(v. 1) Do you know the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? Do you observe the birth of the hind?
(v.2) Can you number the months they fulfill? And do you know the time when they bring forth?
(v.3) They bow down: they let their young break through, They cast off their pains.
(v.4) Their sons grow up ripe, and become great in the open field, They go out and they do not return to them.
(v.1) DO YOU KNOW THE TIME WHEN THE WILD GOATS OF THE ROCK BRING FORTH?
This chapter continues with a survey of animate and organic creatures, this section beginning already at Job 38:39. First, habits of wild goats, wild asses and wild cattle are described in 39:1-12. Then the remarkable ostrich appears in 39:13-18. Next comes the war horse (39:19-25). Here we see fire and brilliance. In 39:26-30 we have hawks and eagles. The climactic creatures, behemoth and leviathan, appear in chapters 40 and 41. These, we believe, are a plant-eating dinosaur and a meat-eating dinosaur which lived mostly in water.
The "wild goats" are the Steinbocks, the Ibeces, the ya'aleey, those who "go up." They are rock climbers. The word for "rock" sala' is used twice in 39:28 with reference to the eagle, but is not used elsewhere in Job. It is used frequently in the Bible beyond Job.
The science of genetics, including coding of the life cell and fertizilation of ova, is profitable. It is equally fascinating that wild goats give birth altogether removed from control of man. God has provided for perpetuation of species. Today there is interest in studying habits of wild creatures and this is encouraged by questions posed here. There is always more to learn, proof of God's infinity.
DO YOU OBSERVE THE BIRTH OF A HIND?
The word for "birth" choleel is derived from chul and is infinitive Piel in form and is equivalent to a Kal. Background meaning is "to twist." Here it means to bring forth in birth.
The wild goat, or ibex, lives in places almost inaccessible to man. As protection against predators, birth takes place in hidden places and is rarely witnessed by humans. This is under God's direction.
Goats are sometimes called the poor man's cows. They are relatives of sheep and, when domesticated, are useful for milk, flesh, hair and hide. Goats grow as tall as sheep. Their twisted flat horns turn backward, but not in a spiral like a ram's. Their hooves are cloven and the tail is shorter than that of a sheep, and it turns up. Generally the male has a beard under his chin and gives off a strong odor. Most females also have beards. Normally goats are covered with straight hair but some kinds grow wool underneath. They are rugged creatures and find enough food even on poor dry land, but they do respond to care and good food. They do not thrive in a wet climate. Sometimes the male is called a "billy goat" and the female a "nanny goat." Proper name for the grown male is "buck" and the female is a "doe" while a goat less than one year old is a "kid."
A female generally bears one, two or three hinds at a time and young goats are born fully haired, with eyes open. Four hours after birth they can run and jump. They are weaned at three to six months and they may live up to 14 years.
Wild goats, sometimes called Ibeces or Markhors, live mainly in mountainous and rocky places. The Nubian Ibex is found mostly in Egypt and Israel, though some live in the Alps and a few other sites. The Markhor inhabits the Himalayas and nearby ranges. Europeans developed domestic goats from wild goats like the Agrimi living on the island of Crete. The Rocky Mountain goat of North America is not a true goat but is a goat antelope. The Chamois of Europe and the Near East and the Corals and Screws of Asia are also more like a goat antelope. The Rocky Mountain goat is among the best mountain climbers of North American animals. It has long, white hair.
(v.2) CAN YOU NUMBER THE MONTHS THEY FULFILL?
This question is connected with length of time a female carries her young. In 14:1 6 where Job complains of God numbering his steps, the same form is used except that in 14:16 it is a contraction. The ibex is wild and secretive and, perhaps, no one had noted the length of gestation.
AND YOU KNOW THE TIME THEY BRING FORTH?
Wild goats are secretive when giving birth to their young. Though more is known about them today, man does not control them.
(v.3) THEY BOW DOWN, THEY LET THEIR YOUNG BREAK THROUGH:
"They bow down" tikera'enah is derived from kara' and means "to kneel down" as in posture of a female in travail. In I Sam.4:19 we read of the wife of Phinehas bowing and crouching with birth pains when she heard that her husband and father-in-law had been killed by the Philistines. Samuel 4 and Job 39:3 are the only references in Scripture using this verb to describe birth labor.
The word for "breakthrough" tephalachenah is derived from palach which means "cleave" as baqa'. It is used for "cleave" in Prov.7:23 and for an arrow or dart in Job 16:13. Here it means for the skin to be broken as the offspring is delivered from the womb.
THEY CAST OFF THEIR PAINS:
The word for "pains" is chebeleeyhem and they are "cast off" teshalachenah. As pangs cease with birth, the mother may be said to cast forth her pain. The Greeks used the word "wdis" for a fetus brought forth with pain. Following birth, the young grow rapidly to maturity.
In talking with His disciples in the upper room, Jesus says a woman's pain is turned to joy when a child is born. Likewise, wild goats cast off pain with birth of their young. This is part of God's providence.
(v.4) THEIR SONS GROW UP RIPE, AND BECOME GREAT IN THE OPEN FIELD:
The word for "grow up ripe" is yachelemu and is derived from chalom "to be fat, full." The verb is related to chalom "dream," but here means to mature.
The word for "open field" babar is translated as "corn" in the KJV. It is the word for "corn," but corn is generally in an open field. The word is used like this only here in Scripture. It is poetic for chutz or shadeh. While young, they are secluded, but at puberty go into the open field where God protects them.
THEY GO OUT AND THEY DO NOT RETURN TO THEM:
Zoeckler translates lamo as "they do not return to elders." Delitzsch and Schultens have "they do not return to themselves," having the datives as one for self as in 6:19 and 24:16. We follow Zoeckler. Now mature, they do not return to their parents but fend for themselves in rocks and hills.
Incentive for Proper Ecology
Today ecologists are concerned over welfare of wild goats, that they be preserved from extinction. This is in accordance with this portion of the whirlwind talk (39:1-4). According to Gen. 1:28, we are God's stewards of the universe and are to show concern. However, in pagan cultures the commission to subdue the earth is abused. Evolutionists make a god of the universe. This is not open idolatry but it leads to a warped ecology. Some say a wild goat should never be killed, nor should other animals. However, in Gen.9:2 God gives permission for man to kill animals for food. This balance is needed.
The Wild Ass
(v.5) Who has sent forth the wild ass free? And who has loosed the bands of the wild donkey?
(v.6) Whose house I made a wilderness, And his dwelling the salt country.
(v.7) He scorns the noise of the city, And the clamour of the driver he does not hear.
(v.8) That which is searched on the mountains is his pasture. And he searches after every green thing.
(v.5) WHO HAS SENT FORTH THE WILD ASS FREE?
In this verse two kinds of wild asses, or onagers, are described--the pere' and 'arod. The pere' seems to be the "asinus hemippus" while the second is "onager." The first lived in deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia and northern Arabia, while the second lived in western Asia, southward to Persia, Beloochistan and western India. The pere' is a beautiful animal, fleet as a gazelle, wild and rich faunó almost pink in color. The second is similar, but they are two species. No one has been able to domesticate them.
The pere' is altogether distinct from a wild ox which has large, soft eyes, double hooves, and is horned. They travel in herds of several hundred, with hunters scaring them and bagging a few stragglers. According to Delitzsch, the pere' is very swift and the 'arod is very shy. It is also called a "Kulan."
The expression "free" chapheshiy is derived from chaphash which means "loose, set free" and, here, is the accusative of the predicate. A like grammar form is used in Dt.15:12, Jer.22:30, Gen.23:2. The pere' is used in 6:5 where Job asks whether the wild ass brays. Zophar refers to it in 11:12 to describe a vain man as the colt of a wild ass.
AND WHO HAS LOOSED THE BANDS OF THE WILD DONKEY:
Perhaps we can equate the 'arod of 39:5 with "wild donkey." The wild ass and wild donkey are similar, yet different species.
The "bands" are umoserot, a common participle from 'asar, meaning "bands, yoke." It is used in Ps.2:3 where we read the heathen wish to cast off God's hands or yokes. God broke the bands, or yokes, on Israelites in Egypt (Ps. 107:14). God has also loosed the bands of the Psalmist (116:16). Here the meaning seems to be that God created wild donkeys free from domestic bands, a yoke for a free spirit. Job longed to be free of restraints.
The verb phiteeach indicates the bands are "opened" or "loosed." Wild donkey and wild ass were endowed with a free spirit. Both are recognized for their wild nature.
(v.6) WHOSE HOUSE I MADE THE WILDERNESS:
The word for "wilderness" is 'arabah. It means an arid and sterile region, mentioned also in 24:5 where Job compares oppressed people with wild asses in the desert or wilderness. According to Gesenius, the word covers particularly the low desert tract, or plain, of the Jordan River and Dead Sea, enclosed by mountains and extending from the lake of Tiberias
(v.10) CAN YOU TIE THE AUROCH IN A FURROW WITH HIS ROPES?
Literally we read "Can you tie the auroch in a furrow of his ropes?" What is meant is that one cannot use ropes to guide a wild ox down a furrow. The word for "ropes, cords" is 'aboto; it is sort of in the genitive. The word for "furrow" betelem is used also in 31:38 at the beginning of Job's section on ecology. And it is used in the Thanksgiving Psalm (65:11) where we read that God settles furrows with rain, softening them to produce abundantly. Oxen were used for this task, but not the auroch.
According to Delitzsch, this means the ridge between furrows, while Rawlinson claims it refers to plowing and ground preparation. We think the construction is awkward-no particle between "furrow" and "ropes" but this is good Hebrew poetry.
OR WILL HE HARROW THE VALLEYS AFTER YOU?
First meaning of "harrow" yesadeed is to make level or even. In the Piel it means "to harrow or level a field" as here and in ls.28: 24 and Hos.10:11. Tractors now do what oxen did in Biblical times, but not the wild ox or auroch.
The word "after you" 'achareyka describes a man leading animals, not driving them. In his Bible Dictionary, Douglas describes harrowing as done with a toothed implement, dragged along the ground to break clods of earth after the plowing. Other references are in Is. 28:25 and Hos.10:11. In the Zondervan Encyclopedia it is stated that no tool resembling a harrow is known from Egypt or ancient Palestine. It is suggested this might refer to pulling branches behind the plow to cover seed uniformly. This explains why the farmer walked ahead of the plow.
(v.11) CAN YOU TRUST HIM JUST BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT STRENGTH?
Literally this reads "can you entrust in him because great his strength?" The kiy is an exponent of the object. His strength will, rather, cause you to distrust him. This animal is no more to be trusted than a lion, raven, wild goat or wild ass. Even if he were tied, he could not be trusted or managed. Here is another example of variety in God's world of nature.
AND LEAVE YOUR LABOR TO HIM?
The word for "labor" yegiy'eka is common in Scripture. Here reference is to labor in connection with tilling, as in Ps. 78:46. In Ps. 128:2 we read that he who fears the Lord is happy and eats of the "labor" of his hands. In Gen. 31 :42 we read of Jacob's complaint that Laban would have taken from him all the labor of his hands, had he been permitted to do so. The auroch cannot be domesticated but we can learn from him. Today much labor has been delegated to machinery more powerful than an auroch. And, generally, machinery is under man's control, but there is still much to learn.
(v.12) DO YOU BELIEVE IN HIM THAT HE WILL BRING IN YOUR SOWING?
The kiy is the exponent of the object. The Chetib with its yashib is Kal and intransitive as in 42:10 and in Ps.85:5 where it is used actively for God to turn us, or where God actively turned Job's captivity. The Keri has substituted for the normal Hiphiel here. The Chetib would demand that we actively have the seed or results of seed, the harvest, returned by the auroch as by a domestic ox. Much energy is required to harvest and, no doubt, Job would have liked to use the power of an auroch. Even with machinery energy today, we look for more help.
AND THAT HE WILL GATHER TOGETHER YOUR GRAIN:
The word for "grain"--here the result of sowing-is wegareneka. The word, derived from garan is masculine and, first, refers to a level plain or area. In this area grain is grown and threshed. According to Gesenius, the word is here used for the grain itself rather than for the field. In Ruth 3:2 the word is used for "threshing floor" where Boaz winnowed barley. John the Baptist speaks of the Lord thoroughly purging His threshing floor (Matt.3:12).
Today threshing is done more scientifically. Energy, far more than supplied by an auroch, is controlled. Threshing is even done in the field, with grain loaded and straw spread on the field.
Emphasis is on strength of the auroch, a strength not available to Job. We should be challenged to find new energy sources provided by God in nature. Though we are not to abuse nature we are to make use of God's gifts to us.
The auroch was a wild creature which could not be domesticated or trained to use its strength productively. So it was with Job whom God described as "perfect" tam (1:8, 2:3) and who was regarded as the greatest man of the East (1:3). Yet here God compares him with a wild bull, having strength but being unproductive. Job needed a complete change. The implications were not lost on Job, but few commentators understand this implication in the picture of the wild bull.
The Biblical Oryx
In the September-October, 1984 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review there is an extensive article on the Biblical Oryx. Purpose of the article is to establish this creature as the reeym of this section. The main argument is that the Biblical reeym could not be tamed but, according to the author, wild oxen have been tamed and trained to plow and harrow crops. The author also claims that the auroch belongs in the buffalo family rather than being in the wild ox family. He says it had great strength because, here in Job and in Num. 24:8, is described what appears to be strength. Therefore, it must be strong. This is arguing in a circle. It would seem that an animal of such strength would resemble a large wild ox, an auroch type, perhaps close to a buffalo. From the article it is apparent that Israeli scholars today consider this oryx to be the animal mentioned in Job 39:9-12, Num. 24:8, Deut. 33:17, Ps.22:21.
The oryx was once dominant across the desert. In 1917 Col. T.E. Lawrence gave 600,000 modern British rifles to the irregular Bedouin armies. Within two decades the oryx was exterminated in most of its range. After World War II oil companies introduced the all-terrain vehicles into the region for use by their exploration teams. In these they pursued the oryx into the last refuges, the sands of the Nafud and Rub al-Khali deserts of Saudi Arabia. In 1973 the last of the truly wild oryx were slaughtered on the edge of the Rub al-Khali by Qatari hunters.
Fortunately for the species, a few captive specimens survived in zoos around the world. When Israeli conservationists decided this living Biblical artifact should be restored to the land of its ancestors, they acquired several of the zoo oryx from a truly remarkable source--the personal stock of the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Faisal wanted an orangutan for his zoo in Riyadh, and to acquire it, he agreed to trade several oryx. A European animal dealer conducted the negotiations and later shipped the king's oryx to the Los Angeles zoo. The president of the Zoo Association negotiated with General Avraham Yoffe of Israel and the oryx were then loaded aboard a cargo jet to New York and then on to El Al in Israel. Then they were taken to the Hai-Bar Arava Wildlife Reserve, 50 miles from the Saudi Arabian border. In 1978 they began to reproduce and now there are more than 22. Some have been weaned from zoo food and released into the wild.
There are good arguments for the oryx being the reeym. But, at this point, we still prefer to identify it as the wild ox, or auroch, or even a mammoth. With our today's creation concept of mammoths living between the dinosaurs and elephants, about the time of Job, this might be quite feasible.
In the above mentioned article it is also noted that in the Middle Ages people thought the oryx had only one horn because, from a distance, the two interlocked horns looked like a single horn. The article contained a reproduction of a four-color picture of a tapestry dated to the Middle Ages which shows a creature with one horn. Leonardo de Vinci even suggested this fierce one-horned animal which was said to be capable of ripping open an elephant, loved maidens and would fall asleep in the lap of a virgin. We agree with authors of the article that there is no way reeym can be translated as "unicorn."
The Ostrich (Job 39:13-18)
(v.13) The wings of the female ostriches flap lustily (in exultation) As the pinion and feather of a kindly stork.
(v.14) Rather, she leaves her eggs upon the ground, And warms it in the dust.
(v.15) And forgets that a foot may crush it And that the beast of the field may trample it.
(v.16) She acts harshly toward her young as if they were not hers, It does not distress her that her labor is in vain.
(v.17) For God has caused her to forget wisdom. And He has not apportioned perception to her.
(v.18) Yet now she lashes herself on high, And scorns the horse and his rider.
(v.13) THE WINGS OF THE FEMALE OSTRICHES FLAP LUSTILY (IN EXULTATION):
Although the ostrich resembles the stork in its stilt-like structure, color of feathers and gregarious life, its characteristics are altogether different from those to be expected according to this similarity. The common word for "wing" kenaph is used. The word for "ostriches" renaniym is derived from ranan which means "to make a shrill noise, sing" and it is plural and feminine. The word is applied to the female ostrich because of her wailing.
The word for "flaps" ne'elasah also carries the thought of flapping in pride or with exultation. The ostrich is proud of her wings. The KJV reads "peacock" for the word renaniym while Delitzsch suggests the verb is derived from 'alas which signifies "to make gestures with joy." The word is used in 20:18 where Zophar says (KJV) the wicked person's labor shall not be "swallowed down." It should read "shall not be able to rejoice in it."
In the late 1800s and early 1900s ostrich plumes were in demand and used for decorating hats and clothing. Due to this killing, the ostrich disappeared from Asia and from much of Africa. Plumes were so expensive that it became profitable to raise ostriches in captivity and farms were established in Africa, the United States, Australia and southern Europe. After 1918, fashions changed and few ostriches are now raised, their skins made into quality leather. The city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa was founded in about 1880 because of nearby ostrich farms.
AS THE PINION AND FEATHER OF THE KINDLY STORK:
Most commentators regard the chasiydah as an adjective, meaning "pious." They translate "as if the pinion and feather are pious or kindly." This is also the word for stork. The idea is that the ostrich pretends to be kindly like the stork but God indicates it cannot be. In the following verse the ostrich's cruelty and stupidity are mentioned. We prefer to translate as "kindly stork." Gesenius notes that it could mean "stork" but translates it "pious one." Zoeckler translates it as "stork."
The words 'eeberah wenotzah seem to refer to various parts of the wing. Both words could be translated as "pinion" or part of a feather. The second word is used for "wing" or "part of a wing" only this once in Scripture. Together the two words seem to refer to the whole wing. In Ez.17:3 ha'eeber seems to be distinguished from the full wing which is hakenephayim; then it is full of 'eberah or "feathers." We'eberoteyha is used also in Ps. 68: 13 where we read Israel had lain among the pots and now would be as the wing of a dove covered with silver. In Deut.32:11 we read that God takes up Israel as an eagle takes her young into her wing; there be'eberato is used for "wing." In Ps. 91:4 we read the familiar promise that "God shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall trust," There the word for "feathers" is be'eberato and "wings" is kenaphayw. Isaiah (40:31) says we shall mount upon "wings of an eagle" 'eeber and be renewed. The Psalmist (55:6) cries "Oh that I would have wings of a dove," using 'eeber for "wings.":
It appears that wenotzeh is used only this once in the Bible. The two words together describe wings and feathers of a kindly stork. Emphasis in both words for "feather, wing" seems to be on individual parts of the wing or feathers rather than on the whole wing. The stupid ostrich has beautiful wings, so beautiful that at the turn of the century there was a huge demand for ostrich plumes. The KJV translates "female ostriches" in 39:13 as "peacock" to emphasize the proud display of wings. But it lacks the kind and gentle disposition of the stork. In His wisdom God has created each differently.
Chasiydah refers to a gentle stork in contrast to a wild and stupid ostrich. Here is an indirect reference to the Gospel. The wild goats (38:1-4) may be compared with the 7000 sheep belonging to Job (1:3), but the wild goats could not be tamed. Nor could the wild asses mentioned in 39:5-8 be tamed. This is true also of the wild ox mentioned in 39:9-12. Though resembling the 500 oxen owned by Job (1:3), the wild ox cannot be tamed.
The wild, or war horse, is mentioned in 39:19-25. At times the Arab horse is fairly tame, but in battle it is transformed, snorting as though its throat were clothed with thunder. Scorning weapons, it rushes into battle; it is a transformed animal
The behemoth of 40:15-24 may (possibly) be an hippopotamus, as commentators suggest, but it (hippo) could be tamed and even killed and its flesh eaten. ((40:17a) "He moveth his tail like a cedar," i.e. a powerful tail - not a hippopotamus or elephant.) But this is not true of a dinosaur such as a brachiosaurus or brontosaurus. A comparison is made also of a stupid ostrich and a gentle stork.
If the leviathan of Job 41 were a Nile River crocodile, as suggested by commentators, it could be captured. But the leviathan is more wild and fierce; all of chapter 41 is devoted to its description. According to 41:19-21. this creature breathed out fire and smoke. Implication is that Job is behaving like a lion, like a wild goat, wild ox, wild ass, stupid ostrich, even like a brachiosaurus and plesiosaurus. Job is wild and stupid in accusing God of being unfair. From these wild animals Job is to learn that by nature he too is stubbornly unchangeable except through the Gospel. Job can no more change himself than these wild animals can change themselves. Only the miracle of the Redeemer (19:25), Pardoner (7:21), Advocate (9:33) and Angel above a thousand (33:23) can accomplish this. Job realized the implication, which few commentators have. Job repents in dust and ashes (42:6) and then a miracle occurs. His flesh, diseased with cancerous and leprous sores, becomes fresh as that of a young child. What Elihu had foretold in 33:25 came about. Then Job received double of all he had lost, including a whole new family and, it seems, his lifespan was doubled.
Based on Gen.1:14-16 and Ps.50:6 and 97:6, related to the heavens declaring the glory of God, some find the Gospel in the stars. But few find a reference to the Gospel in wild animals. Through examples of wild animals, God showed Job that he needed a total and miraculous change, brought about through the Gospel. God's infinity is revealed in His care of wild creatures which Job barely knows exist. Though not apparent at first, it becomes evident that God's superior love can change Job, and us.
There is a problem in relating material with spiritual matters or scientific with religious. Scientists and educators, in general, maintain that anything pertaining to religion-especially Christian-is detrimental to the required objectivity of research. Conversely, many church people-particularly among conservatives-maintain that anything pertaining to science is automatically anti-spiritual and, thus, to be avoided. According to the social gospel, helping the needy and handicapped is the Gospel whereas the Gospel is the good news of what God has done for us. This motivates us to aid the unfortunate.
Our suggestion that Job 39-41 can lead us into the Gospel meets with disapproval. This applies also to finding the Gospel in the stars (Gen.1:14, Ps. 50:6, 97:6) where we read the heavenly constellations are signs declaring His imputed righteousness.
To explain our position we shall outline why, in His whirlwind talk, God mentions wild animals.
In this section, 38:39 to the end of 41, various wild animals are described. Climax of the description is a picture of the behemoth and leviathan. These latter are more fierce than others described. Generally, commentators equate the behemoth with an hippopotamus and the leviathan with a Nile River crocodile. We maintain the behemoth is a plant-eating dinosaur and the leviathan is a meat-eating dinosaur. Most commentators disagree with our position because they have been misled into believing that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, whereas Job lived about 4000 years ago. However, science based on the creationist position, has provided explanations for dinosaurs roaming the earth during the period 4000-5000 years ago.
Gospel/Wild Animals But, what does this have to do with the Gospel of forgiveness? The answer lies in recognizing the contrast between the stupid ostrich and the gentle stork implied in the picture of 39:13-18. The ostrich has beautiful feathers but, like a peacock, it struts to appear like a gentle stork. Yet the ostrich is impetuous, faster than a horse with a rider, but deprived of wisdom so that it destroys its own eggs. Though there are superficial similarities, neither can change its nature.
This is why God describes these wild animals-on the one hand to demonstrate God's power and providence for wild creatures for which Job has no concern. Therefore, Job has no right to accuse God of injustice. The 39 scientific questions in chapter 38 point up God's power on earth, in space, weather, springs of the sea. But with the wild animals, He has a higher purpose.
Job had owned 500 asses (1:3) but no wild ones. He also had 500 oxen (1:3) but he could not tame the wild ox. Job had 7000 sheep (1:3) but he could not tame wild goats. Nor could he tame the lioness, nor the raven, the war horse, hawk or eagle.
The implication is clear. Job was the greatest man of the East (1:3). He had proved wrong his friends' claim that he had committed a secret sin. He knew the Gospel well and spoke of the Pardoner (7:21), the Advocate (9:33), Redeemer (19:25). Elihu, the young man, led Job deeper into the Gospel (33:23) through the Angel above a thousand who had redeemed his soul from the pit and who would restore his flesh (33:25). God had described Job as perfect (1:7, 2:3) but through descriptions of wild animals God was telling Job that he was as wild and intractable as they. In spite of his blessings Job was by nature unchangeable, and only the miracle of the Angel above a thousand (33:23) could change him. Though Job was the greatest man of the East (1:3), by nature he was like the wild animals.
Here we see the Gospel remarkably presented. It is not directly stated, but the need for the Gospel is clearly pictured. The greatest miracle of all, the Gospel, is needed. Elihu had spoken of the renewing power of the Gospel in the ransom (33:23) which would restore Job's flesh, now filthy and decaying, to that of a baby. Job repented (40:4, 42:6) upon recognizing the message from the wild animals. Though this is not generally accepted, these wild animals really did teach the Gospel.
The climax of the section on wild animals deals with the behemoth and leviathan (ch. 40.41). Because of their importance in the scheme, they cannot be an hippopotamus and Nile River crocodile. These creatures can be killed, used for food, and even tamed. If the animals mentioned in chapters 38 and 39 cannot be tamed, these last two cannot even be approached. The behemoth, as described, resembles a plant-eating dinosaur such as the Brachiosaurus or a Brontosaurus. The leviathan could not be captured, tamed, or used as food. It was so fierce that fire and smoke issued from its mouth. This is not a description of a crocodile. These creatures were the fiercest of the dinosaurs. They were powerful illustrations, and Job was led to repentance and, thus, we can claim to find the Gospel here. The dinosaurs here described indicated the intractable human nature which rebels against God. Only the Gospel, the greater love of God in Christ, can overcome the barriers of sin. Paul states in I Cor.9:22 that he wished to be all things to all men that by all means he might save some. The Gospel comes to people in various ways, and the way through wild animals, was effective with Job.
Superiority of Love
We have outlined three stages in renewal of creationism in science over the past 30 years. The first step is secular creationism--and the two-model approach enters here--in which attempts are made to demonstrate from nature that there is a Creator God. The next step is Biblical creationism where, without apology, religion and science are joined. The third stage involves the grace perspective. God's greatest attribute is His love which exceeds His wisdom and power. Even in scientific research, nothing is greater than God's love. What his friends could not accomplish, and what Job himself (a man described as perfect by God Himself) could not do, the love of God accomplished. All medical signs pointed to an early death for Job, but through God's redeeming love, Job's flesh was restored to that of a young child. Even in the whirlwind talk, we learn what the Gospel is able to accomplish.
Nothing in science or nature could change the character of the wild animals described in Job and, certainly, they did not evolve into higher forms. Through these wild creatures the Holy Spirit operated to perform a miracle--a complete change in Job.
(v.14) RATHER, SHE LEAVES HER EGGS UPON THE GROUND:
Here is a contrast. The female ostrich would like to be as the gentle stork but the stork would not leave her eggs lying on the ground as the stupid ostrich does. The kiy "rather" has the force of adverseness. Purpose is to indicate the differences between these two creatures. The kiy in this form is used also in 22:2 where Eliphaz suggests that a man cannot be as profitable to God as to himself.
There is a change in number here. The subject is the female ostrich-which is in plural form in Hebrew--of 39:13a while the verb in 14a is singular. This means the plural is conceived in Hebrew as a singular. This is covered in Ewald's grammar in paragraph 218a. We are reminded of Gen.1:1 where the plural 'elohiym is used with the singular verb bars' "create."
The word for "eggs" is a difficult grammatical form. It has beetzeyha whereas it should have beeytzah in order to be regular. It looks like a singular, especially with the feminine singular ending. It is used in Is. 10:14 where we have the regular plural beeytziym. This is the case also in Deut.22:6 where we read that God forbids the Jews to destroy the eggs in a bird's nest. There the regular plural form is used.
AND WARMS THEM IN THE DUST:
It seems that often the female ostrich lays eggs but does not sit on them. The sun's heat warms them during the day and at night the male ostrich sits on them. This is the reverse of what the stork does, so the stupid ostrich cannot be compared with the gentle stork. In support of this observation Delitzsch quotes from Funke's Nature Stories.
One would expect a Hiphiel in the verb on warmth, but it is Piel. Also, sometimes the ostrich does hatch her eggs by her own warmth.
Quoting from Wetzstein, Delitzsch has a section on the ostrich. In Arabic they are called "rubd" because of the black color of their long feathers. The male is white and is called "hetsh" by the Arabs. The ostrich tribe has the name of "inhabitant of the desert" because it is at home in the most lonely parts of the steppe, in completely barren deserts. The Arabians also call the ostrich "abu es sahar," possessor of the sterile deserts. The most common name in Arabic was "na'ame," because of the softness of its feathers. Generally the female ostrich lays 30 eggs and a place is hollowed out in the ground to serve as a nest. The ostrich frequently leaves the nest, especially when hunters arrive. This is during the first period of breeding. But when the time for hatching is near, the ostrich does not leave the nest.
(v.15) AND SHE FORGETS THAT A FOOT MAY CRUSH IT:
The verb "crush" is tetsureah and means "to press, crush." Particularly in a male/female fight of animals, a foot may crush an egg. The word "forgets" watishekach is imperfect, indicating that she often crushes her eggs; in fact, she almost consistently does so. According to Zoeckler, an ostrich crushes or leaves her eggs only at beginning of the incubation period. At other times she can be very solicitous.
This leads some to question the authenticity of the picture of stupidity. According to Alice Parmelee, author of All the Birds of the Bible, the author of Job is guilty of a scientific error in his description of the ostrich as cruel to her young. Berthold Laufer of the Chicago Field Museum claims that not only is Scripture's description of ostrich cruelty unscientific, but its description of ostrich folly is also wrong. In 1898 G.C. Schriener wrote that the ostrich is cruel only at times. In articles in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (Dec. 1963 and March 1969) Dr. George Howe cites examples which prove the Bible's description is true. Ostriches living on ostrich farms wilI eat prickly pears to their own peril and they scamper everywhere, often running into wire fences and breaking their legs. When pricked by a cactus needle, they refuse force-feeding, preferring to die. One ostrich stuck her neck through a fence and, in attempting to get it out, became so violent she literally tore off her neck. During the mating season the female lays an egg, perhaps every three days. Often a cock has more than one mate and eggs will be laid outside the nest. In the squabble over who controls the nest, eggs are often destroyed.
Generally ostriches are kind to their young, but when overfed, they destroy the nest. Sometimes an impatient female will leave the nest before all the eggs are hatched. When frightened adults leave the nest, the young die from neglect. Adults will also kick and peck young birds which are not their own. Scripture is not wrong; here the emphasis is on stupidity of the ostrich, and at times the ostrich is stupid. Because often there are 30 eggs or more, some are not covered and become cracked. This, too, indicates stupidity.
AND THE BEAST OF THE FIELD MAY TRAMPLE:
Also, because eggs are often lying openly on the ground, various beasts trample them. And here, too, Zoeckler emphasizes that at times the ostrich takes good care of her eggs and her young. But the ostrich is also stupid, and this stupidity is noted to indicate that Job cannot change his rebellious nature any more than an ostrich can behave like a gentle stork.
This behavior, though stemming from evil, is permitted by God for a purpose. Thus, Job's suffering was under God's control. Scientifically we can learn of Scripture's accuracy in description. Upon a superficial study of the ostrich, some claim Scripture errs. It does not. Scripture is exact.
(v.16) SHE TREATS HER YOUNG HARSHLY AS IF THEY WERE NOT HERS:
Here is another masculine/feminine switch as in Ps. 104:7 and in previous sections of Job. This is common in Hebrew. Something similar is found in Job 39:4 where the lamo is masculine while "sons" and "pains" are feminine. In 6:20 a feminine form is used for neuter in "thither." Another such switch is in 24:15.16 where "adulterer" no'eeph is feminine and "breaking through" chatar is masculine singular and used as a neuter for the plural. Here we read "she treats harshly her sons" as though they were not "hers." Thus, Ewald transforms hiqeshiyach into heqahiyach. Hirzel and Dillmann use taqeshiyach but these alterations are unnecessary, for such switches in gender are common. One might even say the male ostrich treats the daughter harshly as though she were not his. We prefer the swtich in gender and translate "she" rather than "he." This happens only at times. Generally the ostrich protects and cares for her young.
Again, this relates to Job's experiences. Sometimes God seems to be destructive and at other times He appears concerned. As the ostrich needs a different nature, so natural man requires a new nature acquired through the Gospel.
HER LABOR IS IN VAIN WITHOUT FEAR: IT DOES NOT TROUBLE HER THAT HER
WORK IS FOR NOTHING:
Literally this reads "In vain is her labor without fear." We use Beck's translation because it captures the total sense in smooth speech. The point is, though the ostrich repeatedly destroys its own eggs or cracks them through stupidity and carelessness, still it does not fear nor learn a lesson through fear. Actually, as noted by Wetzstein, Delitzsch and Zoeckler, she often breaks eggs to feed her young. This is in contrast to the stork of 39:13b.
Delitzsch notes also variations in accent. If we have a Rebia Mugrash, we translate "in vain is her labor that is devoid of anxiety." If we translate with Torcha and "labor" as yegiy'ah with a Munach Vicarium, we read "in vain is her labor without anxiety on her part." If we have "vain" with Marchaand "labor" with Rubia, we read "in vain is her labor, yet she is without anxiety." The middle reading is preferred by Delitzsch. The expression "in vain" is leriyq whereas the common word would be lariyq as in ls.65:23. When an ostrich knows her nest is discovered, she tramples on the eggs and builds another nest.
(v.17) BECAUSE GOD HAS CAUSED HER TO FORGET WISDOM:
The verb is Hiphiel of nashah with the suffix ah "cause to forget" as in 11:6. There Zophar says God will be caused to forget the iniquities of Job. The highest word for "wisdom" is chokmah, used here. God simply causes the ostrich to forget real wisdom, the wisdom of Job 28:28. The word for "God" here is 'eloah, the common word for God, indicating His power. We do not find "Jehovah" here.
AND HE HAS NOT ALLOTTED TO HER PERCEPTION:
The verb chalaq is derived from "being smooth" and, hence, means "dividing, allotting." It is used with the be 3 of things here in babiynah. This is the second highest word for wisdom. God has not allotted this perception to the ostrich. The be is used thus also in Is.53:12 and as "en" in Greek in Acts 8:21. In Isaiah, Jesus is given a portion with the great, but in Acts, ch.8, Peter says that Simon has neither part nor lot in the matter of healing.
Rawlinson details the stupidity of the ostrich and its lack of wisdom and perception.
1. Ostriches will swallow iron, stones and bullets which sometimes proves fatal.
2. When an ostrich is hunted, it thrusts its head into the sand, foolishly imagining the hunter does not see it.
3. It may be captured by transparent devices.
4. It neglects its eggs.
5. Its head is small and there is not much brain.
6. While living on an ostrich farm, it stays inside a low fence which it could easily jump over.
(v.18) YET NOW SHE LASHES HERSELF ON HIGH:
The verb "lash" is tameriy' and is derived from mara'. One would expect, instead, ra'am or rum. It is an unusual, poetic expression. And the double use of the word with bamerom is almost like an absolute construct. Thus, there is emphasis.
When an ostrich sees it cannot hide, it can lash vehemently with its wings and run faster than a horse with a rider. This is said of the female which also deserts her young as she flees. According to Delitzsch who quotes from Dounes' The Horse of the Sahara, the male does not do this. Thus, we have this double personality and possibility, mainly to picture the double personality of Job and how he wrongly perceives God. There are two slogans pertaining to the ostrich: "as foolish as an ostrich" and "as swift as an ostrich."
SHE LAUGHS AT THE HORSE AND ITS RIDER:
Again, the word is female in form. Xenophon's mounted men could not catch up with the ostrich. She is the fastest thing alive. This is the good side of the ostrich, again revealing her double nature. And it points up Job's double nature. Perhaps in athletic events and anatomical studies, something could be learned from the ostrich.
The War Horse (Job 39:19-25)
(v.19) Can you give to the horse his mighty powers? And clothe his neck with thunder?
(v.20) Can you make him leap about like a grasshopper? And the strength of his snorting is terror.
(v.21) He paws the ground in the valleys (of war), and he leaps with strength. He goes out to meet the weapons.
(v.22) He laughs at fear and is not afraid, And he does not turn back from before the sword.
(v.23) The quiver rattles over him, The spear and the javelin flash.
(v.24) With leaping and rage he swallows the ground. He does not stand still because of the sound of the trumpet.
(v.25) As often as the trumpet (sounds), he says "aha." And from afar he scents the battle, The thunder of captains and the war cry.
(v.19) CAN YOU GIVE TO THE HORSE HIS MIGHTY POWER?
This is regarded as one of the oldest and most beautiful descriptions of the horse. It is studied by K. Leofler in his Die Geschichte des Pferdes. Arabic and Oriental writers describe the horse in their literature, but this is one of the best in majesty and simplicity.
The word for "strength" geburah here means more than "strength" geburot (41:12). In Judges 8:21 Zebah and Zalmuna challenged Gibeon to kill them to show his martial "strength." Rabshakah ridiculed Hezekiah's war "strength" (II Ki.19:11-13). The Psalmist says the Lord does not delight in the "strength" of a horse, including military strength.
God gives this strength to the horse. Job could not, and perhaps would not wish to, use military force. From chapter 31 we gather he could have been a world ruler, but he renounced this in favor of peace. In Scripture the horse is often pictured in a military sense, a description which indicated that Job was being militant against God.
AND CLOTHE HIS NECK WITH THUNDER:
There is dispute over whether to translate ra'emah as "thunder" or as "scorn." Rawlinson claims the word always means "thunder" and refers to 26:14 where we read of the thunder of God's power in space. According to Ps.77:18, the voice of God's "thunder" ra'ameka, is in the heavens. God answers prayer in the secret places of "thunder" ra'am (Ps.81:7) and waters flee from the voice of God's "thunder" ra'ameka (Ps. 104:7). Isaiah says God will visit Israel with "thunder" against her enemies (Is.29:6). Jerome, Luther, Schlottmann and KJV all translate "thunder."
It seems the real word for "thunder" is ra'am, a masculine form. Here the word ra'emah is feminine and, as such, is used only here. The argument of Delitzsch and Zoeckler that the word means "mane of the horse" is based largely on the concept that noise, or thunder, would not proceed from the neck, nor would one think of something being clothed if "thunder" were meant. Delitzsch derives this from the verb ra'am which means first "to be agitated" though he translates it as "flowing hair." He notes that hair implies a quivering. Gesenius translates it "clothed his neck with shuddering," while Zoeckler has "flowing mane." He refers to Ez.27:35 where ra'amu is used in connection with people being troubled at his presence. Umbreit and Ewald translate "height" in an attempt to identify it with ra'emah with an Aleph. Again, this is changing the text.
Our thought is that when this war horse neighs, the noise is so loud and awesome that his whole neck seems clothed with thunder. Thus, it is not important whether the neck produces the thunder or noise, though the neck is certainly involved.
Fierceness is implied. A quivering mane makes a poetic picture, but we agree with Luther and Rawlinson that the text reads "thunder" though the feminine form is used only here. Fierceness, rather than beauty, is pictured. Noise is significant and encourages soldiers to fight even to death. Job has been talkative in accusing God of injustice and demanding a trial. He was like a war horse.
(v.20) CAN YOU MAKE HIM LEAP ABOUT LIKE A GRASSHOPPER?
The verb "leap about" hatare'iyshenu is Hiphiel of ra'ash and means "to cause to leap, tremble." This is the action of both horse and "grasshopper" he'arbeh. It is used like this only here. What is meant is a curved, forward motion, in leaps, now to the right then to the left. Arabs call this "carcal." It is the bound of a horse leaping into battle. In Joel 2:4 grasshoppers in the plague are compared with horses. In Rev.9:7.10 we read of shapes of locusts coming from the fifth trumpet being like horses ready for battle. They have hair like women, wearing golden crowns on their heads, and having faces like men. Their teeth are like lions, their breastplates of iron, and wings sounding like chariots of many horses. Their tails carried the sting of a scorpion.
God has endowed the horse with ability to leap about and Job was leaping from one speech to another - saying the wicked are not punished (ch.24), then saying they are punished (ch.27). Though Job appears to be a pacifist, he acts like a war horse. God can tame wild animals, and Job.
We may compare wild/tame goat, wild/tame ass, wild/tame ox, stupid ostrich/mild stork. But nothing can be compared with the lioness or her cub, nor the raven, horse, hawk, nor eagle. As they are wild and fierce so it is implied that Job, in spite of his holiness, is like them. He needs the change wrought only by the Gospel.
AND THE STRENGTH OF HIS SNORTING IS TERROR:
The word for "strength" is hod and seems to be derived from the concept of "swelling." Here it appears to mean "the strength of his snorting." This strikes "terror" 'eemah. "Strength" is used in Prov.5:9 where in KJV it is translated as "lest thou give thine honor to another." In Dan. 10:8 we read "my strength" was turned in me to destruction. Here reference to powerful snorting of the horse is equivalent to "thunder" (39:19). Emphasis is on sound rather than on sight. According to Delitzsch, the Arab "hawd" refers to a peal of thunder or howling of a strong wind. He also says nachero is not neighing of the horse but snorting of his nostrils. Thus, there is an advance in thought over "thunder" in the previous verse which referred to neighing. Even snorting strikes terror and is also a rattling in the throat. Eeymah is a substantival word indicating that even snorting strikes terror.
In Prov. 20:2 the word is used for "dread of a king." In Jer.8:16 we read "snorting of his horses was heard from Dan, and the whole land trembled at the neighing of his strong ones." Notice there is no waw at the beginning. This makes it a descriptive clause. He leaps like a grasshopper and snorts. Job, too, had snorted when accusing his friends of having no Gospel (ch. 27). He needed to be changed.
(v.21) AND HE PAWS THE GROUND IN THE VALLEYS (OF WAR) AND LEAPS WITH
According to Zoeckler, the first phrase is plural interchanging with the singular in the second phrase, as an indefinite "it" collective. We prefer the position of Delitzsch and Rawlinson who say reference is to "they," meaning the entire line of horses in war. This would be an advance in thought. KJV has "he." Exchange of numbers is used in Gen.1 :1 with a plural form for God and singular for the verb "create" with plural God as the subject. This happens in Hebrew and a whole line of war horses may be interchanged with one considered collectively.
The word yacheperu means first "dig" as in 3:21 , as in digging for treasure. Here it means to "paw" "eat up the ground." As they paw in the valley they seem to dig up, or eat, the ground, they are running so fast. The word for "valleys" ba'eemeq refers to valleys of war, level terrain. In 39:10 it is used for valleys in which wild asses will not harrow. It is used for battle or a war valley in Num. 14:25, Josh. 8:13, Judges 7:1, I Kings 20:28.
The word for "leap" weasiys is singular and is derived from sus, meaning to exult and leap. Exchange of plural to singular indicates that both one and many are meant -- a line of horses in battle and a single horse in the foreground.
He leaps "with strength" bekoach should be translated "it is joyous with strength." If we could translate "it rejoices in its strength," it would need to be bakoach. The horse has strength in leaping but here it is combined with his pawing the ground and joyfully leaping with strength. Emphasis is on his fierceness and lack of fear. Job had been acting much like such a war horse.
AND HE GOES OUT TO MEET THE WEAPONS:
The word for "weapons" nasheq is derived from a verb meaning "to bend" and then "to bend the bow" and "weapons" in general. It is singular in form but is used collectively for "weapons" whether that be arrows, spears or swords. In I Ki. 10:25 the word is used for "armor," "weapons" brought by people. Zophar had said the wicked flee from "the iron weapon" (20:24). In Ez.39:9 it is mentioned along with other kinds of weapons and armor.
In Scripture the horse is pictured as a war horse and, perhaps, in developing strategy and weapons the horse ought to be simulated. Even today, it is not only weapons which count, but spirit. Think of rebel resistance to Russian military in Afghanistan or the U.S. defeat in Vietnam.
(v.22) HE LAUGHS AT FEAR AND IS NOT AFRAID: The KJV reads "he mocks at fear and is not affrighted." We have used Beck's translation here. The word for "laugh, mock" is sachaq and here is yischaq. In 39:7 it describes a wild ass mocking the city multitude. In 39:18 it describes an ostrich mocking a horse and its rider, for it can outrun them. In 30:1 it describes cave people mocking Job suffering calamities. Eliphaz promises that Job will "laugh" at destruction and famine if he will repent of his secret sin. In Prov.31:25 the virtuous woman "rejoices" in the time to come and in Ps.2:4 the Lord "laughs" at the heathen raging and imagining vain things.
The word for "is not afraid" is yeechat and is derived from chatat and means "be dismayed." The war horse is neither dismayed nor afraid. The word is used in 32:15 of Job's friends being amazed at Elihu's words; they stopped talking.
AND HE DOES NOT TURN BACK FROM BEFORE THE SWORD:
Today this would be like saying he runs right toward a gun pointed at him. He is not afraid to die. Job had such a spirit but it was blinding him to what God could do for him. Rather than fearlessly challenging God, Job ought to repent and seek God's will. Perhaps, from a psychological viewpoint, this fearless spirit of the war horse ought to be studied.
(v.23) THE QUIVER RATTLES OVER HIM:
The word for "quiver" 'ashpah is derived from a background of "covering" and refers to bags holding the arrows. "Rattles" tireneh is derived from ranan and here means "rattle." In 38:18 a derivative is used for "ostrich" for it makes a shrill noise. Here the rattle of a quiver is meant. Rawlinson notes that Assyrian riders prefer the quiver at their side. Thus, as here, it is over the horse. This rattling does not unnerve the war horse but shows the military colors. The war horse is at home in battle. Though this may seem immoral, it is controlled by God.
THE SPEAR AND JAVELIN FLASH: The word for "flash, glitter" is lahab and is derived from the thought of "flame." Here reference is to glitter of weapons. Gesenius translates "spear" chaniyt as glitter, while Zoeckler says both spear and "javelin" kiydon glitter. A javelin is smaller than a spear. In 20:25 "the glittering sword" is baraq. In Gen.3:24 lahath is used for "flaming" sword of cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden. Here the word is lahab. In I Sam.17:7 Goliath's spear is described as a weaver's beam. In Nah.3:2 we read of noise of the whip, noise of rattling wheels, prancing of horses and jumping chariots, all sounds of war.
Job's weapons against his friends and God were words. Though God abhors violence, war's violence does not take place without His knowledge. Through the Gospel God changes all this.
(v.24) WITH LEAPING AND RAGE HE SWALLOWS THE GROUND:
The word for "leaping" is ra'ash and means either "fierceness" or, here, "leaping."
It is derived from a Hiphiel root. In 39:21 the horse pawed the ground, chaparisn but here he is leaping and appears to be "swallowing up the ground" yegame. The word is intensive of gama' and means to swallow or run so fast the ground seems to be swallowed. It is poetic. In Gen.24:17 the Hiphiel is used "to let swallow, give to drink" as when Rachel drew water for Abraham's servant.
Ra'ash and werogets both begin with "r" and there is a designed poetic similarity in sound. The leaping and rage propel the horse so fast he seems to be swallowing the ground. Job is like this war horse, though he will not admit it. Still, God is in control. The picture is to show Job that change requires a miracle.
HE DOES NOT STAND STILL BECAUSE OF THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET: There is dispute over whether ya'amiyn ought to be translated as "stand still" or as "believe." The KJV has "believe" while Beck follows that line and has "trust." Luther has "does not consider" while Schultens, Canon Cook and RSV follow this. Delitzsch, Zoeckler, Rawlinson and Gesenius (first meaning) suggest the horse moves forward because of the sound of trumpets. Gesenius gives a second meaning which supports the translation "trust" in "he scarce believes or trusts his ears for joy." All translations imply the horse is intensely excited. Though either meaning is possible, we prefer the thought of standing still. When ready for battle, the horse does not wait for the trumpet to sound. He is ready now.
The sound of trumpets, as a call for battle, is used in Judges 3:27 and II Sam.2:28 where, at the time of Abner and David, the army was gathered to pursue the enemy. It is used also in II Sam.20:1 when Sheba rebelled against David and II Sam. 20:22--army is dismissed at war's end. It is used also in Amos 3:6 and Jer.4:5.
Delitzsch notes that a horse may be docile as a lamb, requiring no guide or halter, but when an Arab mare hears the war cry of the tribe and sees the quivering spear of her ruler, her eyes glitter with fire, nostrils open wide, neck is arched, tail and mane are spread to the wind. According to a Bedouin proverb, when a highbred mare is at full speed, she hides her rider between her neck and tail. All this reveals the importance of zeal and determination in any endeavor, but especially in war. Job needed a picture of zeal and enthusiasm which he had lost. His discouragement (ch.30) needed to be transformed to zeal.
AS OFTEN AS THE TRUMPET (SOUNDS), HE SAYS "AHA!"
Here the bedeey means "according to the abundance of" or "as often as." As often as the horse hears the trumpet, he makes a noise he'ah which initiates the neighing or snorting. His zeal for battle is aroused by sound of the war trumpet. Again, it is zeal that is important. Job had zeal, but its direction needed changing.
(v.25) AND FROM AFAR HE SCENTS THE BATTLE:
The word for "scents, breathe" is yariyach. The war horse smells battle from a distance, a God-given instinct. Job was prepared to battle against God though he renounced violence. As God controls the war horse, so He controls Job.
THE THUNDER OF THE CAPTAINS AND WAR CRY:
Quoting from Pliny, Zoeckler notes that an Arabian horse may be docile until it hears the war cry and noise of weapons. Then its eyes are full of fire, nostrils become blood-red, the neck stretches, and the mane becomes erect. It is eager for battle.
In 26:14 the word for "thunder" is ra'am; no one comprehends the thunder of God's power. Uteru'ah is used by Bildad (8:21) in saying Job's mouth will be filled with "shouting" or "rejoicing."
Hawk and Eagle (39:26-30)
(v.26) Does the hawk soar by your perception? And stretch his wings toward the south?
(v.27) Is it by your order that the eagle flies high? And that he makes his nest high?
(v.28) On the rock he dwells and lodges, Upon the peak of the rock and his fortress
(v.29) From there he searches for food, From afar his eyes observe it.
(v.30) And his young ones suck up blood, And where the slain are, there is he.
(v.26) DOES THE HAWK SOAR BY YOUR PERCEPTION?
The hawk neetz is mentioned in Lev. 11:16 and Dt.14:15. It is regarded as an unclean bird. The root form may also mean "he who flies high." Rawlinson suggests the hawk possesses unusual power in its wings and that is what is referred to here. About 100 years ago Rawlinson stated that no one had been able to fly like a bird. That was, of course, before the age of planes. The word for "perception" hamibiynateka is generally translated as "wisdom" but we distinguish it from the regular word for wisdom chokmah in this literature. The hawk received its unique nature from God and it cannot be tamed. Some translate "soaring" ya'aber as "moulting." However, it definitely means "to soar."
AND STRETCH ITS WINGS TO THE SOUTH?
Emphasis here is not on moulting but on the hawk's instinct to fly south. To regularly fly south in winter demands wisdom. Though migratory birds fly south by instinct, instilling that instinct required wisdom and perception. It may also refer to Job's thinking he could fly from God by dying.Scientific studies of instincts of migratory birds have been made. Aircraft and ships reach their destinations because of sophisticated navigation instruments, yet some are lost. Instinct of birds is unerring.
(v.27) IS IT BY YOUR ORDER THAT THE EAGLE FLIES HIGH?
Enumeration of natural marvels here ends with the "eagle" nasher, monarch of birds, as it began with the lion, king of beasts (38:39). Considering its size and weight, the eagle's flight is surprising. Perhaps the golden eagle or imperial eagle is meant, both common to Syria and Mesopotamia.
Another reference is in 9:26 and Gesenius notes that reference may also be to the vulture, mentioned in Lev.11:13 and Dt.14:12 as an unclean animal. It is a carrion eater. Delitzsch says the golden eagle is meant. A literal reading is "if by your mouth makes high the eagle."
AND THAT HE MAKES HIS NEST HIGH?
Eagle nests are generally built on lofty, inaccessible rocks. In Jer.49:16 we read of the Edomites who live in mountains and make their nests high like eagles; they shall be brought low. Job was like a soaring eagle, wishing to soar on high to God. God created the eagle and controls him, not Job nor we. The eagle presents a scientific challenge to us to learn from his flight capabilities.
(v.28) ON THE ROCK HE DWELLS AND LODGES:
Eagles make their homes among rocks. Job had said God was hard as a rock, even laughing at the innocent (9:23). But God uses even rocks for His purposes. Job needed to learn more of God's providence and, perhaps, we can find uses for rocks, such as locating minerals, fossils, and radioactive substances. Geology deals with rocks.
UPON THE PEAK OF THE ROCK AND HIS FORTRESS:
Often rocks are craggy and the Hebrew word shen refers to a pointed peak. Though mountain climbers avoid them, eagles seek them. They become a fortress which other creatures cannot reach. What man despises is home for the eagle. Job ought to recognize that God cares for all creatures.
(v.29) FROM THERE HE SEARCHES FOR FOOD:
The eagle possesses amazing eyesight and can locate food from afar. Scientifically this has been simulated with infrared photography. Using this technique aboard satellites, small objects can be distinguished while far distant.
FROM AFAR HIS EYES OBSERVE IT:
Job had keen eyesight provided by God, as was the eagle's eyesight. Man has used scientific advances to "see" objects at a great distance and to "see" microscopic objects.
(v.30) AND HIS YOUNG SUCK UP BLOOD:
It seems the word for "suck up" 'ala' is used only here in Scripture. It is in the Piel. According to Gesenius, some change this to la'l'o, changing the yod to an I. However, this changes the text to mean "to sip up eagerly." It seems that young eagles suck blood. This is a strange and poetic word.
AND WHERE THE SLAIN ARE, THERE HE IS:
We are reminded of Matt.24:28 where Jesus states that where the carcass is, the eagles are gathered together. The same reference is found in Luke 17:37. Eagles eat carrion and, thus, use death as a blessing. They may even eat human flesh.
This study of animals ends on a soaring note. Hawks and eagles soar.
Job likes to soar but he should remember that God created him.