Job 15 Study Notes

15:1-3 Eliphaz’s rhetorical questions suggested a negative answer. Unlike a truly wise man, Job’s defense was self-serving and empty. Job displayed his passion like a hot east wind (Hb khamsin, or sirocco; see 1:19), which had entered the depths of his belly.

15:4 Eliphaz suggested that Job’s intemperate attitude had affected his proper reverence for God. How then could Job claim to be wise? Wisdom begins with the fear of God (see Pr 1:7).

15:5-6 Eliphaz believed that Job’s stance against his friends’ counsel was dictated by an underlying iniquity. In defending himself Job used cunning terms to cover his guilt. Yet Job’s words condemned him (9:20).

15:7-10 Eliphaz wanted Job to realize that he had no claim to superior wisdom (12:1-3; 13:1-2). In words bordering on sarcasm, Eliphaz stated that Job had neither priority of birth nor privileged access to the heavenly council (1:6; 2:1). Job should understand that time-tested wisdom, which had been handed down long before Job’s father, was on the side of his friends.

15:11-13 Eliphaz claimed that in his passion Job had thoughtlessly turned his anger against God with excessive language (7:1-2,11-20; 9:14-19; 10:3,17; 13:25-27).

15:14-16 If even angels were not trustworthy (4:18), how much less so mortal man. Man’s basic nature is desperately corrupt.

15:17-19 Eliphaz appealed to his special grasp of traditional wisdom and wide experience (4:8-9,12-21; 5:3-7,27). His experience and understanding were in harmony with the wisdom that came from the early inhabitants of the land. That was a time of pure knowledge when no foreigner was present to bring corrupting influences to bear.

15:20 Job had maintained that God gave no special treatment to the blameless (9:22), but gave control of the earth to the wicked person (9:24; 10:3). Eliphaz agreed with Zophar (11:20) that the wicked lived out their few years in pain. Neither of these polarized views corresponds with reality.

15:21 Dreadful sounds make the wicked person think someone is about to attack him. He is never truly at peace.

15:22 Unlike the righteous person (Ps 23:6; 27:13), the wicked person could look forward only to violent death and judgment (Ps 1:4-6).

15:23 The wicked person, asserts Eliphaz, fears he will become a vagrant.

15:24-25 The wicked person has stretched out his hand against God.

15:26 The term headlong (lit “runs at him with the neck”) portrays the wicked person as having reckless self-confidence.

15:27-29 Metaphorically, fat indicates a person possesses health and wealth (Gn 45:18). It can also carry a negative nuance associated with arrogance (Ps 73:3-7). Both ideas are expressed here.

15:30 As tender shoots wither before a scorching sun or a blasting desert wind, so the wicked will lose everything in God’s judgment (4:8-9; Is 11:4). God’s mouth can be used figuratively as the vehicle of his judgment. His breath represents the ease with which his mighty power accomplishes the deed and is a suitable figure for a desert wind.

15:31 It is worthless to trust in worthless things.

15:32-33 Eliphaz used graphic descriptions of the sudden end of the wicked, whose potential will not be realized (22:15-16; Pr 10:27).

15:34 The unrighteous social practices of the godless wicked (Pr 17:8; Is 5:23; Mc 3:11; 7:3) will profit them nothing (Pr 15:27).

15:35 Rather than achieving their wicked goals, the godless metaphorically bear children named trouble . . . evil, and deception. What they did to others would cause their own downfall. Womb is the same word translated “himself” at the opening of Eliphaz’s speech (see “his belly” in textual footnote at v. 2). Framing or bracketing a section of material in this way is a literary device called inclusio that is often not evident in the English translation.

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