Job 23:6
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me.

King James Bible
Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.

American Standard Version
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? Nay; but he would give heed unto me.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I would not that he should contend with me with much strength, nor overwhelm me with the weight of his greatness.

English Revised Version
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? Nay; but he would give heed unto me.

Webster's Bible Translation
Would he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.

Job 23:6 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

It may seem at first sight, that by אי־נקי, the not-guiltless (אי

(Note: In Rabbinic also this abbreviated negative is not אי (as Dukes and Gieger point it), but according to the traditional pronunciation, אי, e.g., אי אפשׁר (impossibilie).)

equals אין equals אין, e.g., Isaiah 40:29; 2 Chronicles 14:10, Ges. 152, 1), Eliphaz means Job himself in his present condition; it would then be a mild periphrastic expression for "the guilty, who has merited his suffering." If thou returne

The speech of Eliphaz opens the third course of the controversy. In the first course of the controversy the speeches of the friends, though bearing upon the question of punishment, were embellished with alluring promises; but these promises were incapable of comforting Job, because they proceeded upon the assumption that he is suffering as a sinner deserving of punishment, and can only become free from his punishment by turning to God. In the second course of the controversy, since Job gave no heed to their exhortations to penitence, the friends drew back their promises, and began the more unreservedly to punish and to threaten, by presenting to Job, in the most terrifying pictures of the ruin of the evil-doer, his own threatening destruction. The misconstruction which Job experiences from the friends has the salutary effect on him of rooting him still more deeply in the hope that God will not let him die without having borne witness to his innocence. But the mystery of the present is nevertheless not cleared up for Job by this glimpse of faith into the future. On the contrary, the second course of the controversy ends so, that to the friends who unjustly and uncharitably deny instead of solving the mystery of his individual lot, Job now presents that which is mysterious in the divine distribution of human fortune in general, the total irreconcilableness of experience with the idea of the just divine retribution maintained by them. In that speech of his, Job 21, which forms the transition to the third course of the controversy, Job uses the language of the doubter not without sinning against God. But since it is true that the outward lot of man by no means always corresponds to his true moral condition, and never warrants an infallible conclusion respecting it, he certainly in that speech gives the death-blow to the dogma of the friends. The poet cannot possibly allow them to be silent over it. Eliphaz, the most discreet and intelligent, speaks. His speech, considered in itself, is the purest truth, uttered in the most appropriate and beautiful form. But as an answer to the speech of Job the dogma of the friends itself is destroyed in it, by the false conclusion by which it is obliged to justify itself to itself. The greatness of the poet is manifest from this, that he makes the speeches of the friends, considered in themselves, and apart from the connection of the drama, express the most glorious truths, while they are proved to be inadequate, indeed perverted and false, in so far as they are designed to solve the existing mystery. According to their general substance, these speeches are genuine diamonds; according to their special application, they are false ones.

How true is what Eliphaz says, that God neither blesses the pious because he is profitable to Him, nor punishes the wicked because he is hurtful to Him; that the pious is profitable not to God, but to himself; the wicked is hurtful not to God, but himself; that therefore the conduct of God towards both is neither arbitrary nor selfish! But if we consider the conclusion to which, in these thoughts, Eliphaz only takes a spring, they prove themselves to be only the premises of a false conclusion. For Eliphaz infers from them that God rewards virtue as such, and punishes vice as such; that therefore where a man suffers, the reason of it is not to be sought in any secondary purpose on the part of God, but solely and absolutely in the purpose of God to punish the sins of the man. The fallacy of the conclusion is this, that the possibility of any other purpose, which is just as far removed from self-interest, in connection with God's purpose of punishing the sins of the man, is excluded. It is now manifest how near theoretical error and practical falsehood border on one another, so that dogmatical error is really in the rule at the same time ἀδικία. For after Eliphaz, in order to defend the justice of divine retribution against Job, has again indissolubly connected suffering and the punishment of sin, without acknowledging any other form of divine rule but His justice, any other purpose in decreeing suffering than the infliction of punishment (from the recognition of which the right and true comfort for Job would have sprung up), he is obliged in the present instance, against his better knowledge and conscience, to distort an established fact, to play the hypocrite to himself, and persuade himself of the existence of sins in Job, of which the confirmation fails him, and to become false and unjust towards Job even in favour of the false dogma. For the dogma demands wickedness in an equal degree to correspond to a great evil, unlimited sins to unlimited sufferings. Therefore the former wealth of Job must furnish him with the ground of heavy accusations, which he now expresses directly and unconditionally to Job. He whose conscience, however, does not accuse him of mammon-worship, Job 31:24, is suffering the punishment of a covetous and compassionless rich man. Thus is the dogma of the justice of God rescued by the unjust abandonment of Job.

Further, how true is Eliphaz' condemnatory judgment against the free-thinking, which, if it does not deny the existence of God, still regards God as shut up in the heavens, without concerning himself about anything that takes place on earth! The divine judgment of total destruction came upon a former generation that had thought thus insolently of God, and to the joy of the righteous the same judgment is still executed upon evil-doers of the same mind. This is true, but it does not apply to Job, for whom it is intended. Job has denied the universality of a just divine retribution, but not the special providence of God. Eliphaz sets retributive justice and special providence again here in a false correlation. He thinks that, so far as a man fails to perceive the one, he must at once doubt the other, - another instance of the absurd reasoning of their dogmatic one-sidedness. Such is Job's relation to God, that even if he failed to discover a single trace of retributive justice anywhere, he would not deny His rule in nature and among men. For his God is not a mere notion, but a person to whom he stands in a living relation. A notion falls to pieces as soon as it is found to be self-contradictory; but God remains what He is, however much the phenomenon of His rule contradicts the nature of His person. The rule of God on earth Job firmly holds, although in manifold instances he can only explain it by God's absolute and arbitrary power. Thus he really knows no higher motive in God to which to refer his affliction; but nevertheless he knows that God interests himself about him, and that He who is even now his Witness in heaven will soon arise on the dust of the grave in his behalf. For such utterances of Job's faith Eliphaz has no ear. He knows no faith beyond the circle of his dogma.

The exhortations and promises by which Eliphaz then (Job 22:21-30) seeks to lead Job back to God are in and of themselves true and most glorious. There is also somewhat in them which reflects shame on Job; they direct him to that inward peace, to that joy in God, which he had entirely lost sight of when he spoke of the misfortune of the righteous in contrast with the prosperity of the wicked.

(Note: Brentius: Prudentia carnis existimat benedictionem extrinsecus in hoc seculo piis contingere, impiis vero maledictionem, sed veritas docet, benedictionem piis in hoc seculo sub maledictione, vitam sub morte, salutem sub damnatione, e contra impiis sub benedictoine maledictionem, sub vita mortem, sub salute damnationem contingere.)

But even these beauteous words of promise are blemished by the false assumption from which they proceed. The promise, the Almighty shall become Job's precious ore, rests on the assumption that Job is now suffering the punishment of his avarice, and has as its antecedent: "Lay thine ore in the dust, and thine Ophir beneath the pebbles of the brook." Thus do even the holiest and truest words lose their value when they are not uttered at the right time, and the most brilliant sermon that exhorts to penitence remains without effect when it is prompted by pharisaic uncharitableness. The poet, who is general has regarded the character of Eliphaz as similar to that of a prophet (vid., Job 4:12.), makes him here at the close of his speech against his will prophesy the issue of the controversy. He who now, considering himself as נקי, preaches penitence to Job, shall at last stand forth as אי נקי, and will be one of the first who need Job's intercession as the servant of God, and whom he is able mediatorially to rescue by the purity of his hands.

Job 23:6 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Job 9:19,33,34 If I speak of strength, see, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead...

Job 13:21 Withdraw your hand far from me: and let not your dread make me afraid.

Isaiah 27:4,8 Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together...

Ezekiel 20:33,35 As I live, said the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you...

but he would

Psalm 138:3 In the day when I cried you answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul.

2 Corinthians 12:9,10 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness...

Cross References
Job 9:3
If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.

Job 9:4
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength--who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?--

Job 23:5
I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me.

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