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32:1 Despite their efforts, Job's three friends could move Job from his profession of innocence. "Although Job could reduce them to silence, he could not induce God out of silence!" (Zuck p. 140). Yet, all the while throughout this debate there has been another human listener (32:2).
32:2 "Elihu": (eh LIE hew). "The son of Barachel": (BAR ah kell). "The Buzite of the family of Ram": "His genealogy is longer than that of any other character in the book" (Zuck p. 142). As a "Buzite" he may have been related to Abraham, for Buz was a brother of UZ and a son of Nahor, who was Abraham's brother (Genesis 22:20-21). Buz, Tema, and Dedan are also Arabic locations (Jeremiah 25:23). The name "Ram" may infer that Elihu was an ancestor of king David (Ruth 4:19-22).
The reader should note that some commentators do not like Elihu or his speeches. To them he is a "brash and spoiled aristocratic kid on an ego trip. In their opinion, he talks too much and contributes nothing to the content of the debate. Many scholars feel as if the Book of Job would have more integrity if Elihu and his speeches were wiped from its pages" (McKenna p. 235). Yet at the end of the book, God rebukes Job and his three friends (42:6-9), but God never rebukes Elihu, indicating that God liked what this young man had to say. In addition, Job never responds to Elihu nor do any of the three friends.
32:2 "The anger of Elihu….burned": His anger grew and grew as he had listened to both sides in this debate. This anger was directed to two directions: towards Job for seeking to justify himself before God (32:2), and toward the three friends because they had pronounced him guilty without any real proof (32:3). "He seemed to burst in as if he had an answer to the wrongs on both sides and a solution to the impasse" (Zuck p. 142). Elihu's view of God and suffering is going to be much higher than that of the three friends, and he will make an honest effort to provide answers to Job's questions without claiming that Job is suffering because he is a sinner. While the other friends claimed that Job was suffering because he had sinned, Elihu will argue that Job is sinning (due to pride) because Job is suffering. His suffering had led him to an attitude of pride before God and a questioning of God's ways. He will point out that God can use suffering to benefit people (33:17,28,20; 36:16). Job will not answer Elihu, because Job may have been silenced by this set of speeches and perhaps his arguments had really made Job think. In addition, Elihu's final words prepare the scene for God's answer (38-41).
32:2 "Because he justified himself before God": That is, had basically pronounced his own vindication, rather than humbly allowing God to vindicate him. Job had defended himself against all wrongdoing while accusing God of doing wrong (40:2). Job had been more willing to question God's moral government of the world than his own moral choices.
32:3 He was angry with the three friends because they had condemned Job without any evidence. So far everyone in the book is angry. The three friends are mad at Job, he is mad at them, and Job feels that God is mad at him, and now Elihu is angry!
32:4 Elihu had been patient. He had waited to speak because he was younger than Job's three friends. Deferring to age was a custom in the East (29:8,21).
32:5 At this point he could tell that the debate was over, and that "the three men had run out of ways to play their one string" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 756).
32:6-7 He had not spoken because, being younger, he was shy and believed that age and experience should speak. Instead of just rushing in, Elihu is going to take some time and explain why he has not spoken thus far and why they should listen to him at this point.
32:8-9 Yet real wisdom does not inherently come with age, and God is the true source of wisdom (James 1:5). Some feel that the expression "it is a spirit in man" refers to God inspiring men to speak by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). And the same wisdom can be gained by reading the words inspired by the Spirit, compare with Psalm 119:99.
32:10 In view of this inference that Job and his friends were ignorant, Elihu pleads for a hearing. The expressions "listen to me" and "let me speak" are repeated in this section (32:20; 33:1,12,31; 34:2,10,16; 37:14).
32:11 He has been a careful listener, and he has weighed all the arguments, and observed that Job's three friends could not answer Job's arguments.
32:13 "Do not say, 'We have found wisdom; God will rout him, not man'": The three friends are cautioned against thinking they had the right answers. "The thought is that man's wisdom cannot defeat Job's arguments; only God can do that" (Zuck p. 143). "He cautions them not to assume that their 'wisdom' had defeated Job; only God could vanquish him" (Jackson p. 70).
32:14 And so Elihu will not use the arguments that the three friends have used. This approach would be different for he had no need to defend himself against verbal attacks by Job.
32:15-16 Seeing that the three friends had run out of words, Elihu felt it was time to speak. "Elihu surveys the situation. Job's opponents have been muted, but does that suggest that he should remain silent too?" (Jackson p. 70).
34:17-18 He will speak and he is so full of words that he is almost ready to explode. And verbose he will be! "Rowley humorously comments, 'None would dispute this' (that Elihu is full of words)" (Zuck p. 143) .
32:19-20 "His pent-up constraint was compared to fermenting wine about to cause even new wineskins (without a hole for venting) to burst. He then requested relief from his bottled condition" (p. 144).
32:21 He would be impartial and would not take sides for or against Job, neither would he flatter anyone (32:22), for he feared God. "He has a responsibility to God, who will hold him accountable" (Jackson p. 70).
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 32". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany