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Job 28:12-19

Context
No Price Can Buy Wisdom

28:12 “But wisdom – where can it be found?

Where is the place of understanding?

28:13 Mankind does not know its place; 1 

it cannot be found in the land of the living.

28:14 The deep 2  says, ‘It is not with 3  me.’

And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

28:15 Fine gold cannot be given in exchange for it,

nor can its price be weighed out in silver.

28:16 It cannot be measured out for purchase 4  with the gold of Ophir,

with precious onyx 5  or sapphires.

28:17 Neither gold nor crystal 6  can be compared with it,

nor can a vase 7  of gold match its worth.

28:18 Of coral and jasper no mention will be made;

the price 8  of wisdom is more than pearls. 9 

28:19 The topaz of Cush 10  cannot be compared with it;

it cannot be purchased with pure gold.

1 tc The LXX has “its way, apparently reading דַּרְכָה (darkhah) in place of עֶרְכָּהּ (’erkah, “place”). This is adopted by most modern commentators. But R. Gordis (Job, 308) shows that this change is not necessary, for עֶרֶךְ (’erekh) in the Bible means “order; row; disposition,” and here “place.” An alternate meaning would be “worth” (NIV, ESV).

2 sn The תְּהוֹם (tÿhom) is the “deep” of Gen 1:2, the abyss or primordial sea. It was always understood to be a place of darkness and danger. As remote as it is, it asserts that wisdom is not found there (personification). So here we have the abyss and the sea, then death and destruction – but they are not the places that wisdom resides.

3 tn The בּ (bet) preposition is taken here to mean “with” in the light of the parallel preposition.

4 tn The word actually means “weighed,” that is, lifted up on the scale and weighed, in order to purchase.

5 tn The exact identification of these stones is uncertain. Many recent English translations, however, have “onyx” and “sapphires.”

6 tn The word is from זָכַךְ (zakhakh, “clear”). It describes a transparent substance, and so “glass” is an appropriate translation. In the ancient world it was precious and so expensive.

7 tc The MT has “vase”; but the versions have a plural here, suggesting jewels of gold.

8 tn The word מֶשֶׁךְ (meshekh) comes from a root meaning “to grasp; to seize; to hold,” and so the derived noun means “grasping; acquiring; taking possession,” and therefore, “price” (see the discussion in R. Gordis, Job, 309). Gray renders it “acquisition” (so A. Cohen, AJSL 40 [1923/24]: 175).

9 tn In Lam 4:7 these are described as red, and so have been identified as rubies (so NIV) or corals.

10 tn Or “Ethiopia.” In ancient times this referred to the region of the upper Nile, rather than modern Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia).



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