667. Hidden Treasure

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The possession of wealth often becomes, in the East, a source of great perplexity because of its insecurity. Every man being his own banker, ingenuity is taxed to devise some plan of concealment., or to find someplace where money, jewels, and other valuables may remain free from molestation or suspicion. Sometimes these treasures are hidden in secret closets in the house, or in vaults under the house; sometimes they are buried in the field, in a spot unknown to all save the owner. It not infrequently happens that the owner goes away and dies before the time of his intended return, his. secret dying with him. Times of war and pestilence carry off great numbers, who leave treasures concealed, no one knows where. There are, no doubt, deposits of immense value thus buried in different parts of the East. The people are always ready to notice any indication of subterranean wealth, and to dig for it when they get the opportunity. The archaeological explorations of travelers are often seriously retarded by the suspicions aroused that they have some secret means of ascertaining the location of hidden treasures, and that the great object of all their exploring is to get money and jewels.
These facts illustrate the text. A man who discovers the place where treasure is hid keeps the discovery to himself, buys the field, and the treasure is his own. Other references of a similar character are made in different parts of the Bible, showing how ancient and how widespread is the custom of concealing treasures. It was thus that Achan hid the spoils of war in the earth in the midst of his tent (Josh. 7:2121When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. (Joshua 7:21)). Job represents men who are weary of life, longing for death with the eagerness of treasure-seekers. They “dig for it more than for hid treasures.” They “rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave” (Job 3:21-2221Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; 22Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave? (Job 3:21‑22)). Solomon, perhaps, alludes to this custom when he speaks of those who search after wisdom “as for hid treasures” (Prov. 2:44If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; (Proverbs 2:4)), though the reference may be, as some think, to mining operations. He may also refer to it when he says that “the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep” (Eccl. 5:1212The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12)). The more treasure one has, the more care he must take to conceal it, and the fear of discovery would naturally create sleeplessness. God’s promise to Cyrus is a further illustration: “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places” (Isa. 45:33And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Isaiah 45:3)). In the parable of the talents, the servant who had but one talent buried it in the earth (Matt. 25:1818But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. (Matthew 25:18)).