Job 28

CHAPTER XXVIII

Job, in showing the vanity of human pursuits in reference to

genuine wisdom, mentions mining for and refining gold and

silver, 1;

iron and other minerals, 2;

the difficulties of mining, 3, 4;

produce of grain for bread from the earth, and stones of fire

from under it, 5.

He speaks of precious stones and gold dust, 6;

of the instinct of fowls and wild beasts in finding their way,

7, 8;

and of the industry and successful attempts of men in mining

and other operations, 9-11:

but shows that with all their industry, skill, and perseverance,

they cannot find out true wisdom, 12;

of which he gives the most exalted character, 13-22;

and shows that God alone, the fountain of wisdom, knows and can

teach it, 24-27;

and in what this true wisdom consists, 28.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXVIII

Verse 1. Surely there is a vein for the silver] This chapter is

the oldest and finest piece of natural history in the world, and

gives us very important information on several curious subjects;

and could we ascertain the precise meaning of all the original

words, we might, most probably, find out allusions to several

useful arts which we are apt to think are of modern, or

comparatively modern, invention.

The word motsa, which we here translate vein, signifies

literally, a going out; i.e., a mine, or place dug in the earth,

whence the silver ore is extracted. And this ore lies generally in

veins or loads, running in certain directions.

A place for gold where they fine it.] This should rather be

translated, A place for gold which they refine. Gold ore has also

its peculiar mine, and requires to be refined from earthy

impurities.

Verse 2. Iron is taken out of the earth] This most useful metal

is hidden under the earth, and men have found out the method of

separating it from its ore.

Brass is molten out of the stone.] As brass is a factitious

metal, copper must be the meaning of the Hebrew word

nechusah: literally, the stone is poured out for brass. If we

retain the common translation, perhaps the process of making brass

may be that to which Job refers; for this metal is formed from

copper melted with the stone calamine; and thus the stone is

poured out to make brass.

Verse 3. He setteth an end to darkness] As it is likely Job

still refers to mining, the words above may be understood as

pointing out the persevering industry of man in penetrating into

the bowels of the earth, in order to seek for metals and precious

stones. Even the stones that lay hidden in the bowels of the earth

he has digged for and brought to light, and has penetrated in

directions in which the solar light could not be transmitted; so

that he appears to have gone to the regions of the shadow of

death. Mr. Good translates: "Man delveth into the region of

darkness; and examineth, to the uttermost limit, the stones of

darkness and death-shade."

Verse 4. The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant] This

passage is very difficult. Some think it refers to mining; others

to navigation. If it refer to the former, it may be intended to

point out the waters that spring up when the miners have sunk down

to a considerable depth, so that the mine is drowned, and they are

obliged to give it up. Previously to the invention of the

steam-engine this was generally the case: hence ancient mines may

be reopened and worked to great advantage, because we have the

means now to take off the water which the ancient workers had not.

When, therefore, floods break out in those shafts, they are

abandoned; and thus they are,

Forgotten of the foot] No man treads there any more. The waters

increase dallu, they are elevated, they rise up to a level

with the spring, or till they meet with some fissure by which they

can escape; and thence meenosh nau, they are moved or

carried away from men; the stream is lost in the bowels of the

earth.

Mr. Peters thinks that both this verse, and Job 9:26, refer to

navigation, then in a state of infancy; for the sea is not so much

as mentioned; but nachal, a torrent or flood, some river or

arm of the sea perhaps of a few leagues over, which, dividing the

several nations, must interrupt their hospitality and commerce

with each other, unless by the help of navigation. According to

this opinion the verse may be translated and paraphrased thus: The

flood-rivers and arms of the sea-separateth from the stranger,

meim gar, divides different nations and peoples: they are

forgotten of the foot-they cannot walk over these waters, they

must embark in vessels; then they dwindle away, dallu, from

the size of men, that is, in proportion to their departure from

the land they lessen on the sight; nau, they are tossed up and

down, namely, by the action of the waves. This receives some

countenance from the psalmist's fine description, Ps 107:26, 27,

of a ship in a rough sea: They mount up to heaven; they go down

again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They

reel to and fro, yanuu, (the same word as above,) they

stagger like a drunken man. Mr. Good's translation is singular:-

He breaketh up the veins from the matrice,

Which, though thought nothing of under the foot,

Are drawn forth, are brandished among mankind.

This learned man thinks that it applies solely to mining, of

which I cannot doubt; and therefore I adopt the first

interpretation: but as to agreement among translators, it will be

sought in vain. I shall just add Coverdale: With the ryver of

water parteth he a sunder the straunge people, that knoweth no

good neighbourheade; such as are rude, unmannerly, and boysterous.

Verse 5. The earth, out of it cometh bread] Or the earth,

mimmennah, from itself, by its own vegetative power, it sends

out bread, or the corn of which bread is made.

And under it is turned up as it were fire.] It seems as if this

referred to some combustible fossil, similar to our stone coal,

which was dug up out of the earth in some places of Arabia. The

Chaldee gives a translation, conformable to a very ancient

opinion, which supposed the centre of the earth to be a vast fire,

and the place called hell. "The earth from which food proceeds,

and under which is gehenna, whose cold snow is converted into the

likeness of fire; and the garden of Eden, which is the place whose

stones are sapphires," &c. The Vulgate has, "The land from which

bread has been produced has been destroyed by fire." If this be

the meaning of the original, there is probably an allusion to the

destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and the seventh and eighth

verses Job 28:7, 8 may be supposed to refer to that

catastrophe, there being no place left tangible or visible where

those cities once stood: neither fowl nor beast could discern a

path there, the whole land being covered with the lake

Asphaltites.

Verse 6. The stones-the place of sapphires] In the language of

mineralogists, the gangue, matrix, or bed in which the sapphire is

found. For a description of this stone, see on Job 28:16.

Dust of gold] Or rather, gold dust.

Verse 7. There is a path which no fowl knoweth] The instinct of

birds is most surprising. They traverse vast forests, &c., in

search of food, at a great distance from the place which they have

chosen for their general residence; and return in all weathers,

never missing their track: they also find their own nest without

ever mistaking another of the same kind for it. Birds of passage,

also, after tarrying in a foreign clime for six or seven months,

return to their original abode over kingdoms and oceans, without

missing their way, or deviating in the least from the proper

direction; not having a single object of sight to direct their

peregrinations. In such cases even the keen scent of the vulture,

and the quick, piercing sight of the eagle, would be of no use. It

is possible that Job may here refer to undiscovered mines and

minerals; that notwithstanding man had already discovered much,

yet much remained undiscovered, especially in the internal

structure and contents of the earth. Since his time innumerable

discoveries have been made; and yet how little do we know! Our

various conflicting and contradictory theories of the earth are

full proofs of our ignorance, and strong evidences of our folly.

The present dogmatical systems of geology itself are almost the ne

plus ultra of brain-sick visionaries, and system-mad mortals. They

talk as confidently of the structure of the globe, and the manner

and time in which all was formed, as if they had examined every

part from the centre to the circumference; though not a soul of

man has ever penetrated two miles in perpendicular depth into the

bowels of the earth.

And with this scanty, defective knowledge, they pretend to build

systems of the universe, and blaspheme the revelation of God! Poor

souls! All these things are to them a path which no fowl knoweth,

which the vulture's eye hath not seen, on which the lion's whelps

have not trodden, and by which the fierce lion have not passed.

The wisdom necessary to such investigations is out of their reach;

and they have not simplicity of heart to seek it where it may be

found.

One of the Chaldee Targums gives a strange turn to this

verse:-"The path of the tree of life Sammael, (Satan,) though

flying like a bird, hath not known; nor hath the eye of Eve beheld

it. The children of men have not walked in it; nor hath the

serpent turned towards it."

Verse 9. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock,] Still there

appears to be a reference to mining. Man puts his hand upon the

rock, he breaks that to pieces, in order to extract the metals

which it contains.

He overturneth the mountains] He excavates, undermines, or digs

them away, when in search of the metals contained in them: this is

not only poetically, but literally, the case in many instances.

Verse 10. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks] He cuts canals,

adits, &c., in the rocks, and drives levels under ground, in order

to discover loads or veins of ore. These are often continued a

great way under ground; and may be poetically compared to rivers,

channels, or canals.

His eye seeth every precious thing.] He sinks those shafts, and

drives those levels, in order to discover where the precious

minerals lie, of which he is in pursuit.

Verse 11. He bindeth the floods] Prevents the risings of springs

from drowning the mines; and conducts rivers and streams from

their wonted course, in order to bring forth to light what was

hidden under their beds. The binding or restraining the water,

which, at different depths, annoys the miner, is both difficult

and expensive: in some cases it may be drawn off by pipes or

canals into neighbouring water courses; in others, it is conducted

to one receptacle or reservoir, and thence drawn off. In Europe it

is generally done by means of steam-engines. What method the

ancients had in mining countries, we cannot tell; but they dug

deep in order to find out the riches of the earth. PLINY says,

nervously, Imus in viscera terrae; et in sede manium opes

quaerimus. "We descend into the bowels of the earth; and seek for

wealth even in the abodes of departed spirits." The manes or

ghosts of the dead, or spirits presiding over the dead, were

supposed to have their habitation in the centre of the earth; or

in the deepest pits and caves. OVID, speaking of the degeneracy of

men in the iron age, Met. lib. i., ver. 137, says:-

Nec tantum segetes alimentaque debita dives

Poscebatur humus; sed itum est in viscera terrae:

Quasque recondiderat, Stygiisque admoverat umbris,

Effodiuntur opes, irritaenenta malorum.

Jamque nocens ferrum, ferroque nocentius aurum

Prodierat: prodit bellum, quod pugnat utroque;

Sanguineaque manu crepitantia concutit arma.

"Nor was the ground alone required to bear

Her annual income to the crooked share:

But greedy mortals, rummaging her store,

Digg'd from her entrails first the precious ore;

And that alluring ill to sight display'd,

Which, next to hell, the prudent gods had laid.

Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,

Gave mischief birth, and made that mischief bold;

And double death did wretched man invade,

By steel assaulted, and by gold betray'd."

DRYDEN.

By binding the floods from overflowing, some have supposed that

there is an allusion to the flux and reflux of the sea. In its

flowing it is so bound, has its bounds assigned by the Most

High, that it does not drown the adjacent country; and in its

ebbing the parts which are ordinarily covered with the water are

brought to view.

Verse 12. But where shall wisdom be found?] It is most evident

that the terms wisdom and understanding are used here in a widely

different sense from all those arts and sciences which have their

relation to man in his animal and social state, and from all that

reason and intellect by which man is distinguished from all

other animals. Now as these terms chochmah, wisdom, and

binah, understanding or discernment, are often applied in the

sacred writings in their common acceptations, we must have

recourse to what Job says of them, to know their meaning in this

place. In Job 28:28, he says,

The fear of the Lord is WISDOM, and to depart from evil is

UNDERSTANDING. We know that the fear of the Lord is often taken

for the whole of that religious reverence and holy obedience which

God prescribes to man in his word, and which man owes to his

Maker. Hence the Septuagint render chochmah, wisdom, by

θεοσεβια, Divine worship; and as to a departure from evil, that

is necessarily implied in a religious life, but it is here

properly distinguished, that no man might suppose that a right

faith, and a proper performance of the rites of religious worship,

is the whole of religion. No. They must not only worship God in

the letter, but also in the spirit; they must not only have the

form, but also the power of godliness: and this will lead them

to worship God in spirit and truth, to walk in his testimonies,

and abstain from every appearance of evil; hence they will be

truly happy: so that wisdom is another word for happiness. Now

these are things which man by study and searching could never find

out; they are not of an earthly origin. The spirit of a man, human

understanding, may know the things of a man-those which concern

him in his animal and social state: but the Spirit of God alone

knows the things of God; and therefore WISDOM-all true

religion-must come by Divine revelation, which is the mode of its

attainment. Wisdom finds out the thing, and understanding uses

and applies the means; and then the great end is obtained.

Verse 13. Man knoweth not the price thereof] It is of infinite

value; and is the only science which concerns both worlds. Without

it, the wisest man is but a beast; with it, the simplest man is

next to an angel.

Neither is it found in the land of the living.] The world by

wisdom, its wisdom, never knew God. True religion came by Divine

revelation: that alone gives the true notion of God, his

attributes, ways, designs, judgments, providences, &c., whence man

came, what is his duty, his nature, and his end. Literature,

science, arts, &c., &c., can only avail man for the present life,

nor can they contribute to his true happiness, unless tempered and

directed by genuine religion.

Verse 14. The depth saith, It is not in me] Men may dig into the

bowels of the earth, and there find gold, silver, and precious

stones; but these will not give them true happiness.

The sea saith, It is not with me.] Men may explore foreign

countries, and by navigation connect as it were the most distant

parts of the earth, and multiply the comforts and luxuries of

life; but every voyage and every enjoyment proclaim, True

happiness is not here.

Verse 15. It cannot be gotten for gold] Genuine religion and

true happiness are not to be acquired by earthly property. Solomon

made gold and silver as plentiful as the stones in Jerusalem, and

had all the delights of the sons of men, and yet he was not happy;

yea, he had wisdom, was the wisest of men, but he had not the

wisdom of which Job speaks here, and therefore, to him, all was

vanity and vexation of spirit. If Solomon, as some suppose, was

the author of this book, the sentiments expressed here are such as

we might expect from this deeply experienced and wise man.

Verse 16. The gold of Ophir] Gold is five times mentioned in

this and verses 17 and 19, and four of the times in different

words. I shall consider them all at once.

1. SEGOR, from sagar, to shut up. Gold. in the

mine, or shut up in the ore; native gold washed by the streams

out of the mountains, &c.; unwrought gold.

Ver. 16. 2. KETHEM, from 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.

Ver. 17. 3. ZAHAB, from 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.

4. PAZ, from paz, to consolidate, joined here with

keley, vessels, ornaments, instruments, &c.: 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,

&c., mentioned: onyx, sapphire, crystal, coral, pearls, rubies,

and topaz. These I shall also consider in the order of their

occurrence.

Ver. 16. 1. shoham, the ONYX, from ονυξ, a man's nail,

hoof of a horse, because in colour 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

colour, 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.

2. sappir, the SAPPHIRE stone, from 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

colour. 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

colours, and from them it has obtained several names. 1. The

transparent or translucent is called the white sapphire. 2. The

blue is called the oriental sapphire. 3. The violet blue, the

oriental amethyst. 4. The yellow, the oriental topaz. 5. The

green, the oriental emerald. 6. That with pearly reflections,

the opalescent sapphire. 7. When transparent, with a pale,

reddish, or bluish reflection, it is called the girasol sapphire.

8. 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 colour, with golden-like spots, formed by

pyrites of iron, must be intended. The lapis lazuli is that from

which the beautiful and unfading colour called ultramarine is

obtained.

Ver. 17. 3. zechuchith, CRYSTAL, or glass, from

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.

Verse 17. See Clarke on Job 28:16.

Verse 18. See also Clarke on "Job 28:16".

Ver. 18. 4. ramoth, CORAL, from 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.

5. gabish, PEARLS, from gabash, in Arabic, to be

smooth, to shave off the hair; and hence 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.

Ver. 18. 6. peninim, RUBIES, from 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 panah, to turn, look, behold, &c.

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

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. pitdah, the TOPAZ. This word occurs only in

Ex 28:17; 39:10; Eze 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, &c., 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.

Verse 19. The topaz of Ethiopia] The country called Cush, which

we call Ethiopia, is supposed to be that which extends from the

eastern coast of the Red Sea, and stretches towards Lower Egypt.

Diodorus Siculus says that the topaz was found in great

abundance, as his description intimates, in an island in the Red

Sea called Ophiodes, or the isle of serpents, Hist. lib. iii., p.

121. His account is curious, but I greatly doubt its correctness;

it seems too much in the form of a legend: yet the reader may

consult the place.

See also Clarke on "Job 28:16".

Verse 20. Whence then cometh wisdom?] Nearly the same words as

in Job 28:12, where see the note.

Verse 22. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame

thereof] Abaddon vamaveth, the destroyer, and his

offspring death. This is the very name that is given to the devil

in Greek letters αβαδδων, Re 9:11, and is rendered by the Greek

word απολλυων, Apollyon, a word exactly of the same meaning. No

wonder death and the devil are brought in here as saying they had

heard the fame of wisdom, seeing Job 28:28 defines it to be

the fear of the Lord, and a departure from evil; things point

blank contrary to the interests of Satan, and the extension of the

empire of death.

Verse 23. God understandeth the way thereof] It can only be

taught by a revelation from himself. Instead of hebin,

understandeth, six MSS. have hechin, disposed or

established. This reading is also supported by the Septuagint;

οθεοςευσυνεστησεναυτηςοδον, "God hath well established her

way:" falsely rendered bene cognovit, hath well known, in the

Latin version of the Septuagint in the London Polyglot; but bene

constituit, hath well established, in the Complutensian, Antwerp,

and Paris Polyglots.

Verse 24. For he looketh to the ends of the earth] His knowledge

is unlimited, and his power infinite.

Verse 25. To make the weight for the winds] God has given an

atmosphere to the earth, which, possessing a certain degree of

gravity perfectly suited to the necessities of all animals,

plants, vegetables, and fluids, is the cause in his hand of

preserving animal and vegetative life through the creation; for by

it the blood circulates in the veins of animals, and the juices in

the tubes of vegetables. Without this pressure of the atmosphere,

there could be no respiration; and the elasticity of the particles

of air included in animal and vegetable bodies, without this

superincumbent pressure, would rupture the vessels in which they

are contained, and destroy both kinds of life. So exactly is this

weight of the winds or atmospheric air proportioned to the

necessities of the globe, that we find it in the mean neither too

light to prevent the undue expansion of animal and vegetable

tubes, nor too heavy to compress them so as to prevent due

circulation. See at the end of the chapter. See Clarke on Job 28:28.

And he weigheth the waters by measure.] He has exactly

proportioned the aqueous surface of the earth to the terrene

parts, so that there shall be an adequate surface to produce, by

evaporation, moisture sufficient to be treasured up in the

atmosphere for the irrigation of the earth, so that it may produce

grass for cattle, and corn for the service of man. It has been

found, by a pretty exact calculation, that the aqueous surface of

the globe is to the terrene parts as three to one; or, that

three-fourths of the surface of the globe is water, and about

one-fourth earth. And other experiments on evaporation, or the

quantity of vapours which arise from a given space in a given

time, show that it requires such a proportion of aqueous surface

to afford moisture sufficient for the other proportion of dry

land. Thus God has given the waters by measure, as he has given

the due proportion of weight to the winds.

Verse 26. When he made a decree for the rain] When he determined

how that should be generated, viz., By the heat of the sun

evaporation is produced: the particles of vapour being lighter

than the air on the surface, ascend into the atmosphere, till they

come to a region where the air is of their own density; there they

are formed into thin clouds, and become suspended. When, by the

sudden passages of lightning, or by winds strongly agitating

these clouds, the particles are driven together and condensed so

as to be weightier than the air in which they float, then they

fall down in the form of rain; the drops being greater or less

according to the force or momentum, or suddenness, of the

agitation by which they are driven together as well as to the

degree of rarity in the lower regions of the atmosphere through

which they fall.

A way for the lightning of the thunder]

vederech lachaziz koloth. kol signifies voice of any

kind; and koloth is the plural and is taken for the frequent claps

or rattlings of thunder. chaz signifies to notch,

indentate, or serrate, as in the edges of the leaves of trees;

chaziz must refer to the zigzag form which lightning

assumes in passing from one cloud into another. We are informed

that "this is a frequent occurrence in hot countries." Undoubtedly

it is; for it is frequent in cold countries also. I have seen this

phenomenon in England in the most distinct manner for hours

together, with a few seconds of interval between each flash.

Nothing can better express this appearance than the original word.

Verse 27. Then did he see it, and declare it] When he had

finished all his creative operations, and tried and proved his

work, chakarah, investigated and found it to be very good;

then he gave the needful revelation to man; for,

Verse 28. Unto man he said] laadam, unto man, he said:

This probably refers to the revelation of his will which God gave

to Adam after his fall. He had before sought for wisdom in a

forbidden way. When he and Eve saw that the tree was pleasant to

the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, they took and

did eat, Ge 3:6. Thus they lost all the

wisdom that they had, by not setting the fear of the Lord before

their eyes; and became foolish, wicked, and miserable. Hear, then,

what God prescribes as a proper remedy for this dire disease: The

fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; it is thy only wisdom now to set

God always before thy eyes, that thou mayest not again transgress.

Depart from evil is understanding.] Depart from the evil within

thee, and the evil without thee; for thy own evil, and the evil

that is now, through thee, brought into the world, will conspire

together to sink thee into ruin and destruction. Therefore, let it

be thy constant employment to shun and avoid that evil which is

everywhere diffused through the whole moral world by thy offense;

and labour to be reconciled to him by the righteousness and true

holiness, that thou mayest escape the bitter pains of an eternal

death. See the note on Job 28:12.

FROM what has been observed on verses 25, 26, Job 28:25, 26,

and from the doctrine of the atmosphere in general, I can safely

draw the following conclusions:-

1. From the gravity and elasticity of the air, we learn that it

closely invests the earth, and all bodies upon it, and binds them

down with a force equal to 2160 pounds on every square foot. Hence

it may properly be termed the belt or girdle of the globe.

2. It prevents the arterial system of animals and plants from

being too much distended by the impetus of the circulating juices,

or by the elastic power of the air so plenteously contained in the

blood, and in the different vessels both of plants and animals.

3. By its gravity it prevents the blood and juices from oozing

through the pores of the vessels in which they are contained;

which, were it not for this circumstance, would infallibly take

place. Persons who ascend high mountains, through want of a

sufficiency of pressure in the atmosphere, become relaxed, and

spit blood. Animals, under an exhausted receiver, swell, vomit,

and discharge their faeces.

4. It promotes the mixture of contiguous fluids; for when the

air is extracted from certain mixtures, a separation takes place,

by which their properties, when in combination, are essentially

changed.

5. To this principle we owe winds in general, so essential to

navigation, and so necessary to the purification of the

atmosphere. The air is put into motion by any alteration of its

equilibrium.

6. Vegetation depends entirely on the gravity and elasticity of

the air. Various experiments amply prove that plants in vacuo

never grow.

7. Without air there could be no evaporation from the sea and

rivers; and, consequently, no rain; nor could the clouds be

suspended, so necessary to accumulate and preserve, and afterwards

to distil, these vapours, in the form of dew, rain, snow, and

hail, upon the earth.

8. Without air, all the charms of vocal and instrumental sounds

would become extinct; and even language itself would cease.

9. Without it heat could not be evolved, nor could fire exist;

hence a universal rigour would invest the whole compass of created

nature.

10. Without air, animal life could never have had a being; hence

God created the firmament or atmosphere before any animal was

produced. And without its continual influence animal life cannot

be preserved; for it would require only a few moments of a total

privation of the benefits of the atmosphere to destroy every

living creature under the whole heaven.

11. It has been found, by repeated experiments, that a column or

rod of quicksilver, about twenty-nine inches and a half high, and

one inch in diameter, weighs about fifteen pounds; and such a

column is suspended in an exhausted tube by the weight of the

atmosphere; hence it necessarily follows, that a column of air,

one square inch in diameter, and as high as the atmosphere, weighs

about fifteen pounds at a medium. Thus it is evident that the

atmosphere presses with the weight of fifteen pounds on every

square inch; and, as a square foot contains one hundred and

forty-four square inches, every such foot must sustain a weight of

incumbent atmospheric air equal to two thousand one hundred and

sixty pounds, as has been before stated. And from this it will

follow, that a middle-sized man, whose surface is about fifteen

square feet, constantly sustains a load of air equal to thirty-two

thousand four hundred pounds! But this is so completely

counterbalanced by the air pressing equally in all directions, and

by the elasticity of the air included in the various cavities of

the body, that no person in a pure and healthy state of the

atmosphere feels any inconvenience from it; so accurately has God

fitted the weight to the winds.

It has been suggested that my computation of 15 square feet for

the surface of a middle-sized man, is too much; I will, therefore,

take it at 14 square feet. From this computation, which is within

the measure, it is evident that every such person sustains a

weight of air equal, at a medium, to about 30,240 lbs. troy, or

24,882 1/2 lbs. avoirdupois, which make 1,777 stone, 4 lbs.

equal to eleven TONS, two HUNDRED and eighteen pounds and a

half.

12. Though it may appear more curious than useful, yet from the

simple fact which I have completely demonstrated myself by

experiment, that the atmosphere presses with the weight or fifteen

pounds on every square inch, we can tell the quantum of pressure

on the whole globe, and weigh the whole atmosphere to a pound!

The polar and equatorial circumference of the earth is well

known. Without, therefore, entering too much into detail, I may

state that the surface of the terraqueous globe is known to

contain about five thousand, five hundred, and seventy-five

BILLIONS of square FEET; hence, allowing fifteen pounds to each

square inch, and two thousand one hundred and sixty pounds to each

square foot, the whole surface must sustain a pressure from the

atmosphere equal to twelve TRILLIONS and forty-two thousand

billions of POUNDS! or six thousand and twenty-one BILLIONS of

TONS! And this weight is the weight of the whole atmosphere from

its contact with every part of the earth's surface to its utmost

highest extent!

Experiments also prove that the air presses equally in all

directions, whether upwards, downwards, or laterally; hence the

earth is not incommoded with this enormous weight, because its

zenith and nadir, north and south pressure, being perfectly

equal, counterbalance each other! This is also the case with

respect to the human body, and to all bodies on the earth's

surface.

To make the foregoing calculations more satisfactory, it may be

necessary to add the following observations:-

A bulk of atmospheric air, equal to one quart, when taken near

the level of the sea, at a temperature of 50� Fahrenheit, weighs

about 16 grains, and the same bulk of rain water, taken at the

same temperature, weighs about 14,621 grains: hence rain water is

about 914 times specifically heavier than air.

I have already shown that the pressure of the atmosphere is

equal to about 15 lbs. troy on every square inch; and that this

pressure is the same in all directions; and thence shown that on

this datum the whole weight of the atmosphere may be computed. I

shall re-state this from a computation of the earth's surface in

square miles, which is recommended to me as peculiarly accurate.

A square mile contains 27,878,400 square feet. The earth's

surface, in round numbers, is 200,000,000, or two hundred

millions, of square miles. Now, as from the preceding data it

appears that there is a pressure of 19,440 lbs. troy on every

square yard, the pressure or weight of the whole atmosphere,

circumfused round the whole surface of the earth, amounts to

12,043,468,800,000,000,000, or, twelve TRILLIONS. forty-three

thousand four hundred and sixty-eight BILLIONS, eight hundred

thousand MILLIONS of pounds.

Though we cannot tell to what height the atmosphere extends, the

air growing more and more rare as we ascend in it; yet we can

ascertain, as above, the quantum of weight in the whole of this

atmosphere, which the terraqueous globe sustains equally diffused

over its surface, as well as over the surfaces of all bodies

existing on it. At first view, however, it is difficult for minds

not exercised in matters of philosophy to conceive how such an

immense pressure can be borne by animal beings. Though this has

been already explained, let the reader farther consider that, as

fishes are surrounded by water, and live and move in it, which

is a much denser medium than our atmosphere; so all human beings

and all other animals are surrounded by air, and live and move in

it. A fish taken out of the water will die in a very short time: a

human being, or any other animal, taken out of the air, or put in

a place whence the air is extracted, will die in a much shorter

time. Water gravitates towards the centre of the earth, and so

does air. Hence, as a fish is pressed on every side by that fluid,

so are all animals on the earth's surface by atmospheric air. And

the pressure in both cases, on a given surface, is as has been

stated above; the air contained in the vessels and cells of animal

bodies being a sufficient counterpoise to the air without.

Having said thus much on the pressure of the atmosphere, as

intimated by Job, the reader will permit me to make the following

general reflections on the subject, of which he may make what use

he may judge best.

It is generally supposed that former times were full of barbaric

ignorance; and that the system of philosophy which is at present

in repute, and is established by experiments, is quite a modern

discovery. But nothing can be more false than this; as the Bible

plainly discovers to an attentive reader that the doctrine of

statics, the circulation of the blood, the rotundity of the

earth, the motions of the celestial bodies, the process of

generation, &c., were all known long before Pythagoras,

Archimedes, Copernicus, or Newton were born.

It is very reasonable to suppose that God implanted the first

principles of every science in the mind of his first creature;

that Adam taught them to his posterity, and that tradition

continued them for many generations with their proper

improvements. But many of them were lost in consequence of wars,

captivities, &c. Latter ages have re-discovered many of them,

principally by the direct or indirect aid of the Holy Scriptures;

and others of them continue hidden, notwithstanding the accurate

and persevering researches of the moderns.

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