BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR JOB
Gordis, Robert. The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job. (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1965).
——————- The Book of Job: Commentary, New Translation, and Special Studies. (Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, 1978).
Janzen, J. Gerald. Job. Part of the Interpretation bible commentary series edited by James L. Mays. (John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1985).
Wilson, Gerald H. Job. Part of the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, General Editors W. Ward Gasque, Robert Hubbard Jr., and Robert Johnston. (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2007).
Notes for Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 Eliphaz’s first speech
Wilson p. 43 – Eliphaz is the first of the three friends to speak, likely the eldest and most respected of the three, has primacy amongst them. He also gets the most verses of the three (note the descending number of chapters – until we get to Elihu.
p. 43: name means something like “my God is pure gold”
p. 43: “His major assertion in this chapter seems to be that because all humans are less than righteous before God (v. 17), Job ought to trust that God will respond mercifully to Job’s consistent demonstration of diligent piety.”
- Speech one: Chapters 4,5: all of creation, including angels, are subject to error and judgment. All mankind subject to sin. SO – confess, be confident in God’s eventual mercy
- Speech two: Chapter 15: you ARE sinful, saying you’re NOT is deceitful, you make things worse for yourself you fool!
- Speech three Chapter 22: God is not deceived or changed by what we do and say, good or bad. God is an unbiased judge, God is good and just.
In verses 7 – 11 Eliphaz presents the wisdom tradition, pious sayings and proverbs
4:12-21 Eliphaz relates a dream or prophetic vision. Human beings are frail, all deserve judgment. Is any created one more righteous and perfect than the creator??? Obviously not!
Gordis p. 48: Talmud identifies this Eliphaz as one of 7 Gentile prophets. But – unlike Hebrew prophets who receive God’s word more directly, the Gentile prophets only get indirect communication from the LORD.
5:1 is there an appeal possible to other than God? Seems not. SO, be patient, impatient anger in the face of undeserved suffering will only make things worse.
5:2-5: more of the wisdom tradition / proverbs and folk sayings about fools and the unlearned youth – don’t be like them and resent the good fortune of others or the punishment you are receiving .(Recall Jesus’ parable of the rich man who tore down his barns to build bigger ones only to die that very night)
Trouble doesn’t come out of nowhere! Wilson p. 51 “To err is human, Eliphaz demurs, and trouble is the inevitable result of errant human nature.”
Gordis p. 58: “While the idea finds expression in conventional Wisdom (Pr.3:11 and here), it is entirely comprehensible that its role would be limited since the upper-class orientation of Wisdom writers made the theme of undeserved suffering largely superfluous for their pupils and their readers. It was the poor for whom the idea would hold far greater appeal, as, e.g., the Psalmists (94:12), whose complaints against legalized injustice (vv.20,21) demonstrate his affiliation with the lower groups in society.”
Proverbs 3:11, 12
11 The discipline of the LORD, my son, do not spurn;
do not disdain his reproof;
12 For whom the LORD loves he reproves,
as a father, the son he favors.
12 Blessed the one whom you guide, LORD,
whom you teach by your instruction,
13 To give rest from evil days,
while a pit is being dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people,
nor abandon his inheritance.
15 Judgment shall again be just,
and all the upright of heart will follow it.
Wilson p. 53: Eliphaz to Job – appeal to God and acknowledge your sinfulness. ( Job – I want to appeal to God, but not to confess sinfulness, only to ask God to acknowledge my integrity)
Eliphaz concludes – God has done and can do and will do mighty things. He can change your situation if you but acknowledge …
And, you, a wise person, should know all of this.
Notes for Chapters 6 and 7 – Job responds to Eliphaz
Chapter 6 has a three-part response:
- Firstly, about the “impatience” (1 to 13)
- Then, my “friends” aren’t all that friendly; (14 to 23)
- Finally – what sin lies within me that is commensurate to the punishment / sorrows inflicted.(24 to 30)
Impatience? Only natural to cry out when suffering. He would rather die than continue to suffer.
Emotion rules his response, not logic.
Gordis p. 62,63: 2 key issues: Why is mankind so important to God? Why would our sins matter? (Biblical answer, from Genesis on, we are created in the image and likeness of God and with this comes our responsibilities). Why should sinners be made to suffer – we are not masters of our own destinies? “The dilemma of free will versus determinism was never resolved in the Hebraic tradition and remains a challenge to our own day.” Pirke Avot: “All is foreseen, yet free will is given to man.”
Friends? They have trivialized Job’s pain, not comforted him. On and off like the stream beds of the deserts. Their own fear (that their image of God is threatened, in danger) they prefer to cling to that rather than side with Job and his integrity and defend it with him against God. – as true friends would.
What sin?: Wilson p. 64: “The idea of retribution is so important to them that they are willing to sacrifice almost anything to maintain it. They are even willing to cast lots and gamble away the helpless orphan and barter away their friend in order to preserve their secure worldview.”
Job’s life is like that of a slave in hard labor, but with even less hope. Even his sleep is disturbed and unpleasant!
Life is like the wind / a breath – very tenuous – BUT comes from God. Suffering continues because God refuses to withdraw that breath from him.
“if this is how God treats His friends – no wonder He has so few!”
IF I have sinned – why not just forgive me?
Notes for Chapter 8 – Bildad’s first speech
Wilson p. 73: “The second friend, Bildad, begins without the slightest indication of compassion for Job’s suffering. He immediately condemns Job’s speech, calling it a blustering wind. His goal from the first is to defend the traditional wisdom understanding of retribution. Unlike Eliphaz before him, Bildad seems willing to acknowledge Job’s essential righteousness and encourages patience in waiting for God’s ultimate vindication.”
Perhaps the children sinned and have been punished accordingly. Perhaps Job did NOT sin – but his parents? Grandparents etc.? This is all part of the traditional argument – God is just and punishment comes upon you the sinner – or future generations. All of the wisdom tradition (passed on from generation to generation) testifies to this wisdom – and any individual or even generation cannot dismiss it lightly.
Wisdom often is compared to a well-cultivated garden. But danger exists outside of it – no water, rocks etc.
So, it is for Job to now understand and plead for God to intervene to restore him now. Since (if) he is without sin himself his trials cannot continue forever because God is just.
Notes for Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 – Job-s reply to Bildad
Considering Bildad’s suggestion and at least hypothetically accepting the retribution / punishment model of the tradition – Job responds that standing before God and pleading for justice and relief seems overwhelming and perhaps pointless. It seems likely to Job that God simply is unaware that he is a good and just man, and should he testify in his own behalf perhaps he will accidentally (or otherwise) incriminate himself – and make things even worse!
Wilson p. 84: “What Job begins to consider here is whether or not it is possible to receive what he wants so very badly in the face of his friend’ mounting critique: divine confirmation of the essentially blameless character Job knows to be true within himself.”
Wilson p. 84: “But …, and this is a very important but … , all suffering is not the deserved consequence of our sin. There is suffering that comes on us unexplained and undeserved, and we must name this kind of suffering (whether our own or that of others) clearly for what it is – a pernicious evil out of sync with God’s original creation intention for his world and its inhabitants.”
Job notes that even our wisdom tradition is unable to really name God’s actions in the world – God is truly beyond our ability to comprehend. This is a key concept in modern theology!
Yet, still, by the end of chapter 9 Job is again questioning God’s acts. The good and the bad suffer and die. Wilson p. 93: “Job asserted in verses 4 and 14 that dispute with God is impossible because of his overwhelming wisdom and power. Now Job has come to question whether God truly champions the cause of the innocent, or enforces justice in the world.”
Since my life is lost – I will give in to complaint against the idea of justice and a just God.
v. 22 has an incredible image: “the black, disordered land where darkness is the only light.”
Gordis p. 523: on verses 10:9 – 11 “The basically positive view of sex and the human body, that is characteristic of the Bible and is exemplified in the Song of Songs, expresses itself in this paean of praise to the wonders of conception and the miracle of the growth of the fetus. The embryo is fashioned out of clay, the semen being poured out like milk, solidifying like cheese, being clothed in skin and flesh, and finally being knitted together with bones and sinews.” Same them in Psalm 139, Eccles. 11, and others.
Psalm 139: 13-16
13 You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works! My very self you know.
15 My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.