A translation of Job 22 from Hebrew, with comments.
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered, and said:
2 “Can a man be profitable to God?
For he is profitable to himself – the wise one.
3 Is it joy to the Almighty if you are just, or advantage [to Him] if you are blameless in your ways?
4 Is it out of your fear that He reproves you [and] comes into you with judgement?
5 Is not your evil abundant, and is there no end to your iniquities?“
Eliphaz is a harshest this time around (see ch4-5, and ch15). He accuses Job of being “profitable to himself”. Remember, though, that the prologue (chapter 1) described Job was wealthy but one who revered God, and sacrificed on his family’s behalf. There’s a bit of irony as Eliphaz’s rhetoric is filled with words that the narrator has used to describe Job accurately (e.g. “if you are blameless…” in v3 is the same word used in Job 1:1 (he was “blameless and upright…”).
6 “For you have taken pledges of your brothers for nothing,
and the clothing of the naked you have stripped.
(Interesting here that “for nothing” is the same phrase that God and Satan debated about in Job 1:9 – “does Job fear God for nothing?”)
7 No water [to] the weary have you given,
and from the hungry you have withheld bread.
8 And the man of power (lit: arm) [took] for himself the land,
and the respected ones [lit: ones who have taken faces] live in it.
9 And the widows you have sent away empty, and the arms of the fatherless are crushed.
Without knowing Job’s actual situation, Eliphaz invents sins that Job must have committed to be afflicted with his sufferings. In Eliphaz’s worldview, Job’s suffering must be God’s payback for his “for nothing”, profiteering behaviour to others around him. This is very similar to the kind of insensitive counsel that Christians sometimes give to someone in trial: “You must have done something wrong to deserve this. You must have sinned here, or there.”
10 Therefore traps surround you,
And sudden dread terrifies you.
11 Or darkness, you cannot see;
And a flood of waters covers you.
12 Is not God high [in] the heavens? And see the head of stars, for they are aloft!
13 And you say:
“What hand of God? Can he through thick darkness judge?
14 Clouds are his veil and he does not see,
and the vault of the heavens he patrols.”
15 The everlasting path have you kept?
That men of iniquity walk[?]
16 Who were seized before time (lit: not time), [like] a river their foundations were poured out.
(The verb for “poured out” has metalworking resonances).
17 The ones who said to God:
“Depart from us”, and “What can the Almighty do to us?”
18 Yet He filled their houses [with] good,
But the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
19 The righteous will see and rejoice; and the innocent one will mock them.
20 [they say:] “Surely our adversaries are effaced and their excess the fire has consumed.
21 Be reconciled with Him, and make peace with them, and it will come to you – good things.
“Be reconciled to God and good things will come to you” – this verse is the prosperity gospel, in a nutshell. But it’s not true!
22 Take from his mouth instruction,
And set his words in your heart.
23 If you return to Almighty you will be built up, you will cast out injustice from your tents,
24 and you will lay in the dust gold,
And among stones of the brooks [of] Ophir.
25 and Almighty is your gold, and silver precious to you.
Eliphaz sincerely believes that Job needs to repent from the injustice in his family (lit: his “tents”).
26 For then you will take pleasure in Almighty, and lift up to God your face.
27 You will entreat to Him, and He will hear you;
And your vows you will complete.
28 You will decide on a matter, and it will arise for you; and upon your ways light shines.
29 For when they are brought low you speak arrogance,
And yet He will save the lowly [lit: downcast of eyes].
30 He delivers the one not innocent,
He will be delivered by the cleanness of your hands.
As Christopher Ash points out, the issue here in Eliphaz’s thinking is that he (and his friends) believe in immediate payback.
“The comforters’ “now” theology seems so tidy, but is actually disastrous. It is like a vending machine: put in some goodness, and out pops a can of blessing. Put in some badness, and out pops a can of poison.”
That’s not how God works though. He is not a genie. Life is not always just do this and you will get this. Therefore, Eliphaz is wrong to accuse Job of sin for his suffering.