TODAY’S READING: JOB 5-8
Eliphaz was the first of Job’s friends to counsel. His first speech straddled yesterday’s and today’s reading.
Like with Job, we need to understand who Eliphaz is to see where he is coming from.
The name Eliphaz has a couple of possible meanings. First, it could mean God is fine gold. The second part of the name (El is the first part) might have to do with refining a metal.
Second, Eliphaz could mean my god is skill or my god is agility. I think this indicates not that Eliphaz is a person who sees God as skillfulness or agile. Rather, Eliphaz has skill and agility, particularly in regards to his mind and intelligence, his god.
The number of the name Eliphaz (summing of the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the name) is 50. Of course, when we think of 50 our minds immediately turn to Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us power and wisdom. In addition, the Holy Spirit frees us, which is also related to the number 50 through Jubilee.
These truths of the Holy Spirit symbolized by the number related back to the meaning of the name because it is the Spirit that refines us with his fire. And, it is the Spirit that gives us every skill and ability.
However, Eliphaz was from Teman. Teman was in Edom. This means Eliphaz is a descendant of Esau. Edom and Esau symbolize the things of the earth and carnality. Eliphaz may have been wise, but his mind and state of thinking was carnal. Such a mind is enmity against God.
Therefore, this makes Eliphaz’s name somewhat ironic. For Eliphaz wasn’t really doing any of the things his name would imply for Job.
Instead, Eliphaz was blaming Job’s current condition on something that Job had done. In Job 4:7, Eliphaz said, “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” The whole basis of Eliphaz’ counsel is that Job has done something somewhere that has brought this calamity on him.
John 9:1-12 tells the story of a man born blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus who sinner – the man of his parents – that he was born blind. But, in verse 3, Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus wasn’t concerned about how the man became blind. Rather, Jesus focused on the response to the man’s blindness. And, the response showed was full of grace, mercy, and kindness – the love of God.
Like the disciples, Eliphaz was focused on determining the root cause of Job’s suffering and calamity. That’s what the carnal mind does. Instead, Eliphaz should have taken the power, the wisdom, and the purifying abilities signified by his name and used them to show love to Job.
In a way, Eliphaz was seeking to apply the law to Job. You did x, so you are going to get why. Eliphaz may have had all knowledge and prophetic insight, but he wasn’t applying it with love. Eliphaz should have applied grace and truth to the situation. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
By the end of the book, Job prays for Eliphaz and gives an offering for him. Job was able to do this because he came to faith through the word of God. Therefore, I suspect that Job’s prayer and offering, full of faith, resulted in Eliphaz walking in the fullness of his name.