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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Job 28

Concerning wordly wealth. (1-11) Wisdom is of inestimable value. (12-19) Wisdom is the gift of God. (20-28)

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Concerning wordly wealth

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 inhabitant; 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; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.

11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

Wisdom is of inestimable value

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.

Wisdom is the gift of God

20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is 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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Silver. Heb. “Surely there is a vein, or mine, for silver.” H. — The sagacity of man has discovered all these things. Wonderful also is the instinct of animals, v. 7. Yet wisdom comes from God alone; and those act rashly, who pretend to dive into his counsels in punishing his creatures and ruling the world. C.

Ver. 2. Stone. Prot. “and brass is molten out of the stone.” H. — “When brass comes out of the mine it resembles stone, and being mixed with earth is refined in the fire.” Pliny xxxvi. 27. M. — All this process would require much ingenuity and time. Tubalcain was a great artist before the deluge; (Gen. iv. 22.) but we cannot tell who were the inventors of these things, though (C.) the Greeks have specified the names of some who introduced these metals into their respective countries. Pliny vii. 56. H.

Ver. 3. He (God) hath, &c. H. — Darkness, before which these inventions could not be made; (M.) or, man has been able to measure the hours of day and night by the shadow of the sun, and by other means. He always strives to perfect his works, and examines with care the mines which lay concealed in the most profound obscurity. C. — Precious stones and metals lie the deepest. M. — From the consideration of these beautiful works, men ought to raise their minds to the Creator, and wisely rest in him alone. W.

Ver. 4. At. Nations are separated by waters from each other. C. — Some, like the Chinese, keep all strangers at a distance. H. — But the industry of man breaketh through all barriers. Heb. “a river separates a foreign nation forgotten by travellers; but these waters cannot stop man: they flow away.” C. — “The flood breaketh out from the inhabitants, even the waters; forgotten of the foot, they are dried up; they are gone away from men.” Prot. “Sand cuts off a torrent: but those who forget the way of justice, have become infirm, and have been instable among mortals.” Sept. H. — Travellers are sometimes parted by a swelling torrent; (Sa) and waters, bursting forth suddenly, change the roads of man. W.

Ver. 5. In its, &c. Heb. and Sept. “and under it is turned up as it were fire,” which lies in it. H. — Fire, like Sodom; to which event Job alludes, C. xxii. 20. C. — The furnaces to melt various metals have taken the place of corn, and occupy the land. M. — Men have extracted bitumen, &c. even from the lake of Sodom. Pliny vii. 15. — Nothing escapes them. C.

Ver. 6. Sapphires. The best are found in Media, in the country of the Taphyri, (Ptol.) or Raspires. Herod. iii. 94. — Gold. This precious metal, like all others, is found in the bowels of the earth, (H.) and in the bed of rivers, in Ophir, Peru, &c. C.

Ver. 7. Path of these metals, (M.) or a path in general. H. — They fly, as beasts roam about, without keeping the high road; yet never miss their way, or fail to return to their own place, though they may have crossed the sea or woods, and been absent many months. This instinct is one of the wonders of nature. C.

Ver. 8. Merchants, who go the shortest road. H. — Heb. “of lions,” which find their deans without asking for the path. C.

Ver. 9. Roots, in quest of precious metals. M. — “Imus in viscera terræ et in sede Marium opes quærimus.“ Pliny xxxiii. pref.

Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum. Ovid, Met. i.

Ver. 10. Rivers. Or, the waters lodged in the mines. M. — He hath even cut canals through the hardest rocks, (H.) and sunk wells. C.

Ver. 11. Searched, by diving; (C.) or, Heb. “he bindeth the rivers from flowing;” diverting their course by dams, &c. This is another proof of the power of man. C. —Labor omnia vincit. Hor.

Ver. 12. Understanding, of supernatural things, which teaches us to love God, and to comprehend his counsels. This is very different from the human sagacity of which he has been speaking; and this is the gift of God alone. C.

Ver. 13. Price. It has none, like other precious things. Bar. iii. 15. — In delights is not expressed in Heb. or Sept. C. — But to live in misery is hardly to be accounted living, (H.) and the addition restrains the proposition, as some men possess this treasure, though not those who take no pains (C.) to mortify corrupt nature. H. — Chal. “it is not found in the land of the proud, whose life is spent in sin.” C. — True wisdom is found, not in natural, but in supernatural, things. W.

Ver. 15. Finest, obrizum, which has the colour of fire. Pliny xxiii. 3. The old Vulg. and Sept. read “locked-up gold,” aurum conclusum, (C.) and the Heb. Segor, (H.) “that which is shut up,” like things of value: gold is sometimes specified, 3 K. vi. 20.

Ver. 16. Dyed, &c. Heb. cethem ophir, (H.) “the shut up” (gold, though the Vulg. Sept. &c. vary in the interpretation) “of Ophir.” This country was famous for its gold. C. — Its situation is not clearly ascertained. S. Jerom seems to have placed it in India, which Josephus, “in the golden country,” now Malacca. — Stone. Prot. onyx. Heb. shoham (H.) means, probably, the emerald. Gen. ii. 12. C. — But these names are very indeterminate. Theodotion, from whom grater part of this chapter is inserted in the Sept. has “the gold of Ophir, and the precious onyx and sapphire.” H.

Ver. 17. Gold. This is the third time it has been mentioned, according to its different degrees of excellence. Hence it is called by the most common name, (C.) zahab. H. — Crystal was formerly more “transparent” than we have it at present. C. — Zecucith (H.) denotes something of this kind. C.

Ver. 18. Things. Heb. Ramoth and Gabish (H.) are terms much controverted. The first may denote the unicorns, (Deut. xxxiii. 17.) and the latter the thunderbolt, or ceraunia, which were in high request. Pliny xxxvii. 9. Ezechiel (xiii. 11. and xxvii. 16.) mentions the former as carried by merchants to Tyre. These stones, which fell from the sky, were used by the Parthian magi, &c. for secret purposes. They have given rise to many fabulous accounts. Those which are to be seen, are by no means beautiful. C. — Yet if the people esteemed them, Job might well include them among other things of most value. Prot. “No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls, for the price of wisdom is above rubies.” H. — The latter part of the verse would be rather, “the fishing for wisdom would be more difficult than that for pearls;” (C.) or, “the extraction of wisdom is above the drawing for of peninim.“ H. — The pinna is a kind of fish which is fastened to the bottom of the sea, by roots, of which the byssus was made. 1 Par. xv. 27. Pearls were commonly found in the Persian Gulf, near Idumea. The art of diving for them, and extracting them from the fish, was very difficult, but nothing in comparison with the labour requisite to discover wisdom. The ancients describe some pearls of a reddish gold colour. Athen. iii. 13. Jer. Lam. iv. 7. — Adam, which is interpreted red, in Jeremias, means also any thing very shining; in which sense the word purpureus is used. Hor. vi. Ode 1. Bochart, Anim. p. 2, b. v. vi. (C.) and t. iii. 681. 91. The opinion of this author seems preferable to that of Hutchinson and Cooke, who would translate peninim (H.) by “loadstones or magnets,” which the former says are like “reddish clay,” though they are really of a dusky iron grey, sometimes tinged with brown or red. This complexion would not be very beautiful. Yet the Nazarites are compared to peninim, (Lam. iv.) and to snow, (Parkhurst) as they were of a most fair red and white, like pearls. H. — Though the ancients seem to have been acquainted with the loadstone or magnetic needle, particularly the Phenicians (Odys. viii. 556.) and Chinese, for many ages, yet it was never so common as to form a popular comparison. Aquila renders the word in question, periblepta, “conspicuous things;” and pearls were certainly highly valued by the Jews, &c. Parkhurst, in pone. — Theodotion, in the Sept. “draw forth wisdom before the inmost things.” — Both these versions agree with the Vulg. as the most precious goods are kept out of sight. H. — Yet the deepest mines of gold do not require so much diligence and sagacity for us to discover and possess them, as wisdom does; but, in return, it will abundantly recompense the man who finds such a treasure. Eccli. vi. 19. and 24. Pineda.

Ver. 19. Ethiopia, on the east of the Red Sea. Pliny (vi. 29.) mentions the isle of Chuthis, which was also famous for the topaz. — Dying. Heb. cethem, (H.) which we have observed relates to gold, v. 16.

Ver. 22. Destruction. Heb. abaddon, which is before (C. xxvi. 6.) used to signify the bottomless abyss. There, too late! the dead become acquainted with the value and nature of wisdom. H. — But their knowledge is imperfect, and of no use to us. C.

Ver. 25. Measure. He regulates the winds, and know the drops of water, (H.) which to man is impossible. Prov. xvi. 2.

Ver. 26. Storms; or Heb. “for the lightning, which attends thunder.” C.

Ver. 27. It. All the works of God proclaim his wisdom. H. — He never made an acquisition of it, but possessed it from all eternity. Prov. viii. 23.

Ver. 28. Understanding. This is the duty of man, and a thing of the utmost importance. This teaches us to adore God’s judgments (C.) in silence. H. — It is the most important instruction of the whole book. Pineda. — Man must consider God’s works to fear Him; and by avoiding evil, and doing good, (W.) to shew true wisdom. H.