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FRAMEWORKS: Job

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

Context:

Because Elihu's speech covers six chapters, we provide this simple overview to help the reader see where they are in each chapter:

Ch.32: Introducing Elihu

Ch.33: God IS a Communicator

Ch.34: Job has got it wrong!

Ch.35: Misguided Questions?

Ch.36: God IS Just

Ch.37: God IS Supreme

        

FRAMEWORKS: Job 32: Elihu – Part 1 of 6: Introducing Elihu

  

[Preliminary Comments: This chapter is a major turning point in the book – the end of the arguments between Job and his three ‘friends' and introduces a completely new human perspective on all that has been said. Having said it is new, we will find echoes of things previously said. We'll leave comment on Elihu until the end of the chapter. However, in order to take in more fully what is coming from Elihu, we will add a comment/note after each section.]

 

 

v.1-3 Elihu speaks up against Job's conclusions

   

v.1 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 

v.2  But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 

v.3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 

 

[Note: The previous chapters have come to an end because Job has overcome the arguments of the three friends with his declarations of his righteousness. This angers this younger man [see below for age difference] who seeks to point out that Job has not, in his defences, justified God for what has happened. He's also angry with the three friends that they have failed to pick this up.]

 

 

v.4-10 He has waited his time in deference to their ages [a late arrival?]

  

v.4  Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 

v.5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused. 

v.6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said: “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. 

v.7 I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.' 

v.8  But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. 

v.9  It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. 

v.10  “Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. 

 

[Note: We don't know if Elihu had been in the background all the time or had arrived part way into the conversation, but he recognised and initially respected the age [and hopefully wisdom] of the three others but now felt constrained to speak.]

 

 

v.11 He had listened to their failures to refute Job

   

v.11 I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, 

v.12 I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments. 

v.13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom; let God, not a man, refute him.' 

 

[Note: He had listened patiently and carefully but none of the three seemed to have been able to refute Job's position or arguments.]

 

 

v.13-16 He won't go over the same ground again

   

v.14   But Job has not marshaled his words against me, and I will not answer him with your arguments. 

v.15   “They are dismayed and have no more to say; words have failed them. 

v.16   Must I wait, now that they are silent, now that they stand there with no reply? 

 

[Note: He has been an impartial observer who Job had not drawn in but there seemed little point in just reiterating the arguments of the friends.]

 

 

v.17-22 He can no longer hold in what he feels

  

v.17   I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. 

v.18   For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; 

v.19   inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. 

v.20   I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply. 

v.21   I will show no partiality, nor will I flatter anyone; 

v.22   for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.

 

[Note: However as a younger man this clearly rankled with him more and more and now Job has come to an end of his speeches, he can no longer hold back.

 

Concluding Comments: We can summarise key points about Elihu:

i) He is younger than the three friends [v.4,6],

ii) He has listened patiently to them [v.4,11],

iii) He felt they had failed to answer Job properly [v.3,12],

iv) He is angry that Job failed to justify God in his own self-justification [v.2].

 

NB. Commentators are much divided on their opinions over Elihu, but we suggest that the style etc. befits that of a younger man of different calibre.]

    

  

Continue to Chapter 33