Job 2&3: A Conversation With Friends

What is life without good friends to comfort you in your time of need? Job's friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—come to mourn with him. The conversation doesn't start until the end of the seventh day, when Job curses the day of his birth.

Introduction

What is life without good friends to comfort you in your time of need? Job's friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—come to mourn with him. They are taken aback by his appearance, but sit with him in the dirt for 7 days—the customary period of mourning. The friends do not force him to speak, instead, they wait for him to start the conversation. Unfortunately, once the conversation gets going, they aren't much help.
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Friends

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It's not surprising that these men were no help during Job's time of trouble. I think we've all been in a situation where nothing anyone said could bring us comfort (re: a death in the family). Part of the issue with Job's friends, however, was lack of wisdom. They were operating on false beliefs in God. Job's friends were good friends in the sense that they came to him. However they were bad friends in the sense that they weren't able to provide spiritual guidance for him. This is the issue the New Testament gets at when it tells us not to be unequally yoked. When we spend much of our time with and receive council from people who hold false doctrines as beliefs, we put ourselves at risk spiritually. Of course, if Job had no friends or friends that were atheist, this could have turned out even worse! We can't expect our friends to be perfect or to know God inside and out, either. I think the juxtaposition of Job and his friends is to remind us about the importance of fellowship and the importance of choosing people who are on the same spiritual page as you to occupy your life.
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Bildad

Bildad is identified as a Shuhite. It is assumed that this designates him as a descendant of Shuah. There are two Shuah's mentioned in the Bible. One is the wife of Judah and the other is the son of Abraham's third wife. Given the assumption that Job takes place before the establishment of Israel, Bildad is probably a descendant of Abraham's son Shuah.[1][2][3]

Eliphaz

Eliphaz is referred to as a Temanite. Interestingly, Teman is actually the name of one of Esau's grandsons, who is born to Esau's son Eliphaz.[4] Since people are often named after their ancestors, it seems fitting that Eliphaz might be descended from this line. For some, that probably makes it hard to reconcile the timeline. We just concluded that Bildad's ancestor Shuah was probably Abraham's son by his third wife. You might ask, if Eliphaz is around the same age as Job and the others, why is his ancestor not from the same generation as Bildad's. The tribe or affiliation ascribed to each of Job's friends is given by someone who earned the title, which is irrespective of where they fall in the lineage. We don't know how many years or generations separate the namesake of the designations from each person. For instance, do to the age difference between my sister and I, my nephew is the same age and I. Esau's son Eliphaz could actually be the same age Shuah.

Zophar

Zophar is described as a Naamathite. Interestingly Naamah is the name of Lamech's daughter, from the descendants of Cain. It is unlikely that this is the Naamah being referenced her since Job's story takes place some time after the flood. There is also a Naamah listed in Joshua, 1 Kings, and 2 Chronicles. What's interesting is that it seems as though Naamah was a female name. It is unusual that a tribe would be named after a woman, and yet it was!

Conversation

The conversation doesn't start until the end of the seventh day, when Job curses the day of his birth. The poetry in his words is quite beautiful and shows the despair he feels. After all that has happened, Job wishes he'd never been born. This says a lot about how strongly this pain hit Job. It is common for us to wish we could go back in time or that we'd never met someone, but to be willing to give up everything we've ever experienced? That's a state of agony I have no desire to understand. People often use Job as encouragement for people waiting on their blessings, but I don't think people really processed how bad things got with Job.

Suicide

Throughout the book of Job, Job longs for death, in search of escape, but he does not kill himself. In a society where suicide rates exist at all, and are up in teens, I think this is an important part of the story to focus on. Each of us feel pain differently, and the same situation can push us in different directions. For some, the emotional pain of losing everyone around them would be enough to launch them into despair, and for others the physical pain Job experienced from the boils would be the thing to do the trick. Regardless of what type of pain we feel more deeply, we must remember that God can heal us. We can't know how long we struggle, but we can know that time will pass and if we stick with God, at the end of that appointed time, we will be ok.

Job's Agony

Job curses his birth date in poetic elegance. However, it's important to note something about Job's dismay. Job wished he had never been born, which would negate Job's entire life experience. In order to wish such a thing, Job either felt he had done nothing worth remembering or felt guilty about the events that transpired. When I say guilty, I don't mean that he felt he had done something wrong—Job is quite adamant that he is innocent—but that his family was targeted because of him. When we don't know the big picture, it's easy to feel like we don't belong. We have to remember that our lives and actions are not contained to just our storyline but to bleed into the lives of those around us as well. The bigger picture may call for our suffering for some time, but God put us here for a reason.

References

  1. Shuhite. Bible Study Tools; visited May 2017
  2. Genesis 25:2
  3. Genesis 38:2
  4. Genesis 36:10-11

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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