The First Controversy: Eliphaz’s Argument

Job 4-7

Highlights from this Passage

  • Eliphaz reprehends Job of impatience, injustice, and the presumption of his own righteousness.
  • Eliphaz shows the difference between the children of God and the wicked. 
  • Job answers that his pain is more grievous than his fault. He wishes for death and complains about his friends.
  • Job shows the shortness and misery of life.

†††††††

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered,

“If someone ventures to talk with you, will you be grieved?
    But who can withhold himself from speaking?
Behold, you have instructed many,
    you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have supported him who was falling,
    You have made the feeble knees firm.
But now it has come to you, and you faint.
    It touches you, and you are troubled.
Isn’t your piety your confidence?
    Isn’t the integrity of your ways your hope?

“Remember, now, whoever perished, being innocent?
    Or where were the upright cut off?
According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity,
    and sow trouble,
    reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish.
    By the blast of his anger are they consumed.
The roaring of the lion,
    and the voice of the fierce lion,
    the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
The old lion perishes for lack of prey.
    The cubs of the lioness are scattered abroad.

“Now a thing was secretly brought to me.
    My ear received a whisper of it.
In thoughts from the visions of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on men,
fear came on me, and trembling,
    which made all my bones shake.
Then a spirit passed before my face.
    The hair of my flesh stood up.
It stood still, but I couldn’t discern its appearance.
    A form was before my eyes.
    Silence, then I heard a voice, saying,
‘Shall mortal man be more just than God?
    Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?
Behold, he puts no trust in his servants.
    He charges his angels with error.
How much more, those who dwell in houses of clay,
    whose foundation is in the dust,
    who are crushed before the moth!
Between morning and evening they are destroyed.
    They perish forever without any regarding it.
Isn’t their tent cord plucked up within them?
    They die, and that without wisdom.’

“Call now; is there any who will answer you?
    To which of the holy ones will you turn?
For resentment kills the foolish man,
    and jealousy kills the simple.
I have seen the foolish taking root,
    but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
His children are far from safety.
    They are crushed in the gate.
    Neither is there any to deliver them,
whose harvest the hungry eats up,
    and take it even out of the thorns.
    The snare gapes for their substance.
For affliction doesn’t come out of the dust,
    neither does trouble spring out of the ground;
but man is born to trouble,
    as the sparks fly upward.

“But as for me, I would seek God.
    I would commit my cause to God,
who does great things that can’t be fathomed,
    marvelous things without number;
who gives rain on the earth,
    and sends waters on the fields;
so that he sets up on high those who are low,
    those who mourn are exalted to safety.
He frustrates the plans of the crafty,
    So that their hands can’t perform their enterprise.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
    the counsel of the cunning is carried headlong.
They meet with darkness in the day time,
    and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves from the sword of their mouth,
    even the needy from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor has hope,
    and injustice shuts her mouth.

“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects.
    Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
For he wounds and binds up.
    He injures and his hands make whole.
He will deliver you in six troubles;
    yes, in seven no evil will touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death;
    in war, from the power of the sword.
You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
    neither will you be afraid of destruction when it comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
    neither will you be afraid of the animals of the earth.
For you will be allied with the stones of the field.
    The animals of the field will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is in peace.
    You will visit your fold, and will miss nothing.
You will know also that your offspring will be great,
    Your offspring as the grass of the earth.
You will come to your grave in a full age,
    like a shock of grain comes in its season.
Look at this. We have searched it. It is so.
    Hear it, and know it for your good.”

Then Job answered,

“Oh that my anguish were weighed,
    and all my calamity laid in the balances!
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the seas,
    therefore my words have been rash.
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me.
    My spirit drinks up their poison.
The terrors of God set themselves in array against me.
    Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass?
Or does the ox low over his fodder?
    Can that which has no flavor be eaten without salt?
Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
    My soul refuses to touch them.
They are as loathsome food to me.

“Oh that I might have my request,
    that God would grant the thing that I long for,
even that it would please God to crush me;
    that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Let it still be my consolation,
    yes, let me exult in pain that doesn’t spare,
    that I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
    What is my end, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones?
    Or is my flesh of bronze?
Isn’t it that I have no help in me,
    that wisdom is driven away from me?

“To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown from his friend;
    even to him who forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
My brothers have dealt deceitfully as a brook,
    as the channel of brooks that pass away;
Which are black by reason of the ice,
    in which the snow hides itself.
In the dry season, they vanish.
    When it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.
The caravans that travel beside them turn away.
    They go up into the waste, and perish.
The caravans of Tema looked.
    The companies of Sheba waited for them.
They were distressed because they were confident.
    They came there, and were confounded.
For now you are nothing.
    You see a terror, and are afraid.
Did I say, ‘Give to me?’
    or, ‘Offer a present for me from your substance?’
or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary’s hand?’
    or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors?’

“Teach me, and I will hold my peace.
    Cause me to understand my error.
How forcible are words of uprightness!
    But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Do you intend to reprove words,
    since the speeches of one who is desperate are as wind?
Yes, you would even cast lots for the fatherless,
    and make merchandise of your friend.
Now therefore be pleased to look at me,
    for surely I will not lie to your face.
Please return.
    Let there be no injustice.
    Yes, return again.
    My cause is righteous.
Is there injustice on my tongue?
    Can’t my taste discern mischievous things?

“Isn’t a man forced to labor on earth?
    Aren’t his days like the days of a hired hand?
As a servant who earnestly desires the shadow,
    as a hireling who looks for his wages,
so I am made to possess months of misery,
    wearisome nights are appointed to me.
When I lie down, I say,
    ‘When will I arise, and the night be gone?’
    I toss and turn until the dawning of the day.
My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust.
    My skin closes up, and breaks out afresh.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
    and are spent without hope.
Oh remember that my life is a breath.
    My eye will no more see good.
The eye of him who sees me will see me no more.
    Your eyes will be on me, but I will not be.
As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away,
    so he who goes down to Sheol will come up no more.
He will return no more to his house,
    neither will his place know him any more.

“Therefore I will not keep silent.
    I will speak in the anguish of my spirit.
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Am I a sea, or a sea monster,
    that you put a guard over me?
When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me.
    My couch will ease my complaint;’
then you scare me with dreams,
    and terrify me through visions:
so that my soul chooses strangling,
    death rather than my bones.
I loathe my life.
    I don’t want to live forever.
    Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath.
What is man, that you should magnify him,
    that you should set your mind on him,
that you should visit him every morning,
    and test him every moment?
How long will you not look away from me,
    nor leave me alone until I swallow down my spittle?
If I have sinned, what do I do to you, you watcher of men?
    Why have you set me as a mark for you,
    so that I am a burden to myself?
Why do you not pardon my disobedience, and take away my iniquity?
    For now will I lie down in the dust.
    You will seek me diligently, but I will not be.”

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