The relationship between speech and a person’s identification as righteous or wicked is a recurrent topic in the Joban dialogue. The objective of this article is to demonstrate how Job and his friends link Job’s protest to his potential or realized condemnation. The multiple evaluations of Job’s speech by the friends and Job himself reveal a development within the dialogue. The friends move from consolatory rebuke toward condemnation and blatant accusation not on the basis of secret sin that Job committed prior to his calamity but because of his words in chapter 3 and following. Job knows the rashness of his words, but he decidedly speaks them anyway, eschewing caution and proceeding with his accusation against God. Paradoxically, it is by means of his supposed self-condemnatory speech that Job moves from hope for death to hope for vindication. YHWH also evaluates Job’s words, assessing them as both ignorant (38:2) and right (42:7), thus rejecting the dialogue’s assumed retributive relationship between accusatory protest and condemnation.

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