Job 18 – “Bildad’s Second Speech”

BoulderHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Bildad confronts Job in chapter 18. He rejects Job’s blasphemy, defends his own intelligence, and reiterates that it is the wicked – not the innocent – who suffer.

II. Photo
Bildad scoffs at Job in v. 4: “Will the earth’s order be disrupted for your sake? Will rocks be dislodged from their place?”

III. Important Verses
vv. 3-4: Why are we thought of as brutes, Regarded by you as stupid? You who tear yourself to pieces in anger — Will the earth’s order be disrupted for your sake? Will rocks be dislodged from their place?
vv. 5-6: Indeed, the light of the wicked fails; The flame of his fire does not shine. The light in his tent darkens; His lamp fails him.
v. 18: [The wicked one] is thrust from light to darkness, Driven from the world.

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2-4. Confrontation
5-21. Discourse on the fate of the wicked

V. Comment
Bildad delivers his second speech in ch. 18. The chapter can be divided into two sections: Bildad begins by confronting Job (vv. 1-4) and then delivers a discourse about the fate of the wicked (vv. 5-21). In terms of structure, Bildad begins his speech like most other speeches in the book by mentioning the “words/speech/talk” of his predecessor: “How long? Put an end to talk! Consider, and then we shall speak” (v. 2). For similar verses, see 4:2, 8:2, 9:2, 11:2–3, 15:2–3, 16:2–3, 20:2, 21:2, 32:6–33:3, 34:2, 36:2, and 38:2. Also, like the friends’ previous speeches, Bildad incorporates a discussion about the wicked (vv. 5-21; cf. 4:7-11, 8:8-19, 11:20, 15:17-35).

It seems that Bildad references many of Job’s previous statements. For example,  Job asked in 16:3, “Have windy words no limit (qeitz)? What afflicts you that you speak on?” and Bildad says in v. 2 “How long? Put an end (qintzei) to talk! Consider, and then we shall speak.” (Note: the translation of qintzei as “end” in v. 2 is debatable, see BDB) In 12:7 Job mocks the friends by telling them “But ask the beasts (beheimot), and they will teach you; The birds of the sky, they will tell you,” and Bildad asks in v. 3 “Why are we thought of as beasts (beheima), Regarded by you as stupid?” Also, in 14:18 Job says “Mountains collapse and crumble; Rocks are dislodged from their place (zur ye’etaq mimekomo).” Bildad parallels this phrase in v. 4, “…  Will earth’s order be disrupted for your sake? Will rocks be dislodged from their place (ye’etaq zur mimekomo)?”

In vv. 5-21 Bildad speaks about how the wicked are punished for their sins. Clines writes (p. 409), “The primary interpretive question for this speech is whether Bildad casts Job as one of the wicked, who will inevitably suffer the fate here portrayed, or whether the picture here drawn is of what precisely Job is not.” While some think that Bildad is describing Job’s wickedness (e.g. Murphy, p. 32), Clines believes that Bildad is encouraging Job by letting him know that he will be killed unless he turns to God by admitting his sins.

Bildad’s sapiential speech can be summarized by Prov. 14:11: “The house of the wicked will be demolished, But the tent of the upright will flourish.” In fact, his speech has many parallels in the books of Proverbs and Psalms. For examples, see Ps. 7:15-17, 10:2-11, and 49:14-15 where the fates of the wicked are described. Also, see Prov. 24:20 and 13:9 where the wicked’s “lamp” goes out, much like our v. 5-6, “ Indeed, the light of the wicked fails; The flame of his fire does not shine. The light in his tent darkens; His lamp fails him.” As one might expect, there are many more parallels to both books.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Job 1-20 (Word Biblical Commentary)
Photo taken from  http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sgrais/images/Scale/Boulder.jpg

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