Job 28:18
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 28:18-19. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls — They are of no value, if compared with wisdom, nor fit to be mentioned as a price wherewith to purchase it. For the price, &c. — Hebrew, משׁךְ, meshech, the attraction, or extraction, of wisdom is above rubies — מפנינים, mippeninim, pearls. But the expression is rendered by the LXX., υπερ τα εσωτατα, above the innermost, or most concealed and guarded things; and by the Vulgate de occultis, of secret things. Chappelow proposes to render the words, “The attraction of wisdom is above any thing we behold:” a translation which, as he observes, Aquila’s version justifies γλυκυ δε σοφια παρα τα περιβλεπτα, wisdom is sweet, or desirable, above the things that are anywhere seen. Poole, who would render meshech, extraction, or acquisition, thinks there is an allusion to the manner in which pearls are obtained, namely, by diving to the bottom of the sea; which, he observes, is aptly applied to this wisdom, because, lying very deep, and remote from the reach of mankind, it is not to be obtained without diligent search and consideration. The clause would then be read, The drawing forth of wisdom is above that of pearls: that is, men may dive into the sea, and fetch up pearls, but this wisdom lies a great deal deeper. The topaz of Ethiopia — Or of Arabia, for Cush signifies both countries; and the topaz, which Pliny calls amplissima gemmarum, the most noble of gems, was found in the Red sea, which lay between both, and so might be ascribed to either; shall not equal it, &c. — The Ethiopian topaz, which is so much esteemed for its wonderful lustre, doth not come near it in value; nor are the golden ornaments which they wear in those parts proportionable to it.28:12-19 Job here speaks of wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost which cannot be bought with money. Let that which is most precious in God's account, be so in ours. Job asks after it as one that truly desired to find it, and despaired of finding it any where but in God; any way but by Divine revelation.No mention shall be made of coral - That is, as a price by which to purchase wisdom, or in comparison with wisdom. The margin here is, "Ramoth" - retaining the Hebrew word ראמה râ'mâh. Jerome renders it, "excelsa" - exalted or valuable things. So the Septuagint, Μετέωρα Meteōra - exalted or sublime things; as if the word were from רום, to be exalted. According to the rabbis, the word here means "red coral." It occurs also in Ezekiel 27:16, where it is mentioned as a valuable commodity in merchandise in which Syria traded with Tyre, and occurs in connection with emeralds, purple, broidered work, fine linen, and agate. The coral is a well known marine substance, not valued now as if it were a precious stone, but probably in the time of Job regarded as of value sufficient to be reckoned with gems. It was not rare, though its uses were not known. As a beautiful object, it might at that time deserve to be mentioned in connection with pearls.

It is now found in abundance in the Red Sea, and probably that which was known to Job was obtained there. Shaw says, "In rowing gently over it (the port Tor), while the surface of the sea was calm, such a diversity of "Madrepores Furuses," and other marine vegetables, presented themselves to the eye, that we could not forbear taking them, as Pliny (L. xiii. cap. 25) had done before us, for a forest under water. The branched Madrepores particularly contributed very much to authorize the comparison, for we passed over several that were eight or ten feet high, growing sometimes pyramidical like the cypress, and at other times had their branches more open and diffused, like the oak; not to speak of others which, like the creeping plants, spread themselves over the bottom of the sea;" Travels, p. 384, Ed. Oxford, 1738. It should be added, however, that there is no absolute certainty that Job referred here to coral. The Hebrew word would suggest simply that which was "exalted in value," or of great price; and it is not easy to determine to what particular substance Job meant to apply it.

Or of pearls - גבישׁ gâbı̂ysh. This word occurs nowhere else, though אלגבישׁ 'elgâbı̂ysh, is found in Ezekiel 13:11, Ezekiel 13:13; Ezekiel 38:22, where it means hail-stones, or pieces of ice. Perhaps the word here means merely "crystal" - resembling ice. So Umbreit Gesenius, and others, understand it. Prof. Lee supposes that the word used here denotes that which is "aggregated" and then what is "massive," or "vast;" see his note on this place. Jerome renders it, "eminentia" - exalted, lofty things; the Septuagint retains the word without attempting to translate it - γαβὶς gabis - and the fact that they have not endeavored to render it, is a strong circumstance to show that it is now hopeless to attempt to determine its meaning.

Above rubies - The ruby is a precious stone of a carmine red color, sometimes verging to violet. There are two kinds of rubies, the oriental or corundum, and the spinelle. The ruby is next in hardness to the diamond, and approaches it in value. The oriental ruby is the same as the sapphire. The ruby is found in the kingdom of Pegu, in the Mysore country, in Ceylon, and in some other places, and is usually imbedded in gneiss. It is by no means certain, however, that the word used here (פנינים pânı̂ynı̂ym) means rubies. Many of the rabbis suppose that "pearls" are meant by it; and so Bochart, Hieroz. ii. Lib. v. c. 6, 7, understands it. John D. Michaelis understands it to mean "red corals," and Gesenius concurs with this opinion. Umbreit renders it, "Perlen" - "pearls." The word occurs in Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 20:15; Proverbs 31:10; Lamentations 4:7. In the Proverbs, as here, it is used in comparison with wisdom, and undoubtedly denotes one of the precious gems.

18. Red coral (Eze 27:16).

pearls—literally, "what is frozen." Probably crystal; and Job 28:17 will then be glass.

rubies—Umbreit translates "pearls" (see La 4:1; Pr 3:15). The Urim and Thummim, the means of consulting God by the twelve stones on the high priest's breastplate, "the stones of the sanctuary" (La 4:1), have their counterpart in this chapter; the precious stones symbolizing the "light" and "perfection" of the divine wisdom.

No mention shall be made; they are of no value, nor worthy to be named the same day with this, nor fit to be mentioned as a price or recompence wherewith to purchase this. The price; or, the attraction, or acquisition; or rather, the extraction, or drawing forth. For Job useth the word of art which was proper in the taking of

pearls, as the following word, rendered by our translators rubies, is understood by divers, both Hebrew and Christian interpreters, and amongst others by the late eminently learned Bochart, who proveth it by divers arguments. Now these pearls are and were taken by men that dived to the bottom of the sea, and drew them out thence, which is the very word which both Arabic and Latin authors use in the case; as indeed the same word is used of all fishermen, who are said to draw forth with their hook, or net, or otherwise, fishes, or any other thing for which they are fishing. Moreover this diving, as it produced great profit, so it was not without some danger and difficulty; for if they heedlessly put their fingers into the gaping shell, within which the pearl was, it speedily closed upon them, and put them to exquisite pain, to the loss of their finger, and sometimes of their life; which is a fit representation of the state of those persons who search after the knowledge of God’s counsels and ways, and the grounds of them, who as when they modestly inquire into them, and truly discover them, they have infinite advantage and satisfaction therein; so if they pry into them too boldly, searching into those things which God hath concealed, and rashly judging of them above what they know, which Job judged to be his friends’ case, they expose themselves to manifold snares and dangers. And this extraction, or drawing forth, is aptly used concerning this wisdom, which lying very deep and remote from the reach of ordinary men, is not to be obtained without diligent search and consideration. And so the place may be thus translated, the extraction or drawing forth of wisdom is above that (to wit, the extraction) of pearls. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls,.... Coral is a marine plant, is as hard as a stone, and of such value as to be reckoned among precious stones; See Gill on Ezekiel 27:16. In Arabia Felix, on the shore of the Red sea, is a place called Coralia (n); it may be from coral found there. Pearls are from shellfish taken out of the sea, though these seem rather intended in the next clause: the words "ramoth" and "gabish" are left untranslated by some, and by others are taken for precious stones, though unknown, so called because they are found in high places, which both words signify. The Targum renders the first by "sandalchin", and seems to be the same with the sardonyx, a precious stone found in Arabia, and which found there is by Pliny (o) said to excel. Junius and Tremellius render it by "sandastros"; which, as Pliny says (p), some call "Garamantis", being bred in a place of that name in India; and he also observes, that it is found in Arabia towards the south, and has shining golden drops in the body of it; it is a sort of a carbuncle. "Gabish" seems to have some affinity with "chabazios", mentioned by Orpheus (q) as a precious stone; but whatever precious stones are meant, as it is hard to determine what, they are not to be spoken of with wisdom, or to be compared to it:

for the price of wisdom is above rubies; or rather pearls, as Bochart (r) seems to have abundantly proved, who renders the words,

"the extraction of wisdom is greater than the extraction of pearls;''

and so the Targum; there being, as he thinks, an allusion to the extraction of pearls out of the sea by divers into it (s); who get them through much art, difficulty, and danger; and he observes, that there is a double extraction, or drawing them out, first of the shellfish out of the sea, and then of the pearls out of the shells; but the drawing out of wisdom, or the attainment of that; is more difficult, and superior to it, as well as attended with greater advantage; see Proverbs 3:15 and See Gill on Lamentations 4:7; and though of pearls some are very large, Oviedo (t) speaks of one that weighed thirty one carats, and another twenty six; some as big as hazel nuts, and even as a middling walnut, and of very great price, as that bought by Pope Paul at 44,000 ducats (u); that by Philip the Second, of the size of a pigeon's egg, valued at an hundred forty four thousand ducats; that drank by Cleopatra at a draught, reckoned worth eighty thousand pounds sterling; and that of the emperor of Persia, bought at 110,400 pounds (w); yet the price of wisdom is above them.

(n) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (o) Ib. l. 37. c. 6. (p) Ib. c. 7. (q) , p. 240. (r) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 6. col. 681, &c. (s) Of fishing for pearls in this way, see the Account of it in Vartoman. Navigat. l. 3. c. 2. in P. Martyr. Decad. 3. l. 2. and Oviedo de Occident. Ind. c. 4. and with nets, Aelian. de Animal. l. 15. c. 8. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 35. (t) Ut supra. (Oviedo de Occident. Ind. c. 4.) (u) P. Martyr, Decad. 3. l. 10. (w) See Chambers's Dictionary on the word "Pearl".

No mention shall be made of coral, or of {l} pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

(l) Which was thought to be a king of precious stone.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. or of pearls] Rather, of crystal.

price of wisdom is above rubies] Or, the possession of wisdom is above (or, more than) pearls, i. e. pearls cannot acquire it or give possession of it. The meaning is scarcely that Wisdom is a more precious thing to possess than pearls.Verse 18. - No mention shall be made of coral. The word translated "coral" (רָאמות) means properly "things that are high." It occurs only here and in Ezekiel 27:16. The rabbinical interpretation of the word as "coral" is doubtful, since it was unknown to the LXX. Or of pearls. The word gabish (גָבִישׁ) occurs only in this place. Some identify it with rock-crystal. For the price of wisdom is above rubies. Here we have another obscure word (פָנִינִים), which is variously rendered by "rubies," "pearls," "carbuncles," and "red coral." The balance of authority is in favour of pearls. With the question in Job 28:12 the description of mining attains the end designed: man can search after and find out silver, gold, and others metals and precious stones, by making the foundations of the earth accessible to him; but wisdom, whence shall be obtain it, and which (ואי־זה, according to another reading ואיזה) is the place of understanding? החכמה has the art. to give prominence to its transcendency over the other attainable things. חכמה is the principal name, and בּינה interchanges with it, as תּבוּנה, Proverbs 8:1, and other synonyms in which the Chokma literature abounds elsewhere in Proverbs 1-9. בינה is properly the faculty of seeing through that which is distinguishable, consisting of the possession of the right criteria; חכמה, however, is the perception, in general, of things in their true nature and their final causes.
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