on Job 39 :18
She lifteth up herself - When she raiseth up herself to run away. Proofs of the fleetness of this bird have already been given. It neither flies nor runs distinctly, but has a motion composed of both; and, using its wings as sails, makes great speed. So Claudian: -
Vasta velut Libyae venantum vocibus ales
Cum premitur, calidas cursu transmittit arenas,
Inque modum veli sinuatis flamine pennis
"Xenophon says, Cyrus had horses that could overtake the goat and the wild ass; but none that could reach this creature. A thousand golden ducats, or a hundred camels, was the stated price of a horse that could equal their speed." - Dr. Young.
on Job 39 :18
What time she lifteth up herself on high - In the previous verses reference had been made to the fact that in some important respects the ostrich was inferior to other animals, or had special laws in regard to its habits and preservation. Here the attention is called to the fact that, notwithstanding its inferiority in some respects, it had properties such as to command the highest admiration. Its lofty carriage, the rapidity of its flight, and the proud scorn with which it would elude the pursuit of the fleetest coursers, were all things that showed that God had so endowed it as to furnish proof of his wisdom. The phrase "what time she lifteth up herself," refers to the fact that she raises herself for her rapid flight. It does not mean that she would mount on her wings, for this the ostrich cannot do; but to the fact that this timid and cowardly bird would, when danger was near, rouse herself, and assume a lofty courage and bearing. The word here translated "lifteth up" (תמריא tamâriy') means properly "to lash, to whip," as a horse, to increase its speed, and is here supposed by Gesenius to be used as denoting that the ostrich by flapping her wings lashes herself up as it were to her course. All the ancient interpretations, however, as well as the common English version, render it as if it were but another form of the word רום rûm, to raise oneself up, or to rise up, as if the ostrich aroused herself up for her flight. Herder renders it, "At once she is up, and urges herself forward." Taylor (in Calmet) renders it:
"Yet at the time she haughtily assumes courage;
She scorneth the horse and his rider."
The leading idea is, that she rouses herself to escape her pursuer; she lifts up her head and body, and spreads her wings, and then bids defiance to anything to overtake her.
She scorneth the horse and his rider - In the pursuit. That is, she runs faster than the fleetest horse, and easily escapes. The extraordinary rapidity of the ostrich has always been celebrated, and it is well known that she can easily outstrip the fleetest horse. Its swiftness is mentioned by Xenophon, in his Anabasis; for, speaking of the desert of Arabia, he says, that ostriches are frequently seen there; that none could overtake them; and that horsemen who pursued them were obliged soon to give over, "for they escaped far away, making use both of their feet to run, and of their wings, when expanded, as a sail, to waft them along." Marmelius, as quoted by Bochart (see above), speaking of a remarkable kind of horses, says, "that in Africa, Egypt, and Arabia, there is but one species of that kind which they call the Arabian, and that those are produced only in the deserts of Arabia. Their velocity is wonderful, nor is there any better evidence of their remarkable swiftness, than is furnished when they pursue the camel-bird."
It is a common sentiment of the Arabs, Boehart remarks, that there is no animal which can overcome the ostrich in its course. Dr. Shaw says, "Notwithstanding the stupidity of this animal, its Creator hath amply provided for its safety by endowing it with extraordinary swiftness, and a surprising apparatus for escaping from its enemy. 'They, when they raise themselves up for flight, laugh at the horse and his rider.' They afford him an opportunity only of admiring at a distance the extraordinary agility, and the stateliness likewise of their motions, the richness of their plumage, and the great propriety there was in ascribing to them an expanded, quivering wing. Nothing, certainly, can be more entertaining than such a sight; the wings, by their rapid but unwearied vibrations, equally serving them for sails and for oars; while their feet, no less assisting in conveying them out of sight, are no less insensible of fatigue." "Travels," 8vo., vol. ii. p. 343, as quoted by Noyes. The same representation is confirmed by the writer of a voyage to Senegal, who says," She sets off at a hand gallop; but after being excited a little, she expands her wings, as if to catch the wind, and abandons herself to a speed so great, that she seems not to touch the ground.
I am persuaded she would leave far behind the swiftest English courser" - Rob. Calmet. Buffon also admits that the ostrich runs faster than the horse. These unexceptionable testimonies completely vindicate the assertion of the inspired writer. The proofs and illustrations here furnished at considerable length are designed to show that the statements here made in the book of Job are such as are confirmed by all the investigations in Natural History since the time the book was written. If the statements are to be regarded as an indication of the progress made in the science of Natural History at the time when Job 54ed, they prove that the observations in regard to this animal had been extensive and were surprisingly accurate. They show that the minds of sages at that time had been turned with much interest to this branch of science, and that they were able to describe the habits of animals with an accuracy which would do the highest credit to Pliny or to Buffon. If, however, the account here is to be regarded as the mere result of inspiration, or as the language of God speaking and describing what he had done, then the account furnishes us with an interesting proof of the inspiration of the book. Its minute accuracy is confirmed by all the subsequent inquiries into the habits of the animal referred to, and shows that the statement is based on simple truth. The general remark may here be made, that all the notices in the Bible of the subjects of science - which are indeed mostly casual and incidental - are such as are confirmed by the investigations which science in the various departments makes. Of what other ancient book but the Bible can this remark be made?
on Job 39 :18