Job 28:18

18 Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets - why bother? None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom!

Job 28:18 Meaning and Commentary

Job 28:18

No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls
Coral is a marine plant, is as hard as a stone, and of such value as to be reckoned among precious stones; (See Gill on Ezekiel 27:16). In Arabia Felix, on the shore of the Red sea, is a place called Coralia F14; it may be from coral found there. Pearls are from shellfish taken out of the sea, though these seem rather intended in the next clause: the words "ramoth" and "gabish" are left untranslated by some, and by others are taken for precious stones, though unknown, so called because they are found in high places, which both words signify. The Targum renders the first by "sandalchin", and seems to be the same with the sardonyx, a precious stone found in Arabia, and which found there is by Pliny F15 said to excel. Junius and Tremellius render it by "sandastros"; which, as Pliny says F16, some call "Garamantis", being bred in a place of that name in India; and he also observes, that it is found in Arabia towards the south, and has shining golden drops in the body of it; it is a sort of a carbuncle. "Gabish" seems to have some affinity with "chabazios", mentioned by Orpheus F17 as a precious stone; but whatever precious stones are meant, as it is hard to determine what, they are not to be spoken of with wisdom, or to be compared to it:

for the price of wisdom is above rubies;
or rather pearls, as Bochart


F18 seems to have abundantly proved, who renders the words,

``the extraction of wisdom is greater than the extraction of pearls;''

and so the Targum; there being, as he thinks, an allusion to the extraction of pearls out of the sea by divers into it F19; who get them through much art, difficulty, and danger; and he observes, that there is a double extraction, or drawing them out, first of the shellfish out of the sea, and then of the pearls out of the shells; but the drawing out of wisdom, or the attainment of that; is more difficult, and superior to it, as well as attended with greater advantage; see ( Proverbs 3:15 ) and (See Gill on Lamentations 4:7); and though of pearls some are very large, Oviedo
F20 speaks of one that weighed thirty one carats, and another twenty six; some as big as hazel nuts, and even as a middling walnut, and of very great price, as that bought by Pope Paul at 44,000 ducats {u}; that by Philip the Second, of the size of a pigeon's egg, valued at an hundred forty four thousand ducats; that drank by Cleopatra at a draught, reckoned worth eighty thousand pounds sterling; and that of the emperor of Persia, bought at 110,400 pounds F23; yet the price of wisdom is above them.

F14 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.
F15 Ib. l. 37. c. 6.
F16 Ib. c. 7.
F17 (peri liywn) , p. 240.
F18 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 6. col. 681
F19 Of fishing for pearls in this way, see the Account of it in Vartoman. Navigat. l. 3. c. 2. in P. Martyr. Decad. 3. l. 2. and Oviedo de Occident. Ind. c. 4. and with nets, Aelian. de Animal. l. 15. c. 8. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 35.
F20 Ut supra. (Oviedo de Occident. Ind. c. 4.)
F21 P. Martyr, Decad. 3. l. 10.
F23 See Chambers's Dictionary on the word "Pearl".

Job 28:18 In-Context

16 Even famous Ophir gold can't buy it, not even diamonds and sapphires.
17 Neither gold nor emeralds are comparable; extravagant jewelry can't touch it.
18 Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets - why bother? None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom!
19 Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will, they can't hold a candle to Wisdom.
20 "So where does Wisdom come from? And where does Insight live?
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.