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John Hartley: In the first cycle the friends clearly state their positions. Eliphaz posits that no human being is righteous before God; Bildad argues that God never perverts justice; Zophar holds that God assuredly punishes every evildoer. All of them exhort Job to seek God that he might again enjoy a prosperous life. Although they wish to console Job, they are so chagrined at the severity of his misfortune that they feel they must reprimand him for some wrong he certainly must have committed. In his responses Job laments his suffering and begins his search for some way to gain reconciliation with God. In this cycle his responses have two basic divisions; in the first division he interacts with his friends, and in the second he addresses God with a lament. As this cycle moves along Job becomes increasingly disappointed in the friends’ counsel and searches more earnestly for some way to win an acquittal from God, his Judge. . .

Eliphaz’s central premise is that everyone is guilty of error. From this premise he derives two basic arguments. First, he boldly articulates the law of retribution, i.e., that the righteous prosper and the wicked suffer hardship in this life and face a premature death (4:7–21). Second, he lauds God’s greatness and his compassionate care in delivering his own from sorrow (5:9–26). Loss and suffering are not a final tragedy, for God will rescue anyone who is repentant from their grip and he will bestow an abundance of blessings. Therefore, misfortune presents an opportunity for the afflicted to discover hidden errors and to seek God’s compassion through contrition.

Derek Kidner: Essentially, Eliphaz’s contribution is this: “You are a good man, Job. So do not lose heart about this matter. You are being disciplined because there are some things in your life that need to be sorted out. Bear with this patiently, for it will all turn out right in the end.”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz speaks first. Presumably he is the leader of the friends, probably the senior member. In his first speech, among other things, Eliphaz clearly states the basic argument of the friends as they, as sages, try to help Job navigate his problem. Quite simply, suffering is the result of sin (4:6–11; 5:2–7). There is therefore only one solution to suffering, including Job’s, and that is repentance (5:8–16). After all, God will bless those he disciplines through suffering (5:17–23). Indeed, such people will live in safety (5:24–27). Eliphaz appeals to the authority of experience (5:8) as well as to spiritual, perhaps even divine, revelation (4:12–17). On the other hand, no one, not even an angel, will take Job’s side in the matter (5:1). And in any case, God does not trust angels, not to speak of humans (4:18–21), who after all are “born for trouble” (5:6–7).

Francis Andersen: We should call attention immediately to a feature in the construction of Eliphaz’s speech which will be met several times in other parts of the book. In the overall structure of his discourse, which is a single piece, we should not look for the introduction of a theme at the beginning, its development along a straight line of thought with the proof at the end, followed, if necessary, by the practical application to Job’s need. Such logical neatness is not found. Instead there is a symmetrical introverted structure with the basis of the argument in the centre, and with theoretical development before and after it. The advice that emerges from this doctrine is embodied in two balancing blocks, which, although separated in space, constitute the sum of Eliphaz’s exhortation.

A Opening remark (4:2)

B Exhortation (4:3–6)

C God’s dealings with men (4:7–11)

D The revelation of truth (4:12–21)

C′ God’s dealings with men (5:1–16)

B′ Exhortation (5:17–26)

A′ Closing remark (5:27)

Cyril Barber: Eliphaz’ personal counsel was based almost entirely upon observation (5:2-27), and this minimized the value of his advice (5:8-16), reduced the value of his appeal (5:17-20), and made his personal promise of little worth (5:21-26).


“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered,”

David Thompson: He was from Teman, a place, according to Jeremiah, that was one time supposedly known for its wisdom (Jer. 49:7). Eliphaz was probably the oldest of the friends (15:10), and with age is supposed to be some wisdom. As we analyze Eliphaz’ first response to Job, there are seven things to observe:

1) Eliphaz truly cares about Job.

2) Eliphaz truly knows much about God.

3) Eliphaz is very sincere in what he says.

4) Eliphaz is very emotional about the situation.

5) Eliphaz says what he truly believes.

6) Eliphaz says many things which are true.

7) Eliphaz does not say what is right before God.


A. (:2) Challenge of Job’s Complaining Spirit – Listen to what I have to say

“If one ventures a word with you, will you become impatient?

But who can refrain from speaking?”

Robert Alden: Two of the features just noted are evident in this opening segment of Eliphaz’s first speech: rebuke and a good measure of courtesy. His speech seems almost apologetic, and one can almost picture his nervousness. After all, he and the other two had been sitting in silence with Job for seven days and seven nights. It is understandable that the first words would be gentle and cautious.

John Hartley: Eliphaz’s first words reflect his own dilemma. Though he is apprehensive that Job may be irritated or wearied (lāʾâ) by a response that challenges the value of his curse-lament, he feels compelled to speak lest Job’s bitter words alienate God. With compassion for Job and yet aware that his own speech may add to his friend’s burden, he politely asks Job’s indulgence before offering a word.

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz begins on a relatively civil note. He asks whether Job would be discouraged if someone would “venture” a word with him. “Venture” (from nsh) means to put someone to the test. Eliphaz thus announces his intention to challenge Job’s complaint. He does so reluctantly. He does not want to discourage Job, but he feels compelled to do so (“who is able to restrain themselves from speaking”). Job’s words threaten Eliphaz’s fundamental understanding of who God is and how he acts in the world. Thus he cannot keep himself from speaking.

B. (:3-4) Commendation for Job’s Strengthening of Others – You have helped others

“Behold you have admonished many,

And you have strengthened weak hands.

4 Your words have helped the tottering to stand,

And you have strengthened feeble knees.”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz begins with compliments. Job has been a “strong” person of faith in the past. He has been a wise man who has instructed many who are “weak.” He has provided strength for the weak-kneed and helped those who stumbled. Eliphaz describes the role of the wise here. The wise are those who know how to navigate life. They avoid pitfalls and maximize success. If an obstacle comes their way, they know the quickest way out of the mess. Thus they are in a position to give advice to others who are not as intelligent in life skills as they are. They can help those who falter. . .

The debate between Job and his friends is really a debate about the question Who is wise? As the debate continues, such concessions to civility will give place to insult and open and direct attack.

John Hartley: Job has aided the weak, those with feeble hands and shaking knees. Drained of all their strength and courage, they must be assisted by someone stronger. Job has performed this service willingly. He has encouraged their rehabilitation by providing emotional support. He does not stand aloof from the needy as though they are parasites wanting to get at his resources. Rather he gladly soils his elegant garments as he reaches out to help them.

David Clines: The symptoms of physical exhaustion, feeble hands and weak knees (v 4), almost invariably function in biblical literature as images of depression and loss of psychic energy or morale; see 2 Sam 4:1; Isa 13:7; Ezra 4:4; 2 Chr 15:7; cf. Ecclus 2:12; Lachish ostracon 6 (ANET, 322b) (weak hands); Isa 35:3 (weak hands, stumbling knees); Ezek 7:17; 21:12 [7] (weak hands, knees turned to water); cf. Ecclus 25:23; and Nah 2:11 [10]; Heb 12:12 (trembling knees); Ps 109:24 (stumbling knees); 1QM 14.6 (tottering knees); contrast Judg 9:24; 2 Sam 2:7; Jer 23:14 (strengthened hands).

C. (:5) Criticism of Job’s Impatience in His Own Case – You lack insight into your own suffering

“But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;

It touches you, and you are dismayed.”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz accuses Job of being the kind of person who is strong when things are going well, but if trouble comes, he crumbles. He turns from a man of clarity and insight into a confused bumbler.

Francis Andersen: Already there is the insinuation that Job is unable to apply to himself what he preached to others.


A. (:6-7) Argument Summarized

1. (:6) General Principle: Godliness Guarantees Prosperity

“Is not your fear of God your confidence,

And the integrity of your ways your hope?”

David Clines: Eliphaz fails to help Job because his theology does not allow for the reality of a Job, of a righteous man who has no longer any ground for confidence, whose reverent piety has led him only away from assurance and toward despair. The only help a Job can be offered is the possibility of living, at a time of loss of assurance and abandonment of hope for life and weal, still in the confidence of the reality of God’s goodness and wisdom. Rational wisdom finds that position impossibly self-contradictory. Only the encounter with the unavoidable but mysterious God can give Job, or the readers of the book, a firmly grounded confidence that does not negate the confidence of which Eliphaz speaks, but extends it beyond school wisdom to the case history of humankind.

John Hartley: Uprightness should be the foundation of hope. Faith engenders hope, and hope gives buoyancy to life with the result that one joyfully pursues integrity in all areas of one’s life. The fear associated with reverence prevents one’s self-confidence from giving way to pride. The wholeness of such a faith should provide the one who serves God with the resolution to face every obstacle. This line is not to be taken as a sarcastic statement, but as a mild reproof; Eliphaz earnestly wants Job to avoid speaking so caustically, for he fears that such words will destroy Job’s piety.

2. (:7) No Exceptions

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?

Or where were the upright destroyed?”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz now states his most basic argument against Job: The innocent do not suffer, but the wicked, even the seemingly most powerful and dangerous, perish. In other words, Eliphaz here presents the retribution theology of the three friends for the first time in succinct form.

Robert Alden: For the first of many times the standard argument of the friends appears: there are certain rules by which the universe operates. These rules dictate that good comes to those who are righteous and bad comes to those who are wicked. Working backwards from effect to cause, it means that if people suffer, it is because they have sinned; and if they are blessed, it is because they have trusted and obeyed.

B. (:8-9) Argument Supported from Observing Agriculture

“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity

And those who sow trouble harvest it.

9 By the breath of God they perish,

And by the blast of His anger they come to an end.”

Tremper Longman: Verse 8 uses an agricultural metaphor in order to make the point that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between evil actions and negative consequences. Those who plow iniquity (ʾāwen) and plant trouble (ʿāmāl) will harvest iniquity and trouble. Proverbs 22:8 does offer as a general principle “Those who sow iniquity will reap evil,” but while this is true as a general principle, it is not universally true, despite Eliphaz’s claim. As a general principle, the NT makes the same point: “All who take the sword die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52 NEB). But again, in this life, this principle does not work out perfectly. Job, as the reader knows, is prime evidence of this.

C. (:10-11) Argument Supported from Observing the Animal Kingdom

“The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion,

And the teeth of the young lions are broken.

11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,

And the whelps of the lioness are scattered.”

Tremper Longman: But according to Eliphaz, even though the wicked are like lions (strong, dangerous, frightening), they will be silenced. Their teeth that rend their prey will be broken. They will be hungry, without prey. They will be scattered. In other words, though the wicked appear strong, appearances are wrong. The strong will be destroyed because of their evil.

Roy Zuck: Eliphaz added that though lions are strong, their teeth can be broken, they can perish for lack of food, and their cubs can be scattered by a hunter. Similarly, this senior spokesman hinted, Job, who used to be strong (cf. vv. 3-4), was broken and his children lost. Lions (five different Heb. words are used for “lion” in vv. 10-11) deserve to suffer because they bring problems to people; so Job also deserved to suffer.


Tremper Longman: vv. 12-17 — In the previous section (vv. 6–11), Eliphaz appealed to experience and observation to make his point that the wicked experience punishment for their evil. In the present section, he argues that he has gotten a word from the divine realm that supports this idea.

David Clines: The purpose of this remarkable and evocative passage is essentially to explain how, though the distinction between righteous and wicked is firm, the righteous can never be perfectly righteous, and therefore must expect to experience—at least to some small extent—the misfortunes of the wicked. Though the righteous will never “perish” in the sense of being cut off in their prime, nevertheless they do suffer—as Job is witness. Eliphaz elaborately impresses upon Job that the cause of such—temporary—suffering lies not in Job alone: all created beings, even heavenly creatures, share in imperfection. Since Job may not have realized this, in the absence of such experience as Eliphaz has had, Eliphaz at once excuses Job and instructs him (Driver).

This second section of Eliphaz’s speech falls into two parts:

(1) a description of his nocturnal experience (vv 12–16);

(2) its content and the inferences to be drawn from it (vv 17–21).

A. (:12-16) Private Communication

1. (:12) Secret Communication

“Now a word was brought to me stealthily,

And my ear received a whisper of it.”

Tremper Longman: The revelatory moment begins with subtlety. The “word” (dābār, which can also mean “message”) “stole” (from ngb) over to him. Like a robber it came by stealth, without warning, unexpectedly. Although there is no substantial connection with the description of Christ’s coming “as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3), both phrases communicate the idea of surprise. The message (word) did not come through loud and clear, but just a whisper, again a description that emphasizes mystery as well as secrecy or privacy.

Robert Alden: Having appealed to reason or tradition, Eliphaz tried a new tack. One cannot be certain whether Eliphaz really had the vision he described here or whether he fabricated it for the purpose of bolstering his presentation to Job. It is hard to argue with people who claim to have special revelation. Such people cannot be easily dissuaded of their convictions, even though it is obvious that the dream or vision often corroborates what they otherwise believe or want to do.

2. (:13-14) Scary Communication

“Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night,

When deep sleep falls on men,

14 Dread came upon me, and trembling,

And made all my bones shake.”

3. (:15) Spiritual Communication

“Then a spirit passed by my face;

The hair of my flesh bristled up.”

4. (:16) Spoken Communication

“It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance;

A form was before my eyes;

There was silence, then I heard a voice:”

B. (:17-21) Pastoral Application

1. (:17) Ludicrous Claims to Innocence

“Can mankind be just before God?

Can a man be pure before his Maker?”

John Hartley: In anticipation of Job’s claim to innocence Eliphaz is saying that such a claim has no possibility of being true. From his viewpoint no one can make demands on his Creator based on his own worth or moral attainment. With this thesis the author artfully has Eliphaz anticipate the direction Job’s argument will take.

Francis Andersen: The thing is so obviously impossible, that the banality makes Eliphaz sound pretentious. And quite unfair; for Job has not questioned the ways of God, let alone claimed to be better than God. All he has done so far is to say how miserable he feels, how he wishes he were dead. Eliphaz is reading a lot into this to find implied criticism of God. The only fault he has seen in Job is weakness (4:5).

2. (:18-19) Lessons from the Fallibility of Angels

“He puts no trust even in His servants;

And against His angels He charges error.

19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,

Whose foundation is in the dust,

Who are crushed before the moth!”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz now makes a major-to-minor argument. If God does not trust his angels, who are presumably closer to him and more powerful, then why would he trust human beings?

3. (:20-21) Limitations of Mortality

“Between morning and evening they are broken in pieces;

Unobserved, they perish forever.

21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them?

They die, yet without wisdom.”

Robert Alden: A human life is too brief to understand the ways of God. The most aged of us are immature, unenlightened, and ignorant of the ways of God. It is a depressing note but not unlike others that sound from the mouths of the other two friends as well as from Job.

John Hartley: When people despise God’s ways, they die without wisdom. The phrase without wisdom means that they have not gained insight into the spiritual values of life or into the reasons for human mortality. Because they have relied on their own reason in their efforts to bring glory to themselves, they die in ignorance of why such a fate has befallen them. Again the author has Eliphaz anticipate the path Job is going to take in seeking an answer from God about his plight. Here Eliphaz is discounting the possibility that anyone who experiences sudden tragedy can understand the reasons for his own ruin.


A. (:1) Heaven Turns a Deaf Ear

“Call now, is there anyone who will answer you?

And to which of the holy ones will you turn?”

David Clines: Eliphaz’s attitude toward Job has been made clear in the previous chapter: Job is essentially a righteous man, but—like any human (or angel; cf. 4:18)—he has his faults and is suffering for them. Job’s goodness has long been evident (4:3–4), and his fear of God and personal integrity are rightful grounds for confidence that his suffering will not last for long (4:6). He may rest assured that he will never perish utterly, for every righteous person has found ultimate deliverance (4:7). However, Job shares the moral frailty of all created beings (4:17–19); so his sinfulness—not specified in this speech, but see on 22:6–9—must be recompensed, and no appeal can get him off the hook of retributive justice.

John Hartley: Eliphaz develops the implication of the heavenly message by questioning Job about whom he might turn to for assistance in gaining a hearing with God.

B. (:2) Anger Kills the Foolish

“For vexation slays the foolish man,

And anger kills the simple.”

John Hartley: The hardened fool rejects all instruction; instead he quarrels in order to get his own way (Prov. 1:7; 15:5). Such behavior leads to an early death (Prov. 10:8, 10, 14, 21). Through this proverb Eliphaz is warning Job that his present distress, if unchecked, will kill him like a fool.

C. (:3-5) Foolishness Reaps Destruction

“I have seen the foolish taking root,

And I cursed his abode immediately.

4 His sons are far from safety,

They are even oppressed in the gate, Neither is there a deliverer.

5 His harvest the hungry devour,

And take it to a place of thorns;

And the schemer is eager for their wealth.”

John Hartley: This does not mean that he actually cursed the estate himself, but that he earnestly bade God to execute the curse entailed in that person’s wrongdoing. That is, believing that every wicked deed, even though it may bring initial prosperity, contains its own curse, Eliphaz wished to release the power of the curse contained in that fool’s deeds so that the curse would speedily work its ill against that fool’s entire estate (nāweh), including his family, servants, flocks, and crops.

D. (:6-7) Mankind Sparks Affliction

“For affliction does not come from the dust,

Neither does trouble sprout from the ground,

7 For man is born for trouble,

As sparks fly upward.”

David Clines: Everything since v 1 has been building up to this climax of an astounding and provocative generalization. It may be, to our mind, logically a little perverse to begin with a particular exemplification of the principle (v 2), to continue with an even more particular illustration of the principle (vv 3–5), to deny thereafter any alternative to the principle (v 6), and only finally to enunciate the principle itself (v 7). But the principle is so fundamental to Eliphaz’s whole outlook that it matters little to him by what devious route he finally achieves explicit statement of it.

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz argues that people’s troubles do not come out of thin air (from the dust/from the ground). They have a cause, and the previous section highlighted the cause as the irritation/jealousy of a fool. Eliphaz claimed to help the fool get his comeuppance by cursing him, but his most important point is that misery/trouble does not pop out of thin air.

John Hartley: Eliphaz continues to argue that punishment is not a part of the natural processes, but is an inevitable outworking of a person’s sinful nature. Misfortune is not a capricious act of nature that befalls one at random, for hardship [ʾāwen] does not grow out of the dust, nor does trouble [ʿāmāl; cf. 3:10] sprout from the ground. A person harvests what he sows. Suffering and misfortune, then, are direct punishments for wrongdoing. In fact, man engenders trouble. During life everyone does things that yield trouble just as surely as sparks or flashes of lightning fly upward. Perhaps the point of the latter metaphor is that from birth, plagues from the netherworld fly forth to curse a person’s life. Caught in the chain of sin-punishment from birth, no person can find release from that chain. To chafe against ill-fate is mere folly. Job, therefore, should not be so distressed—all are sinners destined to experience trouble.

Meredith Kline: 4:12 – 5:7 – Job had called in question the wisdom of God’s providence. Eliphaz counters with the argument that fallen men, whether godly or ungodly, are deficient in wisdom and justice and, therefore, incompetent to criticize Providence (4:12-21). They are, moreover, justly subject to all the woes attending mortality (5:1-7).


Robert Alden: Appeal to the God of Justice (5:8-16). These nine verses stress three features of God’s governance of the universe:

– his sovereign control over the weather and the fortunes of humankind,

– his apprehension and punishment of wrongdoers, and

– his deliverance of the needy and oppressed.

Warren Wiersbe: This leads to an appeal from Eliphaz that Job seek God and commit himself to Him. The God who does wonders and cares for His creation will surely help Job if he humbles himself and confesses his sins. Job should see his trials as discipline from God to make him a better man (vv. 17-18), a theme that will later be taken up by Elihu.

A. (:8-9) Appeal to God for Help

“But as for me, I would seek God,

And I would place my cause before God;

9 Who does great and unsearchable things,

Wonders without number.”

Francis Andersen: So far Eliphaz’s teaching has been rather gloomy. Now he tries to strike a more cheerful note. Faith in God delivers from pessimism.

David Clines: Having advised Job that appeal for deliverance from his affliction is futile (v 1), since his suffering is his own fault (v 7) and must therefore be endured, what can Eliphaz now say that is more positive? He can only testify to what he himself does: “I myself pray to God and leave my case in his hands.” Many modern versions and commentators (but contrast Dhorme) translate the verbs as hypothetical, i.e., as indicating what Eliphaz would do if he were in Job’s situation, JB, for example, actually says, “If I were as you are, I should appeal to God.” But it is a sign of Eliphaz’s attempted delicacy, as also of his self-assuredness, that he speaks only of himself and does not presume to tell Job what to do.

John Hartley: Eliphaz couches his exhortation to Job in a description of what his response would be were he in circumstances similar to Job’s. He would appeal to (dāraš) God, i.e., he would diligently cry out to God, in a repentant attitude, seeking forgiveness and deliverance. I would commit my cause to God. This means he would not have a defiant attitude like Job’s. On the surface it appears that Eliphaz is respectfully sensitive to Job, but Job’s response will indicate that he detects a condescending tone in Eliphaz’s manner.

B. (:10-11) Only God Can Reverse the Fortunes of the Lowly

1. (:10) Sustenance

“He gives rain on the earth,

And sends water on the fields,”

2. (:11) Safety

“So that He sets on high those who are lowly,

And those who mourn are lifted to safety.”

C. (:12-14) Only God Can Reverse the Fortunes of the Crafty

Robert Alden: A progression marks vv. 12-14.

– First, God thwarts the wicked (v. 12).

– Then he apprehends them (v. 13).

– And now he punishes them (v. 14).

1. (:12) Discourages Them

“He frustrates the plotting of the shrewd,

So that their hands cannot attain success.”

2. (:13) Defeats Them

“He captures the wise by their own shrewdness

And the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.”

Robert Alden: Note the chiastic structure:

A He catches

B the wise

C in their craftiness

C’ and the schemes of

B’ the wily

A’ are swept away.

3. (:14) Darkens Them

“By day they meet with darkness,

And grope at noon as in the night.”

D. (:15-16) Only God Can Provide Hope for the Helpless

“But He saves from the sword of their mouth,

And the poor from the hand of the mighty.

So the helpless has hope,

And unrighteousness must shut its mouth.”

John Hartley: These hymnic lines laud God’s governance of his world. In complete control of his world, he shames the haughty and prosperous and exalts the poor and needy. It is hard to determine whether this poem is intended to encourage Job or to condemn him. Is Job an example of a clever, rich man whom God has suddenly and swiftly humbled? Or is he a poor, helpless man whom God will exalt in due time? In the next pericope Eliphaz points toward the latter possibility as his answer for Job by emphasizing God’s care for his own, specifically for Job.


Robert Alden: The Lessons and Rewards of Suffering (5:17-26). This section takes a different tack from the usual thrust of the friends’ case. Rather than focusing on suffering as punishment, Eliphaz posited the possibility that trouble is therapeutic and remedial and that God had Job’s good in mind and not only his justice.

Warren Wiersbe: Eliphaz closes his speech with words of assurance. The same God who wounds will also heal (Deut. 32:39; Hos. 6:1-2). He will deliver you from trouble; save you from your enemies, and give you a long and happy life and a peaceful death. “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself” (Job 5:27, NIV).

A. (:17-18) Connection between Divine Discipline and Healing

“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,

So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

18 For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;

He wounds, and His hands also heal.”

John Hartley: Eliphaz hopes to alter Job’s response to his misfortune by instructing him about the security that the one who trusts in God has during a season of affliction.

Robert Alden: Eliphaz had a high view of God. He was not a dualist who saw the bad coming from some evil deity and the good coming from God. Everything came from God’s hand, both the wounding and the healing.

B. (:19-22) Divine Discipline Yields Deliverance from Seven Calamities

(:19) Summary

“From six troubles He will deliver you,

Even in seven evil will not touch you.”

1. (:20a) Deliverance from Famine

“In famine He will redeem you from death,”

2. (:20b) Deliverance from the Sword

“And in war from the power of the sword.”

3. (:21a) Deliverance from Verbal Attacks

“You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,”

4. (:21b) Deliverance from Violence

“Neither will you be afraid of violence when it comes.”

Tremper Longman: The first three rescues are from specific and concrete things: war, famine, and speech. Verse 21b is more general: God’s people do not need to fear destruction. Destruction can come in many forms, so this seems to be a more global reassurance.

5. (:22a) Deliverance from Violence

“You will laugh at violence”

6. (:22b) Deliverance from Famine

“and famine,”

7. Deliverance from Wild Beasts

“Neither will you be afraid of wild beasts.”

C. (:23-26) Divine Blessing Yields Security and Productivity

1. (:23-24) Security

“For you will be in league with the stones of the field;

And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you.

And you will know that your tent is secure,

For you will visit your abode and fear no loss.”

David Atkinson: If only Job will admit his sin, he says, there can be happiness again. Job will know security again, his family will prosper again, and he will yet have a vigorous life before he dies (5:24-27). We may, in passing, notice the gross insensitivity of Eliphaz at this point. It is hardly appropriate to be telling someone who has lost his house and all his descendants in terrible circumstances, that his tent will be secure, and that he will have many children. Nor is it particularly helpful to be saying to someone who wants to die that his remaining years will be full of life. But apart from this, Eliphaz has been speaking part of the truth – though inappropriately.

2. (:25-26) Productivity

a. (:25) Productivity of Large Lineage

“You will know also that your descendants will be many,

And your offspring as the grass of the earth.”

b. (:26) Productivity of Long and Vigorous Life

“You will come to the grave in full vigor,

Like the stacking of grain in its season.”

David Clines: Finally, the crowning blessing on a life protected by God is death at a ripe old age. Death before the proper time (cf. 20:11; 22:16) and being “cut off” before life has run its full course (cf. 4:8) is a curse, and a sign of divine disapproval. Death at “the right time” (“at its time”) is no punishment, but itself a blessing (cf. Ps 1:3; Prov 15:23 for the idea of the right time). It is not long life as such that is the blessing, though that is promised to those who heed the teaching of the wise (Prov 3:2, 16; 4:10; 9:11; 10:27); it is rather the patriarchal experience of being “gathered to one’s fathers” (cf. Gen 25:8; 49:33) that is the final blessing. If the obscure word (“in ripe old age,” RSV) means “in full strength, with vigor unabated”, a bonus to death at the right time is promised: it is death without the loss of strength and fading of powers that usually accompany extreme old age (cf. Moses, 120 years old when he dies, yet “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated,” Deut 34:7; and contrast Eccl 12:1–7 for the gradual fading of one’s powers).

The image that parallels such a death is strikingly positive: the sheaf of corn that “comes up” from the field to the elevated threshing floor has survived through its many moments for this particular moment; “its time” for gathering in has arrived. Qohelet would add: “God has made everything beautiful in its time ” (Eccl 3:11). The sheaf has not come to the end of its usefulness; that is only beginning when it mounts to the threshing floor.

John Hartley: Thus the three primary goals of an ancient sheikh—security for his flocks, numerous children to continue his name, and a long life—are ensured by God to the person who accepts his discipline. Through these promises Eliphaz is attempting to get Job to cease lamenting his misfortunes and to exercise submissive trust in God. He does not want Job hastening his death by arousing God’s anger with more caustic words. But in his coming responses Job will challenge Eliphaz’s unilateral application of this teaching of security for the person of faith.


“Behold this, we have investigated it, thus it is;

Hear it, and know for yourself.”

Tremper Longman: Eliphaz concludes by putting his personal imprimatur on the argument (v. 27). Wisdom teachers put a lot of stock on observation and experience. They appeal to their previous experience of watching people whom God has reproved moved from danger to safety. Since he and his friends are wise men, Job should take it on their authority. They are taking the position occupied by the father in Proverbs and applying it to their naive son, Job.