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Job 28:12-28

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.

God Alone Has Wisdom

28:20 “But wisdom – where does it come from? 11 

Where is the place of understanding?

28:21 For 12  it has been hidden

from the eyes of every living creature,

and from the birds of the sky it has been concealed.

28:22 Destruction 13  and Death say,

‘With our ears we have heard a rumor about where it can be found.’ 14 

28:23 God understands the way to it,

and he alone knows its place.

28:24 For he looks to the ends of the earth

and observes everything under the heavens.

28:25 When he made 15  the force of the wind

and measured 16  the waters with a gauge.

28:26 When he imposed a limit 17  for the rain,

and a path for the thunderstorm, 18 

28:27 then he looked at wisdom 19  and assessed its value; 20 

he established 21  it and examined it closely. 22 

28:28 And he said to mankind,

‘The fear of the Lord 23  – that is wisdom,

and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” 24 

Job 39:26

Context

39:26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, 25 

and spreads its wings toward the south?

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).

11 tn The refrain is repeated, except now the verb is תָּבוֹא (tavo’, “come”).

12 tn The vav on the verb is unexpressed in the LXX. It should not be overlooked, for it introduces a subordinate clause of condition (R. Gordis, Job, 310).

13 tn Heb “Abaddon.”

14 tn Heb “heard a report of it,” which means a report of its location, thus “where it can be found.”

15 tn Heb “he gave weight to the wind.” The form is the infinitive construct with the ל (lamed) preposition. Some have emended it to change the preposition to the temporal בּ (bet) on the basis of some of the versions (e.g., Latin and Syriac) that have “who made.” This is workable, for the infinitive would then take on the finite tense of the previous verbs. An infinitive of purpose does not work well, for that would be saying God looked everywhere in order to give wind its proper weight (see R. Gordis, Job, 310).

16 tn The verb is the Piel perfect, meaning “to estimate the measure” of something. In the verse, the perfect verb continues the function of the infinitive preceding it, as if it had a ו (vav) prefixed to it. Whatever usage that infinitive had, this verb is to continue it (see GKC 352 §114.r).

17 tn Or “decree.”

18 tn Or “thunderbolt,” i.e., lightning. Heb “the roaring of voices/sounds,” which describes the nature of the storm.

19 tn Heb “it”; the referent (wisdom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

20 tn The verb סָפַר (safar) in the Piel basically means “to tell; to declare; to show” or “to count; to number.” Many commentators offer different suggestions for the translation. “Declared” (as in the RSV, NASB, and NRSV) would be the simplest – but to whom did God declare it? Besides “appraised” which is the view of Pope, Dhorme and others (cf. NAB, NIV), J. Reider has suggested “probed” (“Etymological studies in biblical Hebrew,” VT 2 [1952]: 127), Strahan has “studied,” and Kissane has “reckoned.” The difficulty is that the line has a series of verbs, which seem to build to a climax; but without more details it is hard to know how to translate them when they have such a range of meaning.

21 tc The verb כּוּן (kun) means “to establish; to prepare” in this stem. There are several mss that have the form from בִּין (bin, “discern”), giving “he discerned it,” making more of a parallel with the first colon. But the weight of the evidence supports the traditional MT reading.

22 tn The verb חָקַר (khaqar) means “to examine; to search out.” Some of the language used here is anthropomorphic, for the sovereign Lord did not have to research or investigate wisdom. The point is that it is as if he did this human activity, meaning that as in the results of such a search God knows everything about wisdom.

23 tc A number of medieval Hebrew manuscripts have YHWH (“Lord”); BHS has אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Lord”). As J. E. Hartley (Job [NICOT], 383) points out, this is the only occurrence of אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Lord”) in the book of Job, creating doubt for retaining it. Normally, YHWH is avoided in the book. “Fear of” (יִרְאַת, yirat) is followed by שַׁדַּי (shadday, “Almighty”) in 6:14 – the only other occurrence of this term for “fear” in construct with a divine title.

24 tc Many commentators delete this verse because (1) many read the divine name Yahweh (translated “Lord”) here, and (2) it is not consistent with the argument that precedes it. But as H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 185) points out, there is inconsistency in this reasoning, for many of the critics have already said that this chapter is an interpolation. Following that line of thought, then, one would not expect it to conform to the rest of the book in this matter of the divine name. And concerning the second difficulty, the point of this chapter is that wisdom is beyond human comprehension and control. It belongs to God alone. So the conclusion that the fear of the Lord is wisdom is the necessary conclusion. Rowley concludes: “It is a pity to rob the poem of its climax and turn it into the expression of unrelieved agnosticism.”

25 tn This word occurs only here. It is connected to “pinions” in v. 13. Dhorme suggests “clad with feathers,” but the line suggests more the use of the wings.



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