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Elihu (Hebrew: אֱלִיהוּא ’Ělîhū) is a character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Job. According to the Book of Job, Elihu is one of Job's friends, descended from Nahor (Job 32:2, 34:1). He is said to have descended from Buz who may be from the line of Abraham (Genesis 22:20-21 mentions Buz as a nephew of Abraham).
Synopsis of Elihu's Monologues
He is mentioned late in the text, Chapter 32, and opens his discourse with more modesty than displayed by the other antagonists. Elihu differs from the other antagonists in that his monologues discuss divine providence, which he insists are full of wisdom and mercy, that the righteous have their share of prosperity in this life, no less than the wicked, that God is supreme and that it becomes us to acknowledge and submit to that supremacy since "the Creator wisely rules the world he made". He draws instances of benignity from, for example, the constant wonders of creation and of the seasons. Chapters 32 through 37 of the Book of Job consist entirely of Elihu's speech to Job. He is never mentioned again after the end of this speech.
Possible pseudonymity of the character
The speeches of Elihu (who is not mentioned in the prologue) contradict the fundamental opinions expressed by the 'friendly accusers' in the central body of the text, that it is impossible that the righteous should suffer, all pain being a punishment for some sin. Elihu states that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity.
Some question the status of Elihu's interruption and didactic sermon because of his sudden appearance and disappearance from the text. Even scholars who regard the book of Job as a literary composition by a single author tend to see in Elihu’s speeches an early addition or commentary to the original book. He is not mentioned in Job 2:11, in which Job's friends are introduced, nor is he mentioned at all in the epilogue, 42:7-10, in which God expresses anger at Job's friends, he does not say anything that is not said more succinctly by the three original friends or by God, and his speech contains more Aramaisms than the rest of the book. But Elihu's preface in chapter 32 indicates that he has been listening intently to the conversation between Job and the other three men. He also admits his status as one who is not an elder (32:6-7.) As Elihu's monologue reveals, his anger against the three older men was so strong he could not contain himself (32:2-4.)
- Harley, John E. The Book of Job, Pages 28-29. (Wm. B. Eerdman Publising Company, 1988)
- D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 2, p. 463). New York: Doubleday