Friday, September 12, 2003

Job 16: Job Responds to Eliphaz (2)

Job continues his response to Eliphaz.

This post is part of an ongoing series on the book of Job. Click here to start at the beginning. At the end of each post you will find a link to the next.


One of the interesting challenges in reading Job is to sense the changes that occur during a discourse. You may have noted that Job would suddenly begin speaking to God. It seems to me that these next lines of his were spoken neither to God nor to Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar. The sudden emergence of Elihu in chapter 32 suggests that there are others in the entourage who were listening. Perhaps Job now addressed these bystanders:

His anger has torn me and persecuted me; he has gnashed at me with his teeth; my adversary fastens his eyes against me. 

People have opened their mouths against me, they have struck my cheek in scorn; they unite together against me. 

God abandons me to evil men, and throws me into the hands of wicked men. I was in peace, and he has shattered me. He has seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity he pierces my kidneys and pours out my gall on the ground. He breaks through against me, time and time again; he rushes against me like a warrior. 

I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, and buried my horn in the dust; my face is reddened because of weeping, and on my eyelids there is a deep darkness, although there is no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure. 

O earth, do not cover my blood, nor let there be a secret place for my cry. (Job 16:9-18)

These words marked a change in Job. He was now beginning to claim the moral high ground over God. He was the innocent victim. God, "without pity," had shattered, seized, crushed, targeted, and battled this pure and upright man who had "no violence" in his hands. Job so wanted vindication that he calls on the earth to keep the memory of his pain and coming death alive.

The next words spoken by Job are difficult:

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend. For the years that lie ahead are few, and then I will go on the way of no return. (Job 16:19-22)

Who was this witness and intercessor? Although we can read these words and see Jesus Christ, Job had no such understanding. The translation difficulties of this verse are evident by comparing the Net Bible with the NASB here:

Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, And my advocate is on high. My friends are my scoffers; My eye weeps to God. O that a man might plead with God As a man with his neighbor! For when a few years are past, I shall go the way of no return. (Job 16:19-22)

Compare "My intercessor is my friend" with "My friends are my scoffers." Compare "He contends with God on behalf of man" with "O that a man might plead with God." In this case, I prefer the NASB rendering and believe the NET translation to have been influenced by New Testament knowledge.

My understanding of what Job said here is that in heaven there is a record of his deeds. That record is his witness and advocate. The New King James Version suggests this possibility.:

Surely even now my witness is in heaven, And my evidence is on high. (Job 16:19, NKJV)

To be sure, the NASB reading is the reading preferred by most other translations, but I believe the KJV/NKJV reading is correct here. This is not because I am a Hebrew scholar or even an amateur, it is because it better flows with the context before and after and is accurate to the theological understanding of Job's time.

Next: Job has more to say.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


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