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Chapter 2:11-13

Examining Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar
before They Open Their Mouth
Pat Gates

Why the Three Friends Came 2:11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place...For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

This one verse is a great lesson in friendship.

1) The three men could have sent a "get well" messenger to Job, but they chose to plan a trip together to visit their friend who was suffering so (much more effort to make than we would have to with our telephones, email and good transportation). Matt 25:43-45 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

(2) The three men wanted to mourn with Job. It does not say they wanted to discipline Job and preach to him, but mourn with him over his great loss. Rom 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another.

(3) The three men wanted to comfort Job. Good intentions set them out on their journey. 2 Cor 1:4 ...who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The Terrible Sight Before them 2:12: And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. All the good intentions in the world, could not have prepared them for what they saw. Instead of seeing their friend, they beheld a mass of putrefying flesh. Instead of running to him with a hug and kiss to comfort him in his sorrow, which they may have planned to do, they lifted their voices and wept and proceeded to display their intense grief.

Silence May Be Golden, But With Some, It Can Also Be Dangerous 2:13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. First shock at seeing Job, then great sorrow and grief and then silence. Some say they were silent because they looked upon him as already dead and they followed the traditional 7-day grieving. I'm not so sure about that for the scriptures say no one spoke "for they saw that his grief was very great." I've sat by the bed of one suffering terribly and I've sat in silence because I knew the sufferer did not want to talk, nor hear me talk. Also, what could I say to help, to comfort? Perhaps these friends wondered the same thing. "Silence is Golden" sometimes... but it also gave these three men time to think and perhaps reason together and this ended up being a dangerous thing. The scriptures don't tell us, but I wonder if they were already reasoning within themselves and perhaps some whispering between them that no man can suffer to Job's degree without being a terrible sinner.


Was Elihu Already With Job When the Three Friends Arrived?

Although scripture doesn't tell us exactly when Elihu arrived, it does tell us in Elihu's speech in chapters 32 - 37 that he heard most, if not all the conversation between Job and the three men. His silent presence tells us the respectful character of this man. I, personally, like Elihu very much. Commentaries go from calling him a good man to one of the lowest and then there's opinions that he was basically good, but displayed some wrong ideas. I do know one thing, he was not a "Johnny come lately" like I heard in a sermon years ago. We'll discuss him in depth when we get to his speeches, but for now, keep in mind, he is hearing this most, if not all of the conversation between Job and the three.

Perhaps Others Heard This Conversation...maybe Job's Wife?

Could it be that there were others there who were listening to this conversation? Perhaps, but God does not reveal that to us, so there is no way of knowing. I hope Job's wife was there, tending to her husband's needs and listening to these men accuse him of being such a sinner, when she knew better. Perhaps in their false accusations and unkind remarks, she saw herself and repented. I hope so.


 How Rich Was Job in Comparison to the Rich Today?


How rich was Job in comparison to people who are rich today? in other words he possessed 3,000 camels, 7,000 sheep, 1,000 oxen, and 500 donkeys, what would those be worth in today’s U.S. dollars?

What kind of job/business can we compare him having in today's society? Thank you.



I've been searching for what constituted great wealth during ancient times, but can not find much information. If any of you would like to search and send in what you find, I'll be happy to print it next month.

I'm not so sure we can compare Job's wealth with Americans today as the value of livestock may depend on the stock market in today's world! According to Bill Gates is the richest man in America, as his net worth is 53 billion dollars. Job, having 7000 sheep etc. would probably not make the Forbes list as the top 400 richest Americans as all have at least a billion dollars and none, that I can see, have any investment in animals, unless you count Jerral W. Jones owner of the Dallas Cowboys! :-)

Barnes Notes online commentary states (keeping in mind Albert Barnes lived in the 1800's):

Compared with many persons in modern times, indeed, his possessions would not be regarded as constituting very great riches. The Editor of the Pictorial Bible supposes that on a fair estimate his property might be considered as worth from thirty to forty thousand pounds sterling - equivalent to some 200,000 (circa 1880’s). In this estimate the camel is reckoned as worth about 45.00 dollars, the oxen as worth about five dollars, and the sheep at a little more than one dollar, which it is said are about the average prices now in Western Asia. Prices, however, fluctuate much from one age to another; but at the present day such possessions would be regarded as constituting great wealth in Arabia. The value of the property of Job may be estimated from this fact, that he had almost half as many camels as constituted the wealth of a Persian king in more modern times. Chardin says, "as the king of Persia in the year 1676 was in Mesandera, the Tartars fell upon the camels of the king and took away three thousand of them which was to him a great loss, for he had only seven thousand." - Rosenmuller.

The best I can say is, in his day, compared to what other's had and what they considered valuable in their society and culture, he was the "Bill Gates" of the east. Today our society is dependent on the computer, thus Bill Gates remains wealthy. In Job's day, "He possessed much riches in cattle and slaves, which at that time constituted the principal wealth even of princes in Arabia and Edom" (

Albert Barnes, in Barnes Notes says, “To understand this book, as well as most of the books of the Old Testament, it is necessary for us to lay aside our notions of living, and transfer ourselves in imagination to the very dissimilar customs of the East. In this verse [list of Job's possessions] we have a description of the wealth comparable to an Arab ruler or chief, similar to that of those who are at this day called "Emirs." Indeed the whole description in the book is that which is applicable to the chief of a tribe. The possessions referred to in this verse would constitute no inconsiderable wealth anywhere, and particularly in the nomadic tribes of the East." -Barnes Notes

As with Bill Gates, offering a product that is useful and of absolute necessity in today’s world, Job possessed the products of his day that were indeed useful and necessary. Sheep - Sheep would have been used for food, clothing, sacrifices, milk, cheese, wool, footwear, rugs, tents. Goat skins were used to hold wine. Goat’s milk was preferred, and also made into butter and cheese.

Camels were used in war, in caravans, milk, cheese, hides, fat, leather, and hair for weaving into cloth for garments (Mark 1: 6) or rugs, and manure for fuel. The camel was used for food, however, if Job lived under the law of Moses, the camel is listed as an unclean animal in Lev. 11: 4. and therefore could not be eaten. They are not infrequently called "ships of the desert," particularly valuable in arid plains because they go many days without water. They carry from three to five hundred pounds, according to the distance which they have to travel.

were used in war, in caravans, milk, cheese, hides, fat, leather, and hair for weaving into cloth for garments (Mark 1: 6) or rugs, and manure for fuel. The camel was used for food, however, if Job lived under the law of Moses, the camel is listed as an unclean animal in Lev. 11: 4. and therefore could not be eaten. They are not infrequently called "ships of the desert," particularly valuable in arid plains because they go many days without water. They carry from three to five hundred pounds, according to the distance which they have to travel.

Oxen for cultivating the soil, transport, hauling cargo, grain-grinding by trampling and wagon drawing, food, sacrifices, and the various use of the skin.

She-asses used for transportation, carry burdens, milk, plowing.

Servants who had charge of Job's camels, his cattle, and of his husbandry (see Job: 1:15), used for protection, and household servants. We must not think in terms of a small number of servants as the scriptures say he had a "very great household. As an example, Abraham had 318 trained servants who were born in his house (Gen. 14:14).

All these goods were also used for trade. So, we can conclude that Job was in the farming, food, clothing, manufacturing, transportation, dairy, hauling, fuel, and employment trades. It is interesting that land is not mentioned, so either it's just not mentioned or he was one of the nomadic tribes that used the land as they traveled. Quite the opposite as a rich man in America for real estate is definitely listed in the Forbes richest Americans list.

In conclusion, although Job would not be listed in today's top 400 on the Forbes list, he was top on the list in the East back in his days. However, if he lived in Solomon's time, he may not have reached the top of the list, as Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, which he offered unto Jehovah, two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. (1Ki 8:63) And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts, and gazelles, and roebucks, and fatted fowl...and Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. (1Ki 4:22-26)

Job was known as the richest man of the east at the beginning of the book of Job, but when you get to the end of the book, his riches were doubled: So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: And he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. (Job 42:12)

So, how rich was Job in chapter one, compared to Job in chapter 42?!




It may serve somewhat to illustrate the different ideas in regard to what constituted wealth in different countries, to compare this statement respecting Job with a remark of Virgil respecting an inhabitant of ancient Italy, whom he calls the most wealthy among the Ausonian farmers:

Seniorque Galaesua.
Dum paci medium se offert; justissimus unus
Qui fuit, Ausoniisque olim ditissimus arvis:
Quinque greges illi balantum. quina redibant
Armenta, et terram centurn vertebat aratris.

Aeneid 7:535-539.

Among the rest, the rich Galaesus lies;
A good old man, while peace he preached in vain,
Amid the madness of the unruly train:
Five herds, five bleating flocks his pasture filled,
His lands a hundred yoke of oxen tilted.

-Barnes notes





Job's Five Questions:

1. Why? 3:11
2. Why? 3:11
3. Why? 3:12
4. Why? 3:20
5. Why? 3:23

Longing for death more than "hidden treasures."

Instead of cursing God and dying as suggested by his wife, Job curses the day of his birth; why had he been conceived - why had he seen the light of day and why hadn't he died at birth. Death, in Job's eyes, was a release from the troubles and suffering in life and he desired it to the point of envying those who had previously died, including kings, counselors, princes, stillborn babies, the wicked, prisoners, the small and great, and servants who are now free of their masters. In naming these these types of individuals, Job concludes death claims all, from the greatest to the least and all are equal in the grave; Job envies them all.

"Why is light given to him who is in misery?"

Job is confused and questions the purpose of his life and why he continues to live such a life of suffering. He sees himself hedged in by God, but not in the way Satan mentions him being hedged in. Satan's idea was that God had hedged him in (protected him) with physical blessings, Job however, thinks God has hedged him in by giving him no way to escape in death, from his horrible suffering.

As Job's first speech ends, he describes what he is going through as his "sighings" (In the Hebrew this word suggest more intensity - groanings) and his "groanings" in verse 24 should be interpreted stronger as well; it should read "roarings." He has no ease (safety), no quiet, no rest, for "trouble (turmoil) comes."


We may wonder why a loved one continues to suffer when their body is seemingly useless. Although we can not see the sense in prolonged suffering for our loved one whenever it seems there is no good coming from it we must remember, in Christ, we can always find purpose. We may not receive an answer to our "why" -- are we any better than Job that we should demand an answer? Are we a better person than he was so that we deserve an answer?

Let's put aside the "why" and concentrate on the blessings God always provides:

We can learn lessons during the time of suffering such as patience, empathy, unselfishness, and dependence on God.

We can grow in knowledge of God and His word by reading the Bible from the perspective of suffering.

We become more dependent on God as we begin to fully understand there is no one, not even ourselves, we can completely lean on for strength, comfort, wisdom and hope, as in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We can have a greater longing in being with Christ. Sometimes it takes suffering to pull us away from clinging too much to this physical life.

We must always remember, "there is an end intended by the Lord, that He is very compassionate and merciful," James 5:11. Suffering is a smokescreen set by Satan to try and distract us from the fact that God's outcome in our suffering is for us to experience His great compassion and mercy.

If Job understood that many generations to come would learn from his life and that the end intended by the Lord was to show His great compassion and mercy for Job, chapter three might never have been written. Knowing the character of Job, it is my belief he would gladly endure anything for the good of others. I believe he would have gone through anything to gain a further understanding of his God. However, Job was confused and did not understand these things and by God revealing to us the reason behind Job's suffering and the final outcome, we are blessed to know that we too do not know all the answers to "why" but we do know, from the book of Job, we are a living example to others and in the end, God's intention is to show us that He is very compassionate and full of mercy.

Pat Gates


The meaning of the phrase in Job 3:25, "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me."

Homer Hailey suggests, "That as one evil would come he became fearful that another would follow." (A Commentary on Job, pg. 54) Wayne Jackson, in The Book of Job, states the same thing. Brother Hailey also suggests that as things had begun to develop, Job feared God would forsake him, and now he is beginning to think perhaps he is forsaken.

I don't know about you, but often, because of so many trials in my life and my loved ones, often I wonder what awaits just around the corner. -Pat


And so it begins...

Derek Kidner, in The wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes summarizes the basic error with Job's friends:

  • They overestimate their grasp of the truth.
  • They misapply the truth they know.
  • They close their mind to any facts that contradict what they assume.
  • He concludes by saying this dogmatic attitude will bring about misjudgment of God and man.
  • God sums them up in chapter 42:7 with: "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."


Who Can Withhold Himself From Speaking?

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

In other words, "Job, what I'm about to say to you may grieve you, but with what I just heard you say, I must speak!"

Have you ever been in a situation where you are either very ill, in much pain, or in great heartache (or a combination of the 3) and someone says to you, "You may not like what I'm about to tell you, but..." Ouch! You already are burdened to the hilt and now your heart stops, wondering what you are going to be told. Usually when a conversation begins this way, and it is directed to someone in great grief and pain, it is missing heart.

"Reproof that lacerates seldom profits."

"Speak truth in love." Eph. 4:15 Two key words: Truth & Love

"Rebuke with long-suffering." 2 Tim. 4:2

Don't always be shocked when you hear something quite unexpected from one who is greatly suffering. Keep into account the pain and grief feels overwhelming to the sufferer, at the time. (Job will later mention the sufferer's words are like wind.) So, keep your jaw from dropping and just be patient and listen; you may find the sufferer feels and thinks quite differently the next day.

LESSON LEARNED: Listen, empathize, comfort and understand the one in great torment needs to relieve his/her feelings and thoughts. Often they may not even mean what they are amounts to the terrible heartache and pain they feel. They just want to express what a difficult time they are having. I wonder if Job was trying in the best way he knew how to get across to his friends what terrible suffering he was enduring.

If rebuke is necessary, be sure (1) It is necessary at the moment and can't wait (2) It is Truth, according to God's word, not your own opinion and (3) Be as gentle, loving and humble as you can be in ALL honesty, not just trying to look humble. The tortured person can see right through that. But first listen, sympathize and hurt for and with the sufferer.


This is what Eliphaz feels and we may feel the same sometimes, but remember it is very difficult to handle discipline from someone who does not really understand the full implications of intense suffering. Should the sufferer be disciplined? In some cases it may be necessary (Job was disciplined), but timing and the way you do it is most important.


Compliment or Criticism?


Job 4:4-6

Job 4:4-6
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
And you have strengthened the feeble knees;
But now it comes upon you, and you are weary;
It touches you, and you are troubled.
Is not your reverence your confidence?
And the integrity of your ways your hope?

The Compliment
Although Eliphaz will do a complete about-face in his third speech (we'll discuss why when we get there), he does remember Job in better days and the strength he gave others when they were weak and weary. What a wonderful compliment Eliphaz gave Job, showing that Job had been an example of the attitude our Lord desires in us:
1 Thess 5:14: Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
The Criticism
While Eliphaz did compliment Job strengthening others in the past, he now criticizes him: Job you strengthened others but now you are displaying weakness. Why aren't you taking confidence in your reverence and integrity?
While this sounds good, this is the beginning of Eliphaz blaming Job for his false assumption of self-righteousness and not recognizing it is because of his sin that he is suffering. It is just a subtle hint now (howbeit sarcastic sounding), but soon it will be full-blown, in-your-face accusing.
Practice What You Preach, Job
Eliphaz's comment to Job reminds me of Proverbs 24:10, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." Eliphaz was not only commenting on Job's present state of mind, but he was also alluding to his belief that Job's suffering was due to sin and Job needed to recognize this. Perhaps even Job use to believe this as well as it was a common belief of the day. The Bible doesn't say this, but if Job did, I'm sure he quickly learned he was wrong.
A Lesson Learned
One thing we can learn from this is that we just don't fully understand suffering, unless we've gone through it ourselves and then it is such an individual thing, that we never will understand all there is to know about another's suffering. We can, however, take what we have come to realize in our own suffering and use that humbly in helping others to persevere.
-Pat Gates


Eliphaz' New Math
Experience = Truth
The Insinuations Begin
Job 4:7-5:7
by Pat Gates

suffering = sin

7 "Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?

Job, you are perishing, therefore you are neither innocent, nor upright.

experience = fact

8 "Even as I have seen..."

plowing iniquity and sowing trouble = more troubles

8 Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same.

While this is a true statement, Eliphaz insinuates that Job has troubles because he has "sown iniquity."

suffering = God's wrath

9 By the blast of God they perish, And by the breath of His anger they are consumed.

Eliphaz is not only insinuating that Job has been plowing iniquity, but he insinuates that God Himself is punishing Job in His anger.

death of children = death of Job

10 The roaring of the lion, The voice of the fierce lion, And the teeth of the young lions are broken. 11 The old lion perishes for lack of prey, And the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

Job, as with the fierce lion and his offspring, you will die, as your children did. Eliphaz wrong again.

dreams = theological support

12 "Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it. 13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, 14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. 15 Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up. 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:

This spirit, all mysterious and supernatural revealed "truth" to Eliphaz himself! How could anyone doubt what Eliphaz is saying when a spirit (from God?) gave him a revelation?

questioning God's ways = futility, for man has no access to God

Then I heard a voice saying: 17 Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? 18 If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error, 19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth? 20 They are broken in pieces from morning till evening; They perish forever, with no one regarding. 21 Does not their own excellence go away? They die, even without wisdom.' Job 5:1 "Call out now; Is there anyone who will answer you?And to which of the holy ones will you turn?

vexation and jealousy = death

2 For wrath kills a foolish man, And envy slays a simple one.

Implication that Job, falling into the category of being a mortal, and a "simple" one at that, has no access to God.

foolishness = destruction

3 I have seen the foolish taking root, But suddenly I cursed his dwelling place. 4 His sons are far from safety, They are crushed in the gate, And there is no deliverer. 5 Because the hungry eat up his harvest, Taking it even from the thorns, And a snare snatches their substance.

As Eliphaz "has seen"

foolish who temporarily "take root" (prosper) = eventual destruction

foolish people = destruction for their children, with no one to help them

foolish people = loss of harvest

He comes to a conclusion that because he has seen cases like this (and yes, I'm sure he has, for foolish people do bring trouble on themselves) he is making 3 huge mistakes: (1) basing truth on his experience (2) turning the equation [foolishness = destruction for self, children and loss of harvest] into the equation of [destruction of self, children and loss of harvest = an act of foolishness] and (3) he is directing this to Job and coming to his conclusion based on his experience that when men suffer it is always because of their foolishness. (I wonder if he applies this to himself.)

affliction and trouble = sin and God's judgment, not chance

6 For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground; 7 Yet man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

Problems don't just happen. Problems aren't based on chance. His thought will continue next month.


1. Truth is not always based on experience. What we see in our experiences often reinforces what God has stated about the outcome of evil men, however, experience isn't always dependable. The problem with determining Truth based on our personal experience is (a) We don't always "see" accurately with our physical eyes nor our mind's eye... we sometimes interpret things incorrectly (b) We sometimes have our bias' and that causes misinterpretation and (c) "What is truth?" "Thy Word is Truth."

2. It is so easy to misjudge someone by what we have experienced and come to wrong conclusions about them. Can we judge an individual correctly? At times, yes, but only by the Word of God and by actual revealed FACTS about the person. If Eliphaz had seen with his own eyes Job being as evil as he insinuates, then yes, he can judge by God's law, but Eliphaz did not see these things, he just surmises.

3. Let's learn to speak with the Bible speaks and learn to be silent when it is silent. While we apply this to "doctrine issues", which is good and right, let's apply it in all things, including our view on others. If we begin a sentence with "I think," then perhaps we need to stop ourselves right there and examine if we have proof from the Word of God as well as proof about the individual themselves.

Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known. Prov 14:33
The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure. Isa 33:5-6
Thus says the LORD:
"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight," says the LORD. Jer 9:23-24
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
"For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?"
"Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"
"Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"
"Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Rom 11:33-36

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." 1 Cor 3:19-21
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Eph 1:16-17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever. Ps 111:10

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
Prov 2:6-12

November 2017