New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 22:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered- Much of this speech is utterly irrelevant to what Job has just said. Eliphaz assumes Job is protesting his righteousness, as noted on Job 21:1,2, the friends attack a straw man image they have built up of Job rather than engaging with that he has actually said. And they repeatedly forget the context of Job as explained by God in the prologue- that Job is a righteous man, and his sufferings are not judgment for sin, but rather to persuade the satan of his doubts. And the satan morphs into the friends after the end of Job 2. Eliphaz here does later mention some of Job's words (:15-20), but he misrepresents them to fit his own agenda. This again is a parade example of how dialogue breaks down and becomes more than unhelpful.

Job 22:2 Can a man be profitable to God? Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself-
These words are applied by Elihu to Job in Job 35:3. It seems an obvious and unkindly wilful misquotation- until we accept the viewpoint that Elihu is not so much speaking for himself, as summarizing for the audience the arguments presented so far, with Elihu playing the role of the friends in summarizing the argument so far. See on :21.

Job 22:3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that you are righteous? Or does it benefit Him, that you make your ways perfect?-
Eliphaz is now propelled by his obsession against Job to say things about God which are wildly untrue, and is specifically rebuked above the other friends for doing this at the end (Job 42:7). I would surmise that his words of Job 22:3 are specifically in view. For this is a complete denial of all that God reveals Himself to be. Job rightly understood that God as human creator has a tender desire to the work of His hands (see on Job 14:15). But Eliphaz speaks as if God has no interest nor feeling towards those who are righteous, so far above caring is He. And this could not be a more serious misrepresentation of the God who is thrilled by every move a man makes towards Him. See on :12.  

Job 22:4 Is it for your piety that He reproves you-
This is sarcasm. And this is the point where we know that dialogue is now no longer dialogue. Eliphaz reached this low point because he is simply ignoring all Job has said in the previous speech, and has developed his own idea that Job's sufferings are Divine reproof- when the prologue makes clear that they were for the benefit of the satan and the "sons of God", the friends party to the original discussion about Job.

That He enters with you into judgment?- The prologue had made it clear to the "sons of God", the friends, that Job was seen by God as a righteous man. His sufferings were not Divine judgment, but a means through which to teach the friends.

Job 22:5 Isn’t your wickedness great? Neither is there any end to your iniquities-
This is in total defiance of the opening explanation in the prologue that Job was not seen as wicked before God. But just as people today lose their basis in Biblical principle and statement and run headlong into assumptions which lead to breakdown of interpersonal relationships, so Eliphaz has become convinced that Job is a sinner because he is suffering. The greatness of his sufferings was in order to persuade the friends / satan about Job's righteousness; but instead they are so fixated on the idea that sin and judgment are proportional that they assume that the great sufferings imply great wickedness.

Job 22:6 For you have taken pledges from your brother for nothing, and stripped the naked of their clothing-
Eliphaz is so convinced that Job is suffering because he sinned that he now dogmatically states Job's sins in details. What began as internal speculation within him, he now comes out with as fact. And we see this happening all the time in broken relationships. He assumes that the stripping of Job of his clothing in Job 19:9 must have been because Job had stripped others of their clothing. The same word is used of the stripping of God's people of their glory (Ez. 16:39; 23:26; Mic. 3:3), which only happened because they themselves did not strip themselves of their clothing in repentance (s.w. Is. 32:11;  Ez. 26:16). The stripping of Job, which also recalls the stripping of the priest Aaron of his clothes and "crown" [mitre[ when his priesthood ended (Num. 20:26,28), was therefore to elicit repentance in him. And this is what was finally achieved at the end of the book.


Job 22:7 You haven’t given water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry-
See on :6. The focus of the Lord Jesus upon the positive is shown by the way the Lord quotes Job 22:7 in the parable of the sheep and goats. These words are part of Eliphaz’s erroneous allegations against Job- for Job was a perfect man, and not guilty on these counts. Yet the Lord extracts elements of truth from those wrong words, rather than just contemptuously ignoring them. Likewise Job 22:25 speaks of God being our “treasure… our precious silver” (RV). Surely the Lord had this in mind when saying that our treasure must be laid up “in heaven”, i.e. with God (for He often uses ‘Heaven’ for ‘God’). And James follows suite by approvingly quoting Job 22:29 about the lifting up of the humble (James 4:6).

Job 22:8 But as for the mighty man, he had the earth from you. The honourable man, he lived in it-
The accusation is that Job had given land to the mighty and famous in return for favours from them, whereas he had despised the poor (:7,9). We must recall that Job was "perfect" before God and was being tested for the sake of the education of the friends. They as the "sons of God" of Job 1:6 were party to those discussions. But now Eliphaz is so persuaded of his pet theory that Job's sufferings are for his sins, that he feels he can speculate about what those things were. And that allowance of himself to speculate now leads him to dogmatically make false accusation; dialogue is now no longer dialogue but a feeding frenzy of hatred and self-justification. We too can so easily descend this path.

Job 22:9 You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless you have broken-
As explained on :8, Eliphaz began by nursing a pet theory: Job was suffering because he had sinned, and God's word of explanation about why Job was now to suffer was ignored. This led to internal speculation about Job's possible sins; and now to utterly dogmatic assertion of that which was untrue. The path to every slander is similar.

Job 22:10 Therefore snares are around you. Sudden fear troubles you-
Now Eliphaz quotes some of Job's words describing his lamentable state. But still, as noted on :1, Eliphaz isn't engaging with Job's words and arguments. He is merely quoting Job's laments and descriptions of his illness, and gloating that "therefore", because of Job's sins, these things have happened. This is not engagement with the words and arguements of another.

Job 22:11 or darkness, so that you can not see, and floods of waters cover you-
This may refer to fits of blindness which Job complains of, and a sensation of drowning. Or the darkness can refer to the cosmic 'power of darkness' many then believed in. It can be argued that the book of Job is a dialogue concerning evil and suffering, with three popular views being represented by the three friends. These views are examined and corrected by the personal history of Job, as well as by the epilogue and prologue to the book. Eliphaz seems to be representative of the idea that Job is being hit by supernaturally controlled evil- Eliphaz speaks of a force of darkness (Job 22:10,11) and sinful or faulty Angels living in an unclean Heaven (Job 4:18; 15:15). Yet the answer to all this is that the Satan figure is under God's control, all Job's misfortunes come from God and His Angels- one of whom may have been called 'the adversary' ('Satan')- are in fact perfectly obedient to Him and not disobedient. And finally, Eliphaz and the friends are rebuked for their various wrong understandings, with God declaring Himself supreme and ultimate sovereign. Likewise Bildad's view of Angels in Job 25:5 "The stars are not pure in God's eyes" is corrected by God in Job 38:7, when He says that "the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy".

Job 22:12 Isn’t God in the heights of heaven? See the height of the stars, how high they are!-
This is similar to Eliphaz's terribly wrong claim in :3 that God is so far away that He is not so serious about human behaviour. Job however is then accused of misusing this to think that God is unable to see his sinful behaviour (:13). The final appearance of God is surely to demonstrate how close God is, and the height of His exaltation is no barrier to His relationship with and feelings toward man.

Job 22:13 You say, ‘What does God know? Can He judge through the thick darkness?-
This was not Job's personal view, but he was falsely accused of holding it. In fact, this was the very view of the exiles, and it was this subconscious belief that God could not see them which led to their sins in the first place (Is. 29:15; 40:27; Jer. 23:24; Lam. 3:44; Ez. 8:12). So even the experience of false accusation was used by God, so that Job felt the feelings of God's sinful people. Eliphaz was proven wrong enough when the God enveloped by the "thick darkness" of the Sinai theophany saw Israel's sin with the golden calf (s.w. Dt. 4:11; 5:22). The "thick darkness" is created by God (Job 38:9), it is He who can shroud Himself from human understanding; but this doesn't mean that He cannot "judge through the thick darkness" (Job 22:13). The thick darkness was only from man's viewpoint; not from God's. The fact man feels God to be distant and shrouded doesn't mean He actually is. And this is a fundamental truth for all time, that our perceptions of God don't mean that this is what He actually is. For God was not created by man in his image and likeness, but the other way around. "The thick darkness" is the term used to describe the exile in Babylon (Is. 60:2; Jer. 13:16; Ez. 34:12). But God judged through this, and the exiles weren't hidden from God because of it.

Job 22:14 Thick clouds are a covering to Him, so that He doesn’t see-
See on :13. Again, these were false representations of Job, attacking a straw man image of Job which had no real existence and was only in the mind of Eliphaz. God created these thick clouds and could disolve them at will, and maintains them within a perfect balance (s.w. Job 37:11,16).

He walks on the vault of the sky’- The idea is alluded to in Is. 40:22, where the context is of assuring the exiles that in fact they are not forgotten, and the God who is enthroned over Heaven and earth has the absolute power to change their situation in a moment.

Job 22:15 Will you keep the old way, which wicked men have trodden-
The friends continually appeal to past history. Their wisdom is supposedly in line with that of the ancient sages; and they consider Job's behaviour to be in line with that of previous sinners, those who lived before the flood (see on :16).

Job 22:16 who were snatched away before their time-
"Snatched away" is only s.w. Job 16:8, where Job complains his body is "shrivelled" or "snatched away". Eliphaz is claiming that Job is suffering just as those previously condemned by God had done.

Whose foundation was poured out as a stream- Literally, "whose foundation was poured out (so as to become) a stream or flood", possibly referring to how the foundations of the earth appeared to turn into gushing waters at the flood (Gen. 7:11).

Job 22:17 who said to God, ‘Depart from us’; and, ‘What can the Almighty do for us?’-
A misrepresentation of Job's words (Job 21:14,15). The friends reasoned that Job was a sinner because he was suffering, therefore he was to be seen as associated with other sinners such as those destroyed by the flood, and therefore the reported words and attitudes of those sinners must be those of Job. Like many today in pseudo dialogue, the false steps of logic all arose because they refused to engage with Job as a unique person and hear his actual words; instead they pigeon holed him within a certain category they had in their minds. And treated him as if he were like all the others they had placed him with.

Job 22:18 Yet He filled their houses with good things, but the counsel of the wicked is far from me-
A sarcastic quotation of Job's words, where he had denied association with the "counsel of the wicked" (Job 21:16). The descent into sarcasm is a sure sign that genuine dialogue is over. Perhaps Eliphaz is claiming that Job had justified the sinners destroyed by the flood by noting that God had "filled their houses with good things". Whilst there may be evidence of prosperity just before the flood (Mt. 24:38,39), Eliphaz is attributing words to Job which he simply never said.

Job 22:19 The righteous see it, and are glad. The innocent ridicule them-
Eliphaz equates the friends with "the righteous... the innocent". But they have earlier condemned Job for claiming he is "innocent", arguing that in fact all men are impure before God. Their obsession with condemning Job led them to contradict themselves, to even condemn themselves so that they might be seen as righteous and Job as sinful. And surely "ridicule" is never appropriate for the righteous in their relationship with the wicked. Job was indeed "the innocent", but he doesn't in this sense rejoice, gloat over nor ridicule the friends. Whereas the friends do "ridicule" Job (s.w. Job 21:3). This ridiculing of the innocent by those who wrongly thought they were innocent was exactly what happened to the Lord on the cross (Ps. 22:7 s.w.), and what was done to the exile (Is. 33:19).

Job 22:20 saying, ‘Surely those who rose up against us are cut off-
LXX "Has not their substance been taken away"; Heb. "Truly our adversary is cut down". Eliphaz is saying that the righteous, himself and the friends, would rejoice in Job's death because their satan / adversary would then have been cut down. This is how completely transformed was their reasoning. They were acting as the satan to Job; for the satan figure morphs with the friends after he disappears from the story. Job was treated now as the satan, the adversary. But thereby he came to save those who were adversarial to him. He thus bore their sins whilst innocent, which is one of the great themes of the story. And it is in this aspect that he points forward to the suffering, saving work of Lord Jesus.

The fire has consumed their remnant’- Alluding to how the fire of God consumed the wealth and family of Job.

Job 22:21 Acquaint yourself with Him, now, and be at peace. Thereby good shall come to you-
Eliphaz orders Job to repent, and thereby receive "good" from God. He has overlooked Job's opening position, that the righteous receive both "good" and "evil" from God's hand (Job 2:10). Again we see the defining parameters of the prologue disregarded by the friends as they rush to judge Job according to their own assumptions about him. "Acquaint yourself with Him" is the very same Hebrew phrase just used by Eliphaz in :2: "Can a man be profitable to God?". Eliphaz has been arguing that being profitable to God is not something God is interested in and Job is wasting his time. But here he contradicts himself. There are many such bald and blatant contradictions within the words of the friends. This is what happens when a preexisting agenda becomes the basis for so called dialogue, and the other party must be condemned at all costs.

Job 22:22 Please receive instruction from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart-
"Instruction" is "the law", the word usually used of the law of Moses. Job was to receive it, as Israel received it (Dt. 31:26 s.w.). Again he is set up as the representative of Israel, who received the law but refused to put it in their heart. This was not the case with Job personally, but he was treated as if he had done what Israel did. , 

Job 22:23 If you return to the Almighty, you shall be built up-
This is language clearly relevant to the building up of the restored Zion which would happen if the exiles returned both to their God and their land. Job had not departed from the Almighty, but he was treated as if he had committed their sins.

If you put away unrighteousness far from your tents- Eliphaz quotes verbatim from the words of Zophar in Job 11:14. This again is a parade example of dialogue gone wrong. Those on the accusing side start quoting each other as authorities, whilst continuing to ignore the actual person and words of the accused.

Job 22:24 Lay your treasure in the dust, the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks-
The idea is that Job should stop valuing wealth. Gold was washed down from the upper reaches and was found "among the stones of the brook"; and Job is bidden leave it there. Yet again, the divinely given defining parameters of the prologue are ignored; Job's wealth was from God and not because he sought it, and it was removed from him in order to teach the "sons of God", the friends. But they had done what so many do in their interpersonal relationships and supposed diaogues with others; they had ignored the paramaters defining the specific relationship in view, e.g. that we are to esteem our brother better than ourselves, we are to have the love which seeks to believe good rather than evil.

Job 22:25 The Almighty will be your treasure, and precious silver to you-
"Treasure" is only s.w. "treasure" in :24, the word also meaning 'gold'. God was to be Job's gold and not literal gold. LXX "and he shall bring thee forth pure as silver that has been tried by fire". This is the image used of the intended effect of Judah's sufferings in Babylon (Is. 48:18; Ez. 22:18-22). If the LXX is correct, then Job quotes this back to Eliphaz in Job 23:10. Job is arguing back that he does not love gold over God, and that he will himself come forth as gold after the trials have finished. Unlike the friends, who generally refuse to engage with Job's words in their speeches, Job specifically engages with their words. See on :7.


Job 22:26 For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty-
The exiles like Job were to finally delight themselves in God at the restoration, if they followed Job's path (s.w. Is. 58:14).

And shall lift up your face to God- Perhaps the Lord had this in view when He commended the man who like Job would not lift up his face to God (Lk. 18:13). The friends were only saved because Job was allowed to lift up his face to God for them (s.w. Job 42:8,9). This was all a powerful way of teaching the friends that they were being saved by absolute grace. The man Job, whose face they were sure God would not accept, saved them by lifting up his face to God. It was the exiles whose faces God would not accept (s.w. Mal. 1:8,9). Job was treated like them although he was not like them; he was bearing the punishment of their sins in order to save them, just as he did for the friends, whose faces were likewise unacceptable to God.

Job 22:27 You shall make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you. You shall pay your vows- This turned around in a strange way; for it was due to God hearing Job’s prayer that the friends were finally saved. God surely alludes back here when He says that Job will pray for them, “and him will I accept” (Job 42:8).


Job 22:28 You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established to you. Light shall shine on your ways-
LXX "And he shall establish to thee again a habitation of righteousness and there shall be light upon thy paths". Again this is the language of later Isaiah about Zion's light and the restored Zion.

The decree which is established is parallel to the prayer which is heard (:27,28). This was in fact true of Job, for it was thanks to his prayers that the friends were finally saved; when they had here insisted that God didn't hear Job's prayers. In fact it was their prayers which were not heard. But there is a wider principle here. Absolute faith in prayer which is according to God's broad desires results in our requests  effectively being decrees of what is now going to happen! It is not difficult for us to know what the will of God in the sense of His desires is. We have been born again by the word of God. We were not born again by the will of man, but by the  will  of God. The will of God is therefore found in the word of God (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; Jn. 1:12-14). Thus if we pray according to our knowledge of God's desires as explained in the word, we are praying according to His will- and therefore if we have faith "He hears us". The Lord Jesus said as much: "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (Jn. 15:7). Notice He didn't say 'you will ask whatever is according to God's will , and it will be heard'. We ask whatever we desire, and we will receive. This is because our will should be the will of God if the word of God is in us. And as we mature, our experience of answered prayer gets better, because we more intuitively sense what is God's will.

Job 22:29 When they cast down, you shall say, ‘Be lifted up’. He will save the humble person-
See on :7. This is quoted in James 4:6. As noted earlier, the friends come out with some truths, but they are framed in the wrong context. What they say is so true it is even worthy of later quotation, but the context in which they use their 'truth' is so wrong. And this is an example for all time. The friends may be saying that Job now cannot lift up the cast down by his prayers nor save anyone (:27,28) because he is a sinner. All this was turned right around at the end, where it is the friends whose prayers cannot be heard, and who are saved from their "cast down" position by Job's prayers.

Job 22:30 He will even deliver him who is not innocent. Yes, he shall be delivered through the cleanness of your hands
- There are times and places where God is willing to save people for the sake of the spirituality of a third party, but if he or she fails in this, deliverance doesn’t necessarily arise from another place, as it would have done in Esther’s time. Eliphaz perceived all this when he told Job that a truly righteous man can “save the humble person. He shall deliver even him that is not innocent: yeah, he shall be delivered through the cleanness of thine hands” (Job 22:30 RV). And this was proved true later on- for Eliphaz was saved due to Job’s mediation for him.