Job 39:26

26 Is it by thy wisdom that the hawk soareth, (And) stretcheth her wings toward the south?

Job 39:26 Meaning and Commentary

Job 39:26

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom
With so much swiftness, steadiness, and constancy, until she has seized her prey. The Vulgate Latin version and some others read, "does she become feathered", or "begin to have feathers?" and so Bochart: either when first fledged; or when, as it is said F4 she casts her old feathers and gets new ones, and this every year. Now neither her flight nor her feathers, whether at one time or the other, are owing to men, but to the Lord, who gives both;

[and] stretch her wings towards the south?
Being a bird of passage, she moves from colder climates towards the winter, and steers her course to the south towards warmer ones F5; which she does by an instinct in nature, put into her by the Lord, and not through the instruction of man. Or, as some say, casting off her old feathers, she flies towards the south for warmth; and that her feathers may be cherished with the heat, and grow the sooner and better. Hence it is, perhaps, as Aelianus reports F6, that this bird was by the Egyptians consecrated to Apollo or the sun; it being able to look upon the rays of it wistly, constantly, and easily, without being hurt thereby. Porphyry F7 says, that this bird is not only acceptable to the sun; but has divinity in it, according to the Egyptians; and is no other than Osiris, or the sun represented by the image of it F8. Strabo F9 speaks of a city of the hawks, where this creature is worshipped. It has its name in Greek from the sacredness of it; and according to Hesiod F11, is very swift, and has large wings. It is called (wkupterov) , swift in flying, by Manetho {l}; and by Homer, (wkistov petehnwn) , the swiftest of fowls F13. It has its name from (hun) , to "fly", as Kimchi observes F14. Cyril of Jerusalem, on the authority of the Greek version, affirms F15, that by a divine instinct or order, the hawk, stretching out its wings, stands in the midst of the air unmoved, looking towards the south. All accounts show it to be a bird that loves warmth, which is the reason of the expression in the text.


F4 Aelian. de Animal. l. 12. c. 4.
F5 Ibid. l. 2. c. 43. Plin. l. 10. c. 8.
F6 De Animal. l. 7. c. 9. & l. 10. c. 14.
F7 De Abstinentia, l. 4. s. 9.
F8 Kircher. Prodrom. Copt. p. 232.
F9 Geograph. l. 17. p. 562.
F11 Opera & Dies, l. 1. v. 208.
F12 Apotelesm. l. 5. v. 176.
F13 Iliad. 15. v. 238. Odyss 13. v. 87.
F14 Sepher Shorash. rad. (hun) .
F15 Cateches. 9. s. 6.

Job 39:26 In-Context

24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; Neither believeth he that it is the voice of the trumpet.
25 As oft as the trumpet [soundeth] he saith, Aha! And he smelleth the battle afar off, The thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
26 Is it by thy wisdom that the hawk soareth, (And) stretcheth her wings toward the south?
27 Is it at thy command that the eagle mounteth up, And maketh her nest on high?
28 On the cliff she dwelleth, and maketh her home, Upon the point of the cliff, and the stronghold.
The American Standard Version is in the public domain.