The three friends of Job (Job 2:11-2:13)

“When Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home. Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite met together. They wanted to go to console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. They raised their voices and wept aloud. They tore their robes. They sprinkled dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. No one spoke a word to him. They saw that his suffering was very great.”

There were 3 friends of Job who heard about the trouble of Job. They decided to come together and visit Job to console and comfort him. As they approached from a distance, they did not recognize him. They went into the normal mourning attitude. They wept, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads. As they saw that Job was suffering, they did not say anything for 7 days and nights. Their consoling and comforting was a mere presence. Who then are these people? They are sometimes referred to as the 3 Wise Men as they come from nearby northwest Arabia. They dominate this book. Eliphaz the Temanite was main comforter. Thus Job’s friend Eliphaz was a Temanite, perhaps named for an ancestor called Eliphaz. Teman was the name of an Edomite clan in the Genesis, chapter 36, the son of Eliphaz, Esau’s eldest son.  The Temanite tribe was famous for their wisdom. The exact location of Teman remains unknown, but there is a possibility that it was in present day Jordan or north Yemen. Bildad the Shuhite was the 2nd of Job’s three friends. He might have been a descendant of Shuah, the son of Abraham and Keturah in Genesis, chapter 25.  He seems to be from a desert area of Arabia.  The 3rd of Job’s 3 friends was Zophar who came from the city of Naamah, in Canaan. These 3 men represent 3 views of suffering. In one sense, they represent the various Israelite views of man’s relationship to Yahweh. 1) The sufferer has knowing committed a sin. 2) Someone in his family has committed a sin. 3) He was not aware of his sin. These explanations go one step further to say that God’s actions are inscrutable. We do not know how God’s policy of retribution works.

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