The way Job’s three friends talk about him is like the way rich people talk about the poor.
“And Job answered and said,
No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn” (12:1-4).
As before, Job’s reply is divided into two parts: He speaks to his three friends (12:2-13:9), then to God(13:20-14:22). Job responses to the attacks of his friends with a speech that is much longer than either of his first two. The prosperous despise those who, like Job, have trouble.
“He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.
The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly” (12:5-6).
Such statements concerning the prosperity of the wicked irked the counselors and made them brand Job as a man whose feet were slipping.
“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?
With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (12:7-12).
Job appeals to all creation to prove that God does what He pleases, as He states in the Book of Isaiah:
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Is 55:11).
“With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.
Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.
With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.
He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.
He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle.
He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.
He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.
He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty.
He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.
He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.
They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:13-25).
The theme of the above verses is stated inv 13: God is sovereign in the created world, and especially in history.
The rest of the poem dwells on the negative aspects of God’s power and wisdom, e.g., the destructive forces of nature (vs 14-15), how Judges become fools (v 17), how priests become humiliated (v 19), how trusted advisers are silenced and elders deprived of good sense(v 20). Contrast the claim of Eliphaz that God always uses His power in ways that make sense(5:10-16).
“Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.
What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.
Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.
But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.
O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.
Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?
Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?
Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?
He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.
Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?
Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay” (Job 13:1-12).
Job feels that his counselors have become completely untrustworthy(v 12). He calls them quacks (v 4 and 16:2)and accuses them of showing partiality to God (since God is stronger than Job) by telling lies aboutJob (vs 7-8).Someday God will examine and punish them for their deception (vs 9-11).
“Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.
Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost” (Job 13:13-19).
No matter what happens, Job intends to seek vindication from God and believes that that he will receive it, and he also states that he will be silent and die if anyone can contend with him and prove that he is guilty of wrong doing.
“Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.
Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.
And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten” (Job 13:20-28).
“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
The introduction to chapter 14 expressing the pessimistic theme that man’s legacy is trouble and his destiny is death.
“He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!” (Job 14:2-13).
Job’s spirit now appears to rise above the despair engendered by his rotting body. Although resurrection in the fullest sense is not taught here, Job is saying that God so desires He is able to hide Job in the grave, then raise him back to life at a time when the divine anger is past.
“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?
My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.
And surely the mountains falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.
The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn” (Job 14:14-22).
Job’s pessimism arises not form skepticism about the possibility of resurrection from the dead but rather from God’s apparent unwillingness to do something immediately for a person like him, whose life has become a nightmare of pain and mourning.
I Will Praise The Lord Of Wisdom
From the Kassite period of Babylon (the second half of the second millennium B.C.) comes an Akkadian poem titled “I will praise the Lord of Wisdom.”
Because it concerns a pious sufferer, it is often compared to Job, although it’s formally more similar to certain Biblical pslams in which an individual describes some illness of calamity he has suffered but praises God for having delivered him (e.g., Ps 30; 116).
* In this Akkadian text the poet (named Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan) says much that is similar to Job’s lamentation.
* Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan considers himself helpless before his god, Marduk (a false god which God tells us to stay away from, it’s idolatry – Ex 20:3-5), who is merciful but whose anger is like a raging storm (see Job 12:13025).
* Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan laments about friends and family having abandoned him (see vs 4; 19:13-20).
* Like Job, he exhaustively describes his physical afflictions (see 7:5) prior to his healing.
Shubshi-meshre-Shakka was delivered after having seen three godlike persons – two men and a woman – in his dreams (chs 38-42).
In other respects, however, the Akkadian psalm is very different from Job. It focuses on omens, magical spells and dreams as well as listing rituals of healing at the gates of the temple of Markuk.
In contrast, the book of Job contains no ritual or magical elements. Instead, its protagonist is a righteous sufferer, and it wrestles with fundamental issues of God’s governance of the world.
Here too God tells us to leave such things alone – Duet 18:9-12 – because all types of magic comes from Satan. If you ride with Satan you cannot ride with God:
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils (1 Cor 10:21).
Job is not healed by magic but by God Himself after he has heard and understood God’s answer to the questions he has raised.