Job 39:2
Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Canst thou number the months ... - That is, as they wander in the wilderness, as they live in inaccessible crags and cliffs of the rocks, it is impossible for man to be acquainted with their habits as he can with those of the domestic animals. 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. Dost thou exactly know when they did conceive, and when they will bring forth? which is more uncertain in these than in other creatures, because there fall out many accidents which cause them to bring forth before their time, as thunder, Psalm 29:9, and other like causes of sudden fear, which may be many and various in those desert places where they live.

Canst thou number the months that they fulfil?.... Which some understand both of wild goats and hinds. Common goats fulfil five months, they conceive in November, and bring forth in March, as Pliny (f) observes; but how many the wild goats of the rock fulfil is not said by him or any other I know of: the same writer says (g) of hinds, that they go eight months;

or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? naturalists (h) tell us, that the hinds conceive after the rise of the star Arcturus, which rises eleven days before the autumnal equinox; so that they conceive in September; and as they go eight months, they bring forth in April; but then the exact time to a day and hour is not known. Besides, who has fixed the time for their bringing forth, and carries them in it through so many dangers and difficulties? None but the Lord himself. Now if such common things in nature were not known perfectly by Job, how should he be able to search into and find out the causes and reasons of God's providential dealings with men, or what is in the womb of Providence?

(f) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 50. (g) Ib. c. 32. (h) Ib. & l. 2. c. 47. Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 29. Solinus, c. 31.

Canst thou number the months that they {d} fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?

(d) That is, how long they go with young?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. canst thou number] Rather, dost thou. The “months that they fulfil” is the time they go with young. The words “knowest thou”, “dost thou mark”, and the like, though no doubt referring partly to man’s ignorance of the habits of these remote and timid creatures, carry also the question, Is it Job who presides over and determines all connected with the life and habits of these solitary creatures?

Verse 2. - Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? With an animal so wild as the ibex, these secrets of nature would be difficult to observe and note down. In Job's time probably no one had made such subjects an object of inquiry. Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? This would be less difficult to observe. The breeding-time of most wild animals is known in the country which produces them. Job 39:2 1 Dost thou know the bearing time of the wild goats of the rock?

Observest thou the circles of the hinds?

2 Dost thou number the months which they fulfil,

And knowest thou the time of their bringing forth?

3 They bow down, they let their young break through,

They cast off their pains.

4 Their young ones gain strength, grow up in the desert,

They run away and do not return.

The strophe treats of the female chamois or steinbocks, ibices (perhaps including the certainly different kinds of chamois), and stags. The former are called יעלים, from יעל, Arab. w‛l (a secondary formation from עלה, Arab. ‛lâ), to mount, therefore: rock-climbers. חולל is inf. Pil.: τὸ ὠδίνειν, comp. the Pul. Job 15:7. שׁמר, to observe, exactly as Ecclesiastes 11:4; 1 Samuel 1:12; Zechariah 11:11. In Job 39:2 the question as to the expiration of the time of bearing is connected with that as to the time of bringing forth. תּספּור, plene, as Job 14:16; לדתּנה (littâna, like עת equals עדתּ) with an euphonic termination for לדתּן, as Genesis 42:36; Genesis 21:29, and also out of pause, Ruth 1:19, Ges. 91, 1, rem. 2. Instead of תּפלּחנה Olsh. wishes to read תּפלּטנה, but this (synon. תמלטנה) would be: they let slip away; the former (synon. תבקענה): they cause to divide, i.e., to break through (comp. Arab. felâh, the act of breaking through, freedom, prosperity). On כּרע, to kneel down as the posture of one in travail, vid., 1 Samuel 4:19. "They cast off their pains" is not meant of an easy working off of the after-pains (Hirz., Schlottm.), but חבל signifies in this phrase, as Schultens has first shown, meton. directly the foetus, as Arab. ḥabal, plur. ahbâl, and ὠδίν, even of a child already grown up, as being the fruit of earlier travail, e.g., in Aeschylus, Agam. 1417f.; even the like phrase, ῥίψαι ὠδῖνα equals edere foetum, is found in Euripides, Ion 45. Thus born with ease, the young animals grow rapidly to maturity (חלם, pinguescere, pubescere, whence חלום, a dream as the result of puberty, vid., Psychol. S. 282), grow in the desert (בּבּר, Targ. equals בּחוּץ, vid., i. 329, note), seek the plain, and return not again למו, sibi h. e. sui juris esse volentes (Schult.), although it might also signify ad eas, for the Hebr. is rather confused on the question of the distinction of gender, and even in חבליהם and בניהם the masc. is used ἐπικοίνως. We, however, prefer to interpret according to Job 6:19; Job 24:16. Moreover, Bochart is right: Non hic agitur de otiosa et mere speculativa cognitione, sed de ea cognitione, quae Deo propria est, qua res omnes non solum novit, sed et dirigit atque gubernat.

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