The odd duck out in the book of Job

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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by Biff »

The odd duck out in the book of Job was Elihu.

He rebukes Job, condemns Job's comforters and justifies God.

Job doesn't respond to him, Job's comforters don't respond to him, and God says nothing about him. Interesting (to me). What say you?
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by sweetandsour »

Wiki says that Elihu was a descendant of Buz, so there's that. Reportedly some folks say that he wrote the story of Job. If this true, then he did an excellent "job".
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by Biff »

sweetandsour wrote: 28 Apr 2022, 18:27 Wiki says that Elihu was a descendant of Buz, so there's that. Reportedly some folks say that he wrote the story of Job. If this true, then he did an excellent "job".
Well if it's on Wiki, it's gotta be true!
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by jmg »

I'll have to give this a think.
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by Sir Moose »

Biff wrote: 28 Apr 2022, 16:48 The odd duck out in the book of Job was Elihu.

He rebukes Job, condemns Job's comforters and justifies God.

Job doesn't respond to him, Job's comforters don't respond to him, and God says nothing about him. Interesting (to me). What say you?
He was young. Maybe nobody cared what he had to say.
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by coco »

Job's friends had a simple but unbiblical view of retributive justice. They believed that if you do good things, you almost immediately are rewarded. If you do bad things, you almost immediately get punished. Therefore, if something bad happens to you, it is because you have done something wrong. Their view of retributive justice is sort of like karma.

Biblical retributive justice involves God rewarding or punishing deeds in accordance with what has been done. However, it generally involves a delay on God's part. You get what's coming to you, but probably not today. God is often described as "longsuffering" with regard to sin. His delays are important with respect to his overall plan for the world.

For example, he did not immediately send Adam and Eve to Hell for their disobedience, though he could have done so and been perfectly just. Instead, he gave them the good news of the coming Messiah in Genesis 3:15. The Seed of the Woman would eventually destroy all the Devil's work by dying on the cross. Through his atoning sacrifice, Adam and Eve's sin could be forgiven, along with ours. As the Godman, he was able to pay our debt in full, so that we would not have to suffer eternal death, paying for our own sins forever. Thus God is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Rom 3:26) He is just, since the penalty of death has been paid for our sins. He justifies everyone who believes through faith, not counting their sins against them and considering them perfectly righteous in Christ. Biblical retributive justice is satisfied through Jesus.

Next: Elihu
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by coco »

Elihu waited for everyone else to get finished talking before he said anything, probably because he was the youngest and that was the polite thing to do in their culture at this time (Job 32:4). He has been sitting there listening to what has been going on this whole time, and he has been getting madder and madder. In the introductory section to his speed in chapter 32, he was said to "burn with anger" three times. The repetition of this phrase would indicate to the Hebrew reader that Elihu was [insert words in need of moderation here] pissed.

Elihu's arguments are similar to that of Job's other three friends. "He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God" (Job 32:2). From the first part of the book of Job, we know that all of the terrible things that happened to Job were not because of anything Job had done. When Job's world fell apart, it was not punishment for any sin he had committed.* Job kept justifying himself, saying that his trials were not punishment for any sin. Elihu wanted to justify God, saying that the trials that Job was going through might be near-instantaneous punishment for Job's sin. From the first part of the book, we know that none of Job's friends can be correct on this point.

That being said, Elihu's arguments are formidable, certainly more so than the arguments we see from the others. The best is saved for last. He insists that God governs justly. He also affirms the non-biblical view of retributive justice, but he adds an important distinction: In Job's situation, the justice may be restorative, not retributive. That is to say, perhaps Job is going through bad stuff because of small sins that he had done that might grow to be bigger and bigger sins if he keeps on the path he had been going. A similar view on justice pervades our criminal justice system in America. We don't really punish sin because it deserves to be punished, but we incarcerate people to keep them from hurting themselves and others. In this view, justice is just another expression of mercy.

Elihu's arguments are impressive, but not without problems. Restorative justice is biblical just as retributive justice (rightly understood) is biblical. If you look at applications of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy, you will see small crimes being punished as a means of restoring the sinner. That being said, neither (biblical) retributive justice nor restorative justice explains what is happening to Job. Job simply is not be punished because of any sin on his part, big or small. He is simply suffering.

At the end of the book, Job's first three friends are rebuked by God and Elihu is not. I think that this is because he does not accuse Job of having a secretly wicked life. He does actually listen to what Job says and does not dismiss it all as a lie. He looks for a way in which both God and Job (to a degree) might be justified. "Perhaps God is disciplining you" is quite different than "You must have a few bodies buried in the back yard you haven't told anyone about." He's not right, and perhaps he was a bit mouthy, but he is at least better than the three doofuses.**

*Please note that I am not saying that Job was sinless, only that the specific trials that he faced in this book were not punishment for any sin on his part.
**One must wonder what would have happened to Job's three friends if Job had not prayed for them. Perhaps they would have instantly found the karmic justice that they accused Job of having been given.
Last edited by coco on 29 Apr 2022, 08:53, edited 6 times in total.
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by coco »

Now let's contrast Proverbs and Job:

Proverbs gives you advice about how to live wisely. If you do the stuff that Proverbs tells you to do and avoid the things that Proverbs tells you to avoid, you will PROBABLY have a pretty good life. However, it is good to keep in mind a proverb about Proverbs, "Proverbs are not promises." For example, Proverbs 22:6 should be understood as: "If you train up a child in the way he should go, then when he is old he [probably] will not depart from it. If you are a good parent, it is very likely that your child will become a good adult. Yet, there are some exceptions. So, Proverbs tells us how to live, it does not give us a list of guarantees.

Let's say that Job's friends were to read Proverbs. They might think of the proverbs as a list of promises concerning justice. If you do x, y will certainly happen to you. To do so is to use the Proverbs in a way that they were not intended to be used, and the wise Christian understands that there are exceptions to the generalities we find in Proverbs.

Job helps to keep our perspective in balance. If the book of Proverbs is a book of generalities concerning wisdom, then Job reminds us that there are exceptions to the "rules." In this life, we may suffer, and that suffering may not be the result of anything we have done. Indeed, if we prosper, that prosperity may not be the proof of good behavior. Retributive justice will happen, but most of it will not happen in this life. Rather, it will be found in the one to come.
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by DLJake »

It's my understanding there is evidence to suggest that the writing of Job predates the Pentateuch. YMMV
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The odd duck out in the book of Job

Post by sweetandsour »

Chapter 30, verse 31: "My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep".

Yeah, I know, "pipe" is flute or other instrument. But I still like "pipe", used as "pipe".

Lots of parallels in Job I'm thinking. There's always the good old days to ponder.
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