|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:1-30 God inquires of Job concerning several animals. - In these questions the Lord continued to humble Job. In this chapter several animals are spoken of, whose nature or situation particularly show the power, wisdom, and manifold works of God. The wild ass. It is better to labour and be good for something, than to ramble and be good for nothing. From the untameableness of this and other creatures, we may see, how unfit we are to give law to Providence, who cannot give law even to a wild ass's colt. The unicorn, a strong, stately, proud creature. He is able to serve, but not willing; and God challenges Job to force him to it. It is a great mercy if, where God gives strength for service, he gives a heart; it is what we should pray for, and reason ourselves into, which the brutes cannot do. Those gifts are not always the most valuable that make the finest show. Who would not rather have the voice of the nightingale, than the tail of the peacock; the eye of the eagle and her soaring wing, and the natural affection of the stork, than the beautiful feathers of the ostrich, which can never rise above the earth, and is without natural affection? The description of the war-horse helps to explain the character of presumptuous sinners. Every one turneth to his course, as the horse rushes into the battle. When a man's heart is fully set in him to do evil, and he is carried on in a wicked way, by the violence of his appetites and passions, there is no making him fear the wrath of God, and the fatal consequences of sin. Secure sinners think themselves as safe in their sins as the eagle in her nest on high, in the clefts of the rocks; but I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord, #Jer 49:16". All these beautiful references to the works of nature, should teach us a right view of the riches of the wisdom of Him who made and sustains all things. The want of right views concerning the wisdom of God, which is ever present in all things, led Job to think and speak unworthily of Providence.
Verses 1-30. - This chapter completes the survey of animate nature begun at Job 38:39. The habits and instincts of the wild goat, the wild ass, and wild cattle are first noticed (vers. 1-12); then a transition is made to the most remarkable of birds, the ostrich (vers. 13-18). Next, the horse is described, and, as it were, depicted, in a passage of extraordinary fire and brilliancy (vers. 19-25). Finally, a return is made to remarkable birds, and the habits of the hawk and eagle obtain mention (vers. 26-30). Throughout, the object is to show the infinite wisdom of God, and the utter incompetence of man to explain the mysteries of nature. Verse 1. - Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? The wild goats of Western Asia are of two kinds, the Capra segagrus, and the Asiatic ibex, or Capra Sinaitica. The latter is probably the animal here intended, which is called yael sela, "the wild goat of the rocks," and was known to the Assyrians as ya-e-li. It is an animal with large rough horns curving backwards, closely allied to the steinbock, or bouquetin, of the Swiss and Tyrolian Alps. It is very shy and wild, difficult of approach, and inhabiting only the most rocky and desolate tracts of Syria and Arabia. Representations of the animal, which was hunted by the Assyrian kings, are common upon the Ninevite monuments (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 140. Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? "The hinds" here are probably the females of the species of ibex intended. The clause is therefore a mere repetition, in other words, of the preceding one.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth?.... Which creatures are so called, because they dwell among the rocks (d) and run upon them; and though their heads are loaded with a vast burden of horns upon them, yet can so poise themselves, as with the greatest swiftness, to leap from mountain to mountain, as Pliny says (e): and if they bring forth their young in the rocks, as Olympiodorus asserts, and which is not improbable, it is not to be wondered, that the time of their bringing forth should not be known by men, to whom the rocks they run upon are inaccessible;
or canst thou mark the time when the hinds do calve? that is, precisely and exactly, and so as to direct, order, and manage, and bring it about, as the Lord does: and it is wonderful that they should calve, and not cast their young before their time, when they are continually in flight and fright, through men or wild beasts, and are almost always running and leaping about; and often scared with thunder, which hastens birth, Psalm 29:9; otherwise the time of their bringing forth in general is known by men, as will be observed in Job 39:2.
(d) "----Amantis saxa capellae". Ovid. Epist. 15. v. 55. (e) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 53. Aelian. de Animal. l. 14. c. 16.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
wild goats—ibex (Ps 104:18; 1Sa 24:2).
hinds—fawns; most timid and defenseless animals, yet cared for by God.
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