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In Job 32:1 we read:

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.

Do the words 'ceased to answer' also imply that his friends left his immediate presence? I am looking at Job 42:7-9 where it says:

And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them: the Lord also accepted Job.

In these texts we see that when God is done speaking to Job he turns to Eliphaz to rebuke him. Initially it seems like Eliphaz is still in Job's presence when God starts talking to him but then in verse 8 we see he is commanded to 'go to My servant Job' and in verse 9 'went, and did as God commanded'. This sounds like they were back home and had to go visit Job again. Please include in your answer how you deal with 42:8 and 9 regarding these two words.

I am just wondering where in the story they left to go home. Is this what 32:1 implies?

3 Answers 3

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No

The Friend's Could not have Left: Elihu speaks to them

In Job 32:11, we read (KJV):

Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.

Note, that it is not "thy" words or reasons, but "your" words or reasons. That is it the plural "your" (לְֽדִבְרֵיכֶ֗ם and תְּב֥וּנֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם, they both end with כֶ֑ם, that is they are plural.) They are gathered together.

32:5 is similar, Elihu is mad at the friends for their current actions, but it mentions nothing about the friends leaving. Instead, he is angry because: "there was no answer in the mouth of these three men"

Is there anything about the Phrase "Ceased to Answer" to imply Leaving?

Not as far as I am aware, there isn't. Indeed, the word translated here as "so ceased" is the word "וַֽיִּשְׁבְּת֡וּ" which comes from the root word Shabbath. Taking the journey home could hardly be described as shabbathing to answer. No, what is happening here is that the friends are returning - at least for the time - to the silence with which they began.

So why do they have to go to Job?

The tasks that they have to do are three:

  1. Get seven bullocks
  2. Get seven rams
  3. Go to Job

And they can only do step three, after having done step one and two. Steps one and two require returning to their own flocks, thus leaving Job. And God is making clear that Job will not be following them, making sacrifices at their altars but that the friends will have to come back to Job.

When do the friends leave Job?

In verse 42:9.

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  • Kyle I am still thankful for your answer, yet I had a good look at 42:8,9 againand I would hate to sound stubborn, but could you please include in your answer how you deal with 42:8 that says they sould GO to Job. If they were all sitting in Job's presence, why would God say GO to Job and not COME to Job? Thanks
    – user49416
    Apr 13, 2022 at 4:45
  • @AndriesStander I explain most of that, however Hebrew does not distinguish between "come" and "go" (it does between "come back" though). I would suggest that the translators use "go" because the sacrifice-collecting would take some time, and Job wouldn't necessarily be sitting on the dung waiting for them. Apr 13, 2022 at 5:54
  • I see. Thanks for that important clarification about the Heb. not distinguishing between the two. It all makes sense now.
    – user49416
    Apr 13, 2022 at 6:33
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To add to Kyle Johansen's answer, the King James Version indicates that Job's companions had not left him at this point. They merely "ceased to answer Job." Immediately after Job 32 verse 1 we read:

Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu... against Job was his wrath kindled, because he had justiied himself rather than God. Also against histhree friends washiswrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.

It is after that pause, while waiting for the elder men to speak, that Elihu gave vent to his feelings. And, boy, he didn't hold back!

In Job 38:1 we learn that the Lord rebuked them and Job's companions departed to do according to the Lord's commands, and "the Lord also accepted Job." (Job 42:9 KJV)

The Epilogue in the NIV says that after Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar made sacrifice, and Job had prayed for them, the Lord accepted Job's prayer. (Job 42:9 NIV)

That's in Job 42:9 as alread mentioned in Kyle Johansen's answer.

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  • Sounds interesting. Could you please elaborate on why you say they left in 38:1? Please show how this would harmonize with the fact that God only rebukes them in 42:8.
    – user49416
    Apr 13, 2022 at 4:59
  • @AndriesStander - I said "To add to Kyle Johansen's answer, the King James Version indicates that Job's companions had not left him at this point." I have now added, for clarification, "They merely "ceased to answer Job."
    – Lesley
    Apr 13, 2022 at 7:24
  • Okay @Lesley, maybe I misunderstood your answer then. Thanks
    – user49416
    Apr 13, 2022 at 8:20
  • Actually, I got myself in a muddle becasue I failed to set out my answer and review it properly before I posted it. It was not clear. and needed editing. Next time I shall take more care!
    – Lesley
    Apr 13, 2022 at 8:56
  • I completely understand, as I have done the same several times. 👍🏻😎
    – user49416
    Apr 13, 2022 at 10:19
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While the other(s) are told to "go to Job to offer sacrifice". They are indeed spoken to separately and individually according to their accountability and when Job sees that they have offered the sacrifice as required by the Lord, then they are accepted by both the Lord and Job and commune as friends once more.

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