Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JOB - Chapter 39

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Job xxxix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Goats (Ibex. Hebrew Yahale.; Haydock) frequent rocks, and places which are almost inaccessible to man. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Roarings. They pretend that these animals bring forth with great difficulty, Psalm xxviii. 9. (Vatable, &c.) --- Aristotle (v. 2., and vi. 29.) asserts, that they receive the male bending down, as Hebrew may be here explained. "They bend, they divide their young," as they have often two; "and they leave their strings" at the navel, &c. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Feed. Being weaned very soon. (Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 32.)

Ver. 5. Wild ass, described, chap. vi. 5. The industry of man cannot make this beautiful and strong animal serviceable to him. The like would be the case (Calmet) with many others, if Providence had not ordered it otherwise. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Barren. Literally, "salt." (Haydock) --- This is of a nitrous quality, which renders those countries barren. The salt in snow and dung gives warmth and fruitfulness.

Ver. 9. Rhinoceros. See Deuteronomy xxxiii. 17., and Numbers xxiii. 22. Sanchez says they are untameable. (Menochius) --- But this is not true, when they have been taken young. (Malvenda) (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Valleys, or furrows. Can he be made to harrow?

Ver. 13. Hawk. We may also read, "Is the wing of the ostrich like?" Septuagint or Theodotion, "The bird Neelasa is rejoicing, if she take the Asida, &c., the Neessa." (Haydock) --- Hebrew is variously translated, "The ostrich lifts itself up with its wings, which have feathers, as well as those of the stork." (Bochart) --- It flutters, running like a partridge, swifter than any horse. (Adamson) --- "Canst thou give to the stork and the ostrich their feathers," which form all their beauty? (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Gavest thou the goodly wings upon the peacock, or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?" (Haydock) --- The import of these names is uncertain. (Menochius) --- Renanim, (from Ron, "to cry, or move quickly,") may signify peacocks, ostriches, &c. Chasida, "a stork, (Haydock; Jer.[Jeremias?]) falcon, (Worthington) or heron; notsa "a hawk, or a feather." (Haydock) --- The first term occurs no where else, and may denote any singing birds or grasshoppers, as the last may be applied to the ostrich, which has "wings," though it fly not. (Grotius) (Calmet) --- Acknowledge the wisdom of Providence, which has thus enabled such a huge animal to travel so fast. (Menochius) --- See Parkhurst, alcs. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Dust. This might help to hatch them. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "earth, and warmeth them in the dust." (Protestants)

Ver. 16. Ones, or eggs which she leaves. (Calmet) --- Ælian (xiv. 6.) asserts that this bird will expose her own life to defend her young. Yet the neglect of her eggs, will suffice to make her deemed cruel, Lamentations iv. 3. (Haydock) --- Her. Other birds leave their nests through fear; (Calmet) but this, after sitting a while, will depart carelessly, (Haydock) and if she meet with other eggs on her road, will take to them, thus rendering her own useless. (Bochart)

Ver. 17. Understanding. This bird has a head disproportionately small; insomuch, that Heliogabalus served up the brains of 600 at one supper. It greedily eats iron, &c., which may help its digestion, as sand does that of other birds. (Calmet) --- When it is hunted, it hides its head only, as if this would be a sufficient defence, (Pliny, [Natural History?] x. 1.) and is taken alive by a man, clothed in the skin of an ostrich, who moves the head with his hand. (Strabo xvi.) --- All which proves its stupidity. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. High. With her head erect, the ostrich is taller than a man on horseback. (Pliny x. 1.) --- Its wings are used like sails, and enable it to run as fast as many birds can fly, (Calmet0 while it hurls stones at the pursuer with its feet, so as frequently to kill them. (Diodorus ii.) --- Rider, as they can travel with equal speed. (Menochius) (Ver. 13.) --- Adamson (Senegal) placed two negroes on one, and testified that it still went faster than any English horse. (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Neighing. Hebrew, "thunder," to denote the fierceness of the horse; or "with a mane," (Bochart) "armour," (Syriac) or "terror." (Septuagint) (Calmet) --- Wilt thou enable the horse to neigh, (Menochius) when he appears so terrible? (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Up. Hebrew, "frighten," (Haydock) or "make him leap." (Bochart) (Calmet) --- Nostrils. Septuagint, "of his chest, or shoulders, is boldness." (Haydock) --- This inspires the rider with courage, and the enemy with fear. But the Vulgate is more followed. (Calmet)

-----Frænoque teneri

Impatiens crebros expirat naribus ignes. (Silius vi.)

Ver. 21. Hoof. Ploughing, or rather prancing, through impatience. (Calmet) --- Boldly. Hebrew, "he exults in his strength," being sensible of glory and commendation. (Calmet) --- Non dubie intellectum adhortationis et gloriæ fatentur. (Pliny vii. 43.)

Ver. 23. Shield, or lance, Josue viii. 18. (Calmet) --- The din of armour does not disturb the horse, which has been inured to such things. (Haydock) --- It is of singular courage. (Worthington)

Ver. 24. Ground. This expression is still used by the Arabs, to denote velocity. (Grotius) --- Septuagint, "in wrath he will make the earth disappear." (Haydock) ---

Mox sanguis venis melior calet, ire viarum

Longa volunt latumque fuga consumere campum. (Nemesianus)

--- Account. Hebrew, "believe that," or "stops not when." He is so eager to rush forward to battle.

Si qua sonum procul arma dedere,

Stare loco nescit, micat auribus et tremit artus. (Georg. iii.)

Ver. 25. Ha. Literally, "Vah," a sound of joy, (Menochius) or of contempt. Septuagint, The trumpet having given the sign, he will say, Well: Euge. Nothing could be more poetically descriptive of the war-horse. (Haydock)

Ver. 26. Feathered. Hebrew, "fly." (Haydock) --- South, at the approach of "winter retiring" to warmer regions. (Pliny x. 8.) --- Septuagint, "spreading her wings, looking unmoved, towards the south." The hawk alone can stare at the sun, and fly to a great height. (Ælian x. 14.) --- Hence the Egyptians consecrated this bird to the sun. (Calmet) --- The eagle is of the same species, and has the same properties. (Haydock) Aristotle mentions 10, and Pliny 16 species of hawks. (Worthington)

Ver. 28. Access. See Abdias iv.; Aristotle, anim. ix. 32.

Ver. 29. Off. The eagle was remarkably (Calmet) quick-sighted, (Worthington) as well as the serpent. (Horace i. Sat. iii.; Homer, Iliad xvii.) --- They say it can discern a fly or a fish from the highest situation; (Bochart) and if its young seem dazzled with the sun-beams, it hurls them down as spurious. (Pliny x. 3.)

Ver. 30. Blood, gushing from the animals, which the eagle brings. (Menochius) --- St. Chrysostom explains this of the vulture, (Matthew xxiv. 28.; Calmet) which is of the same species. (Menochius) --- Some eagles will not touch carcasses, but others are greedy of them. (Pliny x. 3.) (Proverbs xxx. 17.) --- There. Our Saviour quotes this passage, Luke xvii. 37. (Calmet)

Ver. 31. Went on. Septuagint, "answered." This was the conclusion drawn from the display of God's wonderful works. If we cannot sufficiently admire them, why should we be so much surprised, as Job acknowledged he was, at the ways of Providence? It would, therefore, be better to keep silence, ver. 35. (Haydock)

Ver. 32. Be so. Receive instruction, or (Calmet) instruct him? Wilt thou learn to admire my works? (Haydock) or dost thou attempt to give me any information? (Calmet) --- Him. Hebrew, "it." Septuagint, "shall he decline judgment with him who is competent?" ikanou. Theodotion adds, "the man who accuses God, shall answer it," or stand his trial. (Haydock)

Ver. 34. Spoken inconsiderately. If we discuss all Job's words, (saith St. Gregory) we shall find nothing impious spoken; as may be gathered from the words of the Lord himself; (chap. xlii. ver. 7, 8.) but what was reprehensible in him was the manner of expressing himself at times, speaking too much of his own affliction, and too little of God's goodness towards him, which here he acknowledges as inconsiderate, (Challoner) or rather as the effect of inculpable ignorance; (Haydock) as the present order of things being then novel, confounded the sagacity both of Job and of his friends. The wicked had formerly been the victims of justice, but henceforth, says Job, (Hebrew) "if it shall not be so, who can convince me of lying?" (Chap. xxiv. 25.) Yet he did not perfectly discern the intention of God, in abandoning his servants to the power of satan, till the Lord himself had explained it in the parables of behemoth and leviathan. Then Job testified his conviction and entire submission, chap. xlii. 5. Houbigant observes that the Vulgate is perhaps less accurate here, and [in] chap. xlii. 3., as God exculpates Job, ver. 8. Yet the latter might entertain fear at least, of having exceeded in words, after such pungent questions. We may translate, (Haydock) Hebrew, "Behold I am vile, (Calmet) what shall I answer thee?" (Protestant) or Septuagint, "Why am I still judged, being admonished and rebuke by the Lord, hearing such things?" (Grabe, after Origen, marks with an obel what follows, as not found in Hebrew) "I, who am nothing, what answer shall I then give to these things?" (Haydock) --- If we discuss all Job's speeches, we find nothing spoken wickedly, but only a species of pride, in talking too much of his sufferings, and too little of God's goodness and justice, which he ought to have confessed. (St. Gregory xxxii. 3.) (Worthington)

Ver. 35. One. Septuagint, "Once I have spoken, but I will not add again." (Haydock) --- I have spoken too much, but I will be more cautious. Hebrew, "I have spoken one thing, and I will not answer; (Calmet) yea, two things, but I will go no farther." Many of my observations may be too strong, as I am not perfectly aware what may be the designs of Providence in my regard. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The wonders of the power and providence of God in many of his creatures.

1 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats bring forth among the rocks, or hast thou observed the hinds when they fawn?

2 Hast thou numbered the months of their conceiving, or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?

3 They bow themselves to bring forth young, and they cast them, and send forth roarings.

4 Their young are weaned, and go to feed: they go forth, and return not to them.

5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free, and who hath loosed his bonds?

6 To whom I have given a house in the wilderness, and his dwellings in the barren land.

7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, he heareth not the cry of the driver.

8 He looketh round about the mountains of his pasture, and seeketh for every green thing.

9 Shall the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee, or will he stay at thy crib?

10 Canst thou bind the rhinoceros with thy thong to plough; or will he break the clods of the valleys after thee?

11 Wilt thou have confidence in his great strength, and leave thy labours to him?

12 Wilt thou trust him that he will render thee the seed, and gather it into thy barn-floor?

13 The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron, and of the hawk.

14 When she leaveth her eggs on the earth, thou perhaps wilt warm them in the dust.

15 She forgetteth that the foot may tread upon them, or that the beasts of the field may break them.

16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers, she hath laboured in vain, no fear constraining her.

17 For God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he given her understanding.

18 When time shall be, she setteth up her wings on high: she scorneth the horse and his rider.

19 Wilt thou give strength to the horse, or clothe his neck with neighing?

20 Wilt thou lift him up like the locusts? the glory of his nostrils is terror.

21 He breaketh up the earth with his hoof, he pranceth boldly, he goeth forward to meet armed men.

22 He despiseth fear, he turneth not his back to the sword.

23 Above him shall the quiver rattle, the spear and shield shall glitter.

24 Chafing and raging, he swalloweth the ground, neither doth he make account when the noise of the trumpet soundeth.

25 When he heareth the trumpet, he saith: Ha, ha: he smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains, and the shouting of the army.

26 Doth the hawk wax feathered by thy wisdom, spreading her wings to the south?

27 Will the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest in high places?

28 She abideth among the rocks, and dwelleth among cragged flints, and stony hills, where there is no access.

29 From thence she looketh for the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.

30 Her young ones shall suck up blood: and wheresoever the carcass shall be, she is immediately there.

31 And the Lord went on, and said to Job:

32 Shall he that contendeth with God be so easily silenced? surely he that reproveth God ought to answer him.

33 Then Job answered the Lord, and said:

34 What can I answer, who have spoken inconsiderately? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.

35 One thing I have spoken, which I wish I had not said: and another, to which I will add no more.