Job 25 – “Bildad’s Final Speech”

DSC03488moon_500x350Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Bildad says that everyone sins; nobody is perfect before God.
II. Photo
Bildad tells Job that everyone sins: “How can man be in the right before God? How can one born of woman be cleared of guilt? Even the moon is not bright, And the stars are not pure in His sight.” (vv. 4-5)

III. Important Verses

vv. 4-5: How can man be in the right before God? How can one born of woman be cleared of guilt? Even the moon is not bright, And the stars are not pure in His sight.

IV. Outline
1. Introduction
2-3. Hymnic praise
4-6. All men are sinners

V. Comment
Bildad’s speech, which is only 5 verses long, is the shortest in the entire book. While Job stated (in the previous chapter) that God allows innocent people to suffer, Bildad argues that there is no such thing as an innocent person. Consequently, God has the right to punish anyone He chooses.

The major question regarding ch. 25 is in regards to its length: why is this speech so much shorter than every other speech in the book? Hakham writes (p. 193, translation my own): “This speech is the shortest of all speeches because Job has already denied everything that the friends could tell him.” In other words, the friends have given up on Job. However, Clines (and other scholars) take a more liberal approach, placing ch. 25 in the midst of ch. 26, and attributing both chapters to Bildad (v. 26:1 attributes chapter 26 to Job). He orders the verses as follows: 25:1. 26:2-4. 25:2-6, and 26:5-14. While this approach seems to make the book flow better, Clines himself notes the speculation involved (p. 628-629): “[The] evidences of general disarray in the attribution of speeches from 24:18 through to chap. 28 suggests rather that the text has been subjected to some damage in the course of transmission. We can never be sure, of course, whether our modern rearrangements of the order of the text successfully restore the attributions of speeches in the original text in its final form, especially when the speeches of the three friends have so much in common; but it is necessary for the sake of the exegesis to make decisions, right or wrong, about who is speaking at any point.”

The major thrust of the chapter is v. 4: “How can man be in the right before God? How can one born of woman be cleared of guilt?” It is interesting that the first half of this verse is identical to Job’s statement in 9:2b and the second half is closely related to Eliphaz’s statement in 15:14b. In 9:2 Job stated, “Indeed I know that it is so: Man cannot win a suit against God.” Both Clines and Hakham point out that Bildad and Job are using the phrase “How can man be in the right before God?” for different purposes. Clines writes (p. 633), “The issue for Bildad is not, of course, as it was for Job, whether humans can be declared innocent by God but whether they can in fact be so.”

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Clines, Job 21-37 (Word Biblical Commentary)
Hakham, Job (Daat Mikra (Hebrew))
Photo taken from  http://www.uucsjs.org/pblog/images/DSC03488moon_500x350.jpg

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