Job 32:6
And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and you are very old; why I was afraid, and dared not show you my opinion.
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(6) I am young.—The way in which Elihu comes forward is very interesting, and full of character. It gives us also a picture of the times and habits.

32:6-14 Elihu professes to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and corrects both parties. He allowed that those who had the longest experience should speak first. But God gives wisdom as he pleases; this encouraged him to state his opinion. By attention to the word of God, and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, young men may become wiser than the aged; but this wisdom will render them swift to hear, slow to speak, and disposed to give others a patient hearing.And Elihu - "said, I am young" Margin, few of days. The Hebrew is, "I am small (צעיר tsâ‛ı̂yr) of days;" that is, I am inexperienced. We have no means of ascertaining his exact age, though it is evident that there was a considerable disparity between them and him.

And ye are very old - ישׁישׁים yâshı̂yshiym. The word used here is probably derived from the obsolete root שוש, "to be white, hoary"; and hence, to be hoary-headed, or aged; compare 2 Chronicles 36:17. The whole of the discourses of the friends of Job seem to imply that they were aged men. They laid claim to great experience, and professed to have had opportunities of long observation, and it is probable that they were regarded as sages, who, by the long observation of events, had acquired the reputation of great wisdom.

Wherefore I was afraid - He was timid, bashful, diffident.

And durst not show you mine opinion - Margin, feared. He had that diffidence to which modesty prompts in the presence of the aged. He had formed his opinion as the argument proceeded, but he did not deem it proper that one so young should interfere, even when he thought he perceived that others were wrong.

6. was afraid—The root meaning in Hebrew is "to crawl" (De 32:24). To wit, of discovering my weakness and folly, and of being thought forward and presumptuous. And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said,.... Since there was no answer in them, he takes upon him to give one himself; but first makes an apology on account of his youth:

I am young, and ye are very old; or "few of days"; a few days, comparatively speaking, had he lived in the world; or "small", or "little as two days" (m); he had been but a little time in it, and so could be thought to have but little knowledge and experience; whereas they were old, even very old; with them were the aged and the grayheaded, Job 15:10; in whom it might have been expected was much wisdom and knowledge:

wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show mine opinion; declare what knowledge he had of the things in dispute, lest it should appear mean, small, and contemptible; or give his sentiments concerning them, lest he should speak wrongly, and not only give offence, but do more harm than good: the first of these words, in the Arabic language (n), as Aben Ezra observes, signifies to go back; it is used of worms, which, through fear, withdraw themselves from men; so mean an opinion had he of himself, and such a sense of his own weakness, that it not only kept him back, but even caused him to draw back, and keep out of the dispute, and at a distance from it, instead of being forward to engage in it: one Jewish commentator (o) paraphrases it

"I humbled myself as one that goes on his belly;''

referring to worms that go low and creep upon their belly, or to the prostrate posture of men that humble themselves to their superiors.

(m) "minimus ego diebus", Montanus; "parvus diebus sum", Mercerus. (n) "recessit suo loco", Castel. col. 1036. (o) Sephorno.

And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
6–10. Elihu, being a youth, shrank from interfering in a dispute in which aged men were engaged; but he perceived that wisdom did not always accompany grey hairs; it is a gift of God, and, conscious of possessing it, he desires now to be heard.Verses 6-22. - The speech of Elihu now begins. In the present chapter, after a short apologetic exordium, excusing his youth (vers. 6-9), he addresses himself exclusively to Job's friends. He has listened attentively to them, and weighed their words (vers. 11, 12). but has found nothing in them that confuted Job. They had not "found wisdom" - they had not "vanquished Job" - at the last they had been "amazed, and had not had a word more to say" (vers. 13-16). Elihu, therefore, will supply their deficiency; he has kept silence with difficulty, and is full of thoughts, to which he would fain give utterance (vers. 17-20). In all that he says he will show no favouritism - he will "accept no man's-person," "give no flattering titles," but express sincerely what he believes (vers. 21, 22). Verse 6. - And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old. We can only guess at the exact ages of Job and his friends. From the fact that God at the last "gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10), and the further fact that he lived, after he had recovered his prosperity, a hundred and forty years (Job 42:16), it has been conjectured that he was seventy years of age at the time of his conference with his friends, and that he died at the age of two hundred and ten. But this clearly is quite uncertain. He may not have been much more than fifty when his calamities fell upon him. If this were so, the age of his friends need not have exceeded from sixty to seventy. Perhaps Elihu was himself not more than thirty. Wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you mine opinion; rather, I held back and was afraid to utter what I knew in your presence. Elihu would have been thought unduly pushing and presumptuous if he had ventured to come forward until his seniors had ended their colloquy. 38 If my field cry out against me,

And all together its furrows weep;

39 If I have devoured its strength without payment,

And caused the soul of its possessor to expire:

40 May thistles spring up instead of wheat,

And darnel instead of barley.

The field which he tills has no reason to cry out on account of violent treatment, nor its furrows to weep over wrong done to them by their lord.

(Note: In a similar figure a Rabbinic proverb says (with reference to Malachi 2:13), that the altar of God weeps over him who separates himself from the wife of his youth.)

אדמה, according to its radical signification, is the covering of earth which fits close upon the body of the earth as its skin, and is drawn flat over it, and therefore especially the arable land; תּלם (Arab. telem, not however directly referable to an Arab. root, but as also other words used in agriculture, probably borrowed from the North Semitic, first of all the Aramaic or Nabataic), according to the explanation of the Turkish Kamus, the "ditch-like crack which the iron of the ploughman tears in the field," not the ridge thrown up between every two furrows (vid., on Psalm 65:11). He has not unlawfully used (which would be the reason of the crying and weeping) the usufruct of the field (כּח meton., as Genesis 4:12, of the produce, proportioned to its capability of production) without having paid its value, by causing the life to expire from the rightful owner, whether slowly or all at once (Jeremiah 15:9). The wish in Job 31:40 is still stronger than in Job 31:8, Job 31:12 : there the loss and rooting out of the produce of the field is desired, here the change of the nature of the land itself; the curse shall and must come upon it, if its present possessor has been guilty of the sin of unmerciful covetousness, which Eliphaz lays to his charge in Job 22:6-9.

According to the view of the Capuchin Bolducius (1637), this last strophe, Job 31:38, stood originally after Job 31:8, according to Kennicott and Eichhorn after Job 31:25, according to Stuhlmann after Job 31:34. The modern expositors retain it in its present position. Hirzel maintains the counter arguments: (1) that none of the texts preserved to us favour the change of position; (2) that it lay in the plan of the poet not to allow the speeches of Job to be rounded off, as would be the case by Job 31:35 being the concluding strophe, but to break off suddenly without a rhetorical conclusion. If now we imagine the speeches of Elihu as removed, God interrupts Job, and he must cease without having come to an end with what he had to say. But these counter arguments are an insufficient defence: for (1) there is a number of admitted misplacements in the Old Testament which exceed the Masora (e.g., 1 Samuel 13:1; Jeremiah 27:1), and also the lxx (e.g., 1 Samuel 17:12, באנשׁים, lxx ἐν ἀνδράσιν, instead of בשׁנים); (2) Job's speech would gain a rhetorical conclusion by Job 31:38, if, as Hirzel in contradiction of himself supposes, Job 31:35 ought to be considered as a parenthesis, and Job 31:40 as a grammatical conclusion to the hypothetical clauses from Job 31:24 onwards. But if this strange view is abandoned, it must be supposed that with Job 31:38 Job intends to begin the assertion of his innocence anew, and is interrupted in this course of thought now begun, by Jehovah. But it is improbable that one has to imagine this in the mind of such a careful poet. Also the first word of Jehovah, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel with words without knowledge?" Job 38:2, is much more appropriate to follow directly on Job 31:37 than Job 31:40; for a new course of thought, which Jehovah's appearing interrupts, begins with Job 31:35; and the rash utterance, Job 31:37, is really a "darkening of the divine decree." For by declaring he will give an account to God, his judge, concerning each of his steps, and approach Him like a prince, Job does not merely express the injustice of the accusations raised by his human opponents, but he casts a reflection of injustice upon the divine decree itself, inasmuch as it appears to him to be a de facto accusation of God.

Nevertheless, whether Elihu's speeches are not be put aside as not forming an original portion of the book, or not, the impression that Job 31:38 follow as stragglers, and that Job 31:35 would form a more appropriate close, and a more appropriate connection for the remonstrance that follows, whether it be Jehovah's or Elihu's, remains. For the assertion in Job 31:38 cannot in itself be considered to be a justifiable boldness; but in Job 31:35 the whole condition of Job's inner nature is once more mirrored forth: his longing after God, by which Satan's prediction is destroyed; and his overstepping the bounds of humility, on account of which his affliction, so far as it is of a tentative character, cannot end before it is also become a refining fire to him. Therefore we cannot refrain from the supposition that it is with Job 31:38 just as with Isaiah 38:21 The lxx also found these two verses in this position; they belong, however, after Isaiah 38:6, as is clear in itself, and as is evident from 2 Kings 20:7 There they are accidentally omitted, and are now added at the close of the narration as a supplement. If the change of position, which is there an oversight, is considered as too hazardous here, Job 31:35 must be put in the special and close relation to the preceding strophe indicated by us in the exposition, and Job 31:38 must be regarded as a final rounding off (not as the beginning of a fresh course of thought); for instead of the previous aposiopeses, this concluding strophe dies away, and with it the whole confession, in a particularly vigorous, imprecative conclusion.

Let us once more take a review of the contents of the three sharply-defined monologues. After Job, in Job 27:1, has closed the controversy with the friends, in the first part to this trilogy, Job 29:1, he wishes himself back in the months of the past, and describes the prosperity, the activity, for the good of his fellow-men, and the respect in which he at that time rejoiced, when God was with him. It is to be observed here, how, among all the good things of the past which he longs to have back, Job gives the pre-eminence to the fellowship and blessing of God as the highest good, the spring and fountain of every other. Five times at the beginning of Job 29:1 in diversified expressions he described the former days as a time when God was with him. Look still further from the beginning of the monologue to its close, to the likewise very expressive כאשׁר אבלים ינחם. The activity which won every heart to Job, and toward which he now looks back so longingly, consisted of works of that charity which weeps with them that weep, and rejoices not in injustice, Job 29:12-17. The righteousness of life with which Job was enamoured, and which manifested itself in him, was therefore charity arising from faith (Liebe aus Glauben). He knew and felt himself to be in fellowship with God; and from the fulness of this state of being apprehended of God, he practised charity. He, however, is blessed who knows himself to be in favour with God, and in return loves his fellow-men, especially the poor and needy, with the love with which he himself is loved of God. Therefore does Job wish himself back in that past, for now God has withdrawn from him; and the prosperity, the power, and the important position which were to him the means for the exercise of his charity, are taken from him.

This contrast of the past and present is described in Job 30:1, which begins with ועתה. Men who have become completely animalized, rough hordes driven into the mountains, with whom he sympathized, but without being able to help them as he had wished, on account of their degeneracy, - these mock at him by their words and acts. Now scorn and persecution for the sake of God is the greatest honour of which a man can be accounted worthy; but, apart from the consideration that this idea could not yet attain its rightful expression in connection with the present, temporal character of the Old Testament, it was not further from any one than from him who in the midst of his sufferings for God's sake regards himself, as Job does now, as rejected of God. That scorn and his painful and loathesome disease are to him a decree of divine wrath; God has, according to his idea, changed to a tyrant; He will not hear his cry for help. Accordingly, Job can say that his welfare as a cloud is passed away. He is conscious of having had pity on those who needed help, and yet he himself finds no pity now, when he implores pity like one who, seated upon a heap of rubbish, involuntarily stretches forth his hand for deliverance. In this gloomy picture of the present there is not even a single gleam of light; for the mysterious darkness of his affliction has not been in the slightest degree lighted up for Job by the treatment the friends have adopted. Also he is as little able as the friends to think of suffering and sin as unconnected, for which very reason his affliction appears to him as the effect of divine wrath; and the sting of his affliction is, that he cannot consider this wrath just. From the demand made by his faith, which here and there breaks through his conflict, that God cannot allow him to die the death of a sinner without testifying to his innocence, Job nowhere attains the conscious conclusion that the motive of his affliction is love, and not wrath.

In the third part of the speech (Job 31:1), which begins with the words, "I had made a covenant," etc., without everywhere going into the detail of the visible conjunction of the thought, Job asserts his earnest struggle after sanctification, by delivering himself up to just divine punishment in case his conduct had been the opposite. The poet allows us to gain a clear insight into that state of his hero's heart, and also of his house, which was well-pleasing to God. Not merely outward adultery, even the adulterous look; not merely the unjust acquisition of property and goods, but even the confidence of the heart in such things; not merely the share in an open adoration of idols, but even the side-glance of the heart after them, is accounted by him as condemnatory. He has not merely guarded himself from using sinful curses against his enemies, but he has also not rejoiced when misfortune overtook them. As to his servants, even when he has had a dispute with any of them, he has not forgotten that master and servant, without distinction of birth, are creatures of one God. Towards orphans, from early youth onwards, he has practised such tender love as if he were their father; towards widows, as if he were their son. With the hungry he has shared his bread, with the naked his clothes; his subordinates had no reason to complain of niggardly sustenance; his house always stood open hospitably to the stranger; and, as the two final strophes affirm: he has not hedged in any secret sin, anxious only not to appear as a sinner openly, and has not drawn forth wailings and tears from the ground which he cultivated by avarice and oppressive injustice. Who does not here recognise a righteousness of life and endeavour, the final aim of which is purity of heart, and which, in its relation to man, flows forth in that love which is the fulfilling of the law? The righteousness of which Job (Job 29:14) says, he has put it on like a garment, and it has put him on, is essentially the same as that which the New Testament Preacher on the mount enjoins. As the work of an Israelitish poet, Job 31:1 is a most important evidence in favour of the assertion, that a life well-pleasing to God is not, even in the Old Testament, absolutely limited to the Israelitish nation, and that it enjoins a love which includes man as man within itself, and knows of no distinction.


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