Then was kindled the wrath - This means no more than that Elihu was greatly excited, and felt a strong and zealous desire to vindicate the justice and providence of God, against the aspersions of Job and his friends.
Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite - Buz was the second son of Nahor, the brother of Abram, Genesis 22:21.
Of the kindred of Ram - Kemuel was the third son of Nahor; and is called in Genesis (see above) the father of Aram, which is the same as Ram. A city of the name of Buz is found in Jeremiah 25:23, which probably had its name from this family; and, as it is mentioned with Dedan and Tema, we know it must have been a city in Idumea, as the others were in that district. Instead of the kindred of Ram, the Chaldee has of the kindred of Abraham. But still the question has been asked, Who was Elihu? I answer, He was "the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram:" this is all we know of him. But this Scriptural answer will not satisfy those who are determined to find out mysteries where there are none. Some make him a descendant of Judah; St. Jerome, Bede, Lyranus, and some of the rabbins, make him Balaam the son of Beor, the magician; Bishop Warburton makes him Ezra the scribe; and Dr. Hodges makes him the second person in the glorious Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, and supposes that the chief scope of this part of the book was to convict Job of self-righteousness, and to show the necessity of the doctrine of justification by faith! When these points are proved, they should be credited.
Because he justified himself rather than God - Literally, he justified his soul, נפשו naphhso, before God. He defended, not only the whole of his conduct, but also his motives, thoughts, etc.
Then was kindled the wrath - Wrath or anger is commonly represented as kindled, or as burning.
Of Elihu - The name Elihu (אליהוא 'ĕlı̂yhû' ) means, “God is he;” or, since the word He (הוא hû' ) is often used by way of eminence to denote the true God or Yahweh, the name is equivalent to saying, “God is my God,” or “my God is Yahweh.” On what account this name was given to him, is now unknown. The names which were anciently given, however, were commonly significant, and it was not unusual to incorporate the name of God in those given to human beings. See the notes at Isaiah 1:1. This name was probably given as an expression of piety on the part of his parents.
The son of Barachel - The name Barachel ברכאל bârak'êl means “God blesses,” and was also probably given as expressive of the piety of his parents, and as furnishing in the name itself a valuable motto which the child would remember. Nothing more is known of him than the name; and the only propriety of remarking on the philology of the names arises from the fact that they seem to indicate the existence of piety, or of the knowledge of God, on the part of the ancestors of Elihu.
The Buzite - Buz was the second son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham, Genesis 22:20-21. A city of the name Buz is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23, in connection with Dedan and Tema, cities of Arabia, and it is probable that Barachel, the father of Elihu, was of that city. If this name was given to the place after the son of Nahor, it will follow that Elihu, and consequently Job, must have lived after the time of Abraham.
Of the kindred of Ram - Of Ram nothing is certainly known. The Chaldee renders this גניסת מן אברחם, of the race of Abraham. Some have supposed that the Ram mentioned here is the same as the ancestor of David mentioned in Rth 4:19 , and in the genealogical table in Matthew 1:3-4, under the name of Aram. Others suppose that he was of the family of Nahor, and that the name is the same as ארם 'ărâm mentioned in Genesis 22:21. Thus, by aphaeresis the Syrians are called רמים rammı̂ym 2 Chronicles 22:5, instead of ארמים 'ărammı̂ym as they are usually denominated; compare 2 Kings 8:29. But nothing certain is known of him who is mentioned here. It is worthy of observation that the author of the book of Job has given the genealogy of Elihu with much greater particularity than he has that of either Job or his three friends. Indeed, he has not attempted to trace their genealogy at all. Of Job he does not even mention the name of his father; of his three friends he mentions merely the place where they dwelt. Rosenmuller infers, from this circumstance, that Elihu is himself the author of the book, since, says he, it is the custom of the Turks and Persians, in their poems, to weave in, near the end of the poem, the name of the author in an artificial manner. The same view is taken by Lightfoot, Chronica temporum et ord. Text. V. T. A circumstance of this kind, however, is too slight an argument to determine the question of the authorship of the book. It may have been that Elihu was less known than either of the other speakers, and hence, there was a propriety in mentioning more particularly his family. Indeed, this fact is morally certain, for he is not mentioned, as the others are, as the “friend” of Job.
Because he justified himself - Margin, his soul. So the Hebrew; the word נפשׁ nephesh soul, being often used to denote oneself.
Rather than God - Prof. Lee renders this, “justified himself with God;” and so also Umbreit, Good, and some others. And so the Vulgate renders it: - coram Deo. The Septuagint renders it, ἐναντίον κυρίου enantion kuriou - against the Lord; that is, rather than the Lord. The proper translation of the Hebrew (מאלהים mē'ĕlôhı̂ym ) is undoubtedly more than God: and this was doubtless the idea which Elihu intended to convey. He understood Job as vindicating himself rather than God; as being more willing that aspersions should be cast on the character and government of God, than to confess his own sin.