Job 28:15
It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
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Job 28:15-17. It cannot be gotten for gold — The choicest gold laid up in treasures, as the word סגר, segor, signifies: neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof — Namely, in the balance; for in those times money was paid by weight. It cannot be valued with gold of Ophir — Though the gold that comes from thence be the purest of all, neither that, nor the most precious stones, can purchase this wisdom. The gold and the crystal — Hebrew, זכוכית, zecucith, gemma nitidissima, a very bright gem, says Buxtorf: lapis pretiosus, nitidus, a bright precious stone, Ab. Ezra. The word is not elsewhere used, but being derived from זכךְ, zachach, purus, vel mundus esse, it has in it the signification of purity, clearness, and brightness. The exchange of it shall not be for jewels — Or, vessels, as כלי, chelei, rather means; of fine gold, פז, paz, of solid gold, in which vessels the curiosity of art is added to the excellence of the matter of which they are formed.

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.It cannot be gotten for gold - Margin, "fine gold shall not be given for it." The word which is here rendered "gold." and in the margin "fine gold" (סגור segôr), is not the common word used to denote this metal. It is derived from סגר sâgar, to "shut," to "close," and means properly that which is "shut up" or "enclosed;" and hence, Gesenius supposes it means pure gold, or the most precious gold, as that which is shut up or enclosed with care. Dr. Good renders it "solid gold," supposing it means that which is condensed, or beaten. The phrase occurs in nearly the same form סגור זהב zâhâb sâgûr, "gold shut up," Margin,) in 1 Kings 6:20-21; 1 Kings 7:49-50; 1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 4:21-22; 2 Chronicles 9:20, and undoubtedly denotes there the most precious kind of gold. Its relation to the sense of the verb "to shut up" is not certain. Prof. Lee supposes that the idea is derived from the use of the word, and of similar words in Arabic, where the idea of heating, fusing, giving another color, changing the shape, and thence of fixing, retaining, etc., is found; and that the idea here is that of fused or purified gold. Michaelis supposes that it refers to "native" gold that is pure and unadulterated, or the form of gold called "dendroides," from its shooting out in the form of a tree - "baumartig gewachsenes Gold" (from the Arabic, "a tree"). It is not known, however, that the Hebrew word סגר was always used to denote a tree. There can be no doubt that the word denotes "gold" of a pure kind, and it may have been given to it because gold of that kind was carefully "shut up" in places of safe keeping; but it would seem more probable to me that it was given to it for some reason now unknown. Of many of the names now given by us to objects which are significant, and which are easily understood by us, it would be impossible to trace the reason or propriety, after the lapse of four thousand years.

Neither shall silver be weighed - That is, it would be impossible to weigh out so much silver as to equal its value. Before the art of coining was known, it was common to weigh the precious metals that were used as a medium of trade; compare Genesis 23:16.

15. Not the usual word for "gold"; from a Hebrew root, "to shut up" with care; that is, purest gold (1Ki 6:20, Margin).

weighed—The precious metals were weighed out before coining was known (Ge 23:16).

For gold; the choicest gold laid up in treasures, as the word signifies. Weighed, to wit, in the balance; for in those times money was paid by weight, not by tale. See Genesis 23:16 Jeremiah 23:9,10.

It cannot be gotten for gold,.... Having in general said that there is nothing in the whole compass of the terraqueous globe, nothing that is upon the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of it, or in the vast ocean, that is an equivalent price for wisdom, Job descends to particulars, and instances first in gold, that being the most valuable of metals; the word here used for it signifies "shut up" (w), because it is first shut up in the earth, out of which it is dug, and when taken from thence, and refined, and made into coins or vessels, it is shut up among the treasures of men; the words may be more literally rendered, "gold shall not be given instead of it" (x); as a sufficient price, or valuable consideration for it:

neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; in former times this metal used to be delivered, in buying and selling, not by the number and value of pieces, but by weight, in rude masses and lumps, and even when coined into shekels; see Genesis 23:16.

(w) Sept. "conclusum", Tigurine version; "clausum", Bolducius. (x) "non dabitur pro ea", V. L. Montanus, Schultens.

It cannot be gotten for {k} gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.

(k) It can neither be bought for gold nor precious stones, but is only the gift of God.

15. for gold] Probably, as margin, fine gold, i. e. purified gold; comp. 1 Kings 6:20, where a word somewhat similar occurs.

be weighed] In ancient times money was weighed, not counted, Genesis 23:16.

15–19. As the preceding verses (1–14) expressed the idea that there was no “place” of Wisdom where men could find it and from which they could bring it forth, these verses express the idea that it can be acquired by no price which men can offer for it. It is altogether unattainable. The passage may contain the additional idea of the preciousness or desirableness of Wisdom (see Job 28:18), but the purpose of these verses is not to set forth wisdom as a good or as the chief good, for which one might willingly give all that he holds most precious; the thought of the passage is that though one should offer gold and precious stones for Wisdom it cannot be procured, being nowhere to be found. That the Writer’s purpose is to express this conception mainly is evident from the refrain which closes the passage, as a similar one closed the preceding passage: But Wisdom whence cometh it? and where is the place of understanding? (Job 28:20).

Verse 15. - It cannot be gotten for gold. No amount of gold can purchase it; no, not of the purest and most refined quality (1 Kings 6:20, 21), for it is not a thing that can be bought or sold God must grant it, and find a way of imparting it; which he certainly will not do for a sum of money. Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof; If gold cannot purchase it, much less can silver - the less valuable medium of exchange. (On the weighing of silver, in sales, see Genesis 23:16; Jeremiah 32:9; Ezra 8:26.) Job 28:1513 A mortal knoweth not its price,

And it is not found in the land of the living.

14 The abyss saith: It is not in me,

And the sea saith: It is not with me.

15 Pure gold cannot be given for it,

And silver cannot be weighed as its price;

16 And it is not outweighed with fine gold of Ophir,

With the precious onyx and the sapphire.

It is self-evident that wisdom is found nowhere directly present and within a limited space, as at the bottom of the sea, and cannot be obtained by a direct exchange by means of earthly treasures. It is, moreover, not this self-evident fact that is denied here; but the meaning is, that even if a man should search in every direction through the land of the living, i.e., (as e.g., Psalm 52:7) the world - if he should search through the תּהום, i.e., the subterranean waters that feed the visible waters (vid., Genesis 39:25) - if he should search through the sea, the largest bounded expanse of this water that wells up from beneath - yea, even if he would offer all riches and precious things to put himself in possession of the means and instruments for the acquirement of wisdom, - wisdom, i.e., the profoundest perception of the nature of things, would still be beyond him, and unattainable. ערך, Job 28:13, an equivalent (from ערך, to range beside, to place at the side of), interchanges with מחיר (from מחר, cogn. מהר, מכר, mercari). סגור is זהב סגוּר, 1 Kings 6:20 and freq., which hardly signifies gold shut up equals carefully preserved, rather: closed equals compressed, unmixed; Targ. דּהב סנין, aurum colatum (purgatum). Ewald compares Arab. sajara, to seethe, heat; therefore: heated, gained by smelting. On the other hand, כּתם from כתם, Arab. ktm, occulere, seems originally to denote that which is precious, then precious gold in particular, lxx χρυσίῳ Ωφείρ, Cod. Vat. and Cod. Sinaiticus, Σωφίρ (Egyptized by prefixing the Egyptian sa, part, district, side, whence e.g., sa-rees, the upper country, and sa-heet, the lower country, therefore equals sa-ofir, land of Ophir). שׁהם is translated here by the lxx ὄνυξ (elsewhere σαρδόνυξ or σάρδιος), of which Pliny, h. n. xxxvii. 6, 24, appealing to Sudeines, says, in gemma esse candorem unguis humanii similitudinem; wherefore Knobel, Rdiger, and others, compare the Arab. sâhim, which, however, does not signify pale, but lean, and parched by the heat, with which, in hot countries at least, not pallor, but, on the contrary, a dark brown-black colour, is identified (Fl.). Arab. musahham, striped (Mich.), would be more appropriate, since the onyx is marked through by white veins; but this is a denom. from sahm, a dart, prop. darted, and is therefore wide of the mark. On the etymology of ספּיר, vid., Jesurun, p. 61. Nevertheless both שׁהם and ספּיר are perhaps foreign names, as the name of the emerald (vid., ib. p. 108), which is Indian (Sanskr. marakata, or even marakta); and, on the other hand, it is called in hieroglyph (determined by the stone) uot, the green stone (in Coptic p. auannēse, the green colour) (Lauth).

The transcendent excellence of wisdom above the most precious earthly treasures, which the author of the introduction to the book of Proverbs briefly describes, Job 3:14, is now drawn out in detail.

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