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JOB 35


Elihu Sharply Reproves Job Elihu condemns Self-Righteousness Discourses of Elihu
The Speeches of Elihu
God's Transcendence
    Third Discourse of Elihu    
35:1 35:1-8

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. Elihu has listened well to Job's words and throws them back at him.

1. do you think. . ., Job 35:2 (twice)

2. for you say. . ., Job 35:3

3. summary statement in Job 35:16


B. Elihu's remarks in Job 35:5-8 denote a transcendent God who is unaffected by human activity (positive or negative). This may be his mocking of Job's claims (UBS Handbook, p. 645).


C. Elihu accuses Job by implication.

1. you have sinned, Job 35:6a

2. your transgressions, Job 35:6b

3. your wickedness is for a man like yourself, Job 35:8a

4. the multitude of oppressions, Job 35:9a

5. the pride of evil men, Job 35:12b

6. an empty cry, Job 35:13a

7. transgression (or "arrogance," NASB margin), Job 35:15b

8. Job opens his mouth emptily (or "vainly," NASB margin)



 1Then Elihu continued and said,
 2"Do you think this is according to justice?
 Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God's'?
 3For you say, ‘What advantage will it be to You?
 What profit will I have, more than if I had sinned?'
 4I will answer you,
 And your friends with you.
 5Look at the heavens and see;
 And behold the clouds—they are higher than you.
 6If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him?
 And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?
 7If you are righteous, what do you give to Him,
 Or what does He receive from your hand?
 8Your wickedness is for a man like yourself,
 And your righteousness is for a son of man."

35:2b This is the main problem with Job's attitude. He is so convinced of the rightness of his case (cf. Job 6:29; 9:20; 12:4; 13:18; 27:5-6; 29:14), that he is willing to make himself look good at God's expense.

The NASB translation, "more than," takes the comparative preposition as "min" (BDB 577, cf. Job 35:5b; 4:17).

35:3 These questions relate to Job's words in either Job 7:20 or 21:15, which Elihu alludes to in Job 34:9. It is the question of "the two ways." Does obedience bring rewards?

Notice the first "you" refers to Job and the second "you" at the close of the verse refers to El (God).

34:4 Elihu directs his answer to Job and the three comforters (cf. Job 32:3).

35:5-8 Elihu asserts that no activity of mankind affects God (cf. Job 22:2-4). This is the essence of transcendence!

Notice the NASB's threefold use of "if" (only twice in the MT, but implied a third time, BDB 49). Elihu seems to be addressing Job's charge that God will not answer him (cf. Job 25:12-15).

Several times in Job, God's transcendence is stated (cf. Job 11:7-9; 22:12) by the imagery of the height and width of His creation.

35:5 Notice the three imperatives.

1. look – BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil

2. see – BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal

3. behold – BDB 1003, KB 1449, Qal

They are a literary device for emphasis (i.e., Job, listen up!).

35:7 This may be an allusion to Eliphaz's words in Job 22:3.

35:8 Notice the parallel of "man" (BDB 35) and "son of man" (BDB 119 construct BDB 9). This is similar to Ps. 8:4; however, it is a different word for "man" (i.e., BDB 60, cf. Job 25:6) but the same concept. The phrase "son of man" is a Hebrew idiom for a human person. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF MAN.

 9"Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out;
 They cry for help because of the arm of the mighty.
 10But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
 Who gives songs in the night,
 11Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
 And makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?'
 12There they cry out, but He does not answer
 Because of the pride of evil men.
 13Surely God will not listen to an empty cry,
 Nor will the Almighty regard it.
 14How much less when you say you do not behold Him,
 The case is before Him, and you must wait for Him!
 15And now, because He has not visited in His anger,
 Nor has He acknowledged transgression well,
 16So Job opens his mouth emptily;
 He multiplies words without knowledge."

35:9 This verse may be an allusion to the charges made by the three comforters that Job had acted against the poor and needy. If so, Elihu characterizes Job as "the arm of the mighty."

There is a word play in this verse between

1. the noun, "multitude" (BDB 913)

2. the adjective, "mighty" (BDB 912 I)


35:10-11 Job 35:10-11 contains rhetorical questions. Notice how God is characterized.

1. God my Maker.

2. Who gives songs in the night?

3. Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth?

4. Who makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?

The LXX translates Job 35:11 as "he it is that sets me apart from earth's four-footed animals, and from the birds of the air." The meaning of this verse is ambiguous and uncertain.



The MT has "songs" (BDB 274 I). The translation of NRSV, JPSOA emend זמר to an Arabic root, דמר, which means "violent," courageous," "mighty" (AB, pp. 228-229). It is possible that Exod. 15:2 is another place where the term "song" may mean "strength."

35:11 This verse may refer to Job's words in Job 12:7.

35:12 The "they" seems to refer to the birds and animals. Their cry is unheard because of the fall of mankind (i.e., Genesis 3; Rom. 8:18-22).

However, it is surely possible to see this verse referring to

1. "the oppressed who cry out" (Job 35:9a)

2. "the oppressors" (Job 35:9b) who are "evil men" with prideful hearts (Job 35:12b)

God does not hear sinful people when, in time of need, they cry out to Him. The implication is that this refers to Job. Job's hidden sin is why God will not answer him (cf. Job 35:14-16).

35:13 "the Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

35:14a This may relate to Job's words in Job 9:11; 13:24; 23:8,9; 30:20.

35:14b This may relate to Job's words in Job 19:7; 30:20,24,28.

35:15a This may refer to Job's words in Job 21:14-26


NKJV, REB"folly"
NJB"human rebellion"
JPSOA"that it may be long drawn out"
Peshitta"and he does not harm my soul"

The UBS Text Project (p. 122) gives "folly" (שפ, BDB 832) a "B" rating (some doubt). It is read by Theodotion and Symmachus as עשפ (BDB 833), "transgression," in their translations of the OT. JPSOA says the Hebrew is uncertain.

The NJB translates the adverb "greatly" (מאד, BDB 547) as "human" (אדם, BDB 9), but the UBS Text Project (p. 123) gives "greatly" an "A" rating (very high probability).


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. Why is Job 35:2 critical to Elihu's overall argument against Job?

2. Explain the difference between a "transcendent" view of God and an "immanent" view of God.

3. Elihu seems to give two reasons why Job's prayers were not answered. What are they?

4. Legal terminology is often used in Job, why?


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