Book of Job Ch. 28-31



Gordis, Robert.  The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job.  (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1965).

——————-    The Book of Job: Commentary, New Translation, and Special Studies.  (Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, 1978).

Janzen, J. Gerald.  Job.  Part of the Interpretation bible commentary series edited by James L. Mays.  (John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1985).

Wilson, Gerald H.   Job.  Part of the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, General Editors W. Ward Gasque, Robert Hubbard Jr., and Robert Johnston.   (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2007).



Notes for Chapter 28: Hymn to Wisdom (read by narrator)

An existing hymn or poem has been inserted here.  The views are consistent with those expressed by both Job and the LORD at the end of the book, but are somewhat premature out of Job’s mouth at this point.  Hence – I follow with Gordis and argue they should not be presented (yet) as the words of Job.

Gordis p. 536 – by the same author but from a different period in his life (earlier!)

Gordis p.298: ‘The Hymn stresses the mystery of the universe and the inaccessibility of the Divine Wisdom which served God as the pattern of creation.  The God speeches go further with the added insight that the cosmos is a miracle as well as mystery and should evoke joy and awe as well as humility from man. …   Only God, who created the universe, knows the transcendental Wisdom.  As for man, the only wisdom that is accessible to him consists of religion and morality, reverence for the LORD and avoidance of evil.”

Gordis p. 304: “The most natural view of verses 3 – 11 is to see in the passage a description of mining operations in remote areas, probably in volcanic regions.  Both the technology and the terminology of the ancients are unfamiliar to us, complicating the understanding of this passage.”  (and the translation!)

Wilson p. 301 notes that  mining has taken place throughout human history, going back as far as the Paleolithic era.



Gordis provides a translation for verses 3 to 5, keeping them in proper order (our NAB does not):

3  Men put an end to darkness,

And to the furthest ends they penetrate.

The lava, dark and pitch-black,

4  cleaves a channel from the crater never trodden by human foot,

Bereft even of wandering men.

5  It is a land from which heat pours forth,

While its lower regions are convulsed by fire,


The point being made: Wisdom is a great treasure.  Humans know how to find and refine treasures from the earth hidden to the casual observer and beasts – but cannot find true Wisdom.  This could not be, therefore, the words of the  Friends since they have continually asserted their own wisdom and the idea of God rewarding the good / punishing the bad in some simplistic way.

Notes for Chapter 29 through 31: Job’s Final Defense

Gordis p. 313: “The debate has ended.  Job’s friends, who had come to comfort him, are now estranged from him.  They have spoken in the name of established religious doctrine, and he has responded from his own bitter immediate experience; no one has been able to bridge the abyss.”

(Chapter 29)

Job: back in the day I was respected by all, I had hoped to have long days with my children around me.  “I wore my honesty like a garment; justice was my robe and my turban.”

Gordis p. 321:  v. 29:18 phoenix reference is to the myth, quite ancient, of a bird that lived forever.  1,000 years, then the nest burns, leaving a small piece, out of which the bird is reborn.  In Jewish tradition Noah blessed this bird because it alone did not torment him on the ark for more food!

(Chapter 30)

Job: now I am derided by men so young that their fathers would not, in the old days, have been equal to my dogs or worthy to shepherd my sheep (! Quite an insult!)  To the LORD he says: “I cry to you, but you do not answer me; you stand off and look at me.  Then you turn upon me without mercy and with your strong hand you buffet me.”

Gordis p. 330: “The dog was regarded as filthy and vicious and the word was used as an insult.”

Exodus 22:31: You shall be a people sacred to me. Flesh torn to pieces in the field you shall not eat; you must throw it to the dogs.

I Kings 14:11: Anyone of Jeroboam’s line who dies in the city, dogs will devour;

anyone who dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour.


Gordis p. 337 on verse 30:29   “Both creatures (jackal, ostrich) live in desolate regiouns far from human habitation.  They, therefore, serve as an excellent simile for Job, who wails in vain and is an outcast among men.”


(Chapter 31)

If I have done some wrong, violated some precepts like x and y, then I would be deserving of this fate and punishment.  But only let me make the case for my innocence.

Gordis p. 339: “Job lists fourteen possible transgressions from which he has kept himself free.  These are not gross crimes, punishable by law, which are totally beyond the realm of possibility for him, but subtler sins that often prove a temptation to the respectable and respected citizen.  It is noteworthy that this “Code of a Man of Honor” is almost exclusively ethical, the only ritual element being the avoidance of the worship of the moon and the stars.”

Gordis p. 542:

  1. Lust (1, 2)
  2. Cheating in business (5,6)
  3. Taking what belongs to others (7,8)
  4. Adultery (9 -12)
  5. Unfairness toward slaves in the courts (13-15)
  6. Callousness toward the resident poor (16-18)
  7. Lack of pity for the traveler ( 19, 20)
  8. Perversion of justice regarding toward the widow and the orphan (21- 23)
  9. Love of gold, confidence in wealth (24, 25)
  10. Worship of sun and moon (26-28)
  11. Joy in the calamity of foes (29 – 31)
  12. Failure to be hospitable (32)
  13. Concealing ones sins due to fear of opinions of others (33, 34)
  14. Taking the land of others, even within the law (38 – 40)

Gordis p. 350: “the worship of the sun and the moon was central to pagan religion and exerted a powerful appeal in Israel as well, being widespread in the 7th century.  Obeisance toward the heavenly bodies was a basic ritual among the Essenes.”

Gordis p. 542 notes that “By and large, these are sins of the spirit committed “within the Law”  and “In sum, the sins listed are not the crimes of the lawbreaker; at most they are the offenses of the lawbender.”


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