Job Pt 6 (Job 32–37)

by Glenn on November 30, 2014

One of the curious aspects of Job is how little actually happens in the book.

Let’s qualify that.

There is action, described sparingly, in which a lot happens.
There is dialogue, which goes on and on, where sometimes little seems to be said.

I say seems because I freely admit to missing most of the beauty and nuance in the dialogue.

The action in (and to) Job occurs early on and is confined to the first two chapters.

God and Satan, without explanation or Job’s knowledge, decide to have a little wager to see under what circumstances Job would deny God.

Job, like a lab rat, is observed (and we are privy to this experiment) as he has everything taken away from him while his physical person is left untouched. His oxen and donkeys are stolen by Sabeans. His sheep are destroyed by fire. His camels are stolen by Chaldeans. His children are killed in a storm. What does he do? He says,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

Satan concludes this was a flawed experiment with bad methodology because Job’s physical body wasn’t touched. So the experiment is dialed up. Satan is permitted to afflict Job up to the point of death. With oozing boils all over his body, Job finds himself not only in miserable circumstances, but he himself is physically miserable. His wife tells him, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) But he ask his wife,

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

Job is resolute in his trust in God. Eventually he will profess,

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him …” (Job 13:15)

Seeing Job in his misery, Job’s three friends (the Bible seems pretty specific about this—Job 2:11), Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite sit with Job for seven days as he quietly grieves.

Well, that’s chapters 1 & 2.

From chapter 3–31 Job and his three friends talk. It is a very formal dialogue between and among them. Chapter 31 ends, “The words of Job are ended.” (Job 31:40)

But the talking continues. And now we have a new character: Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram. Where does this guy come from? There’s no real explanation. It kinds of bugs me. Apparently he’s been there the whole time. He’s a young guy and the text will make clear that he’s only been silent out or respect for his elders.

1. He’s mad at Job for his self-justifying speech.
2. He’s mad at Job’s friends because they couldn’t outargue Job.
3. He’s mad, further, because Job’s friends are now silent.

And so the dialogue (monologue?) continues for six more chapters as Elihu unloads on Job and his friends. Here are summaries of these six chapters in the form of haiku:

 Job 32
Listen to me, please
though young I will set Job straight
“I am full of words”

 Job 33
Job, my heart is pure
through suffering God leads you
away from the pit

 Job 34
Job’s no innocent
God is just, punishes sin
Job, you’re rebellious

 Job 35
God’s not affected
by what we do good or bad
He’s not listening

 Job 36
God blesses, curses
so, Job, you must change your ways
God is beyond us

 Job 37
there are “acts of God”
He punishes with weather
think of God’s power

 There’s a lot being said right and wrong in these six chapters. I feel like these chapters need a referee. Sometimes Elihu’s got it right, other times someone needs to throw a penalty flag. Many penalty flags?