Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:26

"Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, Stretching his wings toward the south?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Birds;   God;   Hawk;   Thompson Chain Reference - Birds;   Hawks;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Birds;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Hawk;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Hawk;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hawk;   Knowledge;   Nature;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hawk;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hawk;   Wings;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Angelology;   Birds;   Hawk;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom - The hawk is called נץ nets, from its swiftness in darting down upon its prey; hence its Latin name, nisus, which is almost the same as the Hebrew. It may very probably mean the falcon, observes Dr. Shaw. The flight of a strong falcon is wonderfully swift. A falcon belonging to the Duke of Cleves flew out of Westphalia into Prussia in one day; and in the county of Norfolk, a hawk has made a flight at a woodcock of near thirty miles in an hour. Thuanus says, "A hawk flew from London to Paris in one night." It was owing to its swiftness that the Egyptians in their hieroglyphics made it the emblem of the wind.

Stretch her wings toward the south? - Most of the falcon tribe pass their spring and summer in cold climates; and wing their way toward warmer regions on the approach of winter. This is what is here meant by stretching her wings toward the south. Is it through thy teaching that this or any other bird of passage knows the precise time for taking flight, and the direction in which she is to go in order to come to a warmer climate? There is much of the wisdom and providence of God to be seen in the migration of birds of passage. This has been remarked before. There is a beautiful passage in Jeremiah, Jeremiah 8:7, on the same subject: "The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming: but my people know not the judgment of the Lord."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-39.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom - The appeal here is to the hawk, because it is among the most rapid of the birds in its flight. The particuIar thing specified is its flying, and it is supposed that there was something special in that which distinguished it from other birds. Whether it was in regard to its speed, to its manner of flying, or to its habits of flying at periodical seasons, may indeed be made a matter of inquiry, but it is clear that the particular thing in this bird which was adapted to draw the attention, and which evinced especially the wisdom of God, was connected with its flight. The word here rendered “hawk,” (נץ nêts ) is probably generic, and includes the various species of the falcon or hawk tribe, as the jet-falcon, the goshawk, the sparrow, hawk, the lanner, the saker, the hobby, the kestril, and the merlin. Not less than one hundred and fifty species of the hawk, it is said, have been described, but of these many are little known, and many of them differ from others only by very slight distinctions.

They are birds of prey, and, as many of them are endowed with remarkable docility, they are trained for the diversions of falconry - which has been quite a science among sportsmen. The falcon, or hawk, is often distinguished for fleetness. One, belonging to a Duke of Cleves, flew out of Westphalia into Prussia in one day; and in the county of Norfolk (England) one was known to make a flight of nearly thirty miles in an hour. A falcon which belonged to Henry IV. of France, having escaped from Fontainebleau, was found twenty-four hours after in Malta, the space traversed being not less than one thousand three hundred and fifty miles; being a velocity of about fifty-seven miles an hour, on the supposition that the bird was on the wing the whole time. It is this remarkable velocity which is here appealed to as a proof of the divine wisdom. God asks Job whether he could have formed these birds for their rapid flight. The wisdom and skill which has done this is evidently far above any that is possessed by man.

And stretch her wings toward the south - Referring to the fact that the bird is migratory at certain seasons of the year. It is not here merely the rapidity of its flight which is referred to, but that remarkable instinct which leads the feathered tribes to seek more congenial climates at the approach of winter. In no way is this to be accounted for, except by the fact that God has so appointed it. This great law of the winged tribes is one of the clearest proofs of divine wisdom and agency.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

BEHOLD THE MYSTERIES OF THE HAWK AND THE EAGLE

"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 mentioned here. In a similar manner, long before mankind had learned anything whatever about radar, the cave-dwelling bats were created by God with built-in radar systems enabling them to hunt and find and eat millions of insects at night!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/job-39.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom,.... With so much swiftness, steadiness, and constancy, until she has seized her prey. The Vulgate Latin version and some others read, "does she become feathered", or "begin to have feathers?" and so Bochart: either when first fledged; or when, as it is saidF4Aelian. de Animal. l. 12. c. 4. she casts her old feathers and gets new ones, and this every year. Now neither her flight nor her feathers, whether at one time or the other, are owing to men, but to the Lord, who gives both;

and stretch her wings towards the south? Being a bird of passage, she moves from colder climates towards the winter, and steers her course to the south towards warmer onesF5Ibid. l. 2. c. 43. Plin. l. 10. c. 8. ; which she does by an instinct in nature, put into her by the Lord, and not through the instruction of man. Or, as some say, casting off her old feathers, she flies towards the south for warmth; and that her feathers may be cherished with the heat, and grow the sooner and better. Hence it is, perhaps, as Aelianus reportsF6De Animal. l. 7. c. 9. & l. 10. c. 14. , that this bird was by the Egyptians consecrated to Apollo or the sun; it being able to look upon the rays of it wistly, constantly, and easily, without being hurt thereby. PorphyryF7De Abstinentia, l. 4. s. 9. says, that this bird is not only acceptable to the sun; but has divinity in it, according to the Egyptians; and is no other than Osiris, or the sun represented by the image of itF8Kircher. Prodrom. Copt. p. 232. . StraboF9Geograph. l. 17. p. 562. speaks of a city of the hawks, where this creature is worshipped. It has its name in Greek from the sacredness of it; and according to HesiodF11Opera & Dies, l. 1. v. 208. , is very swift, and has large wings. It is called ωκυπτερος, swift in flying, by ManethoF12Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 176. ; and by Homer, ωκιστος πετεηνων, the swiftest of fowlsF13Iliad. 15. v. 238. Odyss 13. v. 87. . It has its name from נצה, to "fly", as Kimchi observesF14Sepher Shorash. rad. נצה. . Cyril of Jerusalem, on the authority of the Greek version, affirmsF15Cateches. 9. s. 6. , that by a divine instinct or order, the hawk, stretching out its wings, stands in the midst of the air unmoved, looking towards the south. All accounts show it to be a bird that loves warmth, which is the reason of the expression in the text.

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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 39:26". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, [and] stretch her wings toward the p south?

(p) That is, when cold comes, to fly into the warm countries.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-39.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climes before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes the whole hawk genus.

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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 39:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?

Fly — So strongly, constantly, unweariedly, and swiftly.

South — At the approach of winter, when wild hawks fly into warmer countries, as being impatient of cold. The birds of the air are proofs of the wonderful providence of God, as well as the beasts of the earth. God instances in two stately ones.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-39.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:26 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, [and] stretch her wings toward the south?

Ver. 26. Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?] Or, Doth the hawk ( plumescere) get her feathers by thy wisdom? The word cometh from a root which signifieth strong, because the strength of fowls is in their wings, their delight in high flying. Hath the hawk her wings from thee? and doth she recruit and use them, artificio et auspicio, by thy art or industry? Tame them indeed men may, and bring them to hand, as falconers do, for pleasure more than for profit; but neither can they give them their wings nor repair them when broken.

And stretch her wings toward the south] Thereby to furnish herself with a second plumage, while she flieth into those hotter countries, where (as they say) her old feathers by the sun’s heat fall off, and new come in their room (Pennabit).

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-39.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Job 39:26. Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? &c.— Thuanus, De Re Accip. mentions a hawk which flew from London to Paris in a night; and it was on account of its remarkable swiftness that the Egyptians made it their hieroglyphic for the wind.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 39:26". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/job-39.html. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(26) ¶ Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?

This is not the only part of scripture where the LORD makes use of the instinct of nature, in the birds or beasts of the earth, to teach man wisdom. What a beautiful description is given by the Prophet of that peculiar property in the birds of passage, when, on the approach of winter, they collect in parties, and take their flight to warmer climates. The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD . Jeremiah 8:7.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/job-39.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Doth the hawk fly in so singular a manner, so strongly and steadily, so constantly and unweariedly, so swiftly and speedily, so regularly and cunningly, to catch her prey, by thy wisdom; didst thou inspire her with that wisdom?

Stretch her wings toward the south; which she doth, either.

1. When she casts her old feathers, and gets new ones, which is furthered either by the warmth of southerly winds, or by the heat of the sun, which was southward from Job’s country, as it is from ours; whence it is, that as wild hawks do this by natural instinct, so the places which men build for the keeping of tame hawks are built towards the south. Or,

2. In or towards winter, when wild hawks fly into warmer countries, as being impatient of cold weather.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:26". 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

β. Now that the splendid digression, setting before us the war-horse, is at an end, the thread of the subject is again taken up, and a new illustration given of diversities springing from similarities; a simple subject, which Job has failed to elucidate. The hawk and the eagle are marvellously alike in their structure, (both belong to the Falconidae,) and yet the one is distinguished by a migratory instinct, while the other easily sits at the head of the bird creation, marked by wondrous powers of flight and no less wondrous vision, which, instead of leading it, as is the case with the hawk, on long and unknown journeys, serves rather for spying out an ignominious prey. 26-30.

“From that which is here intimated, (to wit, that other animals must sacrifice their life in order to satisfy the bloodthirsty brood of an eagle,) do we not see that the suffering of a single creature might, in God’s plan, be designed to benefit other creatures of God?” — Victor Andrea.

26.The hawk — God next adduces the strange instinct which, “intelligent of seasons,” leads to the migration of birds. The hawk is instanced, perhaps because he was esteemed sacred by some ancient nations. The hawk migrates southward during the latter part of September, “not in groups,” says Dr. Thomson, (i, 506,) “as do cranes, geese, and storks; but keeps passing for days in straggling lines, like scattered ranks of a routed army. Here and there, as far as eye can reach, they come, flying every one apart, but all going steadily to the south.” Of the law that enables —

These aery caravans, high over seas

Flying, and over lands,

To steer their annual voyage, borne on winds,

back to the very spot that gave them birth, may we not say, with Hooker, comprehensively and grandly, “See we not plainly that obedience of creatures to the law of nature is the stay of the whole world?” The world of instinct, quite as much as that of reason, is emblazoned within and without with marks of divine thought and wisdom. The ways of reason do not so much elude the grasp of the human mind as do those of instinct. The superior, superhuman thought by which a confessedly inferior world is imbued and animated, is sublimely declaratory of a God. For instance, the mathematical (hexagonal) figure in which the bee works, displaying outgoings of mind to which man has so slowly attained, no less than the stately, undeviating flight of the hawk, points upward to a divine mind — to an intelligence which is not from the animals themselves, but which is a necessity that has been laid upon them by a higher intelligence. The world of instinct proves to be “an inner design, and omnipresent reason in things,” and “in its proper spirit, it is an uninterrupted divine service, a thoughtful, intelligent glorification of that inexhaustible wisdom which reveals itself in nature.” — Fichte. Job may be tacitly reminded of his own appeal to the brute creation. See Job 12:7, with note.

The wondrous instinct of the hawk evidently led to its being held sacred throughout the land of Egypt. In various combinations the figure of the bird served for the function of Egyptian hieroglyphics. See BUNSEN, Egypt’s Place, etc., 1:507, 517. It was sacred to Horus, (the Egyptian Apollo,) whose priests, according to AElian, (Hist. of Anim., Job 10:14,) were called hieracobosci, or hawk-feeders, since it was their office to take care of the sacred hawks.

 

 

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "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 39:26. Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? — So strongly, constantly, unweariedly, and swiftly. Thuanus mentions a hawk which flew from London to Paris in a night; and it was on account of the remarkable swiftness of the hawk that the Egyptians made it their hieroglyphic for the wind; and stretch her wings toward the south — The addition of this clause implies, that these birds are fond of warmth, or that they are birds of passage, which, at the approach of winter, fly into warmer countries, as being impatient of cold. The birds of the air are proofs of the wonderful providence of God, as well as the beasts of the earth, and God here instances in two eminent ones.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 39:26". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-39.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Feathered. Hebrew, "fly." (Haydock) --- South, at the approach of "winter retiring" to warmer regions. (Pliny x. 8.) --- Septuagint, "spreading her wings, looking unmoved, towards the south." The hawk alone can stare at the sun, and fly to a great height. (Ælian x. 14.) --- Hence the Egyptians consecrated this bird to the sun. (Calmet) --- The eagle is of the same species, and has the same properties. (Haydock) Aristotle mentions 10, and Pliny 16 species of hawks. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-39.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Here we have hawks and eagles. The annual migration of the hawk toward the south occurred without Job"s input or wisdom. On the other hand the eagle builds its nest high in the mountains from where it scans the horizon for prey. "Devouring carcasses and sucking blood may suggest that this bird is the griffon-vulture rather than the eagle" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 769). Jackson notes that even modern scientists admit that in the final analysis, birds follow a far more ancient guidance system, an instinct acquired in the egg. Yet from whom did they acquire this "instinct"? Jackson rightly notes that "instinct" is often a word that man uses to cover his own ignorance. The truth of the matter is that such instinct came from God! Such birds have been seen at heights of 10,000 feet and they can spot prey from three miles away. Did Job have anything to do with this?

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-39.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

her. Hebrew = his.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-39.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?

The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climates before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climates before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes the whole hawk genus.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "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

(26) Doth the hawk fly?—The more symmetrical order of these descriptions would be for the ostrich to have come after the war-horse and before the hawk; in that case there would have been a gradual transition from the fleetest of quadrupeds to the fleetest of birds by means of the ostrich, which, though winged like a bird, cannot use its wings as birds do, but only run on the ground like a quadruped.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-39.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?
the hawk
Netz, Arabic naz, Latin nisus, the hawk, so called from natzah, to shoot away, fly, because of the rapidity of its flight. It probably comprehends various species of the falcon family, as the ger-falcon, goshawk, and sparrowhawk.
Leviticus 16:11; Deuteronomy 14:15
stretch
Is it through thy teaching that the falcon, or any other bird of passage, knows the precise time for taking flight, and the direction in which she is to go to arrive at a warmer climate?
Song of Solomon 2:12; Jeremiah 8:7
Reciprocal: Psalm 50:11 - know;  Proverbs 6:7 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 39:26". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-39.html.