Chapter 39

1Do you know the time for the mountain goats to give birth? Do you wait for the hinds to calve?   אהֲיָדַ֗עְתָּ עֵ֖ת לֶ֣דֶת יַֽעֲלֵי־סָ֑לַע חֹלֵ֖ל אַיָּל֣וֹת תִּשְׁמֹֽר:
mountain goats: Estainboc in Old French. It hates its young, and, when preparing to give birth, goes to the top of a high rock, so that its young should fall to the earth and die. But the Holy One, blessed be He, prepares an eagle for it [the young], which receives it on its wings.  
Do you wait for the hinds to calve?: Heb. חלל, an expression of (Jer. 6:24), “pain (חיל) as of a woman in travail.” The hind’s womb is narrow, and the young cannot come forth; and, at the time of birth, I prepare a snake for her that bites her womb so that it opens; should it be a moment too early or too late, she would die immediately. I know to distinguish these moments, so should the distinction between Job (אִיוֹב) and enemy (אוֹיֵב) escape Me?  
2Do you count the months when they will be filled, and do you know the time of their birth?   בתִּסְפּ֣וֹר יְרָחִ֣ים תְּמַלֶּ֑אנָה וְ֜יָדַ֗עְתָּ עֵ֣ת לִדְתָּֽנָה:
3They kneel; they bring forth their young; they send forth their pangs.   גתִּכְרַעְנָה יַלְדֵיהֶ֣ן תְּפַלַּ֑חְנָה חֶבְלֵיהֶ֥ם תְּשַׁלַּֽחְנָה:
they bring forth: Their womb splits open and gives forth the young, and their birth pangs…  
they send forth: from themselves in their birth at the moment that I prepare for them.  
4Their children grow strong; they grow up on the grain; they go forth and do not return to them.   דיַחְלְמ֣וּ בְ֖נֵיהֶם יִרְבּ֣וּ בַבָּ֑ר יָֽ֜צְא֗וּ וְלֹא־שָׁ֥בוּ לָֽמוֹ:
and do not return to them: When they have grown a little, they are raised on the grain, on seeds and grasses, and they do not require the raising of their father or mother.  
5Who sent the wild donkey free, or who loosed the bands of the wild donkey?   המִֽי־שִׁלַּ֣ח פֶּ֣רֶא חָפְשִׁ֑י וּמֹֽסְר֥וֹת עָ֜ר֗וֹד מִ֣י פִתֵּֽחַ:
free: For no man can raise a wild donkey to teach it the work of cattle.  
who loosed: his bands so that the yoke of man is not upon him.  
6Whose house I have made the wilderness, and whose dwellings the salt land.   ואֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֣מְתִּי עֲרָבָ֣ה בֵית֑וֹ וּֽמִשְׁכְּנוֹתָ֥יו מְלֵֽחָה:
7He mocks the tumult of the city; he does not hearken to the shouts of the driver.   זיִשְׂחַק לַֽהֲמ֣וֹן קִרְיָ֑ה תְּשֻׁא֥וֹת נ֜וֹגֵ֗שׂ לֹ֣א יִשְׁמָֽע:
8He spies out the mountains for his pasture, and he searches after every green thing.   חיְת֣וּר הָרִ֣ים מִרְעֵ֑הוּ וְאַחַ֖ר כָּל־יָר֣וֹק יִדְרֽוֹשׁ:
He spies out the mountains for his pasture: He personally spies out for himself a place of pasture.  
9Does the wild ox wish to serve you; will it lodge by your manger?   טהֲיֹ֣אבֶה רֵ֣ים עָבְדֶ֑ךָ אִם־יָ֜לִ֗ין עַל־אֲבוּסֶֽךָ:
wild ox: Heb. רֵים, like רְאֵם.  
serve you: To serve you.  
10Can you tie a wild ox to a furrow with his rope or will he harrow the valleys after you?   יהֲתִקְשָׁר־רֵ֖ים בְּתֶ֣לֶם עֲבֹת֑וֹ אִם־יְשַׂדֵּ֖ד עֲמָקִ֣ים אַֽחֲרֶֽיךָ:
to a furrow with his rope: (Or did you tie a wild ox because of the furrow of your ox?)  
rope: Heb. עבתו, a rope with which they tie [oxen] to the furrows of the plow.  
will he harrow: , prepare the field.  
11Will you rely on him because his strength is great, or will you leave your toil for him?   יאהֲתִבְטַח־בּ֖וֹ כִּי־רַ֣ב כֹּח֑וֹ וְתַֽעֲזֹ֖ב אֵלָ֣יו יְגִיעֶֽךָ:
Will you rely on him: to gather your grain because his strength is great and he can bear great burdens?  
or will you leave your toil for him: to gather into the house?  
12Will you believe him that he will return your seed or that he will gather in your threshing floor?   יבהֲתַֽאֲמִ֣ין בּ֖וֹ כִּי־יָשִׁ֣יב (כתיב יָשִׁ֣וב) זַרְעֶ֑ךָ וְֽגָרְנְךָ֥ יֶֽאֱסֹֽף:
13The wing of the renanim rejoices, or the winged stork or the nozah.   יגכְּנַף־רְנָנִ֥ים נֶֽעֱלָ֑סָה אִם־אֶ֜בְרָ֗ה חֲסִידָ֥ה וְנֹצָֽה:
The wing of the renanim rejoices: This is the name of a huge bird, called in the language of the Mishnah, Bar Yochni (Bechoroth 57b).  
the winged: Heb. אֶבְרָה. Every bird is called אֶבְרָה because it flies; i.e., either the bird named “stork,” or the bird called nozah. Note her behavior.  
14For she leaves her eggs on the ground, and she warms herself on the earth.   ידכִּי־תַֽעֲזֹ֣ב לָאָ֣רֶץ בֵּֽצֶ֑יהָ וְֽעַל־עָפָ֥ר תְּחַמֵּֽם:
For she leaves her eggs on the ground: and she goes and warms herself on the dust at a distance.  
15She forgets that a foot will crack it, and the beast of the field will step on it.   טווַתִּשְׁכַּח כִּי־רֶ֣גֶל תְּזוּרֶ֑הָ וְחַיַּ֖ת הַשָּׂדֶ֣ה תְּדוּשֶֽׁהָ:
She forgets that a foot will crack it: Heb. תְּזוּרֶהָ [i.e., it will crack] her egg. [תְּזוּרֶהָ means:] will crack it.  
16She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers; though her toil is in vain, she has no fear.   טזהִקְשִׁ֣יחַ בָּנֶ֣יהָ לְּלֹא־לָ֑הּ לְרִ֖יק יְגִיעָ֣הּ בְּלִי־פָֽחַד:
She is hardened: She deals harshly with her young ones, [distancing them] from her heart as though they were not hers.  
her toil is in vain: and she is not afraid to lose them.  
17For God caused her to forget wisdom, and He did not give her a share of understanding.   יזכִּֽי־הִשָּׁ֣הּ אֱל֣וֹהַּ חָכְמָ֑ה וְלֹא־חָ֥לַק לָ֜֗הּ בַּבִּינָֽה:
18Like the time that she goes off on high; she scorns the horse and its rider.   יחכָּעֵת בַּמָּר֣וֹם תַּמְרִ֑יא תִּשְׂחַ֥ק לַ֜סּ֗וּס וּלְרֹֽכְבֽוֹ:
Like the time that she goes off on high: [When she flies up, she scorns the horse. She is not afraid that he will tread on the eggs and crack them.] Every expression of הַמְרָאָה applies to a man whose heart prompts him to stray from his lifestyle, his upbringing, and his country, to roam in other countries and to try other lifestyles. Similarly (Deut. 21:18), “a stubborn and rebellious (וּמרֶה) son”; and in the language of the Talmud it is אִמְרָאִי : “Rav Zevid’s daughter-in-law rebelled (אִמְרָאִי) and went away” (Kethuboth 63b, Venice edition) (cf. Rashi to Hullin 58b, Baba Mezia 77a).  
19Did you give the horse his strength? Did you clothe his neck with fierceness?   יטהֲתִתֵּ֣ן לַסּ֣וּס גְּבוּרָ֑ה הֲתַלְבִּ֖ישׁ צַוָּאר֣וֹ רַעְמָֽה:
fierceness: Heb. רעמה, an expression of thunder and fright, like (Ezek. 27:35), “Their faces are as though thunderstruck (רעמו).”  
20Do you make him leap like a locust? The glory of his snorting is terrible.   כהֲתַרְעִישֶׁנּוּ כָּֽאַרְבֶּ֑ה ה֖וֹד נַחְר֣וֹ אֵימָֽה:
like a locust: He skips and leaps like a locust and shakes himself all over.  
his snorting: When he blows with his nostrils, it is with an awesome sound.  
21They spy in the valley and rejoice with strength; he goes forth toward the arms.   כאיַחְפְּר֣וּ בָ֖עֵמֶק וְיָשִׂ֣ישׂ בְּכֹ֣חַ יֵ֜צֵ֗א לִקְרַאת־נָֽשֶׁק:
They spy in the valley: Heb. יחפרו, like (Deut. 1:22), “that they may spy out (ויחפרו) the land for us,” for it is the habit of the horsemen to lie in wait in the valleys and in the ravines.  
and rejoices with strength: The horse rejoices and goes forth toward the weapons.  
22He scorns fear and is not dismayed; neither does he retreat because of the sword.   כביִשְׂחַ֣ק לְ֖פַחַד וְלֹ֣א יֵחָ֑ת וְלֹ֥א יָ֜שׁ֗וּב מִפְּנֵי־חָֽרֶב:
and is not dismayed: He will not be frightened.  
23The quiver upon him rattles, the blade of the spear and the javelin.   כגעָלָיו תִּרְנֶ֣ה אַשְׁפָּ֑ה לַ֖הַב חֲנִ֣ית וְכִידֽוֹן:
The quiver… rattles: [i.e., the quiver that is] full of arrows, and they knock against each other so that their sound is heard.  
the blade of the spear: An iron utensil (and an iron spear) is called לַהַב, as in (Jud. 3:22), “and the haft also went in after the blade (הלהב).”  
24With tumult and shaking he hollows out the ground, and he does not believe that it is the sound of a shofar.   כדבְּרַ֣עַשׂ וְ֖רֹגֶז יְגַמֶּא־אָ֑רֶץ וְלֹֽא־יַֽ֜אֲמִ֗ין כִּי־ק֥וֹל שׁוֹפָֽר:
he hollows out the ground: Heb. יגמא. He makes holes (גומות) with his feet. Another explanation: יְגַמֶא is like (Gen. 24:17), “Let me please swallow (הגמיאיני).”  
and he does not believe: out of the great joy that he longs for battle.  
that it is the sound of a shofar: of battle.  
25To many shofaroth he says, 'Hurrah!' He smells battle from afar, the thunder of princes and shouting.   כהבְּדֵ֚י שֹׁפָ֨ר | יֹ֘אמַ֚ר הֶאָ֗ח וּ֖מֵרָחוֹק יָרִ֣יחַ מִלְחָמָ֑ה רַ֥עַם שָֹ֜רִים וּתְרוּעָֽה:
To many shofaroth: Heb. בדי, an expression of (Lev. 25:28), “sufficient (די) to get it back,” to many shofaroth.  
he says, ‘Hurrah!’: An expression that (the passersby) (the slaves-Berechiah) say when they are happy, much as they say, ‘Woe!’ out of pain.  
26Is it because of your understanding that the hawk grows a wing, that it spreads out its wings to the south?   כוהֲמִבִּינָ֣תְךָ יַֽאֲבֶר־נֵ֑ץ יִפְרֹ֖שׂ כְּנָפָ֣יו (כתיב כְּנָפָ֣ו) לְתֵימָֽן:
the hawk grows a wing: Heb. יאבר, the hawk grows a wing. That is an angel resembling a hawk, who stays the severity of the south wind by spreading out his wings, lest it destroy the world.  
27Or is it by your order that the eagle flies high, and that he lifts up his nest?   כזאִם־עַל־פִּ֖יךָ יַגְבִּ֣יהַּ נָ֑שֶׁר וְ֜כִ֗י יָרִ֥ים קִנּֽוֹ:
Or is it by your order that the eagle flies high: [This refers to] the Shechinah, as it is said (Deut. 32: 11): “As an eagle first stirs up its nest.” He would remove His court so that they should not injure Aaron when he entered the sanctuary on Yom Kippur.  
28He dwells on the rock and lodges, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold.   כחסֶ֣לַע יִ֖שְׁכֹּן וְיִתְלֹנָ֑ן עַֽל־שֶׁן־סֶ֜֗לַע וּמְצוּדָֽה:
He dwells on the rock and lodges: Aaron was confident when he placed the censer with the incense on the foundation stone [in the Holy of Holies].  
29From there he searches for food; his eyes behold it afar off.   כטמִשָּׁם חָ֣פַר אֹ֑כֶל לְ֜מֵרָח֗וֹק עֵינָ֥יו יַבִּֽיטוּ:
From there he searches for food: He would pray for the needs of the entire year, and after all this honor he saw the death of his two eaglets, Nadab and Abihu, who died so that My name might be sanctified through them, for My fear fell upon those who remained.  
30And his eaglets gulp down blood; and where there are slain, there he is."   לוְאֶפְרֹחָ֥יו (כתיב וְאֶפְרֹחָ֥ו) יְעַלְעוּ־דָ֑ם וּבַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר חֲ֜לָלִ֗ים שָׁ֣ם הֽוּא:
gulp down: Heb. יעלעו. Only according to the measure that one is able to swallow of blood or water, but it appears as if one swallows much, in imitation of the sound “al al.” Similarly, in the language of the Sages, concerning the suspected adulteress [who must] drink [the cursing water] (Sotah 20a), “they make her swallow (מערערין) and drink against her will.” [Here too, the sound “ar ar” is alluded to.] Similarly (Isa. 15:5), “a cry of destruction they shall raise (יעוערו),” the prophet using the onomatopoetic word in imitation of the sound produced by the throat.  
and where there are slain, there he is: to eat. Our Sages explain this entire passage as an allegory applying to Aaron, in the Pesikta to Acharei Moth (Pesikta Rabbathi, ch. 48, Meir Ayin edition, ch. 47).