Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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When Elihu reached this point, his listeners were probably taking a nap. Their eyes were flickering and he had to raise his voice (verse 1).  He challenges Job: “You said: ‘My righteousness is from God?’” (verse 2). This is the literal Hebrew translation but the Rabbis of the Middle Ages used superlatives, namely, that Job was saying his righteousness “is greater than God.” It is going further than the Hebrew text allows.


Elihu continues: “You say: ‘What will it benefit me? What profit will I have from my sin?’” (verse 3). Job as a believer in God is correct in his questions here. What does sin profit a man?  “What will I have more than if I had sinned?” But there is no reason why the Rabbis needed to add superlatives (more than) and conditionals (if) in the literal reading of the Hebrew. It will make Job wrong and Job is not. Modern translations followed the Rabbis here.


Elihu intends to answer Job (verse 4). “Gaze at the heavens and see the skies. They are higher than you” (verse 5). Elihu says that if Job has sinned and if his transgressions are many, what effect will it have on God? “What do you do to Him?” (verse 6). Elihu’s answer is nothing. If he is righteous, what does Job give God? Since the skies are so high, what Job is really doing is blocking God from coming into the picture. What does God take from Job’s hand even if he is righteous? (verse 7). Wickedness and righteousness are only human concepts, says Elihu, “Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself and only to a son of man is your righteousness” (verse 8). There are many cries of oppressed people here on earth (verse 9). 


But Job did not say: “Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?” (verse 10). God teaches us through the animal behavior on earth and He makes us wise through bird-watching (verse 11). People cry out and God does not answer because of the pride of the wicked (verse 12). Billy Graham said that “pride will keep many people from the kingdom of God” (1958 sermon Youtube). “Also, God will not hear vanity and the Almighty will not cause trouble (verse 13). But also the Love of God “will not cause blocking.” He approaches man for salvation. Surely Job, you are not saying that you are not blocking a court case before Him and are waiting for Him (verse 14). Elihu says about Job’s expecting of a court case: “There is no punishment in His wrath and He deoes not take much notice of transgression” (verse 15).  This is not correct since it would mean that our Hebrew Bible is corrupt.


Elihu accuses God of not caring enough to share with the human race about the visitation of His wrath. But Job knows differently and has been talking about this before. Elihu blames Job for opening his mouth with vanity and increases his words without knowledge (verse 16).


Dear God,

We also want to say with Job that our righteousness is from You and that what profit will sin have in our lives. People misrepresent us greatly in this hostile environment we find ourselves in. Bless our work for You. Amen


Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea