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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.  

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:

Rom.2:17-23  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 the law;  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?" (12:11)
and art confident that thou thyselfart a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an " I was eyes to the   blind" (29:15)
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 thou? 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 God?"   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 friends

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).