Study Guide

Book of Job Friendship

Friendship

Then Job answered:
'No doubt you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know such things as these? (NRSV 12:1-3)

And Job answered and said,
No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who knoweth not such things as these? (KJV 12:1-3)

Are the four friends actually equals, or is that perception relative? Either way, things sure are getting venomous.

'As for you, you whitewash with lies;
all of you are worthless physicians.
If you would only keep silent,
that would be your wisdom!' (NRSV 13:4-5)

But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.
O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. (KJV 13:4-5)

Apparently we have just tuned in to Real Israelites: Job Edition. Job is throwing down.

'I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.' (NRSV 16:2)

I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. (KJV 16:2)

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Would you call Job's friends comforters or debate partners? What's the point of all the back-and-forth anyway?

'Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me,
never satisfied with my flesh?' (NRSV 19:21-22)

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? (KJV 19:21-22)

We'd be angry, too, if our friends ditched us after all this misery.

Also, did you notice that "God's touch" here is a bad thing? Is that always the case?

How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.' (NRSV 21:34)

How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood? (KJV 21:34)

This isn't just three friends shooting the breeze; it's a philosophical debate with cosmic implications. And you know what that means: it's about to descend into bitter accusations and more deep thoughts.

'Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me,
they have cast off restraint in my presence.
On my right hand the rabble rise up;
they send me sprawling,
and build roads for my ruin.
They break up my path,
they promote my calamity;
no one restrains them.' (NRSV 30:11-13)

Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.
Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.
They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper. (KJV 30:11-13)

For Job, reputation is just as important as pain. Job's predicament and attitude toward it seem to have robbed him of that luxury.

'Your wickedness affects others like you,
and your righteousness, other human beings.' (NRSV 35:8)

Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man. (KJV 35:8)

Why does God punish these guys in the end? Does he think they are evildoers or just lousy friends?