Job 28:23
God understands the way thereof, and he knows the place thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) God understandeth the way thereof.—God is the author of wisdom, and His fear is the beginning thereof; so with His infinite knowledge of the universe He cannot but be cognisant of the place and way thereof. It is to be observed that while the foundation of wisdom is said to be coeval with that of the world, the very existence of wisdom in relation to man implied the existence of evil, because except by departing from evil there could for man be no wisdom, though evil itself may undoubtedly involve and imply the deflection from a previously existing right. Wrong, for example, is what is wrung aside from the right. The two ideas which Job starts with are man’s ignorance of the price and the place of wisdom. Neither he nor nature knows the place of it: neither all living, nor the deep, nor the sea; and as for its price, though man is prepared to give any high price for the costly stones and jewels of the earth, yet all that he has to give is not to be mentioned in comparison with the value of wisdom. Wisdom, however, is to be purchased by the poor, as we may infer from the language of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:1), or, at all events, that which ranks with wisdom; and in like manner Christ represented the kingdom of heaven as a pearl of great price, which would demand all that a man had to buy it, and yet he represented the poor as those especially to whom it was preached. It is true that the wisdom of which Job speaks (Job 28:28) is in no way connected with the Gospel of the kingdom; but yet, if the words of the wise are indeed given from one Shepherd, it is impossible not to recognise a central thought underlying all such words, if not in the separate minds of the wise at heart, in the original mind of the one Shepherd. So we can see that that which is true of wisdom as described by Job receives its illustration from that which is true of the Gospel of the kingdom and of the evangelical promises of Isaiah.

Job 28:23-24. God understandeth the way thereof — God alone knows and can make known the nature and properties, the rules and measures, the plans and designs, the operations and effects, of this wisdom which we inquire after; or, the methods which he takes, in the management of all affairs in the world, together with its reasons, and the ends he has in view in them. And he knoweth the place thereof — Where it dwells, which is only in his own mind. For he looketh to the ends of the earth — He, and he only knows it, because his providence is infinite and universal, reaching to all places and times, past, present, and to come; whereas the most knowing men have narrow understandings, and the wisdom, and justice, and beauty of God’s works are not fully seen till all the parts of them be laid together.28:20-28 There is a two-fold wisdom; one hid in God, which is secret, and belongs not to us; the other made known by him, and revealed to man. One day's events, and one man's affairs, have such reference to, and so hang one upon another, that He only, to whom all is open, and who sees the whole at one view, can rightly judge of every part. But the knowledge of God's revealed will is within our reach, and will do us good. Let man look upon this as his wisdom, To fear the Lord, and to depart from evil. Let him learn that, and he is learned enough. Where is this wisdom to be found? The treasures of it are hid in Christ, revealed by the word, received by faith, through the Holy Ghost. It will not feed pride or vanity, or amuse our vain curiosity. It teaches and encourages sinners to fear the Lord, and to depart from evil, in the exercise of repentance and faith, without desiring to solve all difficulties about the events of this life.God understandeth the way thereof - These are doubtless the words of Job. The meaning is, that the reason of the divine dispensations could be known only to God himself. He had given no clew by which man could discover this. He might carry his investigations far into the regions of science; he could penetrate the earth, and look on the stars, but still all his investigations fell short of disclosing the reasons of the divine dispensations. The secret was lodged in his bosom, and he only could communicate it where and when he pleased. It may be added here, that this is as true now as it was in the time of Job. Man has carried the investigations of science almost infinitely further than he had then, but still by the investigations of science he has by no means superseded the necessity of revelation, or shed light on the great questions that have, in all ages, so much perplexed the race. It is only by direct communication, by his word and by his Spirit, that man can be made to understand the reason of the divine doings, and nothing is better established by the course of events than the truth on which Job here so much insists, that science cannot answer the questions of so much interest to man about the divine government. 23. God hath, and is Himself, wisdom. God, i.e. God alone; as appears by the denial of it to all other things.

The way thereof; either the way how it is to be obtained; or rather, the methods or courses which it takes in the management of all affairs in the world, together with its grounds and ends in them.

The place thereof; where it dwells, which is only in his own breast and mind, and in the best of men but in part, and only as far as it pleaseth him to afford it. God understandeth the way thereof,.... And he only; not the way that men can come at the knowledge of wisdom, which at present appears to be past finding out; but rather the way which wisdom itself takes, and is in the deep, and its footsteps not known by any other, and the grounds and reasons of its taking such a course it does; which are only understood by the Lord: it may be applied to spiritual wisdom in men, and the way to come at it; which God only knows and instructs in, and is his special and peculiar gift; and to Christ, the wisdom of God, and the way which he has taken in the council and covenant of grace and peace, for the salvation of his people; and which he took in time, in the assumption of human nature, and by sufferings and death to obtain it for them:

and he knoweth the place thereof; the seat of wisdom within himself, the source of all his dealings with men, his sovereign will and pleasure in his own heart; the place of spiritual wisdom and knowledge, the heart of a regenerate man, where his Gospel is, and has come with power, and took place and works effectually; and where Christ, the Logos, the Wisdom of God is, even with himself, and in his bosom, as in the times of Job, and now at his right hand, in human nature.

God understandeth the {n} way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

(n) He makes God the only author of this wisdom, and the giver of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. God understandeth the way thereof] i. e. the way thereto (ch. Job 24:18, Genesis 3:24). The word God stands emphatically first in the sentence, in opposition to “all living” (Job 28:21); He is in possession of Wisdom. It need not be said that the words “place” and “way” are merely parts of the figure; the verse means, Wisdom is with God alone.

23–28. Wisdom can nowhere be found either by man or by any creature (Job 28:21), only by the Creator. God knoweth the place of it and is in possession of it, for He is the maker and upholder of the universe with all its agencies. And He has assigned to man as his wisdom the fear of the Lord.Verse 23. - God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. God only understands what true wisdom is. It is a part of his being, an essential element of his nature. He knows "the way" of it, i.e. how it works and manifests itself; and he knows "the place' of it, i.e. where it dwells, what limits it has, if any, and how far it is communicable to any beside himself. The highest knowledge is all hid in God (Colossians 2-3); and, except so far as God imparts it to him, man can know nothing of it. 17 Gold and glass are not equal to it,

Nor is it exchanged for jewels of gold.

18 Pearls and crystal are not to be mentioned,

And the acquisition of wisdom is beyond corals.

19 The topaz of Ethiopia is not equal to it,

It is not outweighed by pure fine gold.

20 Whence, then, cometh wisdom,

And which is the place of understanding?

Among the separate חפצים, Proverbs 3:15, which are here detailed, apart from זהב, glass has the transparent name זכוּכית, or, as it is pointed in Codd., in old editions, and by Kimchi, זכוכית, with Cholem (in the dialects with ג instead of )כ. Symm. indeed translates crystal, and in fact the ancient languages have common names for glass and crystal; but the crystal is here called זכוּבישׁ, which signifies prop., like the Arab. 'gibs, ice; κρύσταλλος also signifies prop. ice, and this only in Homer, then crystal, exactly as the cognate קרח unites both significations in itself. The reason of this homonymy lies deeper than in the outward similarity, - the ancients really thought the crystal was a product of the cold; Pliny, xxxvii. 2, 9, says: non alibi certe reperitur quam ubi maxume hibernae nives rigent, glaciemque esse certum est, unde nomen Graeci dedere. The Targ. translates גבישׁ by פּנינים, certainly in the sense of the Arabico-Persic bullûr (bulûr), which signifies crystal, or even glass, and moreover is the primary word for βήρυλλος, although the identical Sanskrit word, according to the laws of sound, vaidurja (Pali, velurija), is, according to the lexicons, a name of the lapis lazuli (Persic, lagurd). Of the two words ראמות and פּננים, the one appears to mean pearls and the other corals; the ancient appellations of these precious things which belong to the sea are also blended; the Persic mergân (Sanskr. mangara) unites the signification pearl and coral in itself. The root פן, Arab. fn, which has the primary notion of pushing, especially of vegetation (whence Arab. fann, a branch, shoot, prop. motion; French, jet), and Lamentations 4:7, where snow and milk, as figures of whiteness (purity), are placed in contrast with פנינים as a figure of redness, favour the signification corals for פנינים. The Coptic be nôni, which signifies gemma, favours (so far as it may be compared) corals rather than pearls. And the fact that ראמות, Ezekiel 27:16, appears as an Aramaean article of commerce in the market of Tyre, is more favourable to the signification pearls than corals; for the Babylonians sailed far into the Indian Ocean, and brought pearls from the fisheries of Bahrein, perhaps even from Ceylon, into the home markets (vid., Layard, New Discoveries, 536). The name is perhaps, from the Western Asiatic name of the pearl,

(Note: Vid., Zeitschr. fr d. Kunde des Morgenlandes, iv. 40f. The recently attempted explanation of κοράλλιον from גּורל (to which κλῆρος the rather belongs), in the primary signification lappillus (Arab. ‛garal), is without support.)

mutilated and Hebraized.

(Note: Two reasons for פנינים equals pearls (in favour of which Bochart compares the name of the pearl-oyster, πίννα) and ראמות equals corals, which are maintained by Carey, are worthy of remark. (1.) That פנינים does not signify corals, he infers from Lamentations 4:7, for the redness of corals cannot be a mark of bodily beauty; "but when I find that there are some pearls of a slightly reddish tinge, then I can understand and appreciate the comparison." (2.) That ראמות signifies corals, is shown by the origin of the word, which properly signifies reêm-(wild oxen) horns, which is favoured by a mention of Pliny, h. n. xiii. 51: (Tradidere) juncos quoque lapideos perquam similes veris per litora, et in alto quasdam arbusculas colore bubuli cornus ramosas et cacuminibus rubentes. Although Pliny there speaks of marine petrified plants of the Indian Ocean (not, at least in his sense, of corals), this hint of a possible derivation of ראמות is certainly surprising. But as to Lamentations 4:7, this passage is to be understood according to Sol 5:10 (my friend is צח ואדום). The white and red are intended to be conceived of as mixed and overlapping one another, as our Germ. popular poetry speaks of cheeks which "shine with milk and purple;" and as in Homer, Il. iv. 141-146, the colour of the beautifully formed limbs of Menelaus is represented by the figure (which appears hideous to us): ὡς δ ̓ ὅτε τίς τ ̓ ἐλέφαντα γυνὴ φοίνικι μιήνͅ (ebony stained with purple).)

The name of the פּטדּה of Ethiopia appears to be derived from to'paz by transposition; Pliny says of the topaz, xxxvii. 8, 32, among other passages; Juba Topazum insulam in rubro mari a continenti stadiis CCC abesse dicit, nebulosam et ideo quaesitam saepius navigantibus; ex ea causa nomen accepisse: topazin enim Troglodytarum lingua significationem habere quaerendi. This topaz, however, which is said to be named after an island of the same name, the Isle of Serpents in Agatharchides and Diodorus, is, according to Pliny, yellowish green, and therefore distinct from the otherwise so-called topaz. To make a candid confession, we grope about everywhere in the dark here, and the ancient versions are not able to help us out of our difficulty.

(Note: The Targ. translates שׁהם by פּנינים, βήρυλλος; ספיר by שׁבזיזא (Arab. sbz, vid., Pott in the Zeitschr.f. K. d. M. iv. 275); פז by אובריזין, ὄβρυζον; ראמות by סנדלכין, σανδαράχη, red gold-pigment (vid., Rdiger-Pott, as just quoted, S. 267); גבישׁ again by בּירוּלין in the sense of the Arabico-Persic bullûr, Kurd. bellûr, crystal; פנינים by מרגלין, μαργαρῖται; פטדה by מרגּלא ירקא (the green pearl); כתם by פטלון (perhaps פּטלון, πέταλον, in the sense of lamina auri).)

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