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Job 32:1-3


V. The Speeches of Elihu (32:1-37:24)

Elihu’s First Speech 1 

32:1 So these three men refused to answer 2  Job further, because he was righteous in his 3  own eyes. 32:2 Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry. 4  He was angry 5  with Job for justifying 6  himself rather than God. 7  32:3 With Job’s 8  three friends he was also angry, because they could not find 9  an answer, and so declared Job guilty. 10 

Job 34:37


34:37 For he adds transgression 11  to his sin;

in our midst he claps his hands, 12 

and multiplies his words against God.”

Job 35:16


35:16 So Job opens his mouth to no purpose; 13 

without knowledge he multiplies words.”

1 sn There are now four speeches from another friend of Job, Elihu. But Job does not reply to any of these, nor does the Lord. The speeches show a knowledge of the debate that has gone on, but they take a different approach entirely. Elihu’s approach is that suffering is a discipline from God, to teach his people. In other words, Job was suffering to vindicate God’s confidence in him. His speeches are an interesting part of the book, but they too are irrelevant to Job’s actual case. In the first speech, there is a short introduction (32:1-5), and then the speech proper with these sections: Elihu will speak because his youth is wiser (32:6-14), and his friends arguments failed (32:15-22); he calls for Job’s attention (33:1-7), claims Job’s case is wrong (33:8-13), and Job’s argument that God does not answer is false (33:14-28), and then makes an appeal to Job (33:29-33). It becomes evident that Elihu correctly identified Job’s determination to maintain his integrity at God’s expense as the primary problem in at least the latter stages of the dialogues (32:1-3; 34:37; 35:16; cf. 38:2; 40:8; 42:3). Elihu was respectful of his elders (32:4), but remained uninfected by their error (32:14). He sought to maintain impartiality (32:21-22) and to offer true wisdom (33:33), believed like Job that a mediator existed (33:23-24), and desired Job’s vindication (33:32). In addition, Elihu focused on vindicating God’s actions (34:12; 35:10-11; 36:2-3, 22-26) and announced the coming theophany (37:1-5, 22). It appears that he was not included in the divine condemnation of Job’s friends (42:7-9) and was excluded from Job’s prayer of intercession (42:8-10) – both perhaps implying divine approval of his behavior and words.

2 tn The form is the infinitive construct (“answer”) functioning as the object of the preposition; the phrase forms the complement of the verb “they ceased to answer” (= “they refused to answer further”).

3 tc The LXX, Syriac, and Symmachus have “in their eyes.” This is adopted by some commentators, but it does not fit the argument.

4 tn The verse begins with וַיִּחַר אַף (vayyikharaf, “and the anger became hot”), meaning Elihu became very angry.

5 tn The second comment about Elihu’s anger comes right before the statement of its cause. Now the perfect verb is used: “he was angry.”

6 tn The explanation is the causal clause עַל־צַדְּקוֹ נַפְשׁוֹ (’al-tsaddÿqo nafsho, “because he justified himself”). It is the preposition with the Piel infinitive construct with a suffixed subjective genitive.

7 tc The LXX and Latin versions soften the expression slightly by saying “before God.”

8 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Job) has been specified in the translation to indicate whose friends they were.

9 tn The perfect verb should be given the category of potential perfect here.

10 tc This is one of the eighteen “corrections of the scribes” (tiqqune sopherim); it originally read, “and they declared God [in the wrong].” The thought was that in abandoning the debate they had conceded Job’s point.

11 tn Although frequently translated “rebellion,” the basic meaning of this Hebrew term is “transgression.”

12 tc If this reading stands, it would mean that Job shows contempt, meaning that he mocks them and accuses God. It is a bold touch, but workable. Of the many suggested emendations, Dhorme alters some of the vowels and obtains a reading “and casts doubt among us,” and then takes “transgression” from the first colon for the complement. Some commentators simply delete the line.

13 tn The word הֶבֶל (hevel) means “vanity; futility; to no purpose.”

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