Job 28:1-28. Job's Speech
In the twenty-seventh chapter Job had tacitly admitted that the
statement of the friends was often true, that God vindicated His
justice by punishing the wicked here; but still the affliction of the
godly remained unexplained. Man has, by skill, brought the precious
metals from their concealment. But the Divine Wisdom, which governs
human affairs, he cannot similarly discover (Job 28:12, &c.). However, the image from the
same metals (Job 23:10)
implies Job has made some way towards solving the riddle of his life;
namely, that affliction is to him as the refining fire is to gold.
1. vein—a mine, from which it goes
forth, Hebrew, "is dug."
place for gold—a place where gold may
be found, which men refine. Not as English Version, "A
place—where," (Mal 3:3).
Contrasted with gold found in the bed and sand of rivers, which does
not need refining; as the gold dug from a mine does. Golden
ornaments have been found in Egypt, of the times of Joseph.
2. brass—that is, copper; for brass is a
mixed metal of copper and zinc, of modern invention. Iron is less
easily discovered, and wrought, than copper; therefore copper was in
common use long before iron. Copper-stone is called "cadmium" by Pliny [Natural History, 34:1; 36:21].
Iron is fitly said to be taken out of the "earth" (dust), for ore looks
like mere earth.
3. "Man makes an end of darkness," by
exploring the darkest depths (with torches).
all perfection—rather, carries out his
search to the utmost perfection; most thoroughly searches the stones of
darkness and of the shadow of death (thickest gloom); that is, the
stones, whatever they be, embedded in the darkest bowels of the earth
[Umbreit] (Job 26:10).
4. Three hardships in mining: 1. "A stream
(flood) breaks out at the side of the stranger"; namely, the miner,
a strange newcomer into places heretofore unexplored; his surprise
at the sudden stream breaking out beside him is expressed
(English Version, "from the inhabitant"). 2. "Forgotten
(unsupported) by the foot they hang," namely, by ropes, in
descending. In the Hebrew, "Lo there" precedes this clause,
graphically placing it as if before the eyes. "The waters" is inserted
by English Version. "Are dried up," ought to be, "hang," "are
suspended." English Version perhaps understood, waters of whose
existence man was previously unconscious, and near which he
never trod; and yet man's energy is such, that by pumps,
&c., he soon causes them to "dry up and go away" [So Herder]. 3. "Far away from men, they move with
uncertain step"; they stagger; not "they are gone" [Umbreit].
5. Its fertile surface yields food; and yet
"beneath it is turned up as it were with fire." So Pliny [Natural History, 33] observes on the
ingratitude of man who repays the debt he owes the earth for food, by
digging out its bowels. "Fire" was used in mining [Umbreit]. English Version is simpler, which
means precious stones which glow like fire; and so Job 28:6 follows naturally (Eze 28:14).
6. Sapphires are found in alluvial soil near
rocks and embedded in gneiss. The ancients distinguished two kinds: 1.
The real, of transparent blue: 2. That improperly so called, opaque,
with gold spots; that is, lapis lazuli. To the latter, looking like
gold dust, Umbreit refers "dust of
gold." English Version better, "The stones of the earth
are, &c., and the clods of it (Vulgate) are gold";
the parallel clauses are thus neater.
7. fowl—rather, "ravenous bird," or
"eagle," which is the most sharp-sighted of birds (Isa 46:11). A vulture will spy a carcass at an
amazing distance. The miner penetrates the earth by a way unseen by
birds of keenest sight.
8. lion's whelps—literally, "the sons of
pride," that is, the fiercest beasts.
passed—The Hebrew implies
the proud gait of the lion. The miner ventures where not even
the fierce lion dares to go in pursuit of his prey.
9. rock—flint. He puts forth his hand to
cleave the hardest rock.
by the roots—from their foundations,
by undermining them.
10. He cuts channels to drain off the
waters, which hinder his mining; and when the waters are gone, he he is
able to see the precious things in the earth.
11. floods—"He restrains the
streams from weeping"; a poetical expression for the
trickling subterranean rills, which impede him; answering
to the first clause of Job 28:10;
so also the two latter clauses in each verse correspond.
12. Can man discover the Divine Wisdom by
which the world is governed, as he can the treasures hidden in the
earth? Certainly not. Divine Wisdom is conceived as a person (Job
28:12-27) distinct from God
28:23; also in Pr 8:23, 27). The Almighty Word, Jesus Christ,
we know now, is that Wisdom. The order of the world was
originated and is maintained by the breathing forth (Spirit) of Wisdom,
unfathomable and unpurchasable by man. In Job 28:28, the only aspect of it, which relates
to, and may be understood by, man, is stated.
understanding—insight into the plan of
the divine government.
13. Man can fix no price upon it, as it is
nowhere to be found in man's abode (Isa 38:11). Job implies both its valuable worth,
and the impossibility of buying it at any price.
15. Not the usual word for "gold"; from a
Hebrew root, "to shut up" with care; that is, purest gold (1Ki 6:20, Margin).
weighed—The precious metals were
weighed out before coining was known (Ge 23:16).
16. gold of Ophir—the most precious (See
on Job 22:24 and Ps
onyx—(Ge 2:12). More valued formerly than now. The
term is Greek, meaning "thumb nail," from some resemblance in
color. The Arabic denotes, of two colors, white
17. crystal—Or else glass, if then
known, very costly. From a root, "to be transparent."
18. Red coral (Eze 27:16).
pearls—literally, "what is frozen."
Probably crystal; and Job 28:17 will then be glass.
rubies—Umbreit translates "pearls" (see La 4:1; Pr
3:15). The Urim and Thummim,
the means of consulting God by the twelve stones on the high priest's
breastplate, "the stones of the sanctuary" (La 4:1), have their counterpart in this
chapter; the precious stones symbolizing the "light" and "perfection"
of the divine wisdom.
19. Ethiopia—Cush in the
Hebrew. Either Ethiopia, or the south of Arabia, near the
20. Job 28:12 repeated with great force.
21. None can tell whence or where,
seeing it, &c.
fowls—The gift of divination was
assigned by the heathen especially to birds. Their rapid flight
heavenwards and keen sight originated the superstition. Job may allude
to it. Not even the boasted divination of birds has an insight into it
10:20). But it may merely
mean, as in Job 28:7, It
escapes the eye of the most keen-sighted bird.
22. That is, the abodes of destruction
and of the dead. "Death" put for Sheol (Job
30:23; 26:6; Ps 9:13).
We have [only] heard—the report
of her. We have not seen her. In the land of the living (Job 28:13) the workings of Wisdom are seen,
though not herself. In the regions of the dead she is only heard
of, her actings on nature not being seen (Ec 9:10).
23. God hath, and is Himself, wisdom.
24. "Seeth (all that is) under," &c.
25. God has adjusted the weight of the winds,
so seemingly imponderable, lest, if too weighty, or too light, injury
should be caused. He measureth out the waters, fixing their bounds,
with wisdom as His counsellor (Pr 8:27-31; Isa 40:12).
26. The decree regulating at what time and
place, and in what quantity, the rain should fall.
a way—through the parted clouds (Job
38:25; Zec 10:1).
27. declare—manifest her, namely, in His
19:1, 2). So the approval
bestowed by the Creator on His works (Ge 1:10, 31); compare the "rejoicing" of wisdom at
the same (Pr
8:30; which Umbreit translates; "I was the skilful artificer by
prepared—not created, for
wisdom is from everlasting (Pr 8:22-31); but "established" her as Governor of
searched … out—examined her
works to see whether she was adequate to the task of governing the
28. Rather, "But unto man," &c.
My wisdom is that whereby all things are governed; Thy
wisdom is in fearing God and shunning evil, and in feeling
assured that My wisdom always acts aright, though thou dost not
understand the principle which regulates it; for example, in afflicting
the godly (Joh 7:17).
The friends, therefore, as not comprehending the Divine Wisdom, should
not infer Job's guilt from his sufferings. Here alone in Job the name
of God, Adonai, occurs; "Lord" or "master," often applied to
Messiah in Old Testament. Appropriately here, in speaking of the Word
or Wisdom, by whom the world was made (Pr 8:22-31; Joh 1:3; Ecclesiasticus 24:1-34).