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Bible Commentaries
Job 28

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-28

Job 28:2 . Brass is molten, melted out of ores of zinc, lapis calaminaris, light perforated ores, found on Mendip hills in Somerset, Derbyshire, and other places.

Job 28:4 . The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant. Rumpit alveum de cum pede montis; words equivalent to the text of Moses. “The fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Numerous are the proofs which the book of Job exhibits, that he and Moses, the prince of Hebrew prophets, derived knowledge from the same traditions.

Job 28:5-6 . As for the earth, out of it cometh bread. E terra exit panis. “From the earth proceeds bread, and subterranean fire is, as it were, scattered beneath.” Sapphires: see on Exodus 28:19, where gems are described. It hath dust of gold. The districts of gold ore run out in strata to vast extent, one or two feet thick, where particles of gold abound; and from those veins, the particles are washed into the beds of rivers. Sometimes the miner meets with small masses of native gold. Job says of those districts, “the glebes are gold itself.”

Job 28:7 . There is a path, of subterranean ranges of caverns, which communicate with one another throughout the whole earth, and preserve it from explosions. Here rivers flow, and lakes are formed, unseen by the vulture’s eye.

Job 28:9 . He putteth forth his hand, and toucheth the rock, and makes bare the flinty rocks. The diluvian tides washed and made bare our craggy hills and contour cliffs; and where the seas could enter the craters of volcanoes, the mountains burst from their base. John Whitehurst says of the Derbyshire strata, “In the neighbourhood of Ecton, Wetton, Dovedale, Ilam, and Swithamly, the strata lie in the utmost confusion and disorder: they are broken, dislocated, and thrown into every possible direction.”

Job 28:11 . He bindeth the floods, by the laws of gravity, which regulate the tides: an unusual high tide is occasioned by a strong wind, and a violent tempest.

Job 28:16 . The gold of Ophir. Job in this and the following verses, uses various terms for gold to designate the metal, and the vessels made of gold. Ophir signifies southern Africa. 1 Kings 9:28.

Job 28:18 . No mention shall be made of corals or of pearls. Not a word of all this in the Hebrew! Literally, Ramoth and Gabisch shall not be named. They are understood to be two hills where gems were found. So is the Chaldaic, collis eminens, high or eminent hills. The Gothic import of the word is very similar; our fathers gave the name of Ramshead, to the high hill east of Plymouth harbour.


This chapter surpasses all ancient records in an extensive encomium on natural history. It proves that Job, and the astronomical patriarchs, were attentive students of nature, and not ignorant of works of art. Their knowledge of minerals and of metals was exquisite. Zoology they had largely studied. The roaring of the lion, the soaring of the eagle, the solitary pelican, the careless ostrich, are cited in the correctest characters. Their knowledge, it is true, was local and circumscribed; and they were unacquainted with Grecian names and literature, which the world has adopted. Yet their proficiency, could it have found literary records, would prove that they possessed in a very high degree all the elements of useful knowledge.

In mining they had made a daring progress. They discovered the cavernous ranges which run through all the mountains, and ventilate the earth. They knew that rivers and lakes were formed there, and which open their springs in the depths of the sea. These are the recesses of nature which the vulture’s eye had not seen, and where the bolder lion had not dared to make his lair.

They understood the two grand principles, which reign throughout the whole kingdom of nature; the acids, which decompose, which oxidize and waste all the less pure metals, and which tarnish the purer gold and silver. They equally understood the alkalies, which crystalize the rocks, form an infinitude of gems in the cavities of granite, of limestone, &c.

They knew more, and better still. They knew how to grind those gems, and how to set those formed by nature in ouches of gold, so as to make them designate moral virtues, and instruct mankind in that wisdom which is above the value of rubies. They knew how to improve the study of nature, so as to become acquainted with the God of nature, whom to know is life and peace. Thus the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 3:13.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 28". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/job-28.html. 1835.
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