a suffering friend they seek to console. As soon as Job raises his curse against the day of his birth (3:1-26), however, he is perceived as a threat. His implicit chal- lenge to God's wisdom and goodness in chapter 3 is rightly considered a threat to the friends' comfortable notions about righteousness and blessing and wickedness and disaster. Therefore, the friends all engage in disputation with Job.67
Their disputations all rest upon one fundamental con- viction: good comes to good people, and evil comes to evil people. Life simply works that way; God guarantees and enforces it.68 This conviction was seen to be fundamental in Proverbs, but Job's friends use it in a new way.
Whereas in Proverbs this conviction is used to predict the future on the basis of present conduct and disposition, Job's friends use Job's present circumstance of suffering to deduce something about his past conduct and disposition. Zophar goes so far as to say, "Know then that God exacts of
67 Eliphaz' speeches (chaps. 4-5, 15, 22) are disputa- tion speeches; Bildad's speeches in Job 8 and 18 are disputation while that in 15:1-6 is a mixture of hymnic elements, rhetorical questions, and a wisdom saying. Undoubtedly, it intends to dispute Job; Zophar's speeches (11, 20) are disputations; cf. Murphy, Wisdom Literature, pp. 23-36; C. Westermann, The Structure of the Book of Job: A Form-Critical Analysis, trans. by G. Muenchow (Phila- delphia: Fortress Press, 1981), pp. 18-24.
68 Cf. 4:8-11; 5:2-5; 8:3-7, 11-22; 11:20; 15:20-35; 18:521; 20:4-29; 22:10-20, 23-30.