‘When Job’s three friends heard of all these afflictions that had come upon him, they came…to mourn with him and to comfort him…. When they, far off, lifted up their eyes — they did not recognize him. They lifted up their voice, and wept…. They sat down on the ground with him, seven days and nights. None of them spoke a word. For they saw his grief was very great.’ Job 2:11-13.
Job’s three friends heard about him, and came from the east (Genesis 26:2-6). Eliphaz came from Teman in Edom (Genesis 36:9-11); he was a descendant of Esau (Genesis 36:15). Bildad was a descendant of Abraham’s son Shuah by Keturah (Genesis 25:2-6). And Zophar came from Naamah, east of the Jordan.
Did they come speedily (thus the Jewish Talmud)? Or did they arrive only after Job had been in pain for many months (Job 7:3)? Perhaps the three first met to discuss when they should go, and what they should then do.
When they did arrive, to show Job their sympathy in his sufferings — he was so disfigured by his disease that they could not recognize him. Was this then the same Job, they thought, whom they had previously known in the very flower of his youth? But even when they saw him from afar, they lifted up their voices, and wept.
So great was their distress in seeing him, that every one of them tore his own mantle. They sprinkled dust on their heads — an outward sign of their own great suffering in seeing him. This should have comforted Job in his pain. But so great was his distress, it apparently did not.
Yet they thus gestured that they themselves were laid in the dust by this calamity. Then they all sat down with him upon the ground. They sat there with Job, for seven days and seven nights. That was the length of time one then mourned for the dead (Genesis 50:10). It also shows the force of the impression produced on the three friends, and their fear of annoying the sufferer.
Not one of them then spoke a single word. For his three friends were all overwhelmed by the moving sight in from of them. They all saw his grief.
They had come to comfort him. But they were so overwhelmed with grief, that this is not what then happened.
Yet their long silence shows their discomfort. Their feeling was overpowered by reflection, and their sympathy by dismay. No doubt, they should then have consoled him, during that time. Instead, they then rather remained silent.
They saw that Job’s grief was great. It made a profound impression on them. For, despite soon cursing not God but his own birthday (3:1f), old Job received even his diseases from God!