Man's Foolish Search for Riches
v. 1. Surely there is a vein for the silver, a place prepared by the Creator where it is found, and a place for gold where they fine it, where men refine gold, after the ore has been taken out of the ground. The connection of thought between the statements in this paragraph and that of the previous chapter is this, that true wisdom cannot be dug out of the earth or acquired by the wicked rich like minerals.
v. 2. Iron is taken out of the earth, brought out by means of deep shafts, and brass is molten out of the stone, that is, the stone of the ore is smelted into copper, this metal being comparatively easily gained.
v. 3. He setteth an end to darkness, men have found ways of lighting up even the dark shafts of the mines beneath the earth, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness and the shadow of death, that is, the enterprise of men has enabled them to penetrate into the earth in every direction, building their shafts in the subterranean darkness and following the lead of the veins of ore to their very end.
v. 4. The flood, the place of cutting through, breaketh out from the inhabitant, that is, man opens or cuts through a shaft, away from those sojourning above, straight down into the earth; even the waters forgotten of the foot; they are dried up, they are gone away from men, literally, "where forgotten by every one's foot they dangle, far from mortals, they swing," that is, men dig their shafts down so deeply that they are entirely out of sight and ken of men walking above; they are suspended by ropes far from the surface where other men are living and going about their business. All this is done in order to bring metals up to the surface. But true wisdom cannot be so acquired.
v. 5. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread, on its surface the cultivated fields yield grain for man's food; and under it, by contrast, it is turned up as it were fire, cut up into shafts and galleries, as though fire had eaten through. Man is not satisfied with the products which grow out of the earth, but digs for treasures in its deepest recesses.
v. 6. The stones of it are the place of sapphires, for this precious stone is found in the earth; and it hath dust of gold, the nuggets and grains of gold which settle in pockets of mountain streams become the property of the miner.
v. 7. There is a path which no fowl knoweth, no eagle knows the path to the hidden treasures, and which the vulture's eye, as sharp as it is, hath not seen, not even he has gazed upon them:
v. 8. the lion's whelps have not trodden it, the proud beasts of prey, nor the fierce lion passed by it. None of them knew the places where all these riches were hidden.
v. 9. He, that is, man in his restless search for wealth, putteth forth his hand upon the rock, laying his hand even upon flint, the hardest of rocks; he overturneth the mountains by the roots, by digging and blasting for the treasures contained in the ground.
v. 10. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks, cutting passages through solid granite; and his eye seeth every precious thing, for by such digging and blasting the hidden treasures are revealed to the eyes of men.
v. 11. He bindeth the floods from overflowing, stopping the dripping or the seams of water which threaten to fill up the pits and galleries of the mines; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light, by such strenuous mining operations men succeed in bringing up the precious metals and stones hidden in the bosom of the earth. They spare themselves no trouble to gain the vain treasures of this world.
God Alone The Possessor of True Wisdom.
Over against man's foolish quest for vain and unstable riches Job places the wisdom of God, unattainable by the outward seeking and searching of men.
v. 12. But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? True wisdom, the understanding of God, the knowledge of the revelation of God, is the highest good of man.
v. 13. Man knoweth not the price thereof, no mortal realizes its value for purchase or exchange; neither is it found in the land of the living, on the earth as inhabited by men, as a product of their labor.
v. 14. The depth, the abyss of waters beneath the earth, saith, It is not in me; and the sea, the great and mighty ocean, saith, It is not with me.
v. 15. It cannot be gotten for gold, the purest gold cannot be given in exchange for it, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
v. 16. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the finest gold known to the ancients, with the precious onyx or the sapphire, both of which were valued very highly in the Orient.
v. 17. The gold and the crystal, glass, upon which at that time a very high valuation was placed, whether it was natural or artificial, cannot equal it, and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold, they simply could not be considered as equivalent to it.
v. 18. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls, that is, corals and quartz-crystal could not even be named in comparison with it; for the price of wisdom is above rubies, it is immeasurably exalted in value over the most precious treasures of men.
v. 19. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold, that which has gone through the most careful process of refining. Job exhausts all comparisons which men would suggest in trying to obtain a fair valuation of the rich treasure of which he speaks.
v. 20. Whence, then, cometh wisdom, and where is the place of understanding? The same question is propounded again in order to drive home the truth about to be stated.
v. 21. Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, the creatures of the earth endowed with senses, and kept close from the fowls of the air, even from the sharp-sighted winged tribe.
v. 22. Destruction and death, the realm of the dead and the place reserved for the wicked, say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears, they knew of it only by hearsay, they had no personal acquaintance with it.
v. 23. God understandeth the way thereof, He alone is familiar with true wisdom, and He knoweth the place thereof, He knows exactly where it may be found.
v. 24. For He looketh to the ends of the earth and seeth under the whole heaven, nothing is hidden from His wisdom and omniscience,
v. 25. to make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure, they are entirely under His direction and government.
v. 26. When He made a decree for the rain, appointing to it when and how often it should fall, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, a path for the thunder-flash through the clouds, all these phenomena being regulated by Him,
v. 27. then, when He exercised His creative and providential power, did He see it and declare it, He unfolded and set forth before men some of the evidences of eternal wisdom; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out, establishing its foundation throughout nature, making everything subject to the laws of His wisdom.
v. 28. And unto man He said, singling him out for this revelation, as the highest creature of His almighty power, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, to know Him and to reverence Him as the one true God is the sum of all wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. To forsake the evil, as being utterly contrary to God, His essence and His will, and to live in accordance with the demands of His holiness, that is the highest form of wisdom. This wisdom can be attained to through the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind, for by faith in Him all believers are brought into that communion with God which will reveal to them the fulness of His wisdom and give them the strength to do His will.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 28". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany