Job 28:3
He sets an end to darkness, and searches out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.
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(3) He setteth an end to darkness.—May be read thus, Man setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out to the furthest bound the stones of darkness and the shadow of death.

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 setteth an end to darkness - That is, man does. The reference here is undoubtedly to the operations of mining, and the idea is, that man delves into the darkest regions; he goes even to the outer limits of darkness; he penetrates everywhere. Probably the allusion is derived from the custom of carrying torches into mines.

And searcheth out all perfection - Makes a complete search; examines everything; carries the matter to the utmost. The idea is not that he searches out all perfection - as our translation would seem to convey; but that he makes a complete and thorough search - and yet after all he does not come to the true and highest wisdom.

The stones of darkness - The last stone, says Herder, in the mining investigations in the time of Job; the corner or boundary stone, as it were, of the kingdom of darkness and night. Prof. Lee supposes that there is allusion here to the fact that stones were used as "weights," and that the idea is, that man had ascertained the "exact weight" of the gross darkness, that is, had taken an accurate admeasurement of it, or had wholly investigated it. But this solution seems far-fetched. Schultens supposes the center of the earth to be denoted by this expression. But it seems to me that the words "stone" and "darkness" are to be separated, and that the one is not used to qualify the other. The sense is, that man searches out everything; he perfectly and accurately penetrates everywhere, and examines all objects; "the stone" (אבן 'eben), that is, the rocks, the mines; "the darkness" (אפל 'ôphel), that is, the darkness of the cavern, the interior of the earth; "and the shadow of death" (צלמות tsalmâveth), that is, the most dark and impenetrable regions of the earth. So it is rendered by Coverdale: "The stones, the dark, and the horrible shadow."

3. "Man makes an end of darkness," by exploring the darkest depths (with torches).

all perfection—rather, carries out his search to the utmost perfection; most thoroughly searches the stones of darkness and of the shadow of death (thickest gloom); that is, the stones, whatever they be, embedded in the darkest bowels of the earth [Umbreit] (Job 26:10).

He; either,

1. Man, the miner; or,

2. God, of whose works of nature he here speaks; or,

3. God as the chief author and director, and man as God’s instrument in the work.

An end; or, a bound, how far the darkness shall reach, and how far the dark and hidden parts and treasures of the earth shall be searched, and discovered, and brought to light.

All perfection, i.e. metals and minerals, which are nothing else but earth concocted, and hardened, and brought to maturity and perfection. Or, unto all perfection, i.e. he perfectly and exactly searcheth them out; although the Hebrew lamed may be here only a note of the accusative case, as our translation takes it.

The stones; either gems and precious stones, which are called by this word, Proverbs 26:8; or those stones out of which the metals forementioned are taken.

Of darkness, and the shadow of death; which lie hid in the dark and deadly shades and bowels of the earth. He setteth an end to darkness,.... Some understand this and what follows of God, who, by making the luminaries, has fixed the periods and revolutions of light and darkness, of day and night; or who has determined the times before appointed, for the discoveries of things in nature, as mines of gold, silver, and precious stones, how long they should lie in darkness, and then be brought to light, and who searches out the perfection of all things in nature; and makes them known to men, when he himself and his ways are not to be found out unto perfection by men; but rather this is to be understood of the miner that digs for the above metals, who, when he opens a mine, lets in natural light, or carries artificial light along with him, and so puts an end to the darkness which had reigned there before, even from the creation:

and searcheth out all perfection; searches thoroughly the mines he opens, and gets all he can out of them, and searches perfectly into the nature of the ore; he finds, and tries, and proves it, what it is, its worth and value:

the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death; searches and digs through them, to get at what he is seeking; or brings stones, precious stones, to light, which lay in darkness from the beginning, and in such places which were the shadow of death, and looked dismal and horrible, and even threatened with death, to get into and fetch them out: so spiritual miners, that search into the mines of the Scriptures, should not be discouraged with darkness and difficulties that may attend their search; but should continue it, in order to find out truths that have lain in darkness, more precious than gold and silver, and the richest gems; and such who search for them in like manner as miners do shall find them, Proverbs 2:4.

He setteth an end to darkness, {b} and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

(b) There is nothing but it is compassed within certain limits, and has an end, but God's wisdom.

3–11. Description of mining operations.

he setteth] To prevent ambiguity it is better to translate, man setteth, or, men set. The phrase “setteth an end to darkness” hardly refers to the light shed by the miner’s lamp; the expression is more general, meaning that men penetrate into what is dark and deep in the earth as if it were light and above ground—as the next clause explains.

searcheth out all perfection] Rather, searcheth out to the very end, or, utmost limit, the stones of darkness and the shadow of death, that is, the darkest recesses in the bowels of the earth. The word, very end or utmost limit is that occurring, ch. Job 26:10 (see notes) and ch. Job 11:7. On “shadow of death” see on ch. Job 24:17.Verse 3. - He setteth an end to darkness. Man, in his desire to obtain these metals, "setteth an end to darkness," i.e. letteth in the light of day, or the artificial light which he carries with him, upon the natural abode of darkness, the inner parts of the earth. The miner's first operation is to pierce the ground with a shaft, perpendicular, horizontal, or oblique, as suits his purpose. Through this the light enters into what was previously pitch darkness. And searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death; rather, and searcheth out to the furthest bound the stones of thick darkness and of the shadow of death; explores, i.e. the entire murky regina within the earth, notwithstanding its fearful gloom and obscurity. 19 He lieth down rich, and doeth it not again,

He openeth his eyes and-is no more.

20 Terrors take hold of him as a flood;

By night a tempest stealeth him away.

21 The east wind lifteth him up, that he departeth,

And hurleth him forth from his place.

22 God casteth upon him without sparing,

Before His hand he fleeth utterly away.

23 They clap their hands at him,

And hiss him away from his place.

The pointing of the text ולא יאסף is explained by Schnurr., Umbr., and Stick.: He goes rich to bed and nothing is taken as yet, he opens his eyes and nothing more is there; but if this were the thought intended, it ought at least to have been ואין נאסף, since לא signifies non, not nihil; and Stickel's translation, "while nothing is carried away," makes the fut. instead of the praet., which was to be expected, none the more tolerable; also אסף can indeed signify to gather hastily together, to take away (e.g., Isaiah 33:4), when the connection favours it, but not here, where the first impression is that רשׁע is the subj. both to ולא יאסף and to ואיננו. Bttcher's translation, "He lieth down rich and cannot be displaced," gives the words a meaning that is ridiculed by the usage of the language. On the other hand, ולא יאסף can signify: and he is not conveyed away (comp. e.g., Jeremiah 8:2; Ezekiel 29:5; but not Isaiah 57:1, where it signifies to be swept away, and also not Numbers 20:26, where it signifies to be gathered to the fathers), and is probably intended to be explained after the pointing that we have, as Rosenm. and even Ralbag explain it: "he is not conveyed away; one opens his eyes and he is not;" or even as Schlottm.: "he is not conveyed away; in one moment he still looks about him, in the next he is no more;" but the relation of the two parts of the verse in this interpretation is unsatisfactory, and the preceding strophe has already referred to his not being buried. Since, therefore, only an unsuitable, and what is more, a badly-expressed thought, is gained by this reading, it may be that the expression should be regarded with Hahn as interrogative: is he not swept away? This, however, is only a makeshift, and therefore we must see whether it may not perhaps be susceptible of another pointing. Jerome transl.: dives cum dormierit, nihil secum auferet; the thought is not bad, but מאוּמה is wanting, and לא alone does not signify nihil. Better lxx (Ital., Syr.): πλούσιος κοιμηθήσεται καὶ ου ̓ προσθήσει. This translation follows the form of reading יאסף equals יוסיף, gives a suitable sense, places both parts of the verse in the right relation, and accords with the style of the poet (vid., Job 20:9; Job 40:5); and accordingly, with Ew., Hirz., and Hlgst., we decide in favour of this reading: he lieth down to sleep rich, and he doeth it no more, since in the night he is removed from life and also from riches by sudden death; or also: in the morning he openeth his eyes without imagining it is the last time, for, overwhelmed by sudden death, he closes them for ever. Job 27:20 and Job 27:20 are attached crosswise (chiastisch) to this picture of sudden destruction, be it by night or by day: the terrors of death seize him (sing. fem. with a plur. subj. following it, according to Ges. 146, 3) like a flood (comp. the floods of Belial, Psalm 18:5), by night a whirlwind (גּנבתּוּ סוּפה, as Job 21:18) carrieth him away. The Syriac and Arabic versions add, as a sort of interpolation: as a fluttering (large white) night-moth, - an addition which no one can consider beautiful.

Job 27:21 extends the figure of the whirlwind. In Hebrew, even when the narrative has reference to Egyptian matters (Genesis 41:23), the קדים which comes from the Arabian desert is the destructive, devastating, and parching wind κατ ̓ εξοχὴν.

(Note: In Syria and Arabia the east wind is no longer called qadı̂m, but exclusively sharqı̂ja, i.e., the wind that blows from the rising of the sun (sharq). This wind rarely prevails in summer, occurring then only two or three days a month on an average; it is more frequent in the winter and early spring, when, if it continues long, the tender vegetation is parched up, and a year of famine follows, whence in the Lebanon it is called semûm (שׂמוּם), which in the present day denotes the "poisonous wind" ( equals nesme musimme), but originally, by alliance with the Hebr. שׁמם, denoted the "devastating wind." The east wind is dry; it excites the blood, contracts the chest, causes restlessness and anxiety, and sleepless nights or evil dreams. Both man and beast feel weak and sickly while it prevails. Hence that which is unpleasant and revolting in life is compared to the east wind. Thus a maid in Hauran, at the sight of one of my Damascus travelling companions, whose excessive ugliness struck her, cried: billâh, nahâr el-jôm aqshar (Arab. 'qšr), wagahetni (Arab. w-jhṫnı̂) sharqı̂ja, "by God, it is an unhealthy day to-day: an east wind blew upon me." And in a festive dance song of the Merg district, these words occur:

wa rudd lı̂ hômet hodênik


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