Job 33:24 (NASB)

24 And he is gracious to him, and says, ‘Free him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’;

What was the ransom that prevented Job from dying?

  • 1
    What did your own research show, please? Does Job say noting about the ransom? Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 0:12
  • It's a good question... And Job says almost nothing about the nature of the ransom other than it involves a sinner, having perverted "what is right" being redeemed from the Pit. Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 4:13

4 Answers 4


The ransom that Elihu refers to is God's mercy in response to man's repentance. But we need to understand that in the context of the entire book of Job, Elihu's speech is based on a false premise: namely, that Job was guilty and deserved terrible punishment. Both the narrator and the character of God himself tell us quite plainly that Job has done nothing for which he needs to repent:

There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil (1:1) ... The Lord said to the accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. (2:3)

Elihu's speech is designed to prove Job wrong in persisting to protest his innocence. He urges Job to repent and promises him God's angel would "ransom" him if he repents. He is not very specific, but in the following verses he describes a process involving the person in question having perverted justice and God granting him merciful redemption.

That person sings to others and says, ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not paid back to me. 28 He has redeemed my soul from going down to the Pit, and my life shall see the light.’ God indeed does all these things, twice, three times, with mortals, 30 to bring back their souls from the Pit, so that they may see the light of life

Elihu's advice would be appropriate in cases where a person has sinned greatly, and the Old Testament is replete with examples of God's mercy to those who repent. However, in this case Elihu has misjudged Job, as have Job's other "friends." In any case, the answer to the OP question is that the "ransom" offered by the angel in Elihu's discourse is simply God's mercy in response to a sinner's repentance.


Elihu was the mysterious 4th friend in Job. He spoke Messianically in Job 33:

23Yet if there is an angel at their [Job's] side,
a messenger, one out of a thousand,
sent to tell them how to be upright,
24 and he is gracious to that person [Job] and says to God,
‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for them—
25let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,
they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
he will restore them to full well-being.
27And they will go to others and say,
‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
28God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’

Jesus Christ is the messenger and the ransom. His sacrifice on the cross is the ransom or propitiation or atonement for our sins. He is the messenger who tells us the good news of eternal life.

Fulfilling Job 33:24, Jesus declares in Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Who was to be that ransom for Job?

Indeed, Jesus was the messenger and the ransom.

  • 1
    Tony Chan, Tks. However Elihu said " I have found a ransom" present tense, how could it be Jesus, nobody knew much about him. Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 8:47
  • Verse 23: "if".
    – user35953
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 13:14
  • Whether the angel is Jesus or some other heavenly being, Doesn't this answer presume that Elihu is right in insisting that Job has "perverted what is right?" v 28. But God has already told us otherwise in the prolog. Elihu is speaking falsely here about Job, so why should we think he is a prophet? Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 4:12

Elihu started his long speech from chapter 32 to 37, until the Lord spoke to interrupt his speech. His speech started humble, as he said “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know" (Job 32:6 NIV). But soon his arrogant revealed, as he further said,

12 " I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments

21 I will show no partiality, nor will I flatter anyone;

22 for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.

Keep this introduction in mine, let me quote from Job 33:19-25

19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in their bones,

20 so that their body finds food repulsive and their soul loathes the choicest meal.

21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing, and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.

22 They draw near to the pit, and their life to the messengers of death.

23 Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright,

24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them—

25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—

What Elihu trying to tell Job was, he was at the edge of death, and he needed an angel to tell him how to be upright. God wanted nobody to perish, He rather wanted a ransom and saved a soul.

Who was the angel? I think Elihu implied he himself was. Let's see what he said (NIV)

33:33 But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

34:2 “Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning.

34:16 “If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say.

36:2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.

What was the ransom? Perhaps he meant his great speech, so if Job listened to him, and corrected his wrong doing, Job would got his redemption, as if ransom was paid.

God interrupted Elihu speech and said;

38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?

So "Ransom" was just a silly term that Elihu made.

Elihu got most of his knowledge of God corrected. However, we as created, would not possibly know the plan of the creator. When we cross the line, we only receive humiliation.

  • I would not say "ransom" is a silly term. Here it means redemption from prison, namely Sheol. So he got the idea of ransom right, but he was wrong to judge Job guilty when God considered him blameless. Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 4:20
  • @Dan - I did not say "ransom" is a silly term. I say "ransom" is a silly term made by Elihu. Even though Elihu had the idea of ransom right, didn't mean he used it at the right moment. If his speech was proper, God would not say "Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?" Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 14:26

I am a great believer in getting as much help as possible from the immediate context of an expression.

The story beginning in Job ch33 v19 is about a man who is physically sick ("chastened with pain upon his bed", v19) and approaching physical death ("His soul draws near to the Pit, and his life to those who bring death"). There is the implied assumption that this is happening because he is sinning against God. Then a messenger comes to him and explains what he has been doing wrong ("to declare to man what is right for him", v23). Then the man prays to God and finds acceptance; "let his flesh become fresh with youth, let him return to the days of his youthful vigour" (v25). In other words, he has been rescued from imminent physical death, and that is what is meant (immediately) by "not going down into the Pit". In witnessing others about this salvation, the man affirms that he hasd sinned but escaped being penalised for it, in that his life had not been taken away.

The "ransom" or "redemption" lies somewhere in that combination of the man repenting and his sins not being held against him. The God of Israel often describes himself as "redeeming" his people from their enemies. “I will redeem you [from the Egyptians] with an outstretched arm” (Exodus ch6 v6). “The Lord redeemed you from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy ch7 v8). “Fear not, for I have redeemed you [from Babylon]” (Isaiah ch43 v1). So a "ransom" or "redemption" can be understood as an act of saving from danger.

But in the wider context of Elihu's argument, that story is being used as an analogy. From ch33 v1, he is urging Job to listen to what he says, because he is speaking the words of God without the frightening effect of God's direct voice vv2-7). He describes how God may save men from their sinful lives and draw them back from the pit by addressing them, for example, in dreams (vv12-18). His point from v19 is that God may use fellow-humans in the same way, and Elihu himself may do this for Job; ""Listen to me, be silent and I will teach you wisdom" (v33).

We need to understand that Elihu really is God's appointed spokesman here. Job and his friends were both wrong for different reasons. His friends were right to say that he was a sinner, and wrong to say that his sin was the cause of his suffering. Job was right to say that his sufferings did not come from his sin, but wrong to say that he did not sin at all. Both sides of the argument are taking something about Job as their starting point. Elihu starts from and returns to what God is, and reports correctly on both points, that Job sinned, and that his suffering did not stem from that fact. In fact his sin was mainly his reaction from ch3 v1 onwards, which is what he repents in ch42 vv1-6. On the transition from ch37 to ch38, the Lord does not "interrupt" Elihu's speech. He simply takes it over.

The analogy can indeed be taken one stage further and applied to Christ, in more than one way. For one thing, it was Jesus who ultimately "declared to man what is right for him" by presenting the gospel message of returning to God and receiving forgiveness of sin. Hence the gratitude of the "woman from the city", because her acceptance in faith of his message of forgiveness had in effect saved her "from going down into the Pit" (Luke ch7 vv 36-50).

And of course the New Testament rightly applies the word "ransom", in the sense "act of salvation from enemies", to the death of Christ on the Cross; this is the real reason why "my sin was not requited to me, and he has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit" (vv27-28).

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