Job 40:20
Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
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Job 40:20. The mountains bring him forth food — Though this creature be so vastly large, and require much food, and no man careth for it, yet God provides for it out of his own stores, and makes the desert mountains to afford it sufficient sustenance. This particular of the description seems more applicable to the elephant than the hippopotamus, which, though he fetches his food, in a great measure, from the land, feeding on the herbage on the banks of the Nile, and among the lakes and fens of Ethiopia, through which that river passes, yet can hardly be said to pasture upon the mountains. Both animals consume great quantities of food, and it must be acknowledged to be an instance of the goodness of God that he hath so ordered it that they feed on grass, and the other products of the field, and not on flesh; for if the latter had been their usual food, great multitudes of creatures must have died continually to keep them alive. Where all the beasts of the field play — This is equally applicable both to the elephant and the river-horse. The beasts of the field not only feed securely, but sport themselves by both of them, being taught by experience that they are gentle and harmless, and never prey upon them.

40:15-24 God, for the further proving of his own power, describes two vast animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength. Behemoth signifies beasts. Most understand it of an animal well known in Egypt, called the river-horse, or hippopotamus. This vast animal is noticed as an argument to humble ourselves before the great God; for he created this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. Whatever strength this or any other creature has, it is derived from God. He that made the soul of man, knows all the ways to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach and touch it. Every godly man has spiritual weapons, the whole armour of God, to resist, yea, to overcome the tempter, that his never-dying soul may be safe, whatever becomes of his frail flesh and mortal body.Surely the mountains bring him forth food - That is, though he lies commonly among the reeds and fens, and is in the water a considerable portion of his time, yet he also wanders to the mountains, and finds his food there. But the point of the remark here does not seem to be, that the mountains brought forth food for him, but that he gathered it "while all the wild beasts played around him, or sported in his very presence." It was remarkable that an animal so large and mighty, and armed with such a set of teeth, should not be carnivorous, and that the wild beasts on the mountains should continue their sports without danger or alarm in his very presence. This fact could be accounted for partly because the "motions" of the hippopotamus were so very slow and clumsy that the wild beasts had nothing to fear from him, and could easily escape from him if he were disposed to attack them, and partly from the fact that he seems to have "preferred" vegetable food. The hippopotamus is seldom carnivorous, except when driven by extreme hunger, and in no respect is he formed to be a beast of prey. In regard to "the fact" that the hippopotamus is sometimes found in mountainous or elevated places, see Bochart. 20. The mountain is not his usual haunt. Bochart says it is sometimes found there (?).

beasts … play—a graphic trait: though armed with such teeth, he lets the beasts play near him unhurt, for his food is grass.

Though this creature be vastly great, and require much food, and no man careth for it; yet God provides for it out of his own stores, and makes even desert mountains to afford him sufficient sustenance. The hippopotamus also, though he live most in the water, fetched his food from the land, and from the mountains or hills, which are nigh unto the river Nile.

Where all the beasts of the field play; they not only feed securely, but sport themselves by him or with him, being taught by experience that he is gentle and harmless, and never preys upon them.

Surely the mountains bring him forth food,.... Grass, which grows on mountains, and is the food of the river horse as well as of the elephant; and therefore is furnished with teeth like a scythe to mow it down; and it is not a small quantity that will suffice it, mountains only can supply it; and marvellous it is that a creature bred in a river should come out of it to seek its food on mountains. There is a creature in the northern parts, as in Russia, Greenland, &c. which is called morss and sea morss, and by the description of it is much like the river horse, of the size of an ox, and having an head like one, with two large long teeth standing out of its upper jaw, and an hairy skin (a), said to be an inch thick, and so tough that no lance will enter it (b); it comes out of the sea, and by its teeth gets up to the tops of mountains, and having fed on grass rolls itself down again into the sea; and this it does by putting its hinder feet to its teeth, and so falls from the mountain with great celerity, as on a sledge (c);

where all the beasts of the field play; skip and dance, and delight in each other, being in no fear of behemoth; whether understood of the elephant or river horse; since neither of them are carnivorous creatures that feed on other animals, but on grass only; and therefore the beasts of the field may feed with them quietly and securely. Pliny (d) says of the elephant, that meeting with cattle in the fields, it will make signs to them not to be afraid of it, and so they will go in company together.

(a) Olaus Magus ut supra, (De Ritu. Septent. Gent.) l. 21. c. 19. Vid. Bochart. ut supra, (Apud Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 14.) col. 763. Eden's Travels, p. 318. (b) See the North West Fox, p. 232. Voyage to Spitzbergen, p. 115, 120. Supplement, p. 194. (c) Olaus Magnus, ut supra, (De Ritu. Septent. Gent. l. 21. c. 19.) & Eden's Travels, ut supra. (p. 318.) (d) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 7.

Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
20. The verse seems to mean that in order to satisfy his hunger the animal depastures whole mountains, tracts where all the beasts of the field play. The hippopotamus is said to wander to the higher grounds, at a distance from the river, when food cannot be found in its vicinity.

Verse 20. - Surely the mountains bring him forth food. Neither the hippopotamus nor the elephant is an inhabitant of "mountains," according to our use of the word. But the harim (הָרִים) of the original is used of very moderate eminences. In the highly poetical language of Job, and especially of this passage, the term may well be applied to the hills on either side of the Nile, which approach closely to the river, and to this day furnish the hippopotamus with a portion of its food (see Hasselquist, ' Travels,' p. 188). Where all the beasts of the field play. By "the beasts of the field" seem to be meant the cattle and other do-mastic animals which are not driven from their pasture-grounds by the "river-horse" (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of the Bible,' p. 52). Job 40:2019 He is the firstling of the ways of God;

He, his Maker, reached to him his sword.

20 For the mountains bring forth food for him,

And all the beasts of the field play beside him.

21 Under the lote-trees he lieth down,

In covert of reeds and marsh.

22 Lote-trees cover him as shade,

The willows of the brook encompass him.

23 Behold, if the stream is strong, he doth not quake;

He remaineth cheerful, if a Jordan breaketh forth upon his mouth.

24 Just catch him while he is looking,

With snares let one pierce his nose!

God's ways is the name given to God's operations as the Creator of the world in Job 40:19 (comp. Job 26:14, where His acts as the Ruler of the world are included); and the firstling of these ways is called the Behmth, not as one of the first in point of time, but one of the hugest creatures, un chef-d'oeuvre de Dieu (Bochart); ראשׁית not as Proverbs 8:22; Numbers 24:20, of the priority of time, but as Amos 6:1, Amos 6:6, of rank. The art. in העשׁו is, without the pronominal suff. being meant as an accusative (Ew. 290, d), equal to a demonstrative pronoun (comp. Ges. 109, init): this its Creator (but so that "this" does not refer back so much as forwards). It is not meant that He reached His sword to behmoth, but (on which account לו is intentionally wanting) that He brought forth, i.e., created, its (behmoth's) peculiar sword, viz., the gigantic incisors ranged opposite one another, with which it grazes upon the meadow as with a sickle: ἀρούρῃσιν κακὴν ἐπιβάλλεται ἅρπην (Nicander, Theriac. 566), ἅρπη is exactly the sickle-shaped Egyptian sword (harpu equals חרב). Vegetable food (to which its teeth are adapted) is appointed to the behmoth: "for the mountains produce food for him;" it is the herbage of the hills (which is scanty in the lower and more abundant in the upper valley of the Nile) that is intended, after which this uncouth animal climbs (vid., Schlottm.). בּוּל is neither a contraction of יבוּל (Ges.), nor a corruption of it (Ew.), but Hebraeo-Arab. equals baul, produce, from bâla, to beget, comp. aballa, to bear fruit (prop. seed, bulal), root בל, to soak, wet, mix.

(Note: Whether בּליל, Job 6:5; Job 24:6, signifies mixed provender (farrago), or perhaps ripe fruit, i.e., grain, so that jabol, Judges 19:21, in the signification "he gave dry provender consisting of barley-grain," would be the opposite of the jahushsh (יחשׁ) of the present day, "he gives green provender consisting of green grass or green barley, hashı̂sh," as Wetzst. supposes, vid., on Isaiah 30:24.)


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