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Bible Commentaries
Job 39

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Job 39:1-4


Job 39


As already noted, the details of God’s multiple questions addressed to Job do not appear to follow any pattern. Moreover it seems that the questions themselves are not nearly so important as the simple fact that Almighty God is here carrying on a conversation with a mortal man. This is at once, the glory of Job, and of mankind. The questions do not solve any of the mysteries of Job’s suffering; the questions he has so eagerly asked remain unanswered; but in spite of all this, the questions achieve their intended effect in the heart of Job. As we learn later in Job 41:6, Job repents in dust and ashes. And of what does he repent? It was not of that gross wickedness imagined in the accusations of his friends, for of that he was not guilty. Nevertheless, he was by no means sinless; and his innocent notion that he could plead his worthiness even before God was profoundly in error.

Job accepted for himself the guilt and unworthiness which, in the very nature of our sinful mortality, pertains to all mankind. And it is in that sublime fact that the wise man must, at last, find the explanation of all the mysteries of our earthly existence, and, "Trust our Creator in all areas, even those in which we cannot see; for we walk by faith and not by sight." It was the surpassing honor of Job that God enabled him to do that very thing.

Job 39:1-4



"Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rocks bring forth?

Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?

Canst thou number the months that they fulfill?

Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?

They bow themselves, they bring forth their young,

They cast forth their pain.

Their young ones become strong,

They grow up in the open field:

They go forth, and return not again."

Men have learned much about the beasts of the earth since the times of Job; and by capturing and breeding animals in menageries and zoological gardens, some of the questions God asked of Job in this paragraph men are now able to answer; but by no means do men know the whole story of the instinctive traits God created in all animals. There are inexplicable mysteries regarding any animal that the wisest men on earth cannot explain.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 39:1-8. Much of the argument of God’s speech to Job is based on the perfection of creation over which man knows he has no power. This paragraph cites a number of items along the above line.

Verses 1-30

Job 39

Job Chapter 39

Job 39:1 "Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? [or] canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?" We see that this is an extension of the last lesson. All of these Words from God are to show that the mysteries of nature are beyond the comprehension of man. God in all His wisdom and understanding created all things. Man is not intended to understand the mysteries of God. The greatest mystery of all is the origin of life, itself. The particular wild goat above, is unusually secluded. They live in the very rockiest places, and far away from civilization. Of course, man does not know when they will have their newborn. The hinds, above, are speaking of the female goats.

Job 39:2 "Canst thou number the months [that] they fulfil? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?" Animals do not carry their babies the same amount of time that a human mother carries hers before birth. In the time of Job, people had not gone to the trouble to find out how long a particular animal carried their young before birth.

Job 39:3 "They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows." This is speaking of the manner of the birth. It is a natural thing for an animal to give birth.

Job 39:4 "Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them." This is speaking of these animals being born in good health. They do not stay with their mothers very long. The Lord provides for them.

Job 39:5 "Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?"

Job 39:6 "Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings." We saw in the last lesson, how God sent rain to the barren land and to the wilderness, and made the vegetation to grow. Now, we see that those things were provisions for the wild ass and other wild animals like them. God provided for every living thing upon the earth.

Job 39:7 "He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver." This is speaking of the wild ass not wanting to be tamed by the man who dwells in the city. The ass, many times, was used in the manner of some horses. They were ridden by the princes of many lands. The wild ass does not want to be driven and is hard to tame.

Job 39:8 "The range of the mountains [is] his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." He lives as far away from people as he can, and he eats the grass of the fields.

Job 39:9 "Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?" The word that was translated unicorn, here, just denotes an animal with horns. This, again, is speaking of a wild animal that would not easily be domesticated.

Job 39:10 "Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?" Man might try to make him like an ox to plow the fields, but he really was not created of God for such a task and would, probably, not be very good at it.

Job 39:11 " Wilt thou trust him, because his strength [is] great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him?" This is still speaking of the horned animal called a unicorn, here. This animal seemed to be of tremendous strength. He would have been unmanageable as a farm animal, however. Job 39:12 "Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather [it into] thy barn?" This is saying that he would not have been trustworthy to pull the wagon and bring in the harvest. An animal with great strength is of no use to the farmer, if he cannot manage him. God made other animals for this purpose.

Job 39:13 "[Gavest thou] the goodly wings unto the peacocks? Or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?" An ostrich, or a peacock, does not soar away into the heavens like an eagle does. They are fowl that stay very near the earth. In fact, they move around by walking, and not by flying. God had made each thing for the purpose He intended it, and He equipped it with whatever it needed to fulfill His purpose.

Job 39:14 "Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust," This was speaking of the ostrich of that part of the country where Job lived. The mother ostrich dug a hole in the sand and deposited her eggs there. She covered the nest with sand, and the hot sun kept the eggs warm for her.

Job 39:15 "And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them." Actually, she separated herself from the eggs, as if he she was no longer interested in them. One of the reference books says that the ostrich might have as many as thirty eggs. She felt they were safe from harm in the hole she built and covered them with sand.

Job 39:16 "She is hardened against her young ones, as though [they were] not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;" Actually, the mother and the father ostrich incubate the eggs at night. The eggs get plenty of warmth from the sun in the desert sand in the daytime.

Job 39:17 "Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding." The mother ostrich does not worry at the loss of an egg, because she is not very intelligent. She, probably, does not even realize an egg is gone.

Job 39:18 "What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider." The ostrich is large and when a horse and rider get near, the ostrich stands upright {usually taller than a horse} and flaps her wings, while she chases the horse.

Job 39:19 "Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?" Man did not give the horse strength, God did. This is the beginning of a picture of a horse about to go to battle. His neck is high and jutting forth in pride.

Job 39:20 "Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils [is] terrible." This is speaking of a horse flaring his nostrils and snorting. This has been known to frighten the bravest of men. He is not afraid at all.

Job 39:21 "He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in [his] strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men." This is, probably, the reason men use horses to ride in battle. He is not aware of any danger in battle. They are not able to reason that they might be going to their own death.

Job 39:22 "He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword." This is speaking of the horse, and not the man on the horse. The horse cannot reason, and therefore does not realize there is any danger against drawn swords.

Job 39:23 "The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield." This was just explaining that the quiver was on the side of the neck of the horse. The spear and shield were, also, touching the body of the horse. He had no excitement from this. Horses trained for battle were used to these things. Their owners had trained them with these, as well as them riding them.

Job 39:24 "He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that [it is] the sound of the trumpet." This was speaking of the rushing of the horse to battle, as if he were swallowing up the ground in front of him. When the trumpet sounded he charged forward to battle.

Job 39:25 "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting." The horse seemed to sense the excitement of the captain who was riding him. When the captain shouted it excited the horse even further.

Job 39:26 "Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, [and] stretch her wings toward the south?" No, it does not. No man gave the hawk strength to fly. Man used the hawk, but God empowered the hawk.

Job 39:27 "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?" This explanation of the source of strength for all animals and birds ends with the eagle. Many countries, including the United States, use the eagle as a symbol of strength on their coinage. When you think of an eagle, you automatically think of the king of the birds. The eagle, nearly always makes its nest high in the rocks.

Job 39:28 "She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place." This is a vantage point above anything else around. The rocks are usually jagged and very high in the side of a mountain, or crag.

Job 39:29 "From thence she seeketh the prey, [and] her eyes behold afar off."

Job 39:30 "Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain [are], there [is] she." The eagle has eyes that can see at great distances. This elevated area gives the eagle full view of the surrounding area, so it can spot its prey at great distances. The blood speaks of a freshly dead animal that the eagle had brought to its babies. It eats the blood with the meat. Each animal and bird has its own purpose on the earth. Their purpose is what God created them for.

Job 39 Questions

1. What is the purpose of chapter 39 and chapter 38?

2. Man is not intended to understand the __________ of God.

3. Quote Job 39:2.

4. What do we learn from that verse?

5. What is Job 39:3 speaking of?

6. Who provides for the young goat?

7. Why does God send rain to the barren land?

8. The ______ was sometimes used as a horse.

9. The wild ass does not want to be ridden and is ______ to tame.

10. What does he feed on?

11. What does "unicorn" in Job 39:9 mean?

12. Would he make a good plow animal?

13. An animal of great strength is of no use to a farmer, if he can’t __________ him.

14. How does an ostrich, or a peacock, differ from other fowl?

15. What warmed the eggs she had left in the sand?

16. An ostrich might have as many as ________ eggs.

17. When do the mother and father ostrich incubate their eggs?

18. Why does the ostrich not act concerned, when something destroys one of her eggs?

19. How large is an ostrich?

20. Job 39:19 says the horse’s neck is clothed with _________.

21. What is verse 20 speaking of?

22. Why did men choose horses to ride on in battle?

23. What is meant by him "swallowing the ground"?

24. When the trumpet sounds, the horse ________ _________.

25. The explanation of the source of all strength ends with the _______.

Verses 5-12

Job 39:5-12

Job 39:5-12


"Who hath sent out the wild-ass free?

Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild-ass,

Whose home I have made the wilderness,

And the salt land his dwelling place?

He scorneth the tumult of the city,

Neither heareth he the shoutings of the driver.

The range of the mountains is his pasture,

And he searcheth after every green thing.

Will the wild-ox be content to serve thee?

Or will he abide by thy crib?

Canst thou bind the wild-ox with his band in the furrow?

Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?

Or wilt thou leave to him thy labor?

Wilt thou confide in him, that he will bring home thy seed,

And gather the grain of thy threshing floor?"

The animals mentioned here are the wild-ass, which is, "The onager of central Asia," and the wild-ox, identified by Pope in the Anchor Bible as, "the buffalo."

The wild-ass, of course, is similar to the common donkey; and the mystery of these animals in some particulars is still incredibly arcane. Why, for example, has it been impossible to domesticate the buffalo? And regarding the ass, why cannot mules be produced by the breeding of the female donkey with a stallion? whereas, they are produced only by the breeding of mares with the male ass. We mention these things merely to suggest that, although men have learned many things, there are yet many incomprehensible mysteries in the natural creation that surrounds us.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 39:1-8. Much of the argument of God’s speech to Job is based on the perfection of creation over which man knows he has no power. This paragraph cites a number of items along the above line.

Job 39:9-12. This unicorn was a wild beast at strength and ferocity. Man has been able to bring him under subjection by using his superior intelligence, but he was not able to create him with the disposition to serve man.

Verses 13-18

Job 39:13-18

Job 39:13-18


"The wings of the ostrich wave proudly;

But are the pinions and plumage of love?

For she leaveth her eggs on the earth,

And warmeth them in the dust,

And forgetteth that the foot may crush them,

Or that the wild beast may trample them.

She dealeth hardly with her young ones, as if they were not hers:

Though her labor be in vain, she is without fear;

Because God hath deprived her of wisdom,

Neither hath he imparted to her understanding.

What time she lifteth up herself on high,

She scorneth the horse and his rider."

God’s question for Job in this section is not grammatically stated but implied, as indicated by our title for these verses. Can anyone explain how such a senseless creature could survive throughout the millenniums of human history?

"But are the pinions and plumage, of love" (Job 39:; Job 39:22-23 The meaning here is obscure; but Rawlinson wrote that, "The question here is, ’Does the ostrich use those beautiful pinions and plumage for the same kindly purpose as other birds, namely, to warm her eggs and further the purpose of hatching them."’

E.M. Zerr:

Job 39:13-18. Since the ostrich can scorn, the horse and his rider she is not the product of man. No, man did not give to the bird her wings, but instead, he has taken the suggestion of flying from the bird. This proves that birds fly by a power higher than man..

Verses 19-25

Job 39:19-25

Job 39:19-25


"Hast thou given the horse his might?

Has thou clothed his neck with the quivering mane?

Has thou made him to leap as a locust?

The glory of his snorting is terrible.

He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength:

He goeth out to meet the armed man.

He mocketh at fear, and is not dismayed;

Neither turneth he back from the sword.

The quiver rattletJob 39:26-30 m,

The flashing spear and the javelin.

He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage;

Neither believeth he that it is the voice of the

Neither believeth he that it is the voice of the trumpet.

As oft as the trumpet soundeth he saith, Aha!

And he smelleth the battle afar off,

The thunder of the captains and the shouting."

Here again, the question addressed to Job is implied rather than spoken as an interrogative. We have paraphrased it in the paragraph heading. The horse is a war animal, surpassing all others in that inherent characteristic.

"He mocketh at fear ... he turneth not back ... from the sword ... the spear ... the javelin" (Job 39:22-23). The weapons mentioned here of which the horse was not afraid were all ancient weapons, and relatively silent, when compared to artillery and other modern weapons; but the horse is no more afraid of the roar of a canon than he was the silent flight of an arrow. Who can explain such a thing? God evidently created the horse for warfare; and, for that reason, forbade the kings of Israel to multiply horses unto themselves, a restriction which they promptly violated.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 39:19-25. These verses have been grouped into one paragraph because they are on the one subject of the horse. That noble beast was not the product of man, for he has a strength that is greater than that of man. It is true that man can manage him, but it is accJob 39:26-30 rough his superior• intelligence over the beast. Had man created him he would have made him so that both physical and mental power would have been naturally under that of his maker.

Verses 26-30

Job 39:26-30

Job 39:26-30


"Is it by thy wisdom that the hawk soareth?

And stretcheth her wings toward the south?

Is it at thy command that the eagle mounteth up,

And maketh her nest on high?

On the cliff she dwelleth, and maketh her home,

Upon the point of the cliff, and the stronghold.

From thence she spieth out the prey;

Her eyes beholdeth it afar off.

Her young ones suck up blood:

And where the slain are, there is she.

The hawk and the eagle are birds of prey; and

their behavior is the wonder of all who ever observed it carefully."

"The eagle ... maketh her nest on high" (Job 39:27. In October of 1953, while this writer was a chaplain in the Far East, he once was taken for an excursion on a plane which the GI’s called the "Charlie 119"; and we circled the summit of a mountain in southern Japan called `Mount Aso.’ There, on the very lip of that active volcano was an eagle’s nest! Who can explain such things as that?

"Her eyes beholdeth it afar off" (Job 39:29). Long before mankind discovered such a thing as the telescope, both eagles and vultures were provided with telescopic vision, an ability most certainly me

E.M. Zerr:

Job 39:26-30. See the remarks in the preceding paragraph concerning the flying of the birds. Man is an imitator of the bird in devising mechanical means for traveling through the air. This proves that the actions of birds are the result of some power other than man.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 39". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-39.html.
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