Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:16

"She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers; Though her labor be in vain, she is unconcerned;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Birds;   God;   Ostriches;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ostrich, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Job;   Knowledge;   Nature;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ostrich,;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Harden (the heart);  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Harden;   Labor;   Ostrich;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

She is hardened against her young - See before, and the extracts from Dr. Shaw at the end of the chapter, Job 39:30; (note). She neglects her little ones, which are often found half starved, straggling, and moaning about, like so many deserted orphans, for their mother.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-39.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

She is hardened against her young ones - The obvious meaning of this passage, which is a fair translation of the Hebrew, is, that the ostrich is destitute of natural affection for her young; or that she treats them as if she had not the usual natural affection manifested in the animal creation. This sentiment also occurs in Lamentations 4:3, “The daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” This opinion is controverted by Buffon, but seems fully sustained by those who have most attentively observed the habits of the ostrich. Dr. Shaw, as quoted by Paxton, and in Robinson‘s Calmet, says, “On the least noise or trivial occasion she forsakes her eggs or her young ones, to which perhaps she never returns; or if she does, it may be too late either to restore life to the one, or to preserve the lives of the others.” “Agreeable to this account,” says Paxton, “the Arabs meet sometimes with whole nests of these eggs undisturbed, some of which are sweet and good, and others addle and corrupted; others again have their young ones of different growths, according to the time it may be presumed they have been forsaken by the dam. They oftener meet a few of the little ones, not bigger than well-grown pullets, half-starved, straggling and moaning about like so many distressed orphans for their mothers.”

Her labour is in vain without fear - Herder renders this,” In vain is her travail, but she regards it not.” The idea in the passage seems to be this; that the ostrich has not that apprehension or provident care for her young which others birds have. It does not mean that she is an animal remarkably bold and courageous, for the contrary is the fact, and she is, according to the Arabian writers, timid to a proverb; but that she has none of the anxious solicitude for her young which others seem to have - the dread that they may be in want, or in danger, which leads them, often at the peril of their own lives, to provide for and defend them.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers,.... Hence said to be cruel, Lamentations 4:3; not against the young ones she hatches, for AelianusF3Ut supra. (Vid. Aelian. l. 4. c. 37.) reports her as very tender of her young, and exposing herself to danger for the preservation of them; but being a very forgetful creature, having laid its eggs in the sand, where it leaves them, forgets where it has laid them; and finding other eggs sits on them and hatches them, and regards the young as its own, and is hardened against its true and real young, as not belonging to her;

her labour is in vain without fear; in laying her eggs and leaving them in the dust, without fear of their being crushed and broken, which yet they are, and so her labour is in vain; or her labour in hatching the eggs of others, without any fear or care of their belonging to others, which yet they do, and so she labours in vain.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

She is hardened against her young ones, as though [they were] not hers: her labour is i in vain without fear;

(i) If he should take care of them.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-39.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

On a slight noise she often forsakes her eggs, and returns not, as if she were “hardened towards her young.”

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.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;

Her labour — In laying her eggs is in vain, because she hath not the fear and tender concern for them, which she should have.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-39.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though [they were] not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;

Ver. 16. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers] Heb. her sons. So are those peremptores potius quam parentes, as Bernard calleth them, rather parricides than parents, who look not to the precious souls of their poor children; who labour not to mend that by education which they have marred by propagation. These are worse than those daughters of Jerusalem, who, slain almost with grief and hunger, became cruel to their sucklings, like the ostriches of the wilderness, Lamentations 4:3. What a cruel mother was Medea! and the mother of King Edward, the martyr, whom she basely murdered; and when his brother Egelred (who succeeded him in the kingdom), being then but ten years old, mourned thereat, his mother was so enraged, that taking wax candles, which were readiest at hand, she therewith scourged him so sore, that he could never after endure wax candles to be burnt before him (Mr Clark’s Martyrol. fol. 31). But this cruelty was nothing to that of soul murder, whereof many parents, by their negligence at least, are deeply guilty; they bring forth children to that old manslayer, and so their labour (in bearing and breeding children) is in vain, and worse, without fear, for they will not be better advised nor affected.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-39.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

She is hardened; or, he, i.e. God, hardens her; or, she hardeneth herself. Against her young ones, i.e. against her eggs, which he calls her

young ones emphatically, to aggravate her fault and folly in destroying those eggs, which, if not neglected, would have been young ones.

As though they were not hers; as if they were laid by some other bird. Or, that they may not be to her, i.e. that they may be utterly lost and destroyed; or as if it were her design to destroy their very being.

Her labour, to wit, in laying her egg’s, is wholly lost. In vain

without fear: this may be added as a further aggravation. She doth this, not because she is compelled to forsake her eggs for fear of men or beasts, but merely ont of an unnatural carelessness. Or, she is without fear, or for want of fear, to wit, of a provident fear and care about them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:16". 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

16.She is hardened against her young ones — More correctly, she deals hardly with her young. Dr. Tristram remarks: “Though I did not myself see the eggs scattered on the surface, yet all my Arab friends assured me that it is the invariable habit of the bird so to place many of them; and that far more are laid than are ever incubated. It is from this habit, most probably, that the want of parental instinct is laid to the charge of the ostrich. At the same time, when surprised by man with the young, before they are able to run, the parent bird scuds off and leaves its offspring to its fate.” — Natural History, p. 238. “On the least noise or trivial occasion,” says Dr. Shaw, “she forsakes her eggs or her young ones, to which, perhaps, she never returns.” The little ones are often to be met, “no bigger than well-grown pullets, half starved, straggling and moaning about, like so many distressed orphans, for their mother.” — Travels in Barbary, p. 452. The ostrich was proverbial for its cruelty. (Lamentations 4:3.)

Without fear — She feels no distress (literally, “fear”) at the view that her labour is in vain. “If the ostrich observes that its nest is discovered, it tramples upon its own eggs and makes its nest elsewhere.” — LICHTENSTEIN in Delitzsch. That she is not possessed of proper solicitude is given as an indirect reason why her labour is to so little purpose; thus anticipating the more comprehensive reason given in the following verse.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-39.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 39:16. She is hardened against her young ones — “A very little share of that στοργη, or natural affection, which so strongly exerts itself in most other creatures, is observable in the ostrich: for upon the least distant noise, or trivial occasion, she forsakes her eggs, or her young ones, to which, perhaps, she never returns; or if she does, it may be too late either to restore life to the one, or preserve the lives of the other. Agreeably to this account, the Arabs meet sometimes with whole nests of the eggs undisturbed: some of which are sweet and good; others are addle and corrupted; others, again, have their young ones of different growths, according to the time, it may be presumed, they have been forsaken by the dam. They more often meet a few of the little ones, no bigger than well- grown pullets, half-starved, straggling and moaning about, like so many distressed orphans for their mother. And in this manner the ostrich may be said to be hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers; her labour, in hatching, and attending them so far, being in vain, without fear, or the least concern of what becomes of them afterward. This want of affection is also recorded Lamentations 4:3, The daughter of my people, says the prophet, is cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 39:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-39.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ones, or eggs which she leaves. (Calmet) --- Ælian (xiv. 6.) asserts that this bird will expose her own life to defend her young. Yet the neglect of her eggs, will suffice to make her deemed cruel, Lamentations iv. 3. (Haydock) --- Her. Other birds leave their nests through fear; (Calmet) but this, after sitting a while, will depart carelessly, (Haydock) and if she meet with other eggs on her road, will take to them, thus rendering her own useless. (Bochart)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "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

She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;

On a slight noise often she forsakes her eggs, and returns not, as if she were 'hardened toward her young.'

Her labour - in producing eggs, is in vain, (yet) she has no disquietude (about her young): unlike other birds, who, Her labour - in producing eggs, is in vain, (yet) she has no disquietude (about her young): unlike other birds, who, if one egg and another are taken away, will go on laying until their full number is made up.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;
hardened
Lamentations 4:3
as
Deuteronomy 28:56,57; 1 Kings 3:26,27; 2 Kings 6:28,29; Lamentations 2:20; Romans 1:31
her labour
Ecclesiastes 10:15; Habakkuk 2:13
Reciprocal: Job 39:22 - General1 Thessalonians 2:1 - in vain

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 39:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-39.html.