Old Testament

Wisdom and Poetical Books

What did Job’s friends tell him?

The friends offered lengthy theories on why Job suffered. Eliphaz said that trouble comes to all men, and that it is the duty of men to accept what God sends: “For misery does not come from the earth, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.” (NRSV, Job 5:6–7) So, Eliphaz reasoned, “How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no harm shall touch you.” (NRSV, Job 5:17–19)

Bildad added to Eliphaz’s reasoning: “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression.” (NRSV, Job 3–4). By this, Bildad suggested that Job must have sinned horribly for God to treat him so.

Zophar accused Job of inflating his own worth at the expense of God. Zophar said, “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated? Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?” (NRSV, Job 11:2–3) Zophar continued, “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” (NRSV, Job 11:6)


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