A painting of Job and his friends by Gerald Seghers.

The Second Controversy: Eliphaz Begins the Second Argument

Job 15-17

Highlights from this Passage

  • Eliphaz reprehends Job, because he ascribes wisdom and pureness to himself.
  • Eliphaz describes the curse that falls on the wicked, reckoning Job to be one of the number.
  • Job reaffirms his innocence and calls his friends “miserable comforters.”


Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered,

“Should a wise man answer with vain knowledge,
    and fill himself with the east wind?
Should he reason with unprofitable talk,
    or with speeches with which he can do no good?
Yes, you do away with fear,
    and hinder devotion before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
    and you choose the language of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, and not I.
    Yes, your own lips testify against you.

“Are you the first man who was born?
    Or were you brought out before the hills?
Have you heard the secret counsel of God?
    Do you limit wisdom to yourself?
What do you know that we don’t know?
    What do you understand which is not in us?
With us are both the gray-headed and the very aged men,
    much older than your father.
Are the consolations of God too small for you,
    even the word that is gentle toward you?
Why does your heart carry you away?
    Why do your eyes flash,
that you turn your spirit against God,
    and let such words go out of your mouth?
What is man, that he should be clean?
    What is he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
Behold, he puts no trust in his holy ones.
    Yes, the heavens are not clean in his sight;
how much less one who is abominable and corrupt,
    a man who drinks iniquity like water!

“I will show you, listen to me;
    that which I have seen I will declare
(which wise men have told by their fathers,
    and have not hidden it;
to whom alone the land was given,
    and no stranger passed among them):
the wicked man writhes in pain all his days,
    even the number of years that are laid up for the oppressor.
A sound of terrors is in his ears.
    In prosperity the destroyer will come on him.
He doesn’t believe that he will return out of darkness.
    He is waited for by the sword.
He wanders abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’
    He knows that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.
Distress and anguish make him afraid.
    They prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.
Because he has stretched out his hand against God,
    and behaves himself proudly against the Almighty,
he runs at him with a stiff neck,
    with the thick shields of his bucklers,
because he has covered his face with his fatness,
    and gathered fat on his thighs.
He has lived in desolate cities,
    in houses which no one inhabited,
    which were ready to become heaps.
He will not be rich, neither will his substance continue,
    neither will their possessions be extended on the earth.
He will not depart out of darkness.
    The flame will dry up his branches.
    He will go away by the breath of God’s mouth.
Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself;
    for emptiness will be his reward.
It will be accomplished before his time.
    His branch will not be green.
He will shake off his unripe grape as the vine,
    and will cast off his flower as the olive tree.
For the company of the godless will be barren,
    and fire will consume the tents of bribery.
They conceive mischief and produce iniquity.
    Their heart prepares deceit.”

Then Job answered,

“I have heard many such things.
    You are all miserable comforters!
Shall vain words have an end?
    Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do.
    If your soul were in my soul’s place,
    I could join words together against you,
    and shake my head at you,
but I would strengthen you with my mouth.
    The solace of my lips would relieve you.

“Though I speak, my grief is not subsided.
    Though I forbear, what am I eased?
But now, God, you have surely worn me out.
    You have made all my company desolate.
You have shriveled me up. This is a witness against me.
    My leanness rises up against me.
    It testifies to my face.
He has torn me in his wrath and persecuted me.
    He has gnashed on me with his teeth.
    My adversary sharpens his eyes on me.
They have gaped on me with their mouth.
    They have struck me on the cheek reproachfully.
    They gather themselves together against me.
God delivers me to the ungodly,
    and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, and he broke me apart.
    Yes, he has taken me by the neck, and dashed me to pieces.
    He has also set me up for his target.
His archers surround me.
    He splits my kidneys apart, and does not spare.
    He pours out my bile on the ground.
He breaks me with breach on breach.
    He runs at me like a giant.
I have sewed sackcloth on my skin,
    and have thrust my horn in the dust.
My face is red with weeping.
    Deep darkness is on my eyelids,
although there is no violence in my hands,
    and my prayer is pure.

“Earth, don’t cover my blood.
    Let my cry have no place to rest.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven.
    He who vouches for me is on high.
My friends scoff at me.
    My eyes pour out tears to God,
that he would maintain the right of a man with God,
    of a son of man with his neighbor!
For when a few years have come,
    I will go the way of no return.

“My spirit is consumed.
    My days are extinct,
    and the grave is ready for me.
Surely there are mockers with me.
    My eye dwells on their provocation.

“Now give a pledge. Be collateral for me with yourself.
    Who is there who will strike hands with me?
For you have hidden their heart from understanding,
    Therefore you will not exalt them.
He who denounces his friends for plunder,
    Even the eyes of his children will fail.

“But he has made me a byword of the people.
    They spit in my face.
My eye also is dim by reason of sorrow.
    All my members are as a shadow.
Upright men will be astonished at this.
    The innocent will stir himself up against the godless.
Yet the righteous will hold to his way.
    He who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.
But as for you all, come back.
    I will not find a wise man among you.
My days are past.
    My plans are broken off,
    as are the thoughts of my heart.
They change the night into day,
    saying ‘The light is near’ in the presence of darkness.
If I look for Sheol as my house,
    if I have spread my couch in the darkness,
if I have said to corruption, ‘You are my father;’
    to the worm, ‘My mother,’ and ‘My sister,’
where then is my hope?
    As for my hope, who will see it?
Shall it go down with me to the gates of Sheol,
    or descend together into the dust?”

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