A Poem on Wisdom: Job 28

There are places to mine for silver

            and a place where gold is refined.

Copper is smelted from ore

            as the iron that men have mined.

Man puts an end to the darkness;

            he searches the farthest recesses.

He scours the earth for its ores;

            he pulls it from the blackest crevasses.

Far from where people dwell

            a shaft is cut to make way.

In places forgotten by men’s feet,

            he dangles and he sways.

The earth, from which life blooms,

            is transformed below as by fire.

In its dust we find nuggets of gold;

            from its rocks we take sapphire.

No falcon knows this hidden path;

            no eagle’s eye has seen where.

Proud beasts do not set foot on it;

            not a single lion prowls there.

Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock

            laying bare the roots of the mount.

He tunnels through the rock

            and finds all its treasures tantamount.

He searches the sources of rivers

            and brings hidden things to light.

He enters the darkest caverns

            to rescue these stones from the night.

But where can wisdom be found?

            Where dwells such understanding?

Man does not fathom its worth;

            it’s not found in the land of the living.

The deep says, “It is not in me,”

            so where does wisdom hide?

The sea says, “It is not with me,”

            so where does wisdom reside?

It’s not bought for the gold of Ophir;

            for onyx it won’t be sold.

Its price can’t be weighed in silver,

            nor in crystal or jewels of gold.

Coral is not worthy of mention;

            the topaz of Cush can’t compare.

The price of wisdom is far beyond rubies,

            far more than gems everywhere.

Where then does wisdom come from?

            Where does understanding dwell?

It’s concealed from the eyes of the living;

            not found in the world’s deepest well.

“Only rumors have reached our ears,”

            Destruction and Death both say.

God alone knows its dwelling place;

            He alone understands the way.

He sees everything under the heavens;

            he views the ends of the earth.

He measured out the waters

            and gave the winds their birth.

When he made a decree for the rain,

            for the thunderstorms that churn,

He looked at wisdom and appraised it;

            he tested it, and confirmed.

“The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom,”

            said the Lord to man.

“The fear of the Lord is wisdom;

            to shun evil is to understand.”

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