December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 There is indeed a mine for silver, and a place for gold which men refine.
- Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is melted out of stone.
- The earth, though out of it comes forth bread, is in fiery upheaval underneath.
- Its stones are the source of sapphires, and there is gold in its dust.
- But whence can wisdom be obtained, and where is the place of understanding?
- Man knows nothing to equal it, nor is it to be had in the land of the living.
- Solid gold cannot purchase it, nor can its price be paid with silver.
- 2 It cannot be bought with gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx or the sapphire.
- Gold or crystal cannot equal it, nor can golden vessels reach its worth.
- Neither coral nor jasper should be thought of; it surpasses pearls and
- Arabian topaz.
- Whence, then, comes wisdom, and where is the place of understanding?
- It is hid from the eyes of any beast; from the birds of the air it is concealed.
- The path to it no bird of prey knows, nor has the hawk's eye seen that path.
- The proud beasts have not trodden it, nor has the lion gone that way.
- The abyss declares, "It is not in me"; and the sea says, "I have it not."
- 3 Abaddon and Death say, "Only by rumor have we heard of it."
- God knows the way to it; it is he who is familiar with its place.
- For he beholds the ends of the earth and sees all that is under the heavens.
- He has set a boundary for the darkness; to the farthest confines he penetrates.
- He sets his hand to the flinty rock, and overturns the mountains at their foundations.
- He splits channels in the rocks; his eyes behold all that is precious.
- He probes the wellsprings of the streams, and brings hidden things to light.
- He has weighed out the wind, and fixed the scope of the waters;
- When he made rules for the rain and a path for the thunderbolts,
- Then he saw wisdom and appraised it, gave it its setting, knew it through and through.
- And to man he said: Behold, the fear of the LORD is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding.
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1 [1-28] Note the changed order of verses; Job 28:4 is uncertain. This chapter contains a beautifully vivid description of that Wisdom which is beyond the attainment of creatures; known only to God, it is reflected in the order and majesty of his creation. Man, however, can, in a way, participate in this Wisdom by fearing the LORD and avoiding evil. Scholars are not agreed regarding the authorship of this poem, though it is altogether worthy of the author of the Book of Job. Used here as a counterpoise to Job 3 at the beginning of the dialogue, it may have been first conceived as an independent poem.
2  Ophir: cf note to Psalm 45:9.
3  (22)Abaddon: cf note to Job 26:6.
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