on Job 12 :7
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee - Mr. Good's paraphrase here is very just: "Why tell ye me that the Almighty hath brought this calamity upon me? Every thing in nature, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the heaven, every inhabitant of earth and sea, and every thing that befalls them, are the work of his hands; and every thing feels and acknowledges him to be the universal Creator and Controller. It is the common doctrine of all nature; but to apply it as ye would apply it to me, and to assert that I am suffering from being guilty of hypocrisy, is equally impertinent. He ordains every thing in wisdom as well as in power; but why events happen as they happen, why good and evil are promiscuously scattered throughout nature or human life, ye are as ignorant of as myself."
on Job 12 :7
But ask now the beasts - Rosenmuller supposes that this appeal to the inferior creation should be regarded as connected with Job 12:3, and that the intermediate verses are parenthetical. Zophar had spoken with considerable parade of the wisdom of God. He had said (Job 11:7 ff) that the knowledge of God was higher than the heavens, and had professed Job 12:6 to have himself exalted views of the Most High. In reply to this, Job says that the views which Zophar had expressed, were the most commonplace imaginable. He need not pretend to be acquainted with the more exalted works of God, or appeal to them as if his knowledge corresponded with them. Even the lower creation - the brutes - the earth - the fishes - could teach him knowledge which he had not now. Even from their nature, properties, and modes of life, higher views might he obtained than Zophar had. Others suppose, that the meaning is, that in the distribution of happiness, God is so far from observing moral relations, that even among the lower animals, the rapacious and the violent are prospered, and the gentle and the innocent are the victims.
Lions, wolves, and panthers are prospered - the lamb, the kid, the gazelle, are the victims. Either of these views may suit the connection, though the latter seems to me to be the more probable interpretation. The object of Job is to show that rewards and punishments are not distributed according to character. This was so plain in his view as scarcely to admit of argument. It was seen all over the world not only among people, but even in the brute creation. Every where the strong prey upon the weak; the fierce upon the tame; the violent upon the timid. Yet God does not come forth to destroy the lion and the hyaena, or to deliver the lamb and the gazelle from their grasp. Like robbers Job 12:6, - lions, panthers, and wolves prowl upon the earth; and the eagle and the vulture from the air pounce upon the defenseless, and the great robbers of the deep prey upon the feeble, and still are prospered. What a striking illustration of the course of events among people, and of the relative condition of the righteous and the wicked. Nothing could be more pertinent to the design of Job than this appeal, and nothing was more in accordance with the whole structure of the argument in the poem, where wisdom is seen mainly to consist in the result of careful observation.
And they shall teach thee - Shall teach thee that God does not treat all according to their character. He does not give security to the gentle, the tame, and the innocent, and punish the ferocious, the blood-thirsty, and the cruel.
And the fowls - They shall give thee information of the point under discussion. Those that prey upon others - as the eagle and the vulture - are not exposed at once to the divine displeasure, and the tender and harmless are not protected. The general principle is illustrated in them, that the dealings of God are not always in exact accordance with character.
on Job 12 :7