Elihu, the fifth wheel, the young upstart, the babbler—he has been caricatured as all of these. He has even been called a disguise for Satan. Many of the standard commentaries treat him dismissively. Elihu is not mentioned in the prologue or the epilogue of Job where the visiting friends are mentioned. He speaks with a stronger Aramaic influence evident in his language. Whether he even belongs in the book has been questioned.
Theodicy, or the justification of God in the face of evil, is a presumptuous undertaking. Why should deity necessarily be the epitome of all that is good? The ancient Mesopotamians did not assume so. The Sumerian and Babylonian gods were capricious, fickle, and only sometimes beneficent; there was no expectation of ultimate goodness.
Every few hundred years, there are events that redefine a nation, a people, at its very core. Consider the shift in internal vision and circumstance that propels, occasionally, a geographical backwater to a leading world force for a season as was Portugal, Holland, and England; or the change in values and identity that transforms a nation as with the French Revolution (“liberté, égalité, fraternité”), the Meiji Restoration of 1870s Japan that opened it to the pursuit of modernization and empire, or the Declaration of Independence that resumed the Athenian experiment with democracy aft