Job 28:2
Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.
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Job 28:2-3. Iron is taken out of the earth, &c. — They invent means to extract iron and brass out of the earth and stone. He setteth an end to darkness, &c. — There is no mine so dismally dark, but there is some man or other who will undertake to work in it, and find out a method of conveying light into it: and searcheth out all perfection — He searches to the very bottom of it, and finds out all the valuable treasures contained therein; the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death — The precious stones, which lie hid in the dark bowels of the earth, where no living thing can dwell.

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?Iron - As has been remarked above, iron was early known, yet probably its common use indicates a more advanced state of civilization than that of gold and silver. The Mexicans were ignorant of the use of iron, though ornaments of gold and silver elegantly worked abounded among them. Iron is less easily discovered than copper, though more abundant, and is worked with more difficulty. Among the ancient nations, copper was in general use long before iron; and arms, vases, statues, and implements of every kind were made of this metal alloyed and hardened with tin, before iron came into general use. Tubal Cain is indeed mentioned Genesis 4:22 as the "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron," but no direct mention is made of iron arms Numbers 35:16 or tools Deuteronomy 27:5, until after the departure from Egypt. According to the Arundelian Marbles, iron was known one hundred and eighty-eight years before the Trojan war, about 1370 years B.C.; but Hesiod, Plutarch, and others, limit its discovery to a much later period. Homer, however, distinctly mentions its use, Iliad xxiii. 262:

Η δε γυνᾶικα ὲΰζώνα;, πολιον τε σίδηρον.

Hē de gunaikas euzōnas, polion te sidēron.

That by the "sideros" of the poet is meant iron, is clear, from a simile which he uses in the Odyssey, derived from the quenching of iron in water, by which he illustrates the hissing produced in the eye of Polyphemus by piercing it with the burning stake:

"And as when armorers temper in the ford

The keen edged pole-axe or the shining sword,

The red-hot metal hisses in the lake,

Thus in the eye-ball hissed the plunging stake."

Odyssey ix. 391; Pope

Iron is mentioned in the time of Og king of Bashan, 1450 B.C. It was at first, however, regarded as of great value, and its use was very limited. It was presented in the temples of Greece as among the most valuable offerings, and rings of iron have been found in the tombs of Egypt that had been worn as ornaments, showing the value of the metal. One of the reasons why this metal comes so slowly into use, and why it was so rare in early times, was the difficulty of smelting the ore, and reducing it to a malleable state "Its gross and stubborn ore," says Dr. Robertson (America, B. iv.) "must feel twice the force of fire, and go through two laborious pocesses, before it becomes fit for use." It was this fact which made it to Job such a proof of the wisdom of man that he had invented the process of making iron, or of separating it from the earthy portions in which it is found.

Is taken out of the earth - Margin, "dust." The form in which iron is found is too well known to need description. It is seldom, if ever, found in its purity, and the ore generally has so much the appearance of mere earth, that it requires some skill to distinguish them.

And brass - נחוּשׁה nechûshâh. Brass is early and frequently mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 4:22; Exodus 25:3; Exodus 26:11, et al.), but there is little doubt that copper is meant in these places. Brass is a compound metal, made of copper and zinc - containing usually about one third of the weight in zinc - and it is hardly probable that the art of compounding this was early known; compare the notes at Job 20:24. Dr. Good renders this, "And the rock poureth forth copper." Coverdale, "The stones resolved to metal." Noyes, "The stone is melted into copper." Prof. Lee, "Also the stone (is taken from the earth) from which one fuseth copper." The Hebrew is, literally," And stone is poured out יציק copper." The Septuagint renders it, "And brass is cut like stones;" that is, is cut from the quarry. The word "stone" here in the Hebrew (אבן 'eben) means, doubtless, "ore" in the form of stone; and the fact mentioned here, that such ore is fused into the נחוּשׁה eht nechûshâh, is clear proof that copper is intended. Brass is never found in ore, and is never compounded in the earth. A similar idea is found in Pliny, who probably uses the word "aes" to denote copper, as it is commonly employed in the ancient writings. Aes fit ex lapide aeroso, quem vocant Cadmiam; et igne lapides in nes solvantur. Nat. Hist. xxxiv. i. 22. On the general subject of ancient metallurgy, see Wilkinsoh's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. chapter ix.

2. brass—that is, copper; for brass is a mixed metal of copper and zinc, of modern invention. Iron is less easily discovered, and wrought, than copper; therefore copper was in common use long before iron. Copper-stone is called "cadmium" by Pliny [Natural History, 34:1; 36:21]. Iron is fitly said to be taken out of the "earth" (dust), for ore looks like mere earth. Iron is taken out of the earth; being made of earth, concocted by the heat of the sun into that hardness, and by miners digged out of the earth.

Brass; or, copper.

Is molten out of the stone, wherewith it is mixed and incorporated in the earth, and by fire and the art of the metallist it is separated from it, and taken out of it, as Pliny observes, Job 34:1,10 36:27.

Iron is taken out of the earth,.... Very easily, and in great plenty, and is more common, being in most countries, is nearer the surface of the earth, and here said to be taken "out of the dust" (x); which, being melted in a furnace, produces iron, a metal very serviceable for various rises, and without which there is scarce any thing to be done, and therefore was with brass of early invention. Tubalcain, son of Lamech, supposed to be the Vulcan of the Heathens, a worker in iron, is said to be the instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, Genesis 4:22;

and brass is molten out of the stone; out of a brassy stone, called "cadmai", as Pliny says, and also out of another, as he observes (y), called "chalcites", found in Cyprus, where was the first invention of brass, according to him, and hence perhaps copper had its name; but it is plain from Scripture, the places before referred to, that it was invented elsewhere, and long before Cyprus was known; or a "stone melted becomes brass", see Deuteronomy 8:9; of these four metals was the image in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, which represented the four monarchies of the world, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman, Daniel 2:30; and to them are compared, and by them are represented many things in Scripture.

(x) "e pulvere", V. L. Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 34. c. 1, 2.

Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.
2. brass is molten out of the stone] lit. they (men) melt the stone into brass, i.e. copper. Men know how to possess themselves of the metals.

Verse 2. - Iron is taken out of the earth (see the comment on Job 20:24). Iron was found in the hills of Palestine (Deuteronomy 8:9), in the trans-Jordanic region (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud,' 4:8. § 2), in the sandstone of the Lebanon ('Hist. of Phoenicia,' p. 47), and in Egypt ('Hist. of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 93), probably also in many other places. It is scarcely ever found except in the shape of iron ore, and so has to be "taken out of the earth." And brass is molten out of the stone. By "brass" we must understand copper, since the amalgam brass is never found in a natural state. Copper was yielded abundantly in very early times by the mines which the Egyptians worked in the Sinaitic peninsula ('Hist. of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. pp. 93, 94). It was also obtainable from Palestine (Deuteronomy 8:9), Cyprus ('Hist. of Phoenicia,' p. 311), and Armenia (Ezekiel 27:13). Sometimes it is found pure, but generally in the shape of copper ore, which has to be "molten" for the pure metal to run off. Job 28:2From the mention of silver and gold, the description passes on to iron and ore (copper, cuprum equals aes Cyprium). Iron is called בּרזל, not with the noun-ending el like כּרמל (thus Ges., Olsh., and others), but probably expanded from בּזּל (Frst), like שׁרבּיט from שׁבּיט equals שׁבט, סמפּיר from ספּיר, βάλσαμον from בּשׂם, since, as Pliny testifies, the name of basalt (iron-marble) and iron are related,

(Note: Hist. nat. xxxvi. 7, 11: Invenit eadem Aegyptus in Aethiopia quem vocant basalten (basaniten) ferrei coloris atque duritiae, unde et nomen ei dedit (vid., von Raumer, Palstina, S. 96, 4th edition). Neither Seetzen nor Wetzstein has found proper iron-ore in Basan. Basalt is all the more prevalent there, from which Basan may have its name. For there is no special Semitic word for basalt; Botchor calls in the aid of Arab. nw‛ ruchâm 'swd, "a kind of black marble;" but, as Wetzstein informs me, this is only a translation of the phrase of a French dictionary which he had, for the general name of basalt, at least in Syria, is hagar aswad (black stone). Iron is called hadı̂d in Arabic (literally a pointed instrument, with the not infrequent transference of the name of the tool to the material from which it is made). ברזל (פרזל) is known in Arabic only in the form firzil, as the name for iron chains and great smith's shears for cutting iron; but it is remarkable that in Berber, which is related to Egyptian, iron is called even in the present day wazzâl; vid., Lex. geographicum ed. Juynboll, tom. iv. (adnot.) p. 64, l. 16, and Marcel, Vocabulaire Franaisarabe de dialectes vulgaires africains, p. 249: "Fer Arab. ḥdı̂d, hadyd (en berbere Arab. wzzâl, ouezzâl; Arab. 'wzzâl, ôouzzâl)." The Coptic name of iron is benipi (dialect. penipe), according to Prof. Lauth perhaps, as also barôt, ore, connected with ba, the hieroglyph name of a very hard mineral; the black basalt of an obelisk in the British Museum is called bechenen in the inscription. If it really be so, that iron and basalt are homonymous in Semitic, the reason could only be sought for in the dark iron-black colour of basalt, in its hardness, and perhaps also its weight (which, however, is only about half the specific gravity of pure iron), not in the magnetic iron, which has only in more modern times been discovered to be a substantial component part of basalt, the grains of which cannot be seen by the naked eye, and are only detected with the magnetic needle, or by chemical analysis.)

and copper is called נחשׁת, for which the book of Job (Job 20:24; Job 28:2; Job 40:18; Job 41:19; comp. even Leviticus 26:19) always has נחוּשׁה (aereum equals aes, Arab. nuhâs). Of the iron it is said that it is procured from the עפר, by which the bowels of the earth are meant here, as the surface of the earth in Job 41:25; and of copper it is said that they pour out the stone into copper (vid., Ges. 139, 2), i.e., smelt copper from it: יצוּק as Job 29:6, fundit, here with a subj. of the most general kind: one pours; on the contrary, Job 41:15. partic. of יצק. Job 28:3 distinctly shows that it is the bowels of the earth from which these metals are obtained: he (man) has made an end of the darkness, since he turns out and lights up the lightless interior of the earth; and לכל־תּכלית, to every extremity, i.e., to the remotest depths, he searches out the stone of deep darkness and of the shadow of death, i.e., hidden in the deepest darkness, far beneath the surface of the earth (vid., on Job 10:22; and comp. Pliny, h. n. xxxiii. proaem. of mining: imus in viscera ejus [terrae] et in sede Manium opes quaerimus). Most expositors (Hirz., Ew., Hahn, Schlottm., and others) take לכל־תלית adverbially, "to the utmost" or "most closely," but vid., on Job 26:10; לתכלית might be used thus adverbially, but לכל־תכלית is to be explained according to לכל־רוח, Ezekiel 5:10 (to all the winds).

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