3-3-6 Job And The Jews
We now consider how the characteristics of the Jewish system of
reliance on human wisdom, self righteousness and works are all seen
in Job. 1 Cor.1 and 2 are in the context of Paul warning the believers
against the temptation to let the human philosophy of the Roman
and Greek worlds infiltrate the ecclesia, especially through the
inroads of the Judaizers. In his argument, Paul makes one of the
direct quotes from Job in the New Testament: " For it is written,
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the
understanding of the prudent" (1 Cor.1:19). This is quoting
Job 5:12,13, where Eliphaz is explaining why he thinks Job and
his view of life have been brought to nothing. Thus Paul read Job
as a type of those who were influenced by the pseudo-wisdom of the
Judaizers. Paul continues: " Where is the wise? where is the
scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" (1 Cor.1:20).
Job's constant desire to dispute with God and the friends, and the
claims both he and they made to possessing wisdom, show Job was
clearly in Paul's mind. " Hath not God made foolish the wisdom
of the world?" he concludes, maybe thinking of the humbled
Job was the greatest of the men of the east (1:3), people who were renowned
in the ancient world for their wisdom (cp. Matt.2:1; 1 Kings 4:30). Thus
Job as the Jews would have been full of worldly wisdom, and this is maybe
behind Paul's words of 1 Cor.3:18,19: " If any man among you seemeth
to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written
(quoting Job 5:13, which is Eliphaz speaking about Job), He taketh the
wise in their own craftiness" . Thus again Job is equated with the
false wisdom of the Judaizers, who were using " excellency of speech..wisdom...enticing
words of man's wisdom " ( 1 Cor.2:1,4), to corrupt the believers
from the " simplicity that is in Christ" , " as the serpent
beguiled Eve through his subtilty" (2 Cor.11:3).
Paul's rebuke of the Jews in Rom.2 for their reliance on a mixture of
worldly wisdom and that of the Mosaic law has many similarities with Job:
|" Thou art called a Jew...and makest
thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and triest the
things that differ (AVmg.), being instructed out of
||A fair description of Job before
his trials.Cp. Job's constant reasoning with God about
things which differed from his previous concept
of God; " Doth not the ear try words?"
|and art confident that thou thyselfart
a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
|| " I was eyes to the blind"
|instructor of the foolish, a teacher of
babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth
in the law Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest
thou not thyself?
|| " Thou hast instructed many ...
thy words have upholden him that was falling...but now
it is come upon thee, and thou faintest" (4:3-5).
|Thou that preachest a man should
not steal...commit adultery... (worship) idols...dost
|| These were the 3 main things of
which the friends accused Job.
| Thou that makest thy boast
of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou
|| Elihu, on God's behalf, says that
Job's boasting of his righteousness implied
God was doing wickedly in punishing Job (34:10)
Their belief that they possessed such great wisdom led the Jews
to be self-righteous, in that they reasoned that if they were wicked,
then their wisdom would reveal this to them. Job and the Jews were
exactly the same- " Is there iniquity in my tongue? Cannot
my taste ('palate'- i.e. spiritual sensitivity, Song 5:6; Ps.119:103)
discern perverse (evil) things?" (6:30).
Galatians 6 warns those who think themselves to be something spiritually
that they are nothing, deceiving themselves (v.13), and that by having
such an attitude they are sowing to the flesh, and will reap corruption
(v.8). Eliphaz interprets Job's downfall as an example of " they
that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same" (4:8). The
conscious connection between these passages again shows that Job was seen
as a type of the Jewish, self-righteous, often Judaist-influenced, members
of the ecclesia (Gal.6:13).
Elihu rebukes Job for his self-righteousness: " Let us choose to
us judgement: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job hath said,
I am righteous" (34:4,5). This seems to be behind Paul's words in
1 Thess. 5:21 " Prove all things; hold fast that which is good"
, which is in the context of using " prophesyings" (v.20)- i.e.
the true word of God- to analyse and reject false Judaist teaching that
was claimed to be inspired. Thus again Elihu is interpreted as the true
prophet of God and Job as a false reasoner, doing so under the guise of
speaking the Truth, seeing he was a prophet. Job's reliance on works to
bring justification with God is clearly seen in 9:29: " If I be wicked,
why then labour I in vain?" - i.e. 'If I've been condemned, all these
good works I've done are vain- they won't give me the salvation I thought'.
The three friends also have similarities with the Jewish system. When
Job speaks of " the wicked" he is digging at the friends, as
they do at him when they speak of the wicked. Thus he implies in 21:22
that they were trying to " teach God knowledge" - alluded to
in Rom.11:34 and 1 Cor.2:16, where the Jews are mocked for thinking they
can instruct God and be " His counsellor" , thus linking the
friends with the Jews. We have seen that Gal.6:7,8 concerning sowing to
the flesh is alluding to Eliphaz's description of Job in 4:8. However,
the same passage also has connections with Job 13:9, where Job accuses
the friends of mocking God. Gal.6 is saying that those who show themselves
to be outwardly wise (v.3), " making a fair show in the flesh (constraining)
you to be circumcised" (v.12), are mocking God. Thus the sweet-talking
Judaizers infiltrating the believers in Galatia correspond to both Job
and the friends. Paul refers at least twice in Galatians to the effect
this " thorn in the flesh" had had on his eyesight (4:14,15;
6:11). It may be that Paul's association of the friends with the Judaizers
subtly drew the parallel between their smearing of
Paul's name because of his physical disabilities which they
implied were sent by God to punish him, and the Judaizers despising Paul
spiritually because of his disability, which was perhaps a result of the
Jewish satan in his life. The descriptions of the elders of Zion sitting
on the ground in mourning for Jerusalem in Lam.2:10 recalls the friends
mourning for Job- thus associating both them and Job with a condemned
Israel (Job 2:12).