Job 28:19

19 Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will, they can't hold a candle to Wisdom.

Job 28:19 Meaning and Commentary

Job 28:19

The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it
Not Ethiopia Abyssinia, or that which lies beyond Egypt in Africa; for, as Ludolphus


F24 says, there are no gems found there, or very rarely; but Cush, as the word is, or Arabia Chusaea, the same with the country of Midian, and the parts adjacent; see ( Habakkuk 3:7 ) ; hence Zipporah, the wife of Moses, who was of that country, is called an Ethiopian woman, ( Numbers 12:1 ) ; and this was near Job's country, who knew the produce of it; and here the topaz is found, as many writers observe. Diodorus Siculus says F25, in Ophiodes, an island in the Arabian gulf, belonging to the Troglodytes, the topaz is found, which is a very clear stone, pleasant to the sight, like to glass, and affording a wonderful golden colour; and with him Strabo F26 agrees, who relates there is an island called Ophiodes, from its being freed from serpents by the king's orders, which killed men that came there for topazes; which, he says, is a clear stone of a golden colour, and so refulgent, that it is not easy to see it in the daytime, being so surrounded with light; but at night it is seen by those that gather it, who set a vessel for a sign, and then dig for it in the daytime; and, he adds, a multitude of men are hired by the kings of Egypt, to gather and keep these stones, and men from stealing them; and, according to Archelaus F1, the topaz is found in Chitis, an island in Arabia, where the Troglodytes digging for herbs and roots find it; and, as Juba relates F2, there is an island called Topazion, in the Red sea, three hundred furlongs (about 73 miles) from the continent, which is cloudy, and is therefore often sought for by navigators; whence he says it had its name Topazion, which in the language of the Troglodytes signifies to seek, and the topaz itself in their language so signifies; in the Samaritan version of ( Exodus 39:10 ) ; it is called Dachetah, from the Arabic word F3 "Dachatz", the language of the Troglodytes, which signifies to seek and search by removing the earth with the foot. This island seems to be the same with Topazos, which Pliny F4 says is an island of the Arabians, and gave name to a gem, meaning the topaz; but the truth rather is, that the gem gave name to the island: upon the whole, it is no wonder, as Braunius F5 observes, that this gem should be called by Job the Arabian topaz. The Targum here calls it a green pearl; and some have thought the emerald is meant, which is of that colour; and the emeralds of Ethiopia are praised by some, according to Juba F6; and in Egypt were emerald mines the Ethiopians laid a claim to F7; and there were emeralds also in Arabia, as the above Juba relates; however, be this what it may, as it is most likely to be the topaz, it is not equal in value to wisdom, no, not the largest topaz ever known; not even that of the great Mogul, which weighs more than an hundred fifty seven carats, valued at 271,500 French pounds F8; and according to Tavernier F9 it weighs almost an hundred fifty eight carats, and was bought at Goa for almost 272,000 florins:

neither shall it be valued with pure gold;
that is most refined and freed from dross; they are not to be laid together as of equal value; (See Gill on Job 28:16), where the same word is used.

F24 Hist. Ethiop. l. 1. c. 7.
F25 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 172.
F26 Geograph. l. 16. p. 529.
F1 Apud Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 8.
F2 Apud ib.
F3 Vid. Castel. Lex. Heptaglott. col. 686, 693.
F4 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 29.
F5 De Vest. Sacerdot. Heb. p. 649.
F6 Apud Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 5.
F7 Heliodor. Ethiop. l. 8. 1. & 9. 6.
F8 Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr p. 747.
F9 Apud Braunium de Vest. Sacerdot. Heb. p. 649, 650.

Job 28:19 In-Context

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?
21 It can't be found by looking, no matter how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
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.