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Job 28:1 Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold which they refine- Job in chapter 28 prides himself on his appreciation, as he thought, of God’s hand in creation, and how creation reveals the greatness of God. But at the end he was taught that what he thought he so appreciated, he really didn’t; and he learnt the true knowledge of God. Unclean animals are brought to his attention in Job 39; he then repents in Job 40:2-4, as if he finally saw in them symbols of himself. And then chapters 40 and 41 go on to speak of the joy of clean animals in their relationship with God, and the inability of man to come between them and their maker.  

The theme of his speech in Job 28 is that Yahweh alone is to be feared throughout the entire cosmos. Nobody else – such as the ‘Satan’ figures alluded to by the friends – needed to be feared. Job understood God to be in control in Heaven; he rejects the idea of a cosmic conflict going on ‘up there’ which the friends seem to allude to. More specifically, Job speaks of how God’s hand forms and can pierce the “crooked serpent” and smite any monster (Job 26:11–14). It’s as if Job is mocking the idea that God has let him go into the hands of the cosmic monsters which the friends believed in. For Job so often stresses that it is the “hand of God” which has brought His affliction (Job 19:21; 23:2). That Divine hand was far greater than any mythical ‘Satan’ figure.

Job 28:2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted out of the ore-
This is leading up to Job's contrast with the way that wisdom cannot be found by as it were mining the earth, and then processing what has been taken out. These reflections lead him to be ready for God's final appearance, announcing that grace is indeed a gift, and it is not so much knowing God as God knowing us which is so critical (Gal. 4:9). And theoretical knowledge and human wisdom play little part in that. All the extraction and processing of such knowledge will not lead us to personal relationship with Him.

Job 28:3 Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out, to the furthest bound of thick darkness, in order to find the stones of obscurity-
"Darkness" is a term often used in the dialogues about what Job was enduring. Man, and the reference is to the friends, thinks he can understand it right to the ends of that darkness. But he can't. Only God can (:27). The darkness of Job's trials and their limit was to be defined by God alone, as made clear in the prologue. The finding of some obscure nugget of truth is therefore irrelevant compared to realizing that God has set far wider horizons that man has set himself.

Job 28:4 He breaks open a shaft away from where people live. They are forgotten by the foot walking above. They hang far from men, they swing back and forth-
This is a picture of ancient mining, with men descending shafts on ropes in desperate search for precious nuggets (:3). Again, Job's point is that wisdom cannot be found by as it were mining the earth, and then processing what has been taken out. All the extraction and processing of such knowledge will not lead us to personal relationship with God.

Job 28:5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread; underneath it is turned up as it were by fire-
This could be saying (in line with :2-4) that mining can be dangerous; under the earth is fire, and man is best to use the surface of the earth to grow bread. The whole enterprise of mining is being contrasted to man's search for meaning and knowledge. Job is not as it were anti intellectual, but is coming to appreciate that relationship with God is beyond mere nuggets of knowledge, "stones of obscurity" (:3) strung together. And this is confirmed when God finally appears and condemns the wisdom of the friends. See on :11.

Job 28:6 Sapphires come from its rocks. It has dust of gold-
Job doesn't doubt that great beauty and value can indeed be mined. See on :2-5. But his point is that there is another set of values, invisible to the naked eye (:7), which is experience with God when we have a clear conscience (:28). Or the idea may be that there is gold that can be found on the surface without mining, and sapphires are found in alluvial soil embedded in gneiss on the surface, and not by mining. Perhaps the idea is that mining isn't needed to find nuggets of 'truth' but rather gathering what is on the surface of life.

Job 28:7 That path no bird of prey knows, neither has the falcon’s eye seen it-
The pagan peoples thought that birds had the gift of divination and wisdom. Again, as so often in Job, there is a deconstruction of popular beliefs in order to demonstrate the utter supremacy of God.

Job 28:8 The proud animals have not trodden it, nor has the fierce lion passed by there-
"The proud animals" are literally a pride of lions. Physical strength and reputation will not bring one to the wisdom of relationship with God which the argument climaxes with in :28.

Job 28:9 He puts forth his hand on the flinty rock, and he overturns the mountains by the roots-
The "he" could be wisdom personified, or the reference could be to God. For He alone can overturn mountain roots. This section of the argument concludes in :12 "But where shall wisdom be found?". God can upturn mountains for us to look underneath, but still we will not find wisdom. Because wisdom is not knowledge which can be dug out and processed as if by the mining enterprise; rather is it live relationship with God which is of the essence (:28).

Job 28:10 He cuts out channels among the rocks. His eye sees every precious thing-
As noted on :9, God can reveal everything physical, if He wishes. But man will still not find "wisdom" if he is searching for it as a 'physical' thing, obtained by a process of mining and subsequent refining. That reveals merely "stones of obscurity" (:3), nuggets of isolated truth. This message needs to be heeded by those who consider the Christian duty is to search out academic truth, mining it from the pages of the Bible and further processing it. This of itself is not to be despised, but this can be done as the Pharisees did it, and as the friends did- without coming to the awesome personal encounter with God and His grace with which the book of Job concludes.

Job 28:11 He binds the streams that they don’t trickle. The thing that is hidden he brings forth to light-
This is the same argument as explained on :10. God can dry up the streams so that those panning in them thigh deep for precious stones- find them. He can bring them to light, but this is not the same thing as the "wisdom" of personal relationship with Him and departing from evil in our hearts (:28). This is what was happening on Job's life; God was 'bringing forth' light from death, deep things from darkness (s.w. Job 12:22). And this was realized by God bringing it forth, and not man's search for 'truth'. Job as a person was to be 'brought forth' by God as gold from that fire of affliction (Job 23:10 s.w.). Just as plants are 'brought forth' from the earth without the need for mining under the earth (Job 28:5 s.w.). This is why God's reply to Job keeps on using this word for 'bring forth', labouring the point that God 'brings forth' by His processes and initiatives, and not man. And that is as a code stamped upon all of creation (Job 38:8,29,32; 39:4,21; 41:20,21).

Job 28:12 But where shall wisdom be found?-
"Found" is the word used of how Job sought to "probe" (AV "find out") the Almighty (Job 23:3; 28:12), whereas Elihu appears to agree with Zophar that "the Almighty" cannot be 'found' (Job 11:7; 37:23). God's own appearance at the end is perhaps an answer to this. He cannot be 'found out' by intellectual argument or personal righteousness. Instead, He 'finds out' people and saves them by grace. Paul expresses the same idea when he writes that it is not so much a case of man 'knowing God', but rather of being "known of God" by grace (Gal. 4:9). See on :9-12.     

Where is the place of understanding?- The origin of "wisdom" is simply from God; it has no location on planet earth, no holy place somewhere which can be visited and wisdom obtained there; it is from Him rather than being mined and processed by man. This would have been relevant to the "sons of God" of Job 1:6, Job and his friends, who apparently regularly came to a defined place for worship and instruction.

Job 28:13 Man doesn’t know its price; neither is it found in the land of the living-
The wisdom of true relationship with God (:28) cannot be bought with money (see on :15). It can only be found beyond "the land of the living", which implies 'in death'. Job believed that his final justification and restored relationship with God could only come through his death and subsequent resurrection. And he, along with Hezekiah and later the captives in Babylon, had to pass through a living death to get to that point. See on :22.

Job 28:14 The deep says, ‘It isn’t in me’. The sea says, ‘It isn’t with me’- Hum
["the deep / abyss"] and yam ["the sea"] are references to the monsters supposed to live there, much feared by the folk of Job's day. Believing in them and trying to appease them by sacrifice (think of the casting of Jonah into the sea) wouldn't reveal wisdom. That was in repentance and relationship with God (:28), as the story of Jonah also demonstrates.

Job 28:15 It can’t be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for its price-
The same phrase translated as "without money and without price" is found in Is. 55:1 as to how the greatest wisdom was to leave Babylon / Persia and return to Judah, with all the inversion of values this required. The book of Job is full of connections to Isaiah, as it was rewritten to encourage the exiles in captivity.

Job 28:16 It can’t be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire-
Earlier in this chapter, Job has contrasted man's mining for precious stones on his initiative with God's working upon man to give him, by grace, something more precious- relationship with Him. Gold, onyx and sapphire were all stones in the Mosaic breastplate, and this is perhaps also be understood as an oblique reference to how the Mosaic system couldn't of itself bring about that relationship with God which is the true wisdom.

Job 28:17 Gold and glass can’t equal it, neither shall it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold-
Once a man comes to the true wisdom of relationship with God with a pure conscience by His grace (:28), he will never want to exchange it. This is the sense likewise of Prov. 23:23 "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding". "The truth", true understanding, is not a series of isolated academic truths mined and processed by man (see on :3-6). It refers to relationship with God. Many Christians obsessed with 'finding the truth' have yet to realize this.

Job 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal. Yes, the price of wisdom is above rubies-
The words of Job 28:18 are repeatedly quoted in Proverbs (Prov. 3:15; 8:11; 20:15). "Wisdom" in Proverbs refers not so much to nuggets of truth, but to a way of life in relationship with God; for that is the context in the source passage in Job 28:18 cp. 28. 

Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold- "
Equal" is the word used to the exiles in Is. 40:18, where they are told that "God" has no equal. But I suggest in that context we must read in an ellipsis; 'relationship with God' cannot be equalled. It is totally inappropriate to compare it to human strength of any category. 

Job 28:20 Where then does wisdom come from? Where is the place of understanding?-
The origin of "wisdom" is simply from God; it has no location on planet earth, no holy place somewhere which can be visited and wisdom obtained there; it is from Him rather than being mined and processed by man. This would have been relevant to the "sons of God" of Job 1:6, Job and his friends, who apparently regularly came to a defined place for worship and instruction.

Job 28:21 Seeing it is hidden from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the birds of the sky-
The wisdom of true relationship with God and restoration by grace (:28) cannot be discerned by the human senses. The naked eye cannot perceive it. Thus Job is coming closer to the New Testament teaching about the Spirit, which the exiles were also taught in Is. 64:4: "... neither has the eye seen... what He has prepared for him who waits for Him", to the end of the 70 year period of exile. These words are applied to all in our age who receive the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9). 

Job 28:22 Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumour of it with our ears’-
As noted on :13, Job believed that through death he would thence ultimately pass to a bodily resurrection and restored relationship with God. In this sense, therefore, death has a rumour of this wisdom which nothing in the world of the living can have. A true sense of our mortality will lead to our prayerful, urgent contact with the Father all our days. Thus destruction and death give insight into the true wisdom.

Job 28:23 God understands its way, and He knows its place-
Just as there is a sense in the natural creation that things such as the dawn have a specific "place" known by God alone (Job 38:12 s.w.), so the way of true relationship with Him, "wisdom", is known by Him alone. We do not find that "place" by intellectual effort, searching hither and thither, but by being open to God's leading of us as Job was.

Job 28:24 For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole sky-
The implication may be that man sees only what is before his face, whereas God has an infinitely wider perspective. Job in his intense suffering is to be commended for realizing this; for physical pain tends to make the sufferer focus only upon the immediate.

Job 28:25 He establishes the force of the wind. Yes, He measures out the waters by measure-
This is quoted in Is. 40:12 as encouragement to the exiles; the power of wind and waters, both representative of God's judgments for sin, are totally under His control. They are measured, the exile period would come to a defined end, just as Job's sufferings did.

Job 28:26 When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder-
This "decree" for the rain is the word used of how the waters are "bounded" (Job 26:10), just as Job's sufferings were "appointed" or 'bounded' (Job 23:14), as the sufferings of the exiles were also time limited. The idea may be that when that 'bound' of the rain and darkness is reached, the end of the appointed suffering, then we find the wisdom of true relationship with God. He has set it there (:27), at that point. And that is the true wisdom, which we are led to and arrive at, rather than seeking to mine it out in human strength and enterprise. 

Job 28:27 then He saw it, and declared it. He established it, yes, and searched it out-
See on :3. In Job 13:9 Job asks the friends: "Is it good that He should search you out? Or as one deceives a man, will you deceive Him?". The idea seems to be that if God searched out the friends, they would have to try to deceive Him, lest He find the truth about them. But Job later realizes that God does indeed search out all things (s.w. Job 28:27). He begins here by saying that if He were to search things out, He would not find a nice scene in the hearts of the friends. But Job moves on to realize that indeed this is what God is doing, on a cosmic scale- searching out all things.

Job 28:28 To man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. To depart from evil is understanding’
- Wisdom is thereby presented as essentially being experience of God and relationship with Him. Wisdom is not found by going to a certain location, to a guru here or a holy book there, digging like miners dig, in search of it. It is experience with God, and all the things summarized in "the fear of the Lord". Job was aware it seems of God's estimation that he had indeed "turned away from evil" and feared God (Job 1:1 s.w.); it was those things, rather than the traditional wisdom of the friends, which he came to see was the true "understanding".