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Zophar Speaks: Job’s Guilt Deserves Punishment


Then Zophar the Naamathite answered:


“Should a multitude of words go unanswered,

and should one full of talk be vindicated?


Should your babble put others to silence,

and when you mock, shall no one shame you?


For you say, ‘My conduct is pure,

and I am clean in God’s sight.’


But O that God would speak,

and open his lips to you,


and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!

For wisdom is many-sided.

Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.



“Can you find out the deep things of God?

Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?


It is higher than heaven—what can you do?

Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?


Its measure is longer than the earth,

and broader than the sea.


If he passes through, and imprisons,

and assembles for judgment, who can hinder him?


For he knows those who are worthless;

when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?


But a stupid person will get understanding,

when a wild ass is born human.



“If you direct your heart rightly,

you will stretch out your hands toward him.


If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,

and do not let wickedness reside in your tents.


Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;

you will be secure, and will not fear.


You will forget your misery;

you will remember it as waters that have passed away.


And your life will be brighter than the noonday;

its darkness will be like the morning.


And you will have confidence, because there is hope;

you will be protected and take your rest in safety.


You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid;

many will entreat your favor.


But the eyes of the wicked will fail;

all way of escape will be lost to them,

and their hope is to breathe their last.”


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Job 11:1-20. First Speech of Zophar.

2. Zophar assails Job for his empty words, and indirectly, the two friends, for their weak reply. Taciturnity is highly prized among Orientals (Pr 10:8, 19).

3. lies—rather, "vain boasting" (Isa 16:6; Jer 48:30). The "men" is emphatic; men of sense; in antithesis to "vain boasting."

mockest—upbraidest God by complaints, "shall no man make thee ashamed?"

4. doctrine—purposely used of Job's speeches, which sounded like lessons of doctrine (De 32:2; Pr 4:2).

thine—addressed to God. Job had maintained his sincerity against his friends suspicions, not faultlessness.

6. to that which is!—Rather, "they are double to [man's] wisdom" [Michaelis]. So the Hebrew is rendered (Pr 2:7). God's ways, which you arraign, if you were shown their secret wisdom, would be seen vastly to exceed that of men, including yours (1Co 1:25).

exacteth—Rather, "God consigns to oblivion in thy favor much of thy guilt."

7. Rather, "Penetrate to the perfections of the Almighty" (Job 9:10; Ps 139:6).

8. It—the "wisdom" of God (Job 11:6). The abruptness of the Hebrew is forcible: "The heights of heaven! What canst thou do" (as to attaining to them with thy gaze, Ps 139:8)?

know—namely, of His perfections.

10. cut off—Rather, as in Job 9:11, "pass over," as a storm; namely, rush upon in anger.

shut up—in prison, with a view to trial.

gather together—the parties for judgment: hold a judicial assembly; to pass sentence on the prisoners.

11. (Ps 94:11).

consider—so as to punish it. Rather, from the connection, Job 11:6, "He seeth wickedness also, which man does not perceive"; literally, "But no (other, save He) perceiveth it" [Umbreit]. God's "wisdom" (Job 11:6), detects sin where Job's human eye cannot reach (Job 11:8), so as to see any.

12. vain—hollow.

would be—"wants to consider himself wise"; opposed to God's "wisdom" (see on Job 11:11); refuses to see sin, where God sees it (Ro 1:22).

wild ass's colt—a proverb for untamed wildness (Job 39:5, 8; Jer 2:24; Ge 16:12; Hebrew, "a wild-ass man"). Man wishes to appear wisely obedient to his Lord, whereas he is, from his birth, unsubdued in spirit.

13. The apodosis to the "If" is at Job 11:15. The preparation of the heart is to be obtained (Pr 16:1) by stretching out the hands in prayer for it (Ps 10:17; 1Ch 29:18).

14. Rather, "if thou wilt put far away the iniquity in thine hand" (as Zaccheus did, Lu 19:8). The apodosis or conclusion is at Job 11:15, "then shalt thou," &c.

15. Zophar refers to Job's own words (Job 10:15), "yet will I not lift up my head," even though righteous. Zophar declares, if Job will follow his advice, he may "lift up his face."

spot—(De 32:5).

steadfast—literally, "run fast together," like metals which become firm and hard by fusion. The sinner on the contrary is wavering.

16. Just as when the stream runs dry (Job 6:17), the danger threatened by its wild waves is forgotten (Isa 65:16) [Umbreit].

17. age—days of life.

the noon-day—namely, of thy former prosperity; which, in the poet's image, had gone on increasing, until it reached its height, as the sun rises higher and higher until it reaches the meridian (Pr 4:18).

shine forth—rather, "though now in darkness, thou shall be as the morning"; or, "thy darkness (if any dark shade should arise on thee, it) shall be as the morning" (only the dullness of morning twilight, not nocturnal darkness) [Umbreit].

18. The experience of thy life will teach thee there is hope for man in every trial.

dig—namely, wells; the chief necessity in the East. Better, "though now ashamed (Ro 5:5, opposed to the previous 'hope'), thou shalt then rest safely" [Gesenius];

19. (Ps 4:8; Pr 3:24; Isa 14:30); oriental images of prosperity.

make suit—literally, "stroke thy face," "caress thee" (Pr 19:6).

20. A warning to Job, if he would not turn to God.

The wicked—that is, obdurate sinners.

eyes … fail—that is, in vain look for relief (De 28:65). Zophar implies Job's only hope of relief is in a change of heart.

they shall not escape—literally, "every refuge shall vanish from them."

giving up of the ghost—Their hope shall leave them as the breath does the body (Pr 11:7).