And the wild asses did stand in the high places
To see where any grass was to be had, or where the wind blows more freely and cooly, to draw it in; as follows. The Targum renders it, "by the brooks"; and so Jarchi interprets it brooks of water; whither they came as usual to drink, and found them now dried up; and where they stood distressed and languishing, not knowing where to go for any: they snuffed up the wind like dragons:
which, being of a hot nature, open their mouths, and draw in the wind and air to cool them. Aelianus
F2 reports of the dragons in Phrygia, that they open their mouths, and not only draw in the air, but even birds flying. The word used for dragons signifies large fishes, great whales; and some understand it of crocodiles, who will lift up their heads above water to refresh themselves with the air: their eyes did fail;
in looking about for grass; or for want of food, being quite starved and famished: because there was no grass;
for their food and nourishment. With great propriety is the herb or grass mentioned, this being the proper food of asses, as Aristotle F3 observes; and with which agrees the Scripture; which represents them as content when they have it; and as ranging about the mountains for it when they have none; being creatures very impatient of hunger and thirst; see ( Job 6:5 ) ( 39:8 ) wherefore the Greek writers surname this animal dry and thirsty; and hence the lying story of Tacitus F4, concerning Moses and the children of Israel; who, he says, being ready to perish for want of water, Moses observed a flock of wild asses going from their pasture to a rock covered with trees, and followed them, taking it for herbage, and found large fountains of water. And very pertinently are their eyes said to fail for want of food, and the sight of them grow dim, which is more or less the case of all creatures in such circumstances; but the rather is this observed of the wild ass, because, as an Arabic writer F5 suggests, it is naturally very sharp and clear sighted.
F2 De Animal. l. 2. c. 21.
F3 Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 8.
F4 Histor. l. 5. c. 3.
F5 Damir apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 16. col. 878.