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JOB 39

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God Speaks of Nature and Its Beings The Lord Reveals His Omnipotence to Job
(38:1-40:2)
First Speech of the Lord
(38:1-40:2)
The Lord Answers Job
(38:1-42:1)
YHWH's First Discourse
(38:1-40:5)
39:1-4
(1-4)
39:1-4
(1-4)
39:1-4
(1-4)
39:1-4
(1-4)
39:1-12
(1-12)
39:5-12
(5-12)
39:5-8
(5-8)
39:5-8
(5-8)
39:5-8
(5-8)
 
  39:9-12
(9-12)
39:9-12
(9-12)
39:9-12
(9-12)
 
39:13-18
(13-18)
39:13-18
(13-18)
39:13-18
(13-18)
39:13-18
(13-18)
39:13-18
(13-18)
39:19-25
(19-25)
39:19-25
(19-25)
39:19-25
(19-25)
39:19-25
(19-25)
39:19-25
(19-25)
39:26-30
(26-30)
39:26-30
(26-30)
39:26-30
(26-30)
39:26-30
(26-30)
39:26-30
(26-30)

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. As Job 38:1-38 dealt with questions about the creation of the physical planet, Job 38:39-40:30 deals with questions about the earth's animal life.

 

B. In the list of animals in this chapter, there is an implied contrast (NASB Study Bible, p. 731) between

1. domesticated donkeys and wild donkeys

2. domesticated oxen and wild oxen

 

C. The strophe about the ostrich (i.e., Job 38:13-18) is unique in that God does not ask Job a question about its actions. Also, its actions seem strange, therefore God does not give this animal natural wisdom, as He does the other animals mentioned.

It is missing in the LXX, which has caused some scholars (Jerome Biblical Commentary) to suggest it is a later addition to the text of Job. However, the LXX often omits lines of difficult Hebrew texts (Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pp. 1039,1043).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 38:39-41
 39"Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
 Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
 40When they crouch in their dens
 And lie in wait in their lair?
 41Who prepares for the raven its nourishment
 When its young cry to God
 And wander about without food?"

38:39-41 This strophe continues the series of questions related to animals. It asks questions about how predators and birds obtain their food. Both lions and ravens eat meat.

38:41 "raven" The example of the raven often stands for God's care of all birds (cf. Luke 12:24; Matt. 6:26).

▣ "wander about" This (BDB 1073, KB 1766, Qal imperfect) may denote

1. staggering around in their nest looking for food or

2. staggering about in weakness from hunger

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 39:1-4
 1Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?
 Do you observe the calving of the deer?
 2Can you count the months they fulfill,
 Or do you know the time they give birth?
 3They kneel down, they bring forth their young,
 They get rid of their labor pains.
 4Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field;
 They leave and do not return to them."

39:1-4 This strophe relates to questions about how and when animals give birth to their young.

1. ibex (NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 488)

2. deer

 

39:3 "labor pains" AB (p. 259) suggests that the root is not MT (BDB 286, KB 286), which denotes pain in birth, but an Arabic root that denotes rapid birth.

39:4 "the open field" The MT has "in the open field" (BDB 141, KB 153 IV), which is found only here in the OT. The root is either from Arabic or Aramaic (this verse has possibly three Aramaic roots). It denotes uninhabited, uncultivated land.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 39:5-12
 5"Who sent out the wild donkey free?
 And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
 6To whom I gave the wilderness for a home
 And the salt land for his dwelling place?
 7He scorns the tumult of the city,
 The shoutings of the driver he does not hear.
 8He explores the mountains for his pasture
 And searches after every green thing.
 9Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
 Or will he spend the night at your manger?
 10Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes,
 Or will he harrow the valleys after you?
 11Will you trust him because his strength is great
 And leave your labor to him?
 12Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain
 And gather it from your threshing floor?"

39:5-12 This strophe deals with questions about animals which are hard to domesticate.

1. wild donkey

2. wild ox (cf. Num. 23:22; 24:8; Deut. 33:17; Ps. 22:21; 29:6)

a. LXX, "unicorn"

b. Vulgate, "rhinoceros"

c. AB, "buffalo" (avroch)

 

39:5 "swift donkey" This noun (BDB 789, KB 882) is found only here in the OT. It is possibly an Aramaic root (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 531).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 39:13-18
 13"The ostriches' wings flap joyously
 With the pinion and plumage of love,
 14For she abandons her eggs to the earth
 And warms them in the dust,
 15And she forgets that a foot may crush them,
 Or that a wild beast may trample them.
 16She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers;
 Though her labor be in vain, she is unconcerned;
 17Because God has made her forget wisdom,
 And has not given her a share of understanding.
 18When she lifts herself on high,
 She laughs at the horse and his rider."

38:13-18 This strophe is about the stupidity of the ostrich. Notice God does not ask Job a question in this strophe. This strophe is absent in the LXX.

39:13b

NASB, RSV"love"
NKJV"like the kindly storks"
NRSV"lack plumage"
TEV"fly like a stork"
NJB"of stork or falcon"
JPSOA"like the storks"
REB"scanty"

The MT has "kind, pious" (BDB 339, KB 337) or "stork" (BDB 339, KB 337). The stork was known for it's kind treatment of it's young (NKJV), but the ostrich is just the opposite. The UBS Text Project (p. 14) gives a "B" rating (some doubt) to NRSV, REB, denoting a lack of plumage (which involves an emendation, "d" to "r," which are Hebrew consonants often confused). I think NKJV fits the antithetical parallelism better.

39:14a "she abandons her eggs" The AB (p. 260) suggests a change to a Ugaritic root which means "place" or "put." This fits the actions of ostriches better and forms a better parallelism with line b. However, it does not fit the larger context of Job 39:13-18 (cf. Lam. 4:3).

39:18 This verse denotes the birds' ability to rapidly rise and flee hunters. The verb in Job 39:18a is found only here in the OT; possibly "flap the wings" or "beat the air" (BDB 597, KB 630).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 39:19-25
 19"Do you give the horse his might?
 Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
 20Do you make him leap like the locust?
 His majestic snorting is terrible.
 21He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
 He goes out to meet the weapons.
 22He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
 And he does not turn back from the sword.
 23The quiver rattles against him,
 The flashing spear and javelin.
 24With shaking and rage he races over the ground,
 And he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet.
 25As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!'
 And he scents the battle from afar,
 And the thunder of the captains and the war cry."

39:19-25 This strophe is about the war horse. It is the only domesticated animal in the list. It was used for hunting, war, and as a regal mount for leaders.

39:19

NASB,
NRSV,
TEV, NJB,
JPSOA,
REB"mane"
NKJV"thunder"
LXX"terror"
Peshitta"armour"
Targum"power"
Vulgate"neighing"

The root (BDB 947) can be "vibrating" or "quivering," which might be imagery for a flowing mane (NJB). KB (901) sees a possible Arabic root related to a hyena, meaning "mother of the mane" (AB, p. 263). "Mane" is obviously the best informed guess.

39:20 Locusts and horses are often compared (cf. Jer. 51:27; Joel 2:4; Rev. 9:7).

39:21a

NASB,
NKJV,
NJB"paws in the valley"
NRSV"paws violently"
JPSOA"paws with force"
LXX,
Peshitta"paws in the plain"

The MT has "valley" (BDB 770, KB 847 I), but several scholars think the basic root is parallel to "strength" (BDB 470) in line b (NRSV, JPSOA). This fits the parallelism best.

39:23 "rattles" This verb (BDB 943, KB 1246, Qal imperfect) occurs only here. It denotes the sound of battle implements that were hung on the warhorses, making a clanking sound as the horse runs.

39:24

NASB"he races over the ground"
NRSV"shallows the ground"

This verse follows the MT (BDB 167, KB 196, Piel imperfect), but Andersen, in The Tyndale OT Commentaries (p. 283, #4), suggests that the same root can mean "willfully," and this fits the parallelism with the next line better (if the term used translated "faithful," "trust," BDB 52) is used in a unique sense of "cannot stand still" or "stand firm."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 39:26-30
 26"Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
 Stretching his wings toward the south?
 27Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
 And makes his nest on high?
 28On the cliff he dwells and lodges,
 Upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place.
 29From there he spies out food;
 His eyes see it from afar.
 30His young ones also suck up blood;
 And where the slain are, there is he."

39:26-30 This strophe is about the hawk (Job 39:26) and eagle/vulture (Job 39:27-30).

39:26 "the south" This could refer to

1. soaring on the south wind

2. an annual migration to the south

 

39:30b This imagery is used in NT prophecy (cf. Matt. 24:28; Luke 17:37).

 

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