Job 38:39
Will you hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) Wilt thou hunt the prey?—The new chapter ought to begin here with this verse, inasmuch as the animal creation now passes under review.

Job 38:39-40. Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? — Is it by thy care and providence that the lions, who live in desert places, are furnished with necessary provisions? This is justly mentioned as another wonderful work of God. When they couch in their dens — When, through age and infirmity, they cannot range abroad for prey as the young lions do, but lie still in their dens, as it were, expecting their food from God, from whom also they receive it. And abide in the covert, to lie in wait — Watching till some beast comes that way, which they may make their prey.38:25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? - The appeal here is to the instincts with which God has endowed animals, and to the fact that he had so made them that they would secure their own food. He asks Job whether he would undertake to do what the lion did by instinct in finding his food, and by his power and skill in seizing his prey. There was a wise adaptation of the lion for this purpose which man could neither originate nor explain.

Or fill the appetite of the young lions - Margin, as in Hebrew "life." The word life is used here for hunger, as the appetite is necessarily connected with the preservation of life. The meaning here is, "Wouldst thou undertake to supply his needs? It is done by laws, and in a manner which thou canst not explain. There are in the arrangement by which it is accomplished marks of wisdom which far surpass the skill of man to originate, and the instinct and power by which it is done are proof of the supremacy of the Most High." No one can study the subject of the instincts of animals, or become in the least acquainted with Natural History, without finding every where traces of the wisdom and goodness of God.

39. At Job 38:39-39:30, the instincts of animals. Is it thou that givest it the instinct to hunt its prey? (Ps 104:21).

appetite—literally, "life," which depends on the appetite" (Job 33:20).

Is it by thy care and providence that the lions, who live in desert places, are furnished with necessary provisions? This is justly mentioned as another wonderful work of God. Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion?.... From meteors the Lord passes to animals, beasts, and birds, wherefore some here begin the thirty ninth chapter, which only treats of such; and he begins with the lion, the strongest among beasts, and most fierce; cruel, and voracious; and asks, who hunts his prey for him? Not man, who cannot; and if he could, durst not: but the Lord does; and, according to some writers (x), he has provided a small creature, between a fox and a wolf, called a jackal; which goes before the lion, and hunts the prey for him. And could this be understood particularly of the old lion, as Cocceius and others, naturalists (y) observe, that young lions hunt for the old ones, when they are not able to go in search of prey; and when they have got it, either bring it to them, or call them to partake of it with them;

or fill the appetite of the young lions, whose appetite is sharp and keen, and requires a great deal to fill it, and especially to satisfy a great many of them; herds of them, as Mr. Broughton renders the word, and which signifies a company; see Psalm 68:30. Men cannot feed them, but God can and does; there being some ends in Providence to be answered thereby, see Psalm 104:21; see also Psalm 34:8.

(x) Thevenot's Travels, part 2. c. 13. (y) Aelian. de Animal. l. 9. c. 1.

Wilt {a} thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

(a) After he had declared God's works in the heavens, he shows his marvellous providence in earth, even toward the brute beasts.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39, 40. The lion.

wilt thou hunt] Rather, dost thou hunt the prey for the lioness? That the lioness is enabled to catch her prey is due to some power which brings it into her hand. Is it Job, perhaps, that finds it for her?

Ch. Job 38:39—Ch. Job 39:30. The manifoldness of the Divine Mind as displayed in the world of animal life

The instances chosen are the lion and the raven (Job 38:39-41); the wild goats and the hinds (ch. Job 39:1-4); the wild ass (Job 38:5-8; the wild ox (Job 38:9-12); the ostrich (Job 38:13-18); the war horse (Job 38:19-25); the hawk and the eagle (Job 38:26-30).

These brilliant pictures from the animal world have the same purpose as those given before (Job 38:4-38) from inanimate nature; they make God to pass before the eye of Job. They exhibit the diversity of the animal creation, the strange dissimilarity of instinct and habit in creatures outwardly similar, the singular blending together of contradictory characteristics in the same creature, and the astonishing attributes and powers with which some of them are endowed; and all combines to illustrate the resources of mind and breadth of thought of Him who formed them and cares for them, the manifold play of an immeasurable intelligence and power in the world.

Yet though each of these pictures utters the name of God with an increasing emphasis, and though the Poet presents them in the first instance that we may hear this name from them, it is evident that his own eye follows each of the creatures which he describes with a delighted wonder and love. The Poet felt like a later poet,

He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small,

For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.

The words of Carlyle might be quoted, who says of the Book of Job and of these descriptions in particular, “so true every way; true eyesight and vision for all things; material things no less than spiritual” (Heroes, Lect. ii), were it not that this writer’s raptures are so often founded on intellectual mistake and imperfect appreciation of facts, and are therefore, like all such ideal raptures, only nauseous.Verse 39. - Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? A new departure. Ch. 39 should commence from this point. What does Job know of the habits and instincts of animals? Can he arrange so that the lion (rather, lioness) shall obtain its proper prey, and thus fill the appetite - or, satisfy the appetite (Revised Version) - of the young lions, which depend on their dam? Certainly not. "The lions, roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God" (Psalm 104:21). 31 Canst thou join the twistings of the Pleiades,

Or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth the signs of the Zodiac at the right time,

And canst thou guide the Bear with its children?

33 Knowest thou the laws of heaven,

Or dost thou define its influence on the earth?

That מעדגּות here signifies bindings or twistings (from עדן equals ענד, Job 31:36) is placed beyond question by the unanimous translations of the lxx (δεσμόν) and the Targ. (שׁירי equals σειράς), the testimony of the Masora, according to which the word here has a different signification from 1 Samuel 15:32, and the language of the Talmud, in which מעדנין, Klim, c. 20, signifies the knots at the end of a mat, by loosing which it comes to pieces, and Succa, 13b, the bands (formed of rushes) with which willow-branches are fastened together above in order to form a booth (succa); but מדאני, Sabbat, 33a, signifies a bunch of myrtle (to smell on the Sabbath). מעדנות כּימה is therefore explained according to the Persian comparison of the Pleiades with a bouquet of jewels, mentioned on Job 9:9, and according to the comparison with a necklace (‛ipd-eth-thurajja), e.g., in Sadi in his Gulistan, p. 8 of Graf's translation: "as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades." The Arabic name thurajja (diminutive feminine of tharwân) probably signifies the richly-adorned, clustered constellation. But כּימה signifies without doubt the clustered group,

(Note: The verb כום is still in general use in the Piel (to heap up, form a heap, part. mukauwam, heaped up) and Hithpa. (to accumulate) in Syria, and kôm is any village desolated in days of yore whose stones form a desolate heap comp. Fleischer, De Glossis Habichtianis, p. 41f.]. If, according to Kamus, in old Jemanic kı̂m in the sense of mukâwim signifies a confederate (synon. chilt, gils), the כּימה would be a confederation, or a heap, assemblage (coetus) of confederates. Perhaps the כימה was regarded as a troop of camels; the Beduins at least call the star directly before the seven-starred constellation of the Pleiades the hâdi, i.e., the singer riding before the procession, who cheers the camels by the sound of the hadwa (חדוה), and thereby urges them on. - Wetzst.

On πλειάδες, which perhaps also bear this name as a compressed group (figuratively γότρυς) of several stars (ὅτι πλείους ὁμοῦ κατὰ συναγωγήν εἰσι), vid., Kuhn's Zeitschr. vi. 282-285.)

and Beigel (in Ideler, Sternnamen, S. 147) does not translate badly: "Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds (chain would be better) of the Pleiades?"

As to כּסיל, we firmly hold that it denotes Orion (according to which the Greek versions translate Ὠρίων, the Syriac gaboro, the Targ. נפלא or נפילא, the Giant). Orion and the Pleiades are visible in the Syrian sky longer in the year than with us, and there they come about 17 higher above the horizon than with us. Nevertheless the figure of a giant chained to the heavens cannot be rightly shown to be Semitic, and it is questionable whether כסיל is not rather, with Saad., Gecat., Abulwalid, and others, to be regarded as the Suhl, i.e., Canopus, especially as this is placed as a sluggish helper (כסיל, Hebr. a fool, Arab. the slothful one, ignavus) in mythical relation to the constellation of the Bear, which here is called עישׁ, as Job 9:9 עשׁ, and is regarded as a bier, נעשׁ (even in the present day this is the name in the towns and villages of Syria), which the sons and daughters forming the attendants upon the corpse of their father, slain by Ged, the Pole-star. Understood of Orion, משׁכות (with which Arab. msk, tenere, detinere, is certainly to be compared) are the chains (Arab. masakat, compes), with which he is chained to the sky; understood of Suhl, the restraints which prevent his breaking away too soon and reaching the goal.

(Note: In June 1860 I witnessed a quarrel in an encampment of Mo'gil-Beduins, in which one accused the others of having rendered it possible for the enemy to carry off his camels through their negligence; and when the accused assured him they had gone forth in pursuit of the marauders soon after the raid, and only turned back at sunset, the man exclaimed: Ye came indeed to my assistance as Suhl to Ged (פזעתם לי פזע סהיל ללגדי). I asked my neighbour what the words meant, and was informed they are a proverb which is very often used, and has its origin as follows: The Ged (i.e., the Pole-star, called mismâr, משׂמר, in Damascus) slew the Na‛sh (נעשׁ), and is accordingly encompassed every night by the children of the slain Na‛sh, who are determined to take vengeance on the murderer. The sons (on which account poets usually say benı̂ instead of benât Na‛sh) go first with the corpse of their father, and the daughters follow. One of the latter is called waldâne, a lying-in woman; she has only recently given birth to a child, and carries her child in her bosom, and she is still pale from her lying-in. (The clear atmosphere of the Syrian sky admits of the child in the bosom of the waldâne being distinctly seen.) In order to give help to the Ged in this danger, the Suhl appears in the south, and struggles towards the north with a twinkling brightness, but he has risen too late; the night passes away ere he reaches his goal. Later I frequently heard this story, which is generally known among the Hauranites. - Wetzst.

We add the following by way of explanation. The Pleiades encircle the Pole-star as do all stars, since it stands at the axis of the sky, but they are nearer to it than to Canopus by more than half the distance. This star of the first magnitude culminates about three hours later than the Pleiades, and rises, at the highest, only ten moon's diameters above the horizon of Damascusa significant figure, therefore, of ineffectual endeavour.)

מזּרות is not distinct from מזּלות, 2 Kings 23:5 (comp. מזּרך, "Thy star of fortune," on Cilician coins), and denotes not the twenty-eight menzil (from Arab. nzl, to descend, turn in, lodge) of the moon,

continued...

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