While as yet he had not made the earth
That is, the Lord, who possessed Wisdom, or Christ, and by whom he was set up; he as yet had not made the earth, when this was done; this shows that the earth had a beginning, contrary to those philosophers who asserted the eternity of it; that Christ was before that was, for it was made by him; and consequently he must be eternal, and was before any man was, since the earth was made before man; and that he was not of the earth, earthy, as was the first man; nor the fields;
the plain parts of the earth, in opposition to the mountains and hills before mentioned; the valleys and meadows that lay between them, full of grass, flowers, and fruits; pleasant to behold, and profitable to be enjoyed; so the word is also rendered ( Job 5:10 ) ; and "valleys", by the Targum here: or the "out parts" F13; the extremities of the earth, the two poles of it; the uninhabitable parts of the earth, as distinct from the habitable part of it afterwards mentioned: or all with out it; the ambient and spacious ether; nor the highest part of the dust of the world:
meaning, not the mountains and hills, which are before mentioned, and are the highest part of the earth; but rather "the chief of the dust of the earth" F14, as the words may be rendered; these are the metals and minerals within it; the gold, silver, and precious stones, of which we read very early, ( Genesis 2:12 ) ; or the "beginning", the first and chief, the "prima materia", even the dusts of the world, out of which man and all the creatures were made, ( Genesis 2:6 ) ( 3:19 ) ( Job 4:19 ) ( Ecclesiastes 3:20 ) ( 12:7 ) . Dr. Lister F15 was of opinion that sand was once the most exterior and general cover of the surface of the whole earth; partly because all our northern mountains are covered with it, more or less, at this day; and partly because of its great hardness, durableness, and unalterable quality; and the higher the mountains be, he says, still the more and coarser the sand is; and if so, this might with propriety be called the highest part of the dust of the earth. But Christ was before any of them, as well as is more excellent than they. Or it may be man is designed, who was made of the dust of the earth; even the first man Adam, so Jarchi, ( Genesis 2:7 ) ; before whom Christ was: yea, the human nature of Christ himself may be meant, which is fairer than any of the children of men, and the chief of all the individuals of human nature; being without sin, and united to the Son of God, and also the curious workmanship of the Spirit of God. Now Christ, as the Son of God, as the only begotten of the Father, existed before his human nature did, or before he was the Son of man.
F13 (twuwx) "quae extra sunt", Tigurine version, Vatablus; "exteriora", Cocceius, Michaelis.
F14 (var) "caput", Montanus, Tigurine version; "summam", Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens.
F15 In Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 452, 453.