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The Job debate;- Bildad (again) and Job

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posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 06:11 PM
On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.

The troubles of Job were described in the first two chapters.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of them, which develops into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.
Like any other lawsuit, this case begins with a plaintiff’s complaint (ch3).
Since God is not offering an immediate response, the “comforters” who are sitting with Job begin putting forward their own counter-arguments
All three of them have spoken once, and now it is Bildads’ turn to make a second contribution.

Bildad, second speech

Bildad complains that Job is wordy, that he treats his friends as stupid, and that he thinks the whole world should be changed around to suit himself (ch18 vv1-4).

Bildad, like Eliphaz, makes his main theme “the downfall of the wicked”.
The wicked man’s light is put out.
He is cast into a net by his own feet.
Terrors frighten him on every side.
He is worn down by hunger and disease.
“He is torn from the tent in which he trusted, and is brought to the king of terrors” (v14).
His roots dry up.
His memory perishes from the earth.
“He is thrust from light into darkness…
He has no offspring or descendant among his own people” (vv18-19)
That is the fate of “him who knows not God (v21).

The friends of Job are rather prone to dwell on this theme.
I think the intention is to be comforting. Since Job complains of being oppressed by the wicked, these declarations are promising him that his persecutors will be overcome.
Unfortunately the predicted fate of the wicked closely matches the experience of Job himself, so they seem to be explaining Job’s experience as the deserved fate of his own wickedness.

Job’s response

Not surprisingly, Job complains that they are tormenting him and casting reproach on him (ch19 vv1-3).
They make his humiliation an argument against him.
That is to say, they point to his troubles as a proof of his iniquities.

The truth is that he is “in the wrong” with God only because God has placed him in that position. The “net” of his justice has caught Job in a trap (v6).
Job has protested against this.
He has cried out “Violence!”, which is the legal form of the appeal for justice (he did this in ch16).
He has appealed thus against the injustice of God, but the power of justice (which is, again, God himself) has not responded (v7).

So God has closed off Job’s escape routes and shut him in.
“He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass” (v8).
He has stripped away Job’s glory, pulled up his hope like a tree, by the roots, and sent all his armed forces against the place where Job lives (vv8-12).

The worst of it is that God’s action has alienated Job’s friends and relations from him.
This comes about through that same assumption that misfortune is proof of iniquity.
It affects his kinsfolk, the guests in his house, his own servants, and even his wife, his brothers, and his children (vv13-19).
These are the same people who should be showing pity in his distress.
It is bad enough that God pursues him; why should they all pile in to make things worse? (vv21-22)

“Oh that my words were written! … that they were inscribed in a book… that they were graven in the rock for ever” (vv23-24)
It seems that Job desires a record of his appeal permanent enough to be used in the future by some unimaginable “appeal court”, which might review the case.
“I know that my redeemer lives” (v25).
Here is the same bold hope. The redeemer in Israelite law is the “kinsman”, whose function is to rescue a man from slavery and set him free.
In the same way, Job has not just a vague hope but an absolute confidence that a redeeming power will in some way be able to set him free from the bondage in which he finds himself.
He does not expect this to happen while he is alive.
The Hebrew around these verses is obscure (we are warned), but it seems that he expects this redemption “apart from” his flesh- that is, after he has already reached Sheol.
THEN he expects to see God, a God who is on his side (vv26-27).
In other words, the same possibility of some kind of “escape” from Sheol which had previously been presented as an impossible dream.

One final warning to those who know him.
They might be tempted to say “the root of the matter is in him” (that is, Job’s misfortunes are caused by his iniquities), and to “pursue” him on that basis.
But they need to know that this in itself, being unjust, is an offence against God which will bring them into wrath at the time of judgement (vv28-29).

posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 06:21 PM
"His troops come on together; thay have cast up siegeworks against me." (ch19 v12)
For Job, as an individual, that statement is metaphorical. But the same statement as made by Jerusalem, of course, would have been the literal truth.

“The worst of it is that God’s action has alienated Job’s friends and relations from him.
This comes about through that same presumption that misfortune is proof of iniquity.
It affects his kinsfolk, the guests in his house, his own servants, and even his wife, his brothers, and his children .
These are the same people who should be showing pity in his distress.
It is bad enough that God pursues him; why should they all pile in to make things worse? “

To the extent that Job represents the defeated and exiled nation, this complaint might also be made about prophets like Ezekiel, and the way they focus on the sin of Israel as the cause of the disaster.
I don’t think this book denies the teaching of the prophets, but perhaps we should be wary of the danger of over-simplifying the question. There may be more to it than we can grasp at first sight.

posted on Nov, 3 2017 @ 06:23 PM
Which side of the debate appears to be making the best case?


Job’s complaint

Ch3) I curse the day I was born.
Because it did not cut my life short and so protect me from the troubles of life.
Why did I not die at birth? (vv10-11)
Why is life given (or why does life continue to be given) to the man in misery who longs for death? (vv20-21)

Eliphaz (1)

Ch4) His understanding of Job’s complaint;
While Job was able to encourage others when they were in trouble, he fails to apply his own advice when the troubles fall upon himself. He has become impatient.
Job believes that his fear of God and his integrity should be enough to protect him from trouble. (vv5-6)

Based on observation;
Those who work with iniquity and cause trouble perish at the hands of God.
Those who are innocent and upright are safe. (vv7-8)
Based on direct vision from God;
NO man can be righteous before God, who finds nothing free from fault. (v17)

Ch5) Observation confirms this.
We see that people reject God and therefore suffer. (v3)
So trouble is natural to our lives (vv6-7).
The answer is to trust in God entirely (v8).
The result of this trust will be protection and security (v26).


Ch6) Restates the heaviness of his vexations.
The terrors of God are arrayed against him (vv1-4).
Restates that in the circumstances he would prefer death (vv8-10).

Eliphaz and the others have been unsympathetic.
He challenges them to specify what was wrong with his remarks.
He will tell them the truth, because his vindication is at stake (v29).
Ch7) His case is the case of men in general (v1).

The reason why he has no fear about addressing God directly;
His life is short, and once he reaches Sheol he will never return (vv7-10).
Therefore he has nothing to lose from speaking his mind.

The root of the problem is that God is paying him too much attention.
As a result, his transgressions are always being noticed, and consequently getting punished (v17).
Why should God not break this chain simply by pardoning his transgressions? (vv20-21)

Bildad (1)

Ch8) God does not pervert justice.
So Job’s children must have been penalised for their own sin (v4)
Job himself should make supplication to God.
If he is pure and upright, God will rouse himself to take action on Job’s behalf (vv5-7)

For this is the wisdom which has been handed down from bygone ages;
On the one hand, the hope of the godless shall perish (v13).
On the other hand, God will not reject a blameless man (v20).


Ch9) He knows that “it is so” (v1);
(That is, God will not, in principle, reject a blameless man.
So if a blameless man like Job finds himself rejected anyway, that needs to be put right.)

But how can a man establish himself as just before God?
The problem is that the overwhelming power of God sets him beyond contradiction (vv2-3).
How can Job, as an innocent man, plead his cause under those conditions? (vv15-17)
What power can compel God to give an account of what he does? (v19)

Even though Job is blameless, he would be forced to condemn himself out of his own mouth (v20).
But he loathes his life, so he is not afraid to say;
1. He himself is blameless
2. God destroys both the blameless and the wicked
However, these issues cannot be discussed fairly, because God will not meet him on equal terms, laying aside his dread power (vv32-35).

Ch10) Again he asks, why should God pursue his transgressions quite so diligently? (v17)
Again he asks; why was he allowed to enter the world, to experience these troubles? (v18)
But if he must live, why cannot be allowed to live his short life in peace?

Zophar (1)

Ch11) Job says that he is blameless.
But God’s wisdom is higher than ours, so his judgement of righteousness and unrighteousness must be better than ours.
In fact in Job’s case he must be exacting less of a penalty than his guilt requires (vv5-6).
So Job should repent and seek God, after which his life will be restored (vv13-15).


Ch12) Restates his basic case;
On the one hand, he himself, a just and blameless man, has now been made a laughing-stock because of his misfortunes.
On the other hand, robbers and idolaters are left free to live in peace and security (vv4-6).
He is not ignorant of the great wisdom of God as ruler of the world.
Indeed his point is that God does everything, and so must be responsible for everything (vv13-14).

Ch13) He intends to argue his case with God directly (v3).
He challenges God to meet him in debate, asking only;
That God should allow him to speak, holding back his own power.
And that God should promise to reply (vv19-22).
He demands a full account of the iniquities for which he is being punished (v23).
Ch14) Since man have been given such a short life, why punish his iniquities anyway? (vv1-3)
Why not just look away from them? (v6)
He wishes he could be allowed to hide in Sheol during the time of judgement, coming out again once it was over, and starting a fresh life free from the scrutiny of his transgressions (vv13-17)

Eliphaz (2)

Ch15) On the authority of wisdom handed down from ancient times;
Repeats, it is not possible for men to be wholly righteous (vv15-16).
Repeats, God brings destruction on the wicked (vv23-25).


Ch16) They do not know his experiences.
He has been “under attack” from God, though he has not earned it by attacking others (vv12-13).
So he wants to make a legal appeal as a victim of “Violence”, naming God himself as the defendant (v18), also citing God as his own chief witness (v19), and calling upon God to be an impartial judge in the case (vv20-21).

Ch17) Returns to the theme of his despair.
Asks whether his hope will go down with him to Sheol and keep him company there (vv13-16).

edit on 3-11-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

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