Job 28:1

(1) Surely there is a vein for the silver.--In this chapter Job draws out a magnificent contrast between human skill and ingenuity and Divine wisdom. The difficulty to the ordinary reader is in not perceiving that the person spoken of in Job 28:3 is man, and not God. Man possesses and exercises this mastery over nature, but yet is ignorant of wisdom unless God bestows it on him. That Job should say this is but natural, after his painful experience of the want of wisdom in his friends.

Verses 1-28. - The connection of this chapter with the preceding is somewhat obscure. Probably we are to regard Job as led to see, even while he is justifying God's ways with sinners (Job 27:8-23), how many and how great are the difficulties in the way of forming a single consistent theory of the Divine action, which shall be applicable to all cases. Hence he comes to the conclusion that God is incomprehensible by man and inscrutable; and that it is only given to man to know him sufficiently for his practical guidance. To impress this on his hearers is his main object (vers. 12-28); and, to impress it the more, he introduces it by a sharp contrast. Wonderful as is man's cleverness and ingenuity in respect of earthly things and physical phenomena (vers. 1-11), with respect to heavenly things and the spiritual world - wherewith true wisdom is concerned - he knows next to nothing. All that he knows is just enough to guide his conduct aright (ver. 28). Verse 1. - Surely there is a vein for the silver; literally, an issue for silver? i.e. a place or places whence it is drawn forth from the earth. The silver-mines of Spain were very early worked by the Phoenicians, and produced the metal in great abundance (see the author's 'History of Phoenicia,' p. 314). But Asia itself was probably the source whence silver was obtained in primitive times. And a place for gold where they fine it; or, fuse it. Gold is very widely spread over the earth's surface, and in ancient times was especially abundant in Arabia (Diod. Sic.. 2:1; 3:42; Strabo, 16:4. § 18; Pit,y, 'Hist. Nat.,' 6:32, etc.); so that Job might easily have been acquainted with the processes of fusing and refining it. Two processes of refining are mentioned by Diodorus as practised by the Egyptians (3:11).

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?Surely there is a vein for the silver,.... Silver is mentioned first, not because the most valuable, for gold is preferable to it, as brass is to iron, and yet iron is mentioned first in Job 28:2; but because silver might be first known, or was first in use, especially in the coinage of money; we read of pieces of silver, or shekels of silver, in the times of Abraham, but not of any golden coin, Genesis 23:15; and among the old Romans silver was coined before gold (p); it has its name from a word which signifies "desire", because it is desirable to men, it answering to various uses and purposes; and sometimes the desires and cravings of men after it are enlarged too far, and become criminal, and so the root of all evil to them: and now there is a "vein" for it in the earth, or a mine in which it may be dug for, and found, in which it runs as veins in a man's body, in certain ramifications, like branches of trees, as they do; and the inhabitants of Hispaniola, and other parts of the West Indies, when found out by Columbus, which abounded with gold mines, declared that they found by experience that the vein of gold is a living tree, (and so the same, perhaps, may be said of silver,) and that it spreads and springs from the root, which they say extends to the centre of the earth by soft pores and passages of the earth, and puts forth branches, even to the uppermost part of the earth, and ceases not till it discovers itself unto the open air; at which time it shows forth certain beautiful colours instead of flowers, round stones of golden earth instead of fruits, and thin plates instead of leaves (q); so here there is a vein, or a "going out for the silver" (r), by which it makes its way, as observed of the gold, and shows itself by some signs and tokens where it may be found; or rather this egress is made for it, by opening the mine where it is, digging into it, and fetching it out of it, and from whence great quantities are often brought. In Solomon's time it was made as the stones in Jerusalem, 1 Kings 10:27;

and a place for gold where they fine it; there are particular places for this most excellent of all metals, which has its name in Hebrew from its yellow colour; all countries do not produce it; some are famous for it, and some parts of them, as the land of Havilah, where was gold, and that gold was good, Genesis 2:11; and Ophir; hence we often read of the gold of Ophir, so called from the place where it was found, as in this chapter, Job 28:16; and now the Spanish West Indies; but nearer to Job than these gold was found; there were not only mountains that abounded with gold near to Horeb, in the desert of Arabia (s), but it was to be found with the Sabeans (t), the near neighbours of Job; yea, the Ophir before referred to was in Arabia. Some understand this of the place where pure gold is found already refined, and needs no melting and refining; and of such Pliny (u) speaks, and of large lumps and masses of it; but for the most part it lies in ore, which needs refining; and so here it may intend the place where it is found in the ore, and from whence it is taken and had to the place where it is refined; for melting places used to be near where the golden ore was found; and so when Hispaniola was first found by Columbus, the gold that was dug out of the mountains of Cibana, and other places, were brought to two shops, which were erected with all things appertaining to melt and refine it, and cast into wedges; and so early as that, in these two shops, were molten yearly three hundred thousand pound weight of gold (w).

(p) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 33. c. 3.((q) Peter Martyr. Decad. 3. l. 8. (r) "exitus", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Drusius, Michaelis; "egressio", Vatablus. (s) Hieron. de loc. Heb. fol. 90. A. (t) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (u) Ut supra, (Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 33.) c. 4. (w) P. Martyr. Decad. 1. l. 10.

Job 27:23
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