In the final chapters of Job, what happened to Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram? In Job 42:7 God rebuked job’s friends and ordered them to offer burnt offering to Job for misrepresenting him. Why was Elihu excluded? Was Elihu excluded because he gave an accurate representation of God?

  • That's more or less how I read it, but I remember learning that it has the appearance of a later splicing-in that wasn't fully integrated. I can't recall the details of this argument and would be interested to hear it again... Oct 19 '18 at 10:52

The reason that God did not rebuke Elihu is because he spoke the truth about Job’s condition, unlike Job’s three friends. Job’s three friends accused Job of either doing something sinful or refraining from doing something that he should have done. Elihu, however, did not accuse Job of some kind of outward sin.

God had declared Job’s actions as righteous. Elihu confronted Job with his inherent sinfulness (ie, his sin nature) and not with any specific external sinful behavior or action. Elihu’s rebuke was strictly based on the fact that Job was self righteous and he justified himself rather than justifying God. Look at chapter 32 and verses 1-2.

Job 32: 1-2 (KJV):

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

Elihu’s words:

Job 34: 5, 9 (KJV):

5 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.

9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

Job 35: 1-2 (KJV):

Elihu spake moreover, and said,2 Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's?

Note Elihu’s words are the same as God’s:

Job 35:16 (KJV):

16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.

Job 38:1-2 (KJV):

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Job and his three friends all believed the same bad theology. They all believed that you reap what you sow, where if something bad has happened to you, then you must have caused it through your sin. All four men believed this to be true; the only difference was that Job believed he didn’t sin and his friends believed he did. Again, the issue is not external actions but internal sin nature.

Elihu takes on the role of the prophet, justifying God where Job failed to do so. God’s speech to Job starting in Chapter 38 is exactly in the same vain as Elihu’s rebuke.


I disagree with the notion that Elihu, who is inserted to provide comic relief, was not rebuked because he "spoke right". Rather, he was not rebuked because he could do no serious harm (to Job) as:

  1. he was "young" and inexperienced and so his words were discounted as they did not come from the lived experience of suffering, but from the enthusiastic intellectualizing of youth. Thus no one ever asked him for his opinion, no one debated with him, and no one (including God) responded to his long-winded and unsolicited speech. Everyone, including God, ignored him.

  2. did not know Job well enough to make any personal accusations against him, and so spoke only of abstract principles.

Unlike the other characters, who came to Job out of concern for their friend and sat in silence with him for a few days, Elihu was an interloper who had a purely intellectual interest in the subsequent debate. His debate was only with himself, no one was interested in contending with him, and thus he gives his prepared speeches one after the other with no interaction.

That's not to say that readers should ignore Elihu's speech. The speeches of all the characters are of immense beauty and contain much wisdom. But it seems pretty clear that Elihu was ignored by all, including God.


Job was perfect and upright. He also didn’t sin with his lips. The reader needs to remember God is allowing Satan to punish Job, at Jobs request for he made burnt offerings on behalf of his children.

Now the sons on Job are trying to get past Satan, who argues their misdeeds before the Lord. God says, in answer to Jobs prayers, why not look over here at this perfect Job...go beat him up.

Satan leaves the sons of Job on the threshold, and God gets Jobs less than perfect kids into the fold.

Elihu can be a young friend, he could be a personification of God. Or, perhaps as some scholars argue...someone Other.

Elihu knows Satan has influence and power on the Earth. In all this Job didn’t sin.

Job is still perfect and upright even though he asked to pay for his children’s sins, even though his three friends mock his perfectness, even though SATAN tortured him. Elihu does not sin against Job.

People who write about job MUST consider that Job was Perfect and upright in the eyes of the lord and Satan. Elihu isn’t necessarily unrebuked, we just don’t need to know how God deals with him.

  • Welcome to this site! You may note how Hermeneutics 'works' by taking the tour. Personal opinions are not sought but sourced material to substantiate any claim is helpful. We all have our views and interpretations, but these need to be backed up with references. For example, you could explain what the Hebrew word for 'perfect' means in context of this question. It does not mean that Job was without sin. Nor does the text actually say Job opened himself up for Satan's attacks by making burnt offerings to cover his childrens' sins. This is not to detract from your answer but to encourage you.
    – Anne
    Feb 1 '19 at 17:40

He was ignored by God because he was impudent in his condemnation of Job. God said that Job spoke, “right.” Elihu just “piled on.”

  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Aug 8 '21 at 3:34

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