Reading through the Bible together
Now it’s Zophar’s turn to answer Job. He feels he must speak up because of the “turmoil within him” (v. 2), but his thoughts are guided by Rationalism and Reason and not by God. Zophar says, “the rebuke of me I have heard but the spirit from my understanding shall answer me” (v. 3). The spirit of reason is what Zophar wants to use as the main basis for his defense. It was used since man was placed upon the earth, he says, and Job should realize this (v. 4).
In addition, Zophar uses the horrors of Egyptian theology of the dead and says, that even if man’s power goes up to the heavens and his head reaches unto the cloud (v. 6), he shall perish and those who see him shall say: “Where is he?” (v. 7). Like a dream he will fly away with the sungod Ra on a boat at evening time and they will not find him and “he will wander away like a vision of the night” (v. 8). On earth the eye that saw him will not do so any longer (v. 9). “His sons shall seek the favor of the poor and his hands through them will return the plunder” (v. 10). They will be compelled to return what they stole from their victims. “Even if his bones are full of youthful vigor, they will lie on the earth as dust” (v. 11). Zophar continues to use the horrors of Egyptian theology by saying that if evil is sweet in the mouth of the one who will die, and he likes the taste keeping it under his tongue, even his food will turn into the venom of cobras (vv. 12-14). During his lifetime he swallowed up wealth but will vomit it out for “from his belly God will cast it out” (v. 15).
Zophar tries to scare Job by using the Egyptian fear of snakes that will attack him (v. 16). He will not see the beautiful “heavenly” rivers flowing with honey and cream (v. 17). The wicked dead will not enjoy their accumulations of wealth (v. 18). Listing the actions of a wicked man, Zophar says, he oppressed others; he abandoned the poor; and he participated in land-grab actions (v. 19). He had lots of stress “not knowing quietness in his heart” (v. 20). He consumed everything and after satisfying himself at the cost of others, every hand will come against him when his is about to fill his stomach. Because of his desire for accumulation, God will send him His burning wrath and rain it upon him while he is eating” (vv. 21-23). He cannot flee (v. 24). Terrors will come upon him, the heavens will reveal his iniquity and “Fire will consume him” (vv. 24-27). Zophar is saying all this because he wants to let Job know the reason for his suffering.
It is biblical that everyone’s iniquity who is evil will be revealed, but the problem is that Zophar has the timing wrong. He says that when the present judgment (the investigative judgment) of evil is done in heaven, on earth that person loses his wealth. “The produce of his house shall depart for it is appointed to him by God (v. 28). Zophar is hinting that Job lost everything because the day of God’s wrath and Job’s evil were already decided in heaven and appointed to him by God (v. 29).
Truth as revealed in Your Word is important for us to understand since pluralism can blur our vision with mixed theological inroads. Keep us pure we pray. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea