The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Wild goats.—Heb., climbers, and so at home on the “high hills.” (See 1Samuel 24:2, “the rocks of the wild goats.”) “This animal, which is a relation of the Swiss ibex or steinbock, is now called the beden or jaela “(Bible Educator, II., 104).
Conies.—Heb., shāphan, i.e., “hider.” (Comp. Leviticus 11:5, and Bible Educator, II., 201.) Naturalists know it as the hyrax Syriacus. The LXX., Vulg., and Aquila have “hedgehogs.”Psalm 104:18. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats — As if he had said, “even those parts of the earth which may seem barren and useless, have yet their uses, and serve to shelter certain animals that are adapted to them.” The psalmist, having alluded to the force of what we call instinct in birds, influencing them to choose secret and secure places in which to fix their habitation, and place their young, proceeds to show the power of the same principle in terrestrial animals, directing them to places of refuge, where they may be safe from their enemies. “Thus the wild goats climb, with ease, to the tops and crags of mountains, where they deposite their young. And thus animals of another kind, which are more defenceless than goats, and not able to climb like them, have yet a way of intrenching themselves in a situation perfectly impregnable among the rocks:” see on Leviticus 11:5.Job 39:1. The word occurs elsewhere only in 1 Samuel 24:2.
And the rocks for the conies - The word here "employed" - שׁפן shâphân - denotes a quadruped that chews the cud, in the manner of a hare Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7, and living in flocks. The rabbis render it the "coney," or rabbit, as our translators have done. The habits of the rabbit accord with this description. The word occurs nowhere else, except in Proverbs 30:26, where it is rendered, as here, "conies."
the high hills, ( understand, are satisfied, which is expressed Psalm 104:16, and may very well be carried hither) which (that particle being frequently understood) are
a refuge for wild goats, and the rocks (understand out of the former branch, according to the usual manner, which are a refuge) for the conies; or, as others translate this word, for the mountain mice. Job 39:1, and sometimes the rocks are called from them the rocks of wild goats, 1 Samuel 24:2. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it "for the harts", or deer; and so Apollinarius: but the word is not used of them.
And the rocks for the conies; who being a feeble folk, make their houses in them, to protect them from creatures of superior power and strength, Proverbs 30:26. Some interpret it of the "hedgehog", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions: others of "hares", as the Syriac and Arabic, and so Apollinarius; and others of "mountain mice". Now what the hills and rocks are to the above creatures, a refuge and a habitation for them, that Christ is to those that fly to him for refuge; though weak and feeble, sinful and unworthy, he is their rock, the rock of their refuge, their strong tower, and place of defence.The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. From the lofty trees which are the home of birds it is a natural transition to the lofty mountains which are the home of animals. The Syrian wild goat, lit. ‘the climber,’ is a species of ibex (1 Samuel 24:2; Job 39:1): see Tristram, p. 95. The ‘coney,’ Heb. shâphân = ‘the hider,’ is not the rabbit, but the hyrax Syriacus, a peculiar animal, not unlike a marmot in appearance, which “lives in holes in the rocks, where it makes its nest and conceals its young, and to which it retires at the least alarm.” See Tristram, p. 75.Verse 18. - The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats. Even the desolate ranges of the higher mountains are designed by God for the good of his creatures. They furnish a refuge for the ibex, or wild goat, when the hunter presses ca him; and, if they cannot give him food, give him safety. And the rocks for the conies; rather, for the marmots. Marmots still inhabit Palestine, though they are rarely seen; "conies," i.e. rabbits do not. The marmots are "a feeble folk, that make their houses in the rocks" (Proverbs 30:26). Psalm 104:10 and further on) is able to go on in attributive and predicative participles: Who sendeth springs בּנּחלים, into the wads (not: בּנחלים, as brooks). נחל, as Psalm 104:10 shows, is here a synonym of בּקעה, and there is no need for saying that, flowing on in the plains, they grow into rivers. The lxx has ἐν φάραγξιν. חיתו שׂדי is doubly poetic for חיּת השּׂדה. God has also provided for all the beasts that roam far from men; and the wild ass, swift as an arrow, difficult to be hunted, and living in troops (פּרא, Arabic ferâ, root פר, Arab. fr, to move quickly, to whiz, to flee; the wild ass, the onager, Arabic himr el-wahs, whose home is on the steppes), is made prominent by way of example. The phrase "to break the thirst" occurs only here. עליהם, Psalm 104:12, refers to the מעינים, which are also still the subject in Psalm 104:11. The pointing עפאים needlessly creates a hybrid form in addition to עפאים (like לבאים) and עפיים. From the tangled branches by the springs the poet insensibly reaches the second half of the third day. The vegetable kingdom at the same time reminds him of the rain which, descending out of the upper chambers of the heavens, waters the waterless mountain-tops. Like the Talmud (B. Ta‛anı̂th, 10a), by the "fruit of Thy work" (מעשׂיך as singular) Hitzig understands the rain; but rain is rather that which fertilizes; and why might not the fruit be meant which God's works (מעשׂיך, plural) here below (Psalm 104:24), viz., the vegetable creations, bear, and from which the earth, i.e., its population, is satisfied, inasmuch as vegetable food springs up as much for the beasts as for man? In connection with עשׂב the poet is thinking of cultivated plants, more especially wheat; לעבדת, however, does not signify: for cultivation by man, since, according to Hitzig's correct remonstrance, they do not say עבד העשׂב, and להוציא has not man, but rather God, as its subject, but as in 1 Chronicles 26:30, for the service (use) of man.
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