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Robert Alden: They started as friends, but before the debates were over, Job used less-than-friendly words to describe them. Throughout this commentary these three will be called “friends” because that is the word in the text at this point. Though not an ideal term, it certainly is better than “comforters” (cf. 16:2). These three probably were wealthy sheiks like Job. They had the time to talk for what may have been several months with their suffering comrade. Nothing is told about their families or stations in life. They seem to have come from a distance, yet they apparently spoke the same language and drew their illustrations and observations from the same common pool of experiences that Job had.

Tremper Longman: the accuser is not satisfied with the results of the first test and so presses for a second round. In the previous round, God had forbidden the accuser to touch Job personally. He could remove from him the things in which he found joy, his wealth and his children, but the accuser could not harm Job physically. The accuser now argues that God had not yet challenged Job’s piety. His very cynical view is that people only really, deep down, care about themselves. That is the explicit meaning of 2:4b, “People will give all they have for their life,” and is probably the meaning of the enigmatic expression that precedes it, “Skin for skin.” In other words, v. 4b explicates the meaning of what is probably a proverbial saying whose exact sense is lost to us.

The accuser then suggests that harming Job will lead him to fail the test (“curse you [God] to your face”). God accepts the challenge, giving permission to harm Job, only restricting the accuser from killing him. The latter would, in any case, render the test moot, since a dead Job could not bless or curse God.

Derek Kidner: Suffering is part of what we may expect in the Christian life. Job received what he did not want and wished for that which he did not get. That is what suffering essentially is. What happened to Job can, and does, happen to every Christian in some form or another, for to some degree we all experience loss, hurt, pain, grief, weakness, rejection, injustice, disappointment, discouragement, frustration, ridicule, cruelty, anger and ill-treatment. There are moments in our lives when we are exposed to things that have the effect of making us want to run away.

David Thompson: We may be certain that Satan knows which buttons to press in an attempt to get people to turn from God and His Word. He has done this and succeeded time and time again. Sometimes he will use some former struggle or sin to lure one away from God. Sometimes he will use some person or relationship to turn one away from God. Sometimes he will use some financial or emotional crisis to get one to turn from God, or he may use a physical crisis to lure one away from God.

When it came to Job, Satan threw everything at him that he could throw. He came at him from every angle and he didn’t strike once. His multiple attacks came fast and furious.

When Job was going through all of this he had absolutely no idea why. This is a key point for us to realize. When we are going through difficulties we will not be able to figure it all out. We have no idea what is taking place behind the scenes. We don’t know how Satan is working or what is going on between Satan and God. All we can do is trust God and continue to worship God.


A. Presence of Sons of God

“Again there was a day when the sons of God

came to present themselves before the LORD,”

B. Presence of Satan

“and Satan also came among them

to present himself before the LORD.”

David Clines: This fourth scene of the prologue is modeled very closely upon the second, with much verbal repetition. The doubling heightens the dramatic expectations, for the hearer or reader, in the process of realizing that a scene is being repeated, becomes at the same moment more alert for the novelties in the second presentation.


A. (:2-3) Repetition of the Lord’s Two Questions to Satan

1. (:2) Regarding the Activity of Satan – Pursuing the Righteous

“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth, and walking around on it.’”

2. (:3) Regarding the Activity of Job – Passing the Test

“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause.’”

John Hartley: Yahweh then boldly charged the Satan: yet you incite me against him to ruin him without cause. The word incite (Heb. sûṯ) means to allure or stir someone to a course of action that he would not normally take. In this case Yahweh conceded that the Satan had persuaded him to act toward Job contrary to Job’s just desert. With these words Yahweh accepted full responsibility for Job’s plight. He would not concede any of his authority to the Satan. This point is crucial, for in the dialogue Job will seek deliverance from Yahweh alone and rightly so, for he has no battle with the Satan. This statement also explains why the Satan does not reappear in the epilogue. Yahweh himself feels obliged to resolve the conflict for Job.

David Thompson: The picture of “holding fast” to integrity is one in Hebrew of guarding one’s integrity by holding tightly or to be strongly bound to it (Gesenius, p. 269). The “Hiphil” stem of the verb means to get possession or grab something you didn’t once have and then bind yourself tightly to it (Ibid., p. 270). The word “integrity” is one that means to be whole and upright, to maintain one’s full spirituality (Ibid., p. 866). His integrity meant that he was consistent and constant in his focus on God even when under attack.

Job had been severely attacked by Satan; but instead of crumbling and blaming God and shaking his fist at God, he grabbed tightly to a full and deeper spirituality and maintained his complete integrity. God said that Satan had incited Him to “ruin him without cause.” What this means is that God had permitted this to happen to Job when Job had done nothing wrong in life to deserve this. Job stayed true to his commitment to the Lord. As Robert Alden said, “Job did not tarnish his perfect record” (Job, p. 64).

Now in my opinion, all of us have probably done and said things that would merit God to let us be ruined. But in His amazing grace He does not let it happen. Have you ever known any rebellious believer who has ever suffered like this? This is big time suffering about to hit the most faithful man on this earth. If you find that you are hit with negatives and you do deserve them, learn the lesson, repent and get it right with God and the negatives will leave. On the other hand, if you are hit with negatives and you don’t deserve them, maintain your integrity, keep reverencing and worshipping God, and watch and see what God will do.

B. (:4-6) Response of Satan

1. (:4) Cynicism of Satan

“And Satan answered the LORD and said,

‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.’”

David Clines: But Job’s maintaining his piety could have a more unhappy meaning: it could signify that the trial had not been severe enough. Indeed, it has been settled that deprivation of his material possessions and of his children has not shaken his piety; but suppose that “prosperity” includes physical and mental health; what then? The fact is that once the question of the causal nexus between piety and prosperity has been raised, it must be probed to the utmost extent.

David Atkinson: ‘Skin for skin!’ This is a very difficult verse to understand, but possibly means: ‘What we have done so far is just skin deep; we have only scratched the surface. Touch his own life – his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face’ (2:5).

Roy Zuck: “Skin for skin” was a proverbial saying, possibly about bartering or trading animal skins. Satan insinuated that Job had willingly traded the skins (lives) of his own children because in return God had given him his own skin (life). This again implied that Job was selfish.

2. (:5) Challenge of Satan

“However, put forth Thy hand, now, and touch his bone and his flesh;

he will curse Thee to Thy face.”

3. (:6) Concession by the Lord

“So the LORD said to Satan,

‘Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.’”

David Clines: Yet it is of the essence of the Book of Job that from this critical moment onward heaven is sealed off and silent; God himself will not speak again before there have been thirty-four chapters of human speech (discursive and inconclusive, they render, on reflection, the direct decisiveness of heavenly speech in this prologue almost brutal); and earth will determinedly remain the locus of speech and action until the final sentences of the book.

C. (:7) Physical Attack against Job

“Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD,

and smote Job with sore boils

from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

Cyril Barber: The nature of Job’s illness can only be understood if we consider all that the Bible tells us. Dr. Charles Ryrie has a note in his study Bible in which he draws together all of the ailments which made Job’s disease both repulsive and painful: “The skin covering his entire body was affected (2:7), he itched intensely (v. 8), and he was in acute pain (v. 13). His flesh attracted worms and became crusty and hard (7:5). It oozed serum and turned dark in color (7:5; 30:30). Job also experienced fever and aching bones (30:17, 30). He may have had elephantiasis or a leukemia of the skin.


A. (:8) Physical Response of Job

“And he took a potsherd to scrape himself

while he was sitting among the ashes.”

Robert Alden: Job took a potsherd, or a piece of a broken clay pot, to scratch or scrape himself. Pots and potsherds illustrate commonness (Prov 26:23), insignificance (Isa 30:14; Lam 4:2), and fragility (Jer 19:1, 10). Unlike the verbs “took” and “scraped,” which are indicative, “sat” in line b is a participle that suggests a more or less permanent situation. One might translate, “He was a dweller among the ashes.” “Ashes” are one more characteristic element associated with mourning (2 Sam 13:19; Esth 4:1, 3; Dan 9:3; Jonah 3:6). “Ashes” would be the last word Job utters in this book (42:6).

E.S.P. Heavenor: The ashes is a reference to the local refuse-heap outside the walls of the town. There the dung and other rubbish was burnt at regular intervals. It was the happy hunting-ground for dogs on the prowl for carcasses which often were tossed there, and for the local urchins who were always eager to root about among things unwanted by others. There, in this place of discarded things, sat the man who once had been “the greatest of all the people of the east” (1:3).

Thomas Constable: Job’s illness resulted in an unclean condition that made him a social outcast (cf. Exod. 9:9-11). He had to take up residence near the city dump where beggars and other social rejects stayed. He had formerly sat at the city gate and enjoyed social prestige as a town judge (29:7). The change in his location, from the best to the worst place, reflects the change in his circumstances, from the best to the worst conditions.

B. (:9) Pressuring Response from Job’s Wife

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity?

Curse God and die!’”

Francis Andersen: Her question could be a taunt. ‘Do you still insist on maintaining your integrity? What good has it done you?’ If so, she has already lost faith, and wants Job to join her. At best her suggestion expresses a sincere desire to see Job out of his misery, and the sooner the better. She does not seem to see the possibility of the recovery of health and restoration of wealth. The friends do, and recommend repentance as the way to reverse Job’s fortune. She sees death as the only good remaining for Job. He should pray to God (lit. ‘bless’) to be allowed to die, or even curse God in order to die, an indirect way of committing suicide.

John Hartley: His wife’s appeal was more trying to Job than the losses themselves, for she spoke out of the strong emotional, marital bond between them. She put into words the essence of her husband’s temptation: it is folly to adhere staunchly to one’s integrity in the face of such tragedy. According to her view, to compromise one’s faith in God in order to ease an intolerable burden is the wisest course to follow. On earth she echoed the Satan’s skepticism about human faith in God—“all that a man has will he give for his own life.” But if Job followed such a course, it would produce disastrous results. It would undermine the very foundation of his faithful service.

Thomas Constable: She evidently concluded that God was not being fair with Job. He had lived a godly life, but God had afflicted rather than awarded him. She had the same retributive view of the divine-human relationship that Job and his friends did, but she was “foolish” (v. 10, spiritually ignorant, not discerning). Her frustration in seeing her husband suffer without being able to help him or to understand his situation undoubtedly aggravated her already raw emotions. She too had lost all of her children. She gives evidence in the text of being bitter toward God. Had she been simply anxious that Job’s suffering would end, she probably would not have urged him to abandon his upright manner of life by cursing God.

C. (:10a) Patient Response of Job

“But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.

Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’”

Elmer Smick: Job’s reply is remarkable in the compassion he shows toward his wife and in his total acceptance of God’s will for his life (v.10). He may have accused his wife of blasphemy but chose to accept it as a statement of desperation. Her “talking like a foolish woman” does not refer to intellectual foolishness but to religious apostasy as in Psalms 14:1 and 53:1, where “the fool [nābāl; GK 5572] says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” To curse God is essentially a way of denying he is God. Job is willing to believe that his wife is only talking like a blasphemer. Job’s wisdom, however, is to receive with meekness whatever prosperity or disaster God might send. Such wisdom is not rooted in his intellectual capacity but in his fear (worship) of God.

D. (:10b) Passing the Second Test by Maintaining His Integrity

“In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

John Hartley: The outcome of this state of Job’s trial is succinctly stated: In all this Job did not sin with his lips. The lips express a person’s deepest thoughts (cf. Prov. 18:4). Consequently when one strives for moral purity they are the hardest member to bring under control. They are obstinate to discipline. That is why the Wisdom tradition taught that the one who controls his speech has his whole life in focus (Prov. 13:3; 21:23; cf. Jas. 3:2). Therefore to say that Job did not sin with his lips is to state unequivocally that Job did not commit the slightest error. Whereas God had declared prior to this testing that Job was without sin, this statement asserts that Job had come thus far through his trial unscathed by any wrongdoing.

Trevor Longman: How are we to understand Job’s innocence? It is not some kind of abstract perfection. Job has his faults. As Wilson puts it, “Israelite faith assumed the sinful nature of humans.” Rather, his argument (which will be presented in the disputation section and is one the author of the book accepted as legitimate and powerful) is that he does not deserve the level of punishment that he experiences. He has sinned a little, and God has gone over the top in his punishment. And he is right. If he is being punished for his sins, God is unfair. However, by presenting the case of Job, the author is undermining the whole concept of retribution theology.


A. (:11) Commitment to Comfort

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.”

David Clines: This scene, of the arrival of the friends, forms a bridge between the prologue proper and the dialogue. The friends will be Job’s conversation partners throughout the dialogue, and will remain on stage, though silent toward the end, right through to the epilogue. But they do not appear in the prologue until the transactions of heaven with earth have been completed; they are mere commentators on events that have transpired.

Robert Alden: They started as friends, but before the debates were over, Job used less-than-friendly words to describe them. Throughout this commentary these three will be called “friends” because that is the word in the text at this point. Though not an ideal term, it certainly is better than “comforters” (cf. 16:2). These three probably were wealthy sheiks like Job. They had the time to talk for what may have been several months with their suffering comrade. Nothing is told about their families or stations in life. They seem to have come from a distance, yet they apparently spoke the same language and drew their illustrations and observations from the same common pool of experiences that Job had.

Tremper Longman: They come to Job as a group even though they departed from different locations (“they consulted together”). The significance of this observation is that they really act as a team rather than as individuals in the dialogues that follow. They represent not three different viewpoints but a common viewpoint as they stand united over against what they perceive to be Job’s presumption.

B. (:12) Weeping over Job’s Wretched Condition

“And when they lifted up their eyes at a distance, and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.”

David Thompson: When you are really low, you will see who your friends really are. It is easy to be a backslapping friend when everything is sailing along, but real friendship develops in the trenches of trials and struggles.

Notice their reaction:

(Reaction #1) – They loudly wept. 12:12a

(Reaction #2) – They humbly worshipped. 12:12b

(Reaction #3) – They quietly sat with him. 12:13

These friends quietly sat at Job’s side for seven days and seven nights. They were good friends who just wanted to be with Job. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there and keep your mouth shut.

C. (:13) Spending Time with Job in Sorrowful Silence

“Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”

Warren Wiersbe: Don’t try to explain everything; explanations never heal a broken heart. If his friends had listened to him, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly; but they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses.

G. Campbell Morgan: In overwhelming sorrows, true friendship almost invariably demonstrates itself more perfectly by silence than by speech. And even in spite of the fact that Job’s friends caused him sorrow by their words, they are more to be admired because what they thought concerning him they dared to say to him, rather than about him to others.

Francis Andersen: Attention is focused, not on the abstract mystery of evil, not on the moral question of undeserved suffering, but on one man’s physical existence in bodily pain. There was nothing to be said. These wise men are horrified and speechless. They were true friends, bringing to Job’s lonely ash-heap the compassion of a silent presence.

John Hartley: The seven-day period functions as a turning point in the dramatic action of the account. The atmosphere was tense. Nobody spoke. Job’s pain was visibly unbearable. Then like a thunderclap Job’s lament broke the silence.