Eliphaz’s Third Speechsn The third and final cycle of speeches now begins with Eliphaz’ final speech. Eliphaz will here underscore the argument that man’s ills are brought about by sin; he will then deduce from Job’s sufferings the sins he must have committed and the sinful attitude he has about God. The speech has four parts: Job’s suffering is proof of his sin (2-5), Job’s sufferings demonstrate the kinds of sin Job committed (6-11), Job’s attitude about God (12-20), and the final appeal and promise to Job (21-30).
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
2 “Is it to God that a strong man is of benefit?
Is it to him that even a wise man is profitable?tn Some do not take this to be parallel to the first colon, taking this line as a statement, but the parallel expressions here suggest the question is repeated.
3 Is it of any special benefittn The word חֵפֶץ (khefets) in this passage has the nuance of “special benefit; favor.” It does not just express the desire for something or the interest in it, but the profit one derives from it. to the Almighty
that you should be righteous,
or is it any gain to him
that you make your ways blameless?tn The verb תַתֵּם (tattem) is the Hiphil imperfect of תָּמַם (tamam, “be complete, finished”), following the Aramaic form of the geminate verb with a doubling of the first letter.
4 Is it because of your pietytn The word “your fear” or “your piety” refers to Job’s reverence – it is his fear of God (thus a subjective genitive). When “fear” is used of religion, it includes faith and adoration on the positive side, fear and obedience on the negative. that he rebukes you
and goes to judgment with you?sn Of course the point is that God does not charge Job because he is righteous; the point is he must be unrighteous.
5 Is not your wickedness greattn The adjective רַבָּה (rabbah) normally has the idea of “great” in quantity (“abundant,” ESV) rather than “great” in quality.
and is there no end to your iniquity?
6 “For you took pledgestn The verb חָבַל (khaval) means “to take pledges.” In this verse Eliphaz says that Job not only took as pledge things the poor need, like clothing, but he did it for no reason. from your brothers
for no reason,
and you stripped the clothing from the naked.tn The “naked” here refers to people who are poorly clothed. Otherwise, a reading like the NIV would be necessary: “you stripped the clothes…[leaving them] naked.” So either he made them naked by stripping their garments off, or they were already in rags.
7 You gave the wearytn The term עָיֵף (’ayef) can be translated “weary,” “faint,” “exhausted,” or “tired.” Here it may refer to the fainting because of thirst – that would make a good parallel to the second part. no water to drink
and from the hungry you withheld food.
8 Although you were a powerful man,tn The idiom is “a man of arm” (= “powerful”; see Ps 10:15). This is in comparison to the next line, “man of face” (= “dignity; high rank”; see Isa 3:5). owning land,tn Heb “and a man of arm, to whom [was] land.” The line is in contrast to the preceding one, and so the vav here introduces a concessive clause.
an honored mantn The expression is unusual: “the one lifted up of face.” This is the “honored one,” the one to whom the dignity will be given. living on it,tn Many commentators simply delete the verse or move it elsewhere. Most take it as a general reference to Job, perhaps in apposition to the preceding verse.
9 you sent widows away empty-handed,
and the armstn The “arms of the orphans” are their helps or rights on which they depended for support. of the orphans you crushed.tn The verb in the text is Pual: יְדֻכָּא (yÿdukka’, “was [were] crushed”). GKC 388 §121.b would explain “arms” as the complement of a passive imperfect. But if that is too difficult, then a change to Piel imperfect, second person, will solve the difficulty. In its favor is the parallelism, the use of the second person all throughout the section, and the reading in all the versions. The versions may have simply assumed the easier reading, however.
10 That is why snares surround you,
and why sudden fear terrifies you,
11 why it is so dark you cannot see,tn Heb “or dark you cannot see.” Some commentators and the RSV follow the LXX in reading אוֹ (’o, “or”) as אוֹר (’or, “light”) and translate it “The light has become dark” or “Your light has become dark.” A. B. Davidson suggests the reading “Or seest thou not the darkness.” This would mean Job does not understand the true meaning of the darkness and the calamities.
and why a floodtn The word שִׁפְעַת (shif’at) means “multitude of.” It is used of men, camels, horses, and here of waters in the heavens. of water covers you.
12 “Is not God on high in heaven?tn This reading preserves the text as it is. The nouns “high” and “heavens” would then be taken as adverbial accusatives of place (see GKC 373-74 §118.g).
And seetn The parallel passage in Isa 40:26-27, as well as the context here, shows that the imperative is to be retained here. The LXX has “he sees.” the lofty stars,tn Heb “head of the stars.” how high they are!
13 But you have said, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such deep darkness?sn Eliphaz is giving to Job the thoughts and words of the pagans, for they say, “How does God know, and is there knowledge in the Most High?” (see Ps 73:11; 94:11).
14 Thick clouds are a veil for him, so he does not see us,tn Heb “and he does not see.” The implied object is “us.”
as he goes back and forth
in the vaultsn The word is “circle; dome”; here it is the dome that covers the earth, beyond which God sits enthroned. A. B. Davidson (Job, 165) suggests “on the arch of heaven” that covers the earth. of heaven.’sn The idea suggested here is that God is not only far off, but he is unconcerned as he strolls around heaven – this is what Eliphaz says Job means.
15 Will you keep to the old pathtn The “old path” here is the way of defiance to God. The text in these two verses is no doubt making reference to the flood in Genesis, one of the perennial examples of divine judgment.
that evil men have walked –
16 mentn The word “men” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied to clarify the relative pronoun “who.” who were carried offtn The verb קָמַט (qamat) basically means “to seize; to tie together to make a bundle.” So the Pual will mean “to be bundled away; to be carried off.” before their time,tn The clause has “and [it was] not the time.” It may be used adverbially here.
when the floodtn The word is נָהַר (nahar, “river” or “current”); it is taken here in its broadest sense of the waters on the earth that formed the current of the flood (Gen 7:6, 10). was poured outtn The verb יָצַק (yatsaq) means “to pour out; to shed; to spill; to flow.” The Pual means “to be poured out” (as in Lev 21:10 and Ps 45:3).
on their foundations?tn This word is then to be taken as an adverbial accusative of place. Another way to look at this verse is what A. B. Davidson (Job, 165) proposes “whose foundation was poured away and became a flood.” This would mean that that on which they stood sank away.
17 They were saying to God, ‘Turn away from us,’
and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’tn The form in the text is “to them.” The LXX and the Syriac versions have “to us.”
18 But it was hetn The pronoun is added for this emphasis; it has “but he” before the verb. who filled their houses
with good things –
yet the counsel of the wickedtn See Job 10:3.
was far from me.tc The LXX has “from him,” and this is followed by several commentators. But the MT is to be retained, for Eliphaz is recalling the words of Job. Verses 17 and 18 are deleted by a number of commentators as a gloss because they have many similarities to 21:14-16. But Eliphaz is recalling what Job said, in order to say that the prosperity to which Job alluded was only the prelude to a disaster he denied (H. H. Rowley, Job [NCBC], 156).
19 The righteous see their destructiontn The line is talking about the rejoicing of the righteous when judgment falls on the wicked. An object (“destruction”) has to be supplied here to clarify this (see Pss 52:6 [8]; 69:32 [33]; 107:42). and rejoice;
the innocent mock them scornfully,sn In Ps 2:4 it was God who mocked the wicked by judging them. saying,
20 ‘Surely our enemiestc The word translated “our enemies” is found only here. The word means “hostility,” but used here as a collective for those who are hostile – “enemies.” Some commentators follow the LXX and read “possessions,” explaining its meaning and derivation in different ways. Gordis simply takes the word in the text and affirms that this is the meaning. On the other hand, to get this, E. Dhorme (Job, 336) repoints קִימָנוּ (qimanu) of the MT to יְקוּמַם (yÿqumam), arguing that יְקוּם (yÿqum) means “what exists [or has substance]” (although that is used of animals). He translates: “have not their possessions been destroyed.” are destroyed,
and fire consumes their wealth.’
21 “Reconcile yourselftn The verb סָכַן (sakhan) meant “to be useful; to be profitable” in v. 2. Now, in the Hiphil it means “to be accustomed to” or “to have experience with.” Joined by the preposition “with” it means “to be reconciled with him.” W. B. Bishai cites Arabic and Ugaritic words to support a meaning “acquiesce” (“Notes on hskn in Job 22:21,” JNES 20 [1961]: 258-59). with God,tn Heb “him”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
and be at peacetn The two imperatives in this verse imply a relationship of succession and not consequence. with him;
in this way your prosperity will be good.
22 Accept instructiontn The Hebrew word here is תּוֹרָה (torah), its only occurrence in the book of Job. from his mouth
and store up his wordstc M. Dahood has “write his words” (“Metaphor in Job 22:22,” Bib 47 [1966]: 108-9). in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up;tc The MT has “you will be built up” (תִּבָּנֶה, tibbaneh). But the LXX has “humble yourself” (reading תְּעַנֶּה [tÿ’anneh] apparently). Many commentators read this; Dahood has “you will be healed.”
if you remove wicked behavior far from your tent,
24 and throwtc The form is the imperative. Eliphaz is telling Job to get rid of his gold as evidence of his repentance. Many commentators think that this is too improbable for Eliphaz to have said, and that Job has lost everything anyway, and so they make proposals for the text. Most would follow Theodotion and the Syriac to read וְשָׁתָּ (vÿshatta, “and you will esteem….”). This would mean that he is promising Job restoration of his wealth.tn Heb “place.” your goldtn The word for “gold” is the rare בֶּצֶר (betser), which may be derived from a cognate of Arabic basara, “to see; to examine.” If this is the case, the word here would refer to refined gold. The word also forms a fine wordplay with בְצוּר (bÿtsur, “in the rock”). in the dust –
your goldtn The Hebrew text simply has “Ophir,” a metonymy for the gold that comes from there. of Ophir
among the rocks in the ravines –
25 then the Almighty himself will be your gold,tn The form for “gold” here is plural, which could be a plural of extension. The LXX and Latin versions have “The Almighty will be your helper against your enemies.”
and the choicesttn E. Dhorme (Job, 339) connects this word with an Arabic root meaning “to be elevated, steep.” From that he gets “heaps of silver.” silver for you.
26 Surely then you will delight yourselftc This is the same verb as in Ps 37:4. G. R. Driver suggests the word comes from another root that means “abandon oneself to, depend on” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 84). in the Almighty,
and will lift up your face toward God.
27 You will pray to him and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows to him.tn The words “to him” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
28 Whatever you decidetn The word is גָּזַר (gazar, “to cut”), in the sense of deciding a matter. on a matter,
it will be established for you,
and light will shine on your ways.
29 When people are brought lowtn There is no expressed subject here, and so the verb is taken as a passive voice again. and you say
‘Lift them up!’tn The word גֵּוָה (gevah) means “loftiness; pride.” Here it simply says “up,” or “pride.” The rest is paraphrased. Of the many suggestions, the following provide a sampling: “It is because of pride” (ESV), “he abases pride” (H. H. Rowley); “[he abases] the lofty and the proud” (Beer); “[he abases] the word of pride” [Duhm]; “[he abases] the haughtiness of pride” [Fohrer and others]; “[he abases] the one who speaks proudly” [Weiser]; “[he abases] the one who boasts in pride” [Kissane]; and “God [abases] pride” [Budde, Gray].
then he will save the downcast;tn Or “humble”; Heb “the lowly of eyes.”
30 he will deliver even someone who is not innocent,tc The Hebrew has אִי־נָקִי (’i naqi), which could be taken as “island of the innocent” (so Ibn-Ezra), or “him that is not innocent” (so Rashi). But some have changed אִי (’i) to אִישׁ (’ish, “the innocent man”). Others differ: A. Guillaume links אִי (’i) to Arabic ‘ayya “whosoever,” and so leaves the text alone. M. Dahood secures the same idea from Ugaritic, but reads it אֵי (’e).
who will escapetc The MT has “he will escape [or be delivered].” Theodotion has the second person, “you will be delivered.” through the cleanness of your hands.”