The Book of Job


 The Great Debate: First Cycle Of Speeches (4-14)


1) To examine the counsel of Job's friends, what their observation were, and upon what they based their conclusions regarding Job's suffering

2) To consider Job's response to his friends, how he took their  "advice", and how he continued to vent his complaint over his suffering


                    Following Job's outburst in which he cursed the day of his birth and wondered why those who long for death continue to live, his three  friends begin offering their counsel.  Eliphaz the Temanite starts with expressing his view that the innocent don't suffer, the wicked do.  As support for his position, he refers to a vision that he had. Chastening Job, Eliphaz then directs Job to seek God's forgiveness, reminding him of the blessings that would come if Job repented (4:1-5:22).  Job defends his rash words as being prompted by his grief, and again expresses his desire for death.  Reproaching his friends as being a "deceitful brook", he challenges them to show him where he has sinned.  He then resumes his complaint, asking God a multitude of  questions (6:1-7:21).

                    Bildad the Shuhite now steps in and rebukes Job for his strong words.  Maintaining that God is just, he implies that Job's sons died because of their own transgressions, and if Job were only pure and upright he would be blessed by God.  Appealing to wisdom of the ancients, he  contends the wicked are without support, and that God will not cast  away the blameless.  If Job would only repent, God would fill him once again with laughter and rejoicing (8:1-22).  Job basically agrees, but wonders who can really be righteous in God's sight in view of His  wisdom and strength.  He then complains of God's inaccessibility, and  maintains his own integrity while concluding that God destroys the  blameless along with the wicked.  Feeling hopeless, Job bemoans the  lack of a mediator between him and God.  Once again, he gives free  course to his complaint as he lashes out with more questions directed toward God (9:1-10:22).

                    Finally, Zophar the Naamathite enters the dialogue with his own rebuke of Job for his rash words.  Indicating that Job has actually received less suffering than he deserves, he reproaches Job trying to search out the deep things of God.  Instead, Job should be putting away iniquity  and wickedness, for then he would abide in brightness, security and  hope (11:1-20).  In response, Job chides his friends for their attempt to impart wisdom but succeeding only in mocking him.  Affirming the wisdom of God, Job says the advice of his friends has been of little help.  He calls them "forgers of lies" and "worthless physicians" who have only given him "proverbs of ashes" and "defenses of clay". Confident of his own integrity, Job again expresses his desire to speak with God to ask Him what he has done to deserve such suffering.  Once again despairing of hope, he longs for death (12:1-14:22).


1:1 - 2:13
Prologue (The Legend)
Yahweh and Satan wager; Satan inflicts (God allows) evil/suffering
1:1 - 5

Narrative Introduction to Job
Yahweh proclaims Job His most righteous man – God-fearing and free from sin – essentially provoking Satan (the Accuser; the Adversary)
1:6 - 12

First Scene in Heaven
Yahweh and Satan (or Job’s adversary?) wager to prove Job’s righteousness, that is, to discern whether Job is purely pious, uninterested in reward or blessing (“Just don’t lay a hand on him.”)
1:13 - 22

Job's First Test and Its Outcome
Job suffers loss of prosperity/possessions (oxen, asses, herdsmen; sheep, shepherds; camels, camel drivers) and children, but remains righteous
2:1 - 7a

Second Scene in Heaven
Yahweh and Satan make a more pointed wager – to strike Job bodily (“Just don’t kill him.”)
2:7b - 10

Job's Second Test and Its Outcome
Deepening calamity – Job suffers loss of personal health (“skin for skin” – skin ulcers, leprosy; skin is stripped away; ritualistically symbolic); wife speaks; Job makes ambiguous response but remains patient
2:11 - 13

Narrative Conclusion
Narrator introduces Job's friends and alludes to Job’s growing pain/suffering; Job and friends wait seven days and nights in silence (meditating/reflecting?)

3 - 14
First Round of Discourses
Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

Job's Cry of Pain (or Job’s Lament)
"To Have Been or not to Have Been" – Job looks at the miseries of man’s life and regrets the day he was born (Did seven days alter Job’s consciousness/psyche?)
4 - 5

Eliphaz's First Speech
"Remember the Consolation You Have Given Others" – Eliphaz charges Job with impatience and notes suffering results from sinfulness
6 - 7

Job's Response to Eliphaz
Job maintains his innocence, complains of his friends, declares the miseries of man’s life, and addresses God

Bildad's First Speech
"Trust the Tradition of the Ancestors" – Bildad defends God’s justice, accuses Job, and exhorts him to return to God
9 - 10

Job's Response to Bildad
Job seeks common ground with God in law and workshop, acknowledges God’s justice (though He often afflicts the innocent), laments, and begs delivery

Zophar's First Speech
On the hidden depths of divine wisdom – Zophar reproves Job for justifying himself and invites him to repent
12 - 14

Job's Response to Zophar
Job extols God’s power and wisdom, maintains his innocence, reproves his friends, declares the days of man short, and talks of afterlife – does it exist?

15 - 21
Second Round of Discourses
Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

Eliphaz's Second Speech
Response to Job challenging his implied standpoint – Eliphaz returns to the charge of sinfulness against Job and describes the wretched state of the wicked
16 - 17

Job's Response to Eliphaz II
On comfort, witness, and the energy of hope – Job appeals to the judgment of God, again proclaims his innocence and hope in God, expects rest in death

Bildad's Second Speech
The place of the wicked in a moral universe – Bildad again reproves Job and describes the miseries of the wicked

Job's Response to Bildad II
A sense of kinship beyond a sense of total abandonment – Job complains of his friends’ cruelty, describes his sufferings, and looks to judgment and vindication by God, but wants it in this life (“while still in my flesh”)

Zophar's Second Speech
The portion of the wicked in a moral universe – Zophar declares the shortness of the prosperity of the wicked and their sudden downfall

Job's Response to Zophar II
The true horror of the fate of the wicked – Job shows that the wicked often prosper in this world, even to the end, wants them – not their sons – judged!

22 - 27
Third Round of Discourses
Job, Eliphaz, Bildad (possibly Zophar); dialogue begins to break down

Eliphaz's Third Speech
Response to Job, direct attack, and renewed appeal for submission – Eliphaz falsely imputes many crimes to Job, but promises him prosperity if he repents
23 - 24

Job's Response to Eliphaz III
A search for Yahweh in space and time – Job wishes to be tried at God’s tribunal and talks of God’s providence and the ways of the wicked; speaks again of injustice and prays for “direct” justice for the wicked

Bildad's Third Speech
The dialogue begins breaking down – Bildad proclaims God’s justice before whom no man can be justified (in five short verses)
26 - 27

Job's Response to Bildad III (possibly Zophar III around 27:8)
Job declares his view of the wisdom and power of God, asserts again his own innocence; and notes that hypocrites will be punished in the end (or is this Zophar III at 27 or 27:8?); talk is of eventual justice (on descendents, widows)

28 - 31
Job’s monologue, dramatic reflections

A Meditation on Wisdom
The inaccessibility of Wisdom (is this Job?) – Man’s industry searches for many answers, but true wisdom is taught by God alone

Job Begins His Summation
For the defense:  Recollection of things past; total harmony w/ Yahweh – Job relates his former happiness and the respect that all men showed him

More Summation
Recognition of things present; total God-forsakenness – Job shows the wonderful change of his temporal estate, from welfare to great calamity

A Final Oath
Total integrity – Job, to defend himself from the unjust judgments of his friends, gives a sincere account of his own virtues, and brings his words to an end

32 – 37
A Voice for Yahweh
Elihu’s Speech; some translations choose to leave out (as if not original with rest of story/drama)
32:1 – 37:24

Elihu Speaks as Prophet (Mediator?) – Perhaps moves emphasis from justice to wisdom? Or to what?  Prepares the way for Yahweh’s appearance?
The sudden appearance of Elihu as inspired (brash?) young prophet – angry at Job for seeking (and questioning God’s) justice; angry at friends for condemning Job; blames Job for asserting his own innocence; reminds Job that God is greater than man; charges Job with blasphemy; sets forth the power and justice of God; declares that the good or evil done by man cannot reach God, but God will look into the causes of each; shows God’s wisdom and power by His wonderful works; speaks of representative/advocate for man to God at 33:23; notions of justice, wisdom, irrationality/randomness of justice?  “wise of heart” cannot perceive God

38:1 - 42:6
Job Gets His Trial
Yahweh makes his case and Job responds
38:1 - 40:2

Yahweh's First Speech or Interrogation
The voice from the Whirlwind – God interposes and shows from the things He hath made that man cannot comprehend His power and wisdom
40:3 – 5

Job's Response to Yahweh
Job submits (or repents, a more Christian notion).  N.B.:  these verses go missing from the Latin Vulgate, Aquinas’s translation for his exposition on Job
40:6 - 41:34

Yahweh's Second Speech or Interrogation
God (unsatisfied with Job’s first response?) initially confronts Job about his assertions regarding divine justice and God’s apathy and uninvolvement in the world; then God boasts of His power in the behemoth and the leviathan (hippopotamus and crocodile) – the first of all his creations, even before man
42:1 – 6

Job's Response to Yahweh II
Job's second submission (or repentance again, in most Christian translations); speaks this time of understanding, knowing, seeing; Does he indicate he understands?  Has Job finally encountered/achieved wisdom?  Has God?  What does this “ending” imply for Job’s consciousness?  For God’s?

42:7 – 17
Order and freedom in felicity
42:7 - 10a

Yahweh's Response to the (3) Friends (Where’s Elihu?)
Job's last test – God reprimands Eliphaz and his two friends (Bildad and Zophar), telling them to sacrifice through Job so that God might accept Job’s prayer
42:10b - 17

Restoration and More
Happy ever after? – God gives Job twice as much as before; (returns?) seven sons and three daughters; daughters (not sons) are named and given status equal to sons (meaning anything?); Job lives a long, happy life

Sources:  Compiled from Alden, Aquinas (Exposition on Job), ben Joseph (Book of Theodicy), Janzen, Mitchell (The Book of Job), Sacks (Book of Job with Commentary), Wharton, the Holy Bible (Douay Version), the Tanakh (JPS translation), St. John’s College “C.G. Jung” preceptorial dialogues (Summer 2007)

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