Book of Job

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Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals Symbol Analysis

Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals Symbol Icon

Gold, silver, and other precious metals symbolize the worthlessness of earthly wealth compared to the priceless treasure of worshiping God. If gold is the most precious earthly commodity, then God is immeasurably greater. In one of his speeches, Eliphaz urges Job to stop desiring “gold” and to regard God as his “gold and […] precious silver” instead; if he does so, Eliphaz argues, then God will remove Job’s suffering. In other words, Eliphaz accuses Job of being greedy (presumably one of the misdeeds that has brought on Job’s suffering). But if Job values God the way he should (more than anything on earth), then God will forgive him.

Later in the book, Job similarly compares precious metals to divine wisdom. He reflects that miners unearth gems from deep underground, but they cannot find wisdom there; nor can their gold buy wisdom—only God knows where it is, and wisdom’s value surpasses that of any earthly currency. Job implies that wisdom is ultimately a divine gift; people can’t discover and hoard it by their own efforts, and even if wisdom were for sale, it’s such a treasure that all the earth’s riches wouldn’t be enough to pay for it. Job’s reflections also represent a shift from earlier in the book, when Job and his friends focused on human righteousness and wickedness, to Job’s growing focus on God’s power and majesty in the book’s closing chapters.

Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals Quotes in Book of Job

The Book of Job quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Suffering and Divine Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Book of Job published in 2001.
Chapter 22 Quotes

Agree with God, and be at peace;
in this way good will come to you.

Receive instruction from his mouth,
and lay up his words in your heart.

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored,
if you remove unrighteousness from your tents,
[…]
and if the Almighty is your gold
and your precious silver,
then you will delight yourself in the Almighty,
and lift up your face to God.

Related Characters: Eliphaz the Temanite (speaker), God, Job
Page Number: 22:21-26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

If I go forward, he is not there;
or backward, I cannot perceive him;
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold.

Related Characters: Job (speaker), God
Page Number: 23:8-10
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals Symbol Timeline in Book of Job

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gold, Silver, and Precious Metals appears in Book of Job. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 22
Suffering and Divine Justice Theme Icon
Human Wisdom vs. Divine Wisdom Theme Icon
...urges Job to “agree with God, and be at peace.” If he does this, spurning gold and regarding God as his “gold and […] precious silver” instead, God will restore goodness... (full context)
Chapter 23
Suffering and Divine Justice Theme Icon
The Mystery of God Theme Icon
Human Wisdom vs. Divine Wisdom Theme Icon
Faith in Suffering Theme Icon
...Job’s path, and Job knows that when God has tested him, he will emerge “like gold.” Job has never abandoned God’s commandments and treasures God’s word in his heart. (full context)
Chapter 28
The Mystery of God Theme Icon
Human Wisdom vs. Divine Wisdom Theme Icon
...No mortal, in fact, knows the way to wisdom, and they can’t buy it with gold or silver. So where does it come from? (full context)
Chapter 31
Suffering and Divine Justice Theme Icon
Faith in Suffering Theme Icon
...orphan, then he should suffer terrors at God’s hands. If he’s put his trust in gold, or rejoiced in his wealth, then he should be punished. Likewise, he should be punished... (full context)