|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.
Verse 5. - Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Two kinds of onager or wild ass, seem to be intended - the one called pore' (פִרֶא), and the other 'arod (עָרוד). These correspond probably to the Asinus hemippus and the Asinus onager of modern naturalists, the former of which is still found in the deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Northern Arabia, while the latter inhabits Western Asia from 48° N.lat. southward to Persia, Beloochistan, and Western India. Sir H. A. Layard describes the former, which he saw, as a "beautiful animal, in fleetness equalling the gazelle, very wild, and of a rich fawn colour, almost pink" ('Nineveh and its Remains,' Vol. 1. p. 324). The latter (Asinus onager) was seen by Sir R. K. Porter in Persia ('Travels,' vol. 1. p. 460), and is described in very similar terms. The two, however, appear to be distinct species (see Dr. Smith's 'Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 3. pp. 19, 20, Appendix). Both animals are remarkable for extreme wildness; and all attempts to domesticate the young of either have hitherto failed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire 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 Pliny (m) 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.
(m) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 44.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. 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; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; and Jer 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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