Job 28 Wisdom Gained
Because the speech in this chapter is more soliloquy than dialogue some scholars have concluded that someone other than Job spoke it
Who is speaking in chapter 28? This is a very different chapter from all that has gone before and all that follows. It is a unique chapter in the book. It has no smooth literary connection with the immediate contexts before or after; it is not explicitly addressed to any of the participants; it contains no accusations, no complaints, and no responses to anything said previously. And it has a reflective tone, which contrasts with the passionate arguments on either side. Here is a tranquil, contemplative pause for thought. If Job were read aloud, this chapter would be read in a quieter tone of voice. In a Greek tragedy it might be read by a chorus standing at the back of the stage.2
For this reason most scholars assume that this chapter is an interlude inserted by the writer/compiler of the book.
A HYMN TO WISDOM
28 Surely there is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the ground,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 A miner puts an end to the darkness;
he probes the deepest recesses
for ore in the gloomy darkness.
4 He cuts a shaft far from human habitation,
in places unknown to those who walk above ground.
Suspended far away from people,
the miners swing back and forth.
5 Food may come from the earth,
but below the surface the earth is transformed as by fire.
6 Its rocks are a source of lapis lazuli,
containing flecks of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that path;
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts have never walked on it;
no lion has ever prowled over it.
9 The miner uses a flint tool
and turns up ore from the root of the mountains.
10 He cuts out channels in the rocks,
and his eyes spot every treasure.
11 He dams up the streams from flowing
so that he may bring to light what is hidden.
12 But where can wisdom be found,
and where is understanding located?
13 No one can know its value,
since it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The ocean depths say, “It’s not in me,”
while the sea declares, “I don’t have it.”
15 Gold cannot be exchanged for it,
and silver cannot be weighed out for its price.
16 Wisdom cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Gold and glass do not compare with it,
and articles of fine gold cannot be exchanged for it.
18 Coral and quartz are not worth mentioning.
The price of wisdom is beyond pearls.
19 Topaz from Cush cannot compare with it,
and it cannot be valued in pure gold.
20 Where then does wisdom come from,
and where is understanding located?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing
and concealed from the birds of the sky.
22 Abaddon and Death say,
“We have heard news of it with our ears.”
23 But God understands the way to wisdom,
and he knows its location.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When God fixed the weight of the wind
and distributed the water by measure,
26 when he established a limit for the rain
and a path for the lightning,
27 he considered wisdom and evaluated it;
he established it and examined it.
28 He said to mankind,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom.
And to turn from evil is understanding.”
What has this wonderful poem achieved? More than anything else it has made us stop and think. We must pause when we read this. Why this curious and seemingly irrelevant poem interrupting the passionate ebb and flow of debate? Answer: we must ponder and consider again the biggest issues of the book. What are the really big questions? And where have we arrived in unraveling them? Not far!