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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 28

 

 

Verses 1-28

Job 28. Here again we come to a critical question. It is difficult to fit this chapter into the argument, whether Job 27:7-23 is given to Job or to Zophar. It is a widely accepted conclusion of scholars that the chapter is an independent poem on Wisdom (a very fine one) which has somehow found its way into the text of the Book of Job. In its present form it opens with the word "For," marking a connexion with something that has gone before; so that the beginning appears to be lost. Duhm has suggested that since the word "whence cometh wisdom (or "where shall wisdom be found") and where is the place of understanding?" occur as a refrain in the poem, it probably also began with them. The poem has a parallel in Proverbs 8.

Job 28:1-11. The First Strophe.—(Where shall wisdom be found?) For silver, gold, iron, and copper can be found by mining (Job 28:1 f.). The miners set an end to the darkness (with their lamps) and so search the dark depth of the earth (Job 28:3).

Job 28:4 is very obscure. Duhm reads, "He breaketh open a shaft away under the foot. He hangs beneath swinging on a rope." Some such emendation is absolutely necessary.

Job 28:5 suggests a contrast between the peaceful growth of the corn above ground and the blasting of the rocks beneath (read "by fire" instead of "as by fire"). From Job 28:6 we should probably pass on to Job 28:9-11, completing the description of mining. Peake much improves the sense by transferring Job 28:7 f., which, as Duhm says, clearly speaks of the path to the home of wisdom, to a position after Job 28:12.

Job 28:12-19. The Second Strophe.—Here, as above mentioned, we should probably insert after Job 28:12, Job 28:7 f., which here fits in admirably. Where shall wisdom be found? No bird's eye has seen the path, nor beast trodden it. Man knows not the way thereof (in Job 28:13 "way" is read by LXX instead of "price"). The deep and the sea possess it not. It is absolutely priceless (Job 28:15-19). "There is great difficulty in identifying the precious stones of this passage, and the ancient versions do not help us much. For ‘onyx' we should perhaps read ‘beryl' or ‘malachite'; the ‘sapphire' is the lapis lazuli; ‘coral' is only a guess; ‘rubies' should probably be ‘red corals'; and the ‘topaz' may be either serpentine or the peridot" (Strahan).

Job 28:20-28. Third Strophe.—Whence then cometh wisdom? Man and beast, Abaddon (see Job 26:6) and Death are all in the dark. God alone knows (Job 28:23). At the time of the creation, when God weighed out the wind and the waters, and regulated the rain and the lightning (Job 28:25 f.), then He created wisdom and understood its innermost nature. "Declare" (Job 28:27) perhaps means that God named the name of wisdom, expressing thereby her qualities. Duhm translates "study." "Established" (Job 28:27) perhaps means "created" (Peake) or "took it as a pattern" (Strahan).

Job 28:28 is a gloss. The chapter regards wisdom as belonging to none but God and as His instrument, or perhaps model, in the work of creation. This verse represents wisdom as a human possession; it is the fear of God. The verse expresses the interest of some scribe in practical piety. Cf. the similar addition, Ecclesiastes 12:13.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 28:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-28.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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