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Eliphaz Speaks: Job Undermines Religion


Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:


“Should the wise answer with windy knowledge,

and fill themselves with the east wind?


Should they argue in unprofitable talk,

or in words with which they can do no good?


But you are doing away with the fear of God,

and hindering meditation before God.


For your iniquity teaches your mouth,

and you choose the tongue of the crafty.


Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;

your own lips testify against you.



“Are you the firstborn of the human race?

Were you brought forth before the hills?


Have you listened in the council of God?

And do you limit wisdom to yourself?


What do you know that we do not know?

What do you understand that is not clear to us?


The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,

those older than your father.


Are the consolations of God too small for you,

or the word that deals gently with you?


Why does your heart carry you away,

and why do your eyes flash,


so that you turn your spirit against God,

and let such words go out of your mouth?


What are mortals, that they can be clean?

Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous?


God puts no trust even in his holy ones,

and the heavens are not clean in his sight;


how much less one who is abominable and corrupt,

one who drinks iniquity like water!



“I will show you; listen to me;

what I have seen I will declare—


what sages have told,

and their ancestors have not hidden,


to whom alone the land was given,

and no stranger passed among them.


The wicked writhe in pain all their days,

through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.


Terrifying sounds are in their ears;

in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them.


They despair of returning from darkness,

and they are destined for the sword.


They wander abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’

They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand;


distress and anguish terrify them;

they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle.


Because they stretched out their hands against God,

and bid defiance to the Almighty,


running stubbornly against him

with a thick-bossed shield;


because they have covered their faces with their fat,

and gathered fat upon their loins,


they will live in desolate cities,

in houses that no one should inhabit,

houses destined to become heaps of ruins;


they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure,

nor will they strike root in the earth;


they will not escape from darkness;

the flame will dry up their shoots,

and their blossom will be swept away by the wind.


Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves;

for emptiness will be their recompense.


It will be paid in full before their time,

and their branch will not be green.


They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine,

and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree.


For the company of the godless is barren,

and fire consumes the tents of bribery.


They conceive mischief and bring forth evil

and their heart prepares deceit.”


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Verses 1–16

Eliphaz begins a second attack upon Job, instead of being softened by his complaints. He unjustly charges Job with casting off the fear of God, and all regard to him, and restraining prayer. See in what religion is summed up, fearing God, and praying to him; the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit. He charges him with contempt of the counsels and comforts given him by his friends. We are apt to think that which we ourselves say is important, when others, with reason, think little of it. He charges him with opposition to God. Eliphaz ought not to have put harsh constructions upon the words of one well known for piety, and now in temptation. It is plain that these disputants were deeply convinced of the doctrine of original sin, and the total depravity of human nature. Shall we not admire the patience of God in bearing with us? and still more his love to us in the redemption of Christ Jesus his beloved Son?

Verses 17–35

Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?