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Job 33 Study Notes


33:1-3 Elihu spoke directly to Job from an upright heart (Ps 37:30; Pr 8:7-8). The heart was viewed as the source of thoughts (Ec 2:1,15), feelings (Ps 28:7), and will (Pr 23:12). Elihu’s words would be carefully crafted from his heart (Mt 15:18) and expressed with sincerity (Pr 16:23).

33:4 Elihu’s authority came from his having the same origin as Adam.

33:5 Elihu acted like an attorney in a legal proceeding. After he had stated his case, Job was free to try to refute him with counter arguments.

33:6-7 Although Elihu believed he was representing God in confronting Job, he claimed neither human superiority nor inferiority to Job. Therefore, Job need not fear a heavy-handed approach (13:21). The image of the clay portrays God as the heavenly potter and man as formed from clay (Gn 2:7; Is 64:8; Rm 9:21).

33:8-11 Elihu demonstrated that he had listened carefully to Job’s claims of being pure and innocent (16:17; 23:7,10-12; 27:5-6), as well as being unjustly oppressed by God (10:6-7; 13:26-27; 19:11; 30:18-19).

33:12-13 Elihu reminded Job that as a finite man, he was not in a position to bring accusations against God (Is 55:8). Nor should God be called into court for Job’s every wish (9:3,14-16; 13:2; 18:4).

33:14-17 Job had complained that God might pass by him without his noting it (9:11) and that God had ignored his requests for him to answer (13:24; 19:7; 30:20). Elihu implied that Job had failed to notice God’s speaking to him. Elihu built upon Eliphaz’s words about God instructing him in a nighttime visitation (4:12-19). To uncover the ear is to instruct, inform, or reveal (36:15; Ru 4:4; Is 22:14).

33:18 By the Pit is meant the grave or the state of death (16:10; 17:14). Just as Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the promised land, so the image of the river of death portrays man’s passing from this life into the next. River is the preferred rendering of a Hebrew word that also can be translated as “sword.”

33:19-22 God may also communicate with a person through the discipline of pain. The distress may be so aggravating that a person loses all desire for food. In his severe pain, Job had expressed the fear that death was near (10:18-22; 16:16,22).

33:23-24 Elihu pointed out that the arbitrator Job had longed for between himself and God (9:33; 16:21) was available to bring a person to repentance. Angels often served in this capacity (Gn 48:15-16; Ps 34:6-7). God through his mediating angel supplies grace to ransom and deliver the repentant and surrendered person from death (Ex 14:19-20; Jb 17:3; Ps 49:7-9). In a deeper sense, such a work anticipates God’s full revelation in Christ (2Co 5:18-19; Heb 9:12). Alternatively, the word translated angel may also be rendered as “messenger” (Jdg 11:13; 1Kg 20:2-10; Mal 2:7). Elihu may have sensed that he was serving as God’s messenger to bring about Job’s reconciliation with God (Jb 33:6-7).

33:25-28 The result of the angel’s work is given here. There will be physical and spiritual restoration, including repentance.

33:29-30 God’s offer to reclaim the sinner may be extended several times, but his grace should not be spurned continually (Jl 2:14; Heb 6:4-6).

33:31-33 Elihu asked for Job’s further attention (vv. 1-5) while he developed his teaching. Job should interrupt only if he had something significant to add.