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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Job 39

 

 

Verses 1-30

v. 1. Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth, their homes being on the rocks near the summits of the mountains? Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve, noting the travail of the many countless animals scattered in the wilderness?

v. 2. Canst thou number the months that they fulfil, namely, in bearing their young? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? The external knowledge concerning these facts Job may have possessed, but he had no idea of the providential care which was needed in bringing these animals safely through the dangerous period until the young were born.

v. 3. They bow themselves, Cf 1Sa_4:19, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows, shaking off the pains of birth with its fruit, all under the influence of God's providential care.

v. 4. Their young ones are in good liking, in fine condition from the start, they grow up with corn, out in the desert; they go forth, reaching maturity and independence in just a short while, and return not unto them, they are soon able to dispense with the care of their parents, all this under the direction of God.

v. 5. Who hath sent out the wild ass free? whose wildness is proverbial. Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass, literally, "of the fleeing one," of the fugitive? The very fact that the wild ass scorns all human control and nurture makes him a good example in this connection, where the power and wisdom of God is emphasized.

v. 6. Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land, the desert, the salt-steppe, his dwellings; for it was there that he preferred to live, satisfied with the food offered by the saline plants of the alkali wastes.

v. 7. He scorneth the multitude of the city, mocking at the clamor of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver, paying no attention to the shouts which the domesticated ass and the mule must obey.

v. 8. The range of the mountains is his pasture, whatever food his search brings to his attention, and he searcheth after every green thing, all his wants being provided for in this manner by the Creator.

v. 9. Will the unicorn; probably the oryx, a wild and powerful species of antelope found in the desert at that time, be willing to serve thee or abide by thy crib, readily domesticated?

v. 10. Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow, compelling him to draw a furrow with the plow while being led or guided with a cord? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee, in the regular labor of preparing the soil for sowing?

v. 11. Wilt thou trust him, readily depending upon him, because his strength is great? That very fact would cause men to mistrust the untamed animal. Or wilt thou leave thy labor to him, trusting him to bring home the product of the soil, as a tame ox would?

v. 12. Wilt thou believe him, again depending upon him, that he will bring home thy seed, the harvested grain, and gather it into thy barn? All this, again, is beyond the control of man, but a small matter in the hand of God.

v. 13. Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? literally, "The wing of the female ostrich claps joyously," in time with her piercing cries, or wings and feathers unto the ostrich, literally, "Is it the pinion and feather of the stork," a quiet and tame bird? The ostrich is as a representative of all that is wild and untamable among the birds.

v. 14. Which, or, No, on the contrary, far from being good and quiet, she leaveth her eggs in the earth, the reference being to the habit of the wild ostrich of abandoning her nest at the approach of danger and remaining away for a long time; and warmeth them in dust, trusting to the warm sand to keep the eggs from chilling;

v. 15. and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them, stamping them to pieces by walking over the nest.

v. 16. She is hardened against her young ones, apparently dealing harshly with them, as though they were not hers; her labor is in vain without fear, it does not seem to bother the ostrich that her labor in laying the eggs is vain when they are crushed in this manner,

v. 17. because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding, the stupidity of the ostrich being proverbial in Arabia.

v. 18. What time she lifteth up herself on high, lifting herself to her full height with a lashing movement, she scorneth the horse and his rider, mocking them by the swiftness of her flight. The Lord now turns to the description of the war-horse, highly prized and praised in Arabia since ancient times.

v. 19. Hast thou given the horse strength, namely, his warlike strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder, literally, with fluttering hair," with a waving mane?

v. 20. Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper, rather, make him leap or gallop like the locust? The glory of his nostrils is terrible; when he snorts, it strikes terror to the heart.

v. 21. He paweth in the valley, while the soldiers are scouting and making preparations for a battle, he is impatient for the fray, and rejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men, ready to meet even a host in armor.

v. 22. He mocketh at fear and is not affrighted, the excitement of the battle rather taking hold of him, neither turneth he back from the sword.

v. 23. The quiver, namely, that of the horseman seated upon him, rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield, all sounds which would terrorize a timid animal.

v. 24. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage, as he rushes over it in full gallop; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet, he does not stand still, he cannot contain himself when the trumpet sounds, he must get into the fray.

v. 25. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! neighing with joyful eagerness for the battle; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting, the battle-cries of the soldiers engaged in battle. Of all the poetic descriptions of the war-horse in the entire ancient literature, this, aside from the fact of its divine inspiration, is the oldest and most beautiful.

v. 26. Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, flying up to great heights as a result of Job's understanding, and stretch her wings toward the south, in the annual migration, to this day one of the secrets of bird-life?

v. 27. Doth the eagle mount up, soaring in stately flight, at thy command and make her nest on high? Was all this a result of Job's power and authority?

v. 28. She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, that being the place where she locates her aerie, from which she has a wide outlook over the country, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place, a mighty castle and watchtower.

v. 29. From thence she seeketh her prey, piercing the atmosphere far and wide with her sharp vision, and her eyes behold afar off.

v. 30. Her young ones also, as true birds of prey, suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is she, the vulture being here included in the genus eagle. All these considerations, the mere recital of which had the effect of rendering Job speechless with awe, showed that God's majesty is infinitely exalted above man's criticism, that man simply cannot undertake to measure God according to the rules and ideas of mortal men.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 39:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/job-39.html. 1921-23.

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