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God Is Just Job Is Chastened by God First Dialogue of Eliphaz
The First Dialogue

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.



A. Job 4-5 forms a literary unit (i.e., Eliphaz's first speech).


B. An important theme in Job is the possibility of a heavenly mediator at God's court (cf. Job 9:33; 16:19; 19:25-27; 33:23-24). This one is alluded to in

1. Job 5:1b

2. Job 5:4c

3. Job 5:8b

At this point in the OT, this does not refer to a coming seed of David (i.e., Messiah), but it does denote a heavenly helper for humanity who comes before YHWH at the heavenly court. This is a theological precursor of the concept of Messiah; as "the accuser" is a precursor of Satan/Devil.


C. Notice the different names for Deity (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY).

1. El, Job 5:8a

2. Elohim, Job 5:8b (rare in Job)

3. Eloah, Job 5:17a

4. Shaddai (the Almighty), Job 5:17b, cf. Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11


D. Eliphaz's words are not incorrect but simply do not fit Job's situation. Eliphaz asserts that

1. all humans are sinful

2. God judges sin in this life

3. sometimes God uses problems to help faithful followers mature

Job would agree with all of these assertions but his situation is not addressed by any of them!


 1"Call now, is there anyone who will answer you?
 And to which of the holy ones will you turn?
 2For anger slays the foolish man,
 And jealousy kills the simple.
 3I have seen the foolish taking root,
 And I cursed his abode immediately.
 4His sons are far from safety,
 They are even oppressed in the gate,
 And there is no deliverer.
 5His harvest the hungry devour
 And take it to a place of thorns,
 And the schemer is eager for their wealth.
 6For affliction does not come from the dust,
 Nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
 7For man is born for trouble,
 As sparks fly upward."

5:1-7 This strophe introduces a heavenly advocate. See Contextual Insights, B. He is one of the "holy ones."

Be careful not to attribute "error" (Job 4:18; 15:15) to this holy one. This is revelatory imagery for someone close to God who defends humanity as there was one who accused humanity.

5:1 "Call" This verb (BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal imperative) is used in the sense of "call for help" (cf. Job 9:16; Ps. 4:1; 20:9; Isa. 58:9; 65:24).

This verse is asserting that even if Job calls out to the heavens, there is no one (i.e., God or angels) who will respond.

▣ "the holy ones" See note online at Ps. 34:9. Here it refers to angelic beings (see LXX) who are before God at the heavenly court (cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7a). Eliphaz is asserting that Job has no one to call on for help (cf. Job 9:33). Later this assertion will be denied by Job (cf. Job 14:19; 19:25-27).

5:2 "foolish man" See Special Topic: Foolish People (terms).

▣ "the simple" This participle (BDB 834, KB 984) can refer to the easily deceived (cf. Hos. 7:11). Here it is parallel with "foolish." Job 5:3-4 discusses what will happen to this kind of person. Eliphaz is implying Job is a person like this! It seems he is alluding to Job's tragedy by his comments in Job 5:4.

The Tyndale OT Commentary series, p. 118, #5, suggests that "gate" (ערש, BDB 1044) in Job 5:4b, be read as "storm" (ער, BDB 973 II). The verb form of the root (BDB 973 II) appears in Job 27:21. However, this suggestion is not followed by any English translation. It is only suggested because it may refer to how Job's children died in Job 1:19.

5:3 This seems to imply that for a period of time evil flourishes (cf. Psalm 73; Jer. 12:2), but over time it is the faithful follower who endures and prospers (cf. Psalm 1).

The term "abode" is literally "dwelling" (BDB 627) but used in a wider sense, which is described in Job. 5:4-5 using agricultural illustrations.

5:4-5 These are imperfect verbs and may be used in a jussive sense (i.e., they are the "curse" mentioned in Job 5:3b).

5:4 "in the gate" This was the place of local government, commerce, and justice (cf. Gen. 23:10,18; Deut. 21:19-21; 22:15; Ruth 4; 1 Kgs. 22:10; 2 Kgs. 7:1; Amos 5:15).

For an alternate translation see note at Job 5:2.

5:5 "thorns" This term (BDB 856) is uncertain. It is found only here and Pro. 22:5. A similar root is found in Num. 33:55; Jos. 23:13, meaning "thorn" and another similar root in Amos 4:2 meaning "hook" or "barb."

The NET Bible (p. 767) sees this difficult Hebrew line of poetry as referring to strangers eating the fool's crops even though there is a thorn hedge around them. I think this is the best option to a confused MT text.

REB"the thirsty"

The MT has "snare" (BDB 855) but two ancient Hebrew translations; the Syriac and the Vulgate, have "thirsty ones."

The resources of the foolish will be consumed by others!

The Hebrew of Job 5:5 is difficult but in essence it means "the wealth of the foolish will be enjoyed by others" (i.e., Lev. 26:16; Deut. 28:30-33).

5:6-7 There seems to be a play on the words "dust" (cf. Gen. 2:7; Job 4:19) and "ground" (cf. Job 5:6; Gen. 3:19; Adamah vs. "man," Adam, Job 5:7). As it reads, there is a contrast between Job 5:6 and 7. But both seem to refer to the fact that problems do not come from the earth but from rebellious, sinful mankind (cf. Genesis 3; Rom. 8:19-23). Sparks from a fire fly upward, so too, sin is a problem with all conscious creation (i.e., humans and angels, cf. Job 4:17-21).

It is interesting how TEV and NRSV translate this line (Job 5:7a) differently.

1. NRSV – "but human beings are born to trouble"

2. TEV – "No indeed! We bring trouble on ourselves"

Theologically both are true. Original sin and volitional sin merge in every human life.

The AB (p. 42) asserts, "These are regularly interpreted as declarative, but it seems more likely that they were intended as rendered, negative rhetorical questions equivalent to positive observation. Man is indeed born to hardship and a hostile ground as part of his birthright, cf. Gen. 3:17-19."


NRSV, NJB"misery"

This Hebrew noun (BDB 19) has several connotations. It is a general word for "evil" but surprisingly has no Semitic cognates. It may be related to the root for "power" (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 310).

1. it is used of evil speaking

2. it is used of exploitation of the poor and vulnerable

3. it is used of idolatry

but in this context, it denotes "misfortune," "problems," "troubles" (cf. Num. 23:21; Job 4:8; 5:6; 15:35; Ps. 10:7; 55:10; 90:10). All humans face these kinds of issues and situations as a part of daily life on the planet.

5:7 "as sparks" This is literally "sons of Resheph," who was the Canaanite god of pestilence often associated with eagles/vultures (cf. AB, p. 43). Therefore, some scholars see this as a reference to Canaanite mythology, like Leviathan. Notice how the LXX translates this line, "whereas the vulture's young soar on high" (cf. Peshitta, NJB, REB).

   8"But as for me, I would seek God,
 And I would place my cause before God;
 9Who does great and unsearchable things,
 Wonders without number.
 10He gives rain on the earth
 And sends water on the fields,
 11So that He sets on high those who are lowly,
 And those who mourn are lifted to safety.
 12He frustrates the plotting of the shrewd,
 So that their hands cannot attain success.
 13He captures the wise by their own shrewdness,
 And the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.
 14By day they meet with darkness,
 And grope at noon as in the night.
 15But He saves from the sword of their mouth,
 And the poor from the hand of the mighty.
 16So the helpless has hope,
 And unrighteousness must shut its mouth."

5:8-16 This strophe starts with a summary statement about how Eliphaz acts (adverb, "but" and personal pronoun) versus "the foolish" of Job 5:1-7. It is ironic that Eliphaz's assertion of his faith is exactly what Job has done! Job 5:8 has legal terminology (i.e., a law case, BDB 184).

In Job 5:9-16 Eliphaz lists things God does.

1. what God does (cf. Job 9:10) as creator/redeemer/judge

a. great things, Job 5:9 (BDB 152)

b. unsearchable things, Job 5:9 (BDB 350)

c. wonders without number, Job 5:9, see Special Topic: Wonderful Things (OT)

2. as creator (function of Elohim)

a. gives rain on the earth, Job 5:10

b. sends water on the fields, Job 5:10 (YHWH, not the fertility gods)

3. as redeemer (function of YHWH)

a. set on high the lowly, Job 5:11

b. lifts to safety those who mourn, Job 5:11

c. saves the poor from the mouth of the sword, Job 5:15

d. saves the poor from the hand of the mighty, Job 5:15

e. gives hope to the helpless, Job 5:16a

4. as judge (function of the Almighty, Job 5:17b)

a. frustrates the plotting of the shrewd, Job 5:12

b. captures the wise by their own shrewdness, Job 5:13

c. caused them not to see, Job 5:14, cf. Deut. 28:28-29

d. causes the unrighteous to shut their mouths, Job 5:16b, cf. Ps. 107:42


5:11b "those who mourn" This is a Qal active participle (BDB 871, KB 1072), which basically means "to be dark" or "to be dirty." This could refer to

1. the dress of mourners (cf. 2 Sam. 19:24; NASB footnote, "dressed in black" at Ps. 35:14; also note Ps. 38:17; 42:10; 43:2)

2. ashes put on the face in mourning (cf. Job 2:12; Lam. 2:10; Ezek. 27:30)

3. metaphor for one's attitude toward life (cf. Jer. 8:21; 14:2)

4. lack of revelation or wisdom from God (cf. Micah 3:5-7)



TEV"cunning people"

This adjective (BDB 791) is used often in Proverbs to describe (1) scheming faithless followers (cf. Job 15:5) or (2) sensible faithful followers (NASB, "prudent," cf. Pro. 12:23; 13:16; 14:8,15,18; 22:3; 27:12). It was even used of the serpent in Gen. 3:1.

5:13a This is quoted by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:19. The foolish are caught by their own foolishness. This is a recurrent theme in the Bible, a reversal of expected outcomes.


NJB"the cunning"
NRSV"the wily"
JPSOA"the crafty"
REB"the schemers"

This verb (BDB 836, KB 990, Niphal participle) is literally "to twist," which is a word play on "righteous," "just," which means "straight" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS). The twisters get twisted! Another word play is found in Job 5:16b, "unrighteousness" (i.e., the unstraight) is personified as shutting its mouth.

5:14 What powerful imagery of spiritual blindness (cf. Job 24:13-17). The shrewd, wise, who think they are so smart, will be in darkness (BDB 365; Job uses this word twenty times)!

5:15 "saves" This verb (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperfect with waw) denotes deliverance. See SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OLD TESTAMENT TERM) (OT).

Notice God "saves" "the poor" (Job 5:15b) and "the helpless (Job 5:16a). These are recurrent OT promised blessings in Deuteronomy.

▣ "the sword of their mouth" This is imagery for the speech of the cunning/shrewd. It is used of the power of

1.  the Messiah in Isa. 11:4; 49:2

2. Jesus' words in Rev. 1:16; 2:12,16; 19:15

3. the word of God in Heb. 4:12

Note that in the presence of God's word the word of the unrighteous ceases (cf. Job 5:16a; 21a)!

 17"Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
 So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
 18For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
 He wounds, and His hands also heal.
 19From six troubles He will deliver you,
 Even in seven evil will not touch you.
 20In famine He will redeem you from death,
 And in war from the power of the sword.
 21You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
 And you will not be afraid of violence when it comes.
 22You will laugh at violence and famine,
 And you will not be afraid of wild beasts.
 23For you will be in league with the stones of the field,
 And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you.
 24You will know that your tent is secure,
 For you will visit your abode and fear no loss.
 25You will know also that your descendants will be many,
 And your offspring as the grass of the earth.
 26You will come to the grave in full vigor,
 Like the stacking of grain in its season.
 27Behold this; we have investigated it, and so it is.
 Hear it, and know for yourself."

5:17-27 This strophe asserts the central theological position of Eliphaz, although "the two ways" is surely God's way with humans, but his "good news" is that God will freely and joyfully forgive those who repent and turn back to Him. This strophe focuses on the blessings of the discipline of God. In Hebrew thought (which these poems reflect), God is the single cause of all things (cf. Job 5:18; Deut. 32:39; Isa. 14:24-27; 30:26; 42:16; 45:7; Hos. 6:1; Amos 3:6). This is a theological assertion, not a philosophical ontological assertion. God is not the source of evil! He uses evil, suffering, and unfairness to mature His followers (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD TESTS HIS PEOPLE; also note Heb. 5:8, where it asserts Jesus was perfected by the things He suffered).

5:17 Notice the contrast.

1. happy is the man whom God reproves – cf. Deut. 8:5; Ps. 94:12; 119:7

2. do not despise the discipline of the Almighty (i.e., Shaddai) – cf. Pro. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:5-11

"Almighty" is a title for God used in Genesis, possibly this is one way for the author to show the historical setting of Job (i.e., the second millennium b.c.). See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

5:18 "heal" This is a multifaceted subject. Please see SPECIAL TOPIC: Healing.

5:19 This use of numbers is typical of Wisdom Literature (i.e., Pro. 6:16; 30:15,18,21,24,29).

5:20 "famine" Notice that NASB has this same translation for a different root in Job 5:22.

1. Job 5:20 – BDB 944

2. Job 5:22 – BDB 495

The difference is #1 is the general word for famine, while #2 denotes a poor diet caused by poor crops.

▣ "redeem" This (BDB 804, KB 911, Qal perfect) basically means "to buy back." See SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM.

5:22b Wild beasts were one of the curses God would send for covenant disobedience (cf. Lev. 26:22; Deut. 32:24; Ezek. 34:5,8).

5:23a This is a difficult line. Its meaning is uncertain. Some have suggested:

1. some kind of demon (emendation of "stones" to "Lords"), AB, p. 46; Rashi

2. no hail – (BDB 6, #7)

3. emendation suggested by Jewish sources (i.e., Rahsi) to "Lords" (Adon, NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 258, #5), but still the meaning is uncertain

4. many stones in the field which make it difficult to cultivate

5. stone markers of property boundaries moved by enemies (UBS Handbook, p. 120)

The LXX removes Job 5:23a. I think since "beasts" are mentioned in Job 5:22b and again in 5:23b, that somehow this line of poetry refers to "the sons of the field."

1. "stones" – אבן (BDB 6)

2. "sons" – בן (BDB 119)

Isaiah 11:6-9 would be an eschatological example.

5:24 This is in direct contrast to Job 4:21.

5:25 This is in contrast to Job 5:4.

5:26 Death is not seen as an enemy but as the natural, expected end of a long, full life (cf. Job 42:17). There was not a fear of oblivion or loss but a transition to a new realm (unknown though it may be).

▣ "the grave. . .the stacking of grain" There is a word play between

1. "grave" in Job 21:32 (BDB 155 II) is a synonym of "grave" (BDB 868) here

2. "stacking of grain" (BDB 155 I)

Notice the same root (BDB 155).

NASB"full vigor"
NKJV"full age"
JPSOA"ripe old age"

This noun (BDB 480, NIDOTTE, vol. 2, pp. 652-654) occurs only twice in the OT, both in Job (i.e., Job 5:26; 30:2). It appears in context (i.e., poetic parallelism) to mean

1. ripe in Job 5:26

2. vigor in Job 30:2


5:27 Notice Eliphaz's claim to have "investigated" (BDB 350, KB 347, Qal perfect) "it." He bases his assertion on

1. experience, Job 4:7

2. revelation, Job 4:12-21

3. human research (used often in Eccl, cf. Eccl. 1:13; 7:25; 12:9; and Job, cf. Job 13:9; 28:3,27), Job 5:27


▣ "hear it. . .know" These are both Qal imperatives. Eliphaz implores Job to "research it" also (i.e., the results of repentance). The "it" may refer to Job 4:7 (i.e., "the two ways" or "we reap what we sow").


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is it in Eliphaz's speech that God rejects?

2. Does Eliphaz believe in angelic mediation?

3. Explain in your own words what Job 5:6-7 is trying to say.

4. List the things God has done which Eliphaz mentions in Job 5:9-16.

5. Job 5:17-27 asserts a reason for Job's suffering; what is it?

6. Does Eliphaz speak in general terms or does Job 5 relate directly to Job's situation?


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