[Gavest thou] the goodly wings unto the peacocks?
&c.] Rather "ostriches", as the Vulgate Latin and Tigurine versions render it; some render it, "the wing of those that exult is joyful", so Montanus; that is, of the ostriches; who, in confidence of their wings, exult and glory over the horse and his rider, ( Job 39:18 ) ; for peacocks are not remarkable for their wings, but for their tails; whereas the wings of the ostrich are as sails unto them, as several writers observe F11; and with which they rather run, or row, than fly: hence it is called by Plautus F12 "passer marinus", the sea sparrow: and the feathers of it are more goodly than those of the wings of the peacock; and besides, it is a question whether the peacock was where Job lived, and in his times; since it is originally from the Indies, and from thence it was brought to Judea in the times of Solomon; and was not known in Greece and Rome F13 until later ages. Alexander the Great, when he first saw them in India, was surprised at them; and yet Solon F14 speaks of them in his time as seen by him, which was at least two hundred years before Alexander; though at Rome not common in the times of Horace F15, who calls a peacock "rara avis"; and speaks of them as sold for a great price; but ostriches were well known in Arabia, where Job lived, as is testified by Xenophon F16, Strabo F17, and Diodorus Siculus F18. Moreover, what is said in the following verses is only true of the ostrich, and that only is spoken of here and there, as it follows;
or wings and feathers unto the ostrich;
or whose wings and feathers are like the storks; and so Bochart renders the words, truly they have "the wing and feather of the stork"; the colours of which are black and white, from whence it has its name (pelagrov) F19 in Greek; and so Leo Africanus F20 says of the ostriches, that they have in their wings large feathers of a black and white colour; and this was a creature well known in Arabia F21, in which Job lived.
F11 Xenophon. de Expedit. Cyri, l. 1. Aelian. de. Animal. l. 2. c. 77.
F12 Persa, Act. 2. Sc. 2. v. 17.
F13 Aelian. de Animal. l. 5. c. 21.
F14 Laert. Vit. Solon. l. 1. c. 2.
F15 Sermon. l. 2. Sat. 2. v. 25, 26. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 20. Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. 13.
F16 Ut supra. (Xenophon. de Expedit. Cyri, l. 1.)
F17 Geograph. l. 16. p. 531.
F18 Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 133.
F19 Suidas in voce (pelagrov) .
F20 Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 766.
F21 Diodor. Sicul. ut supra. (Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 133.)