Eliphaz’s First Speech. 1Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2If someone attempts a word with you, would you mind?
How can anyone refrain from speaking?
3Look, you have instructed many,
and made firm their feeble hands.
4Your words have upheld the stumbler;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5But now that it comes to you, you are impatient;
when it touches you, you are dismayed.
6Is not your piety a source of confidence,
and your integrity of life your hope?
7Reflect now, what innocent person perishes?a
Where are the upright destroyed?
8As I see it, those who plow mischief
and sow trouble will reap them.
9By the breath of God they perish,b
and by the blast of his wrath they are consumed.
10Though the lion* roars, though the king of beasts cries out,
yet the teeth of the young lions are broken;
11The old lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12A word was stealthily brought to me,*
my ear caught a whisper of it.
13In my thoughts during visions of the night,c
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
14Fear came upon me, and shuddering,
that terrified me to the bone.
15Then a spirit passed before me,
and the hair of my body stood on end.
16It paused, but its likeness I could not recognize;
a figure was before my eyes,
in silence I heard a voice:d
17“Can anyone be more in the right than God?e
Can mortals be more blameless than their Maker?
18Look, he puts no trust in his servants,f
and even with his messengers he finds fault.
19How much more with those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed more easily than a moth!
20Morning or evening they may be shattered;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
21The pegs of their tent are plucked up;
they die without knowing wisdom.”
* [4:10] The lion: used figuratively here for the violent, rapacious sinner who cannot prevail against God.
* [4:12–21] A dramatic presentation of the idea of human nothingness in contrast to God’s greatness (v. 17). The message of the “private revelation” that stirs Eliphaz so deeply is in reality expressed countless times in the Bible. The statements of the friends are often “truths” that are insensitive or irrelevant to Job’s questioning.
b. [4:9] Ps 18:16; Is 11:4; 2 Thes 2:8.
d. [4:16] 1 Kgs 19:12.
e. [4:17] Jb 9:2; 15:14–16; 25:4; Ps 130:3; 143:2.