Job 15:1-35

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“Eliphaz the Temanite” responded to Job. An epilogue in the Septuagint identifies Eliphaz as being of the “sons of Esau,” the twin brother of Jacob. (42:17e) This would agree with verses 10 and 11 of Genesis 36, where Teman is listed as a descendant of Esau. (15:1)

Eliphaz raised the rhetorical question, “Will a wise man answer with windy knowledge [give a reply of windy insight (LXX)] and fill his belly,” his body, or himself “with the east wind?” The implied answer is, No. With this question, Eliphaz represented Job as a man lacking in wisdom and dismissed his words as “windy knowledge,” or as being without value, amounting to nothing more than air in motion. In the summer, the “east wind” is a hot wind that passes over the arid desert and parches vegetation. Eliphaz implied that Job had filled himself with such a wind, and this could signify that the things to which he had given vent were ruinous like the hot wind from the east that dries up all greenery in its path. The question in the Septuagint is, “Did he [the wise man] fill [or satisfy] the distress in his belly” or stomach? The implied answer is that the wise man would not have done so with useless words. (15:2)

Dismissing what Job had stated as valueless, Eliphaz said that reproving with a “word” or mere talk (with words that should not be used for reproving [LXX]) would be of no benefit. He referred to the thoughts Job had expressed as “words” of no “profit” or as being worthless. (15:3)

Eliphaz condemned what Job had said as being an affront to God. He accused Job of having made “fear” (the reverential regard for the Almighty) ineffectual (literally, broken it [cast off fear (LXX)]). Moreover, Eliphaz claimed that Job hindered “meditation before God.” This suggests that Eliphaz perceived a certain plausibility in what Job had expressed but regarded it as injurious to those who would give ear to it, for it would interfere with their maintaining pure thoughts before God and praying in a respectful manner. The Septuagint rendering represents Eliphaz as telling Job that he had completed worthless sayings “before the Lord.” (15:4)

The words “for your iniquity teaches your mouth” indicate that Job’s expressions (which Eliphaz regarded as directed against God) condemned him as being corrupt. It was as if his badness instructed him to say what he did. According to the Septuagint, Job was “guilty” with the words of his mouth. Moreover, Eliphaz accused him of choosing the “tongue of crafty ones” or expressing himself like a deceiver whose statements sounded plausible. The Septuagint rendering indicates that Job “did not discern the words of the mighty ones,” probably meaning the words of prominent men who were known for their wisdom. (15:5)

Eliphaz claimed it was not he but Job’s own mouth that condemned him and his own lips that testified against him. This apparently was because Eliphaz considered Job’s expressions to have been an attack against God. (15:6; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Eliphaz insinuated that Job had expressed himself as if his origins reached back to the most remote times and thus had represented himself in possession of superior wisdom. This is apparent from the rhetorical question he directed to Job, “Were you the first man to be born, and were you brought forth before the hills?” In the Septuagint, the first part of the question reads like the extant Hebrew text but is preceded by the words that could be rendered, “What then?” The verse concludes with the phrase, “Or were you established before the dunes” or hills? Job had never made any claim to exceeding Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in wisdom. He had only insisted in his not being in any way inferior in knowledge. (15:7)

By means of his question, Eliphaz insinuated that Job had represented himself as if he had been present at the council of God, listening to what was being said in the intimate assembly. In the Septuagint, the question is phrased somewhat differently. “Have you heard the teaching of the Lord?” This question implied thorough acquaintance with the complete record of divine instruction. The other question Eliphaz directed to Job was, “Do you limit wisdom to yourself?” Whereas Job had never claimed to have a monopoly on wisdom, the question of Eliphaz implied that Job had spoken as if he alone possessed it. In the Septuagint, the question is, “Did wisdom reach you” (you alone, no one else)? (15:8)

Job had rejected the erroneous conclusions of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar regarding the reason for his suffering — conclusions that they regarded as reflecting real wisdom. This prompted Eliphaz to view Job as one who asserted having superior wisdom. He, therefore, insisted that Job did not know more than he, Bildad, and Zophar did, saying, “What do you know, and we do not know [it]? “What do you understand, and it [the understanding] is not with us?” (15:9)

Eliphaz indicated that he, Bildad, and Zophar had a basis for viewing themselves as outstandingly wise. Those known for wisdom, the men with gray hair and the aged were with them. Among them were those “greater in days” or older than Job’s own father. The words of Eliphaz suggest that his words should have been heeded as coming from a man recognized for his wisdom. (15:10; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint.)

What Eliphaz designated as the “consolations of God” appear to have been his words and those of Bildad and Zophar that defended God as the one who afflicts those meriting chastisement but blesses them when they change their conduct. These men had implied that Job’s calamities and suffering had resulted on account of his serious wrongdoing. Job had rejected their words as not applying to him and as being of no comfort to him. Eliphaz believed that his expressions and those of Bildad and Zophar had been conveyed to Job “gently” so that he might abandon his wrong course. In the view of Eliphaz (as he expressed it in his rhetorical question), the “consolations of God” and the “word” or corrective message that was spoken “gently” to Job should have been enough for him to mend his ways. (15:11)

According to the Septuagint, Eliphaz claimed that Job had only been “scourged” for “few” of his “sins.” He accused him of having been arrogant and excessive in his speaking. (15:11)

Eliphaz directed another rhetorical question to Job. “Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash?” The expression about Job’s “heart” may be taken to mean that Eliphaz considered him to be deranged in his thinking and to be emotionally out of control. In the Septuagint, his “heart” is referred to as “daring.” This could mean that his “heart” or his mental faculty allowed him to express himself as he did in a manner that his three companions considered to be an unwarranted attack against God. (15:12)

The flashing of Job’s eyes could relate to their flashing in anger or to rolling in expression of disagreement with the conclusions of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. In the Septuagint, the question relates to what Job’s eyes had focused upon. (15:12; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz accused Job of turning his “spirit” or his attitude against God (venting “fury before the Lord” [LXX]). This is the apparent reason he deemed the “words” or expressions that came out of Job’s mouth as being irreverent and accusatory. (15:13; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering in connection with verse 12.)

With another rhetorical question, Eliphaz repeated the misrepresentation of God that had earlier been conveyed to him in a vision. (4:13-18) Whereas the Almighty trusted Job (1:8; 2:3), Eliphaz insisted that this was not the case. No man, no mortal, “can be “pure” (“blameless” [LXX]) before God, and no one born of a woman can be “righteous,” right, or upright. Thus Eliphaz asserted that Job was wrong in saying what he did, for he could not possibly be blameless before God. (15:14)

Confident that the earlier vision he had (4:13-18) revealed the truth to him, Eliphaz insisted that God had no trust in “his holy ones” or angels and that even the “heavens” were “not clean in his eyes.” This belief supported his view that Job definitely could not be guiltless before God. (15:15)

Believing that not even the heavens are clean or pure to God, Eliphaz contended that this most assuredly would be the case with one who is “abhorrent and corrupt,” a “man who drinks injustice [injustices (LXX)] like water” (a “drink” [LXX]). Although expressed in a general sense as applying to humans, the apparent intent is to describe Job as such a man. According to Eliphaz, Job was loathsome and rotten, a man who was inclined to engage in unjust practices as would be a person in the habit of drinking water and thirsting for it. (15:16)

Addressing Job directly, Eliphaz said, “I will tell you; listen to me. And what I have seen, I will relate.” These words indicate that Eliphaz wanted Job to pay attention to what he was about to say to him and that his remarks would be based on what he had personally observed or come to know. (15:17)

The comments of Eliphaz regarding the things he had seen included what wise men had imparted to younger generations since ancient times. These wise men did not conceal what they had received from their “fathers” or their wise ancestors. Thus, for his words, Eliphaz represented himself as having the support of the composite wisdom that had been passed on during the course of numerous generations. (15:18; see the Notes section.)

To the “fathers” or ancestors alone the “earth” or “land” had been given, and no “stranger” or alien “passed among them.” The thought appears to be that the wisdom of the ancestors was not corrupted by foreign influences. Their wisdom was that of natives in their own land and which wisdom had been faithfully handed down from generation to generation of native inhabitants. (15:19)

One of the conclusions of the ancient wise men was that the wicked one suffers pain “all the days” of his life or, according to the Septuagint, is in a state of anxiety during all his life. “And the number of years are stored up for the ruthless one.” As the Septuagint rendering suggests, the “pain” of the wicked one or the godless man could be his continual worry about being caught in his wrongdoing and punished for it. The “pain” could also relate to the miserable condition in which the corrupt man would continually find himself. A ruthless person or tyrant will have his allotted years of misery or, according to the Septuagint, the “years given to the mighty one” or tyrant “are numbered.” He will not be able to act in an oppressive and corrupt manner indefinitely. (15:20)

Regarding a wicked man, Eliphaz claimed that he would have the “sound of terrors in his ears” or, according to the Septuagint, “fear” in his ears. This could indicate that, on account of his guilty conscience, he would continually have a sense of uneasiness and dread. It would be as if the “sound of terrors” or approaching calamities always resounded in his ears. While “in peace” or in a state of seeming security and prosperity, this one would have a despoiler come upon him, seizing everything he has. The Septuagint says that “destruction” would come upon the godless man just when he thought of himself as being at “peace” or in secure circumstances. (15:21)

Eliphaz spoke of the godless man as not believing that he would “return out of darkness,” suggesting that he would be without any hope of ever escaping from the gloom of the miserable state in which he found himself. One of the calamities that could befall him is to be slain with the sword. His situation would be like that of a man for whom the sword was lying in wait. The Septuagint refers to him as “already” in the “hand of iron” or in the power of “iron” or a weapon. (15:22)

Eliphaz referred to the wicked man as “wandering for bread” or food. This may signify that he would be reduced to a state of poverty, forcing him to look for something to eat. In the extant Hebrew text, this is followed by an expression that may be rendered “where,” and could point to the difficulty the impious man would have in his search for food, as he would not know just where he might obtain it. According to the Septuagint, he has been “appointed” as “food for vultures.” This may mean that his slain corpse would lie exposed on the ground for vultures to feed upon. All that the wicked one knows is that a “day of darkness,” misfortune, or calamity is “ready at his hand” or about to befall him. The Septuagint rendering suggests that he “knows within himself” that he will end up as a “carcass” and that a “day of darkness” will distress him. (15:23)

In the view of Eliphaz, the godless man finds that “distress and anguish” terrify (“take hold of” or “seize” [LXX]) him, suggesting that troubles continue to assail him. Intense anxiety (distress and anguish) overpowers him “like a king ready for attack” or like a monarch who is well-prepared for battle. The wicked man is never free from a sense of fear and foreboding. In the Septuagint, the fate of the impious man is like that of a “commander falling in the first rank” or in the front line. (15:24)

Eliphaz identified the reason for the wicked man’s troubles as being that he “stretched out [raised (LXX)] his hand against God [the Lord (LXX)]” and “showed himself mighty” to the “Almighty” or defied him. The implied message to Job may here be that this is what he did when finding fault with God for having afflicted him. (15:25)

Eliphaz described the man who set himself in opposition to the Almighty as “running against him with a neck,” which probably means resisting him with a stiff neck or in a stubborn and defiant manner. The Septuagint indicates the running against the Almighty to have been “with insolence.” In his “running,” the godless man is like an attacking warrior with “his shields.” Ancient shields were commonly made of leather and were equipped with a metal boss or knob at the center. This boss served to provide additional protection during combat. The wording of the extant Hebrew text focuses on the “bosses” (the “thickness of the bosses of his shields”). (15:26; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz described the godless man as covering “his face with his fattiness” and putting “fat upon his loins.” This wording suggests prosperous circumstances that are commonly linked to disregard for God. (15:27; compare Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 5:28; see the Notes section.)

The description of the habitation of the impious one could apply either to the desolation to which the place of residence would be reduced or to the actual habitation of the wicked one. Translations vary in their renderings. “He will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble.” (NIV) “But they will live in the ruins of deserted towns.” (CEV) “The city where he lives will lie in ruins, his house will be deserted, destined to crumble in a heap of rubble.” (REB) “He had occupied the towns he had destroyed, with their uninhabited houses about to fall into ruins.” (NJB) If the words apply to the existing circumstances of the lawless one, he is being portrayed as an impoverished person forced to live in ruins, an individual who chose this habitation as a hideout from which to engage in robbery, or a man involved in the destruction of cities. According to the Septuagint, the fate of the impious one will be for him to end up lodging in “desolate cities” and to enter “uninhabited [plural of aoíketos] habitations [plural of oikos (house)].” (15:28; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz claimed that the wicked man “will not be rich” and that “his wealth” will not last. Whatever he may accumulate will only be in his possession temporarily. The concluding phrase in the extant Hebrew text could mean that his “property” (minlám) or what he acquired will not be spread out over the land. This significance is uncertain, especially since the meaning of the Hebrew word minlám is conjectural. The Septuagint says that “he will by no means cast a shadow upon the land.” This could indicate that he would have so very little as not even to cast a shadow. (15:29; see the Notes section.)

According to Eliphaz, the ungodly man will not “turn aside” or be able to depart or escape “out of darkness” or the gloom associated with trouble and misery. Possibly the calamity to befall the impious man is likened to that of a tree. A “flame” (possibly meaning scorching summer heat) “will dry up his shoot” (a collective singular designating “shoots,” twigs, or branches). He (like a withered tree) “will turn aside” or depart “by the wind of his [God’s] mouth.” The Septuagint rendering differs somewhat from the extant Hebrew text. “May wind wither his bud, and may his blossom drop.” (15:30)

According to Eliphaz, the godless one should not trust in “emptiness” or that which is worthless or corrupt, being misled (probably meaning deceiving himself that he would profit from his wrongdoing). There would be only one recompense for “emptiness” — “emptiness” or worthlessness. The Septuagint represents the words directed to the impious one to be, “Let him not trust that he will endure, for emptiness will turn out for him.” This suggests that he should not think that he will avoid a calamitous end. The course he has pursued will only produce emptiness or nothing of any value, gain, or benefit. (15:31)

“In not his day,” possibly meaning before the time that would be considered as having been allotted to him, the godless man would be paid in full or be recompensed for his corrupt actions. The reference to “his branch” not flourishing could indicate that none of his undertakings would succeed. (15:32; see the Notes section regarding the rendering of the Septuagint.)

Eliphaz appears to have likened the unsuccessful outcome the ungodly man would experience to crop failure. His outcome would be comparable to a vine that drops its unripe grapes and to an olive tree that sheds its blossoms. This comparison also suggests that he would be responsible for what would happen to him, as the vine and the olive tree are represented as the active agents in failing to bear good fruit. The Septuagint rendering conveys a message of adverse judgment to befall the impious one. “May he be harvested like an unripe grape before the hour” or before its proper time, “and may he drop like the blossom of an olive tree.” These expressions point to the judgment being a premature end for the godless one. (15:33)

In the view of Eliphaz, only the ungodly come to a calamitous end, “for the company of the profane ones is barren.” These words could indicate that all who may be identified as being part of the company of godless persons produce nothing that will be good and that everything they undertake will terminate in complete failure or in calamity for them. In the Septuagint, the “testimony of the impious one” is linked to “death.” This could signify that his premature death would bear witness to his having been godless. (15:34)

Among the lawless ones, a common practice was to use bribes to attain unworthy objectives or to pervert justice. In the words of Eliphaz, whatever gain they may have accumulated through bribery will be lost. “Fire consumes the tents of bribery.” According to the Septuagint, “fire will burn the houses of those taking bribes.” Nothing will remain of the “tents,” “houses,” or habitations of those guilty of giving bribes or of accepting bribes. (15:34)

Eliphaz described the ungodly as persons who conceive “trouble” or mischief and who bring forth wickedness or what is injurious, and “their womb” or “belly” prepares “deceit.” This may be understood to indicate that, in thought and deed, corrupt persons live lives characterized by wrongdoing, badness, and deception and, therefore, deserve the punishment that Eliphaz had previously described. The Septuagint refers to the impious man as conceiving “pains,” with “emptiness” or worthlessness being brought forth for him. As for his “womb” or “belly,” it “will bear deceit.” The words of the Septuagint suggest that, as the product of his deceitfulness, all the godless man will have in the end will be nothingness. (15:35)


In the Septuagint, verse 6 conveys the same basic thought as the extant Hebrew text. It reads, “May your mouth reprove you and not I, and your lips will testify against you.”

The words of verse 10 were not found in the manuscripts of the Septuagint that were available to Origen in the third century CE. He added them from the version of Theodotion and marked the addition accordingly. This added Greek text is basically the same as the extant Hebrew text.

The Septuagint rendering of verse 12 completes the thought about the eyes in verse 13. “Or what did your eyes set themselves upon, that you vented fury before the Lord?” The implication of the question is that Job had focused on the wrong things, and this had resulted in his being angry with God.

In verse 18, the concluding phrase may be literally translated, “and did not hide from their fathers.” This is also the literal rendering of the Septuagint. As their “fathers” or ancestors had died, the wise men would not be concealing wisdom from them. Therefore, translators have variously rendered the words according to a possible intended meaning. “Their ancestors have not hidden.” (NRSV) “What wise men relate and have not contradicted since the days of their fathers.” (NAB) “What wise men have declared, hiding nothing received from their fathers.” (NIV) “What has been handed down by wise men and was not concealed from them by their forefathers.” (REB) “The tradition of the sages who have remained faithful to their ancestors.” (NJB)

The words of verse 26 in the text of the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE contained no reference to a shield. He added them from the version of Theodotion and marked the addition accordingly. Printed texts of the Septuagint preserve the addition (“with the thickness of the back of his shield”).

The words of verse 27 were not found in the text of the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He added them from the version of Theodotion, marking the addition accordingly. The added text conveys the basic significance of the extant Hebrew text.

In verse 28, the expression “uninhabited habitations” preserves the literal sense of the Greek expression, for the adjective for “uninhabited” incorporates the word for “house.” The concluding phrase of this verse in the Septuagint differs from the extant Hebrew text. It reads, “But what they have prepared, others will carry away.” The thought appears to be that others will gain possession of everything the lawless ones had accumulated.

The rendering “by no means” in verse 29 of the Septuagint text preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”

Verse 32 in the Septuagint could be literally rendered, “His pruning will be destroyed before the hour, and his twig will by no means flourish.” The thought could be that the “pruning” would be ruined because of having been performed before the proper “hour” or time. As a result of the ruined pruning, no twig or branch on the vine could flourish. The expression “by no means” preserves the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.” It is also possible that, in this context, the Greek word for “pruning” (tomé) designates the harvest. In that case the meaning would be that the harvest would be ruined before the right time for it to be completed. In their application to the godless man, the words suggest that all of his undertakings will fail.