Eliphaz’s Third Discourse & The Threshing Floor

It doesn’t seem like anything is getting accomplished between Job and his friends, they sound like our government.

Tel Qasile
Tell Qasile is an archaeological site in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Over 3,000 years old, the site contains the remains of a port city founded by the Philistines in the 12th century B.C.

It is located near the Yarkon River, on the grounds of the Eretz Israel Museum.

History
In 1815, after excavating the ruins of ancient Ashkelon, Lady Hester Stanhope proposed a dig at a site called el-Khurby located 12 miles northeast of Jaffa on the banks of the Awgy River (today the Yarkon River). Stanhope’s companion observed that “there were many proofs that this district was once highly populous.”

Modern excavation of the site commenced in 1948 under Benjamin Mazar, who received the first archaeological exploration permit issued by the nascent state of Israel.

The excavations revealed the gradual development of the Philistine city over 150 years, from its founding (Level XII) to the peak of its growth (Level X) at the end of the 11th century B.C.

Archaeological Findings
The sacred area of the Philistine city was unearthed to reveal three temples, built one on top of the other.

The temples were constructed with walls of sun-dried mud bricks covered with light-colored plaster.

Low benches were built along the length of the walls.

Many offering and cult vessels were found on the floors, concentrated mainly around the “bamah” and in the storage alcoves of the temples.

A residential block was found on the north side of the street, while in the south side workshops and storehouses were unearthed.

The houses were built to a standard plan – they were square, with an area of approximately 100 square meters per apartment.

Each apartment comprised two rectangular rooms with a courtyard separating them.

Islamic Khan
Excavations in the 1980s revealed a large courtyard building, dating from the Abbasid era.

The building has been dated by its excavators to a period between the ninth and eleventh century, though both earlier (Umayyad) and later (Crusader) occupations of the site were found.

The design of the building and its position (at a river crossing point), indicate that it was a khan.

Only the northern part of the building was excavated, the rest only visible as robber trenches.

From the excavated parts, it is estimated that the building was 28 meters square.

A paved entrance in the middle of the north wall led to a courtyard, paved with gravel.

The courtyard had arcades on the east and west sides, supported by columns.

In the north-west corner of the courtyard were the remains of a staircase.

Several small rooms, lining the courtyard, were exposed.

The third cycle of speeches, unlike the first (chs 4-14) and second (chs 15-21), is truncated and abbreviated.  Bildad’s speech is very brief (25:1-6), and Zophar doesn’t speak at all. 

The dialogue between Job and his friends comes to an end because the friends can’t convince Job of his guilt – Job can’t acknowledge what is not true.

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?

Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?  (Job 22:1-4)

Eliphaz’s odd reasoning is as follows: Since all things have their origin in God, man’s giving back what God has given him doesn’t enhance God in any way.  Indeed, God is in different to man’s goodness because goodness is expected of him.  It’s when man becomes wicked that God is aroused (v 4).

“Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?

For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.

Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.

But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.

Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.

Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;

Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee” (Job 22:5-11).

Ancient Egyptian Farmer’s Calendar.
Wall mural showing land preparation, ploughing, reaping, winnowing, grain storage.

In his earlier speeches, Eliphaz was the least caustic and at first even offered consolation (4:6; 5:17).  But despite what he said in 4:3-4, Eliphaz now reprimands Job for gross social sins against the needy, who are naked and hungry (vv 6-7), and against widows and the fatherless (v 9)

The only proof Eliphaz has for Job’s alleged wickedness is his present suffering (vv 10-11).  In ch 29 Job emphatically denies the kind of behavior of which Eliphaz accuses him.

“Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?

Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.

This is the Epic of Gilgamesh which tells the story of the Great Flood. The Epic is in the British Museum, London-UK.
Prophet Noah sent by God in the land Mesopotamia. The story of Noah is a very popular story that spread throughout the world, including in China are communist country. Stories of the Prophet Noah there are many versions. Each country has its own story which is rather different from each other, but have similarities. But what is ultimately most legendary literary work called The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic from Babylonia and is among the earliest works of literature known as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the hero and mythical king named Gilgamesh, which is regarded as the ruler of the Third Millennium BC. This epic series then collected to be an Akkadian poem long, preserved in clay plates in the collection of the library of the Assyrian king Asyurbanipal in the 7th century BC.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a masterpiece, the longest part of the literature in the language Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian language). Tablet eleven describes the meeting of Gilgamesh with Utnapishtim. Similar to the story of Noah, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he had been warned by the gods that will send disaster to mankind in the form of the Great Flood.

Utnapishtim is told to build a boat and carry all valuable possessions, friends and relatives, pets and wild animals, as well as the craftsmen who each have different skills.

Utnapishtim survived the flood that lasted for six days while a man destroyed, before landing on a mountain called Mashu (who then called Nisir and Nimush some time later). He sent three birds (dove, swallow, raven) to found a dry land. But finally the last raven he sent did not return, which indicates that the water has receded (because the bird had found food and shelter).

Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?

Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood:

Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?

Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.

Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth” (Job 22:12-20).

It appears that Job may think that God is hiding behind the clouds and is unable to see his wickedness.

Eliphaz finally appears to support the argument of Bildad and Zophar, who were fully convinced that Job was a wicked man. 

Eliphaz makes a server accusation: Job follows the path of the ungodly (v 15), who defy God’s power and say, what can the Almighty do (v 17; see vv 13-14)They even have contempt for God’s goodness (v 18).

“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.

Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.

If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.

Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.

For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.

Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.

He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands”  (Job 22:21-30).

The Gezer Calendar is a limestone tablet about 4inches (10cm) tall.

It dates from the time of Solomon, in the mid-10th century B.C.

It describes the agricultural cycle month by month, giving the tasks to be performed at certain times of the year.

August and September are times of harvest, October and November for planting.

February is devoted to cultivation of flax, and March to the barley harvest, etc.

Eliphaz makes one last attempt to reach Job.  In many ways it’s a commendable call to repentance: 

Submit to God (v 21), especially God’s words in your heart (v  22), return to the Almighty and forsake wickedness (v 23), 2 find your delight in God rather than in gold (vv 24-26), pray and obey (v 27) and become concerned about sinners (vv 29-30). 

But Eliphaz’s advice assumes (1) that Job is a very wicked man and (2) that Job’s major concern is the return of his prosperity (see v 21).  Job had already made it clear in 19:25-27 that he deeply yearned to see God and be His friend.

1 James, called the Just, had said similar things in regards to rebuking the world:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 

Draw night to God, and he will draw night to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and our joy to heaviness.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jas 4:7-10).

2 Paul had preached the same thing to the Athenians:

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Stone lined grain silo at Megiddo.

Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring,

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead (the Godhead is Jesus Christ – Col 2:9) is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Act 17:22 & 24-29).

Peter had also expressed the fact that we are better than gold:

Two images of a traditional stone well used to collect and store water.

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of person Judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last time for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be  in God” (1 Pet 1:18-21).

A flail is an agricultural tool used for threshing to separate grains from their husks.
It is usually made from two or more large sticks attached by a short chain; one stick is held and swung, causing the other (the swipple) to strike a pile of grain, loosening the husks.

The precise dimensions and shape of flails were determined by generations of farmers to suit the particular grain they were harvesting.

For example, flails used by farmers in Quebec to process wheat were generally made from two pieces of wood, the handle being about 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long by 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter, and the second stick being about 1 m (3.3 ft) long by about 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter, with a slight taper towards the end.

Flails for other grains, such as rice or spelt, would have had different dimensions.

The Threshing Floor

The threshing floor was an essential part of agriculture in the ancient Near East. Typically round, with a diameter of 25-40 feet (7.6-12.2 m), it was usually located near a village in an area exposed to wind.

Once the farmer had se­lected the location, he cleared the ground of stones and compressed the soil until a firm surface resulted. When the “floor” was ready, he laid recently harvested sheaves of grain on it for threshing.

The farmer then used large animals, such as oxen or donkeys, to pull heavy threshing sleds over the grain, separating the kernels from the stalks and husks.

When the threshing was completes winnow­ing fork was used to toss the grain into the air. The wind blew away the lighter stalks and husks (chaff), as the heavier kernels fell back to the floor.

The far­mer sifted the kernels through trays to remove any dirt gathered in the process and then tempor­arily stored the grain in heaps on the floor or sealed it in jars for later use. 

While the primary focus of the threshing floor was agricultural, the separation of the wheat and chaff became a natural and fitting symbol of judgment in the Old Testament (1 Chr 21:15; cf. Matt 3:12).

Because the floor was often the largest open area within a village, town elders were typically present to oversee the threshing of the year’s crops.

The thresh­ing floor was a suitable locale for legal trans­actions, criminal trials and public decisions. Alternatively, public proceedings were often carried out at the city gate.