Friday, September 19, 2003

Job 19: Job Responds to Bildad

Job cried of his utter loneliness after Bildad's second speech. 

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.


After Bildad spoke, Job felt very much alone. This will become evident as we look at what he said. He started off by again claiming his innocence.

Then Job answered: “How long will you torment me and crush me with your words? These ten times you have been reproaching me; you are not ashamed to attack me! But even if it were true that I have erred, my error remains solely my concern! If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and plead my disgrace against me, know then that God has wronged me and encircled me with his net." (Job 19:1-6, The Net Bible)

Job's words point out why it is a mistake for us to judge others. One of the reasons that we do so is to feel better about ourselves. His friends exalted themselves at his expense. On the other hand, Job clearly faltered when he said, "God has wronged me." It is one thing to say, "God has done this to me," which is correct, and another thing to say, "God has wronged me," which suggests a moral imperfection in Him. This error in Job's view of the world would lead him to increasingly argue his own goodness and the unfairness of his situation. It will become the basis for Elihu's anger against Job. It also has bearing on the translation of a famous verse, Job 19:25, that I cover below.

Look at the loneliness that Job felt at this point:

If I cry out, ‘Violence!’ I receive no answer; I cry for help, but there is no justice. 

He has blocked my way so I cannot pass, and has set darkness over my paths. He has stripped me of my honor and has taken the crown off my head. He tears me down on every side until I perish; he uproots my hope like one uproots a tree. His anger burns against me, and he considers me among his enemies. 

His troops advance together; they throw up a siege ramp against me, and they camp around my tent. He has put my relatives far from me; my acquaintances only turn away from me. My kinsmen have failed me; my friends have forgotten me. My guests and my servant girls consider me a stranger; I am a foreigner in their eyes. I summon my servant, but he does not respond, even though I implore him with my own mouth. My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my brothers. Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me. All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me. 

My bones stick to my skin and my flesh; I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, my friends, have pity on me, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you pursue me like God does? Will you never be satiated with my flesh? (Job 19:7-22)

Here was Job's dark night of the soul: unfairly treated by God and friends. This attitude is important to understand what Job says next.

O that my words were written down, O that they were written on a scroll, that with an iron chisel and with lead they were engraved in a rock forever! 

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me. (Job 19:23-27)

Job stated that he would like to see a permanent monument to his grief and suffering. It would first be written on a scroll for fast communication. But then, his complaint would become words chiseled into rock with lead poured into the letters to increase contrast and make them visible from some distance.

All this has bearing on on we understand his next statement, "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives..." The marginal notes of most translations give an alternate reading, "As for me, I know that my vindicator lives."  It is my opinion based on Job's state of mind that this alternate reading is correct. The typical reading carries post-cross theology interfering with the translation. The Hebrew carries the double meaning of vindicator/redeemer and there is no equivalent English word. Given the preceding remarks, is Job looking for redemption or vindication? I think that it is clear that he awaits vindication, especially in light of his closing words in response to Bildad: 

If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’ Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment. (Job 19:28-29)

We must understand, then, that his word were saying something along these lines, "It may not be till the end of time, but my vindicator will arise and set things straight." Look at how he ranted and raved about being wronged by God and his friends. He wants vindication that he was right and that they were wrong.

In much the same way, we need to not read more into the words, "in my flesh I will see God." The concept of physical resurrection was not developed at all in Job's day. The Hebrew can just as easily read "after my skin has been destroyed yet without my flesh I will see God." Most modern translations will, again, include this alternate reading in their notes. The literal Hebrew reads "from my flesh." It can carry the idea as "from" meaning "from within" or "from" meaning "away from." As you read Job's words and talk of the grave, note how he mostly sees that as the end. Here he at least begins to see that life goes on beyond the grave, but we should not put advanced theology into his mouth. 

So in these verses, we have what Job said at the time, "I will be vindicated in the end even after my flesh is gone." Then we have a meaning that is more contemporary, "Job has a Redeemer and will be resurrected." Both translations are valid and the believing Hebrew reader could read and have both in his mind. The translator must choose between highlighting the theological "hint" or capturing Job's mental state. I believe that the translators have made the correct choice, and the that teacher should connect the student with Job's meaning. I explain how these readings can co-exist in my paper "Hint, Allegories, and Mysteries, the New Testament Quotes the Old."

As mentioned above, Job concluded his speech this way:

If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’ Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment. (Job 19:28-29)

This followed naturally from Job's confidence in his coming vindication. It would include vindication as wrath poured on his friends.

At this point we have a full-fledged quarrel raging among 4 men who used to be close.

Monday: Zophar Speaks

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Job 18: Bildad's Second Speech

Bildad's second speech is pure hell, fire, and brimstone.

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.


Bildad's second speech was short and contained no new ideas. It did ratchet up the angry tone. The words of Job's friends have had little kindness in them from the beginning, but Bildad sought to assault Job with the full fury of God's wrath:

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: “How long until you make an end of words? You must consider, and then we can talk. Why should we be regarded as beasts, and considered stupid in your sight? You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, will the earth be abandoned for your sake? Or will a rock be moved from its place? 

Yes, the lamp of the wicked is extinguished; his flame of fire does not shine. The light in his tent grows dark; his lamp above him is extinguished. His vigorous steps are restricted, and his own counsel throws him down. For he has been thrown into a net by his feet and he wanders into a mesh. A snare seizes him by the heel; a trap grips him. A rope is hidden for him on the ground and a trap for him lies on the path. 

Terrors frighten him on all sides and dog his every step. Calamity is hungry for him, and misfortune is ready at his side. 

It eats away parts of his skin; the most terrible death devours his limbs. 

He is dragged from the security of his tent, and marched off to the king of terrors. 

Fire resides in his tent; over his residence burning sulfur is scattered. 

Below his roots dry up, and his branches wither above. His memory perishes from the earth, he has no name in the land. 

He is driven from light into darkness and is banished from the world. 

He has no children or descendants among his people, no survivor in those places he once stayed. 

People of the west are appalled at his fate; people of the east are seized with horror, saying, ‘Surely such is the residence of an evil man; and this is the place of one who has not known God.’” (Job 18:1-21)

Nice! Bildad made references to Job's nightmares, the disease of his skin, the fire from heaven that consumed his flocks, his apparent approaching death, and the death of his children. All this was laid out as coming from God's wrath against "one who has not known God." Many commentators write that the "king of terrors" is a reference to a god or demon. To Bildad, Job suffered from all sides and deserved it.

Bildad had no compassion. He looked upon Job's suffering and gained satisfaction from it. So sure was he of his position that the earth would be more likely abandoned than he would be wrong.

With this speech, the book of Job has has exhausted Bildad's content. In the third round, he will attempt to speak once more, realize that he has no more to say, and shut up. The silence will be welcome.

Thursday: Job responds to Bildad.

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Job 17: Job Responds to Eliphaz (3)

In his closing remarks following Eliphaz's speech, Job had something to say to everybody.

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.


Below is the last of Job's second response to Eliphaz  It has a staccato feel to it. It moves from one pithy statement to another. Collectively, they once more describe his situation and voices his complaint about the treatment of his friends. He spoke alternately to God ("Make then my pledge with you.") to the bystanders ("Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless.) to his friends ("I will not find a wise man among you.") and to himself ("If I hope for the grave to be my home...). In quoting these lines below, I have added some brief commentary in italics.

My spirit is broken, my days have faded out, the grave awaits me. Surely mockery is with me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. This could be spoken to the bystanders, to the Lord, or to himself. You can imagine the expression on the faces of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as Job spoke these words. They glared as he spoke.

Make then my pledge with you. Who else will put up security for me? Spoken to the Lord as a request for vindication. Regardless of his confusion about his circumstance, Job still believed the solution was in God's hands.

Because you have closed their minds to understanding, therefore you will not exalt them. Job stated his belief, possibly correct, that the Lord could have enlightened his friends, but chose instead to close their minds. He entertained the possibility that the Lord would vindicate himself and humble his assailants. 

If a man denounces his friend for personal gain, the eyes of his children will fail. I see a double meaning here. In the first case, Job separated himself from those who would denounce a friend. In the second case, he warned his friends to he careful. In the case of Job's friends the personal gain is status gained from putting him down.

He has made me a byword to people, I am the one in whose face they spit. Spoken to his friends and bystanders. It reveals another aspect of his suffering. Passersby have spit on his face. 

My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. A reference to his physical devastation.

Upright men are appalled at this; the innocent man is troubled with the godless. This is Job's principle thesis. Job's friends had a belief that suffering comes from sin. Now that they had seen a righteous man in the same kind of trouble they would attribute to a godless man, they could not handle it.

But the righteous man holds to his way, and the one with clean hands grows stronger. Job stated that he has held his own and has become stronger for their accusations.

But turn, all of you, and come now! I will not find a wise man among you. My days have passed, my plans are shattered, even the desires of my heart. Job challenged his friends to say something worthwhile.

These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’ The problem with the advice of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar was that it was not connected to the real situation. Therefore, it  could not bring light to Job's situation. There was no wickedness to repent of, so a change based on that premise was far removed.

If I hope for the grave to be my home, if I spread out my bed in darkness, If I cry to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ or ‘My sister,’ and where then is my hope? And my hope, who sees it? Will it go down to the bars of death? Will we descend together into the dust?” Job concluded by lamenting the finality of the grave and its inevitable decay. (Job 17:1-16, The Net Bible)

Bildad spoke next.

Wednesday: Bildad's second speech.

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

Monday, September 15, 2003


I do not know if the paragraph below reflects any real research, but it is interesting none-the-less. Less any out there feel vindicated in their efforts to downplay phonetic reading instruction to focus on sight reading, I challenge you to read "avraradk" or "hacdeahe" with the same facility as below. We need both modes. One for the very familiar and the other for the less and new.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

While we are on words, how fast can you unscramble "RATIL"? How fast can you find a second word unscrambled from the same letters? What is the only English word that begins with "HE" and ends with "HE" and is not "HE"? What is the only English word that has ADAC in the middle? Finding the second permutation of RATIL and solving the word puzzles can give you a headache.

Night Hiking

My wife took me away on a mystery weekend away this past weekend. This means that I did not know where we were going, only that I was paying for it. We parked at Fall Creek Falls state park in Tennesee. This state park has a interesting system of gorges as its centerpiece. Very nice!

Since the place and area were new, we opted to take 2 guided hikes. The first was at night. The trail was paved so we could concentrate on what could be seen, rather than closely inspecting each step for the unseen perils of rocks and roots. It was on this hike, that I learned a new delightful fact.

If you take a hand-held flash light and rest it below your nose on your upper lip, you just happen to now have a beam of light that will return the reflection of the beam from the eyes of critters. It also turns out that the most plentiful critters that this works on are spiders. I did this, panning my beam slowly over some dead leaves, until a tiny green speck of light appeared. Keeping this little speck in view as I walked toward it soon revealed a tiny spider on a leaf. Before long we had found sections with dozens of green specks looking back.

By the end of this hike, we had spotted three deer in the forest, two bullfrogs by the lake, and one racoon in a tree. Each was first spotted by the reflection of its eyes coming back from a flashlight pressed on the upper lip.

I returned too late to work on Job