Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:14

For she abandons her eggs to the earth And warms them in the dust,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Birds;   God;   Ostriches;   Thompson Chain Reference - Eggs;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ostrich, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Egg;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Job;   Knowledge;   Nature;   Ostrich;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ostrich,;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Egg;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ostrich;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eggs;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Which leaveth her eggs in the earth - This want of parental affection in the ostrich is almost universally acknowledged. Mr. Jackson, in his Account of Morocco, observes: "The ostrich, having laid her eggs, goes away, forgetting or forsaking them: and if some other ostrich discover them, she hatches them as if they were her own, forgetting probably whether they are or are not; so deficient is the recollection of this bird." This illustrates Job 39:15; : "And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them." The poet seems well acquainted with every part of the subject on which he writes; and facts incontestable confirm all he says. For farther illustration, see the account from Dr. Shaw at the end of the chapter, Job 39:30; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-39.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Which leaveth her eggs in the earth - That is, she does not build a nest, as most birds do, but deposits her eggs in the sand. The ostrich, Dr. Shaw remarks, lays usually from thirty to fifty eggs. The eggs are very large, some of them being above five inches in diameter, and weighing fifteen pounds - Goldsmith. “We are not to consider,” says Dr. Shaw, “this large collection of eggs as if they were all intended for a brood. They are the greatest part of them reserved for food, which the dam breaks, and disposeth of according to the number and cravings of her young ones.” The idea which seems to be conveyed in our common version is, that the ostrich deposits her eggs in the sand, and then leaves them, without further care, to be hatched by the heat of the sun. This idea is not, however, necessarily implied in the original, and is contrary to fact. The truth is, that the eggs are deposited with great care, and with so much attention to the manner in which they are placed, that a line drawn from those in the extremities would just touch the tops of the intermediate ones (see Damir, as quoted by Bochart, “Hieroz.” P. ii. Lib. ii. c. xvii. p. 253), and that they are hatched, as the eggs of other birds are, in a great measure by the heat imparted by the incubation of the parent bird.

It is true that in the hot climates where these birds live, there is less necessity for constant incubation than in colder latitudes, and that the parent bird is more frequently absent; but she is accustomed regularly to return at night, and carefully broods over her eggs. See Le Valliant, “Travels in the Interior of Africa,” ii. 209,305. It is true also that the parent bird wanders sometimes far from the place where the eggs are deposited, and forgets the place, and in this case if another nest of eggs is seen, she is not concerned whether they are her own or not, for she is not endowed with the power of distinguishing between her own eggs and those of another. This fact seems to have given rise to all the fables stated by the Arabic writers about the stupidity of the ostrich; about her leaving her eggs; and about her disposition to sit on the eggs of others. Bochart has collected many of these opinions from the Arabic writers, among which are the following: Alkazuinius says, “They say that no bird is more foolish than the ostrich, for while it forsakes its own eggs, it sits on the eggs of others; from the proverb, “Every animal loves its own young except the ostrich.”

Ottomanus says, “Every animal loves its own progeny except the ostrich. But that pertains only to the male. For although the common proverb imputes folly to the female, yet with her folly she loves her young, and feeds them, and teaches them to fly, the same as other animals.” Damir, an Arabic writer, says, “When the ostrich goes forth from her nest, that she may seek food, if she finds the egg of another ostrich, she sits on that, and forgets her own. And when driven away by hunters, she never returns; whence, it is that she is described as foolish, and that the proverb in regard to her has originated.

And warmeth them in dust - The idea which was evidently in the mind of the translators in this passage was, that the ostrich left her eggs in the dust to be hatched by the heat of the sun. This is not correct, and is not necessarily implied in the Hebrew, though undoubtedly the heat of the sand is made to contribute to the process of hatching the egg, and allows the parent bird to be absent longer from her nest than birds in colder climates. This seems to be all that is implied in the passage.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Which leaveth her eggs in the earth,.... Lays them and leaves them there. Aelianus, agreeably to this, saysF23De Animal. l. 14. c. 17. , that it builds a low nest in the ground, making a hollow in the sand with its feet; though he seems to be mistaken as to the number of its eggs, which he makes to be more than eighty; more truly Leo AfricanusF24Ut supra. (Descriptio Africaae, l. 9. p. 766.) , who reckons them ten or twelve; which, he says, it lays in the sand, and each of them are of the size of a cannon ball, and weigh fifteen pounds, more or less. Hence, with the Arabs, it is called

"the mother of eggs,'

because of the large eggs it lays; and with them it is a proverb,

"meaner, or of a lesser account, than the eggs of an ostrich,'

because its eggs are neglected by itF25Hottinger. Smegm. Orient. l. 1. c. 7. p. 128. ;

and warmeth them in the dust; not that she leaves them to be warmed by the hot sand, or by the heat of the sun upon them, by which they are hatched, as has been commonly said, for thereby they would rather be corrupted and become rotten; but she herself warms them and hatches them, by sitting upon them in the dust and sand: and for this the above historian is express, who saysF26Descript. Africae, ut supra. (l. 9. p. 766.) Vid. Aelian. l. 4. c. 37. , the female lighting on these eggs, whether her own or another's, sits on them and heats them. Concerning the ostrich hatching its eggs, VanslebF1Relation of a Voyage to Egypt, p. 64. , from an Arabic manuscript, relates what is incredible, that they are hatched by the male and female with their eye only; that one or other of them keep continually looking at them until they are all hatched; and this I observe is asserted also by another writerF2Coelius, l. 10. c. 5. apud Sanctium in loc. .

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and h warmeth them in dust,

(h) They write that the ostrich covers her eggs in the sand, and because the country is hot and the sun still keeps them warm, they are hatched.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-39.html. 1599-1645.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:14 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust,

Ver. 14. Which leaveth her eggs in the earth] Some say that she layeth 80 eggs, and having a faculty of discerning which of them will prove ostriches, and which will come to nothing; she leaveth some of them upon the sand, and upon other some sitteth and hatcheth them. But this appeareth to be a fiction, because another and a better reason of her leaving her eggs is here alleged; and the power and providence of God giving them life by the heat of the sun, evidenced and evinced.

And warmeth them in the dust] Julius Scaliger reporteth the like of a certain crested bird of the size of a hen, found in Catigan, an island in the sea Sur; which sitteth not upon her eggs, but burieth them two feet deep in the sand; whence they are hatched by the sun and hot sands; and this, say some, in very hot countries is not unusual.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-39.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Which, i.e. which ostrich; whose property this is noted to be by naturalists. Or, but; for this unnatural quality is opposed to the goodliness of her wings or feathers.

In the earth; in the place where she lays them; where she leaves them, either,

1. From care, lest she should crush and break them, if her vast body should sit upon them; or rather,

2. From forgetfulness, or carelessness, or unnaturalness, or folly; to which it is manifestly ascribed in the following verses.

Warmeth them in the dust; either,

1. Covering them with sand, that they may be warmed and hatched by that, together with the heat of the sun. But this is judged a fabulous report; for the Arabians, amongst whom this bird is most frequent and best known, affirm that such eggs do quickly perish and putrefy. Or rather,

2. Exposing them to the heat of the sun, which being excessive in those hot countries, doth and must needs quickly destroy or spoil them. And the ostrich is said to warm them, because her leaving them there is not only the occasion, but im some sort the cause, of the sun’s warming them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-39.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Which , nay: used in the sense of the Latin immo, as in Job 22:2. For instances of similar cases, see Noldius, Concord. Partic., 369, 370.

Leaveth her eggs in the earth — Livingstone’s description of the ostrich forcibly illustrates the text. “The ostrich begins to lay her eggs before she has fixed on a spot for a nest, which is only a hollow a few inches deep in the sand, and about a yard in diameter. Solitary eggs, named by the Bechuanas ‘lesetla,’ are thus found lying forsaken all over the country, and become a prey to the jackal. She seems averse to risking a spot for a nest, and often lays her eggs in that of another ostrich, so that as many as forty-five have been found in one nest.’ Both mate and female assist in the incubations; but the numbers of females being always greatest, it is probable that cases occur in which the females have entire charge.” — LIVINGSTONE, Travels in South Africa. The Arabs call the female bird Umm thelathin, (mother of thirty,) from the number of eggs, as a rule, she is supposed to lay.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-39.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Dust. This might help to hatch them. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "earth, and warmeth them in the dust." (Protestants)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-39.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust,

Nay (unlike the stork) she leaveth etc. Hence, called by the Arabs the impious bird. However, the fact is, she lays her eggs with great care about a foot beneath the surface, and hatches them as other birds do; but in hot countries the eggs do not need so constant incubation; she therefore often leaves them during the day: moreover, the outer eggs intended for food, she feeds her young with (Cuvier, 'Animal Kingdom,' 8: 432); 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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) Which leaveth her eggs.—The ostrich only sits upon her eggs at night, when the cold would chill and destroy them; by day the heat of the sand continues the process of hatching.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 39:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-39.html. 1905.