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Job 32:1 So these three men ceased to answer Job- The preceding chapter has been Job's clearing of himself, and has similarities to Babylonian legal documents. An accused person could begin their court case by such a statement of detailed denial. The accusers could respond with silence, in which case they dropped their case; or continue. The friends are reduced to silence after this great clearing of himself. Job's righteousness in a legal sense was unassailable. We may consider that their silence after this speech means that Job has 'won'. After his great clearing speech, the audience is expecting his justification. But then we have the interlude with Elihu, and then God appears Himself- and condemns yet saves Job, justifying him by condemning him, in the spirit of Paul's legal arguments in Rom. 1-8.

Because he was righteous in his own eyes- The contrast is with the fact that God doesn't remove His eyes from the righteous (s.w. Job 36:7).

Job 32:2 Then the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel, the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was kindled against Job. His wrath was kindled because he justified himself rather than God-
The role of Elihu is difficult to perceive. He repeats the arguments of the friends in some detail, summing them up, as it were, in his own words. We must remember that Job is poetry, it is a drama, although that doesn't take away from the existence of a historical Job (see on Job 1:1). In terms of the drama, we have here a series of speeches, full of accusations, followed by Job's rebuttals. For an illiterate audience, or any audience hearing / watching rather than reading the drama, by this point we have all rather forgotten the arguments. So simply in terms of the drama, Elihu could function as an appropriate way of summarizing what has been said so far. And many of his arguments against Job are repeated afterwards by God- so his function is also to introduce us to the revelation of God's own perspective which is coming. Job did indeed justify himself, but he did not completely not justify God; although perhaps the sense is that he focused more upon his own rightness ['justification'] rather than God's. The suffering servant of Isaiah is indeed based upon Job, but at times by way of contrast. By His sufferings, He justified "many" (s.w. Is. 53:11), whereas Job at best only justified himself.   

Job 32:3 Also his wrath was kindled against his three friends, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job-
Job feels God's wrath kindled against him (Job 19:11). The innocent Job  experienced the judgments of God's people, against whom God's wrath was kindled (Dt. 11:17; 2 Kings 23:26). Significantly, we find Elihu's wrath kindled against both Job and the friends (Job 32:2,3), but the wrath of God was kindled only against the friends (Job 42:7). Elihu is therefore not fully reflecting God's position about Job. I have repeatedly demonstrated that the innocent Job was suffering the judgment for the sins of God's people. In the end, this came to full term in the salvation of the friends on account of Job's intercession. God's wrath was not personally against Job, it was against the friends. But Job suffered God's wrath against him, because he was to be the saviour of the friends by offering sacrifice for them and praying for them. This looks forward to the work of the Lord Jesus, the suffering servant based upon Job; experiencing the judgment for our sins, and through the representative nature of His sacrifice, being able to save us.

Job 32:4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job, because they were elder than he-
We are invited to imagine Elihu as being one of the "sons of God" of Job 1:6 who had been party to the discussions of the prologue between God and the satan. His comments, however, repeatedly ignore the parameters set in the prologue. Again as noted on :2, Elihu appears to be a literary device summarizing the arguments so far, although taking the side of the friends against Job; and giving a foretaste of the arguments of God which are about to be revealed.

Job 32:5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was kindled-
This phrase "his wrath was kindled" is that used of how God's wrath was kindled against the friends (Job 42:7); but significantly not against Job. Elihu is therefore presented as not completely in step with God and is not totally His representative when he talks about Job. This all adds to the intentional enigma of Elihu; he functions also to elicit our response as the audience to the speeches. We are all beginning to form our opinions of the characters, and then Elihu appears and gives his take, and we raise our eyebrows and wonder whether... he is right or wrong, just as we too struggle to come to a correct and just opinion about what we've just heard.


Job 32:6 Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered, I am young, and you are very old; therefore I held back, and didn’t dare show you my opinion-
"Very old" may be sarcasm, seeing Job lived 140 years after this (Job 42:16) and his father was still alive (Job 15:10), and the friends appeal to the wisdom of men older than them, in which case we immediately begin to doubt whether Elihu is indeed totally God's representative; this enigma of Elihu is intentional, as explained on Job 32:5. As a Buzite, Elihu was from the same geographical area and the same broad ethnic background as the friends (Gen. 22:1; Jer. 25:23).


Job 32:7 I said, ‘Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom’-
On this point Elihu agrees with Job, that traditional wisdom and religion has failed and was not being taught by the friends (Job 26:3). The old men were not teaching wisdom.

Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding-
I suggest the idea is not that every man is inspired, but that just as God breathes the physical breath of life into man, so He can choose to inspire some men; and this is the source of teaching, as we have it today in the inspired writings known as the Bible; rather than through appealing to sages and tradition, as the friends were doing. But see on Job 33:4.

Job 32:9 It is not the great who are wise, nor the aged who understand justice-
This idea that age and position were effectively the basis for inspired wisdom was well entrenched. Even the disciples marvelled that the great men of Jewish society would not be saved (Mt. 19:23-25).

Job 32:10 Therefore I said, ‘Listen to me; I also will show my opinion’-
By implication, Elihu considers himself to be inspired by God (see on :8). "Opinion" really means "knowledge", and the Hebrew word is used only by Elihu (Job 32:6,10,17). He claims his knowledge comes from "afar", from God (Job 36:3), but he also recognizes that God alone has totality of "knowledge" (Job 37:16). So we are again left with Elihu as an enigma, not totally reflecting God's knowledge, although considering that his view is in line with God's. This enigma of Elihu is purposeful; as explained on Job 32:5, his function is to elicit our opinions; we too who like to think our view is in line with God's, and yet admitting we lack His total knowledge.


Job 32:11 Behold, I waited for your words, and I listened for your reasoning, while you searched out what to say-
The friends claimed they had "searched out" their response (s.w. Job 5:27). One theme of the book is that God alone searches man and searches out final truth in judgment (Job 28:3,27). The exiles were comforted that no matter how they were judged by human judgment, God alone searches out man (Ps. 139:1,23; Jer. 17:10). The exiles were to search themselves not others (Lam. 3:40 s.w.). God's final appearance is evidence enough that He alone can search out His own creation, including humans. Elihu yet again is presented as not completely in line with God's position, for by implication he considers he can search out this matter where the friends have failed to.

Job 32:12 Yes, I gave you my full attention, but there was no one who convinced Job, or who answered his words, among you-
As often noted on expounding the speeches, the friends tend not to engage with Job's actual words but rather attack their straw man image of him which they have created. They tend to respond to Job in terms of vague generalities, whereas Job more specifically engages with their actual words. The whole dialogue, on one level, is an example of human dialogue and personal relationship gone wrong. We are left with the impression that Job needs to be convicted, but he hasn't been convicted by the friends. Their legal case has failed. And this sets the scene for God's final conviction of Job.

Job 32:13 Beware lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom, God may refute him, not man’-
GNB "How can you claim you have discovered wisdom? God must answer Job, for you have failed". Their failure was in that they had not convicted Job is sin. Only God can do that, and indeed that is what happens at the end. This is one of those points at which the audience has to nod in agreement with Elihu. Or we can read with LXX "lest ye should say, We have found that we have added wisdom to the Lord". They were acting as greater than God, assuming their wisdom was above His.

Job 32:14 for he has not directed his words against me; neither will I answer him with your speeches-
The idea may be that even if Job had been answering Elihu, he wouldn't have spoken as they had.

Job 32:15 They were amazed. They answered no more. They didn’t have a word to say-
It could be that this is the narrator's description of how the friends were unable to answer Elihu. Or it could be that this is Elihu commenting upon how they had been closed down by Job's reasoning, looking forward to how at the end, men feared to ask the Lord any more questions or seek to answer Him back. Mt. 22:46 appears to allude here, confirming Job as a type of the Lord Jesus: "No man was able to answer Him a word, neither dared any man from that day onwards ask Him any more questions". Some see in :15,16 the implication that Elihu actually wrote the book of Job. He was therefore the fulfilment of Job's desire that someone would sympathetically write his grief and record his mental agonies (Job 19:23).

Job 32:16 Shall I wait, because they don’t speak, because they stand still, and answer no more?-
The drama in performance likely included a significant silence after Job finishes his last speech, and the silence of the friends leads us to wonder whether for all Job's self righteousness in his final speech, they have been trounced. But then Elihu speaks.

Job 32:17 I also will answer my part, and I also will show my opinion-
Whether Elihu is directly from God or not is an open question. It is purposefully ambiguous. The audience 'hear' the lengthy silence after Job finishes, and the friends are unable to continue arguing with him. His righteousness appears genuine, if arrogantly presented and recounted. And we are left to ponder how much of what he says is just the views of an angry young man, and how much is really of God. The enigma of Elihu is therefore to give us the audience a chance to ponder whether we accept or reject Job's argument and legal case. We wonder whether Elihu speaks for us, in places, or completely, or not at all.


Job 32:18 For I am full of words. The spirit within me constrains me-
Elihu sounds exactly like Zophar, who says the same (Job 20:2,3) as well as Job, who likewise feels he just has to speak (Job 13:13,19). The book ends with Job, Elihu and the friends all in humbled silence. We feel that our earlier impression has been confirmed- that it would've been better had they remained in silence as they were at the start of the drama. The book opens and closes with Job and the friends sitting in silence. The implication is that all the words were inappropriate. And this impression applies to Elihu too. Again we are purposefully presented with Elihu as an enigmatic figure.



Job 32:19 Behold, my breast is as wine which has no vent; like new wineskins it is ready to burst-
The implication is that he has old wine in new wineskins, and this is an image used negatively by the Lord (Mt. 9:17). This would place Elihu in a somewhat negative light. As argued earlier, he appears to be a literary device to summarize the friends' arguments, reminding us of Job's weaker moments in his self-righteousness, and giving a foretaste of God's argument which is yet to come.

Job 32:20 I will speak, that I may be refreshed. I will open my lips and answer-
Job opened his mouth at the beginning (Job 3:1), just as Elihu now does, and we have the impression that he would have been better to be as the Lord Jesus, and remain silent through His trials. Elihu spoke for his own benefit- "that I may be refreshed". And this was what they all did.

Job 32:21 Please don’t let me respect any man’s person, neither will I give flattering titles to any man-
As noted on :9, Elihu is correct in realizing that titles and human respect are no basis for truth. 'To give flattering titles' is s.w. "surname himself" in Is. 44:5, where the exiles are to surname themselves by Yahweh and not by man.

Job 32:22 For I don’t know how to give flattering titles; or else my Maker would soon take me away
- This is confirming Job's similar condemnation of flattery in Job 17:5. If we accept God is our maker, then other human beings are likewise made by Him. This means we should respect them, but not make them more than human by giving them flattering titles.