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FRAMEWORKS: Job 15: Eliphaz (2/3): Challenge & Frailty


[Preliminary Comments: Eliphaz steps up for a second time and in his first part (v.1-13) challenges Job: he's failed the silence test [v.1-6], you seem superior [v.7-9] and angry [v.12,13] forgetting human frailty [v.14-16], but he comes with the wisdom of age [v10,11, 17-19]


Part 1: v.1-19 Eliphaz Challenges Job


v.1 Wisdom suggests silence is the best course


v.1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: 

v.“Would a wise person answer with empty notions or fill their belly with the hot east wind? 

v.3 Would they argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? 


v.4-6 But you weren't silent so your mouth condemns you

v.4 But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. 

v.5 Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. 

v.6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. 


v.7-9 You seem to suggest a superiority to us which is doubtful


v.7 “Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? 

v.8 Do you listen in on God's council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? 

v.9 What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have? 


v.10,11 The wisdom of old age is on our side; doesn't God comfort you through them?


v.10 The grey-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father. 

v.11 Are God's consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? 


v.12,13 So what stirs you up to anger so much?


v.12 Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, 

v.13 so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth? 


v.14-16 Humans have no grounds for confidence before God


v.14 “What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous? 

v.15 If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, 

v.16 how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt, who drink up evil like water! 


v.17-19 Let me impart my experience and wisdom


v.17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you; let me tell you what I have seen, 

v.18 what the wise have declared, hiding nothing received from their ancestors 

v.19 (to whom alone the land was given when no foreigners moved among them): 



Part 2: v.20-35 Eliphaz expounds on the Frailty & Folly of Humanity


v.20-26 I have observed the various manifestations of hopeless human wickedness


v.20  All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him. 

v.21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. 

v.22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness; he is marked for the sword. 

v.23 He wanders about for food like a vulture; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. 

v.24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror; troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack, 

v.25 because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, 

v.26 defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield. 


v.27-30 The wicked will get what they deserve, poverty and destruction


v.27 “Though his face is covered with fat and his waist bulges with flesh, 

v.28 he will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble. 

v.29 He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land. 

v.30 He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots, and the breath of God's mouth will carry him away. 


v.31-35 His deceived thinking will not let him escape destructive discipline


v.31 Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return. 

v.32 Before his time he will wither, and his branches will not flourish. 

v.33 He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms. 

v.34 For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. 

v.35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.”



[Concluding Comments:

i) It is easy to criticize the person speaking out of anguish – until it becomes your turn!

ii) It is also easy to sound smug when you are not the suffering one.

iii) From a secure position it is easy to provide theology explaining suffering and pontificate on sin and judgment, but the person in anguish, grief, or mourning, does not want ‘answers', just empathy.]


So to summarize, what have we seen Job saying? The structure above shows us:
PART ONE: Challenge

- Job has failed the wisdom test of silence [v.1-6]

- Job appears to show superiority [v.7-9] and anger [v.12,13]

- yet Eliphaz comes with the wisdom of age [v.10,11] and experience [v.17-19]

- to combat human self-confidence [v.14-16]

PART TWO: Human Experience

- human life is vulnerable physically and morally [v.20-26]

- a man reaps what he sows [v.27-30]

- it doesn't matter if he has deceived thinking, destruction follows sin.



Continue to Chapter 16