Questions From Readers
● Does Job 28:5 refer to the apparent molten state of earth’s interior when it says: “As for the earth, out of it food goes forth; but underneath it, it has been upturned as if by fire”?—Cyprus.
No. The context reveals that this pertains to man’s efforts to find earth’s treasures. (Job 28:1-4) Aboveground the farmer peacefully prepares the soil, sows seed and cares for the growing grain. Thus the earth produces food. Underneath earth’s surface, however, man carries on a turbulent ‘upturning’ activity, with effects comparable to that of a ravaging fire. Miners gouge and wrest from earth’s bosom precious stones and metals.
It may be noted that a number of translations render Job 28:5 somewhat differently. For example, the Authorized Version reads: “As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.” Based on this rendering, some commentators suggest that the fire refers to the glow of precious stones and metals that are uncovered by man. However, our understanding the “fire” to allude to man’s mining operations fits the context better and agrees with the renderings of many modern translations.
Though sparing no efforts to mine earth’s concealed treasures, man does not find true wisdom by exploring the physical creation. (Job 28:1-12) For this, man must turn to God. Job concludes: “Look! The fear of Jehovah—that is wisdom, and to turn away from bad is understanding.”—Job 28:28.