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Job's Friends Are No Help Job: My Complaint Is Just Reply of Job
Only the Sufferer Knows His Own Grief
6:1 6:1-7

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. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. Job addresses Eliphaz's words (Job 4-5) in Job 6-7.


B. He acknowledges some of the things Eliphaz said (cf. Job 6:3b-4), but rejects most of his speech (cf. Job 6:24-30).


C. The speeches of the poetic section do not logically follow each other. They are stand-alone literary units. This is not a dialogue but a recital of personal beliefs and creedal statements, used to communicate the central purpose of a later author.


D. The friends are no help (Job 6:14-23).



  1Then Job answered,

6:1-7 This first strophe is Job's response to Eliphaz. He asserts his innocence in figurative imagery (i.e., "the balances," which is legal terminology).

 2"Oh that my grief were actually weighed
 And laid in the balances together with my calamity!
 3For then it would be heavier than the sand of the seas;
 Therefore my words have been rash.
 4For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,
 Their poison my spirit drinks;
 The terrors of God are arrayed against me.
 5Does the wild donkey bray over his grass,
 Or does the ox low over his fodder?
 6Can something tasteless be eaten without salt,
 Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?
 7My soul refuses to touch them;
 They are like loathsome food to me."

6:2 "grief" This noun (BDB 495) is spelled differently in Job (cf. Job 5:2; 6:2; 17:7) than the rest of the OT, including other Wisdom books. It refers to Job's vexation/fear (i.e., that God has abandoned him for some reason which he does not know or deserve).

▣ "were actually weighed" This is an imperfect verb and an infinitive absolute of the same root (BDB 1053, KB 1642), which was a grammatical way to express intensity.

Job longs for a fair assessment of his situation. He uses the imagery of commercial scales (BDB 24, cf. Lev. 19:36) in a legal sense (cf. Job 31:6; Isa. 40;15).

6:3b "my words have been rash" This verb (BDB 534 II, KB 533, Qal perfect) means "talk wildly" (Arabic root). It is used only here and in Pro. 20:25 in the OT. It seems to refer to Job's initial comments of Job 3. He attributes this to

1. God's actions (Job 6:4)

2. his own vexation (Job 6:2-3)

3. animals make sounds when they need something, why not him (Job 6:5)

4. Eliphaz's comments (Job 4-5) did not help but were repulsive (Job 6:6-7)


6:4 "arrows. . .poison" These are parallel and refer to the tragedies Job has experienced, which he attributes to God (cf. Ps. 7:12-13; 64:7).

Arrows are used as imagery for divine actions in Deut. 32:23; Ps. 7:13; 18:14; 38:2; 45:5; 64:7; 144:6. This verse is graphic warfare imagery (i.e., poison arrows). Often lightning was referred to as "fiery arrows" from God (cf. 2 Sam. 22:15; Ps. 144:6; Hab. 3:11; Zech. 9:14). We can only imagine Job's mental confusion as he felt that the God he trusted and served all his life was now his enemy.

▣ "the Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty.

▣ "my spirit" This is ruah (BDB 924), which can denote the Spirit of God (cf. Gen. 1:2) or an individual human (as here).

▣ "The terrors of God are arrayed against me" This verb (BDB 789, KB 884, Qal imperfect) denotes a battle field plan for employing troops (i.e., Jdgs. 20:22; 1 Sam. 17:8; 2 Sam. 10:8). The implication is that God has done this (see note at Job 5:18).

The noun "terrors" (BDB 130) is used only here and in Ps. 88:16.

6:5-6 These may be cultural proverbs. Animals (Job 6:5) and humans (Job 6:6) do not often complain about their food (i.e., unless they have none). Here it implies Job has a right to complain about his circumstances.

Tremper Longman III's commentary (p. 138) has a good analysis of the four rhetorical questions of Job 6:5-6. The first two (6:5) expect a "yes" answer (i.e., animals make sounds when they want food), while the next two (6:6) expect a "no" answer (i.e., the comfort Job is receiving from His friends is unacceptable).


Targums"the white of an egg"
REB"juice of mallows"
LXX"in empty words"

The MT has "in the slime of purslane" (BDB 938 construct BDB 321). This plant name is used only here in the OT. BDB says it is a plant with thick, slimy juice.

The second noun (BDB 928) is used only twice in the OT.

1. here, of slime

2. 1 Sam. 21:13, spittle/saliva

The translation of the NASB comes from rabbinical tradition. The juice metaphor comes from the ancient versions (Tyndale OT Commentary, p. 128).

6:7 Eliphaz's words are like bad food to Job. They should have been helpful (edible) but they were not (Job 6:14-23).

The MT of this verse has a pronoun (המה, BDB 241, "they"), but most translations emend it to "loathsome" (זהם, BDB 263).

 8"Oh that my request might come to pass,
 And that God would grant my longing!
 9Would that God were willing to crush me,
 That He would loose His hand and cut me off!
 10But it is still my consolation,
 And I rejoice in unsparing pain,
 That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
 11What is my strength, that I should wait?
 And what is my end, that I should endure?
 12Is my strength the strength of stones,
 Or is my flesh bronze?
 13Is it that my help is not within me,
 And that deliverance is driven from me?"

6:8-13 This strophe returns to Job's desire to die (cf. Job 3). He does not want the life that Eliphaz described in this strophe, which will accompany repentance of sin. Life has lost its flavor (Job 6:6) for Job.

Job 6:11-13 has another series of rhetorical questions (i.e., 5 of them). He has not denied God (Job 6:10) but it seems God is against him (Job 6:4). He sees no way out of this dilemma!

6:9 There is a series of jussives (imperfects used in a jussive sense) that reflects Job's prayers.

1-2. that God would be willing to crush me (two imperfects, Hiphil and Piel)

3. that God would loose His hand (Hiphil imperfect)

4. that God would cut me off (Piel imperfect)


6:10 This verse is difficult to understand (six footnotes in JPSOA; NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 258). It is either

1. his defense that even in all his troubles he has not spoken negatively of God (or "spoke in secret" or "in partial ways")

2. he is sorry for his "wild" words (cf. Job 6:3b) of Job 3


TEV, REB"leap for joy"
NJB"a thrill of joy"

The verb (BDB 698, KB 756, Piel cohortative) basically means "to spring back" (BDB) or "to leap up" (KB). The meaning is uncertain because it is used only here. The LXX and Peshitta seem to translate a different Hebrew text or have combined it with the content of Job 6:11-12. The root, כחד (BDB 470), appears in both.

1. hidden (NASB, "denied")

2. strength (cf. Job 6:11,12 [twice])


NRSV"in unsparing pain"
NKJV"in anguish"

This feminine noun (BDB 297) is found only here. The verb is used of women in labor. Its basic meaning is "to twist" or "to writhe" in pain. This is a strong word to describe how Job feels!

▣ "unsparing" This term (BDB 328, KB 328, Qal imperfect) normally means "to have compassion" (i.e., Exod. 2:6), but here in Job, it means "unceasing."

NJB"rebelled against"
Peshitta"lied against"

The verb (BDB 470, KB 469, Piel perfect) basically means "to hide," or "to conceal" (i.e., Job 27:11). Here it implies that what Job knows about God from the ancient traditions (cf. Job 15:18) he has not

1. denied them

2. hidden them from others (cf. Jos. 7:19; 1 Sam. 3:17-18; 2 Sam. 14:18; Jer. 38:14,25)


▣ "the words of the Holy One" This phrasing is unique. It may refer to God or to the traditional wisdom about God (i.e., patriarchal traditions, NIV Application Commentary, p. 162). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HOLY ONE.


NASB"that I should endure"
NKJV"that I should prolong my life"
NRSV"that I should be patient"

The MT has the Hebrew idiom "lengthen the spirit," which denotes patience (NRSV, NJB). Lines a and b of Job 6:11 are parallel.

6:13 This verse may refer to Job's negative evaluation of his comforters (cf. Job 6:14-23), two of whom have not spoken yet but Job anticipates their message (i.e., "the two ways" is always true and accurate).

 14"For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend;
 So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.
 15My brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi,
 Like the torrents of wadis which vanish,
 16Which are turbid because of ice
 And into which the snow melts.
 17When they become waterless, they are silent,
 When it is hot, they vanish from their place.
 18The paths of their course wind along,
 They go up into nothing and perish.
 19The caravans of Tema looked,
 The travelers of Sheba hoped for them.
 20They were disappointed for they had trusted,
 They came there and were confounded.
 21Indeed, you have now become such,
 You see a terror and are afraid.
 22Have I said, ‘Give me something,'
 Or, ‘Offer a bribe for me from your wealth,'
 23Or, ‘Deliver me from the hand of the adversary,'
 Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the tyrants'?"

6:14-23 This strophe reflects Job's evaluation of his three friends' comfort.

1. they should have shown kindness (hesed, BDB 338, see Special Topic: Lovingkindness), the first line of 6:14 is uncertain

2. they have acted deceitfully, Job 6:15

3. they are the deceitful ones, Job 6:21



NASB, REB"the despairing man"
NKJV"to him who is afflicted"
Vulgate"those who withhold"
JPSOA"to one who fasts"

The MT has the adjective (BDB 588) "despairing," found only here. Some scholars emend to "withhold" (BDB 549). This is followed by several ancient versions but not the Septuagint, which has "mercy has renounced me." The UBS Text Project (p. 10) gives the MT option a "B" rating (some doubt).

6:14b "fear" This noun (BDB 432) means "awe" or "reverence." It is used in Job several times with God as the object (cf. Job 1:1,8; 2:3; 4:6; 6:14; 28:28; also note Ps. 111:10; Pro. 1:7; 2:5; 9:10; 14:26-27). See Special Topic: Fear.

▣ "the Almighty" See note at Job 5:17.

6:15-20 These verses used the imagery of a desert stream (wadi) which is usually dry except in the rainy season.

6:15 "My brothers" This refers to

1. Job's relatives (LXX, NET Bible)

2. Job's neighbors

3. Job's three comforters (TEV, JPSOA)

Number 3 fits the context best because #1 and #2 are never mentioned in this context.

▣ "acted deceitfully" This verb (BDB 93, KB 108, Qal perfect) is a strong accusation of the friends' motives (cf. Ps. 59:5; Isa. 24:16).

6:16 The Hebrew imagery is uncertain (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 426) but the overall meaning of the strophe is clear. Job 6:15b and 16 refer to a spring flood, while Job 6:17 refers to the summer dryness; both cause travelers (Job 6:18-20) trouble.


NKJV"cease to flow"
NJB"run dry"

This verb (BDB 279, KB 279, Pual imperfect) occurs only here in the OT. The Arabic cognate means "to flow away." Lines a and b of Job 6:17 are parallel. The spring wadis completely lose their water in the dry season.

6:18 This verse can refer to

1. the windy path of caravan routes (NIDOTTE, vil. 2, p. 810, #4)

2. the windy course of dry river beds

3. caravans leaving the normal path to try to find water but cannot


6:21a This is a difficult verse in the MT. There have been many suggestions, starting with the LXX and Masoretic scholars (Qere). It is best to see the verse as referring to the friends. They are no help, just like the desert wadis.

6:21b What are the friends (plural "you") afraid of? The NET Bible assumes that they recognize Job's troubles are from God and are afraid to comment about them lest they offend God.

The noun "terror" (BDB 369) is used only here in the OT. It is related to another similar root (BDB 369) used in Gen. 9:2; Job 41:25.

6:22-23 Job has four questions (imperatives).

1. Have I asked them for something?

2. Has he asked them for a bribe?

3. Has he asked for them to deliver him?

4. Has he asked for them to redeem him?

He asked them for nothing yet still they were unkind, unsympathetic to him.


 24"Teach me, and I will be silent;
 And show me how I have erred.
 25How painful are honest words!
 But what does your argument prove?
 26Do you intend to reprove my words,
 When the words of one in despair belong to the wind?
 27You would even cast lots for the orphans
 And barter over your friend.
 28Now please look at me,
 And see if I lie to your face.
 29Desist now, let there be no injustice;
 Even desist, my righteousness is yet in it.
 30Is there injustice on my tongue?
 Cannot my palate discern calamities?

6:24-30 Job asks for an honest, fair evaluation from them. He is willing to listen (i.e., "I will be silent"), if they will be truthful and not charge him with false accusations of secret sins. This will be the essence of all three friends' speeches! Job must have violated "the two ways." There is no other option if God is just.

6:24 "Teach me" The verb (BDB 434, KB 436, Hiphil imperative) normally means "to throw" or "to shoot," but here is imagery of "instruction" (i.e., Exod. 35:34; Deut. 33:10; 1 Sam. 12:23; Job 8:10; 12:7,8; Ps. 25:8; 32:8; Isa. 28:9).

It is quite possible that Job 6:22-23 is sarcasm and, therefore, this verse is also.


NASB"How painful"
NJB"borne without resentment"

The verb (BDB 599, KB 637, Niphal perfect) means "to be sick" (BDB) or "to be bad/painful" (KB). The Hiphil in Job 16:3 means "provokes." Scholars have suggested, based on one's interpretation whether Job 6:25

1. is a contrast (i.e., Job's words, line a, NASB Study Bible, p. 699)

2. is a parallel (i.e., both lines reflect the three friends' words, NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 1107)

Some scholars chose to emend מרץ (BDB 599) to מלץ (BDB 576), which would support #1 above.

6:25b This line of poetry uses an imperfect verb and an infinitive absolute of the same root (BDB 406, KB 410) to heighten the question.

6:27 This verse is an illustration of the callousness of the three friends. They act toward Job as someone who takes advantage of an orphan (i.e., purchases him for his father's debt). The verbs are

1. "cast lots" (lit. "cause to fall") – BDB 656, KB 709, Hiphil imperfect

2. "barter" – BDB 500, KB 497, Qal imperfect

This is metaphorical. The three friends have not done this terrible sin. Job may have used this strong hypothetical illustration to show his hurt of what they have/will accuse him of doing.

Here is the theological dilemma—something is wrong.

1. God's character and justice

2. the basic worldview of "the two ways" (i.e., we reap what we sow)

3. Job's character (i.e., innocence, cf. Job 6:10,29-30)

It is easiest for the three comforters to question #3.

6:28 Job, in powerful imagery, asked his comforters to take seriously what he has said (i.e., look him in the face).

Notice the two imperatives, "now please look at me" (lit. "now be willing to look at me").

1. be willing – BDB 383, KB 381, Hiphil imperative, in the sense of "take notice"

2. turn – BDB 815, KB 937, Qal imperative, in the sense of "look me in the face." Notice the play on the two words for "turn" (1) Job 6:28 and (2) Job 6:29 (three times).

The NIDOTTE, vol. 4, p. 33, suggests that Job 6:28b is a curse/oath with "this and more may God do to me (you. . .)." It supports this assertion with Gen. 14:23; Num. 14:23; 1 Sam. 3:14; 19:6; 2 Kgs. 2:2; 3:14; Ps. 132:3-4; Isa. 22:14.

6:29 This verse is a plea from Job that his comforters change their attitude toward him and admit his innocence (i.e., Eliphaz's charges).

The verb "turn" (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperative) is used three times in this verse. This word is often translated "repent." He asks of them what they asked of him!


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 Job's vexation?

2. What is Job referring to by "rash words"?

3. Does Job believe God causes all things, therefore, God must be against him?

4. To what does Job 6:10c refer?

5. Is Job 6:24 sarcasm?

6. In Job 6:25 do both lines refer to Job's three friends?


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