1 "Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold to be refined. 2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. 3 Miners put an end to darkness, and search out to the farthest bound the ore in gloom and deep darkness. 4 They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation; they are forgotten by travelers, they sway suspended, remote from people. 5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread; but underneath it is turned up as by fire. 6 Its stones are the place of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. 7 "That path no bird of prey knows, and the falcon's eye has not seen it. 8 The proud wild animals have not trodden it; the lion has not passed over it. 9 "They put their hand to the flinty rock, and overturn mountains by the roots. 10 They cut out channels in the rocks, and their eyes see every precious thing. 11 The sources of the rivers they probe; hidden things they bring to light."
A. Since wisdom will be the focus of the chapter, why doesn't the text begin with the question in v. 12? That is, how does 1-11 function?
B. What is the purpose of mentioning a highly dangerous extractive industry/activity (mining)?
C. The author seems to know this activity very well. What words or thoughts give you that impression?
D. Why does the author bring in birds and wild animals?
E. What does this hymn say about humans, and not simply about the subject of wisdom, which has not yet been mentioned?
12 "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. 14 The deep says, 'It is not in me,' and the sea says, 'It is not with me.' 15 It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed out as its price. 16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. 17 Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. 18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. 19 The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it, nor can it be valued in pure gold."
A. Now we move to wisdom. How is the search for wisdom different from the extractive search for jewels?
B. Why are so many precious stones mentioned in 13-19?
C. Where is wisdom to be found for you today? Are you an "eclectic" reader, getting it from whichever source you can, or are you a person for whom wisdom flows from predictable and "tried and true" channels?
20 "Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air. 22 Abaddon and Death say, 'We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.'
A. Is the question in v. 20 the same as that in v. 12?
B. Why does Death get into the act?
C. Why is thing that is so necessary to life seemingly so elusive?
23 "God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. 24 For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. 25 When he gave to the wind its weight, and apportioned out the waters by measure; 26 when he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the thunderbolt; 27 then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. 28 And he said to humankind, 'Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'"
A. Finally, when we get to v. 23 we seem to have an answer. What is it?
B. Is the view of God in these verses consistent with the way God is generally portrayed in the Book of Job?
C. Verse 27 has four very strong and clear words to describe wisdom. What picture do you get from these words?
D. The answer given in verse 28 is a predictable one, from the perspective of the wisdom tradition. Do yo uread the verse "straight" or do you see some irony here?