Job 12, Exegetical Notes from Abner Chou

Wisdom doesn’t come with age or experience; it comes from God. And without wisdom, we can’t see the world as it is, see current events as they really are, holistically, through wisdom as God sees them. Human logic is faulty and limited, so we must cling tightly to the Word of God which tells us how things are: the Truth about life and reality.

Job 12

This is a rebuttal against the arguments of the three friends—Eliphaz: the argument of history, Bildad: of science; Zophar: of philosophy and theology. Job’s concluding dialogue is breaking all their worldviews apart. He now begins to attack all three of them (and all three disciplines: history, science, and philosophy/theology). So far they have assumed that they can understand God and His dealings in heaven: this is the pre-modern viewpoint—that everything on earth reflects everything in heaven. Job 12-13 is his sarcastic response against the DR Principle and the pre-modern worldview.

Job 12:2

Here he addresses “the people” plural, referring to these three. He’s being sarcastic. Wisdom dies with them, because they kill wisdom. Their words are the direct opposite of anything that is perceptive or has skill in life. Wisdom is the skill of applying Truth to life in all its diversity. Job’s point is that their words lack that skill completely. Job isn’t accusing them of being ignorant, but of being incapable of handling the Truth, which is Wisdom. A simple example is little kids who can memorize piles of memory verses in Awanna, but they don’t understand them and how to use/apply them.

Job 12:3

Job says he knows everything they know, that there’s nothing new here.

Job 12:4

Job says they are just mocking him, making fun of his pain. They claim that God would never condescend to answer his questions. This is VITAL to remember later.

They can’t even see what’s in front of them because they are mocking the righteous man. This in essence is the picture of the folly of human rationality: we see what we want to see (we are biased) and we can’t handle the big picture.

The book of Job is intended to shatter every worldview except God’s—the right one.

Job 12:5

Presents the DR Principle.

Job 12:6

Job is saying the DR Principle doesn’t work.

Job 12:7

“Ask the beasts…” literally “behemoth” This is laced with irony because Job is saying to the scientist, look at your own cows and let them teach you.1

Job 12:12

This is probably a proverbial statement taken from the culture, an axiom from the DR system which says wisdom comes with age. Well, Job’s friends are older, but wisdom has died with them because they aren’t actually wise. All these holes are popping up in his worldview and the whole thing is falling apart.

Job 12:13

Job speaks Truth. Wisdom isn’t a by-product of life; it’s with God and comes from Him. And in order to come to Him you must have fear; this is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

When something doesn’t go the way you think it should, it shows you have a faulty worldview.

Job’s statements about God go from Job 12:13-25. Eliphaz spent about four verses (Job 5:8-11) on the complexity of God, but Job spends 12: 3 times as much. Basically he’s proving he knows more about the complexity of God than Eliphaz.

In this section he proves that God is the wild card in our system of life, and if he isn’t there, life doesn’t make sense because the DR Principle (i.e.: you reap what you sow) doesn’t hold up.

Job 12:14

He begins by affirming God’s sovereignty, something the other three all agree on.

Job 12:16

Begins to transfer from God’s wisdom into how it works in the world.

Job 12:17

At this point Job starts to rhyme. It’s become a rap-battle just so Job can prove he’s even better than the friends who are talking down to him.

“Counselors” and “judges” are from the military and political system. You’d expect them to be very smart because they are the backbone of society.

Job 12:18

Kings are even subordinated to God. God can reverse the flow of power. It’s natural for us to expect power and wisdom to come from certain places, but they don’t always work that way. If you believe otherwise how can your worldview survive?

Job 12:19

Priests. We expect purity and merit to come to them, from them, but it doesn’t always work that way either. They should always receive God’s blessing for their merit, but priests are let down all the time in the Bible.

Job 12:20

Even the people who have studied and worked hard for knowledge don’t always say smart things, aren’t always discerning and helpful. It doesn’t always work the way you think it should, even in intellectual things.

Job 12:21


Job 12:22

We can discover things out of the darkness, so that means our worldview can never actually contain all the things to be discovered because your worldview never knew they existed before. Example: When they discovered quantum mechanics people were jumping out of windows and committing suicide. Why? Because they discovered something new that destroyed everything they thought about physics. It shattered all their models because they found something new which had been there in Reality all along.

Another example: Sociologists have finally discovered that kids by the age of three months know right from wrong and make moral choices, even though 20 years ago they berated Christians and said that kids were basically good, or at least neutral.

Job’s point is their worldviews can’t handle it. Even Job sees that his own worldview is inadequate.

Job 12:23

The reversal of stability. We think nations will always go on, but they will fall. And Job doesn’t even have the host of empires we have now to prove this point. Rome, Greece, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, etc.

Job 12:24-25

Concluding indictments against Job’s friends. People are in the dark and have no clue what’s going on. God is complicated we can’t even predict them. He breaks our cause-and-effect models and we don’t know where to go from there. He does things they can’t anticipate and so none of them know what’s going on.

So their pre-modern worldview falls apart. They can’t understand what God is doing, so in the next round they move to the modern worldview and limit their claim to knowledge to the earth itself.2

Job’s wishes actually becomes the replacement to their broken worldview.

  1. In the end when God tells Job to look to the behemoth. God’s ironically referring back here, telling Job to do what he told his friends to do…which shows you in the end God wins the entire argument. ↩︎
  2. At the end they lapse into post-modern worldview and give up trying to make meaning of life. ↩︎