Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Destruction and death say.—That destruction and death should have heard the fame of wisdom is natural, as it consists in departing from the evil which leads to their abode.Job 28:22. Destruction and death — Either, 1st, Men that are dead, and thereby freed from the encumbrance of their bodies, which depressed their minds, and whose faculties are more raised and enlarged than those of men still in the body; or, rather, 2d, The grave, the habitation of the dead, to which these things are here ascribed, as they are to the depths and to the sea, Job 28:14, by a common figure. These inward recesses of the earth are as little acquainted with this wisdom as the upper regions: and had they a tongue they could only say, We have heard the fame thereof — We know it only by slight and uncertain rumours. But though they cannot give an account of it themselves, yet there is a world, on which these dark regions border, where we shall see it clearly. Have patience, says death, I will fetch thee shortly to a place where even this wisdom shall be found. When the veil of flesh is rent, and the interposing clouds are scattered, we shall know what God doth, though we know not now.Job 28:14, the appeal had been made to the sea - with all its vast stores; here the appeal is to far deeper regions - to the nether world of darkness and of death. On the word used here (אבדון 'ăbaddôn), "destruction," see the notes at Job 26:6. It is employed here, as in that place, to denote the nether world - the abode of departed spirits - the world where those are who have been destroyed by death, and to which the destruction of the grave is the entrance.
And death - Death is used here to denote "Sheol," or the abode of the spirits of the dead. The sense is, that those deep and dark regions had simply heard the distant report of wisdom but they did not understand it, and that if one went down there it would not be fully revealed to him. Perhaps there is an allusion to the natural expectation that, if one could go down and converse with the dead, he could find out much more than can be known on earth. It was to be presumed that they would understand much more about the unseen and future world, and about the plans and government of God, than man can know here. It was on this belief, and on the hope that some league or alliance could be made with the dead, inducing them to communicate what they knew, that the science of necromancy was founded; see the notes at Isaiah 8:19.
We have heard the fame thereof - We have heard the report of it, or a rumor of it. The meaning is, that they did not understand it fully, and that if man could penetrate to those dark regions, he could not get the information which he desired. Wisdom is still at such an immense distance that it is only a report, or rumor of it, which has reached us.
We have [only] heard—the report of her. We have not seen her. In the land of the living (Job 28:13) the workings of Wisdom are seen, though not herself. In the regions of the dead she is only heard of, her actings on nature not being seen (Ec 9:10).Destruction and death; either,
1. Men that are dead, and thereby freed from the encumbrance of their bodies, which depress their minds, and have more raised thoughts than men that live here. Or,
2. The grave, the place of the dead, to which these things are here ascribed, as they are to the depths, and to the sea, Job 28:14, by a figure called prosopopaeia. If a man should search for this wisdom, either amongst living men, or amongst the dead, he could not find it; yea, though he should and might inquire of all men that formerly lived in the world, some of whom were persons of prodigious wit and learning, and of vast experience, as having lived nigh a thousand years, and made it their great business in that time to search out the depths of this Divine wisdom in the administration of the world.
We have heard the fame thereof; we know it only by slight and uncertain rumours, but not fully and perfectly. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. destruction and death] Heb. Abaddon and Death. Abaddon is Sheol, the realm of the dead, here personified, as also is Death. Comp. Revelation 1:18; Revelation 9:11, and see on ch. Job 26:6.
the fame thereof] i. e. the report or rumour thereof. Destruction and Death have only heard of Wisdom, they have no knowledge of it, much less is it to be found with them. It is not true, alas! in this sense that
There must be wisdom with great Death.
The words “we have heard the report thereof” ascribe neither a less nor a greater knowledge of Wisdom to Death than the living possess. Both are equally ignorant of it, and equally without it. As Job 28:13-14 told how Wisdom was nowhere to be found in the upper world so Job 28:22 states that it is not to be found in the under world. The process of exhaustion is complete: Wisdom is nowhere to be found, neither in the bowels of the earth nor in the markets of mankind, in the deep nor in the sea; neither in the land of the living nor in the place of the dead.Verse 22. - Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. "Death and destruction" seem to represent the inhabitants of Sheol - the world of the departed. Job personifies them, and represents them as saying, that in their gloomy and remote abode (Job 10:21, 22) they have heard some dim rumour, some vague report, of the "place" of wisdom and understanding, the nature of which, however, they do not communicate to him. His idea seems to be that their knowledge on the subject does not much transcend the knowledge of living men, whom he regards as profoundly ignorant with respect to it. He thus prepares the way for his assertion in the next verse. Man, neither living nor dead, can make any answer to the great question raised; but -
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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