views updated


ELIHU (Heb. אֱלִיהוּא, once אֱלִיהוּ; "God is the one [who is to be thanked, or worshipped]"), son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, a character – first introduced, and quite unexpectedly, at Job 32:2 – who addresses Job and his three friends from 32:6 through chapter 37. (For the literary problem this creates and an analysis of Elihu's contribution to the discussion, see *Job, Book of.) The names assigned to Elihu and to his father (Barachel, "God has [or "is"] blessed") may hint that the author of these chapters approves of the point of view that Elihu represents. The tribe and family assigned to him, however ("the Buzite, of the family of Ram"), are obviously chosen, like for example, the name and tribe of *Eliphaz the Temanite, in order to conform to the setting of the oldest stratum of the Book of Job ("the land of *Uz," Job 1:1; "the *Kedemites," 1:3b); for according to Genesis 22:21, Buz was a younger brother of Uz and an uncle of Aram, with whom the Septuagint and Symmachus, probably rightly, identify this Ram. A less likely possibility is the connection of Elihu's ancestry to Ram, grandson of Judah in the late sources (Ruth 4:19; i Chr. 2:9) that are followed by the New Testament (Matt. 1:2).

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

In the Aggadah

The aggadah praises both the wisdom and modesty of Elihu. He was called "buzi" (lit. "lowly"; Job 32:2), only because he considered himself of low account in the presence of those greater than himself (Zohar, 2:166a), and showed his wisdom in never speaking until he had listened to what Job had to say (arn1 37, 111–112). His wisdom is reflected in his statement: "Touching the Almighty, we can never find Him out" (Job 37:23). He would have merited to be mentioned in Scriptures had he done no more than describe the action of the rainfall (cf. Job 36:27 and 37:3; Gen. R. 36:7). Elihu was a prophet (Sot. 15b) and descended from Nahor, the brother of Abraham (ser 28, 141–2).


Ginzberg, Legends, index; Y. Ḥasida, Isheiha-Tanakh (1964), 65–66.