Job 28:5
As for the earth, out of it comes bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) As for the earth . . .—While the ploughman and the reaper till and gather the fruits of the earth on its surface, the miner far below maintains perpetual fires, as also does the volcanic mountain, with its fields and vineyards luxuriant and fertile on its sides.

Job 28:5-6. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread — Out of the surface of the earth man gets herbs and corn, and other kinds of food for his sustenance: and under it is turned up, as it were, fire — Lime, to manure and enrich the ground, or coals and brimstone, and other materials of fire: unless, as some suppose, this rather refers to a central fire in the bowels of the earth. The stones of it are the place of sapphires — Of precious stones; the sapphire, as one of the most eminent, being put for all the rest. In some parts of the earth the sapphires are mixed with stones, and cut out of them and polished. And it hath — The earth containeth; dust of gold — Distinct from that gold which is found in the mass; both sorts of gold being found in the earth.28:1-11 Job maintained that the dispensations of Providence were regulated by the highest wisdom. To confirm this, he showed of what a great deal of knowledge and wealth men may make themselves masters. The caverns of the earth may be discovered, but not the counsels of Heaven. Go to the miners, thou sluggard in religion, consider their ways, and be wise. Let their courage and diligence in seeking the wealth that perishes, shame us out of slothfulness and faint-heartedness in labouring for the true riches. How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! How much easier, and safer! Yet gold is sought for, but grace neglected. Will the hopes of precious things out of the earth, so men call them, though really they are paltry and perishing, be such a spur to industry, and shall not the certain prospect of truly precious things in heaven be much more so?As for the earth, out of it cometh bread - That is, it produces food, or the materials for bread. The idea of Job seems to be, that it was proof of great wisdom and skill on the part of man that he had carried the arts of agriculture so far. The earth in producing grain, and the arts of husbandry, were illustrative of wisdom and skill, but they did not impart the wisdom about the government of God which was desired. That was reserved to be imparted more directly by God himself, Job 28:23 ff.

And under it is turned up as it were fire - That is, on being turned up it discloses precious stones that seem to glow like coals of fire. This is the obvious sense of this passage, though a different interpretation has been given by most expositors. Job is speaking of mining. He describes the search for, gold, and silver, and precious stones. He says that one of the wonders of wisdom in the earth is, that it produces nutritious grain; another, that when the same earth is turned up it seems to rest on a bed of fire. The dark ground is made to glow by the quantity of jewels that are disclosed, and its deep recesses seem to be on fire. There is no reference here, therefore, as it seems to me. to any volcanic agency, or to any belief that the earth rests on a sea of fire. The idea has been expressed in Sergeant's "Mine:"

"Wheresoe'er our footsteps turn,

Rubies blush and diamonds burn."

Luther has given to the passage a different sense. Man bringet auch Feuer unten aus der Eerie, da oben Speise auf wachst - "They bring fire from the earth beneath, where food grows up above." Coverdale, "He bringeth food out of the earth; that which is under he consumeth with fire." Herder, "And underneath it is changed as by fire." Dr. Good, "Below it (the earth) windeth a fiery region."

5. Its fertile surface yields food; and yet "beneath it is turned up as it were with fire." So Pliny [Natural History, 33] observes on the ingratitude of man who repays the debt he owes the earth for food, by digging out its bowels. "Fire" was used in mining [Umbreit]. English Version is simpler, which means precious stones which glow like fire; and so Job 28:6 follows naturally (Eze 28:14). Out of it; out of the upper parts of the earth. Bread; bread-corn, or other food for man’s use.

Under it; either,

1. Under the same earth, which either at the same time yields bread out of its upper, and fire out of its lower parts; or at several times; that earth which once was fruitful becoming, by the disposition of Divine Providence, barren and sulphureous, &c. Or,

2. Under other parts of the earth.

Is turned up, i.e. is digged out and fetched up.

As it were fire; either gold and precious stones, which glitter and sparkle like fire; or coals, and brimstone, and other materials of fire. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread,.... That is, bread corn, or corn of which bread is made particularly wheat; which falling, or being cast into the earth, rises up and brings forth fruit, and, when ground into flour, makes fine bread; and to this same original the psalmist ascribes bread, which strengthens man's heart, Psalm 104:14. The West Indians formerly made their bread of roots of the earth, particularly one called "jucca" (b); so Caesar's soldiers in distress made bread of a root called "chara", steeped in milk (c):

and under it is turned up as it were fire; coal, which is fuel for fire; for, as in the earth are mines for gold and silver, iron and brass, out of which they are dug, or the ore of them, so there is coal under the earth; which, when turned up, or dug, is taken for firing; or brimstone, or sulphureous matter, which is easily inflammable; and sometimes the same earth, the surface of which is covered with corn, out of which bread cometh, underneath are coal, or sulphur, and such like combustible matter: some think precious stones are meant, which glitter and sparkle like fire; see Ezekiel 28:14.

(b) P. Martyr, Decad 1. l. 1.((c) Caesar. Comment. Bell. Civil. l. 3. c. 48.

As for the earth, out of it cometh {e} bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

(e) That is, come and underneath is brimstone or coal, which easily conceives fire.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. The same idea of the distance from the life of men and the unnaturalness of the miner’s work is pursued in the fine contrast between the peaceful, cultivated and fruitful face of the earth above and the destructive operations carried on in her bowels, which leave a confusion and devastation like that caused by fire. The second clause must be rendered,

And underneath it is overturned as if by fire.

The reference is hardly to actual blasting; rather to the overthrow and confused ruin that follows the miner’s operations.Verse 5. - As for the earth, out of it cometh bread. Man's cleverness is such that he turns the earth to various uses. By tillage of its surface he causes it to produce the staff of life, bread: and by his mining operations the under part of it is turned up as fire, or rather, as by fire. Fire was used in some of the processes whereby masses of material were detached and forced to yield their treasures (see Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.,' 33:4. § 73). 19 He lieth down rich, and doeth it not again,

He openeth his eyes and-is no more.

20 Terrors take hold of him as a flood;

By night a tempest stealeth him away.

21 The east wind lifteth him up, that he departeth,

And hurleth him forth from his place.

22 God casteth upon him without sparing,

Before His hand he fleeth utterly away.

23 They clap their hands at him,

And hiss him away from his place.

The pointing of the text ולא יאסף is explained by Schnurr., Umbr., and Stick.: He goes rich to bed and nothing is taken as yet, he opens his eyes and nothing more is there; but if this were the thought intended, it ought at least to have been ואין נאסף, since לא signifies non, not nihil; and Stickel's translation, "while nothing is carried away," makes the fut. instead of the praet., which was to be expected, none the more tolerable; also אסף can indeed signify to gather hastily together, to take away (e.g., Isaiah 33:4), when the connection favours it, but not here, where the first impression is that רשׁע is the subj. both to ולא יאסף and to ואיננו. Bttcher's translation, "He lieth down rich and cannot be displaced," gives the words a meaning that is ridiculed by the usage of the language. On the other hand, ולא יאסף can signify: and he is not conveyed away (comp. e.g., Jeremiah 8:2; Ezekiel 29:5; but not Isaiah 57:1, where it signifies to be swept away, and also not Numbers 20:26, where it signifies to be gathered to the fathers), and is probably intended to be explained after the pointing that we have, as Rosenm. and even Ralbag explain it: "he is not conveyed away; one opens his eyes and he is not;" or even as Schlottm.: "he is not conveyed away; in one moment he still looks about him, in the next he is no more;" but the relation of the two parts of the verse in this interpretation is unsatisfactory, and the preceding strophe has already referred to his not being buried. Since, therefore, only an unsuitable, and what is more, a badly-expressed thought, is gained by this reading, it may be that the expression should be regarded with Hahn as interrogative: is he not swept away? This, however, is only a makeshift, and therefore we must see whether it may not perhaps be susceptible of another pointing. Jerome transl.: dives cum dormierit, nihil secum auferet; the thought is not bad, but מאוּמה is wanting, and לא alone does not signify nihil. Better lxx (Ital., Syr.): πλούσιος κοιμηθήσεται καὶ ου ̓ προσθήσει. This translation follows the form of reading יאסף equals יוסיף, gives a suitable sense, places both parts of the verse in the right relation, and accords with the style of the poet (vid., Job 20:9; Job 40:5); and accordingly, with Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst., we decide in favour of this reading: he lieth down to sleep rich, and he doeth it no more, since in the night he is removed from life and also from riches by sudden death; or also: in the morning he openeth his eyes without imagining it is the last time, for, overwhelmed by sudden death, he closes them for ever. Job 27:20 and Job 27:20 are attached crosswise (chiastisch) to this picture of sudden destruction, be it by night or by day: the terrors of death seize him (sing. fem. with a plur. subj. following it, according to Ges. 146, 3) like a flood (comp. the floods of Belial, Psalm 18:5), by night a whirlwind (גּנבתּוּ סוּפה, as Job 21:18) carrieth him away. The Syriac and Arabic versions add, as a sort of interpolation: as a fluttering (large white) night-moth, - an addition which no one can consider beautiful.

Job 27:21 extends the figure of the whirlwind. In Hebrew, even when the narrative has reference to Egyptian matters (Genesis 41:23), the קדים which comes from the Arabian desert is the destructive, devastating, and parching wind κατ ̓ εξοχὴν.

(Note: In Syria and Arabia the east wind is no longer called qadı̂m, but exclusively sharqı̂ja, i.e., the wind that blows from the rising of the sun (sharq). This wind rarely prevails in summer, occurring then only two or three days a month on an average; it is more frequent in the winter and early spring, when, if it continues long, the tender vegetation is parched up, and a year of famine follows, whence in the Lebanon it is called semûm (שׂמוּם), which in the present day denotes the "poisonous wind" ( equals nesme musimme), but originally, by alliance with the Hebr. שׁמם, denoted the "devastating wind." The east wind is dry; it excites the blood, contracts the chest, causes restlessness and anxiety, and sleepless nights or evil dreams. Both man and beast feel weak and sickly while it prevails. Hence that which is unpleasant and revolting in life is compared to the east wind. Thus a maid in Hauran, at the sight of one of my Damascus travelling companions, whose excessive ugliness struck her, cried: billâh, nahâr el-jôm aqshar (Arab. 'qšr), wagahetni (Arab. w-jhṫnı̂) sharqı̂ja, "by God, it is an unhealthy day to-day: an east wind blew upon me." And in a festive dance song of the Merg district, these words occur:

wa rudd lı̂ hômet hodênik

continued...

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