Job Chapter 15: Eliphaz Calls Job a Hypocrite and Fraud

Mar 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Job Chapter 15: Eliphaz Calls Job a Hypocrite and Fraud

Job 15:1 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

Job 15:2 Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?

In the second round of responses, Eliphaz was again the first to speak. His words encompass just one chapter, whereas Job’s previous comments covered three chapters. The statements went back and forth between the comforters and Job. Of course at the conclusion of the book, we realize that of the five participants, Job had the most credentials not only before his calamities but also in his reasoning. Nevertheless, God found some fault with Job. In essence, Eliphaz the Temanite accused Job of being a bag of wind and full of hot air. The consolation that Eliphaz was supposed to be proffering to Job was empty.

Job 15:3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?

Job’s justification of the purity of his integrity was meaningless to the comforters because they felt the proof was in the pudding. They regarded his trauma, bitter experience, unsightliness, and seeming complaining as evidences of his guilt. Concluding that indeed he must have done something wrong to merit such afflictions, they felt that his utterances were added proof of his guilt. In their minds, he deserved his sufferings, and they wanted to say, “Job, wake up to your situation.” How exasperating for Job! He could have done much better without their “comforting” and wished they would leave.

Comment: Here we get a sense of how uncalled-for the words of Eliphaz were. In Job 42:7, God said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” The words of Eliphaz were so inappropriate that he was singled out by name.

Reply: As the oldest one in the drama, Eliphaz felt he was in the position to proffer the wisest counsel. Of course, by voicing his opinion, he accumulated greater responsibility and was later singled out for a little severer reprimand than the others. The Book of Job has scarcely been read during the Gospel Age, but it will be highlighted in the Kingdom Age and beyond.

Job 15:4 Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

“Yea, thou castest off fear [reverence, piety].” The comforters felt that Job was very bold in the way he spoke to and about God, for in replying to their reasoning, he sometimes completely ignored them and talked to God, as it were. He would be talking to the comforters, and then he would soliloquize and try to reason with the unseen Lord in the heavens and plead for a response. The three comforters felt that Job’s attitude almost bordered on blasphemy. It is interesting that Job continued to feel he had maintained his integrity, for he knew he really loved and had tried to serve his Maker.

Comment: Where the King James has, “Thou … restrainest prayer before God,” the NIV says, “You … hinder devotion to God.” In addition to telling what Job did wrong, Eliphaz was discussing Job’s relationship with God.

Reply: Yes, the NIV is closer to the proper thought. Job claimed he loved God, but Eliphaz felt that his words and behavior—his example—showed the opposite and that he was undermining what should have been the proper behavior.

Job 15:5 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.

“Thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity.” Eliphaz was saying that from Job’s words, it was obvious he was at fault. The three felt fully justified in their criticism of Job, and in fact, their criticism became more bitter as time went on. The first time Eliphaz spoke, he was a little more respectful in his opening remarks and arguments because of Job’s former reputation and works, although he did question Job’s motives. However, toward his conclusion, he began to speak more harshly. Now, in this second encounter, Eliphaz was no longer respectful and gentle but uttered scathing remarks. As the three viewed Job’s pitiful state, they could only conclude that he had done something very wrong and that he was stubbornly refusing to confess to them. But in reality, Job was revealing his innermost thinking. One could not be more open than Job—he poured out his feelings, thinking the three friends would help him bear his experience by offering constructive condolence. Instead he was finding out that he could do better without them. The comforters were acting like enemies, not friends.

“Thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.” The three admitted that Job’s replies to their remarks were quite penetrating, but they viewed Job as having the evil spirit, not themselves.

Job 15:6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.

The other two comforters probably nodded their heads in agreement with this statement that Job was condemning himself with his own words.

Job 15:7 Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?

Job had previously mentioned that the wisdom of the sages of old was more sound and the advice more practical for someone in his situation than that of the three comforters. When Eliphaz asked sarcastically, “Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?” he was referring to Adam. He was saying, “Job, you assume you have more wisdom than you really have. Anyone who lived before the Flood for, say, 900 years certainly had a tremendous backlog of experience. If you were rightly inclined in your spirit, heart, and reverence, you would be in good standing.” However, because of other circumstances, the opposite was true—men actually became more evil as the years got closer to the Flood.

To a certain extent, this part of the comforters’ reasoning was a proper criticism of Job. In fact, in the thirty-eighth chapter, some of God’s remarks were along the lines of “Where were you, Job, when the earth was made, when the mountains were in the process of formation? Where were you when the earth was set on its foundations?” Job did have some faults, and the Lord wanted to expose them, but at the same time, He made allowance for those faults and commiserated because Job’s integrity was real, and his will and intent were true and perfect. However, even though Job knew he was not perfect, he had to be reminded of the fact.

Job 15:8 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?

“Hast thou heard the secret of God?” The NIV states the thought more clearly: “Do you listen in on God’s council? Do you limit wisdom to yourself?” Job knew the secret of God in the sense that he was truly the servant of God and had perfect intentions. The Lord had said of Job, “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8).

Job 15:9 What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?

The three comforters had started the confrontation by saying they knew more than Job. Then Job was forced to reply that he knew as much as they did. Now Eliphaz was saying the same thing about Job. The reasoning was going back and forth. Although Eliphaz used different expressions here, his recitation consisted of much the same thoughts that he had used earlier. No fresh counsel was forthcoming to help Job.

Job 15:10 With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.

Verse 10 is enlightening. Piecing together the whole Book of Job shows that two lines of reasoning were used, one of which follows. At this time, Job was 70 years old, and Eliphaz was much older. According to the King James, Eliphaz was saying, “Job, I am even older than your father.” Perhaps that is the proper translation, but some scholars argue that Eliphaz was saying, “I am much older than both of you”; that is, Eliphaz may have been close to 100 years old and was including Bildad as also being older than Job. Or the pronoun “us” could have been an editorial “we.” Zophar was probably a little younger than Job.

Eliphaz was saying, “Job, you claim to voice the wisdom of the ancients, but right in front of you is one who offers you counsel. I am much older and wiser than you. While you say you have experience, what about me?” In back of Eliphaz’s confidence was the fact that Temanites were world-renowned for wisdom. Based on that background plus his age, Eliphaz put himself forward as having great wisdom. This remark put peer pressure on Job to try to buttress his own counsel and remarks and his profession of not being blameworthy, for the three maintained that Job merited criticism, as well as the calamity that afflicted his flesh.

Job 15:11 Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?

Eliphaz was saying, “The counsel we are proffering to you, Job, should be considered as the consolations of God.” The three felt they were reasoning with Job as God would reason. They had started out as friends with proper intentions and motives, and they had even brought goods, knowing that Job was destitute in both health and possessions. Moreover, they had sat silently with him for seven days, fasting and mourning. Eliphaz had started out softly, gently, and diplomatically, but his words ended up to the contrary. God strongly criticized the comforters not for their initial intent but for what subsequently developed, which erased their good intentions. Ezekiel chapter 18 states the principle that all of one’s past goodness is erased in the day of his iniquity. Conversely, if a person repents of his bad past, his desire to reform and make restitution for injuries committed will justify him. In other words, short-term willful sin can erase all long-term goodness of the past, and short-term sincere repentance and reform can erase a long-term evil past. This is God’s philosophy with regard to fallen man’s behavior.

Job 15:12 Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at,

“Why doth thine heart carry thee away?” The question is self-explanatory and, to a certain extent, true. In giving outlet to his feelings, Job let some irrational words slip from his mouth, but that is understandable. An imperfect person cannot respond perfectly to every experience.

Job pictures the experiences of The Christ, particularly the body members, in the Gospel Age.

“What do thy eyes wink at?” Eliphaz was accusing Job of manifesting emotional stress and trauma not only in his words but also in his body language. One translation indicates that Job was crying when he reasoned with the comforters, that tears were coming from his eyes, especially in the second round. That seems to be the proper thought. The comforters felt that Job’s uncontrollable emotions and outward reactions were uncalled for. He was looking for comfort, but comfort never came. Instead they lectured him.

The experiences of Job picture primarily the experiences of the Christian Church for 1,500 years. From the end of the French Revolution up to the present time, the experiences of  Christians have been radically different. And the experiences of the early Church when the apostles were on the scene were also different. Early Christians felt the strength of the Savior— as if they were in his hand—and did not have the lows that Job experienced. Job had no energy, he had not eaten properly, he had not washed, he was not garbed with clean clothes, etc. In short, he was in an extreme state, and this poverty condition was the experience of the Christian Church for at least 1,500 years. Roughly speaking, the first 250 years of the Church were quite different and also the last 250 years.

Job’s afflictions picture the down experience of the Church during the Dark and Middle Ages, but what happened is very interesting. Even though many Christians lived during this period of time, they sufficiently imbibed the sunshine of God’s favor when they first got the Word so that they could withstand the later long experience of deprivation and persecution. Each individual coming into the truth in the Dark Ages was providentially nurtured. Even if in secret, each got the truth with gentle rain and sunshine until he or she grew strong enough, and then came the hard experiences of longer duration.

In the Harvest period, especially in the United States, Christians have been wallowing in sunshine and relative luxury. However, there will come a time of bitter persecution in the near future.

Comment: When Christians were being pressured to recant, as happened to many during the Inquisition, we can imagine the logic and the methods of persuasion that were used.

Reply: The pressure was physical as well as verbal.

Job 15:13 That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?

Eliphaz was talking as though he was the wise one. His repetitive comments were really lectures. While talking in a negative philosophical way about mankind in general, he was not speaking pointedly to Job but certainly had him in mind in making multiple suggestions and expounding in grand themes about what he had experienced. Using different words than those here in verse 13, Eliphaz made the same statement again and again. The three comforters considered Job guilty and felt that the words out of his own mouth condemned him.

Job 15:14 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?

“What is man, that he should be clean?” In repeating what Job had said earlier, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Eliphaz was twisting the words to bolster his condemnation of Job (Job 14:4). He was saying in effect, “How can you justify yourself and maintain your integrity when you are a member of the fallen race and are impure? How can we accept your protestations of innocence when we realize that man is born unclean? When you make rebuttals and responses, how can a clean thing come out of an unclean person like you?”

Neither Job nor the three comforters were aware that Satan was personally being allowed to try Job in a severe manner and to do everything to him except put him to death. From that standpoint, the three were not quite as culpable. Had they known, their comments would have been completely different. Their lack of information and not understanding the philosophy of the permission of evil and the doctrine of restitution, among other things, were all factors.

Job 15:15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.

Comment: Verses 15-17 read as follows in another version: “If God does not trust his holy ones and the heavens are not pure in his sight, how much less will he trust the one who is disgusting and corrupt, the one who drinks wickedness like water? I will tell you, listen to me; I will relate what I have seen.”

Reply: That version is strong. Being much older, Eliphaz spoke in a gentler way, but nevertheless, his manner of speaking was such that his words were hard to rebut. Job was on the receiving end, and the words were very penetrating, no matter how they were stated.

Usually, an unfair criticism that cannot be rebutted is keenly felt. Therefore, in effect, Eliphaz was doing exactly what was read in that other version.

Eliphaz related a dream in chapter 4, where he felt that a spirit from the other world had taught  him a doctrine. He could not get that doctrine out of his head. Eliphaz said that God does not put trust in his (holy) angels, but that was not true. God does not put trust in the unholy angels, who are imprisoned in tartaroo. The holy angels passed an excruciating test at the time of the Flood with regard to not only the flesh but also God’s slow execution of judgment, for He waited more than a century before bringing the Flood and wiping away the iniquity (Luke 20:36). God’s slow response was a severe test on the holy angels to see if they had sufficient faith and trust in Him and His character, or moral standard, to do something about the evil.

Those angels who did not leave their first estate proved their worthiness. As Emperor of the universe, God has always maintained the power to peremptorily cause the decease of any being who should disobey.

Q: Since the Book of Job was written not too far after the Flood, could some of this information have been passed down by word of mouth?

A: Yes, there would have been some explanation of what had happened. Noah and his family, the eight people who survived the Flood, certainly testified. In fact, the Flood was universally believed or taught. The early settlers in this country found that even the Indians believed in a deluge at one time, their perception being that it was universal. When Noah and his family dispersed to various parts of the globe, they carried the doctrine of the Flood with them. Incidentally, the fact that knowledge of a Flood exists in various parts of earth is sometimes used as a proof that the Deluge was universal. However, it is not the Flood that was universal but the story of what was perceived to be a universal Flood. Not in reality but from the standpoint of Noah and his family, the waters covered the entire surface of the earth. Plain, stark facts and certain Scriptures indicate that the Flood was not universal.

Job 15:16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?

“How much more abominable and filthy is man [in comparison to spirit beings], which drinketh iniquity like water?” The implication was that Job drank iniquity like water.

Job 15:17 I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;

Job 15:18 Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:

Job 15:19 Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.

Eliphaz was talking with supposed wisdom. All of the comforters felt they were superior to Job in both character and wisdom and thus looked down on him, but the most damaging of the three was Eliphaz because he was the oldest. His paternalistic concern was now rising to warnings of dire forebodings if Job continued to profess his integrity and to justify himself. He said, “I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare [because of his age, Eliphaz felt he had seen a lot]; which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it [and I am not hiding it from you, Job]: Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.” Eliphaz was making a point of his supposed superior wisdom, which, in experiential knowledge, was more ancient than that of Job.

What was Eliphaz implying in verse 19? He came from Teman, a locale in the Middle East on the east side of the Dead Sea in what is now called Saudi Arabia. There is a faint indication here that he was questioning Job’s lineage and whether he and his father were originally from that particular locale or had come in as strangers, even though Job had lived there all his life. (The Scriptures purposely do not go into Job’s lineage because his life is an allegory that has innuendos of other themes, some of which have already been suggested.) Teman was a land noted for wisdom, and Job lived there and had prospered all his life. He had a reputation for wisdom and organizational capabilities, and he was a judge and a counselor. Now Eliphaz was accusing Job of introducing new themes and new thoughts as a stranger. In other words, Eliphaz was searching into Job’s background and implying that he was one of the strangers who had come in and introduced his own wisdom into a place that had the true wisdom. All three comforters were delving into Job’s character and verbally tearing him apart.

Back in the Book of Genesis, when fire came down from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, with the Dead Sea swallowing up that whole area, it was thought that the destruction was universal. As a result, the comforters had an attitude of exclusivity, and they felt that the area they occupied, with the exception of Egypt, had started out relatively pure.

Q: In Job 9:24, Job said that the earth had been given into the hand of the wicked. Was Eliphaz counteracting that argument? Not only did he feel superior because he was from Teman, but he was saying in effect, “Direct information was passed down to me from Noah and his sons, to whom the earth was given.”

A: Yes, that was the thought of exclusivity. It was prophesied that Shem would be superior to Ham and Japheth, and that Japheth’s progeny would be superior to that of Ham. Moreover, Ham would be the servant of both, but particularly of Shem. At first, Shem settled in Turkey on the back side of Ararat; later he gradually went down to Egypt. Ham, however, went down to Egypt earlier. In his slow migration, Shem went on the east side of the Jordan River and finally settled in Canaan and then Egypt. The point is that Eliphaz felt superior both in purity of genetic stock and in inheriting the blessing of Shem. Since the pronouncement of the blessing on Noah and then on his sons was distinctly manifested, the comforters viewed strangers as pollutants, and Eliphaz inferred that Job was one of the strangers, particularly his father.

Job 15:20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.

Comment: Again Eliphaz said that Job’s sufferings were related to his sins.

Reply: Yes, and the three comforters were getting increasingly severe and uncouth in their judgmental attitude toward Job. The situation was becoming very nasty. Eliphaz was saying to Job, “We had heard about your reputation for being just, generous, and wise, but your reputation does not match what we are seeing. Therefore, you must have gotten your property, goods, and wealth by deceit and oppression. Judgment eventually comes down on the head of the wicked, and what we are witnessing of your pitiful situation is proof that your previous reputation was a lie.” Although Job’s experience at the hands of the comforters was excruciating, he got stronger and stronger and even spoke longer, as we will see. In spite of his sickness and condition, he outlasted the three comforters and finally wore them out. He came to see the emptiness, the shallowness, and the repetitiveness of the same chant of accusations against him, even though the comforters used different words and illustrations.

Comment: As Job’s discourses got longer, the comforters’ discourses got shorter.

Comment: With the experiences of the Flood rather fresh in the minds of the people of that time period, we can see how human wisdom said, “The wicked perish and the righteous prosper.” However, the comforters were very shortsighted to reason that way. Only in the final analysis would that be true, that is, after the permission of evil is over.

Comment: In addition, the incident of the Tower of Babel and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah had happened previously.

Reply: Yes, the comforters knew that history. The lineage dating back to Adam was passed on to Shem from Noah.

In the eyes of Eliphaz, the “wicked man” was Job. His words were penetrating. Supposedly, a wise person was tactful in his speech, even in the fiercest denunciation. Sometimes, however, the Lord Himself used blunt language in the Scriptures to try to get a point across. In saying, “The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days,” Eliphaz meant that Job would have this judgment on him for the remainder of his days—until he was finally put to silence in the tomb. “The number of years is hidden to the oppressor.” The implication is that Job was the oppressor. Eliphaz considered Job’s reputation to be nonsense. The three comforters were now beginning to formulate what his sin was. Earlier, they wanted Job to confess, but as time went on, they conjured up what the sin must have been. They concluded that his previous life was a lie, as evidenced by his sufferings. He still had land but not livestock, dwellings, family, goods, or servants. In short, he was poverty-stricken. The three kept emphasizing his present forlorn state. Originally they had brought food to help sustain him and get him back on his feet, but all their previous good intentions were now forgotten. They were becoming more and more judgmental. Eliphaz was saying, “The oppressor is getting what he deserves until he finally dies.” He was trying to instill in Job guilt and fear of death and of the hereafter.

Job 15:21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.

Eliphaz was now trying to read Job’s mind. “In prosperity the destroyer [Satan] shall come upon him.” Eliphaz was implying that Job’s prosperity was ill-gotten, and now he would reap what he deserved. The three did not know what had happened, but they thought that Job would somehow suffer the same experience as Satan. When we review the Book of Job from the standpoint of the Christian, we will see that parts of the history of the Gospel Age very much show Job’s experience.

The following verses reveal what the comforters thought about the grave.

Job 15:22 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.

Eliphaz was saying that Job did not believe he would return out of darkness. Earlier Job said he would die and not come back again to that area—he would see it no more—but the three did not have as much knowledge as Job. Of course he did not have the understanding that is available in the Harvest period or that the apostles and the early Church had. Considerable light was provided in the two harvests: one at the beginning and one at the end of the age.

Comment: It seems that the common wisdom of the time was an immediate afterlife, whereas Job had summed up an earlier argument by saying, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not” (Job 14:1,2). Job believed that there would be a resurrection at an unknown far-off future date, but not immediately.

Reply: The three were trying to use Job’s words to show that he was incriminating himself. They felt the proof of his guilt was what was coming out of his mouth. In today’s language, they were saying, “Job, you are putting your foot in your mouth. Out of your own mouth, you are condemned.” From God’s standpoint, which is the true judgment, words do condemn or justify a person, but not in Job’s case. In other words, what was a right principle under proper circumstances was wrongly applied to Job.

“He is waited for of the sword.” Eliphaz did not know when the oppressor would come to execute God’s judgment upon Job. The reference was to a judgmental sword.

Job 15:23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

“He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it?” Job had land, but he did not have any crops or servants to harvest the crops. He was in want, and the three were thrusting in Job’s face just about every conceivable argument of a condemnatory nature, one after another. “He knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.” Job himself thought that he would die soon. Now Eliphaz was trying to read Job’s mind, saying that he was fearful of death. Eliphaz had misread some of Job’s statements to conclude that Job did not know when death would come and was experiencing anxiety. Eliphaz had tried to do the same thing earlier in relating an occult experience he had had. The fear that Eliphaz had experienced momentarily had scarred his memory, and now he was trying to scar Job’s memory even more deeply.

Job 15:24 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.

Eliphaz was implying that trouble and anguish would make Job afraid. “They [the enemy force] shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.” In verse 24, some scholars think the word “battle” should be omitted, and others are puzzled as to its significance. The following suggestion is offered about the phrase “a king ready to the battle,” which Eliphaz used in rebutting Job’s previous remarks.

There are two perspectives here, one from the standpoint of Eliphaz and the other from the standpoint of Job. Of course Eliphaz and the other two comforters were speaking down to Job, giving his words a negative slant. In a parable in the New Testament, Jesus said that in decision making, one should sit down first and count the cost (Luke 14:28-31). “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” The Lord encourages one who is contemplating consecration to soberly count the cost—that is, not to rush into the decision too quickly—for on the surface, the battle odds seem too great. Because the forces of the Adversary are overwhelming, the Christian has to exercise considerable faith that with 10,000, as it were, he will be able to overcome the enemy who has 20,000. An example is Joshua and Caleb, who, of the 12 who spied out the land of Canaan, were the only two to give a favorable report. The other ten spies said there were giants in the land and walls that reached up to heaven, but Joshua and Caleb manifested faith and said that because God was with the Israelites, those odds were meaningless. The decision of the nation was to believe the report of the ten and thus not follow the Lord’s advice to go in and take over the land. The true Christian has the faith perspective of Joshua and Caleb, whereas the worldly “Christian” views consecration in a more perfunctory manner that does not involve every act of life and a certain degree of responsibility to the Lord. Such individuals do not make a specific covenant or contract to serve the Lord.

Eliphaz was likening Job to a king who goes to battle with an inferior force against one with a superior force. He was trying to instill anxiety and fear from the standpoint that Job had been continuously referring to the integrity of his conscience. Job could not understand that he had done anything to merit his afflictions, yet he had no explanation for them. Eliphaz was trying to get Job to think about the matter and recant from his stubborn self-righteousness. Of course we are extrapolating quite a bit, but Eliphaz seems to have been saying that the numerical forces were superior to Job’s sole opposition.

Job 15:25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.

Eliphaz was saying that Job, in his stubbornness, was stretching out his hand against God. The three comforters had been trying to wear Job down, but in reality, Job was outwearing them. The three attributed Job’s enduring their criticism to a motive of stubbornness—stubbornness to the supposedly solid logic they were offering. They saw Job’s opposition as the result of being stiff-necked and of stretching out his hand against their advice, which they considered God’s advice. They thought Job was being obstinate in taking time out not only to rebut them but also to soliloquize and have a verbal dialog with God in their presence to ask for some evidence as to the reason for his experiences.

Comment: For verse 25, the NIV gives the thought of defiance: “Because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty.”

Job 15:26 He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:

Job 15:27 Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.

Verse 26 is a problem verse. Other translations ascribe the “he” to Job, but to do this, they have to change the prepositions in the Hebrew; that is, in trying to improve the King James translation, they give the slant that Job was running against God. While there is a certain degree of logic to that explanation, the application of Luke 14:28-31, as presented in the discussion of verse 24, seems more fitting. The comforters were saying that God was responding to Job’s stiff-neckedness. In other words, the comforters, supposedly at God’s behest, were rebutting Job’s stubborn remarks and were trying to show the error of his way. They felt that God was running upon Job with his stiff neck and fat “collops.”

Comment: According to Strong’s Concordance, “collops” means obesity.

Reply: Yes. The King James translators felt the Hebrew word signified “a small slice of [Canadian-style] bacon,” which is quite thick. Of course Job was now scrawny in appearance, so allegorically speaking, Eliphaz was referring to Job’s prior condition, before his affliction, when he had a wonderful reputation for wisdom, riches, and authority. At that time, Job supposedly had a stiff neck and fat collops on his neck and flanks, the obesity being to such a degree that the fat on his neck almost rested on his shoulders. The three comforters felt that God was using them to confront Job for his stubbornness and fatness and for the defense he was offering.

“He runneth … upon the thick bosses [a shield] of his bucklers.” The curved front surface of a shield is meant to deflect the enemy’s arrows, spears, and swords. The comforters were likening Job’s stiff neck, fatness, and brazenness to a curved shield. In other words, Job was deflecting all of their arguments, which were intended to make him come to his senses and realize that he must have sinned to suffer his present troubles. They regarded Job’s protestations as an empty defense. What terrible accusations to make against Job, an Ancient Worthy! The comforters were negating Job’s entire previous reputation. They felt that his former prosperity was due to accepting bribes, depriving the poor, and rendering wrong judgments and that all of his property, goods, reputation, etc., were ill-gotten and like fat— blubber—and hence meaningless. They now saw Job in an entirely different light than when they first came with good intentions and supplies.

Job 15:28 And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.

Of course the “he” was Job. Eliphaz continued to lecture, saying hypothetically what happens to the wicked. The implication was, “Job, with all the prosperity you previously had, the time for judgment has now come, and the Lord has taken away your fatness.” Job’s children, cattle, servants, property, reputation, and health—everything—were gone, yet he still professed innocence in proportion to the degree of suffering. Neither Job nor the comforters knew that Satan was behind the trials. And now the Adversary was using the comforters, supplying them with worldly wisdom, to add to Job’s suffering and to try to break him down. When the open opposition of calamities was to no avail, the Adversary tried to break Job with reasoning.

Q: Were Job’s experiences recorded as a historical record of the arguments and false reasoning that have been used against the Lord’s people down through the Gospel Age?

A: Yes, Job is definitely an allegorical picture of the experience of The Christ throughout the Gospel Age. Not a type, the book is an allegory in which certain lessons are taught. The enemy of the Church has been the Adversary throughout its history. The Smyrna era was a period of open opposition by the Adversary against the Church particularly through the civil authority, for clerical opposition was still an underground seed at that time. In the Pergamos and Thyatira periods, clerical opposition came to the fore. The Book of Job does not zero in on the seven periods of the Church but is more of a broad-brush explanation. Satan was an open Adversary in the beginning, but he found that the Church just got stronger with that tactic—it consisted of fewer nominal Christians and more true Christians, even though the latter were small in number, relatively speaking. Then the Adversary joined the Church, becoming a friend or an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). And as with Job, Satan used “comforters” to buffet the true Christian. The three comforters represent unconsecrated nominal Christians, who are filled with worldly wisdom and look upon their prosperity and wealth as being the rewards of righteousness. To the contrary, the New Testament teaches that the rewards of righteousness are persecution, for all who “live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). As a picture of the true Church, Job experienced such persecution. At first, the motive of “comforters” was to reason with the Christian and get him to recant, but as time went on, they got more and more violent, until eventually there came the Inquisition period of the Church with torture. Of course the Book of Job is an allegory and not a type of all the nitty-gritty, but it does correspond to the experiences of the true Church.

Job 15:29 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.

Job 15:30 He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.

Eliphaz was painting a grim picture, for he did not see any return of favor to Job. He was saying, “Job, your current experience is that you shall not depart out of darkness.” He saw nothing but darkness for Job.

“By the breath of his mouth shall he go away”; that is, Job would die. When the last breath leaves, which the Bible refers to as “giving up the spirit,” a person becomes a corpse. At the time of death, one often has a death rattle as he swallows his own spittle. Eliphaz was saying that Job had nothing to look forward to, that all he previously had was gone, and that it was just a matter of time until he expired.

Job 15:31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.

“Vanity” comes from the word “vain.” Eliphaz felt that Job had built all of his hopes on hot air, with nothing of real value or substance. Job had lived his life that way, and he would die that way. Emptiness, the reward of vanity, would be his recompense.

Comment: One translation says, “He should not trust in worthless things and deceive himself because he will get worthless things in return.”

Reply: Yes, the thought is of vain, worthless, and empty things.

Job 15:32 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.

Eliphaz was emphasizing Job’s present circumstance. Job’s “branch” would not return to greenness, and his life would be shortened because of his supposed iniquity.

Job 15:33 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.

Q: The NIV says, “He shall be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.” Is the thought that nothing productive would come forth from the grape vine or the olive tree?

A: Yes. The reference was to Job. Incidentally, how does the grapevine cast off its flower?

According to books, when vines in the Middle East shed their blossoms, the effect is like snow; that is, the blossoms are very prolific in proportion to the fruitage of an olive tree. Stated another way, the shedding of the flowers of the vines is disproportionate to the amount of grapes.

Comment: A vine shakes off its blossoms in a storm. Therefore, the point would be that under adversity, the flowers are lost, and that is what happened to Job. Under adversity, he lost all hope for the future.

Reply: Yes, in the spring, certain fruit trees and vines lose their blossoms in a rainstorm. A judgmental or adversarial wind or experience strips the vine of any prosperous fruit.

Job 15:34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

How unbelievable! Eliphaz was calling Job a hypocrite and accusing him of accepting bribes.

Job 15:35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.

“They [the congregation of hypocrites] … bring forth vanity [or iniquity—KJV margin].” The reasoning Eliphaz used to confront Job was very repetitive.

Comment: Job’s experience was like the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Reply: Certainly Job would have been one of the Little Flock if he had lived in the Gospel Age. “Their belly prepareth deceit.” Now Eliphaz likened Job to being a glutton, saying that Job’s prior reputation was built on corruption, bribery, deceit, and inequity. Despite all the goodness Job had exhibited previously, the three comforters felt that everything he achieved was illconceived and ill-gotten. They looked upon his protestations of innocence as false attempts to justify himself. If God had not intervened and blessed Job eventually, he could not have survived the circumstances of his affliction. It was a miracle that Job’s health was restored as well as his property and goods. And he had more children.

(2001-2003 Study)

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