Job 22:1-30

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Eliphaz the Temanite (Thaimanite [LXX]) responded to Job. His being called the “Timanite” provides a basis for considering him to be a descendant of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. (Genesis 36:10, 11) An epilogue in the Septuagint is specific in identifying him as being of the “sons of Esau.” (22:1; 42:17e)

Eliphaz implied that God had nothing to gain from his dealings with Job or anyone else, ruling out any partiality in his treatment of individuals and indicating that nothing would interfere with his meting out just punishment. This implication took the form of a rhetorical question, “Can a man benefit God?” The answer is, No. Humans can do absolutely nothing for God. (22:2)

The concluding phrase could be understood to mean that a man in possession of wisdom or insight could benefit himself but not the Almighty. This significance is conveyed in a number of translations. “Can a human being contribute anything to God, when even someone intelligent can benefit only himself?” (NJB) “Though to himself a wise man be profitable!” (NAB) The extant Hebrew text has also been translated to indicate that a wise man would not benefit or be of use to God. “Can even a wise man benefit him?” (NIV) “Can he benefit even from the wise?” (REB) “Can even the wisest be of service to him?” (NRSV) The rendering of the Septuagint departs significantly from the reading of the extant Hebrew text. “Is it not the Lord who teaches insight and understanding?” (22:2; see the Notes section.)

In the view of Eliphaz, the Almighty would not have any particular delight if Job were righteous nor would there be any gain for him if Job made his ways complete, sound, or blameless. Whatever Job did or did not do would not result in anything being given to God. In the Septuagint, the thought is expressed similarly. “For what does it matter to the Lord if you were blameless in works?” The concluding phrase was not found in the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He marked the following words as added from the version of Theodotion, “Or [what] benefit that you make your way simple [or sincere]?” (22:3)

Eliphaz asked whether God reproved Job for his “fear” or his reverential regard for him, entering into judgment with him. The Septuagint rendering is, “Or taking account of you, will he reprove you, and will he enter into judgment with you?” The implied answer to the question in the Hebrew text would be that God’s reproof of Job and his entering into judgment with him would not be because he feared him or had a reverential regard for him. Eliphaz did not believe that Job feared God. The implied answer to the question in the Septuagint could be that, after taking account of Job, God would reprove him and judge him. Another possible meaning would be that there was no arrangement for Job to appear with God for judgment or for a trial, and God would not then make an accounting of Job or present his case regarding him. (22:4)

Although without proof that Job had committed serious transgressions, Eliphaz did not hold back from making accusations that he regarded as meriting God’s punitive judgment. He rhetorically asked Job, Is “not your evil great [abundant (LXX)]?” Then Eliphaz made the unsubstantiated claim that there was “no end” to Job’s “iniquities.” According to the Septuagint, he asked, “And are not your sins innumerable?” (22:5)

Eliphaz accused Job of taking pledges from his “brothers” or fellows for nothing, without cause, or when he had no justification for it. He spoke of Job as having stripped “garments of naked ones,” seizing what amounted to the last garment these poor and barely clothed people had. (22:6)

Eliphaz portrayed Job as a man without compassion, a man who refused to give a drink of water to the exhausted one and “bread” or food to the hungry person. (22:7)

According to the Hebrew text, “the land” is linked to an “arm” or power. This appears to be the way in which Eliphaz alluded to Job as a man who used his power to seize the land of others. He also referred to one whose “face” had been “lifted up” or one who had been shown partiality as a person entitled to reside in the land. This suggests that Eliphaz believed Job had no right to the land that had formerly been under his control or thought Job had no regard for the rightful ownership of others to the land. Translations vary in their interpretive renderings of the Hebrew text. “As if the land belonged to the man of might, and only the privileged were to dwell in it.” (NAB) “Is the earth, then, the preserve of the strong, a domain for the favoured few?” (REB) “Though you were a powerful man, owning land — an honored man, living on it.” (NIV) “The land belongs to the strong; the privileged occupy it.” (Tankah [JPS, 1985 edition]) “[You] handed the land over to a strongman, for some favoured person to move in.” (NJB) The Septuagint represents Eliphaz as indicating that Job “admired” the “faces” of certain ones or acted with partiality toward them and let them reside on the land. (22:8)

Eliphaz accused Job of sending widows away “empty,” giving them nothing in their time of need, and of having “crushed” the “arms of fatherless ones.” This crushing of arms appears to relate to harsh and oppressive treatment. The Septuagint rendering may be translated, “And you afflicted orphans.” (22:9)

Believing that Job had been guilty of serious wrongdoing, Eliphaz asserted that this was the reason for his suffering, telling him, “Therefore, snares surround you and sudden terror [extraordinary conflict (LXX)] disquiets you.” The Hebrew word here rendered “disquiets” (bahál) denotes “hastens” in certain contexts, and this is the rendering of the Septuagint (speúdo). (22:10)

Eliphaz likened what he believed to have rightly befallen Job as “darkness” or gloom without any ray of light, making it impossible for him to see. (“The light resulted in darkness for you.” [LXX]) He also likened the calamities that had befallen Job to his being covered with a deluge of water. The Septuagint quotes Eliphaz as saying that Job, “having slept,” ended up being covered with water (in the form of troubles and affliction). (22:11)

Eliphaz raised the rhetorical question, “Is not God high in the heavens?” The affirmative answer to this question could have implied that, from this exalted position, God observed everything taking place on the earth. This thought is expressed in a more direct way in the Septuagint. “Does not the One inhabiting the heights observe?” In the extant Hebrew text, the directive for Job to “see” or to look at the highest (literally, “head”) stars, noting that they were “high,” or far above the earth, may have been intended to impress upon him that God is above them and so looks down upon them. The Septuagint rendering is significantly different. With reference to God, it says, “And he has humbled those carried” or carried away “by arrogance.” (22:12)

Eliphaz asserted that Job did not believe God could always observe developments on the earth. He claimed that Job said, “What does God [the Strong One (Theodotion)] know? Can he judge through a dark cloud?” (22:13; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz represented Job as considering “clouds” to prevent God from seeing happenings on the earth below as he “walks on the vault [literally, circle] of the heavens.” (22:14; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz had wrongly concluded that Job led a corrupt life. Therefore, he asked, “Will you keep to the old way that wicked men [unjust men (Theodotion)] have trod?” (22:15)

Regarding the wicked or “unjust men” (Theodotion), Eliphaz said that they “were snatched away prematurely” (literally, “not time”). “Their foundation” — everything they imagined to be stable and enduring — was swept away [literally, poured out] as by a “river.” Nothing remained that gave evidence of their former existence. The version of Theodotion represents “their foundations” as being like a “flooding river.” This could mean that the things on which unjust men relied like foundations were as destructive as a river that overflowed its banks. (22:16; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz referred to the wicked as saying to God, “Depart from us.” They wanted to be left alone and not to be held accountable for their actions. The extant Hebrew text follows their words with a question. “And what can the Almighty do to them?” In this case, translators usually have followed the Septuagint rendering, ending the question with “to us” (not “to them”). The question represents the wicked as believing that the Almighty would not do anything for them nor to them. (22:17; see the Notes section.)

Whereas the wicked denied that the Almighty could do anything for them, Eliphaz said that “he filled their houses with good” or “good things” (LXX). According to the extant Hebrew text, Eliphaz then said, “And the counsel of the wicked is far from me.” He refused to adopt their way of thinking and acting. The Septuagint represents the Almighty as the one who has nothing to do with the “counsel,” purpose, or aim of the impious ones. “But the counsel of the impious ones [is] far from him.” (22:18)

As apparent from verse 20, the righteous or upright ones “see” or witness the judgment that is executed against the wicked. They “are glad” (“laughed” [LXX]) that the godless ones have been punished for their wrongdoing. The “innocent one” or “blameless one” (LXX) “mocks” or “derides” the wicked as persons who rightly have been condemned. (22:19; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz quoted the upright ones as saying that their “adversaries” (a collective singular in the Hebrew text) had been “cut off” and that “fire” had consumed what they left behind (or who among them had been left remaining). The wicked had met their end, and nothing remained of their possessions, or not even one among them had survived. “Surely our foes are destroyed, and fire devours their wealth.” (NIV) “Truly these have been destroyed where they stood, and such as were left, fire has consumed!” (NAB) (22:20; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz advised Job to change his attitude toward God, being of use to him (sakhán), agreeing with him, or submitting to him, and being at peace with him or no longer making complaints against him. If Job did this, “good” would come to him. According to the Septuagint, Eliphaz told Job to “become hard” or firm when he endured. Then his “fruit” would be or result in “good things.” (22:21; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz entreated Job to accept the “law” or instruction (an “utterance” [LXX]) from God’s “mouth” and to “lay up his words” in his “heart.” He wanted Job to treasure what God revealed and to act in harmony therewith. (22:22)

On the basis of what had befallen Job and the expressions he had made, Eliphaz believed that Job had gravely transgressed and strayed from God. Therefore, he admonished him to return to God, saying, “If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up.” Job’s distressing circumstances would then end, and he would again prosper. According to the Septuagint, Eliphaz said to Job, “If you return and humble yourself before the Lord, you shall have put injustice far from your dwelling.” In the extant Hebrew text, the concluding phrase sets forth what Job needed to do, but the good result for following through is expressed in verse 26, where the sentence is completed. The concluding phrase is, “If you remove unrighteousness” or injustice “from your tents …” (22:23)

Eliphaz advised Job not to trust in riches but to treat them as if they had no more value than the dust of the ground. He told him that his circumstances would change “if [he] put gold in the dust and Ophir [the fine gold for which Ophir was famed] in the rock [among the rocks or pebbles] of wadis.” The region of Ophir has not been identified with any known location. (22:24; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz exhorted Job to make the Almighty as the most precious to him — like gold and silver. Linked to the Hebrew noun for “silver” is the word toh‘aphóhth, concerning the meaning of which there is uncertainty. In relation to silver, it has been suggested that the reference is to silver ingots or silver in large piles. Translators vary in their renderings (“silver in double measure” [REB], “silver piled in heaps” [NJB], “precious silver” [NRSV], “choicest silver” [NIV], and “sparkling silver” [NAB]). The Septuagint conveys a different meaning. “Therefore, the Almighty will be your helper from enemies, and he will bring you back pure like silver tested by fire.” (22:25)

In the view of Eliphaz, Job would “delight himself” in the Almighty, provided he followed through on the admonition he had given him. This delight may refer to the joy Job would have when living in harmony with God’s will. The Septuagint says that he would “speak boldly” or openly “before the Lord.” Job would also “lift up” his “face to God,” confidently looking to him for help and guidance. According to the Septuagint, he would be “looking up to heaven [God’s place of dwelling] cheerfully,” suggesting that he would do so with joy and a clear conscience. (22:26)

Regarding what would happen if Job heeded his exhortation, Eliphaz said, “You will pray to him [God], and he will hear you.” This meant that God would respond favorably to Job’s petitions. Furthermore, whatever he had promised when making vows, Job would pay. The Septuagint rendering indicates that God would “give” to Job, making it possible for him to pay his vows, or to offer what he had promised when having vowed. (22:27)

Eliphaz indicated that, if Job lived uprightly, any decision he might make respecting a “matter” would be “established” or would succeed. Also a “light” would “shine” on his “ways,” enabling him to see the course that he needed to follow. The Septuagint rendering is, “And he [God] will restore to you a habitation of righteousness, and light will be on your ways.” This could mean that Job’s place of dwelling would be one where righteousness or justice distinguished all dealings. (22:28)

The extant Hebrew text could be translated, “When they abased, you said, Pride.” This reference to “pride” may mean exaltation from a state of abasement. The one who saves the “lowly of eyes” or the humble ones, though not specifically identified, is God. Translators have rendered the somewhat obscure text in ways that are not expressed or implied in the Hebrew text. “For he brings down the pride of the haughty, but the man of humble mien he saves.” (NAB) “When men are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast.” (NIV) “For he casts down the pride of the arrogant, but he saves those of downcast eyes.” (NJB) (22:29; see the Notes section.)

With apparent reference to God, the extant Hebrew text says, “He delivers one who is not innocent.” The Greek version of Theodotion, however, says, “He will deliver the innocent one.” Apparently when viewing Job as restored to God’s favor, Eliphaz (according to the Hebrew text) said that one not innocent would be delivered “through the cleanness of [Job’s] hands.” The thought could be that, because God would deliver Job from a calamity that would not be specifically directed against him, persons who were not blameless as he was would be delivered at the same time because of Job’s clean hands or pure conduct. (22:30; see the Notes section.)


The wording of the question in verse 2 of the Septuagint is identical to that of verse 22 of chapter 21.

The words for verses 13 through 16 were not found in the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He marked them as supplied from the version of Theodotion.

In verse 14, the words Origin marked from the version of Theodotion differ from the extant Hebrew text. God is the one represented as having the “clouds” as his “hiding place” and not being seen. He is referred to as the one who “will pass through the circle of heaven.”

In verse 16, translations vary in the way they express what happens to the foundation. “Their foundation was washed away by a flood.” (NRSV) “Whose foundations were swamped by a flood.” (NJB) “Their very foundation flowing away like a river.” (REB) “And their foundation poured out like a river.” (Tanakh (JPS, 1985 edition)

The opening phrase of verse 17 in the Septuagint departs from the wording of the extant Hebrew text. It basically expresses the same question in two ways. “They say, What can the Lord do to us? Or what can the Almighty bring upon us?”

The initial phrase of verse 19 expresses the same thought as does the initial phrase of Psalm 107:42.

In the third century CE, Origen did not find the words of verse 20 in the Septuagint available to him. He marked them as having been added from the version of Theodotion. The addition may be rendered, “Truly their substance disappeared, and fire will consume their remnant” (or what has remained).

In the context of verse 21, the imperative form of the Hebrew word sakhán has been variously understood (“be of use,” “agree,” “be reconciled,” “come to terms,” “submit,” and “acquaint yourself”).

Origen marked the words of verse 24 as having been added from the version of Theodotion. The Greek text of that version differs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text and may be translated, “You will place upon a mound in a rock [a cave in a crag] and Ophir like a rock of a wadi.”

The words of verses 29 and 30 were not found in the Septuagint available to Origen in the third century CE. He marked them as having been added from the version of Theodotion. The Greek text of verse 29 may be rendered, “For he humbled him, and you will say, He behaved pridefully.” This appears to mean that God humbled the arrogant one and that Job would acknowledge that this resulted because the individual had acted arrogantly. The concluding phrase of verse 29 in the Septuagint could be understood to mean that God would save the one with downcast eyes or the one who regarded himself as lowly and needy before God.

In verse 30, the Greek version of Theodotion does not include others in the deliverance. It quotes Eliphaz as saying to Job, “And you will be preserved through your clean hands” or your pure conduct.