Job begins his response to Eliphaz with the contention that his vexations far outweigh what Eliphaz characterizes as rashness of words on his part. For the first time, he seems to agree that God must be the author his troubles, but for what he does not know. And furthermore, he contends, even the wild donkey is allowed to bray at his discomfort, so what is man that he should not be allowed to do the same?
In verses 8-13, he re-affirms his wish that God would just crush him – end his life. His conscience is clean and he has nothing to fear in death, so why will God not take him home (verse 11). In verses 14-23, he then turns to his friends. They showed up for him physically, yet gave him not an ounce of sympathy. In verse 14, he even declared that such sympathy and kindness should be extended even to one who had forsaken God – but Eliphaz especially had already let him down. In verses 15-19, Job accuses his friends of being fair-weather in nature. They were kind and loyal in his prosperity, but now that he was struck down with suffering, they rejected him.
Verse 21 was his way of saying that his friends were worthless as far as being any comfort to him. He then accuses them of being afraid that if they show any compassion on him, they will be struck by God like Job. Then in verses 24 -30, he demands that they show him where he has done wrong. Verse 29 seems to indicate that his friends are about to get up and leave, but Job pleads with them not to abandon him, for he had done no wickedness deserving of such treatment.
Better to have the company of those who seem to care in some measure than none at all, one supposes. But Job wants more from these friends. Will he get what he needs?
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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