“Who Sent out the Wild Donkey Free?”

April 7, 2018

In the concluding chapters of the book of Job, God asks a series of rhetorical questions to help Job see the incomprehensible greatness of God. Many of these questions have to do with God’s creative power.

5 “Who sent out the wild donkey free? And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, 6 To whom I gave the wilderness for a home And the salt land for his dwelling place? 7 “He scorns the tumult of the city, The shoutings of the driver he does not hear. 8 “He explores the mountains for his pasture And searches after every green thing. (Job 39:5-8, NASB).

Note the translation of the NKJV: “Who set the wild donkey free? Who loosed the bonds of the onager” (Job 39:5).

The onager, the wild donkey referenced in Job 39:5. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

I had the opportunity this past week in Israel to visit the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, situated in the Southern Arabah, and photograph animals that are native to the Bible lands. This photo helps us visualize the animal (the onager) God was mentioning to Job in our above text.

The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible has the following info in its entry on “animals”:

The onager or Syrian wild ass (Equus hemionus hemihippus) is an intermediate between the true horse and the true ass. Its ears are longer than those of a horse but shorter than those of an ass. The front hooves are narrow; there are chestnuts (callouslike spots on the inside of the knees) on the front legs only, and the tail is short-haired for a long distance from its root so that it appears to be tufted.

The Sumerians (ancient Mesopotamians) were able to domesticate the onager, which was eventually replaced by the horse. It was used to draw chariots in Ur; a number of onagers were buried with their vehicles in a royal grave that dates from about 2500 BC. Later the wild onager was a favorite hunter’s prize for Babylonian and Assyrian kings.

The onager was very common in the steppe lands near Israel where it was described as a freedom-loving desert animal (Jb 24:5; 39:5–8; Ps 104:11; Is 32:14; Jer 2:24; Hos 8:9). Ishmael was described as “a wild ass of a man” (Gn 16:12), one who could not adjust to domestic life. Nebuchadnezzar lived among the wild asses when he was mentally ill (Dn 5:21). Drought seems to have been responsible for the population decline of the onager in biblical times (Jer 14:6). The modern onager (Equus hemionus onager) is slightly larger than the Syrian wild ass which is extinct. (Vol. 1, p. 94).

As Job learned more of the greatness of the awesome God he faithfully served, his faith and trust grew in the most difficult of circumstances.

Click on image for larger view.


Fauna, etc., in Israel

November 6, 2016

Today we made a trip to Masada, the site of the Jewish zealots last stand (AD 73) after the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Tristram’s Starling, also called Tristram’s Grackle, were in abundance.

Tristram's Starling at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Tristram’s Starling at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This species is named after Henry Baker Tristram.

The males have glossy iridescent black plumage with orange patches on the outer wing, which are particularly noticeable in flight. The bill and legs are black. Females and young birds are similar but duller and with a greyish head, lacking the plumage gloss.
It is gregarious and noisy, with a call that resembles a wolf whistle. They are omnivorous, feeding on fruit and invertebrates, and can also be observed grooming Nubian ibex and domestic livestock for parasites. (Wikipedia)

We also saw En Gedi, the site where David hid from King Saul, who was pursuing David with the intention of killing him (1 Sam. 23:29ff.). Here we photographed an ibex, the biblical “wild goat”of Psa. 104:18: “The high hills are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.”

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Tour member Mike Eison shared this photo he took this past Friday at Nazareth, at the Nazareth Village. The shepherd, his sheep in the fold behind.

Shepherd at Nazareth Village. Photo by Mike Eison.

Shepherd at Nazareth Village. Photo by Mike Eison.

Thanks for following our travels. Tomorrow is a walking tour in Jerusalem.