Ecclesiastes 10:7
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Considering that the importation of horses was a new thing in the reign of Solomon, we look on it as a mark of later age that a noble should think himself dishonoured by having to go on foot while his inferiors rode on horseback.

10:4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a passion, quit thy post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred according to their merit. And those are often most forward to offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the consequences. The same remark is applied to the church, or the body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care one for another.The "evil" of Ecclesiastes 10:5 is here specified as that caprice of a king by which an unworthy favorite of low origin is promoted to successive dignities, while a noble person is degraded or neglected. 7. servants upon horses—the worthless exalted to dignity (Jer 17:25); and vice versa (2Sa 15:30). Servants; men of a servile condition and disposition, who are altogether unfit for places of dignity.

Upon horses; riding upon horses, as a badge of their dignity, as Esther 6:8,9 Jer 17:25 Ezekiel 23:23.

Princes walking as servants upon the earth, which was the case of his own father, 2 Samuel 15:30.

I have seen servants upon horses,.... Which being scarce in Judea, were only rode upon by princes and great personages, or such as were in affluent circumstances; and therefore it was an unusual and disagreeable sight to see servants upon them, which was a token of their being advanced upon the ruin and destruction of their masters; a reigning servant is not only uncomely, but one of the things by which the earth is disquieted, and it cannot bear, Proverbs 30:21; the Parthians and Persians distinguished their nobles and the vulgar, freemen and servants, by this; the servants went on foot, and the freemen rode on horses (r);

and princes walking as servants upon the earth; degraded from their honour; banished from their thrones and palaces, or obliged to leave them, and reduced to the lowest state and condition: so David, when his son rebelled against him, and he was forced to flee from him, and walk on foot, 2 Samuel 15:30; Alshech thinks it may be a prophecy of the captivity of Israel, when they walked as servants on the earth, and the Gentiles rode on horses.

(r) Justin. e Trogo, l. 41. c. 3. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 19.

I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. I have seen servants upon horses] The general fact of the previous verse is reproduced with more dramatic vividness. To ride upon horses was with the Parthians a special distinction of the nobly born (Justin xli. 3). So Mordecai rides on horseback through the city as one whom the king delighted to honour (Esther 5:8-9). So the Hippeis in the polity of Solon, and the Equites in that of Servius Tullius, took their place as representing the element of aristocratic wealth. So Aristotle notes that the keeping a horse (ἱπποτροφία) was the special distinction of the rich, and therefore that all cities which aimed at military strength were essentially aristocratic (Pol. iv. 23, vi. 7). So in the earlier days of European intercourse with Turkey, Europeans generally were only allowed to ride on asses or mules, a special exception being made for the consuls of the great powers (Maundrell, Journey from Aleppo, p. 492, Bohn’s Edition). Our own proverb “Set a beggar on horseback, and he will ride to the devil” is a survival of the same feeling. The reign of Ptolemy Philopator and Epiphanes may have presented many illustrations of what the writer notes.

Verse 7. - I have seen servants upon horses. A further description of the effect of the tyrant's perversion of equity. Such an allusion could not have been made in Solomon's reign, when the importation of horses was quite a new thing (1 Kings 10:28). Later, to ride upon horses was a distinction of the nobility (Jeremiah 17:25). Thus Amaziah's corpse was brought on horses to be buried in the city of David (2 Chronicles 25:28): Mordecai was honored by being taken round the city on the king's own steed (Esther 6:8, etc.). Princes walking as servants upon the earth. "Princes" (sarim); i.e. masters, lords. Some take the expressions here as figurative, equivalent to "those who are worthy to be princes," and "those who are fit only to be slaves;" but the literal is the true interpretation. Commentators quote what Justin (41:3) says of the Parthians, "Hoc denique discrimen inter serves liberos-que, quod servi pedibus, Liberi non nisi equis iuccdunt." Ginsburg notes that early travelers in the East record the fact that Europeans were not allowed by the Turks to ride upon horses, but were compelled either to use asses or walk on foot. In some places the privilege of riding upon horseback was permitted to the consuls of the great powers - an honor denied to all strangers of lower degree. Among the Greeks and Romans the possession of a horse with its war-trappings implied a certain amount of wealth and distinction. St. Gregory, treating of this passage ('Moral.,' 31:43), says, "By the name horse is understood temporal dignity, as Solomon witnesses .... For every one who sins is the servant of sin, and servants are upon horses, when sinner's are elated with the dignities of the present life. But princes walk as servants, when no honor exalts many who are full of the dignity of virtues, but when the greatest misfortune here presses them down, as though unworthy." Ecclesiastes 10:7"Folly is set on great heights, and the rich must sit in lowliness. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes like servants walking on foot." The word הסּכל (with double seghol, Aram. סכלוּ) is used here instead of those in whom it is personified. Elsewhere a multiplicity of things great, such as עמּים, מים, and the like, is heightened by רבּים (cf. e.g., Psalm 18:17); here "great heights" are such as are of a high, or the highest degree; rabbim, instead of harabbim, is more appos. than adject. (cf. Genesis 43:14; Psalm 68:28; Psalm 143:10; Jeremiah 2:21), in the sense of "many" (e.g., Ginsburg: "in many high positions") it mixes with the poetry of the description dull prose.

(Note: Luzz. reads נתן: "Folly brings many into high places." The order of the words, however, does not favour this.)

Ashirim also is peculiarly used: divites equals nobiles (cf. שׁוע, Isaiah 32:5), those to whom their family inheritance gives a claim to a high station, who possess the means of training themselves for high offices, which they regard as places of honour, not as sources of gain. Regibus multis, Grotius here remarks, quoting from Sallust and Tacitus, suspecti qui excellunt sive sapientia sive nobilitate aut opibus. Hence it appears that the relation of slaves and princes to each other is suggested; hoc discrimen, says Justin, 41:3, of the Parthians, inter servos liberosque est quod servi pedibus, liberi nonnisi equis incedunt; this distinction is set aside, princes must walk 'al-haarěts, i.e., beregel (beraglēhěm), and in their stead (Jeremiah 17:25) slaves sit high on horseback, and rule over them (the princes), - an offensive spectacle, Proverbs 19:10. The eunuch Bagoas, long all-powerful at the Persian Court, is an example of the evil consequences of this reversal of the natural relations of men.

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