Job 39:29
From there she seeks the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.
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Job 39:29-30. Her eyes behold afar off — Dr. Young observes, that “the eagle is said to be of so acute a sight that, when she is so high in the air that man cannot see her, she can discern the smallest fish in the water.” The author of this book accurately understood the nature of the creatures he describes, and seems to have been as great a naturalist as a poet. Her young ones also suck up blood — Either the blood of the prey which the eagle hath brought to her nest for them, or of that which themselves catch and kill, being betimes inured to this work by their dams. And where the slain are, there is she — Where any dead carcasses are, she in an instant flies thither with admirable celerity, spying them from those vast heights from which she looks down upon the earth. And though there are some eagles which do not feed upon carcasses, yet the generality of them, it appears do feed on them. 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.From, thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off - "When far aloft, and no longer discernible by the human eye, such is the wonderful acuteness of its sight, that from the same elevation it will mark a hare, or even a smaller animal, and dart down on it with unerring aim." "Edin. Ency." "Of all animals, the eagle has the quickest eye; but his sense of smelling is far inferior to that of the vulture. He never pursues, therefore, but in sight." "Goldsmith." This power of sight was early known, and is celebrated by the ancients. Thus, Homer, r' - . verse 674.

- ὥστ ̓ ἀιετός ὄν ῥά τε φασὶν

Ὀξύσατον δέρκεσθαι ὑπουρανίων πετεηνῶν.

- hōst' aietos on ra te fasin

Oxusaton derkesthai hupouraniōn peteēnōn.

"As the eagle of whom it is said that it enjoys the keenest vision of

All the fowls under heaven."

So Aelian, II. L. i. 32. Also Horace "Serm." L. i. Sat. 3:

- tam cernit acutum

Quam aut aquila, aut serpeus Epidaurus.

The Arabic writers say that the eagle can see "four hundred parasangs." "Damir," as quoted by Scheutzer. It is now ascertained that birds of prey search out or discern their food rather by the sight than the smell. No sooner does a camel fall and die on the plains of Arabia, than there may be seen in the far-distant sky apparently a black speck, which is soon discovered to be a vulture hastening to its prey. From that vast distance the bird, invisible to human eye, has seen the prey stretched upon the sand and immediately commences toward it its rapid flight.

29. seeketh—is on the lookout for.

behold—The eagle descries its prey at an astonishing distance, by sight, rather than smell.

Her sight is exceeding sharp and strong, so that she is able to look upon the sun with open eyes, and to behold the smallest prey upon the earth or sea, when she is mounted out of our sight; which when she spies, she flies to it with incredible swiftness, even like an arrow out of a bow. From thence she seeketh the prey,.... From the high rock; from whence she can look down into valleys, and even into the sea; and spy what is for her purpose, and descend and seize upon them; as lambs, fawns, geese, shellfish, &c. though they may lie in the most hidden and secret places. Wherefore in the original text it is, "she diggeth the prey or food" (s); as treasure hid in secret is dug or diligently searched for; and for which she is qualified by the sharpness of her sight, as follows:

and her eyes behold afar off; from the high rocks and higher clouds, even from the high sky, as Aelianus (t) expresses it; and who observes that she is the most sharp sighted of all birds; and so, Homer (u) says, some affirm.

(s) "fodit escam"; Montanus, Mercerus. (t) De Animal. l. 2. c. 26. & l. 1. c. 42. Aristot. & Plin. ut supra. (Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 32. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 3.) (u) Iliad. 17. v. 674, 675. so Diodor. Sic. l. 3. p. 145.

From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.
Verse 29. - From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Aristotle gives this as a reason for the lofty flight of the eagle, Υψοῦ πέταται ὁπως ἐπὶ πλεῖστον τόπον καθορᾷ. The keen sight of the eagle is recognized by modern savants: "Aquila, genre d'oiseaux de proie... caracterise par un bec sans denlelure et droit a sa base jusquaupres de l'extremite, ou il se corbe beaucoup; par des pieds robustes armes d'ongles aigus et tranchants, par leur rue percante et leur grands envergure" ('Dictionnaire Universelle des Sciences,' p. 25). The motion of the horse, which is intended by תרעישׁנּוּ (רעשׁ, Arab. r‛s, r‛š, tremere, trepidare), is determined according to the comparison with the grasshopper: what is intended is a curved motion forwards in leaps, now to the right, now to the left, which is called the caracol, a word used in horsemanship, borrowed from the Arab. hargala-l-farasu (comp. חרגּל), by means of the Moorish Spanish; moreover, Arab. r‛s is used of the run of the ostrich and the flight of the dove in such "successive lateral and oblique motions" (Carey). nachar, Job 39:20, is not the neighing of the horse, but its snorting through the nostrils (comp. Arab. nachı̂r, snoring, a rattling in the throat), Greek φρύαγμα, Lat. fremitus (comp. Aeschylus, Septem c. Th. 374, according to the text of Hermann: ἵππος χαλινῶν δ ̓ ὡς κατασθμαίνων βρέμει); הוד, however, might signify pomp (his pompous snorting), but perhaps has its radical signification, according to which it corresponds to the Arab. hawı̂d, and signifies a loud strong sound, as the peal of thunder (hawı̂d er-ra‛d),' the howling of the stormy wind (hawı̂d er-rijâh), and the like.

(Note: A verse of a poem of Ibn-Dchi in honour of Dkn ibn-Gendel runs: Before the crowding (lekdata) of Taijr the horses fled repulsed, And thou mightest hear the sound of the bell-carriers (hawı̂da mubershemât) of the warriors (el-menâir, prop. one who thrusts with the lance). Here hawı̂d signifies the sound of the bells which those who wish to announce themselves as warriors hang about their horses, to draw the attention of the enemy to them. Mubershemât are the mares that carry the burêshimân, i.e., the bells. The meaning therefore is: thou couldst hear this sound, which ought only to be heard in the fray, in flight, when the warriors consecrated to death fled as cowards. Taijr (Têjâr) is Slih the son of Cana'an (died about 1815), mentioned in p. 456, note 1, a great warrior of the wandering tribe of the 'Aneze. - Wetzst.)

The substantival clause is intended to affirm that its dull-toned snort causes or spreads terror. In Job 39:21 the plur. alternates with the sing., since, as it appears, the representation of the many pawing hoofs is blended with that of the pawing horse, according to the well-known line,

Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum

(Virgil, Aen. viii. 596);

or, since this is said of the galloping horse, according to the likewise Virgilian line,


Tellurem, et solido graviter sonat ungula cornu

(Georg. iii. 87 f).

חפר is, as the Arab. hâfir, hoof, shows, the proper word for the horse's impatient pawing of the ground (whence it then, as in Job 39:29, signifies rimari, scrutari). עמק is the plain as the place of contest; for the description, as now becomes still more evident, refers to the war-horse. The verb שׂישׂ (שׂוּשׂ) has its radical signification exsultare (comp. Arab. s]ts, skirta'n, of the foetus) here; and since בּכח, not בּכּח, is added to it, it is not to be translated: it rejoices in its strength, but: it prances or is joyous with strength, lxx γαυριᾷ ἐν Ἰσχύΐ. The difference between the two renderings is, however, scarcely perceptible. נשׁק, armament, Job 39:21, is meton. the armed host of the enemy; אשׁפּה, "the quiver," is, however, not used metonymically for the arrows of the enemy whizzing about the horse (Schult.), but Job 39:23 is the concluding description of the horse that rushes on fearlessly, proudly, and impetuously in pursuit, under the rattle and glare of the equipment of its rider (Schlottm. and others). רנה (cogn. of רנן), of the rattling of the quiver, as Arab. ranna, ranima, of the whirring of the bow when the arrow is despatched; to point it תּרנּה (Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:3), instead of תּרנה, would be to deprive the language of a word supported by the dialects (vid., Ges. Thes.). On Job 39:24 we may compare the Arab. iltahama-l-farasu-l-arda, the horse swallows up the ground, whence lahimm, lahı̂m, a swallower equals swift-runner; so here: with boisterous fierceness and angry impatience (בּרעשׁ ורגז) it swallows up the ground, i.e., passes so swiftly over it that long pieces vanish so rapidly before it, as though it greedily sucked them up (גּמּא intensive of גּמא, whence גּמא, the water-sucking papyrus); a somewhat differently applied figure is nahab-el-arda, i.e., according to Silius' expression, rapuit campum. The meaning of Job 39:24 is, as in Virgil, Georg. iii.:83f.:

Tum si qua sonum procul arma dedere,

Stare loco nescit;

and in Aeschylus, Septem, 375: ὅστις βοὴν σάλπιγγος ὁρμαίνει (Hermann, ὀργαίνεἰ μένων (impatiently awaiting the call of the trumpet). האמין signifies here to show stability (vid., Genesis, S. 367f.) in the first physical sense (Bochart, Rosenm., and others): it does not stand still, i.e., will not be held, when (כּי, quum) the sound of the war-trumpet, i.e., when it sounds. שׁופר is the signal-trumpet when the army was called together, e.g., Judges 3:27; to gather the army that is in pursuit of the enemy, 2 Samuel 2:28; when the people rebelled, 2 Samuel 20:1; when the army was dismissed at the end of the war, 2 Samuel 20:22; when forming for defence and for assault, e.g., Amos 3:6; and in general the signal of war, Jeremiah 4:19. As often as this is heard (בּדי, in sufficiency, i.e., happening at any time equals quotiescunque), it makes known its lust of war by a joyous neigh, even from afar, before the collision has taken place; it scents (praesagit according to Pliny's expression) the approaching conflict, (scents even in anticipation) the thundering command of the chiefs that may soon be heard, and the cry of battle giving loose to the assault. "Although," says Layard (New Discoveries, p. 330), "docile as a lamb, and requiring no other guide than the halter, when the Arab mare hears the war-cry of the tribe, and sees the quivering spear of her rider, her eyes glitter with fire, her blood-red nostrils open wide, her neck is nobly arched, and her tail and mane are raised and spread out to the wind. The Bedouin proverb says, that a high-bred mare when at full speed should hide her rider between her neck and her tail."

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