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JOB 22


Eliphaz Accuses and Exhorts Job Eliphaz Accuses Job of Wickedness Third Discourse of Eliphaz Eliphaz Admission of Guilt Leads to Reconciliation With God
22:1 22:1-11

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.



 1Then Eliphaz the Temanite responded,
 2"Can a vigorous man be of use to God,
 Or a wise man be useful to himself?
 3Is there any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous,
 Or profit if you make your ways perfect?
 4Is it because of your reverence that He reproves you,
 That He enters into judgment against you?
 5Is not your wickedness great,
 And your iniquities without end?
 6For you have taken pledges of your brothers without cause,
 And stripped men naked.
 7To the weary you have given no water to drink,
 And from the hungry you have withheld bread.
 8But the earth belongs to the mighty man,
 And the honorable man dwells in it.
 9You have sent widows away empty,
 And the strength of the orphans has been crushed.
 10Therefore snares surround you,
 And sudden dread terrifies you,
 11Or darkness, so that you cannot see,
 And an abundance of water covers you."

22:1 "Eliphaz" Eliphaz has spoken previously in Job 4:1-5:27 and 15:1-35. Apparently he is reacting to Job's response, which is recorded in Job 21. These three comforters of Job continue to assert the traditional theology that the righteous will be blessed and the wicked will be punished in this life (i.e., the two ways).

22:2-4 This contains a series of questions which expect a "no" answer. In effect, Eliphaz is accusing Job of sin. The theological irony is that every one of them is really an affirmation (Jerome Bible Commentary, p. 524), not only of God, but also of Job.

The Hebrew of Job 22:2-4 is difficult. John H. Walton suggests that Job 22:2 is another allusion to a "mediator" (cf. The NIV Application Commentary, Job, pp. 450-453). If this is true, Eliphaz is suggesting to Job that his law case (cf. Job 22:4b) against God cannot be helped by any intermediary (cf. Job 16:19; 19:25-27) and not asserting that God is not affected by human innocence.

22:3 "Is there any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous" This is exactly what Job 1:8-9 and 2:3-4 assert. The author is alluding to the dialogue between YHWH and the accuser.

The term "Almighty" is the ancient name for God, Shaddai, which shows the patriarchal setting (i.e., Abraham's time, the second millennium b.c.) for the book of Job. See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).


22:4 "Is it because of your reverence that He reproves you,

 That He enters into judgment against you" Again, this verse, along with Job 22:8, asserts the traditional theology. In their understanding, Job's problem had to be one of unconfessed sin. Their theology was so tightly encapsulated that no other options were available.

The term "reverence" (BDB 432) is literally "fear." See Special Topic: Fear (OT).

22:5-9 This is an extended list of supposed sins that Job has secretly committed but which he will not confess. It is interesting that all of these sins (i.e., "great wickedness," and "iniquities without end," Job 22:5) are those which the rich commit against the poor. Job defends himself against these charges in Job 31:16-23.

1. taken pledges of your brothers without cause (cf. Job 24:3,9; Exod. 22:26-27; Deut. 24:6,10-13,17; Ezek. 18:7,12,16)

2. stripped clothing from the poor (cf. Job 31:19,20; Deut. 24:17)

3. given no water to the weary

4. withheld bread (food) from the hungry (cf. Job 31:16,17,31; Isa. 58:7,10)

5. sent widows away empty (cf. Job 24:3,21; 29:13; 31:16,18; Deut. 24:17)

6. crushed the strength of the orphans (cf. Job 6:27)

7. Job 22:8 is another charge; Job has used his wealth, position to defraud the poor and helpless (cf. TEV, NJB)

This list of social atrocities is from

1. ANE culture in general

2. a knowledge of the Mosaic Law

I continue to think that Job was written by a sage at the Judean court, using the history of a long dead, famous person from Edom. These dialogues were never spoken by real persons (people in the ANE did not speak to each other in poetic imagery and parallelism). These dialogues reveal truth much like the Gospel of John (but in it real people are speaking) uses dialogues (i.e., 27 of them) to reveal truth about the person and work of Christ. Be careful of linking a view of history with a view of inspiration. God has chosen many literary forms to truly reveal Himself!

22:8 "the earth" This Hebrew word (BDB 75) has a wide semantic field. Here it should be "land" (JPSOA) or "family fields." See Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth (OT).

The Jewish Study Bible (p. 1533) mentions that the DSS MS of Job, from Cave 11, sees this verse as an allusion by Eliphaz to Job's comments in Job 9:24.

22:10-11 These verses show the result (i.e., "therefore," BDB 485) of such actions toward the socially disadvantaged. They express a wish for God's justice!

1. snares surround you

2. sudden dread terrifies you (cf. Job 18:8-11)

3. darkness comes upon you, so dark you cannot see (i.e., like the Egyptian plague of Exod. 10:21-23; also note Job 5:14; 12:25; 15:30; 18:18; 20:26, some of which is imagery of problems and confusion or death)

4. drown in much water

Actions of the elite, powerful, and wealthy toward the socially ostracized or disempowered have consequences in time and eternity (cf. Matt. 25:31-46).

 12"Is not God in the height of heaven?
 Look also at the distant stars, how high they are!
 13You say, ‘What does God know?
 Can He judge through the thick darkness?
 14Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see;
 And He walks on the vault of heaven.'
 15Will you keep to the ancient path
 Which wicked men have trod,
 16Who were snatched away before their time,
 Whose foundations were washed away by a river?
 17They said to God, ‘Depart from us!'
 And ‘What can the Almighty do to them?'
 18Yet He filled their houses with good things;
 But the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
 19The righteous see and are glad,
 And the innocent mock them,
 20Saying, 'Truly our adversaries are cut off,
 And their abundance the fire has consumed.'"

22:12-14 This seems to be the claim of Eliphaz that Job has misunderstood the transcendent and all-knowing power of God.


LXX, TEV"God. . .look down"
NJB"does he not see"

The MT has "see" (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative), which implies that humans look at the "highest stars," but without changing the consonants it is possible for the line of poetry to refer to God looking down on the highest star (TEV, NJB), thereby forming a better parallel with Job 22:12b (see notes in UBS Text Project, p. 63).

22:13 "the thick darkness" This noun (BDB 791) is associated with theophanies. When God appears to humans, His holiness is overpowering and even deadly, so He hides Himself in thick clouds (cf. Exod. 19:9; 20:21; Deut. 4:11; 5:22; 1 Kgs. 8:12; Ps. 18:11; 97:2).


NASB"the vault of heaven"
NKJV"the circle of heaven"
NRSV"the dome of heaven"
NJB"the rim of the heavens"
JPSOA"the circuit of heaven"

This is the ancient imagery of the atmosphere above the earth (i.e., flat earth) as a dome (hammered metal) or stretched skin (cf. Isa. 40:22). See SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAVEN.

In this context, the full imagery is God walking on the clouds of heaven and observing all that happens on earth.

22:15 "Will you keep the ancient path" This phrase is usually used for God's path (cf. Job 23:11; Ps. 139:24; and Jer. 6:16). However, there is a possible Ugaritic root, glm, that could mean "dark path," which would refer to the path of the wicked (AB, p. 151). This seems to be more contextually appropriate.

22:16 Notice the stated divine action against those who walk the path of wickedness.

1. They die before their time.

2. Their legacy and memory are destroyed (i.e., by a great flood of judgment).

Eliphaz is alluding to Job's current condition.

▣ "snatched away" This verb (BDB 888, KB 1108, Pual perfect) is found only in Job (twice).

1. Job 16:8

2. Job 22:16

It implies a personal act of God (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) [anthropomorphic language]). It denotes a premature death (cf. Job 20:11; 22:16; Ps. 102:23-24; Isa. 38:10), which showed God's displeasure.

22:17-18 These verses are almost letter for letter a quote from Job 21:14-16, but the exact purpose of Eliphaz quoting Job is uncertain, unless he is mocking his words.


TEV"do to them"
REB"do to us"
JPSOA"do about it"

The NASB follows the MT. The NRSV follows the LXX, Syriac, Qumran Targum. The DSS Targum suggests that "to us" means "for us," which would link the thought to Job 22:3b. This would reflect the accuser's charges in Job 1 and 2 of faith for favors.

22:19-20 These two verses describe the feelings of righteous people at the just judgment that befalls the wicked. Eliphaz considered himself righteous and Job wicked.



The MT has "adversaries" (קים, BDB 879, KB 1096), but this root is found only here. The parallelism with Job 22:20b suggests "substance" (possibly, יקום, BDB 879; an Arabic root, or קנין, BDB 889).

▣ "fire" The mention of "fire" and "flood" (Job 22:16) are

1. the Jewish sages' knowledge of the Flood of Genesis 6-9 and Sodom and Gomorrah of Genesis 18-19

2. general metaphors for judgment in the ANE


 21"Yield now and be at peace with Him;
 Thereby good will come to you.
 22Please receive instruction from His mouth
 And establish His words in your heart.
 23If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored;
 If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent,
 24And place your gold in the dust,
 And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks,
 25Then the Almighty will be your gold
 And choice silver to you.
 26For then you will delight in the Almighty
 And lift up your face to God.
 27You will pray to Him, and He will hear you;
 And you will pay your vows.
 28You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you;
 And light will shine on your ways.
 29When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence,
 And the humble person He will save.
 30He will deliver one who is not innocent,
 And he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."

22:21-22 Eliphaz, with seeming compassion (Job 4-5) and half truths, calls on Job to repent. He cares for Job! His affirmations of God's grace are absolutely accurate but he insists that Job is under judgment, when in reality he is not.

Note the imperatives used as wishes (i.e., BDB 609, a mark of entreaty or exhortation) for Job to act in a certain way.

1. "yield now" – BDB 698, KB 755, Hiphil imperative which denotes an action that is clearly demonstrated, cf. Num. 22:30; Ps. 139:3

2. "be at peace with Him" – BDB 1023, KB 1532, Qal imperative, see Special Topic: Peace (OT)

3. receive God's teachings – BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperative

4. establish His words in your heart – BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal imperative

5. there is one more action (i.e., imperative) in Job 22:24 which asks Job to renounce all his wealth

The result of confession and repentance will be "good" (BDB 375), Job 22:21b,23,28b,29,30. This has been the message of the three comforters from the beginning.

22:22 "Please receive instructions from His mouth" It is interesting to note that this is the only use of the Hebrew word Torah (BDB 435) in all the book of Job. This also seems to imply that Eliphaz is claiming to speak for God. This is a pitfall that all of us face from time to time.

Job claims to have received God's word/teaching in Job 23:12. It is the words of his three comforters he rejects as irrelevant to his situation (i.e., an innocent man suffering under God's direction or approval).

22:23-30 In these verses Job is offered rewards for his confession and repentance ("If. . .if. . ." BDB 609). This is exactly the charge that Satan makes to God in the Prologue of Job. It again sees God's relationship to us on the basis of "the two ways."

22:23 "return" This is the verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal imperfect) that denotes "turning" (i.e., turning from sin and to God). See SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT in the Old Testament.

▣ "you will be restored" This is literally "built up" or "be made prosperous" (תבנה, BDB 124, KB 139, Niphal imperfect) but the LXX makes it a similar root, "humble" (תענה, BDB 776, KB 851, Pual imperfect).

22:24-25 The Hebrew text is in disarray. It is uncertain if Job 22:24 and 25 follow the literary context of 22:23 or if these verses show that Eliphaz is encouraging Job (1) to trust in God not in riches or (2) promising the restoration of wealth (Syriac).

Ophir, mentioned in Job 22:23, is an unknown geographical locality, but proverbial for its fine gold.


TEV"piled high"
NJB"piled in heaps"
REB"in double measure"
LXX"pure as silver tried by fire"

This feminine plural noun (BDB 419) is used of things "high" or "towering."

1. horns – Num. 23:22; 24:8

2. peaks – Ps. 95:4

3. here, of silver ore possibly in heaps, or stacked up refined bars


22:29-30 This has proven to be a very controversial passage because the rabbis and Roman Catholicism have taken the uncertainty of the Hebrew text and have asserted the doctrine of the "merit of the saints." This is in direct contradiction to the message of the book of Job, although Job himself prays for his three friends at the end of the book, as God instructs him (also note Abraham's intercession for Sodom/Lot in Gen. 18:21-33; and possibly Ezek. 14:14,20). This idea that the prayers of a righteous person affect God is surely true (cf. James 5:16; see SPECIAL TOPIC: INTERCESSORY PRAYER), but this involves no transfer of merit (cf. Ezekiel 18).

Notice how Job 22:2-4 contradicts the understanding of Job 22:30 related to "merits" of righteous people!

22:29 This is a good example of the theological half-truths found in the three comforters' messages. Much of what they say is accurate.

1. God opposes the proud but exalts the humble (OT reversal motif)

2. confession and repentance bring restoration and peace with God (Job 22:23-28)



NKJV"humble person"
NJB"those of downcast eyes"
LXX"one bent forward with the eyes"

The MT has an adjective (BDB 1006) in construct with a noun (BDB 744), "eyes." The adjective appears only here but seems to be related

1. to the root "be bowed down" (verb in BDB 1005)

2. parallelism with "abused" (BDB 1050, KB 1631, Hiphil perfect) of Job 22:29a; the problem is that this line of poetry uses another rare noun for "pride," which is not parallel to "humble"



NKJV"one who is not innocent"
NRSV"those who are guilty"
RSV"the innocent man"
TEV"you are innocent"
NJB"who is innocent"
Peshitta"the innocent"

The textual issue is obvious when you compare RSV with NRSV. The "innocent" man (RSV, TEV, NJB, REB) follows the ancient versions (i.e., Targums, LXX, Peshitta). The MT has "not" (BDB 22 IV) with "innocent" (cf. Job 4:7; 9:23; 17:8; 22:19,30; 27:17). However, it is a form of negation found only in later Hebrew and found nowhere else in the OT (it is found in Phoenician and Ethiopian, cf. John Walton, NIV Application Commentary, Job, p. 246). The parallelism of Job 22:30a and 30b fits best without the negative. The UBS Text Project (p. 66) gives it a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The committee suggested several possible translations for אי (BDB 33 IV).

1. no/not

2. whoever (Arabic root)

3. man (add one consonant to "not," RSV)

4. God

5. island (Ibn Ezra, KJV)

6. country (implication of #5)

Notice the word "innocent" is used in a negative sense in Job 22:19b-20.


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. Is Eliphaz asserting that God is unaffected by human actions in Job 22:2-4?

2. Can Eliphaz prove or demonstrate his charges against Job (Job 22:5-9)?

3. Is Elihaz accusing Job of believing God is uninvolved in the affairs of humans (Job 22:12-14)?

4. What is the "ancient path" or "old path"? How is it different from "everlasting way" of Ps. 139:24?

5. What does Job 22:24 mean?

6. Why is Job 22:30 so hard to interpret?


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