Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Job 28:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The gold of Ophir - Gold is five times mentioned in this and Job 28:17; and Job 28:19, and four of the times in different words. I shall consider them all at once.

  1. סגור Segor, from סגר sagar, to shut up. Gold. in the mine, or shut up in the ore; native gold washed by the streams out of the mountains, etc.; unwrought gold.
  2. Job 28:16;
  3. כתם Kethem, from כתם catham, to sign or stamp: gold made current by being coined, or stamped with its weight or value; what we would call standard or sterling gold.
  4. Job 28:17;
  5. זהב Zahab, from זהב zahab, to be Lear, bright, or resplendent: the untarnishing metal; the only metal that always keeps its lustre. But probably here it means gold chased, or that in which precious stones are set; burnished gold.
  • פז Paz, from פז paz, to consolidate, joined here with כלי keley, vessels, ornaments, instruments, etc.: hammered or wrought gold; gold in the finest forms, and most elegant utensils. This metal is at once the brightest, most solid, and most precious, of all the metals yet discovered, of which we have no less than forty in our catalogues. In these verses there are also seven kinds of precious stones, etc., mentioned: onyx, sapphire, crystal, coral, pearls, rubies, and topaz.
  • These I shall also consider in the order of their occurrence.

      Job 28:16;
  • שהם shoham, the Onyx, from ονυξ, a man's nail, hoof of a horse, because in color it resembles both. This stone is a species of chalcedony; and consists of alternate layers of white and brown chalcedony, under which it generally ranges. In the Vulgate it is called sardonyx, compounded of sard and onyx. Sard is also a variety of chalcedony, of a deep reddish-brown color, of which, and alternate layers of milk-white chalcedony, the sardonyx consists. A most beautiful block of this mineral sardonyx, from Iceland, now lies before me.
  • ספיר sappir, the Sapphire stone, From ספר saphar, to count, number; probably from the number of golden spots with which it is said the sapphire of the ancients abounded. Pliny says, Hist. Nat. lib. xxxvii., cap. 8: Sapphirus aureis punctis collucet: coeruleae et sapphiri, raraque cum purpura: optimae apud Medos, nusquam tame perlucidae. "The sapphire glitters with golden spots. Sapphires are sometimes of an azure, never of a purple color. Those of Media are the best, but there are none transparent." This may mean the blood stones; but see below. What we call the sapphire is a variety of the perfect corundum; it is in hardness inferior only to the diamond. It is of several colors, and from them it has obtained several names.
  • The transparent or translucent is called the white sapphire.
  • The blue is called the oriental sapphire.
  • The violet blue, the oriental amethyst.
  • The yellow, the oriental topaz.
  • The green, the oriental emerald.
  • That with pearly reflections, the opalescent sapphire.
  • When transparent, with a pale, reddish, or bluish reflection, it is called the girasol sapphire.
  • A variety which, when polished, shows a silvered star of six rays in a direction perpendicular to the axis, is called asteria.
  • When the meaning of the Hebrew word is collated with the description given by Pliny, it must be evident that a spotted opaque stone is meant, and consequently not what is now known by the name sapphire. I conjecture, therefore, that lapis lazuli, which is of a blue color, with golden-like spots, formed by pyrites of iron, must be intended.

    The lapis lazuli is that from which the beautiful and unfading color called ultramarine is obtained.

      Job 28:17;

  • זכוכית zechuchith, Crystal, or glass, from זכה zachah, to be pure, clear, transparent. Crystal or crystal of quartz is a six-sided prism, terminated by six-sided pyramids. It belongs to the siliceous class of minerals: it is exceedingly clear and brilliant, insomuch that this property of it has become proverbial, as clear as crystal.
  • Job 28:18;
    1. ראמות ramoth, Coral, from ראם raam, to be exalted or elevated; probably from this remarkable property of coral, "it always grows from the tops of marine rocky caverns with the head downwards." Red coral is found in the Mediterranean, about the isles of Majorca and Minorca, on the African coast, and in the Ethiopic ocean.
    2. גביש gabish, Pearls, from גבש gabash, in Arabic, to be smooth, to shave off the hair; and hence גביש gabish, the pearl, the smooth round substance; and also hail or hailstones, because of their resemblance to pearls. The pearl is the production of a shell-fish of the oyster kind, found chiefly in the East Indies, and called berberi; but pearls are occasionally found in the common oyster, as I have myself observed, and in the muscle also. They are of a brilliant sparkling white, perfectly round in general, and formed of coats in the manner of an onion. Out of one oyster I once took six pearls. When large, fine, and without spots, they are valuable. I have seen one that formed the whole body of a Hindoo idol, Creeshna, more than an inch in length, and valued at 300 guineas.
    3. פנינים peninim, Rubies, from פנה panah, he turned, looked, beheld. The oriental ruby is blood-red, rose-red, or with a tinge of violet. It has occasionally a mixture of blue, and is generally in the form of six-sided prisms. It is a species of the sapphire, and is sometimes chatoyant in its appearance, i.e., has a curious kind of reflection, similar to the cat's eye: and as this is particularly striking, and changes as you turn the stone, hence probably the name peninim, which you derive from פנה panah, to turn, look, behold, etc. But some learned men are of opinion that the magnet or loadstone is meant, and it is thus called because of the remarkable property it has of turning north and south. And this notion is rendered the more likely, because it agrees with another word in this verse, expressive of a different property of the magnet, viz., its attractive influence: for the Hebrew words מפנינים חכמה משך meshech chochmah mippeninim, which we render, The price of wisdom is above rubies, is literally, The Attraction of wisdom is beyond the peninim, the loadstone; for all the gold, silver, and precious stones, have strong influence on the human heart, attracting all its passions strongly; yet the attraction of wisdom - that which insures a man's happiness in both worlds - is more powerful and influential, when understood, than all of these, and even than the loadstone, for that can only attract iron; but, through desire of the other, a man, having separated himself from all those earthly entanglements, seeketh and intermeddleth with All Wisdom. The attractive property of the loadstone must have been observed from its first discovery; and there is every reason to believe that the magnet and its virtues were known in the East long before they were discovered in Europe.

    7. פטדה pitdah, the Topaz. This word occurs only in Exodus 28:17; Exodus 39:10; Ezekiel 28:13, and in the present place; in all of which, except that of Ezekiel, where the Septuagint is all confusion, the Septuagint and Vulgate render the word always τοπαζιον, topazius, the Topaz. This stone is generally found in a prismatic form, sometimes limpid and nearly transparent, or of various shades of yellow, green, blue, lilac, and red. I have thus given the best account I can of the stones here mentioned, allowing that they answer to the names by which we translate them. But on this point there is great uncertainty, as I have already had occasion to observe in other parts of this work. Beasts, birds, plants, metals, precious stones, unguents, different kinds of grain, etc., are certainly mentioned in the sacred writings; but whether we know what the different Hebrew terms signify, is more than we can certainly affirm. Of some there is little room to doubt; of others conjecture must in the present state of our knowledge, supply the place of certainty. See Philip's Elementary Introduction to Mineralogy; an accurate work, which I feel pleasure in recommending to all students in the science.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    The gold of Ophir - Uniformly spoken of as the most precious gold; see the notes at Job 22:24.

    With the precious onyx - The onyx is a semi-pellucid gem, with variously colored veins or zones. It is a variety of the chalcedony. The Arabic word denotes that which was of two colors, where the white predominated. The Greeks gave the name “onyx” ὄνυξ onux to the gem from its resemblance to the color of the thumbnail; see Passow.

    Or the sapphire - See the notes at Job 28:6.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Job here speaks of wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost which cannot be bought with money. Let that which is most precious in God's account, be so in ours. Job asks after it as one that truly desired to find it, and despaired of finding it any where but in God; any way but by Divine revelation.
    Ellen G. White
    The Ministry of Healing, 430

    “Canst thou by searching find out God?<br/>Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?<br/>It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?<br/>Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?<br/>The measure thereof is longer than the earth,<br/>And broader than the sea.”<br/>“Where shall wisdom be found?<br/>And where is the place of understanding?<br/>Man knoweth not the price thereof;<br/>Neither is it found in the land of the living.<br/>The depth saith, It is not in me:<br/>And the sea saith, It is not with me.<br/>It cannot be gotten for gold,<br/>Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.<br/>It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,<br/>With the precious onyx, or the sapphire.<br/>The gold and the crystal cannot equal it:<br/>And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of<br/>fine gold.<br/>No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls:<br/>For the price of wisdom is above rubies.<br/>The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,<br/>Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.<br/>Whence then cometh wisdom?<br/>And where is the place of understanding? ...<br/>Destruction and death say,<br/>We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.<br/>God understandeth the way thereof,<br/>And He knoweth the place thereof.<br/>“For He looketh to the ends of the earth,<br/>And seeth under the whole heaven....<br/>When He made a decree for the rain,<br/>And a way for the lightning of the thunder:<br/>Then did He see it, and declare it;<br/>He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.<br/>And unto man He said,<br/>Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;<br/>And to depart from evil is understanding.” MH 430.1

    Job 11:7-9; 28:12-28. MH 430

    Neither by searching the recesses of the earth nor in vain endeavors to penetrate the mysteries of God's being, is wisdom found. It is found, rather, in humbly receiving the revelation that He has been pleased to give, and in conforming the life to His will. MH 431.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 280

    “Where shall wisdom be found?
    And where is the place of understanding?
    Man knoweth not the price thereof;
    Neither is it found in the land of the living.
    The depth saith, It is not in me:
    And the sea saith, It is not with me.
    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.
    The gold and the crystal cannot equal it,
    And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
    No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls:
    For the price of wisdom is above rubies.
    The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it,
    Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.
    Whence then cometh wisdom?
    And where is the place of understanding? ...
    Destruction and death say,
    We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
    God understandeth the way thereof,
    And He knoweth the place thereof.
    8T 280.1

    “For He looketh to the ends of the earth,
    And seeth under the whole heaven....
    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. And unto man He said,
    Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
    And to depart from evil is understanding.”
    8T 280.2

    Job 28:12-28. 8T 280

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    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 107

    The value of this treasure is above gold or silver. The riches of earth's mines cannot compare with it. COL 107.1

    “The depth saith, It is not in me;
    And the sea saith, It is not with me.
    It can not be gotten for gold,
    Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
    It can not be valued with the gold of Ophir,
    With the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
    The gold and the crystal can not equal it;
    And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
    No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls,
    For the price of wisdom is above rubies.”
    COL 107.2

    Job 28:14-18. COL 107

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 544

    We are living in a time when everything that is false and superficial is exalted above the real, the natural, and the enduring. The mind must be kept free from everything that would lead it in a wrong direction. It should not be encumbered with trashy stories, which do not add strength to the mental powers. The thoughts will be of the same character as the food we provide for the mind. The time devoted to needless, unimportant things would better be spent in contemplating the wonderful mysteries of the plan of salvation and in using every God-given power to learn the ways of the Lord, that our feet may not stumble upon the dark mountain of unbelief or stray from the path of holiness which was cast up by infinite sacrifice for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. The strength of intellect, the substantial knowledge gained, are acquisitions which the gold of Ophir could not buy. Their price is above gold and silver. This kind of education the young do not usually choose. They urge their desires, their likes and dislikes, their preferences and inclinations; but if the parents have correct views of God, of the truth, and of the influences and associations which should surround their children, they will feel their God-given responsibility to firmly guide the inexperienced youth in the right away, knowing that what they sow they will also reap. 5T 544.1

    Could my voice reach the parents all through the land, I would warn them not to yield to the desires of their children in choosing their companions or associates. Little do parents consider that injurious impressions are far more readily received by the young than are divine impressions; therefore their associations should be the most favorable for the growth of grace and for the truth revealed in the word of God to be established in the heart. If children are with those whose conversation is upon unimportant, earthly things, their minds will come to the same level. If they hear the principles of religion slurred and our faith belittled, if sly objections to the truth are dropped in their hearing, these things will fasten in their minds and mold their characters. If their minds are filled with stories, be they true or fictitious, there is no room for the useful information and scientific knowledge which should occupy them. What havoc has this love for light reading wrought with the mind! How it has destroyed the principles of sincerity and true godliness, which lie at the foundation of a symmetrical character. It is like a slow poison taken into the system, which will sooner or later reveal its bitter effects. When a wrong impression is left upon the mind in youth, a mark is made, not on sand, but on enduring rock. 5T 544.2

    The associations of your children are of a character to draw them away from every influence that would interfere with, or break up, their health-destroying habits. They are impatient if they cannot have their own way. The advice of Christians is distasteful to them. They are traveling the road to ruin, and any influence which seeks to lead them in an opposite direction stirs the worst impulses of their hearts. They are creatures of circumstances. The formation of these early ties which are unfavorable to religious impressions has had a powerful, controlling influence over them at every subsequent step. Let the youth be placed in the most favorable circumstances possible; for the company they keep, the principles they adopt, the habits they form, will settle the question of their usefulness here, and of their future, eternal interests, with a certainty that is infallible. The parents should not concede to the inclinations of their children, but should follow the plain path of duty which God has marked out, restraining them in kindness, denying with firmness and determination, yet with love, their wrong desires, and with earnest, prayerful, persevering effort leading their steps away from the world upward to heaven. Children should not be left to drift into whatever way they are inclined, and to go into avenues which are open on every side, leading away from the right path. None are in so great danger as those who apprehend no danger and are impatient of caution and counsel. 5T 545.1

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