Day 9 in Job. Just a short walkthrough from the Hebrew text this morning as I’ve got a few other things to work on today. I promise not to pull a Joseph Caryl (he preached Job over 24 years and 424 sermons)!
(It’s still Eliphaz replying to Job’s lament)
5:1 Cry out now; is there anyone who answers you?
And to which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 For vexation slays the fool,
and jealousy kills the simple.
3 I myself have seen the fool taking root,
and I cursed his settlement suddenly:
4 “May their children be far from happiness,
and may they be crushed in the gate, and there will be no deliverer.
5 Whoever is hungry, may he eat his harvest, and even from thorns take it, and the robber pants after their wealth.”
6 For disaster does not come from dust;
and from the ground trouble does not sprout.
7 For humanity is born to trouble,
as sparks (lit: sons of the flame) fly upwards.
- There’s lots of difficult translation issues in these verses. But the main point is that Eliphaz is burning to tell a grieving Job that evil people get their just desserts (so he can suggest that God is disciplining him for his sins, v17).
- According to Eliphaz, Job’s cries to God are futile as there’s no “holy one” to mediate for him (v1) – near context suggests these are angels from a few verses earlier (4:18).
- For a second time, Eliphaz points to his observations (“I myself have seen”) as his primary way of knowing what’s true (see 4:8). Says Eliphaz, “an eye for an eye” is how the world always works.
- When Eliphaz curses the fool (v3), we should take notice – since the narrator has riddled us about blessings and curses so often already (see previous discussion).
- I’ve taken v4-5 as the content of Eliphaz’s cursing as the verbs are better translated as wishes rather than statements. They become callous wishes, rather than statements of fact.
- In all this, remember though that the narrator has already established Job as “blameless” and one who “turns from evil” (1:1, 1:8).
- We all know an Eliphaz: the friend who spouts what’s true, “as they see it”, all the time. Sometimes I wonder if social media rewards the loudest and most opinionated, and if our society is just cultivating lots of postmodern Eliphazes. Do we like and amplify voices with pithy, pointless memes? Why?
- While it’s true that some suffering is a result of humanity’s evil nature (e.g. murder, rape), it’s callous to use it as a blanket statement. Coronavirus is not because of overpopulation, or some government conspiracy, or whatever quick black-and-white box people come up with.
- While off-beam, not everything Eliphaz says so far is false. What better time than a global pandemic to remember that, as sparks fly upwards, every human being is born into a world of trouble.
- Eliphaz curses the fool. Job curses the day he was born. What you get angry at reveals your heart, doesn’t it?