New American Standard Bible
"An idiot will become intelligent When the foal of a wild donkey is born a man.
King James Bible
For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.
Darby Bible Translation
Yet a senseless man will make bold, though man be born like the foal of a wild ass.
World English Bible
An empty-headed man becomes wise when a man is born as a wild donkey's colt.
Young's Literal Translation
And empty man is bold, And the colt of a wild ass man is born.
Job 11:12 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
For vain man - Margin, "empty." נבוב nâbûb, according to Gesenius, from the root נבב nâbab, to bore through, and then to be hollow; metaphorical, "empty," "foolish." The Septuagint, strangely enough, renders this," but man floats about with words." The Hebrew here means, manifestly, hollow, empty; then insincere and hypocritical. Zophar refers to a hollow-hearted man, who, though he was in fact like a wild ass's colt, attempted to appear mild and gentle, and to have a heart. The meaning is, that man by nature has a spirit untamed and unsubdued, and that with this, he assumes the appearance of gentleness and tenderness, and attempts to appear as if he was worthy of love and affection. God, seeing this hollow-heartedness, treats him accordingly. The reference here is to men like Job, and Zophar undoubtedly meant to say that he was hollow-hearted and insincere, and yet that he wished to appear to be a man having a heart, or, having true piety.
Would be wise - Various interpretations have been given to this expression. The most simple and obvious seems to be the true one, though I have not seen it noticed by any of the commentators. The word rendered "would be wise" (ילבב yı̂lâbēb) is from לבב lâbab, or לב lêb, meaning "heart," and the sense here, as it seems to me, is, "vain, hollow, and insincere, man would wish to seem to have a heart;" that is, would desire to appear sincere, or pious. Destitute of that truly, and false and hollow, he would nevertheless wish to appear different, and would put on the aspect of sincerity and religion. This is the most simple exposition, and this accords with the drift of the passage exactly, and expresses a sentiment which is unquestionably true. Gesenius, however, and some others render it, "but man is hollow and wanteth understanding; yea, man is born like a wild ass's colt, signifying the weakness and dullness of the human understanding in comparison with the divine wisdom." Others render it, "but the foolish man becometh wise when the wild ass's colt shall become a man," that is, never, a most forced and unnatural construction. Dr. Good renders it:
Will he then accept the hollow-hearted person?
Or shall the wild ass-colt assume the man?
Schultens and Dathe translate it:
Let then vain man be wise,
And the wild ass's colt become a man.
Though man be born - Though man by nature, or in connection with his birth, is untamed, lawless, rebellious. The wild ass is a striking image of that which is untamed and unsubdued; compare the notes at Job 39:5. Thus, Jeremiah describes it, "a wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure," Jeremiah 2:24. Thus, it is said of Ishmael Genesis 16:12, "and he will be a wild man," אדם פרא pârâ' 'âdâm - a wild ass of a man. So Job 39:5 :
Who hath sent out the wild ass free?
Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?
It is not quite easy for us to understand these allusions, for with us the ass is the proverbial image of stupidity, dullness, obstinacy, and immobility. But it was not so with the ancients. It is mentioned as distinguished for velocity, for wildness, and for an unsubdued spirit. Thus, Oppian, as quoted by Bochart, Hieroz. Lib. i. c. ix. p. 63, says:
Κῤαιπνὸν, ἀελλοπόδην, κρατερώνυχον, ὀξύτατον Θεῖν.
Kraipnon, aellopodēn, kraterōnuchon, ocutaton thein.
"Swift, rapid, with strong hoofs, and most fleet in his course."
LibraryGod Incomprehensible and Sovereign.
1 Can creatures to perfection find  Th' eternal uncreated mind? Or can the largest stretch of thought Measure and search his nature out? 2 'Tis high as heaven, 'tis deep as hell, And what can mortals know or tell? His glory spreads beyond the sky, And all the shining worlds on high. 3 But man, vain man, would fain be wise, Born like a wild young colt he flies Thro' all the follies of his mind, And swells and snuffs the empty wind. 4 God is a King of power unknown, Firm are the orders of his throne; …
Isaac Watts—Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Whether Confidence Belongs to Magnanimity?
Divine Impartiality Considered.
Letter ix. Meditation.
"Who sent out the wild donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
"Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
"With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; You consume as a moth what is precious to him; Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.
Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.
Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.
"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."
So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.
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