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Job 39


39:1 “Are you acquainted with the way 1 

the mountain goats 2  give birth?

Do you watch as the wild deer give birth to their young?

39:2 Do you count the months they must fulfill,

and do you know the time they give birth? 3 

39:3 They crouch, they bear 4  their young,

they bring forth the offspring they have carried. 5 

39:4 Their young grow strong, and grow up in the open; 6 

they go off, and do not return to them.

39:5 Who let the wild donkey go free?

Who released the bonds of the donkey,

39:6 to whom I appointed the steppe for its home,

the salt wastes as its dwelling place?

39:7 It scorns the tumult in the town;

it does not hear the shouts of a driver. 7 

39:8 It ranges the hills as its pasture,

and searches after every green plant.

39:9 Is the wild ox willing to be your servant?

Will it spend the night at your feeding trough?

39:10 Can you bind the wild ox 8  to a furrow with its rope,

will it till the valleys, following after you?

39:11 Will you rely on it because its strength is great?

Will you commit 9  your labor to it?

39:12 Can you count on 10  it to bring in 11  your grain, 12 

and gather the grain 13  to your threshing floor? 14 

39:13 15 “The wings of the ostrich 16  flap with joy, 17 

but are they the pinions and plumage of a stork? 18 

39:14 For she leaves 19  her eggs on the ground,

and lets them be warmed on the soil.

39:15 She forgets that a foot might crush them,

or that a wild animal 20  might trample them.

39:16 She is harsh 21  with her young,

as if they were not hers;

she is unconcerned

about the uselessness of her labor.

39:17 For God deprived her of wisdom,

and did not impart understanding to her.

39:18 But as soon as she springs up, 22 

she laughs at the horse and its rider.

39:19 “Do you give the horse its strength?

Do you clothe its neck with a mane? 23 

39:20 Do you make it leap 24  like a locust?

Its proud neighing 25  is terrifying!

39:21 It 26  paws the ground in the valley, 27 

exulting mightily, 28 

it goes out to meet the weapons.

39:22 It laughs at fear and is not dismayed;

it does not shy away from the sword.

39:23 On it the quiver rattles;

the lance and javelin 29  flash.

39:24 In excitement and impatience it consumes the ground; 30 

it cannot stand still 31  when the trumpet is blown.

39:25 At the sound of the trumpet, it says, ‘Aha!’

And from a distance it catches the scent of battle,

the thunderous shouting of commanders,

and the battle cries.

39:26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, 32 

and spreads its wings toward the south?

39:27 Is it at your command 33  that the eagle soars,

and builds its nest on high?

39:28 It lives on a rock and spends the night there,

on a rocky crag 34  and a fortress. 35 

39:29 From there it spots 36  its prey, 37 

its eyes gaze intently from a distance.

39:30 And its young ones devour the blood,

and where the dead carcasses 38  are,

there it is.”

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1 tn The text uses the infinitive as the object: “do you know the giving birth of?”

2 tn Or “ibex.”

3 tn Here the infinitive is again a substantive: “the time of their giving birth.”

4 tc The Hebrew verb used here means “to cleave,” and this would not have the object “their young.” Olshausen and others after him change the ח (khet) to ט (tet) and get a verb “to drop,” meaning “drop [= give birth to] young” as used in Job 21:10. G. R. Driver holds out for the MT, arguing it is an idiom, “to breach the womb” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 [1955]: 92-93).

5 tn Heb “they cast forth their labor pains.” This word usually means “birth pangs” but here can mean what caused the pains (metonymy of effect). This fits better with the parallelism, and the verb (“cast forth”). The words “their offspring” are supplied in the translation for clarity; direct objects were often omitted when clear from the context, although English expects them to be included.

6 tn The idea is that of the open countryside. The Aramaism is found only here.

7 sn The animal is happier in open countryside than in a busy town, and on its own rather than being driven by a herdsman.

8 tn Some commentators think that the addition of the “wild ox” here is a copyist’s error, making the stich too long. They therefore delete it. Also, binding an animal to the furrow with ropes is unusual. So with a slight emendation Kissane came up with “Will you bind him with a halter of cord?” While the MT is unusual, the sense is understandable, and no changes, even slight ones, are absolutely necessary.

9 tn Heb “leave.”

10 tn The word is normally translated “believe” in the Bible. The idea is that of considering something dependable and acting on it. The idea of reliability is found also in the Niphal stem usages.

11 tc There is a textual problem here: יָשׁוּב (yashuv) is the Kethib, meaning “[that] he will return”; יָשִׁיב (yashiv) is the Qere, meaning “that he will bring in.” This is the preferred reading, since the object follows it. For commentators who think the line too unbalanced for this, the object is moved to the second colon, and the reading “returns” is taken for the first. But the MT is perfectly clear as it stands.

12 tn Heb “your seed”; this must be interpreted figuratively for what the seed produces.

13 tn Heb “gather it”; the referent (the grain) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Simply, the MT has “and your threshing floor gather.” The “threshing floor” has to be an adverbial accusative of place.

15 tc This whole section on the ostrich is not included in the LXX. Many feel it is an interpolation and should therefore be deleted. The pattern of the chapter changes from the questions being asked to observations being made.

16 tn The word occurs only here and means “shrill cries.” If the MT is correct, this is a poetic name for the ostrich (see Lam 4:3).

17 tn Many proposals have been made here. The MT has a verb, “exult.” Strahan had “flap joyously,” a rendering followed by the NIV. The RSV uses “wave proudly.”

18 tn The point of this statement would be that the ostrich cannot compare to the stork. But there are many other proposals for this line – just about every commentator has a different explanation for it. Of the three words here, the first means “pinion,” the third “plumage,” and the second probably “stork,” although the LXX has “heron.” The point of this whole section is that the ostrich is totally lacking in parental care, whereas the stork is characterized by it. The Hebrew word for “stork” is the same word for “love”: חֲסִידָה (khasidah), an interpretation followed by the NASB. The most likely reading is “or are they the pinions and plumage of the stork?” The ostrich may flap about, but cannot fly and does not care for its young.

19 tn The meaning may have the connotation of “lays; places,” rather than simply abandoning (see M. Dahood, “The Root ’zb II in Job,” JBL 78 [1959]: 307f.).

20 tn Heb “an animal of the field.”

21 sn This verb, “to deal harshly; to harden; to treat cruelly,” is used for hardening the heart elsewhere (see Isa 63:17).

22 tn The colon poses a slight problem here. The literal meaning of the Hebrew verb translated “springs up” (i.e., “lifts herself on high”) might suggest flight. But some of the proposals involve a reading about readying herself to run.

23 tn The second half of the verse contains this hapax legomenon, which is usually connected with the word רַעְמָה (ramah, “thunder”). A. B. Davidson thought it referred to the quivering of the neck rather than the mane. Gray thought the sound and not the movement was the point. But without better evidence, a reading that has “quivering mane” may not be far off the mark. But it may be simplest to translate it “mane” and assume that the idea of “quivering” is part of the meaning.

24 sn The same ideas are found in Joel 2:4. The leaping motion is compared to the galloping of the horse.

25 tn The word could mean “snorting” as well (see Jer 8:16). It comes from the root “to blow.” If the horse is running and breathing hard, this could be the sense here.

26 tc The Hebrew text has a plural verb, “they paw.” For consistency and for stylistic reasons this is translated as a singular.

27 tn The armies would prepare for battles that were usually fought in the valleys, and so the horse was ready to charge. But in Ugaritic the word `mk means “force” as well as “valley.” The idea of “force” would fit the parallelism here well (see M. Dahood, “Value of Ugaritic for textual criticism,” Bib 40 [1959]: 166).

28 tn Or “in strength.”

29 tn This may be the scimitar (see G. Molin, “What is a kidon?” JSS 1 [1956]: 334-37).

30 tn “Swallow the ground” is a metaphor for the horse’s running. Gray renders the line: “quivering and excited he dashes into the fray.”

31 tn The use of אָמַן (’aman) in the Hiphil in this place is unique. Such a form would normally mean “to believe.” But its basic etymological meaning comes through here. The verb means “to be firm; to be reliable; to be dependable.” The causative here would mean “to make firm” or “to stand firm.”

32 tn This word occurs only here. It is connected to “pinions” in v. 13. Dhorme suggests “clad with feathers,” but the line suggests more the use of the wings.

33 tn Heb “your mouth.”

34 tn Heb “upon the tooth of a rock.”

35 tn The word could be taken as the predicate, but because of the conjunction it seems to be adding another description of the place of its nest.

36 tn The word means “search,” but can be used for a wide range of matters, including spying.

37 tn Heb “food.”

38 tn The word חֲלָלִים (khalalim) designates someone who is fatally wounded, literally the “pierced one,” meaning anyone or thing that dies a violent death.

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