Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,…
In the next six chapters the controversy between Job and his friends takes a new and embittered turn. They muster their forces to put down the daring speaker, who as they deem has challenged the justice of God. They seek to humiliate him as a late-born, itinerant, and passionate man, who has incurred fresh guilt by his impious questionings and blasphemies. Eliphaz gives a terrible representation of the general truth that the wicked man, living for himself alone, must ever be exposed to torment, and his property and condition must ever be insecure, leaving Job to apply all this to himself. In the war of words the hope of reconciliation and mutual understanding is further and further banished. The present chapter (xv.) falls into two divisions: the first containing argument; the second the authoritative utterance of wisdom (vers. 2-19, 20-35).
I. ARGUMENT: INTRODUCTION. (Vers. 2-6.) Eliphaz, as the oldest and most experienced of the friends, seeks to abash and humiliate Job by raising doubts of his sense and wisdom.
1. The characteristics of unwisdom are indulgence in windy words - in "words from the paunch" the seat of wild and ungovernable passion, as constructed with words that are uttered from the heart (Job 8:10), and are those of experience, sense, and truth; in words that are useless because there are no corresponding deeds. Here is a good test of the value of speech - Has it any tendency to bear fruit in deeds? can it be followed up and expressed in deeds or no? Those words are vain on which we dare not set the stamp and seal of action.
2. Proofs of guilt. These wild speeches are not only idle, but worse, mischievous. The tongue is a powerful agent' either of good or evil. It builds up those who listen in faith and goodness, or loosens the root of piety in the soul. Further, the tongue may be used as the weapon of the crafty - a disingenuous means of defence. And does not this show that Job is utterly corrupt; that, like an unprincipled scoundrel, he would attempt to clear himself by throwing blame on others?
II. HUMILIATING CENSURES. (Vers. 7-13.)
1. Ironical rebuke of his assumption Is he the first-born man - older than the hills? Does he stand at the head of mankind, and, therefore, know better than all his fellows? So Ezekiel satirizes the King of Tyre, "Thou stalest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12). The Hindus have a proverb used in the same sense, "Yea, indeed, he is the first man; no wonder that he is so wise." The great Greek sage, on the other hand, being declared the wisest of men, interpreted the oracle as meaning that h-e alone of men knew that he was ignorant. It is better to place one's self on a level with the meanest and the most ignorant than to assume superiority in matters about which all men may reasonably think themselves equally well informed.
2. Expostulation against a bitter temper. It is a temper that will not soften at the word of comfort, as the rock will not melt in the sun. Eliphaz thinks that all his good instruction and consolation have been lavished in vain upon this obdurate heart. The "refusing to be comforted," the obstinate nourishing of grief, is a temper that must be changed, otherwise the mental view cannot become clear and calm. Other signs of temper are pride; the heart carried away by its passionate egotism; the gleaming or rolling eyes (ver. 12), and the unbridled wildness of the tongue. These symptoms prove a disease, and that disease is self-will.
III. THE RIGHT OF COMPLAINT AGAINST GOD DENIED. (Vers. 14-16.) Here the speaker repeats himself, for he has nothing more deeply impressed upon his own mind than the folly and impatience of complaints from infirm man against the supreme and all-holy One (comp. Job 4:17 - 5:7).
1. The hereditary taint in man (ver. 14).
2. The relative impurity of heavenly beings in the sight of God.
3. Man's choice of sin (this is especially emphatic here).
All these considerations show the impiety of daring to question any action of God. Man has a thirst for sin (ver. 16): shall such a creature, from the edge of its muddy pool, lift itself presumingly against Heaven?
IV. DEMAND FOR ATTENTION TO INSTRUCTION. (Vers. 17-19.) In this short preface the wisdom of the speaker is described as
(1) derived from personal experience;
(2) confirmed by ancient tradition;
(3) as pure, unadulterated wisdom,
coming from a time when foreign opinions and foreign manners had not corrupted the simplicity of ancient truth. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,