The Four Speeches of Elihu[a]
Elihu’s Indignation Is Aroused.[b] 1 The three men then ceased to argue with Job because in his own eyes he was righteous. 2 Then Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite,[c] of the family of Ram, became very angry. He was furious because Job believed that he was righteous and that God was in error. 3 And he was also angry at Job’s three friends because they had never devised an answer to refute Job and thus had allowed God to appear to be wrong.
4 While Job and his friends had been conversing, Elihu had refrained from addressing Job, since the three companions were older than he. 5 But when Elihu perceived that the three had no answer to offer, he could no longer contain his anger.
Elihu’s First Speech
I Have Many Things To Say.[d] 6 Therefore Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, began to speak.
“I am young in years,
and you are old.
Therefore, I held my tongue
and hesitated to express my opinion to you.
7 I thought, ‘Age ought to speak;
many years will result in conveying wisdom.’
8 “But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty,
that gives him understanding.
9 It is not only the old who are wise;
it is not only the aged who understand what is right.
10 Therefore, I beg you to listen to me
and allow me to declare my opinion.
11 “I have been waiting to hear what you had to say,
and I listened attentively to your arguments
as each one of you chose your words with care.
12 I gave you my close attention,
but there is not one of you who has convicted Job
or refuted his statements.
13 Therefore, do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God confute him, not men!’
14 Job has not addressed his words to me;
therefore, I will not answer him in the way you have done.
15 “These three men are confounded and unable to respond;
words have failed them.
16 Am I then to wait because they do not speak,
but simply stand there, stuck for an answer?
17 I also will now have my say;
it is my turn to express my opinion.
18 For I have many things to say,
and the spirit within me forces me to speak.
19 “I am ready to burst,
like a new wineskin with wine searching for a vent.
20 I must speak so that I may find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
21 I will show no partiality to anyone,
nor will I use flattering words.
22 For I do not know how to flatter;
if I did, my Maker would soon do away with me.
- Job 32:1 The speeches of Elihu (chs. 32–37), like the composition on wisdom (ch. 28), were probably added to the Book of Job in a second phase of the Book’s history. The final editor was perhaps trying to soften the overly harsh positions put on the lips of Job. He tries to justify the intervention of this unexpected personage by saying that it was necessary to let the older men speak first. This champion of the rights of God adds little new except that he does a better job of situating suffering in the divine plan. When he has concluded his bit of eloquence, he is no longer mentioned.
- Job 32:1 Elihu’s four poetic speeches are introduced by five prose verses written by the author.
- Job 32:2 Buzite: i.e., an inhabitant of the desert region of Buz in north Arabia (see Jer 25:23).
- Job 32:6 Right from the beginning of this lengthy monologue, Elihu opposes his wisdom to that of the ancients. Intelligence does not result from the short views of experience or tradition but from receiving inspiration from God (Wis 1:6; Sir 1:1-10; Isa 28:26; Dan 1:17). He does not hurl false accusations at Job as his friends did but uses Job’s own words to criticize him (see Job 33:9-11; 34:5-6, 9; 35:2-3).