4

The Gemara in Bava Basra 16a explains certain pesukim in Sefer Iyov to be referring to a conversation between Hashem and Iyov in which Hashem rebukes Iyov for denying or complaining about Hashem's directing of and involvement in the world. One of these rebukes is (at the bottom of 16a):

It is further stated there: “Do you know when the wild goats of the rock give birth? Can you mark when the hinds do calve?” (Job 39:1). This goat is cruel to her young and shows them no pity; when she squats to give birth she ascends to the top of a mountain so that the kid should fall down from her and die. And I summon her an eagle that receives it with his wings and places it before her; and if the eagle reached her one moment early or was one moment late, the kid would immediately die. Now, if I do not confuse one moment with another moment, would I confuse Iyov with oyev?

Similarly: “Can you mark when the hinds do calve?” (Job 39:1). The womb of this hind is narrow, which makes for a difficult delivery. When she squats to give birth, I summon her a snake [derakon] that bites her at the opening of the womb, which then becomes loose, and she gives birth, and if the snake reached her one moment early or was one moment late, she would immediately die. Now, if I do not confuse one moment with another moment, would I confuse Iyov with oyev?

Is the Gemara describing the real behavior of animals? And if so, has there ever been a recording of such behavior?

  • Where's my comment? At least I should be notified if you take it down. I said that the whole passage of the Gemmorah is the metaphorical learning of Sefer Iyov full of interpretations and hints, there's nothing physical. – Al Berko Nov 15 '18 at 17:36
  • 1
    Gavriel, don't forget Rabbi Hirsch assertion that many 'scientific known facts' mentioned in the Talmud were simply chazzal repeating what scientists of their times said. They never fact checked the science, they only used it to help people improve their religious life. – user6591 Nov 15 '18 at 18:28
  • @AlBerko FYI when comments disappear, it is because moderators remove them. No one else but you or them can remove comments – mbloch Nov 15 '18 at 18:51
  • @AlBerko Do you have a source that " the whole passage of the Gemmorah is the metaphorical learning etc."? [From certain meforshim I saw it was implied that they understood the Gemorah literally.] – Gavriel Nov 15 '18 at 20:34
  • You can email Rabbi Nathan Slifkin about this, he knows a bit about animals – sam Nov 16 '18 at 16:21
3

Dr. Slifkin writes (The Torah Encyclopedia of The Animal Kingdom p. 234) writes:

Taken at face value, these descriptions do not concur with our knowledge of what actually happens; deer are observed to give birth without any assistance from snakes. Some suggest that the Talmud is recording the zoological beliefs of the era. Others argue that the Talmud is speaking of mystical matters. Another possibility is that the Talmud is using poetic language to describe these animals giving birth. The great medieval commentary Ralbag writes that “if the matter is true, then the explanation of the verse is so; but if not, then the intent of it, according to what I think, is that this animal gives birth with great difficulty, and accordingly the newborn is in great peril, were it not for God’s providence to cause the young to be produced in such a way that they do not die at birth.”

  • Does he write where the Ralbag's comment is? – Gavriel Nov 17 '18 at 18:48
  • “Commentary to Job 39:1” – Oliver Nov 17 '18 at 23:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .