New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 8:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered- Bildad largely repeats the arguments of Eliphaz, although more crudely, and with more appeal to the weight of past wisdom (:8-10).

Job 8:2 How long will you speak these things? Shall the words of your mouth be a mighty wind?-
This may be commentary upon Job's complaint that his life is but a breath which will soon pass (Job 7:7). The idea may be that indeed Job will soon die and will not be speaking these things for much longer; although Job considered himself just a temporary breath, his words were a mighty breath / wind because they were so serious in their accusations against God. And we learn from this that despite the frailty of the human condition, this doesn't justify wrong speaking.

Job 8:3 Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert righteousness?-
The drama is set in patriarchal times, and so the allusion would be to the belief of Abraham that God as judge shall do right (Gen. 18:25), and Job was wrong to imply otherwise. Job was implying otherwise, and so we conclude that God's later statement that Job had spoken right about Him (Job 42:7,8) must simply refer to Job's repentance.

Job 8:4 If your children have sinned against him, He has delivered them into the hand of their disobedience-
LXX "Sent them away to the place of their disobedience". This clearly has relevance to the exiles of Judah being sent off to Babylon, whose idols they had worshipped. Clearly Job's children had indeed sinned and been judged appropriately, and Job is here accused of wrongly justifying them- although so far, he has complained only of the injustice of his own judgments.


Job 8:5 If you want to seek God diligently, make your supplication to the Almighty-
GNB "But turn now and plead with Almighty God". Bildad, as noted on :1, is just repeating the words of Eliphaz (Job 5:8). Job had turned to God when afflicted, but the friends ignored that. They liked to imagine that was just mere words; for, they apparently reasoned, if someone seeks God and has repented, then God is going to solve their material problems. This is exactly the mistaken view of many within the Pentecostal movement today.

Job 8:6 If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awaken for you, and make the habitation of your righteousness prosperous-
The words of the friends suggest that their view was in fact that of the satan in the prologue. Satan obviously quibbled with God's pronunciation of Job as perfect and upright (Job 1:8). And Bildad likewise seems to allude to this when he comments concerning Job's downfall: "If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee" (8:6 AV). For more connections between the friends and the satan, see on Job 1:6.

God's opinion of Job was that he was "upright" (Job 1:1 s.w.). But as the drama progresses, the friends argue that if Job were in fact "upright" then God would not be afflicting him (Job 4:7; 8:6 s.w.). Job absorbs this reasoning, and confesses that he is not "upright" and therefore cannot find God (Job 23:7,8 s.w.). He absorbs false guilt and becomes influenced by the guilt placed upon him by his religion and "friends" amongst the "sons of God". See on :20.

Job 8:7 Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would greatly increase-
Job's "latter end" did increase (s.w. Job 42:12) and Bildad lived to see it, and thereby realized how wrong his judgment had been. Bildad's words may be a recognition of how Job arose to wealth from small beginnings, implying that his "latter end" would only really increase if he were repentant and Godly (:5,6). The fact Job's latter end did increase was therefore evidence that God accepted him as Godly. The same word is used of the "latter end" of Israel, which will likewise be "increased" and blessed; and could have been so for the exiles had they followed the path of Job (Is. 41:22; 46:10; Jer. 29:11; 31:17).

Job 8:8 Please inquire of past generations. Find out about the learning of their fathers-
Bildad stresses the power of traditional understanding (:8-10), and one of the themes of the book is the utter failure of traditional understandings of the time compared to the ultimate reality of God and His hand in human life. Perhaps he has in view the patriarchs, beginning from Abraham. But his fathers were idolaters, and Bildad is missing the point- that the Divine truths revealed to individuals are freestanding and independent of how long they lived or to whom they have listened.

Job 8:9 For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days on earth are a shadow-
The final appeal of God demonstrates that any man can at this point know and perceive His Truth, and man is not 'without knowledge' because he is out of step with ancient gurus, or ignorant of them. Perhaps Bildad may have in view the way that lifespans were far longer in the past, and therefore he considered the patriarchs wiser. But so many people live the same year every year, and the number of years lived isn't related to their wisdom.

Job 8:10 Shall they not teach you, tell you, and utter words out of their heart?-
This challenge to go and ask the old men of :8,9 may therefore be a reference to old sages who were alive at Job's time; for if the reference is to the patriarchs, then they were dead and could not have spoken to Job.

Job 8:11 Can the papyrus grow up without mire? Can the rushes grow without water?-
Bildad's idea is that Job's prosperity was like a quick growing papyrus which would soon wither (:12) because it had not enough water or mud. Bildad's reasoning is wrong, but clearly the Lord quarried His parable of the sower from parts of these ideas (see on :16 also). For He speaks of the man who has no "depth of earth" as the one who responds eagerly to the word sown, but falls away "when affliction of persecution arises for the word's sake" because he has 'no root in himself' (Mk. 4:5,17). Bildad was therefore not simply saying that Job's persecution was because he had sinned; but rather he implies that Job had lost his faith after the persecution arose, because he had no real root in faith. In this Bildad was also wrong, for Job continually seeks to God in his tribulations. Behemoth was quite at home in the "mire "(s.w. Job 40:21); and the connection is in order to demonstrate that even the "mire" was created by God and just as He saved Jeremiah out of the mire of the dungeon, so He could save Job and the exiles. And the only other usage of the word is in the description of the healing of the "miry places" (Ez. 47:11) if the exiles were responsive to the prophetic call to restore the temple and city made in Ez. 40-48. 

Job 8:12 While it is yet in its greenness, not cut down-
"Not cut down" suggests that Job had withered even before he was "cut down", just like the papyrus which is without mud and water to sustain it (:11). The word for "cut down" is used of the cutting down of Judah (Ez. 17:4,22); Job is clearly the suffering servant who represents God's suffering people.

It withers before any other reed- "Withers" is literally 'dried up'. The theme of 'drying up' is significant. Bildad considers Job to have been 'dried up' by God's judgment (Job 8:12), and the word is used of how God withered or dried up Judah at the hands of their invaders (Jer. 12:4; 23:10; Ez. 17:9,10,24; Zech. 11:17; Lam. 4:8; Is. 40:7,8- although the prophetic word of God requiring their restoration would endure, despite their drying up). The dry bones of Judah in captivity were withered or dried up (Ez. 37:11). So Job's 'drying up' was again, a sharing in the representative suffering of God's people. Job's personal response to his 'drying up' was to reflect that God dries up waters and also sends them forth as floods (Job 12:15 s.w.); He can give and He can take, just as Job had initially realized (Job 2:10). Just as He dried up Job / Israel, so He could abundantly send forth waters; just as He did at the Red Sea. Restoration and salvation was just as easy for Him as destruction, to put it another way. The drying up of Job was also understood by him as referring to his death (Job 14:11), but God could raise him from the dead and have a desire to him again (Job 14:15). Eliphaz wrongly argues that the Divine 'drying up' of a person means permanent extinction (Job 15:30), as does Bildad (Job 18:16); but Job always sees the 'drying up' as part of a Divine action which also has a counterpart, the pouring out again of waters, or resurrection of the dried up, withered bones. Likewise Judah in captivity thought that their drying up, their dry bones, were incapable of revival (Ez. 37:11); but the message is that they could indeed be revived, and their drying up was but a presage to their eternal revival.        

Job 8:13 So are the paths of all who forget God. The hope of the godless man shall perish-
Given all Job's references to God, it is patently wrong to assume he was "Godless" and had 'forgotten God'; we are hereby warned as to the dangers of assuming someone is not 'of God' because of the path of logical which our theological positions have led us down. And yet there is still some truth in what Bildad says; those who "forget God" will indeed perish, and the phrase is used about Israel in Dt. 32:18; Ps. 106:21. Job was experiencing the sufferings of those who "forget God" even though he himself had most clearly not done so. In this we see the nature of representational suffering and intercession, which came true in its ultimate term in the Lord Jesus, the "suffering servant" based upon Job. 

Job 8:14 whose confidence shall break apart, whose trust is in a spider’s web-
LXX "For his house shall be without inhabitants, and his tent shall prove a spider's web"- a reference to the collapse of the tent / house of Job's sons, killing them all.

Job 8:15 He shall lean on his house, but it shall not stand. He shall cling to it, but it shall not endure-
To 'lean upon' is to trust; Job was accused of leaning upon his own large "house", his family and literal home, which had now been taken away from him. That may have been partly true; but now he 'leaned' upon God alone. And the same was intended to be true of the exiles, who had 'leaned' upon human strength, Egypt especially (Is. 30:12; 31:1 s.w.), desperately clinging on to it; but when that was removed, they were to 'lean upon' God alone (Is. 50:10 s.w.). Again, Job is Judah.


Job 8:16 He is green before the sun. His shoots go forth over his garden-
The picture is of a plant which initially grows quickly and prolifically, but is planted upon rocks (:17) and the sun will soon smite it. Again, as noted on :11, the Lord constructed His parable of the sower from this. The seed sown on stony ground was the man who responds enthusiastically initially, but then fades away once persecution arises (Mk. 4:5,16,17). This was a picture of what happened to Israel; and Job was their representative, even though in the end, he was the good ground and did not faint under persecution. 

Job 8:17 His roots are wrapped around the rock pile. He sees the place of stones-
Roots upon stones rather than earth continues the connection with the parable of the sower; see on :16.

Job 8:18 If he is destroyed from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, ‘I have not seen you’-
Judah in exile felt 'destroyed from their place', but the lesson of the dialogues in Job is that the friends were seeing things as they were at the moment, and failing to understand that God had a longer term program of restoration. Job would be the pattern for the exiles to follow- and they would return to their "place".

Job 8:19 Behold, this is the joy of his way: out of the earth, others shall spring-
The idea of others springing up in the place of the withered papyrus, also by the waterside, is to be found in the prophecies of the exiles' restoration (s.w. Is. 44:4; 42:9; 43:19 etc.). Bildad was wrong to think that the cut down Job could never spring up again; he would, just as the exiles likewise could have sprung up to new life in the restored kingdom. The reasoning of the friends was that of the faithless Jews in exile.

Job 8:20 Behold, God will not cast away a blameless man-
Job appears to argue with this in his reply, insisting that he is not "blameless" or (AV) "perfect" (Job 9:20,21). He realizes through this false statement of Bildad's that in fact God cannot require utter perfection in order to save a man; and at the same time, He clearly blesses the sinful and brings calamity to the righteous. The conclusion therefore is that there is no direct connection between sin and present suffering; and the salvation of the righteous, none of who are "perfect", is by grace. And the narrative of the book of Job takes us beyond even that, suggesting that being blameless or perfect is only by God imputing that status to believers. For God's opinion of Job was that he was "blameless" (Job 1:1). But as the drama progresses, Bildad argues that if Job were in fact "blameless" then God would not cast him away (Job 8:20 s.w.). Job absorbs this reasoning, and confesses that he is not "blameless" (Job 9:20,21 s.w.), and yet he is driven to the conclusion that the "blameless" and sinner are "destroyed together" by God (Job 9:22 s.w.). It's quite possible that in depression and periods of suffering, we can come to have a lower view of ourselves than that which God has of us; just as at other times we can have a higher view of ourselves spiritually than we ought to. There is true guilt, the guilt which we should take, and false guilt. And Job seems to have picked up the false guilt thrown upon him by Bildad. We too need to learn this difference between false and true guilt. See on :6.

Neither will He uphold the evildoers- Heb. 'hold the hand of evil-doers'. And yet this was exactly what God did to sinful Judah in captivity (Is. 41:13; 42:6). That was all by grace, and grace is something which Bildad knew nothing of.

Job 8:21 He will still fill your mouth with laughter, your lips with shouting-
The language of the restored exiles having their mouths filled with laughter and singing when Yahweh brought again Zion- not because they were technically righteous, as Bildad reasoned, but by His grace.

Job 8:22 Those who hate you shall be clothed with shame. The tent of the wicked shall be no more
- This was what ought to have happened to the friends, at the end. But it didn't, again by grace, because God accepted Job's intercession for them.