Job 28*

Based on the suggestion in –

The Concentric Structure of the Wisdom Poem in Job 28
From  Journal of Ancient Judaism, Ruth Henderson, online 19 May 2018

The enigmatic wisdom poem of Job 28:1–28 stands apart from the rest of the book of Job in style and structure. Most read this poem in linear progression as three strophes (vv. 1–11; 15–19; 23–28) with an intervening refrain (vv. 12–14; 20–22). In this study, it is suggested that the poem has been presented in the form of a concentric or compositional ring structure, which juxtaposes arguments rather than presenting them in a linear fashion. According to this structure there are five compositional units, the centre of which holds the main point of the text (A, B, C, B1, A1). A central section (C vv. 15–19), maintains the traditional view of the supreme value of wisdom. The central unit is surrounded by two inner parallel sections each beginning with a rhetorical question concerning the location of wisdom (Sections B vv. 12–14 and B1 vv. 20–22), and two outer sections (A vv. 1–11 and A1 vv. 23–28) in which two contrasting ways of acquiring wisdom are presented: by independent human effort presented in the form of a mining metaphor (A vv. 1–11); or by contemplation of God’s omnipotent creative power and reverence for Him resulting in right behaviour (A1). Each of the major units also follows a concentric pattern.

I do not have access to the full article but this is how I think it goes in the ESV:

A. 38:1-11
a.1 “Surely there is a mine for silver,
and a place for gold that they refine.
2 Iron is taken out of the earth,
and copper is smelted from the ore.

b. 3 Man puts an end to darkness
and searches out to the farthest limit
the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

c. 4 He opens shafts in a valley
away from where anyone lives;
they are forgotten by travelers;
they hang in the air, far away from mankind;
they swing to and fro.

a’. 5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread,
but underneath it is turned up as by fire.
6 Its stones are the place of sapphires,
and it has dust of gold.

b’. 7 “That path no bird of prey knows,
and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.
8 The proud beasts have not trodden it;
the lion has not passed over it.

c’. 9 “Man puts his hand to the flinty rock
and overturns mountains by the roots.
10 He cuts out channels in the rocks,
and his eye sees every precious thing.
11 He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle,
and the thing that is hidden he brings out to light.

————————————————————

B. 12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?

a. 13 Man does not know its worth,
and it is not found in the land of the living.

b. 14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

————————————————————-

C. 15 It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed as its price.

16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.

17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.

18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.

19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold.

————————————————————

B’. 20 “From where, then, does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?

a’. 21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living
and concealed from the birds of the air.

b’. 22 Abaddon and Death say,
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

———————————————————

A’. 38:23-28

a. 23 “God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.

b. 24 For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.

c. 25 When he gave to the wind its weight
and apportioned the waters by measure,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a way for the lightning of the thunder,

b’. 27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.

a’. 28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”

The original posposal  from SJD is as follows from

A  (1-3)  Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

B  (4)  The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

C  (5-6)  As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

D  (7-11)  There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

E  (12-14)

(i)  But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?

(ii)  Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

(iii)  The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.

F  (15-16)  It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

G  (17)  The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.

H  (18)  No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.

G’  (19a)  The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,

F’  (19b)  neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

E’  (20-22)

(i)  Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?

(ii)  Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.

(iii)  Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

D’  (23)  God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

C’  (24)  For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;

B’  (25)  To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.

A’  (26-27)  When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

(28)  And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

One thought on “Job 28*”

  1. I do not have access to the full article but it looks interesting.

    The Concentric Structure of the Wisdom Poem in Job 28
    From  Journal of Ancient Judaism, Ruth Henderson, online 19 May 2018

    The enigmatic wisdom poem of Job 28:1–28 stands apart from the rest of the book of Job in style and structure. Most read this poem in linear progression as three strophes (vv. 1–11; 15–19; 23–28) with an intervening refrain (vv. 12–14; 20–22). In this study, it is suggested that the poem has been presented in the form of a concentric or compositional ring structure, which juxtaposes arguments rather than presenting them in a linear fashion. According to this structure there are five compositional units, the centre of which holds the main point of the text (A, B, C, B1, A1). A central section (C vv. 15–19), maintains the traditional view of the supreme value of wisdom. The central unit is surrounded by two inner parallel sections each beginning with a rhetorical question concerning the location of wisdom (Sections B vv. 12–14 and B1 vv. 20–22), and two outer sections (A vv. 1–11 and A1 vv. 23–28) in which two contrasting ways of acquiring wisdom are presented: by independent human effort presented in the form of a mining metaphor (A vv. 1–11); or by contemplation of God’s omnipotent creative power and reverence for Him resulting in right behaviour (A1). Each of the major units also follows a concentric pattern.

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