Job 39:5
Who has sent out the wild ass free? or who has loosed the bands of the wild ass?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 39:5. Who hath sent out the wild ass free? — Who hath given him this disposition, that he loves freedom, and hates that subjection which other creatures quietly endure. Compare Job 11:12; Hosea 8:9; in which, and other places of Scripture, the wild ass is described as delighting in the wilderness; perverse and obstinate in his behaviour; running with great swiftness whither his lust, hunger, thirst, or other desires draw him. Who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? — That is, who keeps him from receiving the bands, and submitting to the service of man? Who hath made him so untractable and unmanageable? Which is the more strange because home-bred asses are so tame and tractable. The word ערוד, gnarod, here translated wild ass, is not the same with that used in the former clause, which is פרא, pere; and Rabbi Levi makes this difference between them, that the former means an animal found in the wilderness, which eateth herbs, and the latter, asinus agri vel sylvestris, the ass which frequents the cultivated grounds and woods, and is supported by their produce. Bochart, however, thinks they ought not to be distinguished, and that one and the same animal is meant in both places.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.The dog:

But now they who are younger than I have me in derision,

Whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the

Dogs of my flock. Job 30:1.

The jackal:

I am become a brother to the jackal,

And a companion to the ostrich. Job 30:29.

The mountain-goat and the hind:

Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth?

Or canst thou observe the birth-throes of the hind?

Canst thou number the months that they fulfil?

Knowest thou the season when they bring forth?

They bow themselves; they give birth to their young;

They cast forth their sorrows.

continued...

5. wild ass—Two different Hebrew words are here used for the same animal, "the ass of the woods" and "the wild ass." (See on [552]Job 6:5; [553]Job 11:12; [554]Job 24:5; and [555]Jer 2:24).

loosed the bands—given its liberty to. Man can rob animals of freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined with subordination to fixed laws.

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? who hath given him this disposition, that he loves freedom, and avoids and hates that subjection which other creatures quietly and contentedly endure?

Who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? which is not to be understood privatively, as if God took off the bands which men had put upon him; but negatively, that he keeps him from receiving the bands and submitting to the service of man. Who hath made him so untractable and unmanageable? Which is the more strange, because home-bred asses are so tame and tractable. Who hath sent out the wild ass free?.... Into the wide waste, where it is, ranges at pleasure, and is not under the restraint of any; a creature which, as it is naturally wild, is naturally averse to servitude, is desirous of liberty and maintains it: not but that it may be tamed, as Pliny (m) speaks of such as are; but it chooses to be free, and, agreeably to its nature, it is sent out into the wilderness as such: not that it is set free from bondage, for in that it never was until it is tamed; but its nature and inclination, and course it pursues, is to be free. And now the question is, who gave this creature such a nature, and desire after liberty? and such power to maintain it? and directs it to take such methods to secure it, and keep clear of bondage? It is of God;

or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? not that it has any naturally upon it, and is loosed from them; but because it is as clear of them as such creatures are, which have been in bands and are freed from them: therefore this mode of expression is used, and which signifies the same as before.

(m) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 44.

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5–8. The wild ass. Who gave the wild ass his freedom and his indomitable love of liberty—who scorns the noise of cities and laughs at the shouts of the driver, which his tame brother obeys? The point of the questions lies not only in the striking peculiarities of the beautiful creature itself, but in the strange contrast between it and the tame ass, which in external appearance it resembles.Verse 5. - Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Two kinds of onager or wild ass, seem to be intended - the one called pore' (פִרֶא), and the other 'arod (עָרוד). These correspond probably to the Asinus hemippus and the Asinus onager of modern naturalists, the former of which is still found in the deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Northern Arabia, while the latter inhabits Western Asia from 48° N.lat. southward to Persia, Beloochistan, and Western India. Sir H. A. Layard describes the former, which he saw, as a "beautiful animal, in fleetness equalling the gazelle, very wild, and of a rich fawn colour, almost pink" ('Nineveh and its Remains,' Vol. 1. p. 324). The latter (Asinus onager) was seen by Sir R. K. Porter in Persia ('Travels,' vol. 1. p. 460), and is described in very similar terms. The two, however, appear to be distinct species (see Dr. Smith's 'Dict. of the Bible,' vol. 3. pp. 19, 20, Appendix). Both animals are remarkable for extreme wildness; and all attempts to domesticate the young of either have hitherto failed. 39 Dost thou hunt for the prey of the lioness

And still the desire of the young lions,

40 When they couch in the dens,

Sit in the thicket lying in wait for prey?

41 Who provideth for the raven its food,

When its young ones cry to God,

They wander about without food?

On the wealth of the Old Testament language in names for the lion, vid., on Job 4:10. לביא can be used of the lioness; the more exact name of the lioness is לביּה, for לביא is equals לבי, whence לבאים, lions, and לבאות, lionesses. The lioness is mentioned first, because she has to provide for her young ones (גּוּרים); then the lions that are still young, but yet are left to themselves, כּפירים. The phrase מלּא חיּה (comp. חיּה of life that needs nourishment, Job 33:20) is equivalent to מלּא נפשׁ, Proverbs 6:30 (Psychol. S. 204 ad fin.). The book of Psalms here furnishes parallels to every word: comp. on Job 38:39, Psalm 104:21; on ישׁחוּ, Psalm 10:10;

(Note: The Semitic is rich in such words as describe the couching posture of beasts of prey lying in wait for their prey, which then in general signify to lie in wait, lurk, wait (רצד, רבץ, Arab. rbṣ, lbd, wkkd); Arab. q‛d lh, subsedit ei, i.e., insidiatus est ei, which corresponds to ישׁבו, Job 38:40, also belongs here, comp. Psalter, i. 500 note.)

on מעונות, lustra, Psalm 104:22 (compared on Job 37:8 already); on סכּה, סך, which is used just in the same way, Psalm 10:9; Jeremiah 25:38. The picture of the crying ravens has its parallel in Psalm 147:9. כּי, quum, is followed by the fut. in the signif. of the praes., as Psalm 11:3. As here, in the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 12:24 the ravens, which by their hoarse croaking make themselves most observed everywhere among birds that seek their food, are mentioned instead of the fowls of heaven.

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