on Job 39 :1
Knowest thou the time - To know time, etc., only, was easy, and has nothing extraordinary in it; but the meaning of these questions is, to know the circumstances, which have something peculiarly expressive of God's providence, and make the questions proper in this place. Pliny observes, that the hind with young is by instinct directed to a certain herb, named seselis, which facilitates the birth. Thunder, also, which looks like the more immediate hand of Providence, has the same effect. Psalm 29:9 : "The Voice of the Lord maketh the Hinds to Calve." See Dr. Young. What is called the wild goat, יעל yael, from עלה alah, to ascend, go or mount up, is generally understood to be the ibex or mountain goat, called yael, from the wonderful manner in which it mounts to the tops of the highest rocks. It is certain, says Johnston, there is no crag of the mountains so high, prominent or steep, but this animal will mount it in a number of leaps, provided only it be rough, and have protuberances large enough to receive its hoofs in leaping. This animal is indigenous to Arabia, is of amazing strength and agility, and considerably larger than the common goat. Its horns are very long, and often bend back over the whole body of the animal; and it is said to throw itself from the tops of rocks or towers, and light upon its horns, without receiving any damage. It goes five months with young.
When the hinds do calve? - The hind is the female of the stag, or cervus elaphus, and goes eight months with young. They live to thirty-five or forty years. Incredible longevity has been attributed to some stags. One was taken by Charles VI., in the forest of Senlis, about whose neck was a collar with this inscription, Caesar hoc mihi donavit, which led some to believe that this animal had lived from the days of some one of the twelve Caesars, emperors of Rome. I have seen the following form of this inscription: -
Tempore quo Caesar Roma dominatus in alta
Aureolo jussit collum signare monili;
Nehemiah depascentem quisquis me gramina laedat.
Caesaris heu! caussa periturae parcere vitae!
Which has been long public in the old English ballad strain, thus: -
"When Julius Caesar reigned king,
About my neck he put this ring;
That whosoever should me take
Would save my life for Caesar's sake."
Aristotle mentions the longevity of the stag, but thinks it fabulous.
on Job 39 :1
Knowest thou, the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? - That is, the particular season when the mountain goats bring forth their young. Of domestic animals - the sheep, the tame goat, etc., the habits would be fuIly understood. But the question here relates to the animals that roamed at large on inaccessible cliffs; that were buried in deep forests; that were far from the dwellings and observation of people; and the meaning is, that there were many facts in regard to such points of Natural History which Job could not explain. God knew all their instincts and habits, and on the inaccessible cliffs, in the deep dell, in the dark forest, he was with them, and they were the objects of his care. He not only regarded the condition of the domestic animals that had been brought into the service of man, and where man perhaps might be disposed to claim that they owed much of their comfort to his care, but he regarded also the wild, wandering beast of the mountain, where no such pretence could be advanced.
The providence of God is over them; and in the periods of their lives when they seem most to need attention, when every shepherd and herdsmen is most solicitous about his flocks and herds, then God is present, and his care is seen in their preservation. The particular point in the inquiry here is, not in regard to the time when these animals produced their young or the period of their gestation, which might probably be known, but in regard to the attention and care which was needful for them when they were so far removed from the observance of man, and had no human aid. The "wild goat of the rock" here referred to, is, doubtless, the Ibex, or mountain goat, that has its dwellings among the rocks, or in stony places. The Hebrew term is יעל yâ‛êl, from יעל ya‛al, "to ascend, to go up." They had their residence in the lofty rocks of mountains; Psalm 104:18. "The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats."
Hebrew "For the goats of the rocks" - סלעים יעלים yâ‛êliym sela‛iym. So in 1 Samuel 24:2 (3), "Saul went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats;" that is, where were the wild goats - היעלים hayâ‛êliym. For a description of the wild goat, see Bochart, Hieroz. P. i. Lib. iii. c. xxiii. The animal here referred to is, doubtless, the same which Burckhardt saw on the summit of Mount Catharine, adjacent to Mount Sinai, and which he thus describes in his Travels in Syria, p. 571: "As we approached the summit of the mountain (Catharine, adjacent to Mount Sinai), we saw at a distance a small flock of mountain goats feeding among the rocks. One of our Arabs left us, and by a widely circuitous route endeavored to get to the leeward of them, and near enough to fire at them. He enjoined us to remain in sight of them, and to sit down in order not to alarm them. He had nearly reached a favorable spot behind a rock, when the goats suddenly took to flight. They could not have seen the Arab, but the wind changed, and thus they smelt him. The chase of the beden, as the wild goat is called, resembles that of the chamois of the Alps, and requires as much enterprise and patience. The Arabs make long circuits to surprise them, and endeavor to come upon them early in the morning, when they feed.
The goats have a leader who keeps watch, and on any suspicious smell, sound, or object, makes a noise, which is a signal to the flock to make their escape. They have much decreased of late, if we may believe the Arabs; who say that fifty years ago, if a stranger came to a tent, and the owner of it had no sheep to kill, he took his gun and went in search of a beden. They are, however, even now more common here than in the Alps, or in the mountains to the east of the Red Sea. I had three or four of them brought to me at the convent, which I bought at three-fourths of a dollar each. The flesh is excellent, and has nearly the same flavor as that of the deer. The Bedouins make water bags of their skins, and rings of their horns, which they wear on their thumbs. When the beden is met with in the plains, the dogs of the hunters easily catch him; but they cannot come up with him among the rocks, where he can make leaps of 20 feet."
Or Canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? - The reference here is to the special care and protection of God manifested for them. The meaning is, that this animal seems to be always timid and apprehensive of danger, and that there is special care bestowed upon an animal so defenseless in enabling it to rear its young. The word hinds denotes the deer, the fawn, the most timid and defenseless, perhaps, of all animals.
on Job 39 :1