zo'-far (tsphar, meaning doubtful, supposed from root meaning "to leap"; Sophar):
One of the three friends of Job who, hearing of his affliction, make an appointment together to visit and comfort him. He is from the tribe of Naamah, a tribe and place otherwise unknown, for as all the other friends and Job himself are from lands outside of Palestine, it is not likely that this place was identical with Naamah in the West of Judah (Joshua 15:41). He speaks but twice (Job 11; 20); by his silence the 3rd time the writer seems to intimate that with Bildad's third speech (Job 25; see under BILDAD) the friends' arguments are exhausted. He is the most impetuous and dogmatic of the three (compare Job 11:2,3; 20:2,3); stung to passionate response by Job's presumption in maintaining that he is wronged and is seeking light from God. His words are in a key of intensity amounting to reckless exaggeration. He is the first to accuse Job directly of wickedness; averring indeed that his punishment is too good for him (11:6); he rebukes Job's impious presumption in trying to find out the unsearchable secrets of God (11:7-12); and yet, like the rest of the friends, promises peace and restoration on condition of penitence and putting away iniquity (11:13-19). Even from this promise, however, he reverts to the fearful peril of the wicked (11:20); and in his 2nd speech, outdoing the others, he presses their lurid description of the wicked man's woes to the extreme (20:5-29), and calls forth a straight contradiction from Job, who, not in wrath, but in dismay, is constrained by loyalty to truth to acknowledge things as they are. Zophar seems designed to represent the wrong-headedness of the odium theologicum.
John Franklin Genung
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