Job 39:26
Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) Doth the hawk fly?—The more symmetrical order of these descriptions would be for the ostrich to have come after the war-horse and before the hawk; in that case there would have been a gradual transition from the fleetest of quadrupeds to the fleetest of birds by means of the ostrich, which, though winged like a bird, cannot use its wings as birds do, but only run on the ground like a quadruped.

Job 39:26. Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom? — So strongly, constantly, unweariedly, and swiftly. Thuanus mentions a hawk which flew from London to Paris in a night; and it was on account of the remarkable swiftness of the hawk that the Egyptians made it their hieroglyphic for the wind; and stretch her wings toward the south — The addition of this clause implies, that these birds are fond of warmth, or that they are birds of passage, which, at the approach of winter, fly into warmer countries, as being impatient of cold. The birds of the air are proofs of the wonderful providence of God, as well as the beasts of the earth, and God here instances in two eminent ones.

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.4. The beasts that are mentioned are, also, quite numerous, and the description of some of them constitutes the most magnificent part of the poem. The descriptions of the various animals are also more minute than any thing else referred to, and but a few of them can be copied without transcribing whole chapters. The beasts referred to are the following.

The camel, sheep, ox, and she-ass: Job 1:3; Job 42:12.

The lion:

The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion (are silenced),

And the teeth of young lions are broken out.

The old lion perishes for want of prey,

And the whelps of the lioness are scattered abroad.

Job 39:26Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom - The appeal here is to the hawk, because it is among the most rapid of the birds in its flight. The particuIar thing specified is its flying, and it is supposed that there was something special in that which distinguished it from other birds. Whether it was in regard to its speed, to its manner of flying, or to its habits of flying at periodical seasons, may indeed be made a matter of inquiry, but it is clear that the particular thing in this bird which was adapted to draw the attention, and which evinced especially the wisdom of God, was connected with its flight. The word here rendered "hawk," (נץ nêts) is probably generic, and includes the various species of the falcon or hawk tribe, as the jet-falcon, the goshawk, the sparrow, hawk, the lanner, the saker, the hobby, the kestril, and the merlin. Not less than one hundred and fifty species of the hawk, it is said, have been described, but of these many are little known, and many of them differ from others only by very slight distinctions.

They are birds of prey, and, as many of them are endowed with remarkable docility, they are trained for the diversions of falconry - which has been quite a science among sportsmen. The falcon, or hawk, is often distinguished for fleetness. One, belonging to a Duke of Cleves, flew out of Westphalia into Prussia in one day; and in the county of Norfolk (England) one was known to make a flight of nearly thirty miles in an hour. A falcon which belonged to Henry IV. of France, having escaped from Fontainebleau, was found twenty-four hours after in Malta, the space traversed being not less than one thousand three hundred and fifty miles; being a velocity of about fifty-seven miles an hour, on the supposition that the bird was on the wing the whole time. It is this remarkable velocity which is here appealed to as a proof of the divine wisdom. God asks Job whether he could have formed these birds for their rapid flight. The wisdom and skill which has done this is evidently far above any that is possessed by man.

And stretch her wings toward the south - Referring to the fact that the bird is migratory at certain seasons of the year. It is not here merely the rapidity of its flight which is referred to, but that remarkable instinct which leads the feathered tribes to seek more congenial climates at the approach of winter. In no way is this to be accounted for, except by the fact that God has so appointed it. This great law of the winged tribes is one of the clearest proofs of divine wisdom and agency.

26. The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climes before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes the whole hawk genus. Doth the hawk fly in so singular a manner, so strongly and steadily, so constantly and unweariedly, so swiftly and speedily, so regularly and cunningly, to catch her prey, by thy wisdom; didst thou inspire her with that wisdom?

Stretch her wings toward the south; which she doth, either.

1. When she casts her old feathers, and gets new ones, which is furthered either by the warmth of southerly winds, or by the heat of the sun, which was southward from Job’s country, as it is from ours; whence it is, that as wild hawks do this by natural instinct, so the places which men build for the keeping of tame hawks are built towards the south. Or,

2. In or towards winter, when wild hawks fly into warmer countries, as being impatient of cold weather.

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom,.... With so much swiftness, steadiness, and constancy, until she has seized her prey. The Vulgate Latin version and some others read, "does she become feathered", or "begin to have feathers?" and so Bochart: either when first fledged; or when, as it is said (d) she casts her old feathers and gets new ones, and this every year. Now neither her flight nor her feathers, whether at one time or the other, are owing to men, but to the Lord, who gives both;

and stretch her wings towards the south? Being a bird of passage, she moves from colder climates towards the winter, and steers her course to the south towards warmer ones (e); which she does by an instinct in nature, put into her by the Lord, and not through the instruction of man. Or, as some say, casting off her old feathers, she flies towards the south for warmth; and that her feathers may be cherished with the heat, and grow the sooner and better. Hence it is, perhaps, as Aelianus reports (f), that this bird was by the Egyptians consecrated to Apollo or the sun; it being able to look upon the rays of it wistly, constantly, and easily, without being hurt thereby. Porphyry (g) says, that this bird is not only acceptable to the sun; but has divinity in it, according to the Egyptians; and is no other than Osiris, or the sun represented by the image of it (h). Strabo (i) speaks of a city of the hawks, where this creature is worshipped. It has its name in Greek from the sacredness of it; and according to Hesiod (k), is very swift, and has large wings. It is called swift in flying, by Manetho (l); and by Homer, , the swiftest of fowls (m). It has its name from to "fly", as Kimchi observes (n). Cyril of Jerusalem, on the authority of the Greek version, affirms (o), that by a divine instinct or order, the hawk, stretching out its wings, stands in the midst of the air unmoved, looking towards the south. All accounts show it to be a bird that loves warmth, which is the reason of the expression in the text.

(d) Aelian. de Animal. l. 12. c. 4. (e) Ibid. l. 2. c. 43. Plin. l. 10. c. 8. (f) De Animal. l. 7. c. 9. & l. 10. c. 14. (g) De Abstinentia, l. 4. s. 9. (h) Kircher. Prodrom. Copt. p. 232. (i) Geograph. l. 17. p. 562. (k) Opera & Dies, l. 1. v. 208. (l) Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 176. (m) Iliad. 15. v. 238. Odyss 13. v. 87. (n) Sepher Shorash. rad. (o) Cateches. 9. s. 6.

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the {p} south?

(p) That is, when cold comes, to fly into the warm countries.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. The hawk.

her wings toward the south] The allusion is to the migration of the bird southward when the cold season of the year begins. Is it Job’s wisdom that directs her flight to the south?

Verse 26. - Doth the hawk fly (or, soar) by thy wisdom? The hawk's strength of wing is extraordinary, and one of the greatest of natural marvels. Can Job claim to have contrived it? Many as have been the attempts made, human ingenuity has not yet devised anything that can fly. And stretch her wings toward the south? Migrate, i.e., when winter approaches, to the warmer southern regions. Few things in nature are more remarkable than the instinct of migratory birds. Job 39:2626 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom,

Doth it spread its wings towards the south?

27 Or is it at thy command that the eagle soareth aloft,

And buildeth its nest on high?

28 It inhabiteth the rock, and buildeth its nest

Upon the crag of the rock and fastness.

29 From thence it seeketh food,

Its eyes see afar off.

30 And its young ones suck up blood;

And where the slain are, there is it.

The ancient versions are unanimous in testifying that, according to the signification of the root, נץ signifies the hawk (which is significant in the Hieroglyphics): the soaring one, the high-flyer (comp. Arab. nṣṣ, to rise, struggle forwards, and Arab. nḍḍ, to raise the wings for flight). The Hiph. יאבר- (jussive form in the question, as Job 13:27) might signify: to get feathers, plumescere (Targ., Jer.), but that gives a tame question; wherefore Gregory understands the plumescit of the Vulgate of moulting, for which purpose the hawk seeks the sunny side. But האביר alone, by itself, cannot signify "to get new feathers;" moreover, an annual moulting is common to all birds, and prominence is alone given to the new feathering of the eagle in the Old Testament, Psalm 103:5; Micah 1:16, comp. Isaiah 40:31 (lxx πτεροφυήσουσιν ὡς ἀετοί).

(Note: Less unfavourable to this rendering is the following, that אברה signifies the long feathers, and אבר the wing that is composed of them (perhaps, since the Talm. אברים signifies wings and limbs, artus, from אבר equals הבר, Arab. hbr, to divide, furnish with joints), although נוצה (from נצה, to fly) is the more general designation of the feathers of birds.)

Thus, then, the point of the question will lie in לתימן: the hawk is a bird of passage, God has endowed it with instinct to migrate to the south as the winter season is approaching.

In Job 39:27 the circle of the native figures taken from animal life, which began with the lion, the king of quadrupeds, is now closed with the eagle, the king of birds. It is called נשׁר, from נשׁר, Arab. nsr, vellere; as also vultur (by virtue of a strong power of assimilation equals vultor) is derived from vellere, - a common name of the golden eagle, the lamb's vulture, the carrion-kite (Cathartes percnopterus), and indeed also of other kinds of kites and falcons. There is nothing to prevent our understanding the eagle κατ ̓ εξοχήν, viz., the golden eagle (Aquila chrysatos), in the present passage; for even to this, corpses, though not already putrified, are a welcome prey. In Job 39:27 we must translate either: and is it at thy command that ... ? or: is it so that (as in הכי) at thy command ... ? The former is more natural here. מצוּדה, Job 39:28, signifies prop. specula (from צוּד, to spy); then, however, as Arab. masâd (referred by the original lexicons to masada), the high hill, and the mountain-top. The rare form יעלעוּ, for which Ges., Olsh., and others wish to read לעלעוּ or ילעלעוּ (from לוּע, deglutire), is to be derived from עלע, a likewise secondary form out of עלעל (from עוּל, to suck, to give suck),

continued...

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