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Bible Commentaries
Job 27

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-23

III. Job alone: His closing address to the vanquished friends. Chap. 27—28

a. Renewed asseveration of his innocence, accompanied by a reference to his joy inGod, which had not forsaken him even in the midst of his deepest misery Job 27:1-10

1     Moreover Job continued his parable, and said:

2          As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment;

and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;

3     all the while my breath is in me,

and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;—

4      my lips shall not speak wickedness

nor my tongue utter deceit.

5      God forbid that I should justify you:

till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

6      My righteousness I hold fast, I will not let it go:

my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

7      Let mine enemy be as the wicked,

and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.

8      For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained,

when God taketh away his soul?

9     Will God hear his cry

when trouble cometh upon him?

10      Will he delight himself in the Almighty?

will he always call upon God?

b. Statement of his belief that the prosperity of the ungodly cannot endure, but that they must infallibly come to a terrible end. Job 27:11-23

11      I will teach you by the hand of God;

that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.

12      Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it;

why then are ye thus altogether vain?

13      This is the portion of a wicked man with God,

and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.

14      If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword;

and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.

15      Those that remain of him shall be buried in death;

and his widows shall not weep.

16      Though he heap up silver as the dust,

and prepare raiment as the clay;

17      he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on,

and the innocent shall divide the silver.

18      He buildeth his house as a moth,

and as a booth that the keeper maketh.

19      The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered;

he openeth his eyes, and he is not!

20      Terrors take hold on him as waters,

a tempest stealeth him away in the night.

21      The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth:

and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.

22      For God shall cast upon him, and not spare:

He would fain flee out of his hand.

23      Men shall clap their hands at him,

and hiss him out of his place.

c. Declaration that true Wisdom, which alone can secure real well-being, and a correct solution of the dark enigmas of man’s destiny, is to be found nowhere on earth, but only with God, and by means of a pious submission to God. Chap. 28

1      Surely there is a vein for the silver,

and a place for gold where they fine it.

2      Iron is taken out of the earth.

and brass is molten out of the stone.

3      He setteth an end to darkness,

and searcheth out all perfection:
the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

4      The flood breaketh out from the inhabitants;

even the waters forgotten of the foot:
they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

5      As for the earth, out of it cometh bread:

and under it is turned up as it were fire.

6      The stones of it are the place of sapphires:

and it hath dust of gold.

7      There is a path which no fowl knoweth,

and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen.

8      The lion’s whelps have not trodden it

nor the fierce lion passed by it.

9     He putteth forth his hand upon the rock;

10      He cutteth out rivers among the rocks;

and his eye seeth every precious thing.
he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

11      He bindeth the floods from overflowing;

and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

12      But where shall wisdom be found?

and where is the place of understanding?

13      Man knoweth not the price thereof:

neither is it found in the land of the living.

14      The depth saith, It is not in me;

and the sea saith, It is not with me.

15      It cannot be gotten for gold,

neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.

16      It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,

with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

17      The gold and the crystal cannot equal it:

and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.

18      No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls;

for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

19      The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,

neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

20      Whence then cometh wisdom?

and where if the place of understanding?

21      Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living,

and kept close from the fowls of the air.

22     Destruction and death say,

we have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

23      God understandeth the way thereof,

and He knoweth the place thereof.

24     For He looketh to the ends of the earth,

and seeth under the whole heaven;

25     to make the weight for the winds;

and He weigheth the waters by measure.

26     When He made a decree for the rain,

and a way for the lightning of the thunder;

27     Then did He see it, and declare it;

He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

28     And unto man He said:

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.


1. Inasmuch as the opposition of the friends is silenced, before the last of the number attempts a third reply, the victor, after a short pause, takes up his discourse, “in order that, by collecting himself after the passion of the strife, he might express with greater calmness and clearness the convictions which have been formed within him as results of the colloquy thus far, and so to give to the colloquy the internal solution which was wanting” (Dillm.). It is not so much a triumphant self-contemplation, or a pathetic monologue, that he delivers, but a genuine didactic discourse, addressed to the vanquished friends, which, like the discourses of the previous discussion, is cast in the form, characteristic of the Chokmah, of a series of proverbs. It is hence expressly termed in the introductory verse (Job 27:1) a continuation of the “Mashal, i. e. of the proverbial discourse” (in regard to שְׂאֵת מָשָׁל, “to utter, lit. to raise a proverb;” comp. Numbers 23:7, where the same expression is applied to a prophetic vaticinium of Balaam’s). [“מָשָׁל is speech of a more elevated tone and more figurative character; here, as frequently, the unaffected outgrowth of an elevated solemn mood. The introduction of the ultimatum as מָשָׁל reminds one of “the proverb (el-methel) seals it in the mouth of the Arab, since in common life it is customary to use a pithy saying as the final proof at the conclusion of a speech.” Delitzsch.]—The following are the contents of this proverbial discourse, which is somewhat extended, and which, especially in its last principal division, is exceedingly lofty and poetic: (1) An emphatic asseveration of his own innocence, which he has made repeatedly during the previous colloquy, and which he now puts forth as attested by his continued experience of God’s friendship, and his joy in God (Job 27:2-10); (2) A description—imitating and surpassing the similar descriptions of the friends in chs. 15; 18; 20, etc.—of the fearful divine judgment, which must of necessity overtake the ungodly, and in view of which he indeed has every reason to adhere earnestly and zealously to God’s ways (Job 27:11-23); (3) An exhibition of the nature of true wisdom, which alone can furnish correct solutions of the dark enigmas of this earthly life, and which is here set forth as a blessing absolutely supra-sensual, to be obtained only through God, and the closest union with Him (Job 28:0.).—These three sections are differently divided, the two former consisting of three short strophes (of three to five verses), the third of three long strophes (two of eleven, and one of six verses).

2. First Section: The asseveration of his innocence: Job 27:2-10.

First Strophe: Job 27:2-4.—As God liveth (lit. “living is God!” a well-known Hebrew, and also Arabic formula of adjuration) [the only place where Job resorts to the oath], who hath taken away from me my right, and the Almighty who hath vexed my soul; lit. “who hath made bitter my soul” (LXX.: ὁ πικρώσας, comp. Colossians 3:19 : πικραίνεσθαι).

Job 27:3. For still all my breath is in me, and God’s breath is in my nostrils, i. e. I am still possessed of enough freshness and vigor of spirit to know what I say, to be a responsible witness in behalf of my innocence. The older expositors, and among the moderns Schlottmann [Good, Noyes, Conant, Bernard, Carey, Rodwell, Elzas, Renan, Merx, and so E. V.] take the verse not as a parenthetic reason for the adjuration in Job 27:2, but as the antecedent of Job 27:4 : “so long as my breath is yet in me,” etc. But in that case the contents of the oath would have a double introduction, first by כִּי, then by אִם. Moreover the words כָּל־עוֹד נִשְׁמָתִי בִי, as the parallel passages, 2 Samuel 1:9; Hosea 14:3, show, have not in the least the appearance of an adverbial antecedent determination of time.—[The older rendering is certainly to be preferred. (1) It expresses a thought much more suitable for incorporation into an oath. “As God lives—while I live—I will speak only the truth”—is natural. “As God lives—and I take this oath because I am fully competent to stand up to what I am swearing—my lips shall not,” etc.—is decidedly unnatural. (2) The language at once suggests the simple idea of living—“breath (נשׁמתי) yet in me—the breath of Eloah in my nostril.” This is scarcely the language one would use in describing a particular inward condition. (3) כִּי is simply transitional, introducing after the oath a thought preparatory to the principal thought introduced by אִם, a construction which Delitzsch admits to be possible, though what there is perplexing in it, it is difficult to see. (4) כָּל־ is used adverbially as in Psalms 45:14; Psalms 45:14; Ecclesiastes 5:15; here—“wholly as long as” (see Gesenius and Fürst). It thus strengthens the expression in a way that is altogether appropriate to the strong feeling which prompts the oath.—E.]

Job 27:4 gives the contents of the oath, which the following verses unfold still more specifically and comprehensively. In regard to עַוְלָה, lit. “perverseness,” hence “falsehood, untruthfulness,” and its synonym רְמִיָּה, comp. Job 13:7.

Second Strophe: Job 27:5-7.—Far be it from me (lit. “for a profanation be it to me,” comp. Ew. § 329, a) to grant that you are in the right:—wherein is seen in the second member—until I die I will not let my innocence be taken away from me (lit. “I will not let it depart from me”), i. e. I will not cease from asserting it continually.

Job 27:6. In regard to הִרְפָּה in a, meaning “to let something go, to let it fall,” comp. Job 7:19.—My heart reproacheth not one of my days.—חרף, lit. “to pluck, to pick off,” carpere, vellicare. לֵבָב here is unquestionably synonymous substantially with “conscience.” So Luther translated it both here and in Joshua 14:7; comp. also 1 Samuel 24:6 [5]; 2 Samuel 24:10, where it may also be translated “conscience” (see in general Vilmar, Theolog. Moral. I., p. 66). Most modern commentators rightly take מִן in מִיָּמָי, as partitive—“one of my days;” the temporal rendering of the expression adopted by the ancients, as also by Ewald (= while I live, in omni vita mea, Vulg.) [E. V.], necessitates the harsh and scarcely admissible rendering of יֶחֱרַף as intransitive, or as reflexive (“does not blame itself,” Ewald) [E. V. supplies “me”]. It remains to be said, that this asseveration of innocence (like that in Job 23:10 seq.) is, in some measure, exaggerated, when compared with the mention which Job makes earlier of “the sins of his youth,” Job 13:26.

Job 27:7. Mine enemy must appear as the wicked, and mine adversary as the unrighteous:viz. as the penalty of their falsely suspecting and disputing my innocence. Only this optative rendering of the Jussive יְהִי is suited to the context, not the concessive: “though mine enemy be an evil-doer, I am none” (Hirz.). As to מִתְקֹמֵם, comp. Job 20:27; Psalms 59:2. [“The idea conveyed in אֹיֵב is hostility of feeling; in מִתְקֹמֵם, hostility of action, and that initiative. It is, to some extent, expressive of unprovoked assault.” Carey.]

Third Strophe: Job 27:8-10.—For what is the hope of an ungodly man when He cutteth off, when Eloah draweth out his soul?—This question is to be understood from the two former discourses of Job, in which, when confronting death he placed his hope with animated emphasis on God, as his final deliverer and avenger (chs. 17. and 19.). In contrast with such a joyful hope reaching out beyond death, the evil-doer has nothing more to hope for, when once God has cut off his thread of life, and drawn out his soul out of the mortal body enclosing it (יֵשֶׁל Imperf. apoc. Kal. from שָׁלָה, extrahere, cognate with שלל and נשל). The figurative expression: “cutting off the soul,” has always for its basis the same conception of the body as a tent, and of the internal thread of life as the tent-cord, which we came across in Job 4:21. Possibly the expression: “drawing out” has the same explanation, although this seems to have rather for its basis the comparison of the body to a sheath for the soul (Daniel 7:15), so that accordingly we have a transition from one figure to another. [E. V. (after the Vulgate, Syr., Targ.), Gesenius in Thes., Fürst, Con., Ber., Merx, Rod., Elz., translate כִּי יִבְצָע “though he hath gained” soil, riches, or “though he despoil.” The meaning “to plunder” or “gain” is certainly more in harmony with the usage of the verb in Kal, and avoids the mixture of metaphor according to the other construction.—E.]

Job 27:9-10. Will God hear his cry? … Can he delight himself in the Almighty?etc. The meaning of these questions is that to him there shall be neither the hearing of his prayers, nor a joyful, trustful and loving fellowship with God (הִתְעַנָּג as in Job 22:26). Job accordingly claims for himself both these things (comp. Job 13:16), and thereby leaves out of the account transient obscurations of his spirit, like that in consequence of which he mourns (Job 19:7) that his prayer is not heard.

3. Second Section: Description of the inevitable overthrow of the wicked: Job 27:11-23. The striking correspondence which this description by Job seems at first sight to exhibit with the well-known descriptions of the friends, especially in the second series of the colloquy, and this notwithstanding the fact that Job himself only just before, in chs. 21 and 24, has maintained the happiness of the wicked to the end of their life, have led some to assume a transposition, or confusion of the text (Kennicott, Stuhlmann, Bernstein, [Bernard, Wemyss, Elzas]; comp. Introd. § 9, 1); others, to suppose that Job is here simply repeating the opinion of his opponents, without purposing to make it his own (Eichhorn, Das Buch Hiob übers., etc., 1824; Böckel, 2d Ed. 1830). But the contradiction to Job’s former utterances is only apparent, for: (1) The opinion that the prosperity of the wicked cannot endure has been repeatedly put forth even by himself, at least in principle (comp. Job 24:12; Job 24:12; comp. also below Job 31:3 seq.). (2) The erroneous and objectionably one-sided utterances regarding God as a hard-hearted persecutor of innocence, and author of the prosperity of many evil-doers, which he has heretofore frequently put forth, needed to be counteracted by the truths which supplement and rectify these one-sided errors. (3) It was of importance to Job, not so much to instruct the friends in regard to the fact that the impending destruction of the ungodly was certain—for that they had long known this fact is expressly set forth in Job 27:12—as rather to place this phenomenon in the right light, in opposition to the perverted application which they had made of it, and to exhibit its profound connection with the order of the universe as established by the only wise God. This end he accomplishes by subsequently introducing a description of true wisdom and understanding, a treasure deeply hidden, and to be possessed only through the fear of God, and humble submission to Him.—This is the end which Job has in view in the present discourse. It is not necessary (with Brentius and others of the older expositors, also Schlottmann) to find in it a warning purpose, i. e., the purpose to set before the friends the end of those who judge unjustly, and who render unfriendly decisions, with a view of terrifying them—a purpose of which there is nowhere any indication, and for which there would seem to be no particular motive, seeing that the discussion has come to an end, and that any attempt to move the vanquished opponents by warnings would be cruelly and most injuriously at variance with the conciliatory mildness which this last discourse of Job’s elsewhere breathes.

[a. The attempts to relieve the difficulty connected with the passage before us by changing and transposing the text are arbitrary and unsatisfactory, producing abrupt connections, or rather breaks, and a confusion of thought and impression more serious than that which it is sought to remove.

b. Especially does it betray a total want of appreciation of the author’s skill in managing the plot and development of the drama to force in Zophar for a third speech. The logical and rhetorical exhaustion of the friends could not well be more effectively indicated than by the way in which the colloquy on their part tapers and dwindles—first in the short, and so far as ideas are concerned, poverty-stricken speech of Bildad, and finally in the complete dumbness of Zophar, perhaps of all three the most consummate master of words.

c. The theory that Job is here going over the ground of the friends, and repeating their position, is disproved negatively by the absence of anything to indicate such a course, and positively by the straightforward earnestness and deep feeling which pervade the passage, as well as by what he says in the introductory verses 11, 12.

d. Regarded as Job’s own earnest affirmations the following considerations should be borne in mind.

(1) As shown above by Zöckler, isolated statements have already proceeded in harmony with the representation given here. At the same time it cannot be denied that this is much the most extended and emphatic expression by Job of the view here set forth, and that it is in form much more nearly allied to the representations of the friends. But:
(2) It is no part of the poet’s plan to preserve Job’s unalterable consistency. Job’s experiences are most various, and his utterances change with them. They strike each various chord of sorrow, joy, doubt, confidence, despair, hope, fear, yearning, victory. Through all it is true there is an underlying unity and identity of character; but the variations exist, and are full of dramatic interest and importance, and yet more of sacred practical suggestiveness.
(3) These inconsistencies still further prepare the way for a termination and solution of the controversy. As Umbreit has shown, “without the apparent contradiction in Job’s speeches, the interchange of words would have been endless;” or as Delitzsch has stated it: “Had Job’s stand-point been absolutely immovable, the controversy could not possibly have come to a well-adjusted decision, which the poet must have planned, and which he also really brings about, by causing his hero still to retain an imperturbable consciousness of his innocence, but also allowing his irritation to subside, and his extreme harshness to become moderated.”
(4) In the particular passage before us, Job’s utterance is to be explained largely in the light of the victory which he has just achieved. In the hour of triumph a great soul is moderate, calm, just. So here Job shows the greatness of his strength by conceding to the friends the truth in their position, and by stating that truth with a power equal to their own. It is a masterly touch of the poet’s art that shows itself here in this picture of a great soul in the hour of victory.
(5) There is, however, as suggested above by Zöckler, a still more conscious and controlling purpose in the following description. Job describes the certain destruction of the wicked, not mainly in the way of concession to the friends, but rather for his own vindication. The friends had portrayed such descriptions to show how much there are in the evil-doer’s fate to remind of Job’s calamities. Job takes up the theme to show how unlike his fate, with all its tragic lineaments, and the abandoned sinner’s. He still holds fast to his righteousness, is heard by God, delights in God, is on terms of intimacy with God, is competent to instruct in behalf of God;—the wicked man has a very different portion with God! As ever therefore Job is not merely eloquent, but cogent; and when he accepts their conclusions, it is to overwhelm them yet more completely with their own arguments.—E.]

First Strophes: Job 27:11-13. Introduction to the following description.

Job 27:11. I will teach you concerning God’s hand:i. e. concerning His doings, His mode of working. In regard to בְ with verbs of teaching or instructing, comp. Psalms 32:8; Psalms 32:8; Proverbs 4:11 (Ew. § 217, f).—The mind of the Almighty will I not conceal from you: lit. “what is with the Almighty, that which forms the contents of His thoughts and counsels;” comp. Job 23:10; Job 23:10, etc.

Job 27:12. See now, all ye yourselves [אַתֶּם emphatic] have seen it, have become familiar with it by observation (חָזָה, as in Job 15:17), so that ye do not need to learn the thing itself, but only to acquire a more correct, unprejudiced understanding of it. The second member points to the latter: “and why are ye then vain with vanity?” i. e. so altogether vain, so completely entangled in perverse delusion? (Ew. § 281, a).

Job 27:13 announces the theme treated of in the passage following, in words which purposely convey a reminder of the language used by one of the opponents, Zophar, at the close of his discourse (Job 20:29).

Second Strophe: Job 27:14-18. The judgment, upon the family, possessions, and homestead of the evil-doer.

Job 27:14. If his children multiply (it is) for the sword. לְמוֹ־חֶרֶב sc. יִרְבּוּ. In respect to לְמוֹ, found only in Job, comp. Job 40:4; Job 40:4 (Ew. § 221, b).

Job 27:15. The remnant of those who are his shall be buried by the pestilence.—שְׂרִידָיו “his escaped ones” (comp. Job 20:21; Job 20:26), are the descendants still remaining to him, after that the sword and famine have already thinned their ranks. This remainder the Pestilence will carry off, that third destroying angel, in addition to the sword and famine, mentioned also in Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 15:2; Jer 18:21; 2 Samuel 24:13; Leviticus 26:25 seq. Here, as also in Jeremiah 15:2, this is simply designated “death” (מָוֶת); and by the phrase, “in death (or by death) they are buried,” allusion is made to the quick succession of death and burial, which is customary in such epidemics (comp. Amos 6:9 seq.). This bold and truly poetic thought is destroyed if, with Böttcher, we take במות to mean in momento mortis, or if, with Olshausen [Merx], we arbitrarily insert a לֹא before יִקָבֵרוּ. [Carey explains: “They shall be sepulchred by Death. This is literal, and a bold figure, by which is signified that they should have no other burial than such as Death should give them on the open field, where they had fallen, either by sword or by famine.” This, however, is somewhat too artificial and modern]. And his widows weep not—to wit, in following the coffin, because by reason of the frightful raging of the disease, funeral solemnities are not observed. “His widows” may mean both the principal wives and concubines of the head of the family, and those of his deceased sons and grandsons; these latter even, in a certain sense, belonging to him, the patriarch. Comp. the literal repetition of this member in Psalms 78:64, where the twofold possibility mentioned here is not recognized, because the אַלְמְנֹתָיו there refers to the “people,” עַם.

Job 27:16. If he heapeth up for himself silver as the dust, etc.—The same figures used to designate material regarded as worthless on account of its great quantity in Zechariah 9:3.

Job 27:17. Apodosis to the preceding verse, expressing the same thought as, e. g., Psalms 37:34; Psalms 37:34; Ecclesiastes 2:16.

Job 27:18. He hath built, like a moth, his house, and like a booth, which a watchman puts up (in a vineyard, or an orchard, Isaiah 1:8). The point of comparison for both members is the laxity, frailty, destructibility of such structures, which are intended to be broken up soon.

Third Strophe: Job 27:19-23. He lieth down rich, and doeth it not again.—So according to the reading וְלֹא יֹאסִף (=יוֹסִי‍ף), which already the LXX. (καὶ οὐ προσθήσει), Itala, and Pesh. followed, which is favored by parallel passages, such as Job 20:9; Job 40:5, and is accordingly preferred by the leading modern commentators, such as Ewald, Hirzel, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Renan, Rodwell, Merx]. The renderings based on the reading וְלֹא יֵאָסֵף are not so good; as, e. g., “and yet nothing is taken away” (Schnurr., Umbreit, Stick. [Elzas, Wemyss: “but he shall take nothing away”];—“and he is not buried” (Ralbag, Rosenmüller, Schlottmann) [Noyes, E. V.: “he shall not be gathered,” and so Con., Lee, Scott, etc. Carey explains the familiar phrase, “to be gathered (to one’s fathers, etc.),” not of being buried in the grave, but of being removed to the place of spirits. The objections to referring the clause to the rich man’s burial, as stated by Delitzsch, are, that the preceding strophe has already referred to his not being buried, and that the relation of the two parts of the verse in this interpretation is unsatisfactory]. The same may be said of the reading וְלֹא יֶאֱסֹף, “and takes not with him” (Jerome, and some MSS.). Openeth his eyes—and is gone! (comp. Job 24:24).—This further description of the sudden end of the wicked relates to the morning, the time of awakening, as the preceding clause refers to the evening hour of going to bed.

Job 27:20. The multitude of terrors (i. e., the sudden terrors of death; comp. Job 18:14; Job 20:25) like the waters (like the torrents of a sudden overflow—comp. Job 20:28; Jeremiah 47:2; Psalms 18:5 [4]) overtakes him (תַּשִּׂיג, 3d Perf. sing. fem, referring to the plur. בַּלָּהוֹת; comp. Job 14:19). On b comp. Job 21:18.

Job 27:21. Further descriptive expansion of the figure of a tempest: The east wind lifteth him up.—This wind being elsewhere frequently described as particularly violent and descriptive; comp. Job 38:24; Job 38:24; Isaiah 27:8; Ezekiel 27:26. Concerning וְיֵלַךְ, ut pereat, comp. Job 19:10; Job 19:10.

Job 27:22. The subj. of וְיַשְׁלֵךְ can be only God, the secret Author of the whole judgment of wrath here described. Of Him it is said: He hurleth upon him without sparing—to wit, arrows; comp. Job 16:13; and in regard to the objectless =הִשְׁלִיךְ“to shoot,” see Numbers 35:20. Before His hand must he flee—lit. “must he fleeing flee.”—The Inf. Absol. expresses the strenuousness and yet the futility of his various attempts to flee (Del.: “before His hand he fleeth hither and thither”).

Job 27:23. They clap their hands at him—rejoicing at his calamity and mocking him; comp. Job 34:37; Lamentations 2:15; Nahum 3:19. The plural suffixes in עָלֵימוֹ and כַּפֵּימוֹ are used poetically for the sing., as in Job 22:2; Job 22:2. “The accumulation of the terminations êmo and ômo gives a tone of thunder and a gloomy impress to this conclusion of the description of judgment, as these terminations frequently occur in the book of Psalms, where moral depravity is mourned and divine judgment threatened (e. g., in Psalms 73:0).” DelThey hiss him out of his place—so that he must leave his dwelling-place (comp. Job 8:18) in the midst of scorn and hissing (comp. Zephaniah 2:15; Jeremiah 49:17). Or “out of his home” (Hirz.), which rendering gives essentially the same meaning.

4. Third Section: first Strophe. Job 28:1-11. The difficulty, indeed the absolute impossibility, of attaining true wisdom by human skill and endeavor, described by means of an illustration taken from mining, which gives man access to all valuable treasures of a material sort, but which can by no means put him in possession of that spiritual good which comes from God. The question—whence the author had acquired so accurate a knowledge of mining as he here displays, seeing that the land of the Israelites was comparatively poor in mineral treasures (comp. Keil, Bibl. Archäol., p. 35 seq., 38)? may be answered, on the basis of Biblical and extra-Biblical sources of information, as follows: (1) The Jews in Palestine could not have been absolutely, strangers to the business of mining, seeing that in Deuteronomy 8:9 there is expressly promised to them “a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.” (2) Both Lebanon in the north, and the Idumean mountains in the south-east of Palestine proper, had copper mines, the particular location of these being at Phunon, or Phaino, Numbers 33:42 seq., in the working of which it is certain that the Jews were occasionally interested; comp. Volney’s Travels; Ritter, Erdkunde XVII. 1063; Gesenius, Thes. p. 1095; v. Rougemont, Bronzezeit, p. 87. (3) The Israelites possessed iron pits, possibly in South Lebanon, where in modern times such may still be found, together with smelting furnaces (Russegger, Reise I. 779, 778 seq.), but certainly in the country east of the Jordan, where, according to the testimony of Josephus, de B. Jud. IV. 8, 2, there was an “iron mountain” ( σιδηροῦν ὸ̓ρος) north of Moabitis, the “Cross Mountain,” El Mirâd of to-day, between the gorges of the Wadi Zerka and Wadi Arabun, west of Gerash; a mountain district in which in our own century iron mines have been worked here and there (v. Rougemont, l. c.; Wetzstein in Delitzsch, II. 90–91). (4) Jerome testifies to the existence of ancient gold mines in Idumea (Opp. ed. Vail. III. 183). (5) The Israelites might also come occasionally into connection with the copper and iron mines of the Sinai-peninsula, in the development of which the Egyptian Pharaohs were conspicuously energetic (comp. Aristeas v. Haverkamp, p. 114; Lepsius, Briefe, p. 335 seq.; Ritter, Erdkunde XIV. 784 seq; v. Rougemont, l. c.1 (6) What has been said above by no means excludes the possibility that in this description the poet in many particulars took for his basis traditional reports concerning the mines of distant lands, e. g. concerning the gold mines of Upper Egypt and Nubia (Diodorus Job 3:11 seq.), concerning the gold and silver mines of the Phenicians in Spain (1Ma 8:3; Plin. Job 3:4; Diod. 5:35 seq.), concerning the emerald quarries of the Egyptians at Berenice, and other deposits of precious stones, more or less remote. Comp. above Introd. § 7, b; and see a fuller discussion of the subject in Delitzsch 2:86–89; to some extent also the mining experts who have commented on the following verses, such as v. Weltheim (in J. D. Mich., Orient. Bibl. 23,. 7 seq.), and Rud. Nasse (Stud. u. Krit., 1863, p. 105 seq.)

Job 28:1. For there is for the silver a vein [Germ. Fundort, place where it is found], and a place for the gold, which they refine.—The connection between this section and the preceding, which is indicated by the causal כִּי “for,” is this: The phenomenon described in Job 27:11-23, that the wicked—with whom, according to Job 28:2-10 Job is not to be classed—meet with a terrible end without deliverance, is to be explained by the fact that they do not possess true wisdom, which can be acquired only through the fear of God, which cannot, like the treasures of this earth (the only object for which the wicked plan and toil), be dug out, exchanged or bought. The proposition introduced by כִּי accordingly assigns a reason first of all for that which forms the contents of Job 27:11-23 (“the prosperity of the ungodly cannot endure”), but secondarily and indirectly also that which is announced in Job 27:2-10 (Job is an upright man, and one who fears God, whose joy in God does not forsake him even in the midst of the deepest misery). [“The miserable end of the ungodly is confirmed by this, that the wisdom of man, which he has despised, consists in the fear of God; and Job thereby attains at the same time the special aim of his teaching, which is announced at Job 27:11 by אורה אתכם ביד־אל; viz. he has at the same time proved that he who retains the fear of God in the midst of his sufferings, though those sufferings are an insoluble mystery, cannot be a רשׁע. … And if we ponder the fact that Job has depicted the ungodly as a covetous rich man who is snatched away by sudden death from his immense possession of silver and other costly treasures, we see that Job 28:0. confirms the preceding picture of punitive judgment in the following manner: silver and other precious metals come out of the earth, but wisdom, whose value exceeds all these earthly treasures, is to be found nowhere within the province of the creature; God alone possesses it, and from God alone it comes; and so far as man can and is to attain to it, it consists in the fear of the Lord and the forsaking of evil.” Delitzsch.] The first verses of the chapter indeed down to the 11th, present nothing whatever as yet of that which serves directly to establish those antecedent propositions, they simply prepare the way for the demonstration proper, by describing the achievements of art and labor in the accumulation by men of their treasures, by means of which nevertheless wisdom can not be found. Hence כִּי may appropriately be rendered “for truly” (the “but” in Job 28:12 corresponding to the “truly”). This connection between Job 28:27 is erroneously exhibited, when any subordinate proposition of Job 27:0 is regarded as that which is to be established (as e. g., according to Hirzel, the question in Job 28:12 : “why are ye so altogether vain? why do ye adhere to so perverse a delusion?” or according to Schlottmann the purpose to warn against the sin of making unfriendly charges, which he thinks is to be read between the lines in the description Job 28:11-23). These false conceptions of the connection, alike with the total abandonment of all connection, which has led many critics to resort to arbitrary attempts to assign to Job 28:0. another position (e. g. according to Pareau after Job 26:0.; according to Stuhlmann after Job 25:0) or to question altogether its genuineness (Knobel, Bernstein——comp. Introd. § 9, 1)—all these one-sided conceptions rest, for the most part, on the assumption that it is the divine wisdom, which rules the universe, whose unsearchableness is described in our chapter, and not rather wisdom regarded as a human possession, as a moral and intellectual blessing bestowed by God on men, connected with genuine fear of God. Comp. Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No. 1. [E. V.’s rendering of כִּי by “surely” overlooks the connection, and was probably prompted by the difficulty attending it].—מוֹצָא, lit. “outlet” (comp. 1 Kings 10:28), the place where anything may be found, synonymous with the following מָקוֹם.—The word יָוֹקּוּ is a relative clause: gold, which they refine, or wash out. In regard to זקק, lit. “to filter, to strain,” as a technical term for purifying the precious metals from the stone-alloy which is mixed with them, comp. Malachi 3:3; Psalms 12:7 [6]; 1 Chronicles 28:18. Comp. the passage relative to the gold mines of Upper Egypt, describing this process of crushing fine the gold-quartz, and of washing it out, this process accordingly of “gold-washing,” as practised by the ancients, in Diodor. Job 3:11 seq., as well as the explanations in Klemm’s Allgem. Kulturgesch. V. 503 seq., and in M. Uhlemann, Egypt.Alterthumskunde, II. 148 seq.

Job 28:2. Iron is brought up out of the ground.—עָפָר here of the interior or deep ground, not of the surface as in Job 41:25; Job 41:25 [33], and stone is smelted into copper.—יָצוּק here not as in Job 41:15 Partic. Pual of יצק, but as in Job 29:6 Imperf. of יצק= צוּק (the 3d pers. sing. masc. expressing the indefinite subj.). [Gesenius not so well makes the verb transitive: “and stone pours out brass.”]

Job 28:3. He has put an end [שָׂם still the indefinite subj., but as the description becomes more individual and concrete, it is better with E. V. to use from this point on the personal pron. “he”] to the darkness, viz. by the miner’s lamp; and in every direction (lit. “to each remotest point, to every extremity, in all directions”) [not as E. V. “all perfection,” which is too general, missing the idiomatic use of the phrase; nor adverbially: “to the utmost,” or “most closely:”—“לתכלית might be used thus adverbially, but לכל־תכלית is to be explained according to לכל־רוח, Ezekiel 5:10, ‘to all the winds.’ ” Delitzsch]—he searcheth the stones of darkness and of death-shade,i. e. the stones under the earth, hidden in deep darkness. הוּא before חֹוקֵר refers back to the indefinite subj. of שָׂם, who is continued through Job 28:4, and again in Job 28:9-11.

Job 28:4. He breaketh [openeth, cutteth through] a shaft away from those who sojourn (above). נחל, elsewhere river, valley [river-bed] (Wadi), is here—as is already made probable by the verb פָרַץ, pointing to a violent breaking through (comp. Job 16:14), and as is made still more apparent by the third member of the verse—a mining passage in the earth, and that moreover a perpendicular shaft rather than a sloping gallery. מֵעִס־גָּר, lit. “away from one tarrying, a dweller,” i. e. removed from the human habitations found above, removing from them ever further and deeper into the bowels of the earth. [Schlottmann understands by גר the miner himself dwelling as a stranger in his loneliness; i. e. his shaft sinks ever further from the hut in which he dwells above. The use of גר is doubtless a little singular, and Schlottmann’s explanation may be accepted so far as it may serve to account for it by the suggestion that those who do live in the vicinity of mines are naturally גָּרִים, sojourners, living there to ply their trade and shifting about as new mines or veins are discovered.—E.]—Who are forgotten of every step, lit. “of a foot” (מִנִּי־רֶגֶל), i. e. of the foot or step of one travelling above on the surface of the earth [=“totally vanished from the remembrance of those who pass by above”], not the foot of the man himself that is spoken of, as though his descent by a rope in the depths of the shaft were here described (V. Leonhardt in Umbr. and Hirzel). [On this use of מִן after נשׁכח, comp. Deuteronomy 31:21; Psalms 31:13; “forgotten out of the mind, out of the heart”]. Moreover הַנִּשְׁכָּחִים are identical, according to the accents, with the indef. subj. of פָּרַץ (the interchange between sing, and plur. acc. to Ew. § 319, a); hence the meaning is: those who work deep down in the shafts of the mines. They are again referred to in the finite verbs in c, which continue the participial construction: they hang far away from men, and swing.דַּלּוּ from דּלל (related to זלל) deorsum pendere, according to the accents, accompanies מֵאֱנוֹשׁ (meaning the same with מֵעִס־גָּר), not נָעוּ, as Hahn and Schlottm. think. The adventurous swinging of those engaged in digging the ore out of the steep sides of the shafts, hanging down by a rope, is in these few, simple words beautifully and clearly portrayed. It is the situation described by Pliny (H. N. Job 33:4, Job 21:0 : is qui cædit, funibus pendet, ut procul intuenti species ne ferarum quidem, sed alitum fiat. Pendentes majori ex parte librant et lineas itineri præducunt, etc. [The above rendering, adopted by all modern exegetes, gives a meaning so appropriate to the language and connection, and withal so beautiful, vivid and graphic that it seems Strange that all the ancient and most of the modern versions of Scripture, including E. V., should have so completely darkened the meaning. The source of the difficulty lay doubtless in נחל which being taken in its customary meaning of “river, flood,” threw everything into confusion. Add to this a probable want of familiarity with mining operations on the part of the early translators, and the result will not seem so surprising.—E.]

Job 28:5 states what the miners are doing in the depths.—The earth—out of it cometh forth the bread-corn (לֶחֶם as in Psalms 104:14), but under it it is overturned like fire:i. e. as fire incessantly destroys, and turns what is uppermost lowermost. [“Man’s restless search, which rummages everything through, is compared to the unrestrainable ravaging fire.” Del.] Instead of כְּמוֹ Jerome reads בְּמוֹ: “is overturned with fire,” which some moderns prefer (Hirz., Schlott.), who find a reference here to the blasting of the miners. But this is too remote. [“The principal thought is the process of breaking through; the means are not so much regarded; and fire was not the only means.” Dillmann. Some commentators have fancied in this verse a trace of what modern criticism calls “sentimentalism,” as though Job were protesting against ruthlessly ravaging as with fire the interior of that generous earth which on its surface yields bread for the support of man. Job is, however, fixing his attention solely on the agent—man, who not satisfied with what grows out of the earth, digs for treasure into its deepest recesses.—E.]

Job 28:6. The place of the sapphire (מָקוֹם as in Job 28:1 a, the place where it may be found) are its stones, viz. the earth’s, Job 28:5; in the midst of its stones is found the sapphire, which is mentioned here as a specimen of precious stones of the highest value.—And nuggets of gold (or “gold ore,” hardly “gold-dust” as Hirzel thinks) become his, viz. the miner’s (so Schult., Rosenm., Ewald, Dillmann). Or: “nuggets of gold belong to it,” the place (מקום) where the sapphire is found (Hahn, Schlottm., Delitzsch). The reader may take his choice between these two relations of בּוֹ; the brevity of the expression makes it impossible to decide with certainty.

Job 28:7. The path (thither) no bird of prey hath known [and the vulture’s eye hath not gazed upon it]. נָתִיבִ is a prefixed nom. absol. like אֶרֶץ in Job 28:5. It may indeed also be taken as in opposition to מָקוֹם in Job 28:6 (hardly to עַפְרוִת זָהָב, as Ewald thinks), in which case the rendering would be: “the path, which no bird of prey hath known,” etc. (Del.). But that “the place of the sapphire” should be immediately afterwards spoken of as a “path,” looks somewhat doubtful. Concerning שְׁזָפַתּוּ comp. on Job 20:9.—[The rendering of E. V.: “There is a path which no fowl knoweth,” etc., is vague and incorrect in so far as it leads the mind away from the deposits of treasure, which are the principal theme of the passage.—E.]

Job 28:8 carries out yet further the description begun in Job 28:7 of the inaccessibleness of the subterranean passage-ways. The proud beasts of prey (lit. “sons of pride;” so also in Job 41:26 [34]) have not trodden it.—That this finely illustrative phrase [“sons of pride”] refers to the haughty, majestically stepping beasts of prey [“seeking the most secret retreat, and shunning no danger,” Del.], appears clearly enough from the parallel use of שַׁחַל in b (comp. Job 4:10).

Job 28:9. On the flint (the hardest of all stones) he lays his hand (the subject being man, as the overturner of mountains; see b, and respecting the use there of מִשֹּׁרֶשׁ, radicitus, “from the root,” comp. above Job 19:28; Job 19:28. [“שָׁלַח ידָ בְּ something like our “to take in hand,” of an undertaking requiring strong determination and courage, which here consists in blasting, etc. Del.] How the hand is laid on flint and similar hard stones is described by Pliny l. c.: Occursant silices; hos igne et aceto rumpunt, sæpius vero, quoniam id cuniculos fumo et vapore strangulat, cædunt fractariis CL. libras habentibus, etc.

Job 28:10. Through the rocks he cutteth passages.—יְאֹרִים, an Egyptian word, which signifies literally water-canals, must here, like נחל in Job 28:4, signify subterranean passages or pits for mining. And further, according to b, what is intended are galleries, horizontal excavations, in which the ore is dug out, and precious stones discovered. The word can scarcely be used of wet conduits, or canals to carry off the water accumulating in the pits, of which Job does not begin to speak until the following verse (against v. Weltheim, etc.). [The rendering “rivers” (E. V., Con., Car., Rod., etc.) would be still more misleading, because more vague, than “canals,” which is not without plausible arguments in its favor. Add however to Zöckler’s arguments in favor of the rendering “passages, galleries,” the sequence in the second member: And his eye sees every precious thing; which, as Delitzsch says, “is consistently connected with what precedes, since by cutting these cuniculi the courses of the ore (veins), and any precious stones that may also be embedded there, are laid bare.”—E.]

Job 28:11. That they may not drip he stops up passage-ways.—מִבְּכִי, lit. “away from dripping” [weeping], or: “against the dripping,” i. e. against the oozing through of the water in the excavations, to which the shafts and galleries, especially when old, were so easily liable. חִבֵּשׁ, as elsewhere חָבַשׁ, to stop or dam up, to bind up surgically (comp. חֹבֵשׁ, the surgeon, or wound-healer in Isaiah 3:7; Isaiah 1:6). נֵחָרוֹת seems in general to mean the same as נחלים above, and יְאֹרִים Job 28:10, to wit, excavations, shafts, pits, galleries. Nevertheless it may also denote “the seams of water” breaking through the walls of these excavations, thus directly denoting that which must be stopped up (Del.).—And so (through all these efforts and skilful contrivances) he brings to the light that which was hidden—a remark in the way of recapitulation, connecting back with the beginning of the description in Job 28:1, and at, the same time forming the transition to what follows. Respecting תַּעֲלֻמָה, comp. Job 11:6; אוֹר, Acc. loci for לָאוֹר.

5. Continuation: Second Strophe: Job 28:12-22. Application of the preceding description to wisdom as a higher good, unattainable by the outward seeking and searching of men. [“Most expositors since Schultens, as e. g. Hirz., Schlott., etc., assume out of hand that the Wisdom treated of here is the divine wisdom, as the principle which maintains the moral and natural order of the universe. But that the divine wisdom is to be found only with God, not with a creature, is something so very self-evident, and the exaltation of the divine wisdom above all human comprehension as a proposition so universally recognized, being also long since maintained and conceded by both the contending parties of our book (chs. 11 and 12), that it is not apparent why Job should here lay such stress upon it.” Dillm.]

Job 28:12. But wisdom—where is it found? And where (lit. “from where?” מֵאֵין as in Job 1:7, and מִן accompanying מָצָא as in Hosea 14:9 [8]) is the place of understanding?הַחָכְמָה, with the article, because wisdom is to be set forth as the well-known highest good of man. With the principal term חָכְמָה is connected בִּינָה as an alternate notion, as is often the case in Proverbs, especially chs. 1.–9. The first term denotes wisdom rather on its practical side, as the principle and art of right thinking and doing, or as the religious and moral rectitude taught by God; the second (with which תְּבוּנָה, Proverbs 8:1, and דַּעַת, Proverbs 1:2, alternate) pre-eminently on the theoretic side as the correct perception and way of thinking which lies at the basis of that right doing. Comp. the Introd. to the Solomonic Literature of Wisdom, § 2, Note 3 (Vol. X., p. 7 of this series).

Job 28:13. No mortal knows its price.—עֵרֶךְ (from ערך Job 28:17; Job 28:19) means lit. equivalent, price, value for purchase or exchange, the same with מְחִיר elsewhere. The LXX. probably read דַּרְכָּהּ, which reading is preferred by some moderns, e. g., by Dillmann, as agreeing better with Job 28:12.

Job 28:14. With “the land of the living” [Job 28:13] i. e., the earth inhabited by men (comp. Psalms 27:13; Isaiah 38:11, etc.) are connected the two other regions beneath heaven, in which wisdom might possibly be sought: (1) The “Deep” (תְּהוֹם) i. e., the subterranean abyss with its waters, out of which the visible waters on the surface of the earth are supplied (Genesis 7:11; Genesis 49:25):—(2) The “Sea” (יָם = Ὠκεανός) as the chief reservoir of these visible waters.

Job 28:15. Pure gold is not given for it.—סְגוֹר is the same with זָהָב סְגוֹר, 1 Kings 6:20; 1 Kings 10:21, not “shut up” [= carefully preserved], but according to the Targ. “purified” gold (aurum colatum, purgatum), hence gold acquired by heating, or smelting; comp. Diodor. l. c.

Job 28:16. In regard to the gold of Ophir (here כֶּתֶם אוֹפִיר, fine gold of Ophir) comp. Job 22:24; respecting the onyx stone (שֹׁחַם, lit. “pale, lean”) comp. the commentators on Genesis 2:12.

Job 28:17-19. Further description of the incomparable and unattainable value of wisdom, standing in a similar connection with Job 28:15-16, as Proverbs 3:15 with Proverbs 3:14.—Gold and glass are not equal to it.—ערך intrans. with Accus.—æquare aliquid, as in Job 28:19; Psalms 89:7. In respect to the high valuation of glass by the ancients (זְכוּכִית, or as some MSS., Ed’s., and D. Kimchi read—זְכוֹכִית) comp. Winer, Realw., Vol. I., 432 [and Eng. Bib. Dictionaries, Art “Glass”]. In respect to תְּמוּרָה in b, “exchange, equivalent,” comp. Job 20:18; Job 20:18.

Job 28:18. Corals and crystal are not to be named, not to be mentioned, i. e., in comparison with it, with wisdom (in regard to the construction of the passive יִזָּכֵר with the accus., comp. Gesen., § 143 [§ 140] 1, a). גָּבִישׁ, (lit. “ice,” like the Arab, gibs) denotes the quartz-crystal, which was regarded by the ancients as a precious stone, and supposed to be a product of the cold; Pliny, H. N. XXXVII. 2, 9.—The רָאמוֹת, the mention of which precedes, seem to be “corals,” an explanation favored by what is conjectured to be the radical signification of this word, “horns of bulls, or of wild oxen” (from רְאֵם—comp. Pliny XIII. 51), as well as by its being placed along with the less costly crystal; comp. also Ezekiel 27:16, where indeed corals from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean are mentioned as Tyrian articles of commerce. On the contrary פְנִינִים in b must be, according to Proverbs 31:10; Proverbs 31:10, an exchangeable commodity of extraordinary value, which decides in favor of the signification “pearls” assigned (although not unanimously) to this word by tradition, however true it may be that in Lamentations 4:7 corals seem rather to be intended (or perhaps red pearls artificially prepared, like the Turkish rose-pearls of to-day). Comp. Carey [who agrees in rendering רָאמוֹת by “corals,” and doubtfully suggests “mother-of-pearl” for גָּבִישׁ]. Delitzsch renders the former of the two words by “pearls,” the second by “corals” [so J. D. Michaelis, Rödiger, Gesenius, Fürst; the two latter regarding ראמות and פנינים as equivalent. See also in Smith’s Bib. Dic.,—Art’s., “Rubies,” “Pearls,” “Coral”]. The word מֶשֶׁךְ, “acquisition, possession,” (from משׁך, “to draw to oneself”) only here in the O. T.; related are מֶשֶׁק, Genesis 15:2, and מִמְשָׁק, Zephaniah 2:9.

Job 28:19. The topaz from Ethiopia (Cush) is not equal to it.—The rendering topaz (τοπάζιον) for פִּטְדָה is established by the testimony of most of the ancient versions in this passage, as well as in Exodus 28:17; Ezekiel 28:13. It is also favored by the statement of Pliny (Job 37:8) that the topaz comes principally from the islands of the Red Sea, as also by the probable identity of the name פטדה with the Sanscrit pita, yellow (comp. Gesen.) [and see the Lexicons, Delitzsch, Carey, etc., on the probable transposition of letters in the Hebrew and Greek forms]. In regard to b, comp. the very similar passage in ver 10a).

Job 28:20 again takes up the principal question propounded in Job 28:12. The וְ in וְהַחָכְמָה is consecutive, and may be rendered by “then” (Ew., § 348, a).

Job 28:21. It is hidden (וְנֶעֶלְמָה, lit., “and moreover, and further it is hidden”) from the eyes of all living, i. e., especially of all living beings on the earth: כָּל־חַי as in Job 12:10; 30:33. Of these “living” b then particularly specifies the sharp-sighted, winged inhabitants of the upper regions of the air; comp. above Job 28:7.

Job 28:22 follows up the mention of that which is highest with that of the lowest: Hell and the abyss [lit. “destruction and death”] say, מָוֶת in connection with אֲבַדּוֹן (see on Job 26:6) means the realm of death, the abyss; comp. Job 38:17; Psalms 9:14 [13]; Revelation 1:18. For the rest comp. above, Job 28:14; for to say that they [destruction and death] have learned of wisdom only by hearsay is substantially the same with saying, as is said there of the sea and the deep, that they do not possess it. [“The נעלמה מעיני כל חי, Job 28:21, evidently points back to the כל יקר ראתה עינו Job 28:10. In Job 28:11 it is said that man brings the most secret thing to light. In Job 28:22 that Divine wisdom is hidden even from the underworld.” Schlott.].

6. Conclusion: Third Strophe: Job 28:22-28. The final answer to the question, where and how wisdom is to be found: to wit, only with God, I and through the fear of God. [“The last of these three divisions (of the chap.) into which the highest truths are compressed is for emphasis the shortest, in its calmness and abrupt ending the moat solemn, because the thought finds no expression that is altogether adequate, floating in a height that is immeasurable, but opening a boundless field for further reflection.” Ewald.]

Job 28:23. God knows the way to it, and He knows its place.—אֱלֹהִים and הוּא, in emphatic contrast with the creatures mentioned in Job 28:13 seq., and Job 28:21 seq. The suffix in דַּרְכָּהּ is objective (comp. Genesis 3:24) “the way to it.”

Job 28:24-25 constitute one proposition which illustrates and explains the Divine possession of wisdom by a reference to God’s agency in creating and governing the world (so correctly Ewald, Arnh., Dillm.) [E. V., Conant, Rodman]. Against connecting Job 28:25 with what follows, more immediately with Job 28:26, and then regarding Job 28:25-26 together as constituting the protasis of Job 28:27 lies the objection that לַעֲשׂוֹת cannot properly be translated either “when He made,” or “in that He made,” as well as the fact that the gerundive Infinitive with לְ cannot be put before its principal verb, together with the absence of a suffix after לַעֲשׂוֹת referring to the subject God [should be לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ if the verse were antecedent]. Furthermore the Divine “looking to the ends of the earth,” etc., Job 28:24, would need a telic qualification, referring the divine omniscience [God’s looking every where and seeing every thing] to the creation and preservation of the order of nature, in order that it might not be understood as declaring the omniscience of God in abstracto. That He may appoint to the wind its weight, and weigh the water by measure.—The careful “measurement” of wind and water, i. e., their relative apportionment, government, and management (comp. Isaiah 60:12), is a peculiarly characteristic example of God’s wise administrative economy in creation: “Who sends the wind upon its course,” etc. Instead of the Infinitive the finite verb appears in b, and that in the Perf. form, תִּכֵּן, because the expression of purpose passes over into the expression of sequence, precisely as in Job 5:21 (see on the 5).

Job 28:26 seq. As the wisdom of God furnishes the means and basis of His government of the world, so in the exercise of His creative power was it the absolute norm, and is in consequence thereof the highest law for man’s moral action, positively and negatively considered. When He appointed for the rain a law (when and how often it should fall, where it should cease; comp. Genesis 2:5) and for the thunder flash a path (i. e., through the clouds; comp. Job 38:25), then saw He it and declared iti. e., in thus exercising at the beginning His creative power, He beheld it, contemplated it (we are to read רָאָהּ with Mappiq in ה), as His eternal pattern, according to which He made, ordered, and ruled His creatures, and declared it (וַיְסַפְּרָהּ, lit. “and enumerated it”), i. e., unfolded its contents before men and His other rational creatures throughout the whole creation, which in truth is nothing else than such a “development and historical realization” of the contents of eternal wisdom. The attempt of Schult., Ew., Dillm. to explain ספר as meaning “to number through, to review all over” (after Job 38:37; Psalms 139:18) is less natural.—He established it, and also searched it out, i. e., He laid its foundations in the creation (comp. Proverbs 8:22-23, where both verbs, קנה and נסך, convey the came idea of founding, establishing wisdom as הֵכִין here), brought it to its complete actualization in creation, and then reviewed all its individual parts to see whether they all bore the test of His examination. Comp. what is said in Genesis 1:31 : “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”—Or again: “He set it up before Himself,” for more attentive contemplation (הֵכִין according as in Job 29:7), and searched it out thoroughly, exploring its thoughts (so Wolff and Dillmann) [the latter of whom says: “He set it up for contemplation, as an artist or an architect puts up before himself the תַּבְנִית”]. It is not necessary, with some MSS. and Eds. to read הֱבִינָהּ, instead of הֱבִינָהּ, as Döderl. and Ew. do.

Job 28:28. And said to man: Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom, etc.—He would accordingly not reserve to Himself the wisdom which had served Him as a pattern of creation, but would communicate it to the human race which He had made and put into His world, which He could do only by setting it before them in the form of an original command to fear God and to depart from evil (סוּר מֵרָע, comp. Job 1:2; Proverbs 16:6; Proverbs 16:6. Instead of אֲדֹנָי יִרְאַת, very many MSS. and old editions read י׳ יְהוָֹה, which reading seems to have in its favor: (1) That יְהוָֹה, occurring only twice elsewhere in our book, might easily be set aside as being too singular; (2) that אֲרֹנָי in Jehovah’s own mouth does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament, not even in Amos 6:8; (3) that the parallels of the primitive saying before us in the Proverbs and in the Psalms constantly exhibit יִרְאַת יְהוָֹה (comp. Proverbs 16:6; Proverbs 16:6; Psalms 111:10).—On the other side it is true the Masoretic tradition expressly reckons this passage among the one hundred and thirty-four passages of the Old Testament, where אדני is not only to be read, but is actually written instead of יהוה (Buxtorf, Tiberias, p. 245). As regards the thought, it makes no difference whether we read “fear of the Lord” (“the Lord of all,” Del.), or “fear of Jehovah (Jahveh).” [It may, however, be said, that there is an especial appropriateness in the use of אדני here, in view of the fact that God is spoken of in connection with the creation, as the product of wisdom; and not only so, but God in His Lordship, His supremacy, His claim to be feared, i. e. revered and obeyed, whence אדני is used rather than אלוה or אלהים. God is אדני by virtue of the divine חכמה which He has “established” in nature. It is man’s חכמה to recognize the divine, and to fear אדני.—E.]


1. According to the connection of the Third Section of this discourse with the two preceding, as explained in the remarks on Job 28:1, it can admit of no doubt that the wisdom described in it is conceived of as essentially a human acquisition, as a blessing bestowed on man by God, consisting in the fear of God and in righteousness of life. This connection lies indeed in this—that in order to prove that which is said in Job 27:12 seq. of the perishable prosperity of worldly-minded sinners, the uselessness of all accumulation of earthly treasures is shown, it being entirely out of their power to secure the possession of true wisdom, and of that enduring prosperity which is connected with it. In addition to this connection with Job 27:0, the human character of this wisdom, rather than its hypostatic character, or that which belongs to it as a divine attribute, is shown secondly by the way in which the same is represented in Job 27:15-19 as a possession, being compared with other possessions, treasures and costly jewels, and the question submitted how its possession (משׁן, Job 27:18) is to be attained. To which may be added, thirdly, the consideration that it could scarcely be the speaker’s purpose to demonstrate the unsearchableness and unfathomableness, from a sensuous and earthly point of view, of an attribute, or a hypostasis of God, because this fact is self-evident, and because the whole tendency of his discourse was not theoretic and speculative, but practical, aiming at the establishment of right principles to influence human struggle and action.—The view accordingly held by quite a number of modern exegetes since the time of Schultens (especially Hirzel, Schlottmann, Hahn, also W. Wolff’s article—Die Anfänge der Logoslehre im A. T. in the Zeitschrift für Luth. Theol. u. Kirche, 1870, p. 217 seq.), that the object of the description in Job 28:0 is the wisdom of God as exercised in the universe, as the divine principle sustaining the moral and natural order of the universe, is erroneous, to say nothing of the fact that in that case one might find here, with A. Merx (Das Gedicht von Hiob, etc., p. 42) a “concealed polemic” against the doctrine of Wisdom as set forth in the Solomonic Proverbs.

2. We cannot say indeed of this theory, to wit, that Job 28:0 discourses of the Sapientia sciagraphica, God’s wisdom in creation and the government of the world—that it is altogether incorrect. In the concluding verses Job evidently lifts himself from his contemplation of wisdom as a human possession to the description of its archetype, the absolute divine wisdom, by means of which God has established alike the physical and the moral order of the universe. The passage in Job 28:23-28 comes into the closest contact with the two well-known descriptions of the Book of Proverbs which are occupied with this eternal world-regulating wisdom—Proverbs 3:19-26, and Proverbs 8:22 seq. It resembles them particularly in the fact that a preliminary meditation on the human reflection and emanation of this primordial wisdom, on the practical Chokmah of the God-fearing, righteous man, prepares the way for it, precisely as in those two passages. The “knowledge of the place” of the Creative Wisdom, which Job 28:23 ascribes to God, reminds the reader of Proverbs 8:30, in like manner as that which is said of its mediating agency in determining the laws of wind, water, rain and thunder (Job 28:24-26) reminds him of Proverbs 3:19 seq.; Proverbs 8:27 seq. And what is said of “seeing and declaring,” “establishing,” or “setting up and searching out” the heavenly architectress in Job 28:27, precisely as in Proverbs 8:22 seq., presents Wisdom as the infinitely many-sided pattern of the κτίσις κόσμου, as the ideal world, or the divine imagination of all things that were to be created, as the complex unity of all the creative ideas or archetypes present to God from eternity. This divine creative primordial wisdom, as described here, and in the two parallel passages in the Solomonic writings (and not less in those passages of the Apocrypha which in some respects are still more full, viz. Sirach, Job 24:0, and Wisdom, Job 7-9), is without question closely related to the idea of the Logos given in the New Testament. It is very true that the idea of Wisdom, especially in the passage before us, the oldest of all pertaining to the subject, has not yet shaped itself into a form of existence so concretely personal, and a filial relation to God so intimate and so indicative of similarity of nature, as characterize the Johannean Logos. It appears rather simply as an “impersonal model” for God in His creative activity, while the New Testament Logos is the “personal architect” working in accordance with that model, “the demiurg by which God has called the world into existence according to that ideal which was in the divine mind” (Del.). But notwithstanding this its undeveloped character, the Chokmah of our passage is the unmistakable substratum and the immediate precursor of the revealed perception of a personal Word, and of an only-begotten Son of God. And as the older exegesis and theology was already in general correct in referring our passage to the Divine in Christ (the σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ, Matthew 11:19; Luke 11:49) the attempts of more recent writers to deny any genetic connection of ideas between it and the New Testament doctrine of the Logos, and in general to regard human wisdom as the only object described, even in Job 28:23-28 (e. g. Bruch, Weisheitslehre, etc., p. 202; V. Hofmann, Schriftbew. I: 95 seq.; Luthardt, Apologetische Vorträge über die Heilswahrheiten des Christenth., 2d Ed. p. 227), have rightly evoked much opposition. Comp. Philippi,. Kirchl. Glaubenslehre II. 192 seq.; Kahnis, Luth. Dogm. I, 316 seq.; III, 209 seq.; Bucher, Des Johannes Lehre vom Logos, 1856; also B. Couve, Les Origines de la Doctrine du Verbe, Toulouse, 1869, p. 36 seq. The latter indeed denies in respect to the present passage (in which, like Hofmann, he is inclined to find merely a poetic personification of human wisdom) that it is related in the way of preparation to the New Testament doctrine of the Logos, but admits this in respect to the parallel passages in Proverbs, and the later passages. Against Merx’s view, which in part is similar, see above No. 1, near the end.

3. Taken in connection with the preparatory train of thought in Job 27:0 this description of wisdom, or more strictly, of the way to true wisdom, forms one of the most important, artistically elaborated portions of the whole poem. It is a suitable conclusion to the first principal division of the poem, or the entanglement which results from the controversial passage between Job and his friends, taking the form of a Confession of Faith, in which Job, after victoriously repelling all the assaults of his enemies, states his position on all the chief points, about which the controversy had revolved, in a manner full at once of a calm dignity and the consciousness of victory. The one favorite proposition of his opponents,—that his suffering could not be undeserved—he solemnly and unqualifiedly repels by again asseverating his complete innocence (Job 27:2-10). In asserting here that his conscience does not hold up before him one of his former days as worthy of blame or punishment (Job 27:6) he transgresses in a one-sided manner the bounds of that which could be maintained with strict truth concerning himself (comp. Job 26:13), and so causes that foul spot to appear clearly enough on his moral conduct and consciousness, for which he must needs implore forgiveness. On the other hand, the confession which follows of his belief in that other favorite proposition of his opponents—that the wicked are punished in this life (Job 27:11-23)—seems to go too far in an opposite direction; for after what he has said repeatedly heretofore in favor of the teachings of experience touching the temporal prosperity of the ungodly, he could not properly concede the point which he now maintains, and that so completely without qualification. The first half of his discourse accordingly seems liable to the charge of being egregiously one-sided and of departing from strict actual truth in two respects—in declaring that Job’s suffering was wholly, and in every respect unmerited, and in admitting that even in this life there is a divine judgment awaiting the wicked, from which they cannot escape. The second principal division of the discourse prepares the way at least for supplementing and correcting both of these one-sided representations through its elevated eulogy on true wisdom, founded on constant undivided surrender to God, however much there may be still that needs purifying and improving. He dwells with special emphasis on the fact that the eager striving and longing of the wicked reaches not only after earthly treasures and jewels, such as are to be procured out of the depths of the earth only with much toil and effort. He thus intimates that their whole prosperity, being founded on such earthly treasures (comp. Job 27:16), is in itself perishable, unreal, a mere phantom, and emphasizes all the more strongly in contrast with it the incomparable worth of a prosperity consisting in the fear of God and in strict rectitude, in surrendering oneself wholly to that which is divine, in the pursuit of heavenly treasures, in a word in true wisdom, the image and emanation of the eternal divine wisdom of the Creator, a prosperity of so high an order that he would possess it as the foundation, and at the same time as the fruit of his innocence, and that it would not forsake him even now, in the midst of his fearful sufferings and conflicts. There is much in this train of thought that is not brought out with such clearness as might be desirable. Some of it must even be read between the lines as being tacitly taken for granted, particularly that which refers to Job as having formerly possessed and as still possessing this heavenly practical wisdom, and also to its relation to his temporary misery. But although the discourse may lack that close consecutiveness and thorough completeness of plan which modern philosophic poets or thinkers might have impressed upon it, it nevertheless forms a truly suitable conclusion to the preceding controversies, and at the same time a striking transition to the gradual solution of the whole conflict which now follows. As regards its significance in the structure of the poem it may be termed “Job’s Eulogy on Wisdom,” in which he announces his supreme axiom of life, and characteristically gives to his vindication against the friends its harmonious peroration, and its seal. It appears in the structure of the book as “the clasp which unites the half of the δέσις with the half of the λύσις,” and on which the poet has characteristically inscribed the well-known axiom of the Old Testament Chokmah—“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” (Delitzsch).

4. For the homiletic treatment of this section it is more important to call attention to the close family relationship existing between this eulogy of Job’s on wisdom and such New Testament passages as Paul’s eulogy on Love (1 Corinthians 13:0), our Lord’s admonition in the Sermon on the Mount to seek treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19 seq.), the similar exhortations of Paul and James (1 Timothy 6:0; James 5:0), than to take pains to exhibit the plan of the section, lacking as it is in complete thoroughness, and to show its subtle, oftentimes completely hidden connections with the previous course of the colloquy. A large number of hearers would scarcely be prepared to follow with profit such elaborate disquisitions concerning the niceties of plan in the discourse, and by reason of the not inconsiderable expenditure of time requisite for such an object, they would be quite, or almost quite untouched by so much beauty and impressive power as the details of the discourse present. A division of the whole into smaller sections, at least into the three, which constitute the natural partition of the discourse, seems here also to be required for homiletic purposes, in order that every part of it may be suitably appreciated and unfolded.

Particular Passages

Job 27:2 sq. V. Gerlach: If by God’s grace a holy man then (under the Old Dispensation) kept his life pure, and observed God’s commandments, albeit in weakness, to which the speeches of Job himself bear witness (this very confession especially), it was of the highest importance that this his life should not be judged falsely, that he should be recognized as God’s visible representative, as a revealer of His law, as a support of God’s servants such as were weaker, not free from blame. Such a prince among God’s saints on earth as Job lived preeminently for God’s people, and he could not, without throwing all into confusion, deny his position, could not through false humility surrender his righteousness, which for very many was the righteousness of God himself; he must on occasion declare boldly that his enemies were also enemies of God. Hence his showing himself on the spot in this confession as a victor after the struggle was not only a comfort to the sorely tried man, but also of importance for the complete establishment of that which he affirmed.

Job 27:10. Brentius: When he says that the hypocrite does not always call upon God, he has reference to the duty of praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). For where there is faith, prayer is never suspended, although one should be asleep, or should be doing something else. Unbelief indeed never prays, except with the mouth only; but such praying cannot reach through the clouds.

Job 27:13 seq. Osiander: God does not forget the wickedness of the ungodly, but punishes it in His own time most severely, and generally even in this life (Exodus 32:34). … The destruction of the ungodly is therefore to be waited for in patience. Although these think that when misfortune befalls them, it comes by chance, it does nevertheless come from God because of their sin (Amos 3:6).

Job 28:1 seq. Zeyss: If men are so ingenious, and so indefatigably industrious in discovering and obtaining earthly treasures, how much more should they toil to secure heavenly treasures, which alone can give true rest to our souls, make us rich and happy (Matthew 16:26)!—Brentius: All else in the nature of things, however deeply hidden, can be searched out and valued by human labor and industry; the wisdom of God alone can neither be sought out, nor judged by human endeavor. Although the veins of silver and gold lie hidden in the most secret recesses of the mountains, they are nevertheless discovered by great labor, and riches, which incite to so many evils, are dug out. In like manner iron, however it may be hidden in the most secret depths of the earth, can nevertheless be discovered; but no one anywhere has found the wisdom of God by human endeavor.

Job 28:12 seq. Oecolampadius: Corporeal substances, of whatsoever kind, can be found somewhere. Wisdom is of another order of being: you can ascertain neither its place nor its price. In vain will you journey to the Brahmins, to Athens, to Jerusalem; although you cross the sea, or descend into the abyss, you but change your skies, not your soul. Neither schools, nor courts, nor temples, nor monasteries, nor stars, will make one wiser.

Job 28:23-28. Oecolampadius (on Job 28:27): Not that we should think of God so childishly, as though in His works He had need of deliberation or of an external pattern, but in His nature He has such productiveness that He both wills and produces at one and the same time (Psalms 33:9).—Cocceius: Distinguish between the wisdom which is the pattern and the end, and that which is the shadow [image], and the means. The former is with God, is God, and is known only to God; the latter is from God in us, a ray of that Wisdom. In like manner, we are said to be κοινωνοὶ θείας φύσεως (2 Peter 1:4), i. e. through having God’s image, being one with Him, and enjoying Him.—Jac. Boehme (according to Hamberger, Lehre J. Böhme’s, p. 55): Wisdom is a divine imagination, in which the ideas of the angels and souls and all things were seen from eternity, not as already actual creatures, but as a man beholds himself in a mirror.—W. Wolff (Die Anfänge der Logoslehre, etc. Zeitschrift f. Luth. Theol. 1870, p. 220): What is wisdom? It is not measuring space with the help of mathematics, it is not contemplating cells through the microscope, it is not even resolving things into their original substance, and determining their relations one to another, but it is having an insight into their nature, having full knowledge of their original condition. Yea, more; absolute wisdom is essentially creative. We can search out indeed God’s thoughts (in His creation), but we cannot gather up any truth into a vital point, out of which anything can proceed or originate; we cannot (to use the language of J. Böhme) “compress it into a centre.” … God alone has that creative wisdom. He must know it, for He has it first and foremost in Himself. It is not discovered and searched out by Him, but it is in His being (Proverbs 8:25 seq.) It was, and is, in the same eternal form in which God is: uncreated, divinely internal.—V. Gerlach (on Job 28:28): “He who would learn the secrets of the mighty must keep watch diligently at their gates,” says with truth an eastern proverb. Without the living moral followship of the heart with God it is vain to desire to know wisdom, which comes only from Him, and belongs only to Him.


[1]The name Mafkat, “Land of Copper,” which the Egyptians gave to the Sinaitic peninsula on account of those mines, is of late explained by Brugsch to mean “Land of Turquois,” it being assumed by him that turquois was the principal product of the ancient Egyptian mines in that region. Comp. H. Brugsch, Wanderung nach den Türkisminen der Sinai = Halbinsel, 1868, 2d Ed., p. 66 seq.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 27". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/job-27.html. 1857-84.
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