Our Bible Reading today brings us to Job 3-4. The speeches have begun. Job’s friend Eliphaz reproves Job for insisting on his innocence. To bolster his argument, Eliphaz claims to have had a vision or dream coincidentally on just this topic, coincidentally just recently. (Job 4:12-16). In relating this information, the words Eliphaz chooses to use are interesting. He said, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.” Barnes’ Notes explains word, secretly, and little-
And mine ear received a little thereof – Dr. Good translates this, “And mine ear received a whisper along with it.” Noyes, “And mine ear caught a whisper thereof.” The Vulgate, “And my ear received secretly the pulsations of its whisper” – venas susurri ejus. The word rendered “a little,” שׁמץ shemets, occurs only here and in Job 26:14, where it is also rendered little. It means, according to Gesenius, a transient sound rapidly uttered and swiftly passing away. Symm. ψιθυρισμός psithurismos – a whisper. According to Castell, it means a sound confused and feeble, such as one receives when a man is speaking in a hurried manner, and when he cannot catch all that is said. This is probably the sense here. Eliphaz means to say that he did not get all that might have been said in the vision. It occurred in such circumstances, and what was said was delivered in such a manner, that he did not hear it all distinctly. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Some say Eliphaz did not really have a revelation from God, that he was simply using this claim to bolster his argument. Others say he truly did have a revelation, that it was truly from God. Here are two stances, yea and nay.
Argument that Eliphaz really had the revelation and that it was from God:
Some indeed have thought that this was a mere fiction of Eliphaz, and not a real vision; yea, some have gone so far as to pronounce it a diabolical one, but without any just foundation; for there is nothing in the manner or matter of it but what is agreeable to a divine vision or to a revelation from God; besides, though Eliphaz was a mistaken man in the case of Job, yet was a good man, as may be concluded from the acceptance of a sacrifice for him by the Lord, which was offered for him by Job, according to the order of God, and therefore could never be guilty of such an imposture; nor does Job ever charge him with any falsehood in this matter, who doubtless would have been able to have traversed and exposed him; (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Argument that Eliphaz really did not have the revelation and/or that it was not from God:
Apparently the words Eliphaz claimed he heard in his dream are given in these verses. For three reasons it is doubtful that the words were a revelation from God:
(a) “a word” (v. 12), not “a word of the LORD,” came to Eliphaz;
(b) the word came “secretly” (i.e., in an elusive manner, v. 12); and
(c) the message seemed to picture God as unconcerned about man (vv. 17–21).
Zuck, R. B. (1985). Job. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures
Personally, I tend to the latter, that Eliphaz did not receive a revelation from God. The above 3 evidences are pretty compelling to me. Going back to Barnes’ Notes, that the word Eliphaz uses indicates some of the message slipped away before he could catch it, Does God mumble? No, He does not. But one cannot be dogmatic. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because the words are recorded and there they shall remain.
However, a caution for us today. We know the canon is closed. God is not speaking now, except through His Son, the word (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, plenty of people who claim to be elders or teachers, august persons as Eliphaz truly was, say they have a received a word, or even a “fresh word” which they use cravenly to bolster their arguments.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap“. (Galatians 6:7, KJV). If you use God as a cover to imbue some sort of status or honor or importance to your words, you will reap a whirlwind which will rain down upon you. God spoke to people frequently in the former days, and Eliphaz’s claim of direct revelation went unremarked by Job. But as Hebrews shows us, today is another matter. Be careful.