John T. Willis

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Job Loses His Wisdom [Fear of God]

As in Job 1:6-22 and 2:1-10, the composer of the book of Job NOW relates a third sequence with: (1) an earthly council--2:11-13; and (2) the effects of Job on this council--3:1-26. In the first two "scenes," the council was a "heavenly council" recorded in 1:6-12 and 2:1-6 respectively. The third council is an earthly council. In this blog, we will work through Job 2:11-3:26.

I. The Earthly Council. Job 2:11-13.
A. Three of Job's friends "hear" [learn from a great distance] about Job's many afflictions. These people are from different countries: Eliphaz from Tema, Bildad from Shua, and Zophar from Naamah. Verse 11.
1. One must ask HOW these three men had become friends of Job. Later, in the book of Job, we will discover that Job traveled widely, and apparently was an ambassador or diplomat or envoy of the land of Uz, where he met with ambassadors of other countries for international conferences. [Just for beginners, see Job 29:7-10, 21-25, but there will be additional texts on this]. On such occasions, Job became friends with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
2. Somehow, the information about Job got to these three men independently, and THEN they had to agree to MEET TOGETHER to go to Job in his land of Uz. This would take quite a bit of time--several months probably.
3. When these three men met together, they PLANNED to go to Job to CONSOLE and COMFORT Job. NOW, when they finally arrive, watch what happens!!!
B. When Job's three friends arrived: Verses 12-13.
1. They saw Job from a distance and did not recognize him. If you have ever gone to a hospital room of a friend you have known for many years, and you have not seen your friend for awhile, and your friend has suffered tremendously for several weeks or months, you may very well know what it meant when Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar did not recognize him after all of Job's suffering.
2. Job's three friends did six things:
a. They raised their voices [apparently loudly].
b. They wept.
c. They tore their robes.
d. They threw dust in the air on their heads.
All of these are common mourning customs in the ancient Near East, including Israel. See Exodus 9:8, 10; 2 Samuel 1:11; 3:31; Isaiah 28:25; and very often.
e. They sat with Job on the ground for 7 days and 7 nights, a common ancient Near Eastern custom for mourning the dead. See Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel
f. They did not speak a word.
Obviously, this behavior of Job's friends certainly did not "console" and "comfort" Job. As a matter of fact, they deeply IRRITATED and AGITATED Job. And THIS explains the effects of Job on his friends as related in Job 3:1-26.

II. Job's Reaction to His Friends. Job 3:1-26.
*Just as Job's friends were about to get up and leave silently after seven days, Job cannot take it any more. Job BURSTS out violently in response to his friends' obvious behavior that they KNEW Job was as good as dead--thus we are hereby and forthwith giving his funeral, because we cannot return from our countries.

*Job's speech in essence is a BITTER PLEA that he will DIE. Job's speech falls naturally into three parts.

A. I wish I had died at birth. Job 3:1-15.
1. Verse 1 SAYS that Job "cursed the day of his birth." Some think this is different from the statement in Job 2:9: "Curse God and die." But, is there REALLY any difference between the two? WHO gives life? Who brings a person into life by BIRTH? Is it not God? Here, in my opinion, Job is "cursing God." Now, this sounds very harsh, and many will disagree. But, be patient with me, and give me several blogs to think through this with you. The bottom line here is: Job loses his wisdom [his fear of God]. One might respond--So, [the] Satan won!!! Maybe so. But there may be another way of looking at this. BE PATIENT here.
2. Job wishes he had never been born--verses 2-10. The terminology here is very similar to Jeremiah's complaints about his own situation, which is very similar to Job's situation, as described in Jeremiah 20:14-18. These verses are fairly clear, so need little comment. "The Sea" and "Leviathan" (verse 8) are sea monsters well known in the ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible--see for example Psalm
74:14; Isaiah 27:1. Job refers to these mythical creatures in poetic language.
3. The expression "receive the knees" in verse 12a probably refers to the custom of the father taking the newborn child onto his lap as the recipient of the new babe into the family. See Genesis 48:12; 50:23.
4. In verse 13-15, Job years to be with kings and counselors and princes who had already died and had been commemorated by exalted ruins and houses like the Pharaohs who were entombed in pyramids.
B. I wish I had died in his womb before he was every born. Job 3:16-19.
If Job had never been born, the wicked would not have troubled him; he had never been tired; he would never had been in labor as a prisoner in jail; and he had never been a slave hardly treated by a harsh master.
C. I wish I could die now. Job 3:20-26.
1. Job, in great suffering, cries out: WHY do I have to suffer like this? Verses 20-22.
2. In Job 1:10, [the] Satan complains because God had put a "fence" around Job to PROTECT Job. Now, Job complains because [from Job's present perspective] God has "fenced" Job in, and Job is miserable. Verse 23.
3. Job declares: "The thing that I FEAR comes upon me, and what I DREAD befalls me." Verse 25. The synonymous parallelism here shows that FEAR in this context is DREAD--NOT the "fear of the Lord" in the sense of "standing in awe of," "reverencing," "honoring," "holding in the highest regard," "highly respect" God. Verse 25 indicates that all the time Job was "enjoying" great wealth and health, Job was "AFRAID" in his heart of hearts that at any moment, affliction and disaster and suffering might fall upon him. NOW, Job says, what I feared, what I dreaded, has happened.

As one reflects on this passage, it should become quite clear that Job, in his inner heart and mind and thinking, is STRUGGLING between the ongoing issue between REASON and FAITH. At this point, REASON is winning the day in Job's mind. Job has lived a long life of faithful service to God, and what does he get from this? NOTHING!!! Only great losses of wealth and health. It is not worthy all the effort!!! I wish I had never born. But, since in reality I am still alive, I wish I could die.

Anybody out there felt that way? If you ever have, you can EMPATHIZE with Job. That is where he is right now. Let us follow the story in future blogs.


  • Wow! Years ago you turned me on to the book of Job and once again you've excited me about studying the book. Thanks for this insightful material. Very helpful.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    By Blogger Tim Archer, at 6:10 AM  

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