|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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?
Verse 5. - As for the earth, out of it cometh bread. Man's cleverness is such that he turns the earth to various uses. By tillage of its surface he causes it to produce the staff of life, bread: and by his mining operations the under part of it is turned up as fire, or rather, as by fire. Fire was used in some of the processes whereby masses of material were detached and forced to yield their treasures (see Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.,' 33:4. § 73).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As for the earth, out of it cometh bread,.... That is, bread corn, or corn of which bread is made particularly wheat; which falling, or being cast into the earth, rises up and brings forth fruit, and, when ground into flour, makes fine bread; and to this same original the psalmist ascribes bread, which strengthens man's heart, Psalm 104:14. The West Indians formerly made their bread of roots of the earth, particularly one called "jucca" (b); so Caesar's soldiers in distress made bread of a root called "chara", steeped in milk (c):
and under it is turned up as it were fire; coal, which is fuel for fire; for, as in the earth are mines for gold and silver, iron and brass, out of which they are dug, or the ore of them, so there is coal under the earth; which, when turned up, or dug, is taken for firing; or brimstone, or sulphureous matter, which is easily inflammable; and sometimes the same earth, the surface of which is covered with corn, out of which bread cometh, underneath are coal, or sulphur, and such like combustible matter: some think precious stones are meant, which glitter and sparkle like fire; see Ezekiel 28:14.
(b) P. Martyr, Decad 1. l. 1.((c) Caesar. Comment. Bell. Civil. l. 3. c. 48.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Its fertile surface yields food; and yet "beneath it is turned up as it were with fire." So Pliny [Natural History, 33] observes on the ingratitude of man who repays the debt he owes the earth for food, by digging out its bowels. "Fire" was used in mining [Umbreit]. English Version is simpler, which means precious stones which glow like fire; and so Job 28:6 follows naturally (Eze 28:14).
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