Job 28:15
It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
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Job 28:15-17. It cannot be gotten for gold — The choicest gold laid up in treasures, as the word סגר, segor, signifies: neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof — Namely, in the balance; for in those times money was paid by weight. It cannot be valued with gold of Ophir — Though the gold that comes from thence be the purest of all, neither that, nor the most precious stones, can purchase this wisdom. The gold and the crystal — Hebrew, זכוכית, zecucith, gemma nitidissima, a very bright gem, says Buxtorf: lapis pretiosus, nitidus, a bright precious stone, Ab. Ezra. The word is not elsewhere used, but being derived from זכךְ, zachach, purus, vel mundus esse, it has in it the signification of purity, clearness, and brightness. The exchange of it shall not be for jewels — Or, vessels, as כלי, chelei, rather means; of fine gold, פז, paz, of solid gold, in which vessels the curiosity of art is added to the excellence of the matter of which they are formed.28:12-19 Job here speaks of wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost which cannot be bought with money. Let that which is most precious in God's account, be so in ours. Job asks after it as one that truly desired to find it, and despaired of finding it any where but in God; any way but by Divine revelation.It cannot be gotten for gold - Margin, "fine gold shall not be given for it." The word which is here rendered "gold." and in the margin "fine gold" (סגור segôr), is not the common word used to denote this metal. It is derived from סגר sâgar, to "shut," to "close," and means properly that which is "shut up" or "enclosed;" and hence, Gesenius supposes it means pure gold, or the most precious gold, as that which is shut up or enclosed with care. Dr. Good renders it "solid gold," supposing it means that which is condensed, or beaten. The phrase occurs in nearly the same form סגור זהב zâhâb sâgûr, "gold shut up," Margin,) in 1 Kings 6:20-21; 1 Kings 7:49-50; 1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 4:21-22; 2 Chronicles 9:20, and undoubtedly denotes there the most precious kind of gold. Its relation to the sense of the verb "to shut up" is not certain. Prof. Lee supposes that the idea is derived from the use of the word, and of similar words in Arabic, where the idea of heating, fusing, giving another color, changing the shape, and thence of fixing, retaining, etc., is found; and that the idea here is that of fused or purified gold. Michaelis supposes that it refers to "native" gold that is pure and unadulterated, or the form of gold called "dendroides," from its shooting out in the form of a tree - "baumartig gewachsenes Gold" (from the Arabic, "a tree"). It is not known, however, that the Hebrew word סגר was always used to denote a tree. There can be no doubt that the word denotes "gold" of a pure kind, and it may have been given to it because gold of that kind was carefully "shut up" in places of safe keeping; but it would seem more probable to me that it was given to it for some reason now unknown. Of many of the names now given by us to objects which are significant, and which are easily understood by us, it would be impossible to trace the reason or propriety, after the lapse of four thousand years.

Neither shall silver be weighed - That is, it would be impossible to weigh out so much silver as to equal its value. Before the art of coining was known, it was common to weigh the precious metals that were used as a medium of trade; compare Genesis 23:16.

15. Not the usual word for "gold"; from a Hebrew root, "to shut up" with care; that is, purest gold (1Ki 6:20, Margin).

weighed—The precious metals were weighed out before coining was known (Ge 23:16).

For gold; the choicest gold laid up in treasures, as the word signifies. Weighed, to wit, in the balance; for in those times money was paid by weight, not by tale. See Genesis 23:16 Jeremiah 23:9,10. It cannot be gotten for gold,.... Having in general said that there is nothing in the whole compass of the terraqueous globe, nothing that is upon the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of it, or in the vast ocean, that is an equivalent price for wisdom, Job descends to particulars, and instances first in gold, that being the most valuable of metals; the word here used for it signifies "shut up" (w), because it is first shut up in the earth, out of which it is dug, and when taken from thence, and refined, and made into coins or vessels, it is shut up among the treasures of men; the words may be more literally rendered, "gold shall not be given instead of it" (x); as a sufficient price, or valuable consideration for it:

neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; in former times this metal used to be delivered, in buying and selling, not by the number and value of pieces, but by weight, in rude masses and lumps, and even when coined into shekels; see Genesis 23:16.

(w) Sept. "conclusum", Tigurine version; "clausum", Bolducius. (x) "non dabitur pro ea", V. L. Montanus, Schultens.

It cannot be gotten for {k} gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.

(k) It can neither be bought for gold nor precious stones, but is only the gift of God.

15. for gold] Probably, as margin, fine gold, i. e. purified gold; comp. 1 Kings 6:20, where a word somewhat similar occurs.

be weighed] In ancient times money was weighed, not counted, Genesis 23:16.

15–19. As the preceding verses (1–14) expressed the idea that there was no “place” of Wisdom where men could find it and from which they could bring it forth, these verses express the idea that it can be acquired by no price which men can offer for it. It is altogether unattainable. The passage may contain the additional idea of the preciousness or desirableness of Wisdom (see Job 28:18), but the purpose of these verses is not to set forth wisdom as a good or as the chief good, for which one might willingly give all that he holds most precious; the thought of the passage is that though one should offer gold and precious stones for Wisdom it cannot be procured, being nowhere to be found. That the Writer’s purpose is to express this conception mainly is evident from the refrain which closes the passage, as a similar one closed the preceding passage: But Wisdom whence cometh it? and where is the place of understanding? (Job 28:20).Verse 15. - It cannot be gotten for gold. No amount of gold can purchase it; no, not of the purest and most refined quality (1 Kings 6:20, 21), for it is not a thing that can be bought or sold God must grant it, and find a way of imparting it; which he certainly will not do for a sum of money. Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; If gold cannot purchase it, much less can silver - the less valuable medium of exchange. (On the weighing of silver, in sales, see Genesis 23:16; Jeremiah 32:9; Ezra 8:26.) 9 He layeth his hand upon the pebbles;

He turneth up the mountains from the root.

10 He cutteth canals through the rocks;

And his eye seeth all kinds of precious things.

11 That they may not leak, he dammeth up rivers;

And that which is hidden he bringeth to light.

12 But wisdom, whence is it obtained?

And where is the place of understanding?

Beneath, whither no other being of the upper world penetrates, man puts his hand upon the quartz or rock. חלּמישׁ (perhaps from חלם, to be strong, firm: Arabic, with the reduplication resolved, chalnubûs, like עכּבישׁ, Arab. ‛ancabûth, vid., Jesurun, p. 229) signifies here the quartz, and in general the hard stone; שׁלח יד בּ something like our "to take in hand" of an undertaking requiring strong determination and courage, which here consists in blasting and clearing away the rock that contains no ore, as Pliny, h. n. xxxiii. 4, 21, describes it: Occursant ... silices; hos igne et aceto rumpunt, saepius vero, quoniam id cuniculos vapore et fumo strangulat, caedunt fractariis CL libras ferri habentibus egeruntque umeris noctibus ac diebus per tenebras proxumis tradentes; lucem novissimi cernunt. Further: he (man, devoted to mining) overturns (subvertit according to the primary signification of הפך, Arab. 'fk, 'ft, to turn, twist) mountains from the roots. The accentuation הפך with Rebia mugrasch, משׁרשׁ with Mercha, is false; it is, according to Codd. and old editions, to be accented הפך with Tarcha, משׁרשׁ with Munach, and to be translated accordingly: subvertit a radice montes (for Munach is the transformation of a Rebia mugrasch), not a radice montium. Blasting in mining which lays bare the roots (the lowest parts) of the mountains is intended, the conclusion of which - the signal for the flight of the workmen, and the effective crash - is so graphically described by Pliny in the passage cited above: Peracto opere cervices fornicum ab ultumo cadunt; dat signum ruina eamque solus intellegit in cacumine ejus montis vigil. Hic voce, nutu evocari jubet operas pariterque ipse devolat. Mons fractus cadit ab sese longe fragore qui concipi humana mente non possit eque efflatu incredibili spectant victores ruinam naturae.

The meaning of Job 28:10 depends upon the signification of the יארים. It is certainly the most natural that it should signify canals. The word is Egyptian; aur in the language of the hieroglyphs signifies a river, and especially the Nile; wherefore at the close of the Laterculus of Eratosthenes the name of the king, Φρουορῶ (Φουορῶ), is explained by ἤτοι Νεῖλος. If water-canals are intended, they may be either such as go in or come away. In the first case it may mean water let in like a cataract over the ruins of the blasted auriferous rock, the corrugi of Pliny: Alius par labor ac vel majoris impendi: flumina ad lavandam hanc ruinam jugis montium obiter duxere a centesimo plerumque lapide; corrugos vocant, a corrivatione credo; mille et hic labores. But בּקּע is not a suitable word for such an extensive and powerful flooding with water for the purpose of washing the gold. It suits far better to understand the expression of galleries or ways cut horizontally in the rock to carry the water away. Thus von Veltheim explains it: "The miner makes ways through the hard rock into his section in which the perpendicular shaft terminates, guides the water which is found in abundance at that depth through it [i.e., the water as the bottom of the pit that hinders the progress of the work], and is able [thus Job 28:10 naturally is connected with what precedes] to judge of the ore and fragments that are at the bottom, and bring them to the light. This mode of mining by constantly forming one gallery under the other [so that a new gallery is made under the pit that is worked out by extending the shaft, and also freeing this from water by making another outlet below the previous one] is the oldest of all, of which anything certain is known in the history of mining, and the most natural in the days when they had no notion of hydraulics." This explanation is far more satisfactory than that of Herm. Sam. Reimarus, of the "Wolfenbtteler Fragmente" (in his edition of the Neue Erkl. des B. Hiob, by John Ad. Hoffmann, 1734, iv. S. 772): "He breaks open watercourses in the rocks. What the miners call coming upon water, is when they break into a fissure from which strong streams of water gush forth. The miner not only knows how to turn such water to good account, but it is also a sign that there are rich veins of ore near at hand, as there is the most water by these courses and fissures. Hence follows: and then his eye sees all kinds of precious things." But there is no ground for saying that water indicates rich veins of ore, and בקע is much more appropriate to describe the designed formation of courses to carry off the water than an accidental discovery of water in course of the work; moreover, יארים is as appropriate to the former as it is inappropriate to the latter explanation, for it signifies elsewhere the arms of the Nile, into which the Nile is artificially divided; and therefore it may easily be transferred to the horizontal canals of the mine cut through the hard rock (or through the upper earth). Nevertheless, although the water plays an important part in mining operations, by giving rise to the greatest difficulties, as it frequently happens that a pit is deluged with water, and must be abandoned because no one can get down to it: it is improbable that Job 28:10 as well as Job 28:11 refers to this; we therefore prefer to understand יארים as meaning the (horizontal) courses (galleries or drifts) in which the ore is dug, - a rendering which is all the more possible, since, on the one hand, in Coptic jaro (Sahidic jero) signifies the Nile of Egypt (phiaro ente chêmi); on the other, ior (eioor) signifies a ditch, διώρυξ (comp. Isaiah 33:21, יארים, lxx διώρυχες), vid., Ges. Thes. Thus also Job 28:10 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.

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