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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Job 39

 

 


Introduction

Job 38:1 to Job 42:6. The Divine Speeches.—Here after the Elihu interpolation Job 32-37, we return to the original poem and the solution of Job 31, in which Job summed up his second problem, that of Divine Providence, by challenging God to show the justice of His treatment of himself. The poet has no direct answer to give to the problem Job has raised. He cannot lift the veil of the future, and show another world where wrongs are righted and the balance of this world is redressed. He can only point to the creation and say, "God is there; how wonderful is His creative power." The world is certainly an enigma; well, let it be an enigma. God is greater than we. Moreover, the poet teaches that, enigma or no enigma, piety is still possible. Though Job never comes to understand the Divine Providence, yet he sees God face to face and bows in humility before Him. We may compare with the argument of the poet, "Providence is a mystery, but so is the creation," that of Butler's Analogy, "Revelation is a mystery, but so is nature."


Verse 30

Job 38:39 to Job 39:30. The Wonders of the Animate Creation.—In Job 38:39 f. God first names the lion. Man would rather hunt and destroy the lion than feed him. But God cares for the lion as well as for man. So also for the raven (Job 38:41); but perhaps as the raven seems out of place here among the beasts, we should read, "Who provideth at evening its food?" In this case Job 38:41 continues the description of God's care of the lion.

Job 39:1-4 passes to the wild goats. Does Job, like God, care for them in their parturition? The Hebrew word translated "wild goats" is masculine, but if the text is correct, it is used as a feminine. Duhm emends "Dost thou teach the wild goats heat?" Then Job 39:1 b is to be translated, "Dost thou watch over the calving of the hinds?" In Job 39:2 b read, "Dost thou determine the time they bring forth?" The point is that it is not Job who regulates the course of nature. In Job 39:3 b "their sorrows" is used poetically for "their offspring." In Job 39:4 b following: the young of the wild goats return no more to their parents.

Job 39:5-8. The wild ass, a picture of freedom.

Job 39:9-12. The wild ox. In Job 39:10 a read "Dost thou bind him with the furrow-rope?" (Duhm).

Job 39:13-18. The ostrich. This passage is by many scholars regarded as an interpolation. "The absence of the passage from the LXX, the position of the bird between the wild ox and the horse, the altered form of address, and the reference to God (who is elsewhere the Speaker) in the third person, suggest a different authorship" (Strahan), Peake, however, regards these reasons as "weighty, but not decisive." He thinks that the passage, the omission of which would be a distinct loss to the Divine speech, may have originally stood among the other descriptions of birds, and been transferred to its present position because of the reference to the horse in Job 39:18. In Job 39:13 a translate "the wing of the ostrich beats joyously": the second half of the verse refers to the proverbial cruelty of the ostrich (Lamentations 4:3). The word for "kindly" is used as the name of the stork because of its kindness to its young (cf. mg.). While mg. is not the right translation a contrast between the two birds is no doubt suggested. Job 39:14 f. describes the unkindness of the ostrich. In Job 39:16 b the meaning apparently is that the ostrich is so much without natural affection that she does not care if her labour in laying eggs is all for nothing. Job 39:17 refers to the proverbial stupidity of the ostrich.

Job 39:19-25. The horse, a passage that has drawn the special admiration both of Bunyan and Carlyle. In Job 39:19 b the translation "quivering mane" is not certain; AV "thunder" is certainly wrong: LXX gives "terror." With Job 39:20, cf. Joel 2:4, Revelation 9:7. In Job 39:21 b mg. "the weapons" is the literal translation. In Job 39:23 follow mg. "Upon."

Job 39:24 means that the horse careers so swiftly over the ground as to annihilate it, and when he hears the trumpet cannot believe it for joy. Scholars generally, however, prefer as Job 39:24 b mg.

Job 39:26. The hawk. The translation in the text refers to its migratory instinct: if we render "to the south wind" the reference is to the bird's courage in facing it.

Job 39:27-30. The eagle closes the series, as the lion opened it.

The point of the Divine speech throughout is that the world is not only for man: the poet takes refuge in this idea, which, however, involves a break with earlier religious conceptions (Genesis 1:26 ff., Genesis 2:4 bff., Psalms 8). Duhm quotes, as illustrative of the poet's attitude, the couplet:

"Die Welt ist volkommen berall

Wo der Mensch nicht hinkommt mit semer Qual."

He finds in nature a region where human questions about righteousness and unrighteousness have no meaning; but where the religious soul experiences the immediate working of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 39:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-39.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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