Job 2:11-3:26 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Job Speaks: The Cry from the Ash Heap: "Why?"
Comments for Study 2

Job 2:11-3:26
Key verse: 3:26


2:8 says Job was "among the ashes". Each city in the Mid-East for many centuries had trash dumps where garbage and dung were dumped. From time to time they would burn this. Thus it became an ash dump. That is where this is taking place.

I. Job's Three Friends (2:11-13)

>1. Who are Job's three friends? Where are they from? (Jer. 49:7; Gen. 4:22, 25:2; Josh. 15:41, Lam. 4:21) Refer to Genesis chapter 10 and the table of ancient nations when studying the book of Job. A fourth man is there, Elihu, is not mentioned because he was not part of the three who journeyed together.

Job 2:11 "When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him."

* "Job's three friends" -The three that speak first, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are Job's friends. They had known Job. They had spent good times with Job before. The fact that they arrange among themselves to gather at a specific time to meet and comfort Job shows their friendship for Job.

* "Eliphaz" -He is always listed first (2:11; 42:9) and speaks first. His speeches are the longest in the three rounds of dialogue that make up the drama (4-5; 15; 22). This indicates he is the eldest. His name means "God is gold."

* "the Temanite" -In Edom, south-east of the Dead Sea, and is renowned for wise mean and wisdom. (Jer. 49:7)

* "Bildad" -Named after his father, Bildad's name means "Son of Hadad."

* "the Shuhite" -This may mean he is a descendent of Abraham's son Shuah by his wife Keturah (Gen 25:2), or it may indicate he is from the city of Shuah located on the northern Euphrates River.

* "Zophar" -His name means "young bird."

* "the Naamathite" -They are listed among the descendants of Cain (Gen 4:22). The town of Naamah (mentioned in Josh. 15:41) is located in western foothills of central Canaan.

* "sympathize with him and comfort him" -Job's friends had every good intention when going to Job. In the beginning they are good examples to follow when comforting people. However, later they were not good comforters at all.

>2. When they heard of what happened to Job, what did they do? (12) Why? What does this show about them and their relationship with Job?

>3. What does the fact that they could hardly recognize him show about Job's condition? (See Job's self description in 24 and 26.) How did they respond to Job's condition?

Job 2:12 "When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads."

* "they could hardly recognize him" -To understand the physical and emotional symptoms of Job's disease see: Job 2:7-8,12; 3:24-25; 6:4,11; 7:4-5,13-14,16; 9:18; 16:16; 19:17,20; 30:17,27,30; 33:21.

Scholars generally conclude that these symptoms indicate elephantiasis, a disfiguring disease of the lymph glands, considered the worst form of what the Bible calls "leprosy" (which in Bible days was a generic term for all sorts of skin disorders and contagious diseases).

* "they began to weep aloud" -Unlike today, Jews (as well as many other nationalities in the Mid-East) expressed their sorrow openly without holding back.

* "they tore their robes" -Jews as a sign of:
    1) mourning (Gen 37:34; Ps. 35:13),
    2) earnest prayer (2 Kings 19:1,2; Dan. 9:3),
    3) repentance (1 Kings 21:27; Matt. 11:21).

In this case this was done in mourning.

* "and sprinkled dust on their heads"-Same as tore their robes. In their actions Job's friends are participating with Job, as best as they could, in his agony and mourning. This is a good example to follow when trying to comfort a suffering friend.

>4. What did they do for seven days? (13) List their good "bed side" manners. How is saying nothing to someone hurting sometimes better than speaking?

Job 2:13 "Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."

* Sitting with those who are in pain, not saying anything, is a good example to follow. (It is better than staying away because we don't know what to say.) Many times nothing that we say will mean anything to the mourner; in fact it could even aggravate the person. Thus, even though we intended, we will not be a comforter. So to come and say nothing is a good way to comfort a person.

* "seven days" -The traditional period of time associated with mourning; but for the dead, not the living. (Gen 50:10; and 1 Sam. 31:13)

II. Job Speaks (3:1-26)

a. Job's Death Wish (1-10)

>5. Why might have Job spoke after seven days?

>6. What is the first thing he wishes for? (1) What did the happy parents shout when he was born? (3, 7) What does his constant use of darkness reveal about his state of mind? (4-6)

>7. Why does he say the day of his birth should not have been? (10) Even though Job had many good days earlier what did illness do to his view of life? Even though Job did not want to be born, what did he not do at this time? What does this reveal about his faith? His sincerity?

Job 3:1 "After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth."

* "After this" -Obviously after the seven days. But before Job's friends come together to comfort Job, it is suggested by many that Job's had had this disease for years. The writings of some Arabic and Persian writers seem to tell Job's story and say that it was anywhere from three to seven years. Job 7:3 says, "so I have been allotted months of futility..." Also in order for the three friends to communicate to meet, and then to travel to Job's location would have taken quit some time.

* "Job opened his mouth" -Job's first utterance, neglectful of the courtesies of oriental speech, is addressed to none of his friends, of whose presence he scarcely seems aware, but is a monologue.

* "and cursed the day of his birth" -Though he will not curse God, he does curse his life. Most curses are to the future, but this one is looking back in time, which can not be changed. This is not said in faith; and what is not of faith is sin; hence, the need of Job's repentance (42:1-6).


Job 3:2-10 "He said: "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, 'A boy is born!' That day--may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night--may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes."

1. In 2-10 Job curses the day of his birth.

b. Job's Three Whys (11-26)

>8. What is the first why that Job asked? (12) Was it wrong to ask this question?

>9. What does Job see death as? (13-15) What fate does all have and Job envied? (14-19)

Job 3:11-19 ""Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with rulers who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver's shout. The small and the great are there, and the slave is freed from his master.

2. In 11-19 Job asks "Why didn't I die at birth?"

>10. What is the second why that Job asked? (20-22) Was it wrong to ask this question?

>11. What is the third why that Job asked? (23) Was it wrong to ask this question?

>12. What does Job's confession in verse 25 reveal about why he lived a righteous life? How does this explain his current dilemma? What emotion best describes Job in his words here?

Job 3:20-26 "Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil."

3. In 20-26 Job asks the question, "Why do those who suffer still live?"

* Here is a question: "Is it a sign of lack of faith to ask, 'Why?'" Not always; in fact, I believe seldom it is. Job's why is a groan of despair because he is confronted with an extremely painful and unexplainable contradiction.

* Job did not commit suicide, thus showing some faith in the mist of his questions.

* Up until this time Job believed that God rewards the righteous with prosperity and health, and that he punishes the wicked with poverty and suffering. What has happened to Job is a terrible shock to his neatly systematized theology. Nothing makes sense anymore. Hence the questions, "Why?"