It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
All Commentaries on Job 28:16 Go To Job 28
Gregory The Dialogist
74. For what is meant by India, which furnishes a black people, saving this world, wherein the life of man is engendered dark in respect of sin? Now ‘the dyed colours of India’ are the wise ones of this world, who though in respect of infidelity, and oftentimes in respect of behaviour, they be foul, yet before the eyes of men are stained with the hue of overlaid honourableness. But the coeternal Wisdom of God is not ‘compared to the dyed colours of India,’ in that he, who really takes It in, discovers how widely it differs from those human beings whom the world has worshipped for wise ones. And the very words of His precepts differ from the wise ones of this world, in that while they strain after eloquence, their sayings appear as if fair in shew and in the staining of the dye, and while they lack the power of realities, feign themselves to be something else than what they are by combination of words as by overcoated colours. But on the other hand the instruction of Wisdom is at once fair by preaching and shining by unadulterated truth, nor does it by deceit set itself forth one thing outwardly, and retain another thing inwardly, nor in its sayings aim to appear fair by brilliancy of speech, but by uncorruptness of truth. Therefore in its precepts the Wisdom of God is not ‘compared to the dyed colours of India,’ since whereas it has not the stained adornments of eloquence, it pleases like a robe without dye. Which staining of the dye Paul rightly despised, when he said, Which things also we speak not in the words that man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. For he chose rather to display this ‘Wisdom’ by the simple transparency of truth alone, but not to stain it with thy dyeing of speech.
Nor to the most precious sardonyx stone, nor to the sapphire.
75. That the sardonyx and sapphire are not precious stones, who would be ignorant? And whereas there be many other precious stones, which immeasurably exceed these in the account of greatness, why is the sapphire or the sardonyx especially called precious, when either stone by comparison with other stones is most contemptible? except that those stones which are described as precious, when we know not to be precious, we look out for some other thing in the meaning of them. For the sardonyx bears the likeness of red earth, but the sapphire has an aereal appearance. And so it may be that in the sardonyx by the red earth human beings are denoted, in the sapphire by the aereal appearance the Angels are denoted. For whereas the sardonyx stone bears the appearance of red earth, it not improperly denotes man; because ‘Adam’ himself, who was created the first, is called in the Latin tongue ‘Red earth.’ What does it mean then that it is said that this Wisdom is not ‘compared to the sardonyx nor to the sapphire,’ but that He, Who is the ‘Power of God and the Wisdom of God,’ i.e. the Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, surpasses all things by such preeminent greatness that neither the first man on the earth, nor the Angels in heaven, can be compared to Him. And hence it is said by the Psalmist, Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of God [‘Sons of God’ was a common expression for Angels] can be likened unto the Lord?
76. But it is possible that by the sardonyx stone the Fathers of the Old Testament, while by the sapphire the Preachers of the New Testament, are set forth. For the first, though they maintained an extraordinary life of righteousness, yet lent themselves to carnal procreation. Therefore whereas it is plain that they did some things of an earthly kind, they are not inappropriately denoted by the sardonyx stone, which as we before said bears the appearance of ‘red earth.’ But by the sapphire, which is of an ethereal blue, we suitably understand the Preachers of the New Testament, who laying aside the desires of carnal gendering, followed after the things of heaven alone. And hence the Prophet beholding the holy Apostles mounting above all the desires of the flesh with spiritual fervency, being struck with admiration, saith, Who are these that fly as clouds? [Is. 60, 8] As though he expressed it in plain speech; ‘We go along by the way of earth, in that we are still involved in marryings and employ acts of the flesh upon the propagating offspring; but these walk not on earth, but they ‘fly as clouds,’ who whilst they aim at heavenly things touch nought connected with earthly desires.’ Therefore he says that the Wisdom of God is not ‘compared to the sardonyx or the sapphire stone.’ As though he told in plain terms, saying, ‘To Him, Who is seen Man among men, neither any in the old Fathers nor any in the new is equalled, in that from His Godhead He derives it that in His Manhood He hath not any like to Him.’