The Word Made Fresh
1Eliphaz the Temanite responded, 2“Can a man really be of any use to God? Can even the wisest man be of any good? 3Would the Almighty really be pleased if you are righteous? If all your ways are without fault, would God have anything to gain from it? 4Do you think you are being punished because you’re so pious? Is that why God is judging you? 5Aren’t you a wicked man with no end to your improprieties? 6You have required pledges from your brothers for no good reason, and you have even stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. 7You have not given the thirsty water to drink, and you haven’t given bread to the hungry. 8The land is owned by the powerful and settled by those who are favored, 9and you have turned widows away with nothing and crushed the hopes of orphans. 10That is why you are surrounded by snares, and terrors suddenly overwhelm you. 11That is why things are so dark you can’t see ahead, and why you seem to be covered by a flood of waters.
12“Isn’t God in the highest heavens with the stars, lofty as they are? 13And you dare to say, ‘What does God know? How can God judge through such darkness? 14God is wrapped in heavy darkness and cannot see from up there, walking on heaven’s dome.’ 15Are you going to stay on the same old path the wicked have followed? 16They were taken before their time and their ground washed away by a flood. 17They told God, ‘Leave us alone!’ They said, ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’ 18Even so, it was the Almighty who filled their houses with nice things; but still the plans made by wicked people are repugnant to me. 19Those who are righteous are happy to see their ruin, and those who are innocent laugh at them. 20They say, ‘Now our enemies are done for, and fire will burn up whatever they left.’
21“If you submit to God, you will have peace and good things will come to you. 22Accept God’s teachings and memorize God’s words. 23Return to the Almighty One, remove all wickedness from your tents, and you will be restored. 24If you learn to treat gold like dust and compare the gold of Ophir to the stones in the riverbed, 25and if you allow the Almighty to be your gold and silver, 26then God will be delighted with you. Lift your face up to God! 27Pray to God, and you will be heard and can fulfill the promises you have made. 28The decisions you make will be carried out and your ways will shine with light. 29When you see someone brought low you will know it is because of pride, because God rescues those who are humble. 30God will rescue even those who are guilty – so if your hands are clean, you will be rescued.”
1-11: Eliphaz is back on stage. The reason you are suffering, my dear Job, is because you are one of the worst human beings who has ever lived. God certainly isn’t punishing you for your piety. You have taken advantage of your own family. You have stolen the clothing right off the backs of the poor. You have withheld basic human needs from the needy. You have turned away poor widows and orphans. That’s why you are suffering, my dear, dear friend. (With friends like these…)
12-20: Do you think God is so high and lofty he doesn’t bother with judging the wicked? Don’t you see that the wicked go early to their graves, or are you sticking to the old shtick that God has “filled their houses with good things – but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.” The truly righteous see the truth that the wicked are consumed.
21-30: So just agree with God (I mean, with me!) and good days will return for you. Turn back to God (obviously you turned away) and God will restore you. Put away your earthly wealth and let God be your treasure (in a few hundred years Jesus will say something like that), and then when you pray God will hear you. Everything will be back to normal. Don’t you know that “pride goes before a fall?” (Proverbs 16:18 KJV) So be humble, Job.
Eliphaz plays the role of the friend who assumes you must have done something to deserve the trouble you’re in. A lot of people think like that, but only the harshest actually vocalize such a thing to the sufferer. It may well be that the book of Job was written to cast doubt on such an attitude toward those who suffer.