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1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than Elohim.
Elihu's anger was a righteous anger. He was angry that Job justified himself rather than Yahweh (Job 32:2), He was angry with Job's friends because they failed to prove these accusations against Job, misinterpreted his situation, yet condemned him. Thus, Elihu corrects Job in justifying himself, and in claiming that he is sinless (Job 33); condemns Job's three friends, elevates Yahweh and emphasizes His greatness.
"My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God." (34:36)
Does Elihu desire that Job be tried to the utmost, even to death, as some interpret this verse? Let us examine the sayings of Job and the sayings of Elihu to determine what the truth is behind this verse.
Let me first begin, though, that the book of Job opens with an Adversary alleging that Job lives righteously and fears God only because God protects and prospers him.
' And Yahweh said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth Elohim, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered Yahweh, and said, Doth Job fear Elohim for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (1: 8-11)
And Yahweh said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth Elohim, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
He implied that Job served God for something, i.e., some reward. The Adversary's accusation was directed toward both God's justice and Job's righteousness. The Adversary basically asked the question: "Is it love, or is it self-serving that motivates a person to be righteous, to fear God, and to separate from sin." The Adversary wrongly assumed that since God protected and blessed Job, greed was the foundation of Job's righteousness, rather than a personal intimate relationship based on love, trust, and fear of God.
Job's three friends, Zophar, Eliphaz and Bildad claimed that God punishes only the wicked, but blesses the good. Their theological belief stated that if something bad happened to someone, it must be because they did something bad, if something good happens, it must be because they did something good. They, thus, tried to get Job to admit that he did something wrong and intensified their pressure on him. Unknowingly, they upheld the Adversary's philosophy!
Job also shared this view, that the world is based on reward good and punish evil, but now found inconsistencies in the application of this doctrine. They did not understand that God allowed and arranged suffering for purposes other than retribution. Eventually, they stopped reasoning with Job because Job "was righteous in his own eyes"(Job 32:1), and Elihu enters the picture. Interestingly, Elihu is the only one with the Hebrew name meaning:"My God is He." The name Elijah means: "My God is Yahweh." How similar!
While Job's friends claimed Job suffered because he was sinning, Elihu said Job was sinning because he was suffering! Elihu showed that God used suffering to benefit people, to deliver them from staying in their graves (Job 33:17-19,28,30), and that Job humble himself before God (Job 33:27; Job 36:21; Job 37:24)! Elihu argued God is not unjust (Job 34:10-12,21-28); God is neither uncaring (Job 35:15), nor powerless to act on behalf of His people (Job 36 - 37).
Elihu presented a totally different perspective on suffering. He showed Job and his friends their quid pro quo premise for suffering was wrong, he showed them that suffering is to bring us closer to God, he showed them that God is sovereign and in control of all our affairs, and showed them God does reward the righteous based only on His love, His mercy, and His grace!
Elihu, by bringing the right perspective, clarity, empathy, compassion, and giving concrete help, unlike Job's friends, his speech was a prelude to God's own speech. Elihu was angry with Job because he justified himself and not God, Job accused God of being his enemy and unjust, and Elihu was also angry with Job's friends because they spoke falsely and offered no true and concrete answers (Job 32:2-3).
So what did Elihu mean when he said: "My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end"? End is the Greek word netsach, # <5331>, and means:" a goal, i.e. the bright object at a distance traveled towards..." In other words, Elihu was saying that Job be brought to the trial's conclusion to its intended end or goal! Job 34:36 is given in the context of verses 34:31-35,37.
'Surely it is meet to be said unto Elohim, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest. Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me. Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom'.
Consider the words of James 5:11:
"Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
God's purpose in disciplining is not simply punitive, but to save -
"To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living" (Job 33:30).
Elihu spoke correctly; Job's three friends spoke incorrectly in that God only punishes the wicked. Job's friends are rebuked by God, but not Elihu (Job 42:7-17). Job prays for his friends that they obtain forgiveness, but not for Elihu because he was right. The bulk of Elihu's speech focused on God's justice, ascribing righteousness, graciousness, and majesty to God and for Job to stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. God was not Job's enemy and God was not unjust as Job charged...
' Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that Elohim is greater than man. (Job 33:8-12)
and Elihu condemns (Job 35).
Does then Elihu's speech fit that of the Adversary of Job 1:6-11? Certainly not!
Sis Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA]
8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
A Marvel of Literary Construction.
The Bible is a marvel of literary construction. Its own writers did not form and fashion it in its present completed shape. Yet it is not a mere mechanical arrangement of records - a bundle of documents fortuitously combined by the successors or survivors of the original writers.
The Old Testament is not the wreckage of Hebrew literature which has happened to escape submersion beneath the waves of a perilous antiquity, and to be washed up on the shores of historical time.
The New Testament is not a collection of the relics of Christian writings of the first century of our era, which has had the good fortune not to be destroyed. The Bible is a harmonious system of books, in which each book bears its due relation to the other books, and all the books are compacted together in one symmetric whole.
As when each workman in some grand cathedral builds his own particular portion of the edifice, ignorant of the complete design, content simply to do his part in reliance upon the skill of the presiding architect, and all the workmen have died and their posterity have removed the scaffolding, at length the splendid unity of the building stands out harmoniously complete - so each writer of Holy Scripture penned his part, unconscious of its exact adjustment to the whole; until when all the writers were dead, the entire volume shone forth in faultless and unsuspected unity.
The Christadelphian, March 1896. p96