What do You Really Want? The Book of Job

Brit-Am Commentary (BAC).

Job Chapter Four.
Enter Eliphaz the Temanite. Job 4:1-7.
Eliphaz Speaks: Universal Truths. Job 4:[6-7] 8-11.
The Vision of Eliphaz. Job 4:12-21.


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What do You Really Want?
The Book of Job. Chapter Four.

Enter Eliphaz the Temanite.

The Book of Job largely comprises a series of dialogues. The language is very powerful, even in translation. This is a great work by any standards.
Maimonides opines that all of the dialogue contains a Biblically-valid message.
There are very subtle differences between the speakers that reflect different philosophical approaches.
We hope to go through the book, get an overall impression and then perhaps briefly return to consider some of the finer points.

[Job 4:1] Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

The Temanites were descended from Esau (Edom) who had colonies in the north as well as to the southeast of Israel.
The Land of Teman was known for its wise men (Jeremiah 49:7, Obadiah 1:8).
The Three Friends of Job.

[Job 4:2] If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary?
But who can withhold himself from speaking?

become weary. Hebrew , "tileh": not be able to bear.

[Job 4:3] Surely you have instructed many,
And you have strengthened weak hands.

instructed. Hebrew "Yisarta" also understandable as "reproved".

[Job 4:4] Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
And you have strengthened the feeble knees;

You encouraged others when they were falling down. You gave them strength. You even upbraided them for wanting to give up.

[Job 4:5] But now it comes upon you, and you are weary;
It touches you, and you are troubled.

troubled. Hebrew "tibohel" i.e. startled, horrified.

[Job 4:6] Is not your reverence your confidence?
And the integrity of your ways your hope?

[Job 4:7] Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright ever cut off?

You trusted in your unrighteousness.  When calamity came you were horrified. You have panicked.  You could not take it. You reproved others and now when the same thing happens to you: You cannot take it.
Eliphaz is now going to begin a discourse saying that whoever goes in the right path will be alright.
Do good and good will come to you.
That is the message.
Job however is an exception. He is an exception that proves the rule but also a rule in himself.
This Book of Job is about to unfold before us some of the secrets of creation and more.
Hold your breath because this work deserves it.

Before we go on we should learn something useful from the attitude of Eliphaz.

When, God forbid, disaster hits us or when a string of bad luck and difficult circumstances comes to a head we tend to go under.
We may want to give in.
We should try to step outside ourselves.
What advice would you give to someone else in that situation?
If a child of yours was in a like spot to what you are now, how would you want them to act?

For more on Job 4:6-7 see below.

Eliphaz Speaks: Universal Truths.

We return to Job 4:6-7 that we discussed above, for additional considerations:

[Job 4:6] Is not your reverence your confidence?
And the integrity of your ways your hope?

This verse could also be rendered as:

Is not your Fear [of Heaven] your source of Certainty?
It is your Hope along with the Innocence of your ways [that also emanate from your fear of Heaven].

When someone merits to improve themselves and keep to the straight path a certain confidence is received.
It is as if you can go to trial, you can tell the truth, and you will not suffer from self-recrimination.
This relative purity of deed and intent become the Hope that should enable you to pull through.
It also gives you strength to keep going and not fear overduly.

[Job 4:7]  Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright ever cut off?

We all know from personal experience, anecdotes, and from historical accounts that good and innocent people do sometimes suffer.
This however is exceptional.
Even the Jews who were persecuted and downtrodden from an historical perspective may not have had it so bad.
They were probably always better off than the peoples around them.
Even their sufferings were a point in their favor. They suffered due to belief in God and the Bible. Others suffered because they had no choice in the matter.
The Jews would therefore deserve more credit points than the others.
Who knows how things work out?
There is a principle that we all get what we want if we would know what options exist.
Belief in God and learning the Bible should be chosen because it is the right thing to do, i.e for its own sake.
Nevertheless, we are may also take that path in the knowledge that we will be rewarded for it.
God HIMSELF says so.

[Job 4:8]  Even as I have seen,
Those who plow iniquity
And sow trouble reap the same.

This could be the source of the saying:
"You reap what you sow!"

[Job 4:9]  By the blast of God they perish,
And by the breath of His anger they are consumed.

[Job 4:10]  The roaring of the lion [Hebrew: Aryeh],
The voice of the fierce lion [Hebrew: Shachal],
And the teeth of the young lions [Hebrew: Kafirim] are broken.

[Job 4:11] The old lion [Hebrew: Layish] perishes for lack of prey,
And the cubs of the lioness [Hebrew: Lavi] are scattered.

Notices the range of words in Hebrew for the lion in different stages of its development. This indicates a close acquaintanceship with the subject.
The point seems to be that even strong beings are limited in their abilities.
It could also be understood to say that they who seize from others by force will end up in deprivation.
Nachmanides says it shows us that the wicked will perish despite their strength and their raging power.

The Vision of Eliphaz.

[Job 4:12] 'Now a word was secretly brought to me,
And my ear received a whisper of it.

Eliphaz continues and describes a kind of extra-sensory experience.
Each one of us has experienced something like this, sometimes several times over.
There are instances where such phenomenon may be ascribed to physical factors such as drugs, medicine, physical exhaustion, thirst, or psychological influences.
It also happens that it would seem to be ascribable to none of the above but from heaven or the lower rungs of the supernatural.
Here the message is a little different.
Eliphaz does not claim to have received any kind of prophetic revelation or hidden secret.
All that happened is that a common sense principle that he doubtless was already aware of is confirmed:
God knows more than us, therefore we cannot judge HIM or His actions!
Ecclesiastes 5:
2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.

We may therefore ask, why did he need this visitation?
And what exactly was it?

Perhaps we could say that it is one thing to be merely aware of a matter.
It is something else to feel it in your bones.
There could also be a much deeper message than we realize in the words below. Anyway we are not trying to penetrate any great secrets in these studies but  rather  just receive an overall impression that maybe in the future we will be able to build on.
The word educate is derived from a Latin root meaning "bring out".
A lot of learning seems to consist of enabling us to give form and substance to knowledge we already subconsciously comprehended.

[Job 4:13] In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falls on men,

At night time when the senses are weakened and every-day reality is distant.
Visions of the night are when we see things and do not see them or are not certain of what we do see.

[Job 4:14] Fear came upon me, and trembling,
Which made all my bones shake.

[Job 4:15] Then a spirit passed before my face;
The hair on my body stood up.

Eliphaz sensed something. His body reacted. It was a physical experience. Dogs and other animals are said to sense the presence of ghosts before humans do.
There is sometimes something there that we would not always want to know about.
Or something that we have always known of subconsciously but usually prefer that it stay where it is.

[Job 4:16] It stood still,
But I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
There was silence;
Then I heard a voice saying:

A non-human figure in form only appeared unto Eliphaz.

[Job 4:17] 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

Do not be more righteous than God.
The Almighty tells us to do things; how to act; how to live life.
We should listen and act accordingly.

[Job 4:18] If He puts no trust in His servants,
If  He charges His angels with error,

This would indicate that the angles have free will. It also shows that they can err.
Perhaps this message comes to tell us that no-one is infallible? If even angels and Divinely appointed beings can make mistakes what do you expect from ordinary humans? No matter how good they may be?

[Job 4:19] How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Who are crushed before a moth?

Daat Mikra (Amos Chacham) suggests that this simile is based on the ancient practice of building houses from clay mixed with straw dried in the sun.
The larvae of a type of moth especially (after the rain) would eat the straw inside the bricks and then the house would be liable to collapse.

Human beings are like those houses.
We were born with a body and mind all linked together with numerous subsidiary systems of breathing, blood flow, digestion, etc.
At some stage or other one of these systems is liable to be attacked by a small thing and everything is liable to fall to pieces.
That is how we die.
And we all die eventually.

[Job 4:20] They are broken in pieces from morning till evening;
They perish forever, with no one regarding.

[Job 4:21] Does not their own excellence go away?
They die, even without wisdom.'

"their own excellence" is from the Hebrew "Yitram bam".
"Bam" meaning in them or belonging to them is related to "Bo" and "Bi" all deriving from the Root "By" meaning the same as the English preposition "by"!
"Yitram" means "their prevalence. The "-em" or "-am" suffix is similar to the English "them".
Yiter or Yither is related to the English "other".
Here it means "prevalence" or "advantage".

Each one of us is born with some kind of advantage.
We have something going for us.
It makes us what we are.
It gives us an "other" edge.
When this leaves, we end.

We do not plan this leaving.


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