Elihu turns on the three wise men (Job 34:1-34:9)

“Then Elihu continued and said.

‘Hear my words!

You wise men!

Give ear to me!

You who know!

The ear tests words,

As the palate tastes food.

Let us choose what is right.

Let us determine among ourselves what is good.

Job has said.

‘I am innocent.

God has taken away my justification.

In spite of being right,

I am counted a liar.

My wound is incurable.

I am without transgression.’

Who is there like Job?

Who drinks up scoffing like water?

Who goes in company with evildoers?

Who walks with the wicked?

He has said.

‘It profits one nothing to take delight in God.’”

Elihu turned to the 3 friends of Job, the 3 wise comforters. Elihu wanted them to listen to what he had to say. Listening was a skill like tasting food. You had to acquire the skill of listening. He had asked what is right and good, a great philosophical question. Job claimed that he was innocent. God had taken away his rightful justification. Others have called him a liar, which is an incurable wound. He claimed that he had not done anything wrong. He has absorbed the mocking of others like he was drinking water. Who is in the company of the wicked and the evil doers? Job had said that there is no advantage in delighting in God. Somehow Elihu believes that he will settle this issue.

Elihu points out the failure of the three wise comforters (Job 32:11-32:14)

“See!

I waited for your words.

I listened for your wise sayings.

While you searched out what to say.

I gave you my attention.

However, there was in fact no one that confuted Job.

No one among you answered his words.

Yet you do not say.

‘We have found wisdom.

God may vanquish him,

Not a human.’

He has not directed his words against me.

I will not answer him with your speeches.”

Elihu turned first to the 3 comforters, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He said that he had listened to their wise sayings. He paid close attention, but they did not refute Job. No one was able to respond to him. They did not even say that they had human or divine wisdom. Although Job had not directed his words against Elihu, he was still going to answer Job.

Zophar chimes in (Job 11:1-11:6)Zophar chimes in (Job 11:1-11:6)

“Then Zophar the Naamathite answered.

‘Should a multitude of words go unanswered?

Should one full of talk be vindicated?

Should your babble put others to silence?

When you mock,

Shall no one shame you?

You say.

‘My conduct is pure.

I am clean in God’s sight.’

But O that God would speak!

If he would open his lips to you!

He would tell you the secrets of wisdom!

Wisdom is many-sided.

Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.’”

Finally we hear from Zophar. He cannot let so many words go unanswered. He seems to chide Job harsher than the other 2 comforters. Talk does not itself vindicate. If Job continued to babble, was everyone to be silent? Someone had to speak out. Job had protested that he was innocent in God’s sight. But has he heard God say that? God could tell you in his secret wisdom the many sides of things. God is merciful and exacts less than the guilty deserve. Notice the link between God and wisdom, which is key to the wisdom or sapiential biblical literature.