James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,Job 4:1-14:22
FIRST SERIES OF THE DEBATE
The first series of the debate may be outlined as follows:
1. With Eliphaz (chaps. 4-7) a. Speech of Eliphaz (chaps. 4-5) b. Reply of (chaps. 6-7) 2. With Bildad (chaps. 8-10) a. Speech of Bildad (chap. 8) b. Reply of Job (chaps. 9-10) 3. With Zophar (chaps. 11-14) a. Speech of Zophar (chap. 11) b. Reply of Job (chaps. 12-14) It is thought the debate may have occupied several days, by which supposition some of the difficulties of the book are removed. In the first place, this leads to the opinion that the addresses were not impromptu, but that each speaker had time for the composition of his finished utterances in reply to the one who went before him.
In the second place, it throws light on the authorship of the book, because all the author had to do was to prepare the introductory and concluding historical statements, and then collect and arrange the speeches that had been actually made. These speeches would be preserved in the memory, and the
work of the editor would be rather that of a compiler than an original author, although he may have been as inspired for the one work as for the other.
The debate is occasioned by the complaints of Job recorded in chapter 3, and up to which time his friends had been silent.
ELIPHAZ AND JOB
Eliphaz commences with delicacy and candor, showing the inconsistency of a good man’s repining under disciple, and advances the position that the truly righteous are never overthrown, while the wicked are always dealt with according to their sins. He establishes his position by a vision, and while he does not apply all he has said to Job, he yet leaves no doubt that it was intended for him, advising him to turn to God that he may find happiness and come to an honored old age.
Job replies justifying himself for complaining. He wishes he might die. His friends have disappointed him. They are a deceitful brook, but if they would use reasonable arguments he would listen to them. He describes his sufferings as one pursued of God, exhibiting much impatience.
BILDAD AND JOB
Bildad, who is provokingly severe, replies in chapter 8. Job is wicked and his children have been cut off for their wickedness. He exhorts him to repent and enforces his exhortations by the opinions of other men.
Job’s reply covers chapters 9-10, and being calm at first he acknowledges God’s supremacy and admits his own imperfection. The arguments of his friends, however, cannot be defended. He refers to his sorrows again and complains that God treats him as if he were a guilty man. His excitement grows until he again expresses the desire for death.
ZOPHAR AND JOB
Zophar, like Bildad, is somewhat violent. In his eyes Job has no sense, whom he rebukes for maintaining innocence before God. Zophar’s language is magnificent when he treats the supremacy of God, but like the others, he exhorts Job to acknowledge his sins that he may find prosperity and peace.
The debate is closed by Job, who groups his opponents and answers them as a whole. He is sarcastic. He follows their example in quoting a number of proverbial sayings. He attacks their motives. Their arguments were unsound. They were mocking God by defending His government in such a way as they had done. They had cause for fear and trembling in consequence of this. He wishes that he might present his case directly before God rather than the tribunal of man. He would ask of God only two things, that He would withdraw His hand from him and not overawe him by His great power. His calamities are overwhelming, and he concludes with a pathetic description of the frailty and uncertainty of human life.
To those using these lessons in classes, the author recommends that they employ each reference to any of the speeches as a basis for a question or questions on the text of the chapter as follows:
1. How does Eliphaz show delicacy of speech? How does he allude to the inconsistency of repining under discipline in the case of a good man? In which verses does he advance the position that the righteous are never overthrown? In which does he teach the opposite to this concerning the wicked? Can you give the details of his vision? Name the verses in chapter 5 in which he exhorts Job to turn to God. Name the verses in which he encourages him to do this.
2. How does Job express his desire for death in chapter 6? In what language does he express his feelings towards his friends? How is his impatience with God illustrated?
3. Give some illustrations of Bildad’s severity. In what verses of chapter 8 does he draw comparisons from earlier authorities?
4. Give some illustrations of God’s supremacy in chapter 9.
5. Give some illustrations of Job’s sense of imperfection. Give some illustrations of his increased excitement towards the close of chapter 10.
6. Why should Zophar be described as violent? Give two or three illustrations of Zophar’s magnificent description of God. In what language does he exhort Job to acknowledge his sins?
7. Indicate Job’s sarcasm in chapter 12. How does he attack the motives of his opponents and the unsoundness of their arguments? In what language does he warn them? Give the verse in chapter 13 where he appeals directly to God. What language in chapter 14 justifies the last sentence in the text of our lesson?