Job 11:12

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

Read Job 11:12 Using Other Translations

For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.
But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey's colt is born a man!
An empty-headed person won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child.

What does Job 11:12 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
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.
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