|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-9 The people were in tears. But it was rather the cry of their trouble, and of their sin, than of their prayer. Let us be thankful for the mercy of water, that we may not be taught to value it by feeling the want of it. See what dependence husbandmen have upon the Divine providence. They cannot plough nor sow in hope, unless God water their furrows. The case even of the wild beasts was very pitiable. The people are not forward to pray, but the prophet prays for them. Sin is humbly confessed. Our sins not only accuse us, but answer against us. Our best pleas in prayer are those fetched from the glory of God's own name. We should dread God's departure, more than the removal of our creature-comforts. He has given Israel his word to hope in. It becomes us in prayer to show ourselves more concerned for God's glory than for our own comfort. And if we now return to the Lord, he will save us to the glory of his grace.
Verse 6. - The wild asses... in the high places; rather, on the bare heights. "The wild asses," says a traveler cited by Rosenmüller," are especially fond of treeless mountains." Like dragons; render rather, like jackals (as Jeremiah 9:11; 10:22). The allusion is to the way jackals hold their head as they howl. We are told that even the keen eyes of the wild asses fail, because there was [is] no grass; rather, herbage. They grow dim first with seeking it so long in vain, and then from lack of nourishment.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the wild asses did stand in the high places,.... To see where any grass was to be had, or where the wind blows more freely and cooly, to draw it in; as follows. The Targum renders it, "by the brooks"; and so Jarchi interprets it brooks of water; whither they came as usual to drink, and found them now dried up; and where they stood distressed and languishing, not knowing where to go for any:
they snuffed up the wind like dragons: which, being of a hot nature, open their mouths, and draw in the wind and air to cool them. Aelianus (b) reports of the dragons in Phrygia, that they open their mouths, and not only draw in the air, but even birds flying. The word used for dragons signifies large fishes, great whales; and some understand it of crocodiles, who will lift up their heads above water to refresh themselves with the air:
their eyes did fail; in looking about for grass; or for want of food, being quite starved and famished:
because there was no grass; for their food and nourishment. With great propriety is the herb or grass mentioned, this being the proper food of asses, as Aristotle (c) observes; and with which agrees the Scripture; which represents them as content when they have it; and as ranging about the mountains for it when they have none; being creatures very impatient of hunger and thirst; see Job 6:5 wherefore the Greek writers surname this animal dry and thirsty; and hence the lying story of Tacitus (d), concerning Moses and the children of Israel; who, he says, being ready to perish for want of water, Moses observed a flock of wild asses going from their pasture to a rock covered with trees, and followed them, taking it for herbage, and found large fountains of water. And very pertinently are their eyes said to fail for want of food, and the sight of them grow dim, which is more or less the case of all creatures in such circumstances; but the rather is this observed of the wild ass, because, as an Arabic writer (e) suggests, it is naturally very sharp and clear sighted.
(b) De Animal. l. 2. c. 21. (c) Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 8. (d) Histor. l. 5. c. 3.((e) Damir apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 16. col. 878.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. wild asses—They repair to "the high places" most exposed to the winds, which they "snuff in" to relieve their thirst.
eyes—which are usually most keen in detecting grass or water from the "heights," so much so that the traveller guesses from their presence that there must be herbage and water near; but now "their eyes fail." Rather the reference is to the great boas and python serpents which raise a large portion of their body up in a vertical column ten or twelve feet high, to survey the neighborhood above the surrounding bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. These giant serpents originated the widely spread notions which typified the deluge and all destructive agents under the form of a dragon or monster serpent; hence, the dragon temples always near water, in Asia, Africa, and Britain; for example, at Abury, in Wiltshire; a symbol of the ark is often associated with the dragon as the preserver from the waters [Kitto, Biblical Cyclopædia].
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