The Third Cycle: Job Is Guilty

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Each of the friends exposed the inherent weaknesses of evil people. Though the wicked appeared invincible, they were rotten at the core and God would destroy them. For his part, however, Job saw only their continuing strength and enviable security.
Although none of the friends named Job in this cycle, these pointed diatribes formed the basis for round three which turned painfully personal as they accused Job of having engaged in the very same oppressive practices that would make “[the wicked] perish forever, like his own dung” (20:7a).
Sidebar – Carol Newsom downplayed the apparently vicious tone of the friends’ contributions. Instead, each carried a narrative thread that was intended to be instructive. One was the “fate of the wicked”
narrative
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Because none of them successfully scared Job into a confession with more oblique descriptions of
“sinners in the hands of an angry God,” Eliphaz took it upon himself to accuse Job directly of grievous social sins (ch 22). His rhetorical technique was brilliant, commencing with two sets of questions. The first set anticipated negative answers (22:2-4) and in that context, Eliphaz returned yet again to the matter of fear. “Does He [God] rebuke you for your fear? Will He bring you into judgment?”
He turned his next questions against Job with the clear expectation of positive responses. “Is not your evil great and is not your sin endless?” (22:5). These questions served as his platform. He declared that
Job’s moral failures were the cause of the snares and peril surrounding him (22:6-11), manufacturing
“facts” about Job’s life in order to sustain his own immovable theological position. In Eliphaz’s script, Job had exploited those who were already poor, he had withheld basic sustenance from the hungry and thirsty, and he had refused the pleas of widows and orphans. It was likely this false litany that

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