1. Even wild beasts, cut off from all care of
man, are cared for by God at their seasons of greatest
need. Their instinct comes direct from God and guides them to help
themselves in parturition; the very time when the herdsman is most
anxious for his herds.
wild goats—ibex (Ps 104:18;
hinds—fawns; most timid and
defenseless animals, yet cared for by God.
2. They bring forth with ease and do not need
to reckon the months of pregnancy, as the shepherd does in the case of
3. bow themselves—in parturition; bend
on their knees (1Sa 4:19).
bring forth—literally, "cause their
young to cleave the womb and break forth."
sorrows—their young ones, the cause of
their momentary pains.
4. are in good liking—in good condition,
grow up strong.
with corn—rather, "in the field,"
without man's care.
return not—being able to provide for
5. wild ass—Two different Hebrew
words are here used for the same animal, "the ass of the woods" and
"the wild ass." (See on Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; and Jer 2:24).
loosed the bands—given its liberty to.
Man can rob animals of freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined
with subordination to fixed laws.
6. barren—literally, "salt," that is,
unfruitful. (So Ps 107:34,
7. multitude—rather, "din"; he sets it
at defiance, being far away from it in the freedom of the
driver—who urges on the tame ass to
work. The wild ass is the symbol of uncontrolled freedom in the East;
even kings have, therefore, added its name to them.
8. The range—literally, "searching,"
"that which it finds by searching is his pasture."
9. unicorn—Pliny [Natural History, 8.21], mentions such
an animal; its figure is found depicted in the ruins of Persepolis. The
Hebrew reem conveys the idea of loftiness and
power (compare Ramah; Indian, Ram; Latin,
Roma). The rhinoceros was perhaps the original type of the
unicorn. The Arab rim is a two-horned animal. Sometimes
"unicorn" or reem is a mere poetical symbol or abstraction; but
the buffalo is the animal referred to here, from the contrast to the
tame ox, used in ploughing (Job 39:10, 12).
abide—literally, "pass the night."
10. his band—fastened to the horns, as
its chief strength lies in the head and shoulders.
after thee—obedient to thee; willing
to follow, instead of being goaded on before thee.
11. thy labour—rustic work.
seed—produce (1Sa 8:15).
into thy barn—rather, "gather (the
contents of) thy threshing-floor" [Maurer]; the corn threshed on it.
13. Rather, "the wing of the ostrich
hen"—literally, "the crying bird"; as the Arab name for it means
"song"; referring to its night cries (Job 30:29; Mic 1:8) vibrating joyously. "Is it not like the
quill and feathers of the pious bird" (the stork)? [Umbreit]. The vibrating, quivering wing,
serving for sail and oar at once, is characteristic of the ostrich in
full course. Its white and black feathers in the wing and tail are like
the stork's. But, unlike that bird, the symbol of parental love in the
East, it with seeming want of natural (pious) affection deserts its
young. Both birds are poetically called by descriptive, instead of
their usual appellative, names.
14, 15. Yet (unlike the stork) she "leaveth,"
&c. Hence called by the Arabs "the impious bird." However, the fact
is, she lays her eggs with great care and hatches them, as other birds
do; but in hot countries the eggs do not need so constant incubation;
she therefore often leaves them and sometimes forgets the place on her
return. Moreover, the outer eggs, intended for food, she feeds to her
young; these eggs, lying separate in the sand, exposed to the sun, gave
rise to the idea of her altogether leaving them. God describes her as
she seems to man; implying, though she may seem foolishly to
neglect her young, yet really she is guided by a sure instinct from
God, as much as animals of instincts widely different.
16. On a slight noise she often forsakes her
eggs, and returns not, as if she were "hardened towards her
her labour—in producing eggs, is in
vain, (yet) she has not disquietude (about her young),
unlike other birds, who, if one egg and another are taken away, will go
on laying till their full number is made up.
17. wisdom—such as God gives to other
animals, and to man (Job 35:11).
The Arab proverb is, "foolish as an ostrich." Yet her very seeming want
of wisdom is not without wise design of God, though man cannot see it;
just as in the trials of the godly, which seem so unreasonable to Job,
there lies hid a wise design.
18. Notwithstanding her deficiencies, she has
lifteth … herself—for running;
she cannot mount in the air. Gesenius
translates: "lashes herself" up to her course by flapping her wings.
The old versions favor English Version, and the parallel
"scorneth" answers to her proudly "lifting up herself."
19. The allusion to "the horse" (Job 39:18), suggests the description of him. Arab
poets delight in praising the horse; yet it is not mentioned in the
possessions of Job (Job 1:3; 42:12). It seems to have been at the time
chiefly used for war, rather than "domestic purposes."
thunder—poetically for, "he with
arched neck inspires fear as thunder does." Translate, "majesty" [Umbreit]. Rather "the trembling, quivering
mane," answering to the "vibrating wing" of the ostrich (see on Job 39:13) [Maurer]. "Mane" in Greek also is from a root
meaning "fear." English Version is more sublime.
20. make … afraid—rather, "canst
thou (as I do) make him spring as the locust?" So in
Joe 2:4, the comparison is between
locusts and war-horses. The heads of the two are so
similar that the Italians call the locusts cavaletta, "little
21. valley—where the battle is
goeth on—goeth forth (Nu 1:3; 21:23).
23. quiver—for the arrows, which they
contain, and which are directed "against him."
"glittering of the spear," like "lightning of the spear" (Hab 3:11).
24. swalloweth—Fretting with impatience,
he draws the ground towards him with his hoof, as if he would
swallow it. The parallelism shows this to be the sense; not as
Maurer, "scours over it."
neither believeth—for joy. Rather, "he
will not stand still, when the note of the trumpet
25. saith—poetically applied to his
mettlesome neighing, whereby he shows his love of the battle.
smelleth—snuffeth; discerneth (Isa 11:3, Margin).
26. The instinct by which some birds migrate
to warmer climes before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes
the whole hawk genus.
27. eagle—It flies highest of all birds:
thence called "the bird of heaven."
28. abideth—securely (Ps 91:1); it occupies the same abode mostly for
crag—literally, "tooth" (1Sa 14:5, Margin).
strong place—citadel, fastness.
29. seeketh—is on the lookout for.
behold—The eagle descries its prey at
an astonishing distance, by sight, rather than smell.
30. Quoted partly by Jesus Christ (Mt 24:28). The food of young eagles is the
blood of victims brought by the parent, when they are still too feeble
to devour flesh.
slain—As the vulture chiefly feeds on
carcasses, it is included probably in the eagle genus.