Job 28

The Praise of Wisdom[a]

Chapter 28

Where Can Wisdom Be Found?[b]

1 “There are mines for silver
and places where gold is refined.
2 Iron is extracted from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Miners penetrate the darkness;
they search to the farthest recesses
to discover the ore hidden in gloom and shadow.
4 They open shafts in uninhabited places,
swinging suspended, far away from anyone.
5 “While grain is coming forth from the earth above,
what lies beneath is ravaged by fire.
6 Its rocks are the enclosure for sapphires,
and there is gold contained in its dust.
7 No bird of prey knows the path there;
the eye of a falcon has not seen it.
8 Proud beasts have not trodden it;
no lion has ever passed over it.
9 “Man begins to assail the granite rock
and overturns the mountains at their foundations.
10 He cuts channels into the rocks,
and his eyes behold precious gems.
11 He explores the sources of the streams
and brings hidden riches to light.
12 But where can wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?

Wisdom Cannot Be Purchased[c]

13 “No one knows the way to it,
nor is it to be found in the land of the living.
14 The abyss declares, ‘It is not in me.’
The sea says, ‘I do not have it.’
15 It cannot be purchased with gold,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 “It cannot be acquired with the gold of Ophir,
nor with precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Gold or crystal[d] cannot be compared to it,
nor can it be exchanged for vessels of gold.
18 Neither coral nor alabaster deserve to be mentioned;
the price of wisdom is beyond pearls.
19 Topaz from Ethiopia is worthless in comparison to it,
nor can it be valued in terms of pure gold.
20 “Where then is the source of wisdom?
Where is intelligence to be found?

God Alone Knows Where Wisdom Can Be Found[e]

21 “It cannot be seen by the eye of any living creature;
it is even concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Abaddon and the netherworld[f] admit,
‘We have only heard rumors of it.’
23 “God alone understands the path to wisdom;
he alone knows where it can be found.
24 For he can observe the farthest ends of the earth,
and he sees everything under the heavens.
25 “When God regulated the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he imposed a limit for the rain
and cleared a path for the thunderbolt,
27 then he saw wisdom and evaluated it,
established it and assessed it completely.
28 And then he declared to man:
‘The fear of the Lord is wisdom,
and to turn from evil is understanding.’ ”


  1. Job 28:1 This praise of wisdom breaks into the debate between Job and his friends. This passage is related to other important passages in other Books dealing with the same subject (Prov 8:22-36; Sir 24; Bar 3:9—4:4). Wisdom is imagined as a person who dwells with God and is consulted by him. It is an image of God’s own thought, in comparison with which all human efforts to discover things seem trivial.
  2. Job 28:1 The exploitation of mines in the search for gold or precious stones has amazed people from antiquity and led them to use the contribution of slaves and prisoners in pursuit of this difficult work (v. 4). However, it is not by such searches that one can extract the secret of wisdom.
  3. Job 28:13 Wisdom is not found along the route of human discoveries; all the treasures of the world are of no avail in acquiring it.
  4. Job 28:17 Crystal: the text actually speaks of “glass,” but in antiquity this was very rare and valuable.
  5. Job 28:21 God alone knows where wisdom is found. Indeed, she was the inspiration of his work of creation (Prov 8:22-31)!
  6. Job 28:22 Abaddon and the netherworld: see note on Job 26:6.

You Might Also Like