Monday, June 14, 2010

WTF moment in Bible study: Book of Job: Eliphaz' vision

So there is Eliphaz attempting to comfort Job and he tells Job of a vision he has had. Before we actually ponder what the vision tells him, let's ask ourselves: "Are we going to believe this spirit that Eliphaz has seen?"

Second: so if the spirit chides Eliphaz, does this rebuke apply to Job as well? Was the spirit setting Eliphaz up to be a discomfort to Job? Or is it about Eliphaz' own self-righteousness? Eliphaz thinks Job is like him. So he's judging Job by an exhortation he received?

Well, we try the spirits. We can't really try this spirit, though. All we have is the spirit's commentary:
So the spirit says, "Can a mortal man be more righteous than his maker?" Was Eliphaz at one time bitter against God? Is that why the spirit came? Did Eliphaz say in his heart, "IF I were God, I wouldn't have done this. IF I were God, the world would be fairer!"

The vision is so subtle I really don't know what's happening. Is it an angel of light or is it a demon pretending to be an angel of light? There's a subtlety here. Because in the spirit's commentary, "man" is being put in his place. But what a place! Is man that low? Made of dust? Yeah, we are made of dust and we disappear...but...uhm...Does God NOT trust His angels? Doesn't the psalms say man is a little less than God?

First, I don't trust that this vision from God. Second, we don't apply someone else's truth to us. The dream/vision came to you Eliphaz! So -- if it's real-- it's not for me, it's for you.

So if this is false, how is it different from what God tells to Job in the whirlwind?
I love reading plays... All that POV stuff and trying to figure folks out. One of the funny thing here is that what starts out in comforting mode ends up in superiority mode

There is also the problem of where the spirit's quotation ends. Punctuation is a toughie in the Bible. And so many Bible doctrines fall or rise on how modern folks understand the punctuation. (For instance, modern linguists say that when Paul was saying: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" he was requoting the question the Corinthians had posed to him. And a punctuation problem pops up in JEsus' talk to the father of the demon-possessed boy. The father says: "Lord, if you can heal my son, do something." It seems linguists are understanding Greek punctuation and it seems Jesus said, "IF you can??? All things are possible to him that believes!" But without the punctuation, it sounds as if Jesus is saying to the father, "If you can (believe) all things are possible to him that believes."  "Believe" was slipped in there as a kind of assumption by the KJV translators.) In this case, if the quote ends at verse 17, we have the spirit saying,

'Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
       Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

Then the rest is Eliphaz' commentary.

Anyway, here's the passage.

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
 2 "If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
       But who can keep from speaking?
 3 Think how you have instructed many,
       how you have strengthened feeble hands.
 4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
       you have strengthened faltering knees.
 5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
       it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
 6 Should not your piety be your confidence
       and your blameless ways your hope?
 7 "Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
       Where were the upright ever destroyed?
 8 As I have observed, those who plow evil
       and those who sow trouble reap it.
 9 At the breath of God they are destroyed;
       at the blast of his anger they perish.
 10 The lions may roar and growl,
       yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
 11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,
       and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
 12 "A word was secretly brought to me,
       my ears caught a whisper of it.
 13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
       when deep sleep falls on men,
 14 fear and trembling seized me
       and made all my bones shake.
 15 A spirit glided past my face,
       and the hair on my body stood on end.
 16 It stopped,
       but I could not tell what it was.
       A form stood before my eyes,
       and I heard a hushed voice:
 17 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
       Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
 18 If God places no trust in his servants,
       if he charges his angels with error,
 19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
       whose foundations are in the dust,
       who are crushed more readily than a moth!
 20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
       unnoticed, they perish forever.
 21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
       so that they die without wisdom?' 

Job 4:21 Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 17.
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