Job 15 – “Eliphaz’s Second Speech”


Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Eliphaz responds to Job in chapter 15. He claims that Job’s words – which are an affront to God – are themselves an indication of his guilt. Eliphaz ends his speech with a lengthy discourse about the fate of the wicked.

II. Photo
Eliphaz tells Job about the fate of the wicked: “He will drop his unripe grapes like a vine; He will shed his blossoms like an olive tree.” (v. 33)

III. Important Verses

vv. 2-6: Does a wise man answer with windy opinions, And fill his belly with the east wind? Should he argue with useless talk, With words that are of no worth? You subvert piety And restrain prayer to God. Your sinfulness dictates your speech, So you choose crafty language. Your own mouth condemns you — not I; Your lips testify against you.
v. 9: What do you know that we do not know, Or understand that we do not?
vv. 12-13: How your heart has carried you away, How your eyes have failed you, That you could vent your anger on God, And let such words out of your mouth!

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2-16. Confronting Job
17-35. The fate of the wicked

V. Comment
In chapter 15 Eliphaz addresses Job for the second time. His speech can be divided into two sections, a confrontation with Job (vv. 2-16), and a homily about the fate of the wicked (vv. 17-35). It is interesting to note that Eliphaz’s first speech – and the speeches of all the friends for that matter – contains a discourse about the fate of the wicked (cf. 4:7-11, 5:12-14, 8:8-19, and 11:20). Eliphaz’s speech has many characteristics of the wisdom genre: it speaks of how wise men should behave (vv. 2-3, 12-13), uses rhetorical questions (vv. 7-9), and speaks about the wicked (vv. 20-35).

Clines gives an exceptional summary of Eliphaz’s speech, and puts it into its broader perspective (pp. 345-346): “The function of the speech as a whole may be said to be encouragement. Eliphaz makes no criticism of Job’s behavior prior to his suffering, and holds against him only what he has said in this dialogue (v 5; see the Comment). He does not condemn Job (v 6a). for he believes he is fundamentally innocent; Job’s own words, however, put him in the wrong (v 6). Eliphaz views his own interpositions as “speech that deals gently” with Job, and sees himself as conveying “the encouragements of God” (v 11). The assertion that humankind cannot be morally pure in God’s sight (vv 14–16) intends to be excusatory of Job: even the best of people are bound to sin at some time. Read in this light, the depiction of the wicked in vv 20–35 can only be essentially encouragement to Job, since the experience of the wicked is so alien to Job’s own experience.

“The tonality of the speech, in line with its function, is sympathetic but firm; Job has spoken unwisely (vv 2–3), self-importantly (vv 7–9), and aggressively (vv 12–13), and he has adopted a position that ill becomes his piety (vv 4–5). He has abandoned proper reverence before God (v 4). He ignores fundamental truths about human nature (vv 14–16) and needs clear correction. There is some sarcasm in the speech, in the questions whether Job has not mistaken himself for the First Man, possessor of superhuman wisdom (vv 7–8), but the very extravagance of the sarcasm blunts its edge, and it seems that Eliphaz is administering a douche of cold water to Job to bring him to his senses rather than essentially attacking Job or attempting to humiliate him.”

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Proverbs 1-20 (Word Biblical Commentary)
Photo taken from