Job 4 English Standard Version (ESV) 4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: 15 A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up.
ESV - 4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.
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In my opinion, in this passage, Eliphaz the Temanite is representing the spirit to whom he is referring as being God coming to him in visible form in a vision or dream, and speaking to him. However, this could not have been the case, since God Himself later told Eliphaz in Job 42:7, "My wrath is kindled against you and your two friends; for you have not spoken of Me what is right." Therefore, the spirit to which Eliphaz was referring would either have been a product of his imagination that confirmed his own (erroneous) viewpoint regarding Job's situation based on his limited human understanding, or a more malevolent entity with the purposeful intent of providing Eliphaz with a mistaken understanding of the dynamics of the situation (as pointed out by Elihu in Job 32-37).
1. Easton's Bible Dictionary thinks the spirit is an apparition: Spirit [EBD] (Heb. Ruah; Gr. pneuma), properly wind or breath. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 it means "breath," and in Eccl. 8:8 the vital principle in man. It also denotes the rational, immortal soul by which man is distinguished (Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 6:20; 7:34), and the soul in its separate state (Heb. 12:23), and hence also an apparition (Job 4:15; Luke 24:37, 39), an angel (Hebrews 1:14), and a demon (Luke 4:36; 10:20). This word is used also metaphorically as denoting a tendency (Zechariah 12:10; Luke 13:11). 2. But the classic.net.bible.org site thinks it is not a spirit, an apparition, but a breath: Job 4:13 In the troubling thoughts of the dreams in the night when a deep sleep falls on men, 4:14 a trembling gripped me – and a terror! –and made all my bones shake. 4:15 Then a breath of air 1 passes by my face; it makes the hair of my flesh stand up. 4:16 It stands still, but I cannot recognize its appearance; an image is before my eyes, and I hear a murmuring voice: 4:17 “Is a mortal man righteous before God? Or a man pure before his Creator? 4:18 If God puts no trust in his servants and attributes folly to his angels, 4:19 how much more to those who live in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like a moth? 4:20 They are destroyed between morning and evening; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. 4:21 Is not their excess wealth taken away from them? They die, yet without attaining wisdom. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 sn The speech of Eliphaz can be broken down into three main sections. In Job 4:1-11 he wonders that Job who had comforted so many people in trouble, and who was so pious, should fall into such despair, forgetting the great truth that the righteous never perish under affliction – calamity only destroys the wicked. Then in Job 4:12–5:7 Eliphaz tries to warn Job about complaining against God because only the ungodly resent the dealings of God and by their impatience bring down his wrath upon them. The 3rd one will have to wait for another time. 1 tn The word רוּחַ (ruakh) in Job 4:15 can be “spirit”or “breath.” The implication here is that it was something that Eliphaz felt –what he saw follows in Job 4:16. The commentators are divided on whether this is an apparition, a spirit, or a breath. The word can be used in either the masculine or the feminine, and so the gender of the verb does not favor the meaning “spirit.” In fact, in Isaiah 21:1 the same verb חָלַף (khalaf, “pass on, through”) is used with the subject being a strong wind or hurricane “blowing across.” It may be that such a wind has caused Eliphaz’s hair to stand on end here. D. J. A. Clines (Job [WBC], 111) also concludes it means “wind,” noting that in Job a spirit or spirits would be called רְפָאִים (rÿfa’im), אֶלֹהִים (’elohim) or אוֹב (’ov). Thus I agree with the latter view of the Net Bible because of the gender of the word, “spirit” – so it should be taken as “breath” or “wind” and not really "a spirit" in the sense of a ghost.
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