Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:18

"When she lifts herself on high, She laughs at the horse and his rider.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Birds;   God;   Ostriches;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Birds;   Horse, the;   Ostrich, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Laugh;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Job;   Knowledge;   Nature;   Ostrich;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ostrich;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ostrich,;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Scorn;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ostrich;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

She lifteth up herself - When she raiseth up herself to run away. Proofs of the fleetness of this bird have already been given. It neither flies nor runs distinctly, but has a motion composed of both; and, using its wings as sails, makes great speed. So Claudian: -

Vasta velut Libyae venantum vocibus ales

Cum premitur, calidas cursu transmittit arenas,

Inque modum veli sinuatis flamine pennis

Pulverulenta volat.

"Xenophon says, Cyrus had horses that could overtake the goat and the wild ass; but none that could reach this creature. A thousand golden ducats, or a hundred camels, was the stated price of a horse that could equal their speed." - Dr. Young.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-39.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

What time she lifteth up herself on high - In the previous verses reference had been made to the fact that in some important respects the ostrich was inferior to other animals, or had special laws in regard to its habits and preservation. Here the attention is called to the fact that, notwithstanding its inferiority in some respects, it had properties such as to command the highest admiration. Its lofty carriage, the rapidity of its flight, and the proud scorn with which it would elude the pursuit of the fleetest coursers, were all things that showed that God had so endowed it as to furnish proof of his wisdom. The phrase “what time she lifteth up herself,” refers to the fact that she raises herself for her rapid flight. It does not mean that she would mount on her wings, for this the ostrich cannot do; but to the fact that this timid and cowardly bird would, when danger was near, rouse herself, and assume a lofty courage and bearing. The word here translated “lifteth up” (תמריא tamâriy' ) means properly “to lash, to whip,” as a horse, to increase its speed, and is here supposed by Gesenius to be used as denoting that the ostrich by flapping her wings lashes herself up as it were to her course. All the ancient interpretations, however, as well as the common English version, render it as if it were but another form of the word רום rûm to raise oneself up, or to rise up, as if the ostrich aroused herself up for her flight. Herder renders it, “At once she is up, and urges herself forward.” Taylor (in Calmet) renders it:

“Yet at the time she haughtily assumes courage;

She scorneth the horse and his rider.”

The leading idea is, that she rouses herself to escape her pursuer; she lifts up her head and body, and spreads her wings, and then bids defiance to anything to overtake her.

She scorneth the horse and his rider - In the pursuit. That is, she runs faster than the fleetest horse, and easily escapes. The extraordinary rapidity of the ostrich has always been celebrated, and it is well known that she can easily outstrip the fleetest horse. Its swiftness is mentioned by Xenophon, in his Anabasis; for, speaking of the desert of Arabia, he says, that ostriches are frequently seen there; that none could overtake them; and that horsemen who pursued them were obliged soon to give over, “for they escaped far away, making use both of their feet to run, and of their wings, when expanded, as a sail, to waft them along.” Marmelius, as quoted by Bochart (see above), speaking of a remarkable kind of horses, says, “that in Africa, Egypt, and Arabia, there is but one species of that kind which they call the Arabian, and that those are produced only in the deserts of Arabia. Their velocity is wonderful, nor is there any better evidence of their remarkable swiftness, than is furnished when they pursue the camel-bird.”

It is a common sentiment of the Arabs, Boehart remarks, that there is no animal which can overcome the ostrich in its course. Dr. Shaw says, “Notwithstanding the stupidity of this animal, its Creator hath amply provided for its safety by endowing it with extraordinary swiftness, and a surprising apparatus for escaping from its enemy. ‹They, when they raise themselves up for flight, laugh at the horse and his rider.‘ They afford him an opportunity only of admiring at a distance the extraordinary agility, and the stateliness likewise of their motions, the richness of their plumage, and the great propriety there was in ascribing to them an expanded, quivering wing. Nothing, certainly, can be more entertaining than such a sight; the wings, by their rapid but unwearied vibrations, equally serving them for sails and for oars; while their feet, no less assisting in conveying them out of sight, are no less insensible of fatigue.” “Travels,” 8vo., vol. ii. p. 343, as quoted by Noyes. The same representation is confirmed by the writer of a voyage to Senegal, who says,” She sets off at a hand gallop; but after being excited a little, she expands her wings, as if to catch the wind, and abandons herself to a speed so great, that she seems not to touch the ground.

I am persuaded she would leave far behind the swiftest English courser” - Rob. Calmet. Buffon also admits that the ostrich runs faster than the horse. These unexceptionable testimonies completely vindicate the assertion of the inspired writer. The proofs and illustrations here furnished at considerable length are designed to show that the statements here made in the book of Job are such as are confirmed by all the investigations in Natural History since the time the book was written. If the statements are to be regarded as an indication of the progress made in the science of Natural History at the time when Job lived, they prove that the observations in regard to this animal had been extensive and were surprisingly accurate. They show that the minds of sages at that time had been turned with much interest to this branch of science, and that they were able to describe the habits of animals with an accuracy which would do the highest credit to Pliny or to Buffon. If, however, the account here is to be regarded as the mere result of inspiration, or as the language of God speaking and describing what he had done, then the account furnishes us with an interesting proof of the inspiration of the book. Its minute accuracy is confirmed by all the subsequent inquiries into the habits of the animal referred to, and shows that the statement is based on simple truth. The general remark may here be made, that all the notices in the Bible of the subjects of science - which are indeed mostly casual and incidental - are such as are confirmed by the investigations which science in the various departments makes. Of what other ancient book but the Bible can this remark be made?

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

What time she lifted up herself on high,.... It is sometimes eight foot highF12Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 360. ; when alarmed with approaching danger she raises up herself, being sitting on the ground, and erects her wings for flight, or rather running;

she scorneth the horse and his rider; being then, as PlinyF13Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1. says, higher than a man on horseback, and superior to a horse in swiftness; and though horsemen have been able to take wild asses and goats, very swift creatures, yet never ostriches, as Xenophon relatesF14De Expedit. Cyri, l. 1. of those in Arabia; and this creature has another method, when pursued, by which it defies and despises, as well as hurts and incommodes its pursuers, which is by casting stones backward at them with its feet as out of a slingF15Plin. ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1.) Aelian. de Animal. l. 4. c. 37. .

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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 39:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

What l time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

(l) When the young ostrich is grown up, he outruns the horse.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-39.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Notwithstanding her deficiencies, she has distinguishing excellences.

lifteth … herself — for running; she cannot mount in the air. Gesenius translates: “lashes herself” up to her course by flapping her wings. The old versions favor English Version, and the parallel “scorneth” answers to her proudly “lifting up herself.”

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

Lifteth — To flee from her pursuer: to which end she lifts up her head and body, and spreads her wings.

Scorneth — She despises them thro' her swiftness; for though she cannot fly, yet by the aid of her wings she runs so fast, that horse-men cannot reach her.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-39.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

Ver. 18. What time she lifteth up herself on high, &c.] That is, when she runneth away from the hunter (which she doth with singular swiftness), she lifteth up herself on high, not from the earth, as other birds (for that she cannot do), but on the earth, with wings stretched out like sails, and her whole body bolt upright, scarce touching the earth at all with her feet, but quickening her own pace with sharp spurs, which they say she hath in the pinion of each wing, so pricking herself on, that she may run the faster; to teach us what we should do in the race of religion, and when pursued by Satan, how to hasten to Christ.

She scorneth the horse and his rider] That is, she easily outrnns them, being as swift as a bird that flieth. They say the Arabians are wont to try their horses’ swiftness by trying to overtake them.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:18". 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 lifteth up herself on high, to flee from her pursuer; to which end she lifteth up her head and body, and spreads her wings.

She scorneth the horse and his rider she despiseth them in regard of her greater swiftness; for though she cannot fly because of her great bulk, being said to be as big as a new-born camel, yet by the aid of her wings she runs so fast that horsemen cannot reach her, as both Greek and other authors have noted.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:18". 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

18.Lifteth up herself — Others read, lasheth herself, justifying the rendering by the feeble reason that her wings seem a lash to impel herself forward. Such “lashing of wing” would but faintly repeat the grander conception of Job 39:13, of “waving the wing joyously.” It is now generally accepted, that the ostrich runs more swiftly than any other animal. Hence the Arab proverb, “swifter than an ostrich.” Dr. Livingstone calculates the speed of the ostrich at twenty-six miles an hour, and its stride, when bounding at full speed, Tristram says is from twenty-two to twenty-eight feet. Xenophon furnishes a fine illustration of the Authorized Version, “But no one ever caught the ostrich, for in her flight she kept constantly drawing on the pursuer, now running on foot, and again lifting herself up with her wings spread out, as though she had hoisted sails.” Anabasis, Job 1:3. In keeping with nature’s law of compensation, the swiftness of this bird compensates for its stupidity.

The horse and his rider — This casual mention of the horse and his rider prepares us, rhetorically, for the ensuing description of the war horse, “the only one, in this series, which refers to a tamed animal.” — Zockler.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "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 39:18. What time she lifteth up herself on high — Or, as Dr. Shaw more properly renders this clause, When she raiseth herself up to run away, namely, from her pursuers. For which purpose she stretches out her neck and legs, both which are very tall, lifts up her head and body, and spreads her wings; she scorneth the horse and his rider — She despiseth them on account of her greater swiftness; for though she cannot fly, because of her great bulk, yet by the aid of her wings she runs so fast, that horsemen cannot overtake her. Xenophon says, Cyrus’s horsemen, who were able to run down wild asses and wild goats, could never take ostriches. See Bochart. “When these birds are surprised,” says Dr. Shaw, “by persons coming suddenly upon them, while feeding in some valley, or behind some rocky or sandy eminence in the deserts, they will not stay to be curiously viewed and examined. Neither are the Arabs ever dexterous enough to overtake them, even when they are mounted upon their jinse, or horses. They afford them an opportunity only of admiring at a distance their extraordinary agility, and the stateliness, likewise, of their motions, the richness of their plumage, and the great propriety there was of ascribing to them an expanded, quivering wing. Nothing, certainly, can be more beautiful and entertaining than such a sight. The wings, by their repeated, though unwearied, vibrations, equally serving them for sails and oars, while their feet, no less assisting in conveying them out of sight, are no less insensible of fatigue.” We have mentioned their great bulk, as unfitting them for flying, and shall here observe, from the Encyclop. Brit., that the “ostrich is, without doubt, the largest of all birds, being nearly eight feet in length, and, when standing upright, from six to eight feet in height. We are told, in the Gentleman’s Magazine, (vol. 20. page 356,) that two ostriches were shown in London in the year 1750, the male of which was ten feet in height, and weighed 3 cwt. and 1 qr. But, though usually seven feet high from the top of the head to the ground, from the back it is only four, so that the head and neck are above three feet long. One of the wings, without the feathers, is a foot and a half; and being stretched out with the feathers is three feet.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 39:18". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-39.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

High. With her head erect, the ostrich is taller than a man on horseback. (Pliny x. 1.) --- Its wings are used like sails, and enable it to run as fast as many birds can fly, (Calmet0 while it hurls stones at the pursuer with its feet, so as frequently to kill them. (Diodorus ii.) --- Rider, as they can travel with equal speed. (Menochius) (Ver. 13.) --- Adamson (Senegal) placed two negroes on one, and testified that it still went faster than any English horse. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "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

What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

Not withstanding her deficiences, she has distinguishing, excellences.

Lifteth ... herself - for running: she cannot mount in the air. Gesenius translates [ tamriy' (Hebrew #4754), from maaraa' (Hebrew #4754), akin to the Arabic], lashes herself up to her course by flapping her wings. The old versions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, favour the English version, and the parallel "scorneth" answers to her proudly "lifting up herself" [from ruwm (Hebrew #7311), to raise one's self].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "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

(18) She lifteth up herself.—That is, either from the nest when she comes to maturity, or when she sets out to run. The ostrich has a habit of running in a curve, which alone enables horsemen to overtake and kill or capture her. As in Job 39:13 a comparison seems to be drawn between the ostrich and the stork, so here, probably, the subject spoken of is the stork. Swift and powerful as the ostrich is, yet no sooner does the stork, on the contrary, rise on high into the air than she—as, indeed, any bird—can baffle the pursuit of horsemen.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-39.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.
7,22; 5:22; 41:29; 2 Kings 19:21
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 39:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-39.html.