We're missing part of
We're missing a significant piece of literature in the book of Job between the end of chapter 37 and the beginning of chapter 38. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it had not been for two factors. One, I had decided to sit down and read the entire book from start to finish in one sitting to get a feel for the flow of it. And two, the particular Bible I was reading happened to end chapter 37 at the bottom of the right hand page, and I had to turn the page to begin chapter 38. When I did, I was very uncharacteristically thrown into a new scene without having been properly introduced to it! Up to this point, the author of Job had courteously and faithfully introduced me to every new scene and speaker. At first, I thought I had accidentally turned more than one page... so I tried to separate the page in my left hand. Anyone who reads has accidentally turned more than one page and is very familiar with that same sense of confusion. I actually had to check two other Bibles to make sure chapter 37 ended with verse 24 before I would believe that it’s just the way Job is today. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. Chapter 38 begins with God speaking from a whirlwind. When I read it, I had to ask the author, “What whirlwind? I wasn’t properly introduced to any whirlwind scene!" And what makes it obvious that something is missing, is that when God speaks, He speaks to Job as if Job had been the last one speaking and had just said something very ignorant toward good counsel.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me." Job 38:1
But the last words spoken in chapter 37 were those of Elihu, and he had been giving some pretty awesome counsel. It put to shame the counsel of Job’s three other friends who God later reprimanded for their error. (Job 42:7-9) Elihu’s words were never brought into question. But his discourse was never brought to a conclusion either. It appears to have been cut off in midstream.
Here are the three things that I believe are missing from the book of Job.
The conclusion of Elihu’s discourse to Job.
Job’s rebuttal to Elihu.
Introduction to the whirlwind scene where God finally has to come and speak to Job Himself. This introduction could have been, “And while Job was yet speaking, there arose a great whirlwind.” This is exactly the way the author had been writing up to this point.
How or when this portion of Job was lost is anyone's guess. I tend to agree with the scholars who believe that it was probably Moses who came in contact with what was left of the cuniform stone tablets on which the original story was written, and he copied it for Israel. As old as they would have been at that time, it could have been that one tablet was missing by the time he came in contact with them.