Given below are the chapters from the Book of Job that contain only the words of Job’s 3 friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar). We know from God’s speech at the end of the Book of Job that these claims of Job’s 3 friends are mistaken, seriously so*. Such error is regard to the premises, framing, and conclusion of their arguments, not as to each and every individual statement (verse), which as individual statements may in fact be true. But individual true statements can be, and typically are, used to develop a wrong conclusion. This is actually how effective frauds are created.
Discerning error in premises, framing, or conclusions is not easy, especially when such error arises from a cunning mind.
So, why did God include such extended passages in His Book? Like He has everything else…to teach us something important.
*Job 42:7 After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. (NIV)
A word search of the below texts finds isolated references to “God,” but never as a prayer, as Job does, but always as some force of nature, like gravity. And for Job’s 3 friends, God is something like the force of gravity, but acting both to prosper and harm in accordance with an iron law of “justice.” Never do the 3 friends make reference to the “Lord,” the personal name of God (as translated in the NIV below).
Words of Job’s 3 Friends:
4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?
“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
At the breath of God they perish;
at the blast of his anger they are no more.
The lions may roar and growl,
yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
The lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
“A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people,
fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
so that they die without wisdom?’
5:1 “Call if you will, but who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Resentment kills a fool,
and envy slays the simple.
I myself have seen a fool taking root,
but suddenly his house was cursed.
His children are far from safety,
crushed in court without a defender.
The hungry consume his harvest,
taking it even from among thorns,
and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward.
“But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is secure;
you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
You will know that your children will be many,
and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
You will come to the grave in full vigor,
like sheaves gathered in season.
“We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
Job 5:17 Hebrew Shaddai; here and throughout Job
8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
“How long will you say such things?
Your words are a blustering wind.
Does God pervert justice?
Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
When your children sinned against him,
he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
But if you will seek God earnestly
and plead with the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your prosperous state.
Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be.
“Ask the former generation
and find out what their ancestors learned,
for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,
and our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not instruct you and tell you?
Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?
Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?
Can reeds thrive without water?
While still growing and uncut,
they wither more quickly than grass.
Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
What they trust in is fragile[a];
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.
They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine,
spreading its shoots over the garden;
it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks
and looks for a place among the stones.
But when it is torn from its spot,
that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’
Surely its life withers away,
and[b] from the soil other plants grow.
“Surely God does not reject one who is blameless
or strengthen the hands of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Your enemies will be clothed in shame,
and the tents of the wicked will be no more.”
- Job 8:14 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
Job 8:19 Or Surely all the joy it has / is that
11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
“Are all these words to go unanswered?
Is this talker to be vindicated?
Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
and I am pure in your sight.’
Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
and wider than the sea.
“If he comes along and confines you in prison
and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
Surely he recognizes deceivers;
and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
But the witless can no more become wise
than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.[a]
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
and escape will elude them;
their hope will become a dying gasp.”
Job 11:12 Or wild donkey can be born tame
15:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“Would a wise person answer with empty notions
or fill their belly with the hot east wind?
Would they argue with useless words,
with speeches that have no value?
But you even undermine piety
and hinder devotion to God.
Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.
“Are you the first man ever born?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
Do you listen in on God’s council?
Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
What do you know that we do not know?
What insights do you have that we do not have?
The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,
men even older than your father.
Are God’s consolations not enough for you,
words spoken gently to you?
Why has your heart carried you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
so that you vent your rage against God
and pour out such words from your mouth?
“What are mortals, that they could be pure,
or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?
If God places no trust in his holy ones,
if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,
how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt,
who drink up evil like water!
“Listen to me and I will explain to you;
let me tell you what I have seen,
what the wise have declared,
hiding nothing received from their ancestors
(to whom alone the land was given
when no foreigners moved among them):
All his days the wicked man suffers torment,
the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.
Terrifying sounds fill his ears;
when all seems well, marauders attack him.
He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness;
he is marked for the sword.
He wanders about for food like a vulture;
he knows the day of darkness is at hand.
Distress and anguish fill him with terror;
troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,
because he shakes his fist at God
and vaunts himself against the Almighty,
defiantly charging against him
with a thick, strong shield.
“Though his face is covered with fat
and his waist bulges with flesh,
he will inhabit ruined towns
and houses where no one lives,
houses crumbling to rubble.
He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,
nor will his possessions spread over the land.
He will not escape the darkness;
a flame will wither his shoots,
and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.
Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,
for he will get nothing in return.
Before his time he will wither,
and his branches will not flourish.
He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,
like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.
For the company of the godless will be barren,
and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.
They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;
their womb fashions deceit.”
18:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
“When will you end these speeches?
Be sensible, and then we can talk.
Why are we regarded as cattle
and considered stupid in your sight?
You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
“The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;
the flame of his fire stops burning.
The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out.
The vigor of his step is weakened;
his own schemes throw him down.
His feet thrust him into a net;
he wanders into its mesh.
A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare holds him fast.
A noose is hidden for him on the ground;
a trap lies in his path.
Terrors startle him on every side
and dog his every step.
Calamity is hungry for him;
disaster is ready for him when he falls.
It eats away parts of his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
He is torn from the security of his tent
and marched off to the king of terrors.
Fire resides[a] in his tent;
burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.
His roots dry up below
and his branches wither above.
The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
He is driven from light into the realm of darkness
and is banished from the world.
He has no offspring or descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
People of the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with horror.
Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.”
Job 18:15 Or Nothing he had remains
20:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
“My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.
I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
and my understanding inspires me to reply.
“Surely you know how it has been from of old,
ever since mankind[a] was placed on the earth,
that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.
Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds,
he will perish forever, like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
banished like a vision of the night.
The eye that saw him will not see him again;
his place will look on him no more.
His children must make amends to the poor;
his own hands must give back his wealth.
The youthful vigor that fills his bones
will lie with him in the dust.
“Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
though he cannot bear to let it go
and lets it linger in his mouth,
yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.
He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.
He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.
What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;
he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
“Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure.
Nothing is left for him to devour;
his prosperity will not endure.
In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;
the full force of misery will come upon him.
When he has filled his belly,
God will vent his burning anger against him
and rain down his blows on him.
Though he flees from an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.
He pulls it out of his back,
the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors will come over him;
total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire unfanned will consume him
and devour what is left in his tent.
The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.
A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters[b] on the day of God’s wrath.
Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God.”
- Job 20:4 Or Adam
Job 20:28 Or The possessions in his house will be carried off, / washed away
22:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise person benefit him?
What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
“Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.
That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,
why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.
“Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!
Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?
Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’
Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.
They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?’
Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,
‘Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.’
“Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
25:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
“Dominion and awe belong to God;
he establishes order in the heights of heaven.
Can his forces be numbered?
On whom does his light not rise?
How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?
If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—
a human being, who is only a worm!”
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