned with the source of silver and gold in contrast to wisdom.

Job 28:2—The promised land was described as one “whose stones are iron”—Deuteronomy 8:9. In Saul’s day the Philistines monopolized the iron deposits—1 Samuel 13:19-22; 1 Samuel 17:7. In David’s time iron became plentiful. Blommerde takes the second line to read “and from stone is the smelting of copper.” Copper was smelted very early in Palestine—Deuteronomy 8:9. Major sources being Cyprus, in Edom, and in the Sinai Peninsula.

Job 28:3—The metaphors express how the miners penetrate the dark recesses of the earth with their lamps. Miners open up deep shafts and let the sunlight into the hole. The subject is not expressed in this verse; it literally says “one puts an end to darkness,” (Hebrew “shadows of death,” darkness can mean ignorance or unrighteousness, here physical darkness), i.e., there is a limit to which the laborers will go—Job 3:5 and Job 26:10.

Job 28:4—Perhaps Graetz’s suggestion is best. He proposes that the first line means “alien people break shafts,” i.e., slave labor is being used to do the mining. The second line suggests that they are deep within the earth and thus the miners are remote from those walking or working above ground. The third line is probably a reference to miners suspended by ropes into the ground and swinging in the dark caverns digging for copper.

Job 28:5—As the surface of the earth produces food, so deep below a smelting operation is yielding rich ore—Psalms 104:14; or perhaps more likely, the mining below produces piles of debris similar to that produced by a fire—Ezekiel 27:14, where “stones of fire” are precious gems.

Job 28:6—The earth yields not only metals but precious stones. It is impossible to identify the specific gem which the text has in mind, but in view of the poetic parallelism, it is not impossible that lapis lazuli (as R. S. V. marginal reading) is meant; thus the iron pyrites particles found in lapis lazuli which glitters like gold provides a meaning for “dust of gold” which has already been mentioned in the verse.

Job 28:7—The paths of miners are remote from most men, as is wisdom. Birds (perhaps falcon, LXX has vulture) of prey live even more remote from men than do the miners. The bird intended by this reference is impossible to identify with certainty, but the reference to its keenness of sight suggests the falcon. The gold mines worked by the Egyptians in Nubia were more than a seven-days’ journey into the desert. The emphasis here in verses four and seven is on the remoteness and inaccessibility of the mines, and indirectly also of wisdom.

Job 28:8—The “sons of pride” have not even been there, i.e., where wisdom is found. It is imperative that we keep in mind a poetic play on words for origins—masa—find and maqom—place, source of origin. Man and beast can find many valuable things, but not wisdom. Even the “fierce lion” (Heb. sahal—Job 4:10 ff; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; Proverbs 26:13) has not been there, i.e., where wisdom is found.

Job 28:9—The images here—Job 28:9-11—as in Job 28:3-4 emphasize man’s stubborn insistence in searching for treasure (note Jesus and the Pearl of Great Price). Human achievement emphasizing homo faber is the central thrust of the images. Flint, the hardest rock, yields to his persuasive insistence, and the mountains maintain only momentary resistance.

Job 28:10—The word rendered channels (ye’orim) is the plural of the designation of the Nile, ye or, the one which also describes the Nile. It can refer to mine shafts or drainage ditches—Isaiah 33:21. Example of cutting through solid rock is the Siloam tunnel, and the rock city of Petra.

Job 28:11—Difficulties in this verse can be overcome by taking the suggestions of some that the meaning is that of a man exploring the sources of rivers by digging down to their underground springs. This also provides a parallel with the next line.

Job 28:12—Man can mine silver, gold, precious gems, but what about “wisdom” and “understanding”?—Proverbs 1:2; Proverbs 4:5; Proverbs 4:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 16:16. The wisdom with which God governs creation eludes man’s search. (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Paul calls Jesus the “wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:30 ff). This verse is repeated with little modification in Job 28:20.

Job 28:13Though the Hebrew text has “its price” (‘erkah) as A. V., this verse is concerned with locating wisdom; Job 28:15 ff treat the value or price of wisdom. Thus it would be appropriate to emend the text to read “the way to it,” (darkah) instead of “its price,” following the LXX. The thesis here is that man knows the way to find the things discussed in the preceding verses; but he is completely at a loss as to how to locate wisdom. The parallelism strongly favors the emendation, which follows the LXX. The second line suggests that wisdom is not found in the land of the living either, a metaphor for inhabited earth—Psalms 27:13; Psalms 52:7Job 28:22; Isaiah 38:11; Isaiah 53:8; Jeremiah 11:19; and Ezekiel 26:20.

Job 28:14—Tehom, the deep, says wisdom is not there either—Genesis 7:11; Genesis 49:25; and Job 3:18. Man may explore the watery abyss as he digs for gold and silver, but he will not find wisdom.

Job 28:15—Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold (Heb. segor—gold bullion, pure gold). The word is found only here, but a slightly different word is used to describe the gold of Temple ornaments—1 Kings 6:20. The root meaning is “enclose,” perhaps prized, or even gold bars—1 Kings 7:49; Job 10:21; 2 Chronicles 4:20; 2 Chronicles 4:22; 2 Chronicles 9:20. In the ancient world, money was weighed not counted—Genesis 23:16; Zechariah 11:12.

Job 28:16—Wisdom cannot be obtained for gold (Heb. keten—which is a derivation from the Egyptian source of gold—Nubia). The verb rendered “be valued” is found only here and Job 28:19 and means “to be weighed against”—Job 22:24. The precious gem (Heb. sohom) can be given only a precarious and conjectural meaning—Genesis 2:12; Exodus 39:13; and Ezekiel 29:13, but the meaning is clear. The things men value most cannot purchase wisdom.

Job 28:17—The only direct reference to glass (gabis—crystal, used of hail stones in Ezekiel 13:11; Ezekiel 13:13; and Ezekiel 38:22) in the Old Testament is found here. Glass was made in Egypt as early as 4000 B.C. It was used for ornamentation and was very valuable. Because of its value, no one would exchange wisdom for “vessels of fine gold”—Psalms 19:10; Proverbs 8:19.

Job 28:18—The gems mentioned here cannot be identified with certainty, but Lamentations 4:7 gives us a clue to their color as being reddish—Proverbs 31:10; Ezekiel 27:16.

Job 28:19—The price of wisdom continues to be contrasted with topaz (“green pearl” or “yellowish stone”) and pure gold—Job 28:16. Pliny (Historia Naturalis, XXXVII, XXXII, 108) indicates that there was an island in the Red Sea called Topazos.

Job 28:20—Perhaps this verse is a refrain—Job 28:12. Both the living and the dead fail to ensnare wisdom. All human searching is futile.

Job 28:21—Wisdom is not made available to man through his searching the earth, sea, Sheol, or the heavens—Job 28:13-14; Job 28:22. No one can locate the hiding place of wisdom. Neither heights nor depths provide a vantage point for observation in order to provide advantage in reconnaissance; wisdom is no place to be “found.”

Job 28:22—Destruction, Abaddon—Job 26:6 b—and death personified have only a rumour; they have no direct concrete knowledge of wisdom. The dread powers have only “heard with their ears”—2 Samuel 7:22; Psalms 44:2, i.e., have only second-hand evidence. Man’s most dreaded enemy—death—has only a vague rumour as to wisdom’s home, source.

Job 28:23—God stands in the emphatic position both in the text and in the Universe. He alone knows the nature and source of wisdom.

Job 28:24—Heaven and earth were created by wisdom and understanding—Proverbs 3:19; Job 37:3; Job 41:3; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 41:5; Isaiah 41:9. The Creator surveys His entire creation and knows its every need.

Job 28:25—God’s providential guidance of the cosmos is illustrated by the fact that He regulates “the force of the wind and measures the waters”—Job 5:10; Job 36:27-33; Job 38:26-27; Isaiah 40:12; note and contrast with Job 12:15.

Job 28:26—The Hebrew word—hoq—should not be translated decree as in the A. V., but in the sense of boundary or limit as in Jeremiah 5:22; Proverbs 8:29; Psalms 148:6. The root significance of hoq is “to engrave” (cf. Job 38:25 a uses te’alah—trench or groove). God also sets limits on the way (darek—path) lightning of the thunder (R. S. V.—thunderbolt, see Zechariah 10:1). Probably this means a thunderstorm (haziz qolot)—Job 37:4; Zechariah 10:1; Psalms 18:13; Isaiah 30:30 ff; and Jeremiah 10:13.

Job 28:27—The reference here is to the time of creation. Man was not present; therefore, He could not reveal the nature of wisdom to man. The A. V. rendering of declare (verb, spr—appraise, evaluate, or count) might suggest that God announced it to man, but this is impossible in that man did not yet exist. The significance of the first two verbs suggests that God perfectly understood the nature of wisdom—Job 14:6; Job 38:37; Psalms 22:18. God appraised (spr) and established (hekinah, rather than the emendation hebinah—discerned) and tested wisdom. God exhaustively evaluated wisdom in the process of creation. An analogue might be that of a computer evaluating all possible options in a finite system.

Job 28:28—After evaluating the process of creation, after man is created, God (‘dnyadonai is found nowhere else in Job) says to him that there is a practical wisdom available to man, which is the way to ultimate wisdom, that is—“Stand in awe before God.” In Proverbs 9:10 and Psalms 111:10 the authors declare that “awe” or “reverence” (not fear as dread or horror) of God is the chief (rosh—head) or foundation for wisdom. Reverent submission to the gracious will of God is the only place in the universe where one gains hope of ultimate victory over sin and evil. Evil is irrational in that there is no logical explanation nor technological way of removing evil from the fallen universe. The empirical evidence remains intact; man is separated from God, self, others, and nature by sinful self-elevation When pride is destroyed by being born again, the self is crucified, and we accept a new center from which to maintain integrity—that new center is Job’s redeemer, Lord of heaven and earth.


1. The Transformation of Job’s Character: Job has further illustrated his transforming of the inner man from self pity to understanding by concluding that the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding (Job 28:28).

2. Job’s Perfection Defined: Job was not perfect in that he never had sinned (see Job 13:23-28) but rather his perfection is depicted in his humble approach to life (i.e., he knew that sin demanded sacrifice and continued maintenance of fellowship with God) (see Job 1:1-5; Job 25:2-6).

3. Job’s Innocence: Job continues to maintain his innocence in the face of intense accusations and this defines his patience James spoke of at James 5:11.

4. Another powerful tool of Satan: Job’s three friends were bent on proving that Job was suffering because of some sin that he will not admit. Job rightly stood firm rather than letting his friends confuse him and cause him to think that maybe he was doing something wrong. Job had done nothing wrong and he knew it. Satan would love to cause God’s people to question their faith and give up the truth.

5. Job calls upon his friends to admit their error: Job takes a strong stand in his innocence and rather than giving in to his friends pressures he demands that they admit that they are wrong about why men suffer (Job 27:11-13). Likewise, the people of God cannot be turned from truth by the wicked but rather turn them from their wicked ways. To do such takes confidence and knowledge in God’s word.

6. Job defines Wisdom and Understanding (Job 28:28) (see notes).


Job contemplates the blessings of his better days on earth (Job 29:1-25):

And Job again took up his parable, and said, Oh that I were as in the months of old, As in the days when God watched over me; When his lamp shined upon my head, And by his light I walked through darkness; As I was in the ripeness of my days, When the friendship of God was upon my tent; When the Almighty was yet with me, And my children were about me;” (Job 29:1-5).

Job, for the first time, reminisces about the former days of God’s blessings in his life. These were the days when God watched over, was his friend, and was with him. Job believes that God has left him for the time being yet he believes that God has not forgotten him (Job 19:25-26; Job 23:10). Job mentions his lost children for the second time. Job reminisces about the fond days of his children surrounding him. How wonderful of a time it was. We are left to feel sad within for Job because he has lost his children.

When my steps were washed with butter, And the rock poured me out streams of oil! When I went forth to the gate unto the city, When I prepared my seat in the street, The young men saw me and hid themselves, And the aged rose up and stood; The princes refrained from talking, And laid their hand on their mouth; The voice of the nobles was hushed, And their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me; And when the eye saw me, it gave witness unto me:” (Job 29:6-11).

Before Satan had afflicted Job he was a man that was respected among young, old, princes, and nobles. During these days of respect Job had much wealth (i.e., butter and oil).

Because I delivered the poor that cried, The fatherless also, that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (Job 29:12-13).

Job gives us the reason for the great respect that he gained in the community. Job was not a miser who cared nothing for the poor as Zophar (Job 20:15-19) and Eliphaz (Job 22:5-11) have accused him. Job was a caring and loving man. He provided for the poor, fatherless, those on their death bed, and widows. He met the needs of people out of a heart of compassion Job was a wealthy man through the blessings of God. It is not sinful to have money (His friends have accused him of gaining his wealth at the expense of the needy). Job’s heart was not in his wealth but in people’s needs. Here is a great lesson over the responsibilities of Christians who are blessed with great sustenance

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: My justice was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, And feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the needy: And the cause of him that I knew not I searched out. And I brake the jaws of the unrighteous, And plucked the prey out of his teeth (Job 29:14-17).

Job professes that his objective in life was to be clothed in righteousness and that justice was his robe and diadem. Righteousness and justice were Job’s guiding principles in life. When the young, old, prince, or nobles saw Job they thought of righteousness and justice. He demanded the same in others and thereby gained their respect. Those who would not exercise the same spirit he brake the jaws of the unrighteous and saved those being treated unjustly. Job also looked to meet the needs of the blind, lame, needy, and those who sought his help to pass judgment in a matter. Job was always there for everyone.

Then I said, I shall die in my nest, And I shall multiply my days as the sand: My root is spread out to the waters, And the dew lieth all night upon my branch; My glory is fresh in me, And my bow is renewed in my hand” (Job 29:18-20).

Job thought that his nest was set and that nothing could move him. Job thought that his life would go on for a good long while. Job was confident in God’s blessings, his support of all who were in need, and knew that he was living a lawful life as it was God’s will for him. No man knows when the winds of change may take things from us. Let us meditate on God’s will and His eternal blessings that when unwanted change does come we will not be caught off guard.

Unto me men gave ear, and waited, And kept silence for my counsel. After my words they spake not again; And my speech distilled upon them. And they waited for me as for the rain; And they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. I smiled on them, when they had no confidence; And the light of my countenance they cast not down. I chose out their way, and sat as chief, And dwelt as a king in the army, As one that comforteth the mourners” (Job 29:21-25).

Job was well sought out for his wisdom and council to those in trouble or need. His reputation had come so well known that men would wait upon him as they would wait on rain (i.e., they longed for his council confident that he would give them good news). Job, above all things, was a man who gave people comfort in this hard life. Let us recall that it was Eliphaz that had said, Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast made firm the feeble knees. But now it is come unto thee, and thou faintest; it touches thee, and thou art troubled (Job 4:1-5). Job’s reminisces of better days gone by is short lived. He is quickly reminded of his present day anguish.


Job 29:1—Job’s debate with his friends is at an end. Now we will listen to his final soliloquy. The speech is divided into three sections, one chapter each: A: (1) His former happiness—Job 29:2-10; (2) His past graciousness to the needy—Job 29:11-17; (3) His confidence—Job 29:18-20; (4) The esteem in which he was held—Job 29:21-25; B: (1) His present suffering—through the nobodys that despise him—Job 30:1-8; (2) The indignities he is presently enduring—Job 30:9-15; (3) His present dread—Job 30:16-23; (4) Contrast between his past and present—Job 30:24-25; C: His vindication: (1) His integrity sustained—Job 31:1-12; (2) Denial of abuse of power—Job 31:13-23; (3) Reaffirmation of his piety—Job 31:24-25; (4) Appeal that specific charges be made against him—Job 31:25-25; and (5) Invocation of a curse upon himself if he has not been telling the truth—Job 31:28-30 (compare with Job 27:1).

Job 29:2—His thoughts move back into a happier time in his life. For the moment, the harsh realities of his existential situation are suppressed. Nostalgia enthralls him. He is confronted by thinking of the time when God watched over him—Psalms 91:11; Psalms 121:7 ff; and Mi. Job 6:24. The same verb is used of God’s hostile surveillance of his life—Job 10:14; Job 13:27; and Job 14:16.

Job 29:3—The lamp and light are metaphors of God’s blessings and presence—Psalms 18:28; Psalms 36:9; 2 Samuel 22:29. There is no word in Hebrew for the “through” of the A. V.; perhaps the reference is to God’s glory, the kobad (Greek, doxa) which later developed into the Shekinah. The sense being if God is not present, there is nothing but spiritual darkness.

Job 29:4—The word rendered ripeness in the A. V. symbolizes prosperity and maturity rather than decline. The root meaning of -hrp is “be early, young.” Earlier in Job’s life God’s protective hedge was about (not “upon” as A. V.) his household—Job 1:10 and Job 31:31.

Job 29:5—Job places his relationship with God about his most intimate human companionship—Genesis 28:20; Genesis 31:5; Psalms 23:4; Psalms 44:7. Job poignantly refers to the loss of his own children (Heb. na’ar means young men—Genesis 22:3 and 2 Samuel 18:29). Numerous children was a sign of God’s favor—Psalms 127:3-5; Psalms 128:3-4.

Job 29:6—When Job was prosperous, his herds were fertile; butter flowed like mighty waters. Butter in the A. V. would better be rendered “curds”—Job 21:17. The olive-tree grows profusely in rocky soil, and the olive presses are cut in the rock—Deuteronomy 32:13; Deuteronomy 33:24; Psalms 81:16 b; and Song of Solomon 5:12. The rocks poured out “for me” (rather than lit. “with me” or “poured me out” of the A. V.). The line says in essence, when God watched over my household, blessings came from the most unexpected sources.

Job 29:7—The city gate was the central meeting place for the distribution of administrative justice—Deuteronomy 21:19; Ruth 4:1; Ruth 4:11; and 2 Kings 7:1; Job 7:18. Job’s social prestige is clearly emphasized in that he has a prominent seat. The “broad open place” (Heb. rehob—is street in A. V.) stood at the entrance of the city gate—1 Kings 22:10. Job’s former happiness was based on three relationships: (1) Fellowship with God; (2) Companionship of his own children; and (3) The respect of his community.

Job 29:8—Job’s public influence is projected by two images in this verse: (1) The young men withdrew (as hid in A. V.); and (2) While the older men remained standing in respect, until Job was settled in a prominent place. In this manner both showed respect for a righteous man.

Job 29:9—Another image reveals the overt expression of respect for Job. The princes stopped in the midst of their conversations and waited respectfully to hear this evaluation. The Qumran Targum confirms this reading “[And] nobles became silent of speech, and put hand [to their mouth].”

Job 29:10—Their voice became veiled (nehbau—hushed and is same as in verse eight for hid), quiet is deferential respect. The image in line two expresses nervousness (tongue cleaved to the roof of the mouth) in the presence of Job—Lamentations 4:4; and Jesus on the cross.


Job turns back to the present where there is nothing but doom and gloom in his life (Job 30:1-31):

But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, Whose fathers I disdained to set with the dogs of my flock. Yea, the strength of their hands, whereto should it profit me? Men in whom ripe age is perished. They are gaunt with want and famine; They gnaw the dry ground, in the gloom of wasteness and desolation. They pluck salt-wort by the bushes; And the roots of the broom are their food” (Job 30:1-4).

During the days of Job’s wealth and health he was respected by the young yet now they have me in derision (i.e., ridiculed or laughingstock). These men are needy and hungry. They are likened unto Job in that they live in the gloom of waste and desolation.”

They are driven forth from the midst of men; They cry after them as after a thief; So that they dwell in frightful valleys, In holes of the earth and of the rocks. Among the bushes they bray; Under the nettles they are gathered together. They are children of fools, yea, children of base men; They were scourged out of the land. And now I am become their song, Yea, I am a byword unto them (Job 30:5-9).

Like Job, these men that hold him in derision are outcast among society. They are chased and out of fear they live in the holes and rocks in the earth. These men are the children of fools and base men yet Job finds an association with them by their way of life.

They abhor me, they stand aloof from me, And spare not to spit in my face. For he hath loosed his cord, and afflicted me; And they have cast off the bridle before me. Upon my right hand rise the rabble; They thrust aside my feet, And they cast up against me their ways of destruction. They mar my path, They set forward my calamity, Even men that have no helper. As through a wide breach they come: In the midst of the ruin they roll themselves upon me. Terrors are turned upon me; They chase mine honor as the wind; And my welfare is passed away as a cloud” (Job 30:10-15).

Job has lost the respect of man and such news of one so hideous becomes the slapping stone of angry men. The ugly and diseased are beat and spit upon due to disgust on the part of the public (see comments at Job 16:10; Job 17:6 regarding Job’s ill treatment likened unto Quazi Motto of the Hunch Back of Notre Dam). The Lord Jesus was even so hated and held with such derision (see Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30). Job’s ordeal has caused him to be a source of contempt and bitter hatred for those who have nothing else in this life. He is in a dangerous position with the base men of society. He is an easy target and they do take their irritation out on him.

And now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have taken hold upon me. In the night season my bones are pierced in me, And the pains that gnaw me take no rest. By God’s great force is my garment disfigured; It bindeth me about as the collar of my coat. He hath cast me into the mire, And I am become like dust and ashes. I cry unto thee, and thou dost not answer me: I stand up, and thou gazest at me. Thou art turned to be cruel to me; With the might of thy hand thou persecutest me. Thou liftest me up to the wind, thou causest me to ride upon it; And thou dissolvest me in the storm. For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, And to the house appointed for all living” (Job 30:16-23).

Job can scarcely bare the days of affliction any longer. Job continues to believe that it is God who has cast me into the mire... will not answer my cries... gazes at me... acting cruel to me...and is actually persecuting me, God has brought Job from riches to rags and He will now bring him to his death.

Howbeit doth not one stretch out the hand in his fall? Or in his calamity therefore cry for help? Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the needy? When I looked for good, then evil came; And when I waited for light, there came darkness. My heart is troubled, and resteth not; Days of affliction are come upon me. I go mourning without the sun: I stand up in the assembly, and cry for help. I am a brother to jackals, And a companion to ostriches. My skin is black, and falleth from me, And my bones are burned with heat. Therefore is my harp turned to mourning, And my pipe into the voice of them that weep” (Job 30:24-31).

Job pleads with God for mercy on behalf of his former good treatment toward those who experienced trouble and needs. Job expresses to the Lord that his days are filled with mourning and weeping due to his pain and the ill treatment of others.


Job 30:1—Job’s irretrievable prestigious past is abruptly contrasted with the present chaos derived from the calamities he is presently enduring. Sharp abruptness is conveyed by the repetition of “But now”—Job 30:1; Job 30:9; Job 30:16 (‘k—surely in Job 30:24). The prince who has shared his abundance to meet their needs, his compassion to heal their suffering, is now despised; he is beneath them. These miserable outcasts now despised their former benefactor. Their arrogant ingratitude is now one of Job’s great burdens. Job pours out his soul in this poem, which contains four divisions: (1) Irreverence of impious men—Job 30:1-8; (2) Resentment of society—Job 30:9-15; (3) God’s indifference—Job 30:16-23; and (4) Misery born of destitution—Job 30:24-31.

The young had formerly treated Job with marked respect—Job 29:8; now “they make sport” of him. The verb translated as “have me in derision” is the same as in Job 29:24, but the preposition is different. In Job 29:24 he describes their gracious smile; here their vulgar mockery. The cultural decorum called for the respect of all elders—Job 15:10. But those who watched over his former flocks with their guard dogs publicly expressed disrespect—Isaiah 56:10 ff; 1 Samuel 17:43; and Psalms 68:23. The dogs were scavengers and so were those who watched my flocks. Now they think they are better than I am.

Job 30:2—Perhaps this verse describes the fathers of the youth in verse one. The fathers are weaklings (kalah here, kelah in Job 5:26, where ‘firm strength’ is conjectured) unfit and unable to do hard work. These men, who are not profitable to anyone, even they despise me.

Job 30:3—Through hunger these men are stiff and lifeless. The word “gaunt” as in A. V. is from a word meaning hard or stony and is rendered barren in Job 3:7. They are so destitute that they gnaw (‘rq—occurs only here and in Job 30:17) the roots of the dry ground. The emphasis here is not so much hunger as destitution of diet, diet limited to desert roots. The last line alliterative and literally reads “yesterday desolate and waste,” clearly suggesting the ruin and utter desolation of their habitat. Even these “desert rats” hate me.

Job 30:4Their diet is so poor that they eat “saltwort.” This is a saline plant with sour leaves, which grows in salt marshes. This is miserable food eaten in miserable circumstances. The broom roots yield charcoal—Psalms 120:4; Isaiah 47:14; but they are not edible. Only the destitute would eat this type of plant.

Job 30:5—Dahood suggests that the obscure phrase—min gew—should be translated “with a shout they are driven forth,” i.e., driven away when they approached inhabited places. These are not like the people of Job 24:5 ff who are forced to steal to have subsistence level of food; but they are social outcasts who are chased away from any community.

Job 30:6—Since they are not welcome in any community, they live in the dreadful ravines among the rocks. Job bitterly relates how even these people taunt him, now that he is also an outcast living on a dunghill.

Job 30:7—The root -nhq is used only twice in Job and means “bray.” It can mean “bray” suggesting lust, like a stallion in Jeremiah 5:8; but surely here its meaning is the hoarse cries of hunger. The miserable rabble huddle together under the plant (harul) rendered nettle in A. V. They huddle for warmth, not sexual perversion, as Peake suggests. But the meaning is uncertain, though it is related to certain leguminous plants—Proverbs 24:31.

Job 30:8—These outcasts are “sons of no name.” They have no respectable standing in any community; they are nobodys. These unwelcomed were thrown out of the land (Heb. naka—rendered scourged in A. V. should be thrust out or thrown out).

Job 30:9—This verse ties the threads together from verse one forward. These nobodys sing taunting songs which make Job the butt of their mockery—Psalms 69:12; and especially Lamentations 3:14.

Job 30:10—Yesterday kings and princes revered Job. Now the most contemptuous men despise him. His description of this ilk has been rather elaborate—Job 30:3-8; and Psalms 59; Psalms 64; Psalms 73. This conglomeration of socially wretched even “spit on the ground in front of me”—the height of insult!

Job 30:11—The metaphors are obscure. Line one is in the singular “he has loosed” (following the Kethib reading “his cord” rather than the Qere reading “my cord”); the second line is in the plural, “they have cast off.” It is unclear what “cord” is intended, but the removal of the restraint (A. V.—bridle) is an insolent act intended to humiliate Job.

Job 30:12—All of the images suggest an assault context. “On my right hand” could suggest a court of law, where the accuser stood at the right hand; but the context is that of a siege or assault. The word rendered “rabble” as in A. V. could mean “chicks” as in Deuteronomy 22:6 and Psalms 83:3, and thus young ones with a deprecatory implication, that is “insolent pups.” The verb rendered “cast off’ in Job 30:11 appears here and means to drive out, or forth; thus the line implies that they have driven Job down roads of ruin or destruction (lit. they have cast off my feet).

Job 30:13—The verb (nts—rendered as A. V. -mar) means to “break up” or “pull down.” Job continues with the destruction imagery. The outcasts make Job’s path impossible. These diabolical persons actively promote (A. V. set forward) his troubles. Those who aggressively attack him have no restraint (A. V. “helper”). G. R. Driver has shown that the word has polarized meanings of help or hinder; this context calls for hinder.

Job 30:14—The imagery of a besieged city under attack is also maintained in this verse. Here the wall is breached and wave after wave of soldiers pour through the wall like a tempest (soah—Proverbs 1:27; Ezekiel 38:9). “In the midst of the ruin” expresses the fact of falling stones from the breached wall (Heb. “under the crash”). The hordes of soldiers roll through (the verb means roll—Amos 5:24) the wall like billows or waves. As if inexhaustible, Job’s enemies roll over him as a storm-tossed sea.

Job 30:15—Terrors are overthrown on top of me. The picture is strikingly violent. Job’s princely dignity, once so widely acknowledged, is now blowing in the wind—Job 21:18 and Psalms 1:4. His well-being (Heb. yesu’ah—prosperity, often rendered salvation) passes swiftly away.

Job 30:16—For the third time Job emphasizes the contrast