Job. 17 – 20

Job 17

  1. Read chapter 15 and compare its tone and approach with Eliphaz’ first speech in chapters 4 and 5. Note the emphasis on human depravity. How should Eliphaz have dealt with a younger man who would not agree with him? Why was he so sure he was right? To whose shortcoming was he blind?
  2. 16 and 17. Even in the depths Job finds some particles of hope. What form do these take?


  1. 15:4. Eliphaz accuses Job of being an enemy of true religion and godliness because he denies the traditional orthodoxy.
  2. 15:11b. A reference to the earlier speeches of Job’s friends.
  3. 5:18, 19. Eliphaz claims that his doctrine is ancient and pure, untainted by foreign heresies.
  4. 16:2. Ronald Knox renders this: ‘Old tales and cold comfort; you are all alike’.
  5. 16:19, 21. A further reference to the mediator.

17:16b. Taken as a statement, not a question, this indicates a sudden further advance in Job’s hopes.


Job 18 and 19

  1. In 18 trace the sequence of events that happen to the wicked and the ungodly.
  2. In 19 Job says he feels imprisoned and alone. List the metaphors under which he pictures his solitary confinement. How does he picture his release? To what grand assurance does his faith triumphantly rise?


  1. 18:2. ‘How long before you make a capture of mere words?’, i.e., before you stop mouthing empty ideas. ‘Consider’: i.e., before you stop mouthing empty idea. ‘Consider’: i.e., say something worth saying, and our answer will be weighty.
  2. 18:4. The world’s natural laws will not be altered to suit Job.
  3. 19:25-27. Even if Job had no hope of vindication in this life he believed that God must vindicate him and that, after death, he would see God and find God on his side. Cf. Rom. 8:33-39.
  4. 19:29. ‘Trouble will come to them if they go on rejecting his cries for pity’ is what Job means here.


Job 20 and 21

  1. Place Zophar’s views of the state of the wicked in this world alongside Job’s. Cf. 20:6-28 with 21:6-26. At what points do they: (a) agree, and (b) disagree?
  2. In this second cycle, Job’s friends, gaining no victory, utter threats. Is defeated conservatism bound to take refuge in acid predictions of gloom? Had Job something to teach them if only they were willing to learn?


  1. 20:5. Cf Pss. 37 and 73 on the sudden end of bad men.
  2. 20:7. Dead men are dead.’ Job’s hopes about another life receive short measure from Zophar.
  3. 20:17. ‘The rivers’: i.e., of paradise.
  4. 21:34. Job means that they have not troubled to check their thesis against life ‘itself. So they are dealing in lies.

Concluding note to the section chapters 15-21. Job’s friends have nothing new to say: but Job has. He is stumbling towards the truth that death itself will provide a way out of his impasse, when a shadowy but friendly Redeemer will acquit him.


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