Job 28:11
He binds the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid brings he forth to light.
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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?He bindeth the floods from overflowing - Margin, Weeping The Hebrew also is "from weeping" מבכי mı̂bekı̂y; referring to the water which trickles down the shaft of the mine. The idea is, that even the large streams which break out in such mines, the fountains and springs which the miner encounters in his operations, he so effectually restrains that they do not even trickle down or "weep" on the sides of the shaft, but it is left perfectly dry. This is necessary in opening mines of coal or minerals, and in making tunnels or other excavations. Yet anyone who has passed into a coal mine, through a tunnel, or into any one of the deep natural caves of the earth, will see how difficult it is to close all the places where water would trickle down. It is in fact seldom done; and if done literally in the time of Job, it indicates a very advanced state of the art of mining. In sinking a shaft, it is often necessary to pass at different depths through strata of earth where the water oozes out in abundance, and where the operations would be necessarily suspended if it could not be stopped or drawn off. The machinery necessary for this constitutes a considerable part of the expense of mining operations.

And the thing that is hid he bringeth forth to light - The concealed treasures; the gold and gems that are buried deep in the earth. He brings them out of their darkness, and converts them to ornament and to use. This ends the description which Job gives of the operations of mining in his time. We may remark in regard to this description:

(1) That the illustration was admirably chosen. His object was to show that true wisdom was not to be found by human science, or by mere investigation. He selects a case, therefore, where man had shown the most skill and wisdom, and where he had penetrated farthest into darkness. He penetrated the earth; drove his shaft through rocks; closed up gushing fountains, and laid bare the treasures that had been buried for generations in the regions of night. Yet all this did not enable him fully to explain the operations of the divine government.

(2) The art of mining was carried to a considerable degree of perfection in the time of Job. This is shown by the fact that his description would apply very well to that art even as it is practiced now. Substantially the same things were done then which are done now, though we cannot suppose with the same skill, or to the same extent, or with the same perfection of machinery.

(3) The time when Job 54ed was in a somewhat advanced period of society. The art of working metals to any considerable extent indicates such an advance. It is not found among barbarous tribes, and even where the art is to a considerable extent known, it is long before men learn to sink shafts in the earth, or to penetrate rocks, or to draw off water from mines.

(4) We see the wisdom and goodness which God has shown in regard to the things that are most useful to man. Those things which are necessary to his being, or which are very desirable for his comfort, are easily accessible; those which are less necessary, or whose use is dangerous, are placed in deep, dark, and almost inaccessible places. The fruits of the earth are near to man; water flows every where, and it is rare that he has to dig deep for it; and when found by digging, it is a running fountain, not soon exhausted like a mine of gold; and iron, also, the most valuable of the metals, is usually placed near the surface of the earth. But the pearl is at the bottom of the ocean; diamonds and other precious stones are in remote regions or imbedded in rocks; silver runs along in small veins, often in the fissures of rocks, and extending far into the bowels of the earth. The design of placing the precious metals in these almost inaccessible fissures of the rocks, it is not difficult to understand. Had they been easily accessible, and limited in their quantity, they would long since have been exhausted - causing at one time a glut in the market, and at others absolute want. As they are now, they exercise the utmost ingenuity of man, first to find them, and then to procure them; they are distributed in small quantities, so that their value is always great; they furnish a convenient circulating medium in all countries; they afford all that is needful for ornament.

(5) There is another proof of wisdom in regard to their arrangement in the earth, which was probably unknown in the time of Job. It is the fact that the most useful of the metals are found in immediate connection with the fuel required for their reduction, and the limestone which facilitates that reduction. This is now perfectly understood by mineralogists, and it is an instance of the goodness of God, and of the wisdom of his arrangements, which ought not to be disregarded or overlooked. They who wish to examine this subject more at length, may find some admirable views in Buckland's Geology and Mineralogy (Bridgewater Treatises), vol. i. pp. 392-415.

11. floods—"He restrains the streams from weeping"; a poetical expression for the trickling subterranean rills, which impede him; answering to the first clause of Job 28:10; so also the two latter clauses in each verse correspond. He restraineth

the floods, and as it were bindeth them to their good behaviour, that they may not overflow the mine; and those metals which did lie hid in the secret parts of the earth, he discovers to himself and others. He bindeth the floods from overflowing,.... As the miner finds ways and means of cutting through rocks, and draining and carrying off the waters in his mine; so he makes use of other methods of restraining and keeping back the waters from coming into and overflowing his works, and even "from weeping" (m), as in the original text; he binds them up so firmly, and stops every avenue and passage so close, that the waters cannot so much as ooze, or distil and drop as a tear from the eye:

and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light; the several metals and minerals, gems and precious stones, that lay hid in the bosom of the earth, are fetched out, and brought to light by the diligence and labours of the miner; the same that are called stones of darkness, and of the shadow of death, Job 28:3. This verse is likewise by several interpreted of God, and of what is done by him in the things of nature and providence; he it is that at first shut up the sea with doors; made the cloud its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling bands, in which he wrapped and bound it, as an infant, and still sets bars and doors to it, and says, hitherto shalt thou come, and no further, Job 38:8; and, in a spiritual sense, he restrains the floods of affliction from overflowing and overwhelming his people; and, when the temptations of Satan come in like a flood upon them, his Spirit sets up a standard against them, which keeps them from doing them any harm; and, when the wrath of persecutors rises up against them, and threatens them with destruction, he withholds those proud waters from going over their souls and overwhelming them: and so likewise it is he that bringeth hidden things to light, things in nature men had never seen or known before; things in providence, dark and intricate; things in grace, out of the sight of the most penetrating understanding: he reveals the secrets of his love and grace to them that fear him; the glorious scheme of salvation by Christ, which was hid in himself, in the thoughts, purposes, and counsels of his heart; the mysteries of his Gospel, hid from the wise and prudent, Matthew 11:25; and life and immortality itself, or the way to it, which he has brought to light through the Gospel; yea, he brings to light all the hidden things of a man's heart, and sets them before him, and convinces him of them in a loving way; and if not now, he will hereafter "bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts", 1 Corinthians 4:5; but, as before observed, it is best to understand the whole paragraph of miners; of their sagacity in opening mines, and searching into the bowels of the earth, where none were ever before them; and of their indefatigableness, industry, and labour therein, and of the success that attends them; Job's design being to show, that things rich and valuable, and most remote from the sight of men, may, by diligent application, be investigated and obtained; yet such wisdom is not attainable as to understand the reason of the various dealings of God with the sons of men, both good and bad; and therefore, after all he had said on the above subject, still the question is as follows.

(m) "a fletu", Montanus, Bolducius, Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis, Schultens; so Broughton; "a stillatione", Vatablus, Mercerus, Drusius.

He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.
11. he bindeth the floods from overflowing] Rather, he bindeth up the streams that they drip not, lit. that they weep not. The reference is to the use of lime or clay to prevent water percolating into the mine. “The picturesque phrase (‘that they weep not’) may have been a technical term among miners in ancient times, just as our colliers name the action of the water that percolates through and into their workings weeping, and our navvies call the fine sand which percolates through the sides of a tunnel crying sand” (Cox, Comm. on Job, p. 360).

These references to mining operations shew that the Writer was familiar with them. The frequent allusions to Egypt indicate that the Author of the Book was well acquainted with that country, and possibly the mines that were extensively worked in the peninsula of Sinai would be an object of interest to travellers from Palestine to Egypt. It appears, however, that mining was in ancient times carried on in the Hauran and even in the Lebanon; and in Deuteronomy 8:9 Palestine is described as “a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”Verse 11. - He bindeth the floods from overflowing. This, again, may be either taken generally of man's ability to create dams, dykes, and embankments, whereby the overflow of waters is prevented; or specially of such works when connected with mines, from which it is possible, in some instances, to dam out water that would otherwise interfere with their working. The word translated "overflowing" means probably "weeping," and seems to point to that leakage from the roofs and sides of galleries and adits which is more difficult to control and stop than even subterranean springs or rivers. And the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. This is the final result of mining operations. Things useful or beautiful that are hiddden deep down in the heart of the earth, and that might have seemed wholly inaccessible, are brought out of the pit's month into the light of day for the service and delectation of mankind. 5 The earth-from it cometh forth bread,

And beneath it is turned up like fire.

6 The place of the sapphire are its stones,

And it containeth gold ore.

7 The way, that no bird of prey knoweth,

And the eye of the hawk hath not gazed at,

8 Which the proud beast of prey hath not trodden,

Over which the lion hath not walked.

Job 28:5 is not to be construed as Rosenm.: ad terram quod attinet, ex qua egreditur panis, quod subtus est subvertitur quasi igne; nor with Schlottm.: (they swing) in the earth, out of which comes bread, which beneath one turns about with fire; for Job 28:5 is not formed so that the Waw of ותחתּיה could be Waw apod., and ארץ cannot signify "in the interior of the earth" as locativus; on the contrary, it stands in opposition to תחתיה, that which is beneath the earth, as denoting the surface of the earth (the proper name of which is אדמה, from the root דם, with the primary notion of a flat covering). They are two grammatically independent predicates, the first of which is only the foil of the other: the earth, out of it cometh forth bread (לחם as Psalm 104:14), and beneath it (the surface of the earth) equals that which lies beneath it (ותחתיה only virtually a subj. in the sense of ותחתּיּותיה, since תּחתּי occurs only as a preposition), is turned about (comp. the construction of the sing. of the verb with the plur. subj. Job 30:15) as (by) fire Instar ignis, scil. subvertentis); i.e., the earth above furnishes nourishment to man, but that not satisfying him, he also digs out its inward parts (comp. Pliny, h. n. xxxiii. proaem.: in sede Manium opes quaerimus, tanquam parum benigna fertilique quaqua calcatur), since this is turned or tossed about (comp. מהפּכה, the special word for the overthrow of Sodom by fire) by mining work, as when fire breaks out in a house, or even as when a volcanic fire rumbles within a mountain (Castalio: agunt per magna spatia cuniculos et terram subeunt non secus ac ignis facet ut in Aetna et Vesuvio). The reading במו (Schlottm.) instead of כמו is natural, since fire is really used to blast the rock, and to separate the ore from the stone; but, with the exception of Jerome, who has arbitrarily altered the text (terra, de qua oriebatur panis in loco suo, igni subversa est), all the old translations reproduce כמו, which even Nasse, in opposition to von Veltheim, thinks suitable: Man's restless search, which rummages everything through, is compared to the unrestrainable ravaging fire.

Job 28:6 also consists of two grammatically independent assertions: the place (bed) of the sapphire is its rock. Must we refer לו to ספּיר, and translate: "and it contains fine dust of gold" (Hirz., Umbr., Stick., Nasse)? It is possible, for Theophrastus (p. 692, ed. Schneider) says of the sapphire it is ὥσπερ χρυσόπαστος, as it were covered with gold dust or grains of gold; and Pliny, h. n. xxxvii. 9, 38f.: Inest ei (cyano) aliquando et aureus pulvis qualis in sapphiris, in iis enim aurum punctis conlucet, which nevertheless does not hold good of the proper sapphire, but of the azure stone (lapis lazuli) which is confounded with it, a variegated species of which, with gold, or rather with iron pyrites glittering like gold, is specially valued.

(Note: Comp. Quenstedt, Handbuch der Mineralogie (1863), S. 355 and 302.)

But Schultens rightly observes: vix cerdiderim, illum auratilem pulvisculum sapphiri peculiari mentione dignum; and Schlottm.: such a collateral definition to ספיר, expressed in a special clause (not a relative one), has something awkward about it. On the other hand, עפרת זהב is a perfectly suitable appellation of gold ore. "The earth, which is in itself black," says Diodorus in the passage quoted before, "is interspersed with veins of marble, which is of such pre-eminent whiteness, that its brilliance surpasses everything that glitters, and from it the overseers of the mine prepare gold with a large number of workmen." And further on, of the heating of this gold ore he says: "the hardest auriferous earth they burn thoroughly in a large fire; thus they make it soft, so that it can be worked by the hand." עפרת זהב is a still more suitable expression for such auriferous earth and ore than for the nuggets of ἄπυρος χρυσός (i.e., unsmelted) of the size of a chestnut, which, according to Diodorus, ii. 50, are obtained in mines in Arabia (μεταλλεύεται). But it is inadmissible to refer לו to man, for the clause would then require to be translated: and gold ore is to him equals he has, while it is the rather intended to be said that the interior of the earth has gold ore. לו is therefore, with Hahn and Schlottm., to be referred to מקום: and this place of the sapphire, it contains gold. The poet might have written להּ but לו implies that where the sapphire is found, gold is also found. The following נתיב (with Dech), together with the following relative clause, is connected with אבניה, or even with מקום, which through Job 28:6 is become the chief subj.: the place of the sapphire and of the gold is the rock of the bowels of the earth, - a way, which, etc., i.e., such a place is the interior of the earth, accessible to no living being of the earth's surface except to man alone. The sight of the bird of prey, the עיט, ἀετός, and of the איּה, i.e., the hawk or kite, reaches from above far and wide beneath;

(Note: The איה - says the Talmud b. Chullin, 63b - is in Babylon, and seeth a carcase in the land of Israel.)

the sons of pride, שׁחץ (also Talmud. arrogance, ferocia, from שׁחץ equals Arab. šachaṣa, to raise one's self, not: fatness, as Meier, after Arab. šachuṣa, to be fat, thick), i.e., the beasts of prey, especially the lion, שׁחל (vid., on Job 4:10, from שׁחל, Arab. sḥl, to roar, Arab. of the ass, comp. the Lat. rudere used both of the lion and of the ass), seek the most secret retreat, and shun no danger; but the way by which man presses forward to the treasures of the earth is imperceptible and inaccessible to them.

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