Job 39:6
Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 39:6-8. Whose house I have made the wilderness — Which uses and loves to dwell in desert lands; and the barren land his dwellings — Called barren, not simply, for then he must be starved there, but comparatively uncultivated, and therefore, in a great measure, unfruitful. He scorneth — Hebrew, ישׂחק, jischak, he laugheth at the multitude of the city — He mentions the city, rather than the country, because there is the greatest multitude of people to pursue, overtake, and subject him. The meaning is, He fears them not when they pursue him, because he is swift and can easily escape them. Or, he values them not, nor any provisions which he might have from them, but prefers a vagrant, solitary life in the wilderness before any thing they can offer him. Or he disdains to submit himself to them, and resolutely maintains his own freedom. Neither regardeth he the crying of the driver — Hebrew, נגשׂ, noges, the task-master, or exacter of labour, that is, he will not be brought to receive his yoke, nor to do his drudgery, nor to answer to his cries or commands, as tame asses are compelled to do. The range of the mountains — יתור הרים, jethur harim, excellentissimum montium, what is most excellent in the mountains; or, as the word may signify, That which he searcheth out, or findeth in the mountains. He prefers that mean provision and hardship, with his freedom, before the fattest pastures with servitude.

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.Whose house I have made - God had appointed its home in the desert.

And the barren land his dwellings - Margin, as in Hebrew "salt places." Such places were usually barren. Psalm 107:34, "he turneth a fruitful land into barrenness." Hebrew "saltness." Thus, Virgil, Geor. ii.-238-240:

Salsa antem tellus, et quae, perhibetur amara.

Frugibus infelix: ea nec mansuescit arando;

Nec Baccho genus, aut pomis sua nomina servat.

Compare Pliny, Nat. His. 31, 7, Deuteronomy 29:23.

6. barren—literally, "salt," that is, unfruitful. (So Ps 107:34, Margin.) Who useth and loveth to dwell in desert lands, Jeremiah 2:24 Hosea 8:3,9.

The barren land; called barren, not simply, for then he must be starved there; but comparatively, unmanaged, and therefore in a great measure unfruitful land.

Whose house I have made the wilderness,.... Appointed that to be his place of residence, as being agreeable to his nature, at a distance from men, and in the less danger of being brought into subjection by them. Such were the deserts of Arabia; where, as Xenophon (n) relates, were many of these creatures, and which he represents as very swift: and Leo Africanus (o) says, great numbers of them are found in deserts, and on the borders of deserts; hence said to be used to the wilderness Jeremiah 2:24;

and the barren land his dwellings; not entirely barren, for then it could not live there; but comparatively, with respect to land that is fruitful: or "salt land" (p); for, as Pliny (q) says, every place where salt is, is barren.

(n) De Expedition. Cyri, l. 1.((o) Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 752. (p) "salsuginem", Montanus; "salsuginosam terram", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7.

Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the {f} barren land his dwellings.

(f) That is, the barren ground where no good fruit grows.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 6. - Whose house I have made the wilderness. The Mesopotamian regions inhabited by the Asinus hemippus are those vast stretches of rolling plain, treeless, producing a few aromatic shrubs and much wormwood, which intervene between the Sinjar mountain-range and the Babylonian alluvium. Here the wild ass was seen by Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, in company with ostriches, gazelles, and bustards (Xen., 'Anab.,' 1:5); and here Sir Austin Layard also made its acquaintance ('Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 270). The Asians onager frequents the deserts of Khorassan and Beloochistan, which are even more barren than the Mesepotamian. And the barren land his dwellings; rather, the salt land (see the Revised Version). The great desert of Khorassan is largely impregnated with salt, and in places encrusted with it. The wild ass licks salt with avidity. Job 39:6 5 Who hath sent forth the wild ass free,

And who loosed the bands of the wild ass,

6 Whose house I made the steppe,

And his dwelling the salt country?

7 He scorneth the tumult of the city,

He heareth not the noise of the driver.

8 That which is seen upon the mountains is his pasture,

And he sniffeth after every green thing.

On the wild ass (not: ass of the forest).

(Note: It is a dirty yellow with a white belly, single-hoofed and long-eared; its hornless head somewhat resembles that of the gazelle, but is much later; its hair has the dryness of the hair of the deer, and the animal forms the transition from the stag and deer genus to the ass. It is entirely distinct from the mah or baqar el-wahsh, wild ox, whose large soft eyes are so much celebrated by the poets of the steppe. This latter is horned and double-hoofed, and forms the transition from the stag to the ox distinct from the ri'm, ראם, therefore perhaps an antelope of the kind of the Indian nlgau, blue ox, Portax tragocamelus. I have not seen both kinds of animals alive, but I have often seen their skins in the tents of the Ruwal. Both kinds are remarkable for their very swift running, and it is especially affirmed of the fer that no rider can overtake it. The poets compare a troop of horsemen that come rushing up and vanish in the next moment to a herd of fer. In spite of its difficulty and hazardousness, the nomads are passionately given to hunting the wild ass, and the proverb cited by the Kms: kull es-sêd bigôf el-ferâ (every hunt sticks in the belly of the fer, i.e., compared with that, every other hunt is nothing), is perfectly correct. When the approach of a herd, which always consists of several hundred, is betrayed by a cloud of dust which can be seen many miles off, so many horsemen rise up from all sides in pursuit that the animals are usually scattered, and single ones are obtained by the dogs and by shots. The herd is called gemı̂le, and its leader is called ‛anûd (ענוּד),as with gazelles. - Wetzst.)

In Hebr. and Arab. it is פּרא (ferâ or himâr el-wahsh, i.e., asinus ferus), and Aram. ערוד; the former describes it as a swift-footed animal, the latter as an animal shy and difficult to be tamed by the hand of man; "Kulan" is its Eastern Asiatic name. lxx correctly translates: τίς δὲ ἐστιν ὁ ἀφεὶς ὄνον ἄγριον ἐλεύθερον. חפשׁי is the acc. of the predicate (comp. Genesis 33:2; Jeremiah 22:30). Parallel with ערבה (according to its etymon perhaps, land of darkness, terra incognita) is מלחה, salt adj. or (sc. ארץ) a salt land, i.e., therefore unfruitful and incapable of culture, as the country round the Salt Sea of Palestine: that the wild ass even gladly licks the salt or natron of the desert, is a matter of fact, and may be assumed, since all wild animals that feed on plants have a partiality, which is based on chemical laws of life, for licking slat. On Job 39:8 Ew. observes, to render יתוּר as "what is espied" is insecure, "on account of the structure of the verse" (Gramm. S. 419, Anm.). This reason is unintelligible; and in general there is no reason for rendering יתוּר, after lxx, Targ., Jer., and others, as an Aramaic 3 fut. with a mere half vowel instead of Kametz before the tone equals יתוּר, which is without example in Old Testament Hebrew (for יהוּא, Ecclesiastes 11:3, follows the analogy of יהי), but יתוּר signifies either abundantia (after the form יבוּל, לחוּם Job 20:23, from יתר, Arab. wtr, p. 571) or investigabile, what can be searched out (after the form יקוּם, that which exists, from תּוּר, Arab. târ, to go about, look about), which, with Olsh. 212, and most expositors, we prefer.

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