Job 39:21
He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength: he goes on to meet the armed men.
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(21) He paweth . . . he rejoiceth.—The first verb is plural, and the second singular. “They paw” (literally, dig), and “he rejoiceth.”

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.He paweth in the valley - Margin, "or, His feet dig." The marginal reading is more in accordance with the Hebrew. The reference is to the well known fact of the "pawing" of the horse with his feet, as if he would dig up the ground. The same idea occurs in Virgil, as quoted above:


Tellurem, et solido graviter solar ungula cornu.

Also in Apollonius, L. iii.:"Argonauticon:"

Ὡς δ ̓ ἀρήΐος ἵππος, ἐελδόμενος πολεμοίο,

Σκαρθμῷ ἐπιχρεμέθων κρούει πέδον.

Hōs d' arēios hippos, eeldomenos polemoio,

Skarthmō epichremethōn krouei pedon.

"As a war-horse, impatient for the battle,

Neighing beats the ground with bis hoofs"

He goeth on to meet the armed men - Margin, "armor." The margin is in accordance with the Hebrew, but still the idea is substantially the same. The horse rushes on furiously against the weapons of war.

21. valley—where the battle is joined.

goeth on—goeth forth (Nu 1:3; 21:23).

He paweth; or, he diggeth. Through courage and wantonness he cannot stand still, but is beating, as it were digging, up the earth with his feet.

In the valley: this he adds, partly because the ground being there more plain and smooth, he hath the better conveniency for his prancing and pawing with his feet, which in hilly and uneven ground he cannot so well do; and partly because battles use to be pitched in valleys, or low grounds, especially horse battles.

Rejoiceth in his strength; making semblance of great pride and complacency in it.

He goeth on to meet the armed men, with great readiness and undaunted courage. He paweth in the valley,.... Where armies are usually pitched and set in battle army, and especially the cavalry, for which the valley is most convenient; and here the horse is impatient of engaging, cannot stand still, but rises up with his fore feet and paws and prances, and, as the word signifies, digs the earth and makes it hollow, by a continual striking upon it; so generally horses are commonly described in this manner (s);

and rejoiceth in his strength; of which he is sensible, and glories in it; marches to the battle with pride and stateliness, defying, as it were, the enemy, and as if sure of victory, of which he has knowledge when obtained; for Lactantius says (t) of horses, when conquerors they exult, when conquered they grieve; it has its name in the Hebrew language from rejoicing (u);

he goeth on to meet the armed men; without any fear or dread of them, as follows.

(s) "Cavatque tellurem". Virgil. Georgic. l. 3. v. 87. (t) Institut. l. 3. c. 8. (u) "gavisus est". Vid. Buxtorf. in voce

He {n} paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.

(n) He beats with his hoof.

21. the armed men] lit. the weapons.Verse 21. - He paweth in the valley. Canon Cook appositely compares Virgil's "carat tellurem" ('Georg.,' 3:87, 88), and Professor Lee Pope's expression, that "ere they start a thousand steps are lost." The verb is in the plural, because a line of cavalry, all pawing and eager to be off, is intended to be represented. And rejoiceth in his strength. Nothing is more remarkable than the eagerness and joy which war-horses show when the battle approaches. They are generally more excited than their riders. He goeth on to meet the armed men; literally, he rusheth upon the weapons. Equally true in ancient and in modern warfare. The main use of cavalry is in the charge (see Denison's 'Hist. of Cavalry,' pp. 507-512). 13 The wing of the ostrich vibrates joyously,

Is she pious, wing and feather?

14 No, she leaveth her eggs in the earth

And broodeth over the dust,

15 Forgetting that a foot may crush them,

And the beast of the field trample them.

16 She treateth her young ones harshly as if they were not hers;

In vain is her labour, without her being distressed.

17 For Eloah hath caused her to forget wisdom,

And gave her no share of understanding.

18 At the time when she lasheth herself aloft,

She derideth the horse and horseman.

As the wild ass and the ox-like oryx cannot be tamed by man, and employed in his service like the domestic ass and ox, so the ostrich, although resembling the stork in its stilt-like structure, the colour of its feathers, and its gregarious life, still has characteristics totally different from those one ought to look for according to this similarity. רננים, a wail, prop. a tremulous shrill sound (vid., Job 39:23), is a name of the female ostrich, whose peculiar cry is called in Arabic zimâr (זמר). נעלס (from עלס, which in comparison with עלץ, עלז, rarely occurs) signifies to make gestures of joy. אם, Job 39:13, is an interrogative an; חסידה, pia, is a play upon the name of the stork, which is so called: pia instar ciconiae (on this figure of speech, comp. Mehren's Rehtorik der Araber, S. 178). כּי, Job 39:14, establishes the negation implied in the question, as e.g., Isaiah 28:28. The idea is not that the hen-ostrich abandons the hatching of her eggs to the earth (עזב ל as Psalm 16:10), and makes them "glow over the dust" (Schlottm.), for the maturing energy compensating for the sitting of the parent bird proceeds from the sun's heat, which ought to have been mentioned; one would also expect a Hiph. instead of the Piel תּחמּם, which can be understood only of hatching by her own warmth. The hen-ostrich also really broods herself, although from time to time she abandons the חמּם to the sun.

(Note: It does, however, as it appears, actually occur, that the female leaves the work of hatching to the sun by day, and to the male at night, and does not sit at all herself; vid., Funke's Naturgeschichte, revised by Taschenberg (1864), S. 243f.)


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