Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  Job Table of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |

JOB 15


Eliphaz Says Job Presumes Much Eliphaz Accuses Job of Folly Second Discourse of Eliphaz The Second Dialogue
Job's Own Words Condemn Him
What Eliphaz Has Seen of Life 15:14-16

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. This chapter is Eliphaz's second response to Job.


B. Eliphaz was very gentle with Job in his first response but not so here (cf. Job 15:1-6,7-16).


C. Eliphaz delineates the terrible consequence in store for the wicked person (Job 15:17-35). He strongly implies this kind of treatment is what Job has and will experience! "The two ways" (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30, esp. 30:15,19; Psalm 1) is God's unalterable plan of working with humans.



 1Then Eliphaz the Temanite responded,
 2"Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge
 And fill himself with the east wind?
 3Should he argue with useless talk,
 Or with words which are not profitable?
 4Indeed, you do away with reverence
 And hinder meditation before God.
 5For your guilt teaches your mouth,
 And you choose the language of the crafty.
 6Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
 And your own lips testify against you."

15:1-6 this strophe uses imagery accusing Job of speaking falsely.

1. wind knowledge, Job 15:2a

2. filled with the east wind (i.e., destructive wind), Job 15:2b

3. useless talk, Job 15:3a

4. unprofitable words, Job 15:3b

5. guilt teaches your mouth, Job 15:5a

6. the language of the crafty, Job 15:5b

7. your own mouth condemns you, Job 16:6a (the summary statement)

8. your own lips testify against you, Job 15:6b (parallel to Job 15:6a); this may be an allusion to Job's accusation directed toward God in Job 9:20,24; 10:3

This may be an allusion to Job 5:12-13 (cf. 1 Cor. 3:19).

The theological issue is "who is the true ‘wise man' (cf. Job 15:2a), Job or Eliphaz?" Both believed they knew God and His ways (cf. Job 15:9).

15:4 This verse asserts the results of Job's words.

1. do away with the fear of God

2. hinder meditation with God (possible "wise discourse about God," NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1236)

Eliphaz is accusing Job of destroying faith in God by his harsh words questioning God's character and justice in His ways with humans.

15:5 "the crafty" This adjective (BDB 791) is used in Gen. 3:1 to describe the serpent. In Job it denotes someone opposed to God's will (cf. Job 5:12). This is a serious charge against Job's innocence and godliness!

 7"Were you the first man to be born,
 Or were you brought forth before the hills?
 8Do you hear the secret counsel of God,
 And limit wisdom to yourself?
 9What do you know that we do not know?
 What do you understand that we do not?
 10Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,
 Older than your father.
 11Are the consolations of God too small for you,
 Even the word spoken gently with you?
 12Why does your heart carry you away?
 And why do your eyes flash,
 13That you should turn your spirit against God
 And allow such words to go out of your mouth?
 14What is man, that he should be pure,
 Or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
 15Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones,
 And the heavens are not pure in His sight;
 16How much less one who is detestable and corrupt,
 Man, who drinks iniquity like water!

15:7-16 Notice the number of questions in this strophe.

1. formed by ה, Job 15:7,8,11

2. formed by מה, Job 15:9,12,14

These are all sarcastic questions, like Job 15:2,3. See An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Walke and O'Connor, pp. 315-329.

15:7-8 This may refer to

1. God Himself, cf. Ps. 90:2

2. an ancient Jewish myth about the first created person, something similar to Pro. 8:22-31; Job 15:7b is very similar to Pro. 8:25b

3. to Adam after he ate of the Tree of Knowledge (i.e., Genesis 3)

4. an ANE myth about Adapa, the teacher of humans and counselor to Sumerian pre-flood kings


15:9 This may be an allusion to Job's words in Job 12:3; 13:2. Job and the three comforters all shared the same ANE theology and worldview.

15:10 Eliphaz is claiming that traditional theology was on the side of the three comforters (cf. Job 12:12; 32:7). There are three different words used to denote age.

1. gray-haired (BDB 966, KB 1318)

2. the aged (BDB 450)

3. older (BDB 460)

Age alone does not guarantee wisdom or truth (i.e., Job 32:9).

15:11 "the consolation of God" This noun (BDB 637) is rare and found only in the plural in Job 15:11; 21:2; Ps. 94:19; Isa. 66:11; Jer. 16:7. It is related to the root "comfort" (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 81-82). It is used of God in Joel 2:13 and Jonah 4:2 (i.e., "compassionate God"), but not in Exod. 34:6. It seems to refer to the positive aspect of "the two ways" theology.

1. if one repents God will forgive

2. if one repents God will restore blessings

The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1524) asserts that "God" (El) is not the name for Deity but an abbreviation of Eleh, meaning "these" (cf. Gen. 19:8,25; 26:3,4; Lev. 18:27, etc.). Rashi's (a Jewish commentator of the Middle Ages) interpretation, followed by the JPSOA, has "God."

15:12 Eliphaz is accusing Job of reacting to the three comforters' words in a negative way. Job 15:12 may refer to the empty words and self deception of Job 15:1-6.

REB"your eyes flash"
Peshitta"your eyes wink at"
NJB"you roll your eyes"
JPSOA"your eyes have failed you"
LXX"your eyes set themselves upon"

This verb (BDB 931, KB 1210, Qal imperfect) occurs only here in the OT. It is difficult to know the reason for the "winking," "flashing." Some commentators suggest Pro. 6:17 and 30:13 as parallels meaning arrogant eyes, but AB (p. 110) links the root to the Arabic root, "dwindle away," here meaning a loss of perspective on the true meaning of life (i.e. validity of the three comforters' theology).

15:13 Eliphaz cannot believe or condone what Job has said about God, His character, and His ways with humans.

15:14-15 This alludes to the question of Job 4:17-21 or 14:4 (cf. Job 25:4). God's creation, both physical and spiritual (i.e., holy ones, Job 15:15a), has been negatively affected by rebellion.

1. How can Job claim to be innocent?

2. How can Job hope for a heavenly advocate?


15:14 "righteous" Job's righteousness is not conformity to the Mosaic covenant but more like the cultural norms of Rom. 2:14-16. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS.

15:15 "holy ones" This (BDB 871, 872, plural; see SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY) is used in two senses.

1. a godly person – Deut. 33:3; Ps. 34:9; Dan. 8:24 (Aramaic, BDB 1110, Dan. 7:18)

2. angels – Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps. 89:5,7; Dan. 8:13; Zech. 14:5


15:16 Eliphaz is speaking of Job!

1. detestable – BDB 1073, KB 1765, Niphal active participle, cf. Ps. 14:1

2. corrupt – BDB 47, KB 54, Niphal active participle (synonym, BDB 1007 in Ps. 14:1)

3. drinks iniquity – BDB 1059, KB 1667, Qal active participle


 17"I will tell you, listen to me;
 And what I have seen I will also declare;
 18What wise men have told,
 And have not concealed from their fathers,
 19To whom alone the land was given,
 And no alien passed among them.
 20The wicked man writhes in pain all his days,
 And numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless.
 21Sounds of terror are in his ears;
 While at peace the destroyer comes upon him.
 22He does not believe that he will return from darkness,
 And he is destined for the sword.
 23He wanders about for food, saying, ‘Where is it?'
 He knows that a day of darkness is at hand.
 24Distress and anguish terrify him,
 They overpower him like a king ready for the attack,
 25Because he has stretched out his hand against God
 And conducts himself arrogantly against the Almighty.
 26He rushes headlong at Him
 With his massive shield.
 27For he has covered his face with his fat
 And made his thighs heavy with flesh.
 28He has lived in desolate cities,
 In houses no one would inhabit,
 Which are destined to become ruins.
 29He will not become rich, nor will his wealth endure;
 And his grain will not bend down to the ground.
 30He will not escape from darkness;
 The flame will wither his shoots,
 And by the breath of His mouth he will go away.
 31Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself;
 For emptiness will be his reward.
 32It will be accomplished before his time,
 And his palm branch will not be green.
 33He will drop off his unripe grape like the vine,
 And will cast off his flower like the olive tree.
 34For the company of the godless is barren,
 And fire consumes the tents of the corrupt.
 35They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity,
 And their mind prepares deception."

15:17-35 Eliphaz lists the consequences for wicked behavior.

1. writhes in pain all his days, Job 15:20a

2. years are numbered (i.e., limited), Job 15:20b (possibly meant to be combined with #1)

3. sounds of terror in his ears, Job 15:21a

4. is destroyed while thinking he is safe, Job 15:21b

5. no hope of recovery of previous prosperity (possibly no hope in/from Sheol), Job 15:22a

6. destined for a violent death (i.e., sword), Job 15:22b 

7. wanders about looking for food (NASB, see technical issues in note below), Job 15:23a

8. death comes suddenly, Job 15:23b

9. distress and anguish terrify him, Job 15:24a

10. distress and anguish overpower him, Job 15:24b

11. lives in desolate cities (possibly cities under curses), Job 15:28

12. not have wealth, Job 15:29a

13. wealth will not endure, Job 15:29a

14. crops will fail, Job 15:29b

15. he will die (by the breath of God's mouth, cf. Job 4:9), Job 15:30

16. his reward is emptiness, Job 15:31

17. life or crops will fail, Job 15:32-33

18. the godless are barren Job 15:34a

19. fire consumes the tents of the corrupt, Job 15:34b

20. mind dwells on iniquity, Job 15:35

Some of these actions mimic the very things that happened to Job's family and possessions in Job 1:16- 19. Surely Job recognized these allusions! His words hurt Eliphaz, now Eliphaz tries to hurt Job.

15:17 Eliphaz bases his assertions on

1. experience, Job 15:17b

2. tradition, Job 15:18

Job 15:17 has two cohortatives and an imperative to create emphasis. Eliphaz wants Job's attention to his words. This may refer to Job 6:24 or 13:6.

15:19 This may be an allusion to

1. promises to the Patriarchs (Job 15:19a)

2. the conquest of Canaan (Job 15:19b)

3. Net Bible (P. 797) assumes it refers to the security of Edom (i.e., her wisdom traditions are undefiled by foreign influence)

4. ICC (p. 137) suggests it refers to Eliphaz's tribe from Teman

If the historical Job is speaking, it must refer to Edom, but if the Judean sage is speaking, then #1 and #2 could refer to Canaan.


MT"He wanders about for food, saying, 'where is it?'"
TEV"and vultures are waiting to eat their corpses"
NJB, LXX"marked down as meat for the vulture"
Peshitta"He flees because of the threat of judgment"
REB"he is flung out as food for vultures"

The UBS Text Project (p. 34) translates the Hebrew "as bread for vultures" and gives it a "C" rating (considerable doubt). This would follow the LXX, not the MT, but it is only a change of vocalization.

15:24 Notice the personification of

1. distress – BDB 865 II

2. anguish – BDB 848


NASB"for the attack"
NRSV"ready for battle"
TEV"waiting to attack"
NJB"poised for an assault"

This noun (BDB 461) occurs only here in the OT. BDB translates it "onset" (i.e., the beginning of a conflict), following the Arabic root for the attack of a hawk (AB, p. 111).

15:25-27 These verses reflect the actions of the wicked ones toward God.

1. stretched out their hands against God, Job 15:25a

2. acted arrogantly against the Almighty, Job 15:25b

3. rushed with a stiff neck (NASB margin) at God, Job 15:26a

4. Job 15:27 is difficult to interpret. The issue is, what does "fat" denote?

a. wealth, luxury

b. an overweight, prosperous person unable to fight

c. oil for war shields

d. allusion to ANE mythology

e. linked to rebellion in Deut. 32:15; Ps. 73:7; Jer. 5:28

It should be noted that according to "the two ways" prosperity was a sign of God's pleasure, but here it is a deceptive brief aspect of a wicked person's life. He is prosperous by ill-gotten gain but Eliphaz emphasizes it will not last.

15:25 "The Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

15:28 The person described

1. lived in cursed places (i.e., no fear of God), cf. Job 3:14

2. rebuilt destroyed (i.e., cursed) houses/cities to show their power and wealth, cf. Isa. 5:8-9

Whatever this building activity refers to, it will not last (i.e., Job 15:28c). God's judgment will find them!

15:29-35 This imagery could refer to

1. the wicked themselves

2. the agricultural harvest of the wicked


15:29b This line of Hebrew poetry is uncertain. It is parallel with Job 15:29a.

1. The LXX has "He shall not cast a shadow upon the ground" (TEV, NJB).

2. The Peshitta has "nor shall his words be established upon the earth."

3. The JPSOA has "His produce shall not bend to the earth."


15:30 "darkness" This noun (BDB 361) is used three times in Job 15 (cf. Job 15:22,23,30). The interpretive question is, does it always refer to the same thing? Is it

1. the days of problems and reversals that will be followed (at least for the repentant) by a return to prosperity or

2. a euphemism for Sheol (the holding place of the departed, cf. Nah. 1:8)?

It seems the first two usages may reflect option #1, while the third usage reflects option #2.

Remember that Job 3:1-10 has many synonyms for the lack of light. Obviously the ancient Hebrews used this concept of the lack of light in several senses.

▣ "blame" This was a metaphor of God's judgment. See SPECIAL TOPIC: FIRE.

15:31 This verse has the ring of truth. The focus is not on the "faith" or "belief" (BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil jussive) of a person but the credibility and truthfulness of its object. "Deceiving himself" (BDB 1073, KB 1766, Niphal perfect) denotes intentional self-blindness! This is what the Gospel of John, chapter 9 accentuates.

15:32 "before his time" In the OT a faithful follower's life is described as being "full in years" (i.e., 2 Sam. 7:12; 1 Chr. 17:11; Lam. 4:18). For the wicked their lives are cut short (cf. Job 21:13; 22:16). Death is viewed as a natural occurrence but one's early death was viewed as a tragedy.

15:34 "barren" This adjective (BDB 166) is used three times in Job.

1. Job's desire that he had never been born, Job 3:7

2. the total destruction of the godless and their children, Job 15:34

3. translated "gaunt" in Job 30:3

4. the only other occurrence of this word is Isa. 49:21, where it describes the feelings of the Babylonian exiles


15:35 "they conceive mischief" This is the opposite of "barren" in Job 15:34. But here tie conception is not a blessing but a disaster (cf. Isa. 59:4). This is poetic contrast! Wickedness produces only more wickedness!


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. How is Eliphaz's speech of Job 15 different from his in Job 4-5?

2. Who is the "first man" of Job 15:7-8?

3. What are "the consolations of God" in Job 15:11?

4. Explain Job 15:14-15 in light of ANE thought and early chapters of Job.

5. How do you explain the difference between Job 15:17-25 and Ps. 73:1-14? Also note their similarity to Ps. 73:15-28.


Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  JobTable of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |