The Cruel God: Job's Search for the Meaning of Suffering

By Margaret Brackenbury Crook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
"Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?" . . . Job 28

Chapter 28 is a poem in three stanzas concerning man's search for wisdom. She is hard to find: only God knows her dwelling place. When He established the creation, He perceived her, employed her, and tested her worth. And to man He said . . . (here the poem breaks off).

The famous poem, which constitutes chapter 28, bears upon man's search for wisdom. As with the brief speeches of Job and Zophar in the preceding chapter, it begins and ends abruptly. There is no introduction, no obvious reason for its appearance. It seems to be unrelated to its immediate setting: it is not part of the three cycles of debate that precede it. It has no heading of its own assigning it to Job, and the heading attributing chapter 27 to Job does not apply to it because the speech of Zophar intervenes [27:13-23].

Was chapter 28 ever meant to be placed in the mouth of Job? If not, who is the speaker?

The poem has been accepted by many authorities as the work of the Poet, though perhaps written independently of the Book of Job. They have wondered why it stands where it does-- indeed, why it should have a place in the Book of Job at all, since its substance appears again in a somewhat different form in the address of the Almighty to Job.

Our suggestion is that the poem has a genuine place in the book. A reply to Job, other than the ineffective ones offered by his three friends, was demanded by the Poet's students, and the poem is an attempted response. Yet its connection with the foregoing debate has to be sought out and explained. It could be deleted, and a reader who had never known it would not sense the gap. There is something experimental about it. Perhaps the Poet placed it in his book where it was called for, but never

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