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Job: Chapter 15

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Text view alone

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:2

“Should the wise answer with windy knowledge, and fill themselves with the east wind? 3 Should they argue in unprofitable talk, or in words with which they can do no good? 4 But you are doing away with the fear of God, and hindering meditation before God. 5 For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty. 6 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? 8 Have you listened in the council of God? And do you limit wisdom to yourself‐? 9 What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that is not clear to us? 10 The gray‐haired and the aged are on our side, those older than your father. 11 Are the consolations of God too small for you, or the word that deals gently with you? 12 Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash, a Cn: Heb that they may desist 13 so that you turn your spirit against God, and let such words go out of your mouth? 14 What are mortals, that they can be clean? Or those born of woman, that they can be righteous? 15 God puts no trust even in his holy ones, and the heavens are not clean in his sight; 16 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— 18 what sages have told, and their ancestors have not hidden, 19 to whom alone the land was given, and no stranger passed among them. 20 The wicked writhe in pain all their days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless. 21 Terrifying sounds are in their ears; in prosperity the destroyer will come upon them. 22 They despair of returning from darkness, and they are destined for the sword. 23 They wander abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’ They know that a day of darkness is ready at hand; 24 distress and anguish terrify them; they prevail against them, like a king prepared for battle. 25 Because they stretched out their hands against God, and bid defiance to the Almighty, b Syr: Heb lacks not 26 running stubbornly against him with a thick‐bossed shield; 27 because they have covered their faces with their fat, and gathered fat upon their loins, 28 they will live in desolate cities, in houses that no one should inhabit, houses destined to become heaps of ruins; 29they will not be rich, and their wealth will not endure, nor will they strike root in the earth; a Meaning of Heb uncertain 30 they will not escape from darkness; the flame will dry up their shoots, and their blossom b Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai will be swept away c Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain by the wind. 31 Let them not trust in emptiness, deceiving themselves; for emptiness will be their recompense. 32 It will be paid in full before their time, and their branch will not be green. 33 They will shake off their unripe grape, like the vine, and cast off their blossoms, like the olive tree. 34 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery. 35 They conceive mischief and bring forth evil and their heart prepares deceit.”


d Cn: Heb that they may desist

a Syr: Heb lacks not

a Meaning of Heb uncertain

b Traditional rendering of Heb Shaddai

a Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

15.1–35 : Eliphaz's second discourse.

2–3 :

Eliphaz had begun diplomatically in his first discourse ( 4.1–4 ), but now he is blunt, comparing Job's arguments to the east wind, the oppressively hot wind from the desert.

4 :

Fear of God, a Heb idiom for the respect and awe due to the deity (see Prov 1.7 ). Thus Job is accused of being utterly irreligious and undermining religion.

7–8 :

Job had argued on the basis of his personal experience, but Eliphaz now asks if Job considers himself the archetypal mortal, or if he has been privy to the deliberations in the divine council (cf. 1 Kings 22.19–22; Jer 23.18,21–22; Am 3.7 ).

10 :

Instead of relying on an individual's experience, Eliphaz would prefer to turn to the traditions passed down through the generations (cf. Ps 78.1–4 ).

14–16 :

No mortal can claim to be perfectly pure, nor can the heavenly beings (see 4.17–19; 25.4–6 ).

17–19 :

It is not clear to what tradition Eliphaz refers when he appeals to the ancestors at a time when no stranger was present, though clearly his claim is that the tradition in which he stands is authentic and orthodox.

20–35 :

Eliphaz's speech is the first of three in which the friends argue that the wicked necessarily come to a bad end because evil is ultimately subject to divine punishment and hence necessarily selfdestructive (see 18.5–21; 20.5–29 ).

27 :

The meaning of the verse is clearer if one takes the Heb particle at the beginning to mean “although” (rather than because) and reads the verse with what follows. Despite their surfeit, the rich will end up impoverished.

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