Job Chapter 28  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Job 28
Job 28:1

“source.” The Hebrew is more like “source” or “place of going out,” but it can refer to a mine, which is where the silver “goes out,” and many translations use “mine.” However, “source” fits better with Job’s argument about the source of wisdom and understanding (Job 28:12). Also, “place” is used in Job 28 five times: Job 28:1, 6, 12, 20, and 28:23. Jobs argument is in part that there is a “source” and “place” for things, so where is the source and place of wisdom. It is in God.

It may help the reader understand what Job is referring to in Job 28 if it is known that the Middle East is not a huge mining area. Metal was usually found on the surface and then veins were followed into the earth. The equipment to dig into the earth in those days, 4,000 years ago, was very primitive, so extensive mining was not often done. But if the vein was valuable enough, the effort was put forth to dig a mine.

Job begins speaking about wisdom by first speaking about precious metals in the ground (Job 28:1-11). This is a fitting introduction to what he has to say about wisdom. Like gold and silver, wisdom is usually hidden from open view, and like gold and silver, one has to do some work to get it. One has to be disciplined enough to get up and dig for it, and one has to be persistent enough to keep at it until one has it. Many years after Job lived, Solomon compared working to attain wisdom with searching for silver and buried treasure (Prov. 2:3-4).

Job 28:2

“Iron is taken out of the dust.” The “mines” were not deep.

Job 28:3

“Men put an end to the darkness.” By digging down into the earth, men introduce light where it had never shined before, and they dig as far as they can in the gloom and darkness to find the rock that contains the ore.

Job 28:4

“far from where people live.” Generally, the mines in Israel were far from the cities, down by the Dead Sea or in the south of the Negev, or down by the Gulf of Aqaba.

“forgotten by the foot.” The poetry makes this clause obscure, but it means that human feet have “forgotten,” or more accurately to fact, “do not know about” the mines below where people are working.

“Far from other people, they hang and they swing back and forth.” As the miners go down into the mines they sometimes have to hang and climb on ropes.

Job 28:5

“food.” The Hebrew is more literally “bread,” but the word is used for food in general.

“but underneath it is overturned as by fire.” A major way that the mining was done was to build a fire in the mine and get the rocks very hot and then splash them with cold water to cause them to break. Then the pieces of ore could be taken out and the rubble could be removed.

Job 28:6

“sapphires.” The mineral may more likely be lapis lazuli, but it is possible that sapphires are meant. Some versions have lapis lazuli.

Job 28:7(top)
Job 28:8(top)
Job 28:9

“man.” The Hebrew is “he,” but that could be confusing because the subject is changing from animals to humans.

Job 28:10(top)
Job 28:11(top)
Job 28:12(top)
Job 28:13

“nor is it found in the land of the living.” This is a general statement that means that since true wisdom is found with God, it is not found among people. The exception, of course, is with those people who have learned from God, but that is not the context here.

Job 28:14(top)
Job 28:15(top)
Job 28:16

“the precious onyx, or the sapphire.” The exact stones referred to as onyx and sapphire are unknown. The sapphire may well be lapis lazuli.

Job 28:17(top)
Job 28:18

“Coral.” Coral seems cheap to us today, but only because we have the means to go into the depths of the ocean and get it. The reddish-orange coral that grows deep in the Mediterranean Sea only occasionally washed up on the shore and was highly valuable.

“jewels.” The jewel or stone is not known. Suggestions including pearls and rubies are in the various English translations, but actually, neither is likely. The Hebrew word seems to be related to red (cp Lam. 4:7), but rubies have not been discovered in excavations in Israel and were apparently unknown to the people there.

Job 28:19

“weighed in a balance with pure gold.” When a person wanted to buy grain, precious metals, etc., they were weighed in a balance. No amount of gold could be weighed and used to purchase wisdom. It comes from God and is given to those who please Him.

Job 28:20(top)
Job 28:21

“She is hidden from the eyes of all living.” It seems at this point in Job’s narrative (or perhaps a few verses earlier or later), wisdom becomes personified and presented as if she was a person by itself, and God is acquainted with her. This is very poetic and not out of character with the book of Job itself, which is Hebrew poetry. Wisdom is presented as a woman here in Job and in Proverbs, and the Hebrew word for “wisdom” is feminine (see commentary on Prov. 1:20).

“the birds of the air.” The Hebrew is literally, “the birds of the heavens,” but the Hebrew word “heavens” is always plural, there is no singular word “heaven” in Hebrew. In Job 28:7, the falcons of the air cannot see the riches buried beneath the earth, and here they cannot see wisdom, which is hidden in God.

Job 28:22

“Destruction and Death say.” Here in Job 28:22, Destruction (the Hebrew is “Abaddon”), and Death are personified as people who have heard about wisdom but never personally met or experienced her. That makes perfect sense, because the ungodly and fools go to Destruction, and they don’t know wisdom either (cp. Prov. 1:32; 10:21; 18:7).

Job 28:23

“it is he who knows her place.” That is, God knows where to find wisdom. This is the fifth and last time in Job 28 that “place” is used; it was first used in Job 28:1.

Job 28:24

“and sees everything under the heavens.” God, the creator, sees everything on earth and everything under the heavens. Nothing is hidden from Him, and so He knows where wisdom lives.

Job 28:25(top)
Job 28:26(top)
Job 28:27

“wisdom...her.” In Hebrew, “wisdom” is a feminine noun, and here she is being personified (cp. Job 28:20-23, 27).

Job 28:28(top)

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