views updated


ELIPHAZ (Heb. אֱלִיפַז ,אֱלִיפָז; perhaps: "God is victorious"; Ar. fwz), the name of two biblical characters. The first is the oldest son of *Esau and his wife Adah, and the ancestor of several Edomite clans, the most important of which is Teman, since its name is employed in poetry as a synonym for "Edom" (Jer. 49:7; Obad. 9) and "Amalek" (Gen 36:2, 10–12, 15–16). The second, Eliphaz the Temanite, is the oldest of the three friends with whom the later stratum in the book of "Job the Patient" (see *Job) furnishes its hero. In his choice of a name and nationality for this friend, the author of the later stratum may have been guided by the following considerations: the older stratum locates Job himself in the land of *Uz and in the general ambience of the *Kedemites (Job 1:1, 3b). The land of Uz is identified in Lamentations 4:21 with Edom, which, in any case, included a group known by the name of Uz (Gen. 36:28), and was certainly an important Kedemite nation (Isa. 11:14). From the above data on the first Eliphaz, it is not difficult to see why within Edom the author was attracted to the tribal name of Teman and within Teman to the personal name of Eliphaz.

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

In the Aggadah

Eliphaz, the comforter of Job, is identified with Eliphaz, the son of Esau (Gen. 36:4; Targ. Yer., Gen. 36:12). He had, however, few dealings with Esau (Yal. 897), and became a righteous man by virtue of the fact that he grew up under Isaac's care (Tanḥ. Va-Yera, 38). When his father sent him to kill Jacob, after the latter's flight from Haran, and Jacob beseeched him to spare his life, he agreed to do so, but, in order technically not to disobey his father completely, took all Jacob's worldly goods, since "one who has lost his possessions is regarded as dead" (Mid. Ag., Gen. 28:20). Eliphaz even attempted to avert a later tragedy by advising Amalek his son (Ten 36.12) to help Israel, because they were to inherit both this world and the world to come. In the time to come, Eliphaz will testify that Israel has observed all the Torah (Av. Zar. 3a).


Ginzberg, Legends, 1 (1961), 421–3, 345–7; 5 (1955), 322; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 68–69.