always referred to in the Bible in connection with warlike operations, except Isa 28:28. The war-horse is described Job 39:19-25. For a long period after their settlement in Canaan the Israelites made no use of horses, according to the prohibition, De 17:16. David was the first to form a force of cavalry (2Sa 8:4). But Solomon, from his connection with Egypt, greatly multiplied their number (1Ki 4:26; 10:26,29). After this, horses were freely used in Israel (1Ki 22:4; 2Ki 3:7; 9:21,33; 11:16). The furniture of the horse consisted simply of a bridle (Isa 30:28) and a curb (Ps 32:9).
In Scripture used for war-like purposes, not agriculture (except in treading out grain for threshing, Isa 28:28, where for "horsemen" translated "horses".) Job's magnificent description refers to the war horse (Isa 39:8), "hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?" i.e. with the power of inspiring terror. Rather "with majesty" (Umbreit), "with quivering mane" (Maurer). The Greek connection between mane (fobee) and terror (fobos) favors A.V. which is more poetic. "Canst thou make him afraid (rather 'make him spring') as a grasshopper?" So in Joe 2:4 war horses are compared to locusts. Their heads are so like that the Italian for "locust" is cavaletta, "little horse." "The glory of his nostrils is terrible: he paweth in the valley and rejoiceth in strength, he goeth on," etc.; "he swalloweth the ground with fierceness," i.e. draws it in fierce impatience toward him with his hoof, as if he would "swallow" it.
Neither believeth he (for joy) that it is the sound of the trumpet, rather "he will not stand still at the sound." "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha!" his mettlesome neighing expressing his eagerness for battle, which "he smelleth," snuffeth, i.e. discerneth, "the thunder (i.e. thundering voice) of the captains." (See CHARIOT.) The donkey is the emblem of peace. The bride is compared to "a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots" (Song 1:9), namely, in ardor and beauty (Song 1:4, "run"; Song 1:5, "comely"), and in forming "a company" militant, orderly, and numerous (Re 19:7,14). The qualities which seemed preeminent in the enemy Pharaoh's hosts at the Red Sea really belonged to Israel. Maurer translated "I compare thee to my mare in chariots of (i.e. received from) Pharaoh," but the plural "chariots" requires the collective sense "a company of horses."
The "cutting off of the horse from Jerusalem" prophetically symbolizes the cessation of war (Zec 9:10). Not the horse's speed or utility but his "strength" is his characteristic in Scripture (Ps 33:17). Two names are used in Hebrew, both Persian in origin: sus from Susa, and parash from Pares. The sus was of stronger make, used for the war chariot; the parash more for riding. Perhaps in Ex 14:9 "horsemen" mean "chariot riders." Certainly no Egyptian monument represents horsemen. Translated in 1Ki 4:26, "forty (rather 'four,' a copyist's error, as 2Ch 9:25 proves. Also 1400 chariots suit 4000 horses, two horses for each chariot and a reserve horse: 2Ch 1:14; 1Ki 10:26) thousand chariot horses and twelve thousand riding (i.e. cavalry) horses"; Eze 27:14, "with (chariot) horses and riding horses" (KJV "horsemen".)
Isa 21:7, "a chariot with a couple of horsemen"; rather "a cavalcade of horsemen riding in pairs." In 1Ki 4:28; Es 8:14; Mic 1:13, rekesh "dromedary"; rather "a courser," a "racehorse," for such purposes as the royal post. In 1Ki 10:28-29, the sense seems that the Egyptians regularly brought horses to a mart in S. Palestine (Septuagint and Vulgate name the mart in their translation), of the Hebrew Koa. In A. V. Mi-Kveh is translated "linen yarn") and handed them to the king's dealers at a fixed price, 150 shekels for one horse, 600 for a chariot, including its two draught horses and one reserve horse. In Ge 12:15 horses are not mentioned among the possessions which Abram acquired during his sojourn in Egypt. But in Ge 47:17 they stand foremost among the Egyptians' possessions. In later times, the greater contact of Egypt with Canaanite and Arab nomads' accounts for the introduction of horses.
The camel, one of Abram's possessions in Egypt, is not mentioned in Joseph's time nor on the Egyptian monuments. Their early possession of the desert of Sinai makes it certain they knew and must have used the camel there, "the ship of the desert," but they avoid mentioning it as being unclean. Saddles were not used until a late period. Horses' hoofs hard "as flint" were a good point in days when shoeing was unknown (Isa 5:28). White horses were emblematic of victory (Re 6:2; 19:11,14). Horses were consecrated to the sun, since that luminary was supposed to drive a fiery chariot through the sky (2Ki 23:11). They were driven in procession to meet the rising sun.
The Israelites must have been acquainted with horses in Egypt (Ge 47:17), and it is evident, too, from the Tell el-Amarna correspondence that horses were familiar animals in Palestine at an early period; but it would appear that the children of Israel were slow in adopting them. Throughout the OT up to the Exile they appear only as war-horses; the ass, the mule, and the camel were the beasts for riding and burden-bearing. Even for warlike purposes horses were only slowly adopted, the mountainous regions held by the Israelites being unsuitable for chariot warfare. David commenced acquiring chariots (2Sa 8:4), and Solomon greatly added to their numbers, obtaining horses for them from Musri [not Mizraim, 'Egypt'] in N. Syria and Kue, in Cilicia (1Ki 10:28; 2Ch 1:16 [amending the text]). Horses were obtained also from Egypt (31/1'>Isa 31:1,3; Eze 17:15). Some of the references may be to hired horsemen. The kings of Israel were warned against multiplying horses (De 17:16). Trust in horses is put in antithesis to trust in the Lord (Isa 30:16; Ps 20:7; 33:17). Before the reforms of Josiah, horses sacred to the sun were kept in the Temple (2Ki 23:11; cf. 2Ki 11:16). The appearance of the war-horse seems to have made a deep impression (Job 39:19-25; Jer 47:3; Na 3:2 etc.). After the Exile horses were much more common: the returning Jews brought 736 horses with them (Ne 7:68). Horses were fed on barley and tibn (chopped straw) in Solomon's time as in Palestine to-day (1Ki 4:28). Although the breeding of horses has become so intimately associated with our ideas of the Arabs, it would seem that during the whole OT period horses were unknown, or at least scarce, in Arabia. The equipment of horses is mentioned in the Bible
The horse was used among the Israelites only for war, either in chariots or for what is now called cavalry; but its use betokened failure in confidence on the Lord: see Ho 14:3. They had been forbidden to multiply horses, De 17:16; and at first they hamstrung the horses, and burnt the chariots of the Canaanites. Jos 11:6,9. David, however, after the defeat of Hadadezer, reserved 100 horses for chariots. 2Sa 8:4. (See a description of the war-horse in Job 39:19-25.) Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen. 1Ki 4:26.
Symbolically the horse represents careering imperial power, in general providentially controlled. In the early part of Zechariah the prophet had visions of horses of different colours, they are called spirits of the heavens, and as such they acted in the four great Gentile empires described by Daniel. When these are further spoken of, the red horses are not named, for the Chaldean empire had passed away when Zechariah saw the vision. Zec 1:8; 6:1-7.
In the Revelation also there are horses and riders thereon, representing the powers engaged in the providential course of God's dealings. Re 6:1-8; cf. 9/7'>Re 9:7,9,17. In Rev. 19 the Lord Jesus, the Faithful and True, comes forth on a white horse, to make war in righteousness. Re 19:11-21. See REVELATION.
The most striking feature in the biblical notices of the horse is the exclusive application of it to warlike operations; in no instance is that useful animal employed for the purposes of ordinary locomotion or agriculture, if we except
The animated description of the horse in
applies solely to the war-horse. The Hebrews in the patriarchal age, as a pastoral race, did not stand in need of the services Of the horse, and for a long period after their settlement in Canaan they dispensed with it, partly in consequence of the hilly nature of the country, which only admitted of the use of chariots in certain localities,
and partly in consequence to the prohibition in
which would be held to apply at all periods. David first established a force of cavalry and chariots,
but the great supply of horses was subsequently effected by Solomon through his connection with Egypt.
Solomon also established a very active trade in horses, which were brought by dealers out of Egypt and resold, at a profit, to the Hittites. With regard to the trappings and management of the horse we have little information. The bridle was placed over the horse's nose,
and a bit or curb is also mentioned.
In the Authorized Version it is incorrectly given "bridle," with the exception of
... Saddles were not used until a late period. The horses were not shod, and therefore hoofs are hard "as flint,"
were regarded as a great merit. The chariot-horses were covered with embroidered trappings
Horses and chariots were used also in idolatrous processions, as noticed in regard to the sun.
HORSE, ???. Horses were very rare among the Hebrews in the early ages. The patriarchs had none; and after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, God expressly forbade their ruler to procure them: "He shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way," De 17:16. As horses appear to have been generally furnished by Egypt, God prohibits these,
1. Lest there should be such commerce with Egypt as might lead to idolatry.
2. Lest the people might depend on a well appointed cavalry, as a means of security, and so cease from trusting in the promised aid and protection of Jehovah.
3. That they might not be tempted to extend their dominion by means of cavalry, and so get scattered among the surrounding idolatrous nations, and thus cease in process of time, to be that distinct and separate people which God intended they should be, and without which the prophecies relative to the Messiah could not be known to have their due and full accomplishment. In the time of the Judges we find horses and war chariots among the Canaanites, but still the Israelites had none; and hence they were generally too timid to venture down into the plains, confining their conquests to the mountainous parts of the country. In the reign of Saul, it would appear, that horse breeding had not yet been introduced into Arabia; for, in a war with some of the Arabian nations, the Israelites got plunder in camels, sheep, and asses, but no horses. David's enemies brought against him a strong force of cavalry into the field; and in the book of Psalms the horse commonly appears only on the side of the enemies of the people of God; and so entirely unaccustomed to the management of this animal had the Israelites still continued, that, after a battle, in which they took a considerable body of cavalry prisoners, 2Sa 8:4, David caused most of the horses to be cut down, because he did not know what use to make of them. Solomon was the first who established a cavalry force. Under these circumstances, it is not wonderful that the Mosaic law should take no notice of an animal which we hold in such high estimation. To Moses, educated as he was in Egypt, and, with his people, at last chased out by Pharaoh's cavalry, the use of the horse for war and for travelling was well known; but as it was his object to establish a nation of husbandmen, and not of soldiers for the conquest of foreign lands, and as Palestine, from its situation, required not the defence of cavalry, he might very well decline introducing among his people the yet unusual art of horse breeding. Solomon, having married a daughter of Pharaoh, procured a breed of horses from Egypt; and so greatly did he multiply them, that he had four hundred stables, forty thousand stalls, and twelve thousand horsemen, 1Ki 4:26; 2Ch 9:25. It seems that the Egyptian horses were in high repute, and were much used in war. When the Israelites were disposed to place too implicit confidence in the assistance of cavalry, the prophet remonstrated in these terms: "The Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses are flesh, not spirit," Isa 31:3.