Daily Thought for: 31st July

ELIPHAZ 

Job 2. 11-13; 4. 1-21

Eliphaz seems to be the eldest and most prominent of Job’s three friends, Job 2.11; cf. 15. 10. These men must have been of high rank and renowned for their wisdom. After an interval of some months, 7. 3, they come to lament with and supposedly comfort Job. In fact, they proved to be a great trial, adding to his original calamities. Eliphaz was a Temanite which connects him with the famed wisdom of Edom, Jer. 49. 7; Obad. 8-9. He appears as the friends’ leader and spokesman. The speeches of Bildad and Zophar are largely echoes and developments of his three speeches. He is taken as their representative, 42. 7. His words are typical of the best wisdom this world can offer. It is the result of ages of thought and experience, 15. 17-19, of long and mature study, 5. 27. After a week’s silence, it is evident that these friends hold a most critical attitude towards Job. They are like severe judges rather than sympathetic comforters. In his first speech, ch. 4, Eliphaz considers that Job’s suffering is directly related to his sin. To him, it is simply a matter of cause and effect.  If Job would repent, his restoration would be forthcoming. In his second speech, ch. 15, he is annoyed with Job’s words, accusing him of iniquity, and emphasizing the depravity of man and the awfulness of his fate in the most extreme language. He even calls Job a hypocrite, 15. 34. In his third discourse, ch. 22, he accuses Job directly of awful sins which he considers were indulged in because God seemed too far away to observe these evils. Finally, he holds out the need of repentance and rejection of iniquity in order to enjoy restoration of health and wealth. Eliphaz is more judgmental than sympathetic. His constant assumption was that Job must be a wicked man and that the calamities he suffered related directly to his wrongdoing. Like the other friends, his philosophy is that Job should not look at himself and his suffering but look at himself and his sin. They consider that Job’s troubles should be seen as retribution. With friends like these who needs enemies! Eliphaz argues from the point of view of experience; he is a moralist—Job suffers because of his sins. He did not really know Job and his understanding of God was defective. He would be shown how wrong he was, Job 42. 7. 

 

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