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Bible Commentaries
Job 39

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-30

The First Speech of the Almighty (concluded)

Chs. Job 38:39-41 and Job 38:39 depict the wonders of animate creation, and the instincts with which animals are gifted by the providence of God. In view of His works Job must learn to trust Him and to believe in His goodness.

1-4. The wild goat or ibex.

1. Knowest thou?] i.e. do you control?

3. Their sorrows] their young, whose birth causes pain.

4. With corn] rather, ’in the desert.’

5-8. The wild ass, which is still found in the deserts of N. Arabia and Syria.

6. Barren land] RV ’salt land,’ districts coated with this mineral, which is much sought after by cattle.

7. Note the contrast between the life of the wild and the domestic ass.

Regardeth he the crying] RV ’heareth he the shoutings.’

9-12. The wild ox.

9. Unicorn] RV ’wild-ox.’ The word ’unicorn’ is based on the LXX translation, and is incorrect. The nearest extant representative of the wild ox is the bison, which still lingers in the forests of Lithuania, the Caucasus and N. America. Its bones are found in Lebanon bone-caves.

10-12. The untameable nature of the wild ox.

12. Believe] i.e. confide in, trust. Gather it into thy barn] RV ’gather the corn of thy threshing floor.’

13-18. The ostrich.

13. There is nothing about peacocks in the Hebrew. Perhaps the sense is, ’The wing of ostriches is goodly. Is it a stork’s wing for flight?’ The ostrich cannot fly like a stork, which comes to Palestine in the spring on its way from Africa to Europe.

14. In the earth] RV ’on the earth.’ Dr. Tristram says: ’The ostrich is polygamous, and several hens deposit their eggs in one place, a hole in the sand. The eggs are then covered over and left during the heat of the day; but in the cold regions at any rate, as in the Sahara, the birds sit regularly during the night, and until the sun has full power.’

16. She is hardened against] RM ’She deals hardly with.’ If her nest is discovered the ostrich often destroys her young: cp. Lamentations 4:3.

16b. RV ’Though her labour ’(of laying the eggs) ’be in vain, she is without fear,’ i.e. acts still without due caution.

17. ’More stupid than an ostrich’ is an Arab proverb.

18. Lifteth up herself on high] RM ’rouseth herself up to flight.’ Scorneth the horse] by outrunning him. Tristram puts the stride of an ostrich at full speed at from 22 to 28 ft.

19-25. The war-horse.

19b. RV ’Hast thou clothed his neck with the quivering mane?’ (lit. ’with shaking’).

20. Afraid as a grasshopper] RV ’to leap as a locust.’ Nostrils] RV ’snorting.’

23. Against] rather, ’over.’ Shield] RV ’javelin.’ The horse probably is not being ridden here, but driven in a chariot, on which quiver, spear, and shield (or dart) are hung. He is not afraid of the noise they make, or, perhaps, of the enemy.

24. He swalloweth] render, ’he digs’ or ’paws.’ Neither believeth, etc.] RM ’Neither standeth he still at.’

25a. Render, ’at each trumpet he saith, Ha!’

25b. The sense of smell in horses is very acute, and they are much discomposed by the odour of carrion.

26-30. The hawk and the eagle.

26. The migratory hawk is intended, which leaves Palestine for the S. in winter.

27. ’Eagle’is masculine throughout.

30. Cp. Matthew 24:28.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Job 39". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/job-39.html. 1909.
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