Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Even wild beasts, cut off from all care of man, are cared for
by God at their seasons of greatest need. Their instinct comes
direct from God and guides them to help themselves in parturition; the
very time when the herdsman is most anxious for his herds.
hinds--fawns; most timid and defenseless animals, yet cared for by God.
2. They bring forth with ease and do not need to reckon the months
of pregnancy, as the shepherd does in the case of his flocks.
3. bow themselves--in parturition; bend on their knees
bring forth--literally, "cause their young to cleave the womb and
sorrows--their young ones, the cause of their momentary pains.
4. are in good liking--in good condition, grow up strong.
with corn--rather, "in the field," without man's care.
return not--being able to provide for themselves.
5. wild ass--Two different Hebrew words are here used for the
same animal, "the ass of the woods" and "the wild ass."
loosed the bands--given its liberty to. Man can rob animals of
freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined with subordination to
6. barren--literally, "salt," that is, unfruitful. (So
7. multitude--rather, "din"; he sets it at defiance, being far away
from it in the freedom of the wilderness.
driver--who urges on the tame ass to work. The wild ass is the symbol
of uncontrolled freedom in the East; even kings have, therefore, added
its name to them.
8. The range--literally, "searching," "that which it finds by
searching is his pasture."
9. unicorn--PLINY [Natural History,
8.21], mentions such an animal; its figure is found depicted in the
ruins of Persepolis. The Hebrew reem conveys the idea of
loftiness and power (compare Ramah; Indian,
Ram; Latin, Roma). The rhinoceros was perhaps the
original type of the unicorn. The Arab rim is a two-horned
animal. Sometimes "unicorn" or reem is a mere poetical symbol or
abstraction; but the buffalo is the animal referred to here, from the
contrast to the tame ox, used in ploughing
(Job 39:10, 12).
abide--literally, "pass the night."
10. his band--fastened to the horns, as its chief strength lies in
the head and shoulders.
after thee--obedient to thee; willing to follow, instead of being
goaded on before thee.
11. thy labour--rustic work.
into thy barn--rather, "gather (the contents of) thy threshing-floor"
[MAURER]; the corn threshed on it.
13. Rather, "the wing of the ostrich hen"--literally, "the crying
bird"; as the Arab name for it means "song"; referring to its night
vibrating joyously. "Is it not like the quill and feathers of the
pious bird" (the stork)? [UMBREIT]. The
vibrating, quivering wing, serving for sail and oar at once, is
characteristic of the ostrich in full course. Its white and black
feathers in the wing and tail are like the stork's. But, unlike that
bird, the symbol of parental love in the East, it with seeming want of
natural (pious) affection deserts its young. Both birds are poetically
called by descriptive, instead of their usual appellative, names.
14, 15. Yet (unlike the stork) she "leaveth," &c. Hence called by
the Arabs "the impious bird." However, the fact is, she lays her eggs
with great care and hatches them, as other birds do; but in hot
countries the eggs do not need so constant incubation; she therefore
often leaves them and sometimes forgets the place on her return.
Moreover, the outer eggs, intended for food, she feeds to her young;
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.
16. 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.
17. wisdom--such as God gives to other animals, and to man
The Arab proverb is, "foolish as an ostrich." Yet her very seeming want
of wisdom is not without wise design of God, though man cannot see it;
just as in the trials of the godly, which seem so unreasonable to Job,
there lies hid a wise design.
18. Notwithstanding her deficiencies, she has distinguishing
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."
19. The allusion to "the horse"
suggests the description of him. Arab poets delight in praising the
horse; yet it is not mentioned in the possessions of Job
(Job 1:3; 42:12).
It seems to have been at the time chiefly used for war, rather than
thunder--poetically for, "he with arched neck inspires fear as
thunder does." Translate, "majesty"
[UMBREIT]. Rather "the trembling,
quivering mane," answering to the "vibrating wing" of the ostrich
[MAURER]. "Mane" in Greek also is from a
root meaning "fear." English Version is more sublime.
20. make . . . afraid--rather, "canst thou (as I do) make him
spring as the locust?" So in
the comparison is between locusts and war-horses. The
heads of the two are so similar that the Italians call the locusts
cavaletta, "little horse."
21. valley--where the battle is joined.
goeth on--goeth forth
(Nu 1:3; 21:23).
23. quiver--for the arrows, which they contain, and which are
directed "against him."
glittering spear--literally, "glittering of the spear," like
"lightning of the spear"
24. swalloweth--Fretting with impatience, he
draws the ground towards him with his hoof, as if he would
swallow it. The parallelism shows this to be the sense; not as
MAURER, "scours over it."
neither believeth--for joy. Rather, "he will not stand still, when
the note of the trumpet (soundeth)."
25. saith--poetically applied to his mettlesome neighing, whereby
he shows his love of the battle.
26. The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climes
before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes the whole hawk
27. eagle--It flies highest of all birds: thence called "the bird
it occupies the same abode mostly for life.
strong place--citadel, fastness.
29. seeketh--is on the lookout for.
behold--The eagle descries its prey at an astonishing distance, by
sight, rather than smell.
30. Quoted partly by Jesus Christ
The food of young eagles is the blood of victims brought by the parent,
when they are still too feeble to devour flesh.
slain--As the vulture chiefly feeds on carcasses, it is included
probably in the eagle genus.