Book of Job Ch. 32-37



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 32 through 37 Elihu speaches

Wilson p. 357 points out that the structure of the whole book would presume an even number of speeches from the friends, responses from Job of relatively consistent length, etc..   and we don’t have that.  SO – perhaps the text has been corrupted, perhaps the text has been or needs to be rearranged.  He says NO, that they have “run out of gas” and it’s time for one last voice to be raised.

Gordis p. 547:  “There is excellent ground for postulating that the central portion of the manuscript of Job suffered major accidental damage early in its history.  This injury took place after the entire book was complete, but before the Greek version … came into existence, since it reproduces our present sequence and basic text.  As a result of the damage and disarray there occurred the loss of some material in the Third Cycle.”

Elihu, the youngest of Job’s “friends”, has been silent to this point.  He has grown angry at both Job and the friends (for their “weak” arguments).  None of them has been able to refute Job’s claims and they have fallen silent.  Despite his youth, he alone has a Hebrew name, his lineage given may be meant to overcome his youth and excuse his speaking up.

Gordis p. 358: Elihu is a middle ground.  The Friends argued the traditional argument that God is just and suffering is a punishment for sins.  Job has argued that he has not sinned, yet he suffers.  Elihu argues that sometimes just men suffer as a discipline from God.





(Chapter 32)

Elihu claims to speak now not with the wisdom that comes with age and learning but with the power and truth from the Spirit of God.

32:19: “Like a new wineskin with wine under pressure, my bosom is ready to burst.”   Wilson, p. 368: “Evidently the early fermentation process creates sufficient gas that ‘wineskins’ weakened by age are unable to withstand the expansion and crack under the strain.”

Gordis p. 370: the poor used wineskins, the rich used clay jars


(Chapter 33)

I am ready to speak – listen, refute me if you can.

Wilson p. 370: “Interestingly enough, Job never does respond to Elihu.  But the reader is not left with the impression that Elihu’s analysis of things has won the day.”  God steps in at the end and Elihu is not referred to again in the book once his speeches are over.

You claim you are innocent – and thereby claim God has done wrong to you!  You want God to speak to you – but perhaps he has done so (dreams, visions) and you have not heard.  God will warn several times before warning through pain.  God will, repeatedly, rescue the repentant sinner before his soul goes to the pit.  That you suffer means that you are a sinner or are being warned about a tendency to sin – in fact, probably you are suffering less than you deserve!

Gordis p. 375: “famous rabbinic saying: “If a man sees suffering coming upon him, let him scrutinize his actions.” (B.Ber.5a)  Elihu is the chief biblical source for this fundamental doctrine of postbiblical religion.”



(Chapter 34)

Gordis p. 381: “Elihu calls upon Job to submit to God and ask for His guidance.  For how can Job expect that God’s actions will be governed by a man’s wishes?  Charging God with injustice, as Job has done, means, in effect, trying to take His place as judge in the world.”

Here is the crux of the problem.  34:12 “Surely, God cannot act wickedly, the Almighty cannot violate justice.”   We, the readers, know that God HAS done these things, but not from wicked intent.  Elihu maintains that Job is a sinner and is being punished.  The sin may simply consist of claiming that God has been unjust to him.  Regardless – repent now!

Gordis p. 388: regarding 34:17  “Elihu argues that it is inconceivable that an enemy of justice should rule and, therefore, Job cannot be permitted to condemn God who is righteous ans well as powerful.  This argument, like the frequent appeal of the Friends to superior age as the guarantee of superior wisdom, is far less impressive to us than it was to the poet’s contemporaries.  Its force can be understood only if the upper-class social milieu of Wisdom literature be kept in mind.  Because of their upper-class orientation, Wisdom writers regard it as self-evident that those who rule are righteous and just.  Hence, if God rules, He is ipso facto righteous.  Obviously it is this “self-evident” assumption that Job calls into question, scandalizing his Friends in the process.”

Wilson p. 387: “If everything comes directly from the hand of God, and if all that God does is only good by definition, then everything that humans experience in this life – regardless of their perception of it – must be considered good.  The book of Job cautions us against falling into this simplistic trap.”

Regarding God’s silence Wilson p. 391: “God’s failure to respond to Job is no indication of divine weakness or inattention.  God hears and hides his face – an indication of divine judgment.  Yet God remains in power over individuals and nations alike and continues to keep the powerful wicked in check.”


(Chapter 35)

Elihu may be (mis)quoting Job regarding whether or not our sin or our good deeds register with God.  Job quoted sinners as saying “Who is God that we should serve him, what would we gain by praying to Him…” etc.  Elihu does claim that our actions (good and bad) are insignificant to the majestic Lord of the universe.   BUT he goes on to say – this is the case AFTER judgment has been rendered, not before it.  Human pleas do NOT affect God’s judgment which is always righteous.

Gordis p. 397: “Elihu then suggests another reason for the delay sometimes observed in the working of retribution in the world.  All too often the sufferers cry out merely because of the pain, rather than from a genuine desire for God’s presence.  To be sure, such an observation is particularly congenial to a member of the upper classes, but the truth of the insight is unassailable.  Elihu uses this fact to blunt the edge of the argument which he cannot totally deny, that oppression is rampant in society.”



(Chapter 36)

Gordis p. 405: “In the concluding portion of his rejoinder to Job, Elihu restates his essential ideas.  God does not disregard or despise the righteous, who ultimately attain to honor.  When suffering comes upon them, it is as a warning against sin.  If they take the message to heart, they are restored to well0being.  But if they remain obdurate, they suffer destruction, which is the inevitable consequence of sin.  This is what God wishes to teach Job through the medium of his suffering.  As Elihu speaks, the signs of a gathering storm are seen in the sky, and he breaks into a paean of praise to the greatness of the Creator, whose mysterious ways are manifest in nature.”


36: 5,6 “Behold, God rejects the obstinate in heart; he preserves not the life of the wicked.  He withholds not the just man’s rights, but grants vindication to the oppressed.”

Wilson p. 401: “Although Elihu continues for another two chapters, he adds little that is new to what he has already said.  Mostly he reaffirms the truth of retributive theology and the sovereign power and control of God.”


(Chapter 37)

God created the universe and controls all that is – who are you to question God?  “His great justice owes no one an accounting.”

The emphasis on a majestic God here prepares the way for the Divine appearance in the next / concluding chapters.  Storm imagery throughout.


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