The first and most prominent of the three friends of Job (Job 2:11), who come from distant places to condole with and comfort him, when they hear of his affliction.
That he is to be regarded as their leader and spokesman is shown by the greater weight and originality of his speeches (contained in Job 4; Job 5; Job 15; Job 22), the speeches of the other friends being in fact largely echoes and emotional enforcements of his thoughts, and by the fact that he is taken as their representative (Job 42:7) when, after the address from the whirlwind, Yahweh appoints their expiation for the wrong done to Job and to the truth.
He is represented as a venerable and benignant sage from Teman in Idumaea, a place noted for its wisdom (compare
Jeremiah 49:7), as was also the whole land of Edom (compare Obadiah 1:8); and doubtless it is the writer's design to make his words typical of the best wisdom of the world. This wisdom is the result of ages of thought and experience (compare
Job 15:17-19), of long and ripened study (compare Job 5:27), and claims the authority of revelation, though only revelation of a secondary kind (compare Eliphaz' vision, Job 4:12, and his challenge to Job to obtain the like,
In his first speech he deduces Job's affliction from the natural sequence of effect from cause (Job 4:7-11), which cause he makes broad enough to include innate impurity and depravity (Job 4:17-19); evinces a quietism which deprecates Job's selfdestroying outbursts of wrath (Job 5:2,3; compare Job's answer,Job 6:2,3; 30:24); and promises restoration as the result of penitence and submission. In his second speech he is irritated because Job's blasphemous words are calculated to hinder devotion (Job 15:4), attributes them to iniquity (Job 15:5,6), reiterates his depravity doctrine (Job 15:14-16), and initiates the lurid descriptions of the wicked man's fate, in which the friends go on to overstate their case (Job 15:20-35). In the third speech he is moved by the exigencies of his theory to impute actual frauds and crimes to Job, iniquities indulged in because God was too far away to see (22:5-15); but as a close holds open to him still the way of penitence, abjuring of iniquity, and restoration to health and wealth (22:21-30). His utterances are well composed and judicial (too coldly academic, Job thinks, 16:4,5), full of good religious counsel abstractly considered.
Their error is in their inveterate presupposition of Job's wickedness, their unsympathetic clinging to theory in the face of fact, and the suppressing of the human promptings of friendship.
John Franklin Genung