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JOB 11


Zophar Rebukes Job Zophar Urges Job to Repent First Discourse of Zophar Zophar Job Must Acknowledge God's Wisdom
11:1 11:1-6

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.



 1Then Zophar the Naamathite answered,
 2"Shall a multitude of words go unanswered,
 And a talkative man be acquitted?
 3Shall your boasts silence men?
 And shall you scoff and none rebuke?
 4For you have said, ‘My teaching is pure,
 And I am innocent in your eyes.'
 5But would that God might speak,
 And open His lips against you,
 6And show you the secrets of wisdom!
 For sound wisdom has two sides.
 Know then that God forgets a part of your iniquity.

11:1 "Zophar the Naamathite" Job's third comforter comes from

1. a town in the lowlands of Judah – Jos. 15:41

2. a place in central Arabia (i.e., Nejd, ABA, p. 968)

3. a Sabean tribe

4. from the LXX a southern Arabian place


11:2-3 Zophar (through a series of rhetorical questions) says Job is a

1. man of lips, Job 11:2a

2. talkative man, Job 11:2b

3. boasting man (lit. "your babble," BDB 95 III), Job 11:3a

4. scoffer (BDB 541, KB 532, Qal imperfect with waw), Job 11:3b

Zophar's theology demands that Job is wicked! The wicked (i.e., Job) should be

1. silenced – BDB 361 II, KB 357, Hiphil imperfect (cause one to be silent)

2. rebuked – BDB 483, KB 480, Hiphil active participle (i.e., shamed) 

The question of Job 11:2b is the central question. Can Job be vindicated, declared right (BDB 842, KB 1003, Qal imperfect)? He has claimed he is (i.e., Job 9:15,21)!

11:2-6 This introductory strophe of Zophar has three assertions.

1. Job's speeches must be responded to (Job 11:2-3).

2. Job claims too much for his wisdom.

a. his teaching (BDB 544) is pure (BDB 269, possibly with the connotation of "flawless," cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 1100)

b. he is innocent (cf. Job 9:21; 10:7; 12:4; 13:18)

3. God's wisdom is superior (i.e., and Zophar knows it. He is the wise one!)

a. it is secret (BDB 761) wisdom (BDB 315)

b. NASB – "sound wisdom (BDB 444) has two sides"

     NKJV – "for they would double your prudence"

     NRSV, TEV – "wisdom has many sides"

     NJB – "which puts all cleverness to shame"

c. line b of Job 11:6 is difficult in the MT and led to the further difficulty of the next line; here are the theories

(1) NJB – "Then you would realize that God is calling you to account for your sin?"

(2) AB (p. 82) – "Far from punishing Job unjustly, God gives him less than he deserves. This is in keeping with the attitudes of the ‘friends.'"

(3) the root השנ has two possibilities

(a) BDB 674 I – "lend," "be a creditor" (demand payment)

(b) BDB 674 II – "forget," "forgive"



NJB"free of blame"

This adjective (BDB 141 II) means "morally clean" (cf. Ps. 19:9; 24:4; 73:1) or "clean" (Pro. 14:4).

11:5 Job wants to go to court with God; Zophar says great, let God speak! In fact Job 11:5b foreshadows exactly what God does in Job 38-41.

This is literary foreshadowing. Since I do not think these men talked in poetry, these speeches are literary compositions to communicate truth. It is not the theology of the three comforters that is incorrect but their

1. attitudes

2. dogmatism

3. inability to see the limits on "the two ways"


 7Can you discover the depths of God?
 Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?
 8They are high as the heavens, what can you do?
 Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?
 9Its measure is longer than the earth
 And broader than the sea.
 10If He passes by or shuts up,
 Or calls an assembly, who can restrain Him?
 11For He knows false men,
 And He sees iniquity without investigating.
 12An idiot will become intelligent
 When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man.

11:7-12 This strophe describes the wisdom of God (many scholars see "wisdom" as the central issue of the book of Job).

1. No one can discover the depths (BDB 350) of God.

2. No one can discover the limits (lit. "unto the end," BDB 723 II construct BDB 479) of God.

3. They are as high as the heavens (similar imagery to Ps. 139:8-9).

4. They are as deep as Sheol (similar imagery in Isa. 7:11).

5. They are longer than the earth (#5,6 are similar imagery to Eph. 3:18).

6. They are broader than the sea.

7. Who can restrain Him? (cf. Job 9:12; 10:7)

8. He knows false men (cf. Job 34:21-30).

9. He sees iniquity without investigation (cf. Job 24:23; 28:24; 31:4).


11:7 "the Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty.

11:8 "what can you do" What can you know? This is the conclusion (i.e., two rhetorical questions) that mankind cannot understand God's ways (cf. the book of Ecclesiastes and Isa. 55:9-11).

▣ "Sheol" See Special Topic: Sheol.

11:9 This imagery assumes a flat and expansive earth.

11:10 This is similar imagery to Job 9:11-12. It is possible to interpret this verse in two ways.

1. God's truth is hidden (NEB, REB).

2. God imprisons the wicked and takes them to trial (NKJV, NRSV, TEV).



NASB"without investigating"
NRSV"Will He not then consider it"
NJB"and marks them well"
JPSOA"does He not discern it"
REB"does he not take note of it"
NAB"will He ignore it"

The question is about the subject of this last line.

1. God (all above English translations)

2. the sinner

a. Young's Literal Translation of the Bible (p. 341), "and one doth not consider it"

b. one possibility of UBS Handbook (p. 25)


11:12 This verse states the impossible in a sarcastic way. It may be a well known proverb (AB, p. 83).


This verb (BDB 612, KB 659, Qal active participle) is used for "hollowing out" something related to building the tabernacle (cf. Exod. 27:8; 38:7; Jer. 5:21). Only here it is used of people.

 13If you would direct your heart right
 And spread out your hand to Him,
 14If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
 And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
 15Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect,
 And you would be steadfast and not fear.
 16For you would forget your trouble,
 As waters that have passed by, you would remember it.
 17Your life would be brighter than noonday;
 Darkness would be like the morning.
 18Then you would trust, because there is hope;
 And you would look around and rest securely.
 19You would lie down and none would disturb you,
 And many would entreat your favor.
 20But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
 And there will be no escape for them;
 And their hope is to breathe their last."

11:13-14 Zophar delineates the aspects of repentance.

1. direct your heart right (proper attitude)

2. spread out your hand to Him (i.e., prayer, cf. Exod. 9:29,33; 1 Kgs. 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Ps. 141:2; Isa. 1:15; 1 Tim. 2:8)

3. put away iniquity

4. do not let wickedness in your life (lit. "dwell in your tents")


11:15-19 Zophar delineates the benefits of repentance (similar to Job 5:17-26; 22:21-30).

1. you could lift up your face (i.e., not ashamed; this may refer to Job 10:15-16)

2. you would be steadfast (JPSOA, "when in straits, be unafraid")

3. you would not fear

4. you would forget your troubles

5. your life (rare, BDB 317) would be bright (the imagery in Job 11:17b is the opposite of Job 10:22)

6. you would trust because there is hope

7. you would lie down and none would disturb you (Job 11:18b, 19a; this may reflect Job 10:15-16)

8. many would entreat (lit. "make the face sweet") your favor (lit. "face," BDB 815)


11:17 "darkness" This verb (BDB 734 II, KB 801, Qal cohortative) occurs only here but the noun is found in Job 10:22.


NASB"you would look around"
NKJV"you would dig about you"
TEV"you will be protected"
NJB"after your troubles"
REB"sure of protection"

The UBS Handbook (p. 227) gives three options for "look around," which is literally "dig/search," BDB 343 I, KB 340, Qal perfect with waw).

1. you will be ashamed

2. you will dig

3. you will protect (protected by God is the implication, NET Bible)


11:20 Zophar delineates the fate of the unrepentant wicked.

1. their eyes will fail (i.e., loss of vitality)

2. there is no escape for them (i.e., no way out of their judgment)

3. there is no hope in their death (i.e., death and Sheol are coming soon and nothing can stop them)

Job 11:20c may be a sarcastic allusion to Job's wish to die (cf. Job 3:21; 6:9; 10:21).


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. If Eliphaz claimed a special revelation, and Bildad claimed traditions from the ancestors, what does Zophar claim as the source of his right to speak?

2. Why is Job 11:5 significant?

3. What is Zophar's solution for Job's problem?


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