Job 38:41
Who provides for the raven his food? when his young ones cry to God, they wander for lack of meat.
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(41) They wander for lack of meat.—The second clause is not a direct statement, but is dependent on the previous one; thus: “When his young ones cry unto God, when they wander for lack of meat.”

Job 38:41. Who provideth for the raven his food? — Having mentioned the noblest of brute creatures, he now mentions one of the most contemptible; to show the care of God’s providence over all creatures, both great and small. Their young ones are so soon forsaken by their dams, that if God did not provide for them in a more than ordinary manner, they would be starved to death. And will He that provides for the young ravens fail to provide for his own children? 38:25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.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.

41. Lu 12:24. Transition from the noble lioness to the croaking raven. Though man dislikes it, as of ill omen, God cares for it, as for all His creatures. Having mentioned the noblest of brute creatures, he now mentions one of the most contemptible and loathsome, to show the care of God’s providence over all creatures, both great and small; which is more remarkable in ravens, because,

1. They devour flesh, which it is not easy for them to find.

2. They are greedy, and eat very much.

3. They are generally neglected and forsaken by mankind.

4. Their young ones are so soon forsaken by their dams, that if God did not provide for them in a more than ordinary manner, they would be starved to death. Who provideth for the raven his food?.... Not man, but God; he feeds the ravens, creatures very voracious, mean, and useless, Luke 12:24;

when his young ones cry unto God; cry for want of food; which is interpreted by the Lord as a cry unto him, and he relieves them, Psalm 147:9; when deserted by the old ones; either left in their nests through forgetfulness, as some (z); or because they are not, till fledged, black like them, as others (a); when God feeds them, as some say (b), with a kind of dew from heaven, or with flies that fly about them, and fall into their mouths; or with worms bred out of their dung but these things are not to be depended on; it may rather respect them when cast out of the nest by the old ones, when able to fly, which is testified by naturalists (c); and with this agrees what follows:

they wander for lack of meat; being obliged to shift for themselves, when God takes care of them; which is an instance of his providential goodness; and how this is to be improved, see Matthew 6:26.

(z) Plin. apud Servium in Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. p. 189. (a) Pirke Eliezer, c. 21. (b) Hieron. in Pasl. cxlvii. 9. (c) Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 3. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 12.

Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones {b} cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

(b) Read Ps 147:9.

41. The raven. The question extends to the end of the verse,

Who provideth for the raven his food,

When his young ones cry unto God,

And wander without meat?

The raven is one of the commonest birds in Palestine; by its incessant croaking it presses itself upon the attention, and is often alluded to in Scripture. The cry of its young is an appeal unto God (Joel 1:20), and the feeding of it is proof of His universal providence, which does not overlook even the least of His creatures (Psalm 147:9, Luke 12:24). The lion and the raven are here associated perhaps by way of contrast, the one being the most powerful and the other one of the least of God’s creatures. Their natures too are most dissimilar,—the silent, subtle, self-reliance of the one, couching patiently in his lair, and the clamorous outcry and appeal of the other, wandering over the land in search of food. The raven, of course, is a general name, covering the whole Crow tribe.Verse 41. - Who provideth for the raven his food? (comp. Luke 12:24, "Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them"). God's mercy is "over all his works," not only over those whereof man sees the utility; but also over beasts of prey, and birds thought to be of ill omen. Especially he cares for the young of each kind, which most need protection. When his young ones cry unto God. So Psalm 147:9, "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." The young ravens are driven to cry out, when they, i.e. the parent birds, wander for lack of meat, and have a difficulty in finding it.

34 Dost thou raise thy voice to the clouds

That an overflow of waters may cover thee?

35 Dost thou send forth lightnings, and they go,

And say to thee: Here we are?

36 Who hath put wisdom in the reins,

Or who hath given understanding to the cock?

37 Who numbereth the strata of the clouds with wisdom

And the bottles of heaven, who emptieth them,

38 When the dust flows together into a mass,

And the clods cleave together?

As Job 38:25 was worded like Job 28:26, so Job 38:34 is worded like Job 22:11; the ך of תכסך is dageshed in both passages, as Job 36:2, Job 36:18, Habakkuk 2:17. What Jehovah here denies to the natural power of man is possible to the power which man has by faith, as the history of Elijah shows: this, however, does not come under consideration here. In proof of divine omnipotence and human feebleness, Elihu constantly recurs to the rain and the thunder-storm with the lightning, which is at the bidding of God. Most moderns since Schultens therefore endeavour, with great violence, to make טחות and שׂכרי mean meteors and celestial phenomena. Eichh. (Hirz., Hahn) compares the Arabic name for the clouds, tachâ (tachwa), Ew. Arab. ḍiḥḥ, sunshine, with the former; the latter, whose root is שׂכה (סכה), spectare, is meant to be something that is remarkable in the heavens: an atmospheric phenomenon, a meteor (Hirz.), or a phenomenon caused by light (Ew., Hahn), so that e.g., Umbr. translates: "Who hath put wisdom in the dark clouds, and given understanding to the meteor?" But the meaning which is thus extorted from the words in favour of the connection borders closely upon absurdity. Why, then, shall טחות, from טוּח, Arab. ṭı̂ych, oblinere, adipe obducere, not signify here, as in Psalm 51:8, the reins (embedded in a cushion of fat), and in fact as the seat of the predictive faculty, like כּליות, Job 19:27, as the seat of the innermost longing for the future; and particularly since here, after the constellations and the influences of the stars have just been spoken of, the mention of the gift of divination is not devoid of connection; and, moreover, as a glance at the next strophe shows, the connection which has been hitherto firmly kept to is already in process of being resolved?

If טחות signifies the reins, it is natural to interpret שׂכוי also psychologically, and to translate the intellect (Targ. I, Syr., Arab.), or similarly (Saad., Gecat.), as Ges., Carey, Renan, Schlottm. But there is another rendering handed down which is worthy of attention, although not once mentioned by Rosenm., Hirz., Schlottm., or Hahn, according to which שׂכוי signifies a cock, gallum. We read in b. Rosch ha-Schana, 26a: "When I came to Techm-Kn-Nishraja, R. Simeon b. Lakish relates, the bride was there called נינפי and the cock שׂכוי, according to which Job 38:36 is to be interpreted: שׂכוי equals תרנגול." The Midrash interprets in the same way, Jalkut, 905, beginning: "R. Levi says: In Arabic the cock is called סכוא." We compare with this, Wajikra rabba, c. 1: "סוכו is Arabic; in Arabia a prophet is called סכוא;" whence it is to be inferred that שׂכוי, as is assumed, describes the cock as a seer, as a prophet.

As to the formation of the word, it would certainly be without parallel (Ew., Olsh.) if the word had the tone on the penult., but Codd. and the best old editions have the Munach by the final syllable; Norzi, who has overlooked this, at least notes שׂכוי with the accent on the ult. as a various reading. It is a secondary noun, Ges. 86, 5, a so-called relative noun (De Sacy, Gramm. Arabe, 768): שׂכרי, speculator, from שׂכו (שׂכוּ, שׂכה), speculatio, as פּלאי, Judges 13:18 (comp. Psalm 139:6), miraculosus, from פּלא, a cognate form to the Chald. סכוי (סכואה), of similar meaning. In connection with this primary signification, speculator, it is intelligible how סכוי in Samaritan (vid., Lagarde on Proverbs, S. 62) can signify the eye; here, however, in a Hebrew poet, the cock, of which e.g., Gregory says: Speculator semper in altitudine stat, ut quidquid venturum sit longe prospiciat. That this signification speculator equals gallus

(Note: No Arab. word offers itself here for comparison: tuchaj, a cock, has different consonants, and if Arab. škâ in the sense of Arab. šâk, fortem esse, were to be supposed, שׂכוי would be a synon. of גּבר, which is likewise a name of the cock.)


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