Job 28:3
He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth 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. Job 28:3From 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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