Job 11:12

12 But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.[a]

Job 11:12 in Other Translations

12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.
12 But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey's colt is born a man!
12 An empty-headed person won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child.
12 Hollow men, hollow women, will wise up about the same time mules learn to talk. Reach Out to God
12 But a stupid man will gain understanding as soon as a wild donkey is born a man!

Job 11:12 Meaning and Commentary

Job 11:12

For vain man would be wise
Or "hollow" F18, empty man; empty of all that is good, though full of all unrighteousness; without God, the knowledge, love, and fear of him; without Christ, the knowledge of him, faith in him, and love to him; destitute of the Spirit, and of his grace, having no good thing in him: yet such a man "would be wise"; not desirous of true wisdom, but would be thought to be wise; he in conceit thinks himself that he is very wise, and he would fain have others think so of him; or is, or "may", or "will be wise" F19; may be made wise by the chastisements of God through afflictions, being sanctified to him by the grace of God; though he is a vain man, and also is what is after said of him; afflicting dispensations are sometimes teaching ones, and in the school of afflictions many useful lessons are learnt, whereby men become wiser; see ( Psalms 94:12 ) ; though some understand the word in a very different sense, and interpret it bold, audacious, proud, and haughty; man takes heart F20, and lifts up himself against God, stretches his hand, and hardens his heart against him:

though man be born [like] a wild ass's colt;
foolish and stupid, without understanding of divine and spiritual things; given to lust and wantonness, to serve divers lusts and pleasures; not subject to the yoke of the law of God, stubborn, refractory, and untameable, but by the grace of God; the ass, and especially the wild ass, and the colt of one, being a very stupid creature, and a very lustful and wanton one, chooses to be free, will not bear the yoke, but ranges about in desert places; see ( Job 39:5 ) ( Jeremiah 2:23 Jeremiah 2:24 ) ; some render the words, "and a wild ass's colt is", or "may be born a man" F21; that is, one that is by his first birth, and by his life and conversation, like a wild ass's colt, is or may be born again, and be made a new man, as Jarchi also interprets it, and so become a wise, knowing, and good man, which is a great truth; but whether the truth in this text, is not so clear: the Targum seems to incline this way;

``a refractory, youth that grows wise shall become a great man.''


F18 (bwbn) "concavus", Montanus; "cavus", Drusius; "vacuus", Pagninus, Beza, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
F19 (bbly) "fiat vel fit cordatus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Broughton, Beza.
F20 "In superbiam erigitur", V. L. "audaciam sumit", Schmidt.
F21 "Pullus onager homo nascitur", Cocceius, Schmidt; "nascatur", Schultens.

Job 11:12 In-Context

10 “If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
11 Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
12 But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.
13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him,
14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,

Cross References 2

  • 1. S Genesis 16:12
  • 2. S 2 Chronicles 6:36

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "wild donkey can be born tame"