So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
Verses 1-5. - The discourse of Elihu is prefaced by a short introduction in plain prose, explaining who he was, and giving the reasons which actuated him in coming forward at this point of the dialogue. Verse 1. - So these three men ceased to answer Job. Zophar had been silenced earlier. Eliphaz and Bildad now felt that they had no more to say. They had exhausted the weapons of their armoury without any effect, and were conscious that nothing would be gained by mere reiteration. All their efforts had aimed at convincing Job of sin; and he was still unconvinced - he remained righteous in his own eyes.
Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
Verse 2. - Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu. The name "Elihu" was not uncommon among the Israelites. It is found among the ancestors of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1), among the Korhite Levites of the time of David (1 Chronicles 26:7), and as a variant for Eliab, one of David's brothers (1 Chronicles 27:8) The meaning of the word was, "He is my God" (אליהוא). The son of Barachal. Barachel is also a significant name. It means, "Bless, O God," or "God blesses" (בר אל). Both names imply that the new interlocutor belonged to a family of monotheists. The Buzite. "Huz" and "Buz" were brothers, the sons of Nahor, Abraham's brother, by Maleah, the daughter of Haran (Genesis 11:29; Genesis 22:20, 21). Of the kindred of Ram. By "Ram" we are probably to understand "Aram," who was the son of Kemuel, a brother of Huz and Buz. (On the connection of Huz and Buz with the Arabian tribes of Khazu and Bazu, see the comment on Job 1:1.) Against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Elihu was well-intentional; and it is perhaps not surprising that he had been shocked by some of Job's expressions. Job had himself apologized for them (Job 6:26); and certainly they went perilously near taxing God with injustice (see Job 40:8). But it is to be remembered that finally God justifies Job's sayings, while condemning those of his "comforters." "My wrath is kindled," he says to Eliphaz, "against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right as my servant Job hath" (Job 42:7).
Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
Verse 3. - Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer. Elihu thought that Job's reasonings and complaints admitted of being satisfactorily answered, and was vexed that the three "friends" had not made the right replied It is the main object of his speech to supply them. And yet had condemned Job. They had condemned him on wrong grounds and of sins that he had not committed (Job 22:6-9). Elihu condemns him as much (Job 33:9-12; Job 34:7-9, etc.), but for entirely different reasons.
Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he.
Verse 4. - Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken; rather, to speak to Job (see the Revised Version) He had waited impatiently until the three special "friends" had said their say, and be might come forward without manifest presumption. Because they were elder than he. (On the respect paid to age at this time in the land wherein Job lived, see the comment on Job 29:8.)
When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.
Verse 5. - When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled (comp. ver. 3 and the comment).
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.
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.
I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
Verse 7. - I said; i.e. "I kept saying to myself, when the desire to interrupt came upon me." Days should speak. Age should give wisdom, and the speech of the old should be most worthy of being attended to. Elihu had been brought up in this conviction, and therefore refrained himself. And multitude of years should teach wisdom. "Old experience should attain to something of prophetic strain." "One ought to give attention," says Aristotle, "to the mere unproved assertions of wise and aged men, as much as to the actual demonstrations of others" ('Eth. Nit.,' 6:11, ad fin. comp. also Job 10:12; Job 15:10; Proverbs 16:31).
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Verse 8. - But there is a spirit in man. But, after all, it is not mere age and experience that make men wise and able to teach others. "There is a spirit in man" (see Genesis 2:7); and it is according as this spirit is or is not enlightened from on high that men speak words of wisdom or the contrary. The inspiration of the Almighty - this it is, which - giveth them understanding. And such inspiration it is in the power of God to bestow, as he pleases, on the old or on the young, on the great of the earth, or on those of small reputation. Hence Elihu's conclusion -
Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
Verse 9. - Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged (always) understand judgment. Elihu lays down the universal law, before applying it to the particular instance. True wisdom is from God, not from observation and experience. Therefore many aged men are not wise; many experienced men, great in position, versed in affairs, do not possess understanding. It is a trite remark, "With how little wisdom the world is governed!"
Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
Verse 10. - Therefore I said, Hearken to me. Elihu evidently claims, not exactly what is ordinarily understood by inspiration, but that his spirit, is divinely enlightened, and that therefore he is more competent to take part in the controversy that has been raised than many of the aged. I also will show mine opinion. "I also," or "even I" - i.e. I, young as I am, "will show my opinion," or "utter what I know on the subject." Elihu does not speak of his convictions as mere "opinions," but claims to be in possession of actual "knowledge."
Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.
Verse 11. - Behold, I waited for your words; i.e. "I was full of expectation; I waited impatiently to hear what you would say." Then, while you spoke, I gave ear to your reasons - or, your reasonings; I did my best to apprehend your meaning - whilst ye searched out what to say. Professor Lee translates, "whilst ye examined Job's conclusions; but the Authorized Version is probably correct. Elihu means that he listened carefully while the friends hunted out all the arguments they could think of in order to confute Job.
Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:
Verse 12. - Yea, I attended unto you - or, lent you my attention - and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job; rather, that convicted (or, confuted) Job. Or that answered his words. In Elihu's opinion, the argumentative value of all the long speeches of the three friends was nil; they had entirely failed to answer Job's arguments.
Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.
Verse 13. - Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom; or, beware lest ye say, We have found wisdom (see the Revised Version). "Do not suppose, i.e., that you have triumphed in the controversy, that your mode of meeting Job's complaints is the wise and right one. The exact reverse is the case. You have not vanquished Job. On the contrary, he is unvanquished, and remains master of the field. If he is ever to be vanquished, it will not be by you. God thrusteth (rather, may thrust) him down, not man. A true prophecy! (see Job 40:1-14).
Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.
Verse 14. - Now he hath not directed his words against me. Elihu thinks that he can interfere in the controversy with the better prospect of a good result, since he is untouched by any of Job's words, and can therefore speak without passion or resentment. Neither will I answer him with your speeches. He is also going to bring forward fresh arguments, which, as they avoid the line taken by the three friends, may soothe, instead of exasperating, the patriarch.
They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.
Verse 15.- They were amazed, they answered no more. A change from the second to the third person, possibly as seeming less disrespectful. Or perhaps Elihu turns from the three friends at this point, as Professor Lee supposes, and addr
When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;)
Verse 16. - When I had waited (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more); rather, as in the Revised Version, and shall 1 wait because they speak not, because they stand still and answer no more? Am I to wait until they shall have recovered themselves, and found something to answer? Surely this is not necessary. Neither courtesy nor etiquette prescribes it. Especially when I have waited so long, and have so much to say, and am so exceedingly anxious to say it (see vers. 18-20). Elihu shows all the impatience and ardour of a young speaker (see ver. 6), and feels the confidence that young men so often feel in the wisdom and persuasiveness of their words (comp. Job 33:1-6).
I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.
Verse 17. - I said, I will answer also my part, I also will show mine opinion. The initial "I said" is superfluous. Elihu, having asked himself the question, "Shall I wait?" in ver. 16, here gives the answer. He will not wait any longer, he will take the word, he will set forth his conviction.
For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me.
Verse 18. - For I am full of matter; literally, I am full of words; i.e. I have very much to say. The spirit within me constraineth me; literally, the spirit of my belly; i.e. "my inward feelings and emotions." Compare Zophar's statements in Job 20:2, 3; and Job's own declarations in ch. 13, that he must speak (vers. 13, 19). There is a state of internal excitement, when reticence becomes impossible.
Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.
Verse 19. - Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent. The process of fermentation properly takes place in the vat, from which the gas evolved in the operation can freely escape. When wine was put into skins before fermentation was complete, and gas continued to be evolved, the effect was that the skins became distended, as the gas had no vent, and then not unfrequently the skins would burst, especially if they were old ones (see Matthew 9:17). It is ready to burst like new bottles. Even if the skins were new, they would undergo distension, and would appear as if "ready to burst," though the actual catastrophe might be avoided. Elihu's pent-up feelings seem to him, if they do not obtain a vent, to threaten some such a result.
I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.
Verse 20. - I will speak, that I may be refreshed; rather, that I may obtain relief; or, according to some, "that I may be able to breathe" (Cook, Rosenmuller). Elihu feels almost suffocated by conflicting feelings of rage (vers. 1-3), disappointment (vers. 11, 12), and anxiety to vindicate God's honour (ver. 2). I will open my lips and answer. In the remainder of Elihu's discourse the attempt is made to "answer" Job (see ch. 33-37), with what success will be considered elsewhere.
Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
Verse 21. - Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person. Elihu hopes that, in what he is about to say, he will not permit himself to be swayed by any personal bias; that he will neither unduly favour the upper classes nor the vulgar (see Professor Lee, on the difference between אישׁ and אדם 'Book of Job,' p. 444), but will treat all fairly and equitably. Neither let me (he says) give flattering titles unto man. Professor Lee observes on this: "The Oriental practice of giving long and fulsome titles is too well known to need anything beyond the mere mention of the fact." Elihu certainly, in the whole of his address, flatters no one.
For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
Verse 22. - For I know not to give flattering titles; i.e. it is not my habit to give flattering titles, nor have I any knowledge of the art. I should expect that, if such were my habit, my Maker would soon take me away; would soon, i.e., remove me from the earth, as one whose influence was not for good, but for evil. Flattery is condemned by Job, in Job 17:5: by David, in the Psalms (Psalm 3:9; 12:2, 3; 78:36); and by Solomon, in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 7:21; Proverbs 20:19; Proverbs 28:23, etc.).