He taketh it with his eyes
Or "can men take him before his eyes?" so Mr. Broughton; and others translate it to the same purpose; no, he is not to be taken openly, but privately, by some insidious crafty methods; whether it be understood of the elephant or river horse; elephants, according to Strabo F17 and Pliny F18 were taken in pits dug for them, into which they were decoyed; in like manner, according to some F19, the river horse is taken; a pit being dug and covered with reeds and sand, it falls into it unawares;
[his] nose pierceth through snares;
he discerns them oftentimes and escapes them, so that he is not easily taken in them. It is reported of the sea morss F20, before mentioned, (See Gill on Job 40:20), that they ascend mountains in great herds, where, before they give themselves to sleep, to which they are naturally inclined, they appoint one of their number as it were a watchman; who, if he chances to sleep or to be slain by the hunter, the rest may be easily taken; but if the watchman gives warning by roaring as the manner is, the whole herd immediately awake and fall down from the mountains with great swiftness into the sea, as before described; or, as Mr. Broughton, "cannot men take him, [to pierce] his nose with many snares?" they cannot; the elephant has no nose to be pierced, unless his trunk can be called so, and no hook nor snare can be put into the nose of the river horse. Diodorus Siculus
F21 says, it cannot be taken but by many vessels joining together and surrounding it, and striking it with iron hooks, to one of which ropes are fastened, and so the creature is let go till it expires. The usual way of taking it now is, by baiting the hook with the roots of water lilies, at which it will catch, and swallow the hook with it; and by giving it line enough it will roll and tumble about, until, through loss of blood, it faints and dies. The way invented by Asdrubal for killing elephants was by striking a carpenter's chopping axe into his ear F23; the Jews F24 say a fly is a terror to an elephant, it enters into his nose and torments him grievously.
F17 Geograph. l. 15. p. 484.
F18 Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 8. See Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 192, 193.
F19 Apud Bochart. ut supra, col. 768.
F20 Eden's Travels, p. 318. Supplement to the North East Voyages, p. 94.
F21 Bibliothec, l. 1. p. 32.
F23 Orosii Hist. l. 4. c. 18. p. 62. Liv. Hist. l. 27. c. 49.
F24 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 2. & Gloss. in ib.