Elihu

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    Elihu Character Analysis

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    What are we to make of Elihu? By his own admission, he was younger than all the rest and, in respect to them, a combination of deferential and boldly critical. He was the one who said, “I was afraid of declaring my knowledge to you” (32:6c) and “I waited for your words; I heard your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave to you my attention” (32:11-12a). At the same time, he came across as rather self-assured - “I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker, for surely my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you” (36:3-4). Right. Elihu seemed both concerned not to offend and sufficiently angry to be offensive! We are told three times of his anger with Job and the friends (32:2-5); he…

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    look at the problem from all angles himself? Chapter 27 is attributed to Job but it certainly expresses a wide range of opinions, some of them sounding suspiciously like Zophar. Was the wisdom poem in chapter 28 “original” in whatever sense we mean that word? Was Job its author? Or did a later narrator insert this as a “breathing space” after the increasing intensity of the verbal battles that preceded it? The utterances of Elihu, seemingly characterized by different structural, stylistic, and…

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    perspective after the torrent of words and thoughts, or the narrator has called for a needed pause in the drama. The quest is for wisdom, recognized as exceedingly valuable, but eluding all attempts to package it. Job’s Self-Vindication and Self-Incriminating Oaths (chs 29-31) Likely in response to Eliphaz’s harsh accusation (ch 22), Job set the record straight in terms of his socially responsible actions prior to plummeting to his current circumstances. Then, in a daring move, he took a series…

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    answers from his friends that, while seemingly valid arguments as to why Job’s life is being ruined, miss the mark off what was really going on. Eliphaz chided Job for complaining about his life when before he helped those that were down on their luck, i.e. the feeble and those that stumbled. Zophar claimed that the unfortunate events in Job’s life were due to Job’s own wickedness. Bildad said something similar in that God does not punish those that do not deserve punishment. Larry was told to…

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    It was another moment of transition for Job in his constantly dynamic thinking, only to be interrupted by Bildad who failed even more miserably than before to make a meaningful contribution. Job pounced on Bildad’s brief allusion to God’s peace-making presence in the heavens (25:2). After a sarcastic jab about how helpful Bildad’s counsel was, Job unleashed a vibrant description of what God actually does in those heavenly realms. Some of his discourse described the visible heavenly realms – the…

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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]…

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    doctrine and views expressed by Eliphaz, chastising Job and recommending repentance rather than accusing God of a perversion of justice. “Will God pervert the right?” Will the Almighty pervert justice?” (8:3). Zophar is no better, agreeing with his two companions but going a step further. Zophar concludes that not only is Job’s suffering justified, but in fact he is suffering less than he should, believing that God exacts less punishment than is deserved. He also contends that prosperity does…

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    “For then you will delight in the Almighty, And lift up your face to God” (Job 22:26). Eliphaz declares this to Job during his third speech in “The Great Debate.” Even though Job has persistently claimed that he has not done any wrong and that he is not wicked, Eliphaz continues to reproach Job for his statements of innocence. Eliphaz finally specifies what sin he believes Job is guilty of, stating that Job has “taken pledges of (his) brothers without cause” and has “to the weary given no…

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    wickedness” (35:15). Elihu was determined to declare God entirely just (34:10-12) and defend Him (36:2) while twisting Job’s words. In sum, Elihu did sort through and augment the growing legal tangle, but his additions were not helpful. Cajoler Elihu was also bent on getting Job to reconsider and he explored new territory in the process. Early in his first speech, he shifted gears temporarily away from Job’s presumed declarations of innocence. Instead, acknowledging the great gulf between God as…

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    Ragnar Andersen, the author of The Elihu Speeches: There Place and Sense in the Book of Job, examines the arguments of the critics who claim that the Elihu speeches are later interpolations, while simultaneously presenting the arguments of those, who like himself, argue that the Elihu speeches are original text in the book of Job. According to Andersen, Matthias Heinrich Stuhlmann, a Lutheran preacher, was the first person to include an argument against the originality of the Elihu speeches in…

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