on Job 38 :41
Who provideth for the raven - This bird is chosen, perhaps, for his voracious appetite, and general hunger for prey, beyond most other fowls. He makes a continual cry, and the cry is that of hunger. He dares not frequent the habitations of men, as he is considered a bird of ill omen, and hated by all. This verse is finely paraphrased by Dr. Young: -
"Fond man! the vision of a moment made!
Dream of a dream, and shadow of a shade!
What worlds hast thou produced, what creatures framed,
What insects cherish'd, that thy God is blamed?
When pain'd with hunger, the wild raven's brood
Calls upon God, importunate for food,
Who hears their cry? Who grants their hoarse request,
And stills the glamours of the craving nest?"
On which he has this note: - "The reason given why the raven is particularly mentioned as the care of Providence is, because by her clamorous and importunate voice she particularly seems always calling upon it; thence κορασσω, α κοραξ, is to ask earnestly - Aelian. lib. ii., c. 48. And since there were ravens on the banks of the Nile, more clamorous than the rest of that species, those probably are meant in this place."
The commencement of Cicero's oration against Catiline, to which I have referred on Job 38:3, is the following: -
Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quamdiu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? Quem ad finem sese effrenata jactabit audacia? Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium palatii-nihil urbis vigiliae, - nihil timor popuii, - nihii concursus bonorum omnium, - nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus-nihil horum ora, vultusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia nan sentis? Constrictam jam omnium horum conscientia teneri conjurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, - ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, - quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris? O tempora! O mores! Senatus haec intelligit, - consul videt; hic tamen vivit! Vivit? immo vero eitam in senatum venit; fit publici consilii particeps; notat et designat oculis ad caedem unumquemque nostrum! Nos autem, viri fortes, satisfacere reipublicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus!
"How long wilt thou, O Catiline, abuse our patience? How long shall thy madness out-brave our justice? To what extremities art thou resolved to push thy unbridled insolence of guilt? Canst thou behold the nocturnal arms that watch the palatium, - the guards of the city, - the consternation of the citizens, - all the wise and worthy clustering into consultation, - the impregnable situation of the seat of the senate, - and the reproachful looks of the fathers of Rome? Canst thou behold all this, and yet remain undaunted and unabashed? Art thou insensible that thy measures are detected? Art thou insensible that this senate, now thoroughly informed, comprehend the whole extent of thy guilt? Show me the senator ignorant of thy practices during the last and preceding night, of the place where you met, the company you summoned, and the crime you concerted. The senate is conscious, - the consul is witness to all this; yet, O how mean and degenerate! the traitor lives! Lives? he mixes with the senate; he shares in our counsels; with a steady eye he surveys us; he anticipates his guilt; he enjoys the murderous thought, and coolly marks us to bleed! Yet we, boldly passive in our country's cause, think we act like Romans, if we can escape his frantic rage!"
The reader will perceive how finely Cicero rushes into this invective, as if the danger had been too immediate to give him leisure for the formality of address and introduction. See Guthrie's Orations of Cicero. Here is eloquence! Here is nature! And in thus speaking her language, the true orator pierces with his lightnings the deepest recesses of the heart. The success of this species of oratory is infallible in the pulpit, when the preacher understands how to manage it.
on Job 38 :41
Who provideth for the raven his food? - The same thought is expressed in Psalm 147:9,
He giveth to the beast his food,
And to the young ravens which cry.
Compare Matthew 6:26. Scbeutzer (in loc.) suggests that the reason why the raven is specified here rather than other fowls is, that it is an offensive bird, and that God means to state that no object, however regarded by man, is beneath his notice. He carefully provides for the needs of all his creatures.
When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat - Bochart observes that the raven expels the young from the nest as soon as they are able to fly. In this condition, being unable to obtain food by their own exertions, they make a croaking noise, and God is said to hear it, and to supply their needs. "Noyes." There are various opinions expressed in regard to this subject by the rabbinical writers, and by the ancients generally. Eliezer (cap. 21) says that, "When the old ravens see the young coming into the world which are not black, they regard them as the offspring of serpents, and flee away from them, and God takes care of them." Solomon says that in this condition they are nourished by the flies and worms that are generated in their nests, and the same opinion was held by the Arabian writers, Haritius, Alkuazin, and Damir. Among the fathers of the church, Chrysostom, Olympiodorus, Gregory, and Isidorus, supposed that they were nurtured by dew descending from heaven.
Pliny (Lib. x. c. 12) says, that the old ravens expel the strongest of their young from the nest, and compel them to fly. This is the time, according to many of the older commentators, when the young ravens are represented as calling upon God for food. See Scheutzer, Physica Sacra, in loc. and Bochart, Hieroz. P. ii. L. ii. c. ii. I do not know that there is now supposed to be sufficient evidence to substantiate this fact in regard to the manner in which the ravens treat their young, and all the circumstances of the place before us will be met by the supposition that young birds seem to call upon God, and that he supplies their needs. The last three verses in this chapter should not have been separated from the following. The appeal in this is to the animal creation, and this is continued through the whole of the next chapter. The proper place for the division would have been at the close of Job 38:38, where the argument from the great laws of the material universe was ended. Then commences an appeal to his works of a higher order - the region of instinct and appetites, where creatures are governed by other than mere physical laws.
on Job 38 :41