Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:5

"Who sent out the wild donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ass (Donkey);   God;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ass, the Wild;   Beasts;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Animals;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ass;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Arabia;   Ass;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Knowledge;   Nature;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ass;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Bands;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Ass;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ass;   Band;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Wild Ass;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? - פרא pere, which we translate wild ass, is the same as the ονος αγριος of the Greeks, and the onager of the Latins; which must not, says Buffon, be confounded with the zebra, for this is an animal of a different species from the ass. The wild ass is not striped like the zebra, nor so elegantly shaped. There are many of those animals in the deserts of Libya and Numidia: they are of a gray color; and run so swiftly that no horse but the Arab barbs can overtake them. Wild asses are found in considerable numbers in East and South Tartary, in Persia, Syria, the islands of the Archipelago, and throughout Mauritania. They differ from tame asses only in their independence and liberty, and in their being stronger and more nimble: but in their shape they are the same. See on Job 6:5; (note).

The bands of the wild ass? - ערוד arod, the brayer, the same animal, but called thus because of the frequent and peculiar noise he makes. But Mr. Good supposes this to be a different animal from the wild ass, (the jichta or equus hemionus), which is distinguished by having solid hoofs, a uniform color, no cross on the back, and the tail hairy only at the tip. The ears and tail resemble those of the zebra; the hoofs and body, those of the ass; and the limbs, those of the horse. It inhabits Arabia, China, Siberia, and Tartary, in glassy saline plains or salt wastes, as mentioned in the following verse.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-39.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? - For a description of the wild ass, see the notes at Job 11:12. On the meaning of the word rendered “free” (חפשׁי chophshı̂y ), see the notes at Isaiah 58:6. These animals commonly “inhabit the dry and mountainous parts of the deserts of Great Tartary, but not higher than about latitude 48 degrees. They are migratory, and arrive in vast troops to feed, during the summer, on the tracts to the north and east of the sea of Aral. About autumn they collect in herds of hundreds, and even thousands, and direct their course southward toward India to enjoy a warm retreat during winter. But they more usually retire to Persia, where they are found in the mountains of Casbin; and where part of them remain during the whole year. They are also said to penetrate to the southern parts of India, to the mountains of Malabar and Gelconda. These animals were anciently found in Palestine, Syria, Arabia Deserta, Mesopotamia, Phrygia, and Lycaonia, but they rarely occur in those regions at the present time, and seem to be almost entirely confined to Tartary, some parts of Persia and India, and Africa. Their manners resemble those of the wild horse.

They assembIe in troops under the conduct of a leader or sentinel; and are extremely shy and vigilant. They will, however, stop in the midst of their course, and even suffer the approach of man for an instant, and then dart off with the utmost rapidity. They have been at all times celebrated for their swiftness. Their voice resembles that of the common ass, but is shriller.” “Rob. Calmet.” The Onager or wild ass is doubtless “the parent stock from which we have derived the useful domestic animal, which seems to have degenerated the further it has been removed from its parent seat in Central Asia. It is greatly distinguished in spirit and grace of form from the domestic ass. It is taller and more dignified; it holds the head higher, and the legs are more elegantly shaped. Even the head, though large in proportion to the body, has a finer appearance, from the forehead being more arched; the neck by which it is sustained is much longer, and has a more graceful bend. It has a short mane of dark and woolly hair; and a stripe of dark bushy hair also runs along the ridge of the back from the mane to the tail. The hair of the body is of a silver gray, inclining to flaxen color in some parts, and white under the belly.

The hair is soft and silken, similar in texture to that of the camel.” - The Pictorial Bible. It is of this animal, so different in spirit, energy, agility, and appearance, from the domestic animal of that name, that we must think in order to understand this passage. We must think of them fleet as the wind, untamed and unbroken, wandering over vast plains in groups and herds, assembled by thousands under a leader or guide, and bounding off with uncontrollable rapidity on the approach of man, if we would feel the force of the appeal which is here made. God asks of Job whether he - who could not even subdue and tame this wild creature - had ordained the laws of its freedom; had held it as a captive, and then set it at liberty to exult over boundless plains in its conscious independence. The idea is, that it was one of the creatures of God, under no laws but such as he had been pleased to impose upon it, and wholly beyond the government of man.

Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? - As if he had been once a captive, and then set free. The illustration is derived from the feeling which attends a restoration to liberty. The freedom of this animal seems to be as productive of exhilaration as if it had been a prisoner or slave, and had been suddenly emancipated.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

QUESTIONS REGARDING THE WILD-ASS AND THE WILD-OX

"Who hath sent out the wild-ass free?

Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild-ass,

Whose home I have made the wilderness,

And the salt land his dwelling place?

He scorneth the tumult of the city,

Neither heareth he the shoutings of the driver.

The range of the mountains is his pasture,

And he searcheth after every green thing.

Will the wild-ox be content to serve thee?

Or will he abide by thy crib?

Canst thou bind the wild-ox with his band in the furrow?

Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?

Or wilt thou leave to him thy labor?

Wilt thou confide in him, that he will bring home thy seed,

And gather the grain of thy threshing floor?"

The animals mentioned here are the wild-ass, which is, "The onager of central Asia,"[1] and the wild-ox, identified by Pope in the Anchor Bible as, "the buffalo."[2]

The wild-ass, of course, is similar to the common donkey; and the mystery of these animals in some particulars is still incredibly arcane. Why, for example, has it been impossible to domesticate the buffalo? And regarding the ass, why cannot mules be produced by the breeding of the female donkey with a stallion? whereas, they are produced only by the breeding of mares with the male ass. We mention these things merely to suggest that, although men have learned many things, there are yet many incomprehensible mysteries in the natural creation that surrounds us.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "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

Who hath sent out the wild ass free?.... Into the wide waste, where it is, ranges at pleasure, and is not under the restraint of any; a creature which, as it is naturally wild, is naturally averse to servitude, is desirous of liberty and maintains it: not but that it may be tamed, as PlinyF13Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 44. speaks of such as are; but it chooses to be free, and, agreeably to its nature, it is sent out into the wilderness as such: not that it is set free from bondage, for in that it never was until it is tamed; but its nature and inclination, and course it pursues, is to be free. And now the question is, who gave this creature such a nature, and desire after liberty? and such power to maintain it? and directs it to take such methods to secure it, and keep clear of bondage? It is of God;

or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? not that it has any naturally upon it, and is loosed from them; but because it is as clear of them as such creatures are, which have been in bands and are freed from them: therefore this mode of expression is used, and which signifies the same as before.

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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 39:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wild ass — Two different Hebrew words are here used for the same animal, “the ass of the woods” and “the wild ass.” (See on Job 6:5; see on Job 11:12; see on Job 24:5; and see on Jeremiah 2:24).

loosed the bands — given its liberty to. Man can rob animals of freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined with subordination to fixed laws.

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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 39:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?

Sent — Who hath given him this disposition that he loves freedom, and hates that subjection which other creatures quietly endure? Loosed - Who keeps him from receiving the bands, and submitting to the service of man.

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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 39:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-39.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?

Ver. 5. Who hath sent out the wild ass free?] פרא Phere, ferum animal (so Tremellius rendereth it), the wild creature. And it is not unlikely that the Latin word fera comes from this Hebrew word for a wild ass; which is a most untameable and untractable creature, Eo quod onager feritate antecellit (Piscat.). "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind," James 3:7. We read of Augustus Caesar that he had a tame tiger, but who ever heard of a wild ass tamed? Africa is said to have whole herds of them; and it is reported, that when they see a man they stand stock still, and kick with their hinder feet, braying aloud. And when the hunter comes so near to them that he could touch them almost, they snuff up the wind, kick up their heels, and run quite away; so nimble they are, that they can hardly be taken, much less tamed? To the colt of this wild creature is a natural man compared by Zophar, Job 11:12, for his extreme rudeness and unruliness. The prophet Jeremiah hath the like of the idolaters of his time, Jeremiah 2:24, who were lawless and lewd losels, obstinate, and refractory; such as multo facilius fregeris quam flexeris, will sooner break than bend: with these froward God will wrestle, Psalms 18:26; with these antipodes God will walk contrary, Leviticus 26:41, and be as cross as they are for the hearts of them. His law hath four teeth to taw and tame these masterless monsters: viz. 1. Irritation, Romans 7:7 2. Induration, Isaiah 6:10 3. Obsignation, Genesis 4:7 4. Execration, Deuteronomy 28:16-17, &c. Obeyed he will be of them, either actively or passively; and sanctified he will be, either by them or upon them, Leviticus 10:3. Wild asses are free from men; but so are not wild Ishmaelites from God. Who hath ever loosed the bands of the wild ass? but God will hamper his rebels, and certainly subdue them; all his foes shall become his footstool. Be instructed therefore, O Jerusalem, Jeremiah 6:8. Be not as horse and mule that have no understanding, &c., for many sorrows shall be to such wicked, Psalms 32:9-10, and it is too hard for them to kick against the pricks, Acts 9:5, to push back upon the goad, as untamed heifers use to do, but to their further sorrow and sufferance.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-39.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? who hath given him this disposition, that he loves freedom, and avoids and hates that subjection which other creatures quietly and contentedly endure?

Who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? which is not to be understood privatively, as if God took off the bands which men had put upon him; but negatively, that he keeps him from receiving the bands and submitting to the service of man. Who hath made him so untractable and unmanageable? Which is the more strange, because home-bred asses are so tame and tractable.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:5". 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

γ. From animals who need no human care in the time of their extremity, the speaker now turns to creatures who despise man and rebel against all human interference. Various views (5-18) are presented of the same general truth; viz., the wondrous difference of dispositions which prevails among animals who, in other respects, bear to each other a resemblance more or less close. Job may first account for the difference between the wild and tame ass, Job 39:5-8.

5.Wild ass . See note on Job 24:5. Two different Hebrew names are given for “wild ass,” the one, as some suppose, pointing to its swiftness, the other to its shyness, two marked traits of the animal. Layard says, “In fleetness they equal the gazelle; and to overtake them is a feat which only one or two of the most celebrated mares have been known to accomplish,” (i, 325.) “It is almost impossible to take them when full grown,” (iii, 270.) This agrees with the observation of Xenophon, that his horsemen could overtake them by no other means than by dividing themselves into relays, and succeeding one another in the chase.” — Anab., Job 1:5. The wild ass, which both Martial and Oppian call beautiful, so differs from the stupid tame ass, his congener, as to call forth the humiliating question concerning this wonderful distinction between members of the same species. None but God, who “loosed the bands,” gave freedom to this child of the desert. On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians “regarded the ass as unclean and impure, merely on account of the resemblance which they conceive it bears to Typho; and in consequence of this notion, those cakes which they offer with their sacrifices during the two months Pauni and Phaophi, have the impression of an ass, bound, stamped upon them.” — De Iside, etc., section 30. Wild ass, . Hitzig infers from the Aramaic colouring of this word that it stood for an Aramaic variety of the ass.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "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 39:5. Who hath sent out the wild ass free? — Who hath given him this disposition, that he loves freedom, and hates that subjection which other creatures quietly endure. Compare Job 11:12; Hosea 8:9; in which, and other places of Scripture, the wild ass is described as delighting in the wilderness; perverse and obstinate in his behaviour; running with great swiftness whither his lust, hunger, thirst, or other desires draw him. Who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? — That is, who keeps him from receiving the bands, and submitting to the service of man? Who hath made him so untractable and unmanageable? Which is the more strange because home-bred asses are so tame and tractable. The word ערוד, gnarod, here translated wild ass, is not the same with that used in the former clause, which is פרא, pere; and Rabbi Levi makes this difference between them, that the former means an animal found in the wilderness, which eateth herbs, and the latter, asinus agri vel sylvestris, the ass which frequents the cultivated grounds and woods, and is supported by their produce. Bochart, however, thinks they ought not to be distinguished, and that one and the same animal is meant in both places.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 39:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-39.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Wild ass, described, chap. vi. 5. The industry of man cannot make this beautiful and strong animal serviceable to him. The like would be the case (Calmet) with many others, if Providence had not ordered it otherwise. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-39.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Only God can care for an animal that lives in the salt land (around the Dead Sea?), and shuns any sort of civilization, including the attempt to be domesticated. Who gave this animal such a yearning for freedom? And notice how God is able to care for animals that want to have nothing to do with man! "The freedom of the open country is more exciting to the wild donkey than all the hubbub of the city. He is so far removed from man that he does not hear "the shouting of the driver". He roams over vast territory, including mountains, to find food-any green thing will do. Thus his survival is dependent on God"s provision" (Zuck p. 171). Hence, God has both the power and the goodness to provide for such an animal that refuses all attempts of human intervention.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-39.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

ass. Probably = mule.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "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

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?

Wild ass. Two different Hebrew words are here used for the same animal, the donkey of the woods [ pere'

(Hebrew #6501)], and the wild donkey [ `aarowd (Hebrew #6171)]. (Note, Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; Jeremiah 2:24.)

Loosed the bands - given its liberty to. Man can rob animals of freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined with subordination to fixed laws.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?
the wild
6:5; 11:12; 24:5; Genesis 16:12; Psalms 104:11; Isaiah 32:14; Jeremiah 2:24; 14:6; Daniel 5:21; Hosea 8:9
who hath loosed
Genesis 49:14
Reciprocal: Genesis 1:24 - Let;  Job 39:10 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 39:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-39.html.