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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 28

 

 

Verse 1

Job 28:1 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold [where] they fine [it].

Ver. 1. Surely there is a vein for the silver] For there is a vein, &c., so Tremellius readeth it. But here is no reason rendered of God’s heavy judgments on the wicked, last discoursed of; but the unsearchableness of God’s wisdom, and the righteousness of his proceedings asserted, while some bad men prosper, and some good men suffer. The reason whereof lieth hid (as a river that runneth underground) from the natural man (and in part, from the spiritual also), be he never so perspicacious or industrious in prying into Nature’s secrets. The silver vein lieth very low, and far out of sight; yet is found out and known; as also is the art of fining it. This art was soon learned in the world; and mortals were quickly become metallaries. Effodiuntur opes, &c. (Ovid). A great part of their skill they might have from Adam, according to that of the Divine chronologer, Ex Adami sapientissimi Doctoris ore promanavit, tanquam ex fonte, quicquid in mundo est utilium doctrinarum, disciplinarum, scientiae et sapientiae. He that knew so much before his fall (far more than ever Solomon did) of Nature’s most hidden mysteries, who can doubt that afterwards also he retained and imparted to his nephews a great deal of abstruse and rich skill? such as was this here instanced, and afterwards by Cicero, among others, celebrated in his second book, De Nat. Deor., where, discoursing about men’s witty inventions, he saith among other things, Nos aeris, argenti, auri venas penitus abditas invenimus, &c., We have found out the veins of brass, silver, gold, and other metals, though deeply hidden in the bowels of the earth. Some of the ancients have wished that we had never found out these metals, because of the great abuse of them. Josephus saith that Cain heaped up great store of them. Strabo saith, that Phaletius feared lest, in digging for gold and silver, men would dig themselves a new way to hell, Et Plutonem brevi ad superos adducturos, and bring up the devil among them (Geog. l. 5). Some say that he haunteth the richest mines, and will not suffer them to be searched. Sure it is, that, by the inordinate love of these metals, he drowneth many a soul in perdition and destruction, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 Auri sacra fames, &c. So subject they are to sin, as that God made a law to have them purified before he would have them used by his people, Numbers 31:22-23, &c., who should herein have the mind of those Persians, Isaiah 13:12; Isaiah 13:17, which regarded not silver, nor were desirous of gold. If Satan offered them these outward things in a temptation, they should answer him, as Abraham did the king of Sodom, with a "God forbid that I should," &c., Genesis 14:23, and send them away from whence they came; as Pellican sent back the silver bowl sent him by the bishop for a token with this answer, Astricti sunt quotquot Tiguri cives, &c., All the inhabitants of our city are sworn not to take any gift from a foreign prince (Melch. Adam). Or as that noble marquis Caracciolus answered the Jesuit, who tempted him with money to revolt from the reformed religion, and to return to Italy, Let their money perish with them, who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day’s society with Jesus Christ, &c. Let it be remembered, that gold is that which the basest element yields, the most savage Indians get, servile apprentices work, Midianitish camels carry, miserable muckworms admire, covetous Jews swallow, unthrifty ruffians spend. Gold makes many men run quick to the devil on an errand; yea, sell their souls to him, as Pope Sixtus V did, for seven years’ enjoyment of the popedom. "But thou, O man of God, flee these things," &c., 1 Timothy 6:11, and while others lay fast hold on these base and bootless businesses, lay thou hold on eternal life, Job 28:12. But this by way of passing only.

And a place for the gold where they fine it] Or, From whence they fine it; or, Which they refine. The Spaniards are said to have found in the mines of America more gold than earth. It is accounted of metals the most precious; but it is opinion that sets the price upon it. The only material of money among us is gold and silver; but among the Roman provinces it was most times brass, sometimes leather, Corium forma publica impressum (Seneca). The like is said to have been used here in England in the time of the barons’ wars. And why not? since, A.D. 1574, the Hollanders then being in their extremities, made money of paste board. Who the first man was that made money of gold, Pliny saith is uncertain. But Herodotus writeth, that the Lydians were the first coiners of gold and silver for that use. And Pliny, that Cadmus, the Phoenician, was the first that found gold; viz. at the hill Pangaeus, in Thracia; a place that aboundeth with gold and silver, as Herodotus testifieth. But so did Havilah (afterwards called Susiana, in East India) long before Cadmus was born, Genesis 2:11. Near unto this land of Havilah, Solinus saith, were two islands, called Chryse and Argyre, that is, the golden and silver islands, because they were so full of those richest metals, Ut plerique eas aurea sola prodiderint et argentea habere, that many have affirmed the soil thereof to be of gold and silver. Junius thinketh that Solinus and Pliny called this land of Havilah (by mistake of letters) Babytace, the inhabitants whereof, saith Solinus, through hatred of gold, for the hurt it doth mankind, buy up and bury very deep in the earth all the gold they can get. Like as Crates, the Theban philosopher, is said to have cast his gold into the sea for a similar reason, as he pretended when he said, at the same time, Abite malae cupiditates: ego vos mergam, ne ipse mergar a vobis, but indeed, for a name, as Jerome rightly judgeth; calling him therefore, Gloriae animal, popularis aurae vile mancipium, a vain glorious fool (Hier. ep. ad Julian consolat.). There is no hurt in having these metals, so we love them not; so they do not get within us, as Luke 11:41; so we make not our gold our god, nor say to the fine gold, "Thou art my confidence," Job 31:25, Divites magis aurum suspiciunt quam caelum (Minut. Octav.).


Verse 2

Job 28:2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass [is] molten [out of] the stone.

Ver. 2. Iron is taken out of the earth] That is, out of the irony vein, which is said to be a drossy kind of earth, not sufficiently digested and hardened to make a stone. Of the generation of these inferior metals, see Pliny and the chemists; who yet are not to be hearkened unto when they tell us, that by their art they can turn these baser metals into gold, since they are here distinguished by their place, matter, form, &c. Neither is gold the end of other metals, every one of which is perfect in its kind; and, besides, the essence of everything is indivisible, and the use diverse. Iron can do that which gold and silver cannot. Historians tell us, that Alexander’s old soldiers, armed with shields of iron, conquered a great part of the world. But when, as growing rich, they made them shields of silver, and were there hence called Argyraspides, they were basely beaten by those whom they had formerly subdued. The first inventors of iron and brass Pliny will have to be the Chalybes, or Cyclopes. Diodorus, the Idaei, Dactyli, or Vulcan. Vulcanum, inquit, ferri, aeris, argenti, auri, omniumque quae igne fabricantur, artem invenisse, ferunt (Diod. Sic. 1. 6). And surely if Vulcan were the same as Tubalcain (as various commentators will have it), Diodorus was not far from the truth; for he taught men to work in brass and iron, Genesis 4:22. Iron they had before, and the art of using it; how else could they have ploughed the accursed earth? But this man added to their skill by his invention, he sharply and wittily taught smith’s craft, and is therefore by the heathens feigned to be the god of smiths.

And brass is molten out of the stone] That is, out of the ore, which is like a stone, and is called cadmia, as Junius here noteth, perhaps from Cadmus, whom Pliny maketh the first that invented the use of these metals, which Aristotle ascribeth to Lydus, the Scythian, Theophrastus to Delas, the Phrygian. It is probable that these were the first that showed their countrymen the use of these metals, and so were by them accounted the first authors of what was elsewhere found out long before. Some render the text thus, And the stone is melted into brass; that is, by melting, is turned into brass. Many are of the opinion that there was anciently an art of melting stones, which is now lost. Brass is, as it were, incorporated into stone or harder matter; but forced forth by the heat of fire: Aes in mediis lapidibus latet: sed ignis vehementia lapides aeris usque adeo torquentur ut veluti flumen aes effundant (Bren.). Hence the Vulgate Latin thus rendereth this hemistich, Lapis solutus calore, in aes vertitur, The stone, dissolved by heat, is turned into brass. So excellently doth Job here set forth the nature of these chief metals, as Mercer would have us to take notice.


Verse 3

Job 28:3 He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

Ver. 3. He setteth an end to darkness] i.e. He (viz. the miner) brings light down into the dark entrails of the earth, and fetches out those metals that had long lain hid there, and that else would never have been beheld. Though Nature hath taken pleasure, as one speaketh, to hide all these metals, yet industry provideth man of certain marks for to discover them, and infallible conjectures to know the time when they must be drawn out of their darkness. Habent metallici suas virgas metallicas, Metal workers have their metal rods, whereby they search into and distinguish between metals and minerals.

Quasque recondiderat, Stygiisque admoverat undis,

Effodiuntur opes irritamenta malorum (Ovid. Metam.).

And searcheth out all perfection] sc. That is to be found in those subterraneous cells, in that bosom and bottom of the earth; the utmost that is there to be had he thoroughly eviscerateth, digging many yards underground, where nothing is to be seen but a deadly shade; Ex cuius horrore mori quis posset; enough to frighten one to death; beside the deadly damps, which suddenly breaking out of the veins of the earth, do sometimes choke the workmen.

The stones of darkness, &c.] That is, the darkest stones that lie lowest of all in the earth’s bowels, whither one would wonder how any man should ever come; and especially how the sun and stars should come by their influences to make those metals, and the precious stones, that are engendered and bred in the darksome and deadly vaults of the earth.


Verse 4

Job 28:4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; [even the waters] forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

Ver. 4. The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant] Broughton rendereth it, from the spring. Others, Erumpit fluvius iuxta accolam, A river breaketh out near to the inhabitant; that is, to the miner, who is forced to leave the place, till by buckets, wheels, and other fit devices, the pits be cleared, so that they may start working again. Illae ergo utribus praegrandibus ex multis bovum coriis consutis indefesso labore exhauriuntur, adhibitis ad eam rem rotis et machinis idoneis (Merl.).

Even the waters forgotten of the foot] Broughton, Unkenned of any foot. Brentius, Quas nemo pedibus vadare possit. Unfordable waters, deep and dangerous. To which purpose also the Tigurines translate the following words (They are dried up, &c.) thus, Superant etiam hominis staturam, et qui poterant vadari? They are above the height of a man, and how could they be waded through? But better,

They are dried up, &c.] Heb. They are drawn up, or diminished.

They are gone away from men] Mortalis opera (Trem.); by such means as men use, and are unweariable. Kερδαινοντες ου κοπιωμεν, saith a Greek father, What pains will not men take for gain and emolument?

Per mare pauperiem fugiunt, per saxa, per ignes (Horat.).


Verse 5

Job 28:5 [As for] the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

Ver. 5. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread] That is, grain. Alma Tellus, plentifully yieldeth those precious fruits of hers, as they are called, James 5:11, Fertilis et ferax (Vatab.). These fruits lie hidden in the seed for a season; and so doth likewise fire in the flint (whereof some understand the following words), yet are they brought at length into the light.

And under it is turned up as it were fire] That is, materials of fire, as coals of, &c., or brimstone, which hath fire in it, and doth sometimes take fire in the mines; or gold, which is to be tried in the furnace, and various sparkling stones created from a sulphureous matter, such as is that which Pliny and Isidore call pyrites persicus, and tell us, that if it be held hard in a man’s hand it burneth. As also that which Hiarchas in Philostratus calleth pantarbe which burneth with a kind of sweet brightness, saith that author, that dazzleth the eyes of the beholder, and hath a strange attractive virtue. Thus it sometimes happens that the upper part of a ground is fruitful, and brings forth grain and grass, and underneath are precious stones and metals. But commonly where there is gold below there is the barrenest soil above. God and nature thereby teaching us, that where the love of money (that root of all evil) groweth there is no good to be found. A harvest may as well be looked for in a hedge as true grace in a gold thirsty heart.


Verse 6

Job 28:6 The stones of it [are] the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

Ver. 6. The stones of it are the place of sapphires] Which are excellent stones, and, therefore, here joined with gold, Quod punctis aureis collucant, because they shine with golden sparklings. Exodus 24:10, the Sanhedrim "saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone," &c. To show, saith one, that God had now changed their condition, their bricks made in their bondage to sapphire. So, Isaiah 54:11, God graciously promiseth unto his afflicted Church, that had been tossed with tempests, and not comforted, to lay her stones with fair colours and her foundation with sapphires; to make her windows of agates, and her gates of carbuncles, and all her borders of pleasant stones; to render her all glorious within, by the curious enamel and embroidery of holy graces, and to beautify also and bespangle her with outward plenty and prosperity, that she might glitter in the eyes of God and men.

And it hath dust of gold] Or, ore of gold; better than that which our Frobisher, in his voyage to discover the strait, brought back with him; from which, when there could be drawn neither gold nor silver, nor any other metal, we have seen it cast forth to repair the highways, saith Mr Cambden.


Verse 7

Job 28:7 [There is] a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen:

Ver. 7. There is a path which no fowl knoweth] That is, say some, those places where this gold lieth are so barren, as they bring forth nothing else but gold, nothing for fowls to feed upon, no, not discernible by the eye of the vulture, which excelleth in seeing afar off, and smelleth out his prey at a very great distance (Albert. Dionys. Aquin.). But men make their ways even here, to dig and find out gold, being herein more perspicacious and sagacious than the very vultures. The covetous would do well to consider, saith a good author, that for the most part those countries that are furnished with gold are destitute of better provision, both temporal and spiritual; that it lieth furthest from heaven, and the best of it in India, furthest from the Church; that though Adam had it in the first paradise, Genesis 2:11-12, yet in the second we shall not need it; but God shall be our gold, and we shall have plenty of that which is better than silver, Job 22:25. That wise men have esteemed it as the stones of the streets, 2 Chronicles 9:27, and that the children of wisdom might not possess it in their purses, Matthew 10:9; that wicked men have the most of it as their portion, Psalms 17:14, and that the devil danceth in rich and pleasant palaces, Isaiah 13:21-22, &c.

And which the vulture’s eye hath not seen] Or, the kite’s eye, or the pie’s, or the chough’s, which yet is said to be sitiens auri, desirous of gold, and to hide it when she hath gotten it, though she can make no use of it. Some good interpreters by this path in the text understand the mines themselves, those underground places, as far underground as the fowls fly above ground; and that are by them and the most prey seeking beasts unknown and untrod; yet thither goeth the miners, by his skill and industry, letting in both light and vital air, Quem follibus arte mirifica e sublimi deducit, ut respirent artifices, et alantur lucernae, which with wonderful art he by bellows bringeth from above into those low holes, that the workmen may breathe, and the lights may be kept burning.


Verse 8

Job 28:8 The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

Ver. 8. The lion’s whelps have not trodden it] Heb. The children of pride, {see Job 41:34} that is, saith Vatablus, belluae truces et immanes, fierce and cruel creatures, which yet pass through mountains and valleys and vast forests, but come not under ground, where these metals are; that is no part of their walk. Where the Vulgate had, his filii institorum here, Sons of the hucksters, Mercer cannot imagine, and his best patrons are hard put to it to defend him.

Nor the fierce lion passed by it] Heb. The huge lion. There are seven names of lions observed in Scripture, whereof here are two in this verse, of like sound the one to the other. The Tigurines render it here, the leopard; the Vulgate Latin, the lioness; and his paraphrast hath the whole verse thus, Those wild beasts, whose savage humour searcheth out the most solitary places, could never yet find them; and the lionesses, which run everywhere when they have lost their little ones, have never approached them.


Verse 9

Job 28:9 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

Ver. 9. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock] "He," that is, mortal man, the miner, Job 28:4 (not God, as Mercer would have it), "putteth forth his hand"; sc. to dig down these rocks, that he may come at that treasure, and make himself master of that spoil that is hidden in their entrails.

Nil tam difficile est, quod non sollertia vincit.

Alexander the Great being asked, How he so soon overran the universe? answered, I never held anything impossible to be achieved. When he had heard of anything dangerous to be done, or unlikely, he would the rather set upon it, and say, Iam periculum par animo Alexandri, This is an enterprise fit for an Alexander. So of Julius Caesar (who had in his time taken a thousand towns, conquered three hundred nations, taken prisoners a million of men, and slain as many) sings the poet (Lucan),

- Caesar in omnia praeceps,

Nil actum credens, dum quid superesset agendum,

Fertur atrox. -

Difficulty doth but whet on heroic spirits; it wakeneth, but not any way weakeneth, the courageous and industrious. Hannibal made his way through the Alps by breaking down a huge rock putrefied with fire, and vinegar poured thereon. Hence Juvenal,

Opposuit natura Alpemque nivemque

Deduxit scopulos, et montem rupit aceto.

He overturneth the mountains by the roots] Or, he turneth it up at the roots of the mountains; sc. which he mineth, by the obstinace of his labour.

- Labor improbus omnia vincit.

Dεινος και παντολμος της φιλοχρηματιας ερως, saith Isidore, the love of money is daring and desperate.


Verse 10

Job 28:10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.

Ver. 10. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks] i.e. By cleaving hardest rocks, he draws in store of water to wash the inward parts of the earth, that he may see what gold lieth hidden there; as also, to wash and purge his metals, which require much washing. This is the work of his hands. And then for his eye, and as a reward of his labour (for the diligent hand maketh rich, Proverbs 10:4, and in all labour there is profit, Proverbs 14:23).

His eye seeth every precious thing] Heb. Every price; or, All preciousness. Whatsoever is rare, so Tremellius rendereth it. His house is filled with all precious and pleasant riches, Proverbs 24:4. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt, said the heathens, God sells all good things to men for their pains taking.


Verse 11

Job 28:11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and [the thing that is] hid bringeth he forth to light.

Ver. 11. He bindeth the floods from overflowing] Heb. From weeping; that is (by an elegant metaphor), from distilling and dropping, as those underground waters use to do; but the miner bindeth them; that is, he dammeth them up, and diverteth them, that they may not fall into his pit and mar his work. Thus he removes all blocks, and devours all difficulties, and all for a little pelf, which perisheth in the use, and will rather hinder from than help men to heaven. How much more should we labour for the true treasure, the pearl of price, the one thing necessary? &c. Si tanti vitreum, quanti veram margaritam? (Tertul.). All those outward things are nec vera, nee vestra, as Austin elegantly; they are neither true riches, nor ours, but another’s, as our Saviour telleth us, Luke 16:12. Aristotle also teacheth us, That wise men may get riches, but not make it their business, Aλλ ου τουτ εστι περι ου σπουδαζουσι (Polit. lib. 1). Brentius reads this text, Perplexa fluminum gyrat, He turneth about the crooked rivers, putting them into a new channel, that he may get the gold and precious stones that lie in the bottom; for there are some gold flowing rivers; such as are Ganges in India, Pactolus in Asia, Tagus in Spain, the Rhine in Germany, &c.

And the thing that is hid he bringeth to light] Contrary to the design of nature, he revealeth her secrets, and discovereth all that she hideth by this raking out of her riches, and making those things that lie couchant in her bowels as common as if they grew above ground.


Verse 12

Job 28:12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where [is] the place of understanding?

Ver. 12. But where shall wisdom be found?] Here is now the other part of the antithesis, and the second part of the chapter, which is not as hard as the former was. Wisdom is either natural or spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:11-15, earthly or heavenly, James 3:15 The wisdom here inquired after is supernal and supernatural; such as can neither be found upon the earth or dug out of it; such as cannot be fathomed or found out by human abilities or by natural reason. "But God revealeth it unto his by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," 1 Corinthians 2:10. And with this heifer must all those plough that will find out his riddles. Lucisci et qui hebeti sunt visu, saith Vives, Those that are weak sighted and sand blind, if at any time they look wishly upon anything with desire to see it the better, they see it so much the worse, and not as well as they did before (Lud. Viv. in Aug. de C. D., l. 22, c. 6). Think the same of the most acute and perspicacious naturalist; when he comes to look into the things of God, he is not only sand blind, but stark blind, 1 Corinthians 2:14, he will not see (and, therefore, who so blind?), he hath an antipathy to Divine truths; he loveth the law better than the gospel, and any truth better than the law. And as for this high point of heavenly wisdom (called here ills sapientia, with an emphasis), whereby is understood that God’s judgments are all just, even then when he afflicteth the godly and prospereth the wicked, he cannot comprehend it, or yield to it; but is ready to turn flat atheist upon it, as Averroes did; denying the Divine providence, and conceiting that all things were carried on by fate and fortune. Job’s enemy like friends herein were no wiser than they should be, when they thus rashly censured him for wicked, because afflicted; and presumptuously took upon them to give a reason of God’s proceedings in his various dispensations with as much confidence as if they had been of God’s privy council, whereas they should have considered, that God’s judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out; and that he who herein is scholar to his own reason is sure to have a fool to his master.

And where is the place of understanding] As there is no vein to be found of the Divine wisdom, so neither any known place (like there is for gold, silver, precious stones) where it ought to be sought, save only of God by prayer, James 1:5. Man, whatsoever good success he hath in the before mentioned searches, he is not as happy nor dextrous in that of Divine understanding. Epiphanius resembleth him to the mole, which doth all his work underground; but if once he be brought above ground, as he is stark blind, so is he every way a weak and contemptible creature. The best that are seen but in part, and are sometimes at a loss about the reason of God’s most righteous proceedings, which men must mirari, et non rimari, silently adore, and not overly curiously search into. There is a learned ignorance, saith Calvin, of those things, quae scire nec datur, nec fas est, which it is neither granted us nor fit for us to know; and in this the very desire of knowledge is a kind of madness. Let that saying of Xenophanes be remembered: There is no great difference whether a man set his feet or his eyes in another man’s house without his permission. Arcana Dei sunt arca Dei, God’s secrets are God’s ark; pry not, lest ye come halting home for so doing (Plut. de Curiositat.).


Verse 13

Job 28:13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

Ver. 13. Man kaoweth not the price thereof] Or, the order thereof, in what manner and method God proceedeth; no, though in other things he knew as much as Homer did, of whom one saith that he was πανσοφος, και παντα τα ανθρωπεια επισταμενος, a man that knew all human affairs; or as Aristotle did, whom some have called an eagle fallen from the clouds; or as Jerome, quem nullum scibile latuit, who knew all that was knowable; or as Bishop Andrew, whom one calleth (but how truly I inquire not) a gulf of learning. Sure it is that man, sorry man, knoweth neither the price of Divine wisdom, for it is invaluable; nor the place of it, for it is investigable; nor the order of it, for that is unattainable till we come to heaven; there being a wheel within a wheel, Ezekiel 1:16, and providence shall one day be unriddled.

Neither is it found in the land of the living] That is, here upon earth, by any human wit or industry. In other texts of Scripture the time while we live in this world is called, the day, John 9:4, and the light of the living, Psalms 56:13, in opposition to death, which is called, a land of darkness, as darkness itself, Job 10:22, where they that inhabit are said to be free among the dead, Psalms 88:5, free of that company. See Isaiah 38:11. None but those that live spiritually, and have senses habitually exercised to discern good and evil, Hebrews 5:14, can see anything of the worth of this wisdom so as to seek after it as silver, and prize it above gem; for ignoti nulla cupido, men covet not what they value not. Now the cock on the dunghill knows not the price or place of this inestimable jewel, and, therefore, slights it. Those epicures especially, qui suaviter vivunt, as the Vulgate here translateth, who live in pleasure upon earth, and are wanton, James 5:5.


Verse 14

Job 28:14 The depth saith, It [is] not in me: and the sea saith, [It is] not with me.

Ver. 14. The depth saith, It is not in me] It is not to be had above ground, may some say; but what, underground? Not there either, saith Job; for the abyss saith, that is, if it could speak, it would surely say, "It is not in me"; and the sea gives us the same verdict: dig to the centre of the earth, dive to the bottom of the sea, you shall hear no tale or tidings of her; she neither groweth with gold and precious stones in the earth, nor with pearls and coral in the sea; we must be taught by God, and the Holy Spirit must join himself to our chariot, as Philip did to the eunuch’s, Acts 8:29; he must teach us this wisdom from above, or we can never learn it, Isaiah 54:13. A man may read the figure on the dial, but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun shine upon the dial; we may read over the book of the creature, and the book of the Scripture, but we cannot learn to purpose till the Spirit of God shine into our hearts, 2 Corinthians 4:6. The gospel is full of jewels; but they are locked up from sense and reason, 1 Corinthians 2:10. The angels in heaven are searching into these sacred depths, 1 Peter 1:12, and know not as much but they would fain know more of this manifold wisdom of God, πολυποικιλος, Ephesians 3:10, that hath such an abundance of curious variety in it, as the word there signifieth, even such as is seen in the best pictures or textures.


Verse 15

Job 28:15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed [for] the price thereof.

Ver. 15. It cannot be gotten for gold] Non emitur, nec aestimatur, it is not purchased or procured with money, as other learning may ( en precium et praestantiam sapientiae). "With a great sum obtained I this freedom," said that colonel, Acts 22:28. So may many say of their learning, they have sufficiently paid for it. Cleanthes parted with all he had for learning; Plato gave thirty thousand florins for three books; Reuchlin gave the Jew that taught him Hebrew a crown for every hour’s pains; Jerome got his skill in that language with the hazard of his life, and held it a good bargain. But here is no such trading. See Acts 8:18-20. Fie (quoth that rich and wretched cardinal, when he saw he must die), will money do nothing? will not death be hired? may not heaven be purchased? No, no, God is no money merchant; his kingdom is not partum, wealthy, but paratum, the prepared, Matthew 25:34, his grace is gratuitous; Matthew 13:11, To you it is given (and what more free than gift?) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. And to you it is given, freely given, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, &c., Philippians 1:29. That proud merit monger that said, Gratis non accipiam, I will not have grace or glory of free cost, could not but go without both (Vega).


Verse 16

Job 28:16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

Ver. 16. It cannot be valued] Heb. Thrown on the ground, as wares were wont to be, and are yet, when they are set to sale, and to be prized or valued.

With the gold of Ophir] The word here rendered gold is not the same as that in the former or those in the following verses. Five different times gold is here mentioned (because so highly prized among men), and in four different words. Jerome on Jeremiah 10:1-25 observeth that the Hebrew have seven different words for gold; and five different sorts are here instanced. That here mentioned is a special name for the most resplendent and glistering gold, Psalms 45:9, Daniel 10:5, Song of Solomon 5:11. Of it comes Michtam of David, or David’s golden psalm, Psalms 16:1, his ingot of gold. Broughton thinks it to be no Hebrew word, but the name of gold in Ophir; Obrizium dictum volunt, quasi Ophirizium. Ophir is Peru, say some; others, an island in the Indies, where the most precious gold was to be had, called also gold of Parvaim, 2 Chronicles 3:6. This is supposed to be in Havilah, Genesis 2:11. It is called perfections of gold, 2 Chronicles 4:21.

With the precious onyx, or the sapphire] The onyx is a stone said to be found in the river Ganges, and to be of a white colour, like the white of a man’s nail, whence it hath its name. See of it, Plin. lib. 37, cap. 4; Boet. Hist. Gem. lib. 2, cap. 90. The sapphire is a stone of a sky coloured blue, or of a light coloured purple.


Verse 17

Job 28:17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it [shall not be for] jewels of fine gold.

Ver. 17. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it] For crystal some read diamond, others adamant. It hath its name from its purity and transparency. Junius rendereth it therefore nitidissima gemma. It seems to be, saith one, the last attempt of nature, and makes us find heaven on earth.

And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels (or vessels) of fine gold] Of phez gold, so Broughton renders it, Vas auri puri puti, and would have it come from Fesse, in Barbary. The Arabians now call gold phes. Of this solid fast gold were made many precious jewels or vessels, like that French coin in the historian, in qua plus formae quam ponderis, in which was not so much weight as workmanship: Proverbs 25:11, "Apples of gold in lattices of silver"; or put in a case of silver cut work.


Verse 18

Job 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom [is] above rubies.

Ver. 18. No mention shall be made of coral] No talk of coral or carbuncle, of pearl, or any other the rarest and richest jewels in all the world. We read of Cleopatra, that vying with Antony in luxury, she drunk up a pearl of incredible price dissolved in vinegar; and of Charles, duke of Burgundy, that in the fight at Nansey, he lost a diamond of that worth, ut eo tota aliqua regio emi posset, that therewith a man might have bought a whole country (Macrob. Sat. lib. 5, cap. 17; Alsted. Chronol.). It was afterwards set in the pope’s triple crown; but no way worthy to be mentioned in the same day with wisdom.

For the price of wisdom is above rubies] Which are so called from their lovely redness. See Lamentations 4:7. Pearls some render it; of which Pliny saith, Principium culmenque rerum ommum pretii margaritae tenent, Pearls are the principal of all precious things. They were so of old; but they are not so today. What huge sums were once given for saints’ relics (as they called them) and popes’ pardons! but now the world is grown wiser. England is no more a babe; there is no man here, but now he knows that they do foolishly that give gold for lead, more weight of that than they receive of this. This and much more to the same purpose speaketh Henry VIII (in his protestation against the pope), who yet, as a faint chapman, went not to the price of this true wisdom; as appeareth by that public speech of his in parliament, There are many that are too busy with their new sumpsimus, and others that dote too much upon their old mumpsimus. The new religion, though true, he envied; the old, though his own, he despised; being as a speckled bird, or a cake half baked, &c.


Verse 19

Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Ver. 19. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it] Of the Topaz, see Plin. lib. 86, cap. 8. It seemeth to have the lustre of gold and purity of crystal, and those agreeable mixtures of colours which make the purple of kings. The operations of this stone are many and rare, as Rueus sets them forth, lib. 2, cap. 3.

Neither shall it be valued with pure gold] Plato saith as much of moral wisdom, Oυτε χρυσυς, ουτε αδαμας, ουτως αστραπτει, No gold or gem so glistereth. And elsewhere he saith, that if moral virtue could be beheld with mortal eyes, mirificos sui amores excitaret, it would wonderfully enamour men. Aurelius the emperor would say, that he would not leave the knowledge he might learn in one hour for all the gold that he possessed. Alphonsus, king of Arragon, professed that he would rather choose to lose his jewels than his books, his kingdoms (whereof he had many), quam litteras, quas permodicas scire dicebat, than that little learning he had attained unto (Val. Max. Christian. 118,237). Many have been so taken with the study of the mathematics, that they could have lived and died in it. Vae igitur stupori nostro, woe then to the world because of wisdom! this incomparable wisdom of God in a mystery, as the apostle calleth it.

Haec quia pro vili, sub pedibusque iacet (Ovid).

Money is most men’s study, not without a horrible neglect of piety, which yet is the principal thing, Proverbs 4:7, and profitable to all things, 1 Timothy 4:8, as that which hath the promise of both lives, Ibid. Now the promises are exceeding great and precious things, 2 Peter 1:4, even the unsearchable riches of Christ, Ephesians 3:8. Such gold as cannot be too dearly bought, Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:46, nor too far set, no, though so far as the queen of Sheba came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and could have been content to have changed her throne for his footstool. Sure it is she was no niggard, but parted with abundance of precious things and sweet odours for that wisdom which she held, and worthily, far more sweet and precious than all her annual revenue. Sure it is, that if the mountains were pearl, the huge rock rubies, and the whole globe a shining chrysolyte, yet all this were nothing to the worth of the wisdom here commended. How greatly bound then are God’s people to bless his name for communicating unto us this invaluable treasure by his word and Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:13 Hath he not written for us excellent things in counsels and knowledge? Proverbs 22:20; hath he not made his Son, that essential wisdom of his, to become unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? 1 Corinthians 1:30. Should some earthly prince give us a rich ring off his finger, wherein there were a chrysolyte, a sapphire, a topaz, or some other precious stone, how highly would we honour him, and what would we not be ready to do or suffer for him? And shall we not much more do so for God, rich in mercy, plenteous in goodness, abundant in kindness and in truth, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy? O pray for that blessed sight, Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 3:18, and reckon one grain of grace more worth than all the gold of Ophir, one remnant of faith beyond all the gorgeous and gay attire in the world.


Verse 20

Job 28:20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where [is] the place of understanding?

Ver. 20. Whence then cometh wisdom? &c.] {See Trapp on "Job 28:12"} q.d. Nowhere surely is she to be found but with God, the fountain of wisdom, Job 28:23. To seek her elsewhere is but laborious loss of time; witness the philosophers’ anxious, but bootless, disquisitions after the summum bonum, the true blessedness or chief good; about which there were eight various opinions, and yet all out.


Verse 21

Job 28:21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.

Ver. 21. Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living] As hath been before set forth, Job 28:13. They that see most into it see but in part, and must needs say, that the greatest part of their knowledge is the least part of their ignorance, Maxima pars eorum quae scimus est minima pars eorum quae nescimus. Something they know of his revealed will, but nothing at all of his secret. Whereunto we may add, that there are many occult qualities in nature, the reason whereof the wisest men understand not.

And kept close from the fowls of the air] Which yet fly very high, and seem to touch the clouds of heaven; as the eagle, which delighteth in high flying. Some will have the angels (elsewhere set forth as winged creatures) to be here meant; who, although they stand always in God’s presence, and see much of his majesty, yet not at all nothing near, Isaiah 6:2-3, they cover their faces with their wings, as with a double scarf (as not able to behold his glory), and make their addresses unto him with greatest self-abasements.


Verse 22

Job 28:22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

Ver. 22. Destruction and death say, &c.] That is, the dead in the grave, and damned in hell, as some gloss it. Others, man in his corrupt estate, though a child of death, yet capable of salvation; and the wisdom of God hath found out a way to save him by his Son, letting in life by the ear, according to that, "Hear, and your souls shall live," Isaiah 55:3. The dead in sins and trespasses shall hear the voice of the Son of God (in the preaching of the word), and shall live, the life of grace here, and of glory hereafter, John 5:25. These have heard of God’s wisdom in his various dealings with the sons of men, and that with their ears; both with the gristles that grow on their heads, and with the inward ears of their minds, so that one sound hath pierced both, but yet the one half hath not been told them; they can truly say, as the queen of Sheba said to Solomon, Thou hast added wisdom and goodness to the fame, 1 Kings 10:7. And as David in the person of Christ, Psalms 16:11, "Thou wilt show me the path of life"; whereby is hinted that Christ himself, as man, did not so fully understand in the days of his flesh the unconceivable joys of heaven, as he did afterwards, when his whole person was glorified with the glory which, as God, he had with the Father before the world was, John 17:5.


Verse 23

Job 28:23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

Ver. 23. God understandeth the way thereof] The only wise God, who alone knows her price, knows her retreat. Haec sunt inferni et morris verba, saith Brentius; those are the words of hell and of death. But we may better take them, as spoken by Job himself; which yet are to be understood, not as if Job thought that there was any place, apart from God, where his wisdom might be sought; or any way, out of himself, to go to it. But these things are spoken after the manner of men, saith Merlin; for wisdom is in God, yea, God is wisdom itself. For the wisdom of God is nothing else but the most wise God; since whatsoever is in God is God. Therefore seeing he is well known to himself, how can his wisdom be but as well known unto him? His infinite knowledge and understanding is in some sort shadowed out unto us in the words following.


Verse 24

Job 28:24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth, [and] seeth under the whole heaven;

Ver. 24. For he looketh to the ends of the earth] He is ολοφθαλμος, all eye (Basil); so that together and at once he beholdeth all things in the whole course of nature, and under the whole of heaven. "His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men," Psalms 11:4. Where the former pointeth out God’s knowledge, the latter his judgments, his critical descant, saith one. And surely this all seeing eye of God, saith another interpreter, should keep us within the compass of obedience as much as anything; since he who is our judge is a constant eye witness of our cogitations, communication, and whole conversation. Cave, spectat Cato, Take heed, Cato seeth you, was an old watchword among the Romans, and a retentive from vice. How much more should this be among Christians! Ne pecces, Deus ipse videt, Be advised, God beholdeth you. Think not that he who is invisible cannot see, or that because he is the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, therefore he cannot see so far as earth; for he looketh to the ends and extremities of the earth, his eyes run to and fro, they are in every place beholding the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3. The world is to him as a sea of glass, Revelation 4:6. He seeth through it, and every man before him is all window; he seeth the very entrails of the soul, the heart of the heart, "All things are naked and open before him," saith the apostle, Hebrews 4:13. Naked for the outside, and open for the inside of them; the word signifieth dissected, quartered, and, as it were, cleft through the back bone. He searcheth the reins, those seats of lust and most abstruse parts of the body, so wrapped up in fat and flesh, as if no eye should come at them.

And seeth under the whole heaven] His providence, like a well drawn picture, looketh every way, and extendeth to every the least and lightest occurrence; governing all things wisely and powerfully, and ordering the disorders of the world to his own glory. Epicures and atheists would shut him up in heaven, as hath been before noted, as if he did neither know nor do anything here below; but they will find it otherwise.


Verse 25

Job 28:25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.

Ver. 25. To make the weight for the winds] He ordereth wind and water, rain and thunder, Pondere, mensura, numero, tacit omnia, - therefore wisdom is with him. The winds he weigheth in a balance; then when they seem to blow where they list, piercing through the air with their violent blasts, God sets them their bounds, and appoints them their proportion. He sends them out as his posts, and makes them pace orderly.

And he weigheth the waters by measure] Both the rain (not a drop falls in vain in a wrong place, or at random, but by a divine decree, as a witness of his wisdom and goodness, Acts 17:14) and the sea and rivers; neither do the winds blow nor the waters flow without the Lord, who is the great moderator, who measureth the waters in the hollow of his hand, &c., Isaiah 40:12.


Verse 26

Job 28:26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:

Ver. 26. When he made a decree for the rain] And hence it is that it raineth upon one city, and not upon another, Amos 4:7. {See Trapp on "Amos 4:7"} The rise of rain out of vapours drawn up from the earth by the heat of the sun, and the generation of it in the clouds, is no less wonderful than the use of it is necessary for the refreshing and fattening of the earth; allaying the heat, and nourishing the herb and tree, &c. These showers may seem to arise and be carried up and down at random, and without a law; but Job assureth us that God maketh a decree, a statute, or a bound for them, and that he gives or withholds rain at his pleasure.

And a way for the lightning of the thunder] Or, for the lightning and the thunder. In both which there is much of God to be seen and heard; these being the harbingers, as it were, and officers to make room for him, and to manifest his power, which the greatest must acknowledge, Psalms 29:1-2, and the saints must take comfort in, Job 28:11. As for those impious wretches, that slight these wonderful works of Almighty God, and speak basely of them (as he of whom Mr Perkins somewhere writeth, that hearing it thunder, said it was nothing but Tom Tumbrel a hooping his tubs, and was thereupon killed with a thunder bolt; and those old Italians that used, in time of thunder, to ring their greatest bells, and shoot off their greatest ordinance, &c., on purpose to drown the noise of the heavens); as they are worse than Pharaoh and Caligula, and other heathens, who styled their chief god Altitonans, the high thunderer; so they shall one day see the Lord Christ suddenly coming upon them as lightning, and dreadfully thundering out that dismal Discedite , Go, ye cursed.


Verse 27

Job 28:27 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

Ver. 27. Then did he see it, and declare it, &c.] Or, Then doth he see it, and number it, &c., sc. When he ordereth winds, waters, and other creatures, he hath wisdom ready et in numerate, as we say; as well known and as familiar as men have those things they daily deal in. Illa vero verborum congeries, saith Merlin. This heap of words, God saw it, numbered it, prepared it, searched it out, serveth but to show how intimate wisdom is with God, and how proper to him. And lest any should say, Hath God then communicated no heavenly wisdom to his creature? Yes, saith Job, but such as is thus circumscribed.


Verse 28

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.

Ver. 28. But unto man he said, &c.] q.d. Let him not curiously pry into God’s secrets, nor rashly censure others (as you have done me), but, out of a reverential fear of God, eschew evil and do good, for this shall be his wisdom, Deuteronomy 4:6, and the contrary, Jeremiah 8:9, Insignis est hic locus (Mercer). See like texts, Deuteronomy 29:29, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10. {See Trapp on "Deuteronomy 29:29"} {See Trapp on "Ecclesiastes 12:13"} {See Trapp on "Psalms 111:10"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:7"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 9:10"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 28:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-28.html. 1865-1868.

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