They are passed away as the swift ships
Those that are lightest built, and run swiftest. Bar Tzemach thinks such vessels as are rowed with oars are meant, which may be called "ships of will or desire" F2, as the words may be rendered, because they may be rowed at pleasure, and be carried to any place where and when a man thinks fit; whereas those that are not depend upon the wind, and that must be waited for; or they design such ships that are so swift in their motion, that they arrive to the haven as soon as men can well wish for and desire. Some render it "pirate ships", or "ships of enmity" F3; such as are designed for spoil and plunder, and which are light ones, not loaded with goods, and therefore move swiftly: the Targum is,
``ships burdened with precious fruits;''and the Vulgate Latin version is,
``ships carrying apples:''now ships loaded with such sort of goods, with perishing commodities, are obliged to make their port as soon as possible. Some leave the word untranslated, and call them "ships of Ebeh" F4; which, according to Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and others, is either the name of a place, or of a river in Arabia, which ran with a rapid stream, and in which ships were carried with great celerity. Bolducius relates from a traveller of his acquaintance, who finished his travels in 1584, that he saw such a river about Damascus, not far from the sepulchre of Job; but that must be the river Chrysorrhoas, now called Barrady; but there were two rivers of this name Ebeh; one near Cufa, and another in Wasith, a country of Babylon, as Golius observes F5. Others take the word to have the signification of reed or papyrus, which grew on the banks of the Nile, and of which ships were made, (See Gill on Isaiah 18:1); and render the words "ships of reeds" or "of papyrus" F6, and which, being light, were very swift:
as the eagle [that] hasteth to the prey;
the eagle is the swiftest of birds, and therefore persons and things exceeding swift are compared unto them, see ( Habakkuk 1:8 ) ( Lamentations 4:19 ) ; and it flies the most swiftly when being hungry, and in sight of its prey, and is nearest to it, and flaps upon it, which is the thing referred to, and so may be rendered, "that flies upon the prey" F7. Job uses these metaphors, which are the most appropriate, to show how fleeting his days of prosperity were, and how soon gone: and a climax may be observed in the words; a runner, though he runs swiftly, a ship moves faster than he, and an eagle, just about to seize its prey, flies swifter than that.
F2 (hba twyna) "navibus desiderii", Mercerus, Drusius, Schmidt; so Ben Gersom.
F3 "Naves inimicitiarum, i.e. "piraticae, vel hostiles"; as some in Drusius; so Broughton.
F4 "Navibus Ebeh", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Bolducius, Codurcus.
F5 Lexic. Arab. p. 2.
F6 "Naves arundinis", Michaelis, "navibus papyraceis", Schultens, Ikenius, in ib.
F7 (lka le vwjy) "involans in escam", Junius & Tremellius; "involat in escam", Piscator, Schultens.