Job 39:19
Have you given the horse strength? have you clothed his neck with thunder?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Thunderi.e., with terror, such as thunder causes. Some refer it to the moving or shaking of the mane.

Job 39:19-25. Hast thou given the horse strength? — Hebrew, גבורה, geburah, his fortitude, the courage and generous confidence for which the horse is highly commended. The reader will observe, that all the great and sprightly images which thought can form of this noble animal are expressed in this paragraph with such force and vigour of style as (to use the words of an elegant writer) “would have given the great wits of antiquity new laws for the sublime, had they been acquainted with these writings.” It is true, in the third book of Virgil’s Georgics, we find a fine description of a horse, chiefly copied from Homer, of which Dryden has given us the following admirable translation:

The fiery courser, when he hears from far

The sprightly trumpets and the shouts of war,

Pricks up his ears; and, trembling with delight,

Shifts place, and paws, and hopes the promised fight

On his right shoulder his thick mane reclined

Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind.

His horny hoofs are jetty black and round;


His chine is double; starting with a bound

He turns the turf, and shakes the solid ground.

Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow;

He bears his rider headlong on the foe.


But, if the reader will compare with this the present passage, he will find that, “under all the disadvantages of having been written in a language little understood; of being expressed in phrases peculiar to a part of the world whose manner of thinking and speaking seems strange to us; and, above all, of appearing in a prose translation, it is so transcendently above the heathen description, that hereby we may perceive how faint and languid the images are which are formed by mortal authors, when compared with that which is figured, as it were, just as it appears in the eye of the Creator. He will observe in particular, that, whereas the classical poets chiefly endeavour to paint the outward figure, lineaments, and motions, the sacred poet makes all the beauties to flow from an inward principle in the creature he describes, and thereby gives great spirit and vivacity to his description.” Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? — A strong metaphor to denote force and terror. “Homer and Virgil mention nothing about the neck of the horse, but his mane; the sacred author, by the bold figure of thunder, not only expresses the shaking of that remarkable beauty in the horse, and the flakes of hair, which naturally suggest the idea of lightning; but likewise the violent agitation and force of the neck, which, in the oriental tongues, had been flatly expressed by a metaphor less bold than this.” Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? — Which is easily affrighted, and chased away by the least noise of a man. But, as the verb רעשׁ, ragnash, here used, signifies to prance or move briskly, as well as to fear and tremble, many prefer rendering the clause, Hast thou made him to move like a grasshopper? or, rather, like a locust, n as ארבה, arbeh, is generally translated. Thus S. Jarchi and Bochart, An feciti ut moveretur sicut locusta? Is it to be ascribed to thee that the horse hath such particular motions, leaping and prancing as the locusts do? Hence the saying, common among the Arabians, The horse acts the locust. The expression contains a two-fold beauty, as it not only marks the courage of this animal, by asking if he can be affrighted, but likewise raises a noble image of his swiftness, intimating that, if that were possible, he would bound away, with the nimbleness of the locust or grasshopper. The glory of his nostrils is terrible — Hebrew, הוד נחרו אימה, hod nachro eimah, literally, The majesty, or magnificence, of his snorting is terror. Thus Jeremiah 8:16, The snorting of his horses was heard, the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones. “This is more strong and concise than that of Virgil, which yet is the noblest line which was ever written without inspiration:

Collectumque premens, volvit sub naribus ignem.

And in his nostrils rolls collected fire.

He paweth in the valley — Hebrew, he diggeth; through courage and wantonness, he cannot stand still, but is continually beating, and, as it were, digging up the earth with his feet. And rejoiceth — Glories, manifests great pride and complacency; in his strength. He goeth on to meet the armed men — He goes on with great readiness and undaunted courage to meet the weapons that oppose him. He mocketh at fear — At all instruments and objects of terror: he despises what other creatures dread; neither turneth he back from the sword — Or, because of the sword, or, for fear of the sword, as מפני חרב, mippenee chereb, often signifies. The quiver rattleth against him — The quiver is here put for the arrows contained in it, which, being shot against the horse and rider, make a rattling noise. He swalloweth the ground with rage — He is so full of rage and fury that he not only champs his bridle, but is ready to tear and devour the very ground on which he goes. Or rather, his eagerness to start, and his rage for the fight, are such that he, as it were, devoureth the intermediate space, and can scarcely wait for the signal for the battle, because of his impatience. Neither believeth he, &c. — He is so pleased with the approach of the battle, and the sound of the trumpet calling to engage in it, that he can scarcely believe, for gladness, that the trumpet hath sounded. Or, the words may be interpreted, He cannot stand still when the trumpet soundeth: his rider can hardly restrain or keep him still, through his eagerness to run to the fight. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! — An expression of joy and alacrity, declared by his proud neighings. He smelleth the battle afar off — He perceiveth, and has a kind of instinctive sense of the battle at some distance, either of place or time; the thunder of the captains — The loud and joyful clamour begun by the commanders, and continued by the soldiers, when they are ready to join battle, and when, with terrific shouts, they are marching to the attack. All these expressions, “He rejoiceth in his strength — He mocketh at fear — Neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet — He saith among the trumpets, Ha! ha! — are signs of courage, flowing, as was said before, from an inward principle. His docility is elegantly painted in his being unmoved at the rattling quiver, the glittering spear: and the shield. He swalloweth the ground, is an expression of prodigious swiftness, in use among the Arabians, Job’s countrymen, at this day: it is the boldest and noblest of images for swiftness. The Latins have something like it; but it is not easy to find any thing that comes so near it as Pope’s lines in his Windsor Forest:

“Th’ impatient courser pants in every vein,

And, pawing, seems to beat the distant plain;

Hills, vales, and floods, appear already cross’d,

And, ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost.”


See Guardian, No. 86, and Lowth’s Prelectiones 34.39:1-30 God inquires of Job concerning several animals. - In these questions the Lord continued to humble Job. In this chapter several animals are spoken of, whose nature or situation particularly show the power, wisdom, and manifold works of God. The wild ass. It is better to labour and be good for something, than to ramble and be good for nothing. From the untameableness of this and other creatures, we may see, how unfit we are to give law to Providence, who cannot give law even to a wild ass's colt. The unicorn, a strong, stately, proud creature. He is able to serve, but not willing; and God challenges Job to force him to it. It is a great mercy if, where God gives strength for service, he gives a heart; it is what we should pray for, and reason ourselves into, which the brutes cannot do. Those gifts are not always the most valuable that make the finest show. Who would not rather have the voice of the nightingale, than the tail of the peacock; the eye of the eagle and her soaring wing, and the natural affection of the stork, than the beautiful feathers of the ostrich, which can never rise above the earth, and is without natural affection? The description of the war-horse helps to explain the character of presumptuous sinners. Every one turneth to his course, as the horse rushes into the battle. When a man's heart is fully set in him to do evil, and he is carried on in a wicked way, by the violence of his appetites and passions, there is no making him fear the wrath of God, and the fatal consequences of sin. Secure sinners think themselves as safe in their sins as the eagle in her nest on high, in the clefts of the rocks; but I will bring thee down from thence, saith the Lord, #Jer 49:16". All these beautiful references to the works of nature, should teach us a right view of the riches of the wisdom of Him who made and sustains all things. The want of right views concerning the wisdom of God, which is ever present in all things, led Job to think and speak unworthily of Providence.Hast thou given the horse strength? - The incidental allusion to the horse in comparison with the ostrich in the previous verse, seems to have suggested this magnificent description of this noble animal - a description which has never been surpassed or equalled. The horse is an animal so well known, that a particular description of it is here unnecessary. The only thing which is required is an explanation of the phrases used here, and a confirmation of the particular qualities here attributed to the war-horse, for the description here is evidently that of the horse as he appears in war, or as about to plunge into the midst of a battle. The description which comes the nearest to this before us, is that furnished in the well known and exquisite passage of Virgil, Georg. iii.:84ff:

- Turn, si qua sonum procul arma dedere,

Stare loco nescitedmientauribns, et tremitartus,

Collectumq; premens volvit sub naribusignem.

Densa. iuba, et dextrojuctata recumbat in armo.

At duplex agitur, per lumbos spina; cavatque

Tellurem, et solidograviter sonat ungulacornu.

"But at the clash of arms, his ear afar

Drinks the deep sound, and vibrates to the war;

Flames from each nostril roll in gathered stream,

His quivering limbs with restless motion gleam;

O'er his right shoulder, floating full and fair,

Sweeps his thick mane, and spreads his pomp of hair;

Swift works his double spine; and earth around

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19. The allusion to "the horse" (Job 39:18), suggests the description of him. Arab poets delight in praising the horse; yet it is not mentioned in the possessions of Job (Job 1:3; 42:12). It seems to have been at the time chiefly used for war, rather than "domestic purposes."

thunder—poetically for, "he with arched neck inspires fear as thunder does." Translate, "majesty" [Umbreit]. Rather "the trembling, quivering mane," answering to the "vibrating wing" of the ostrich (see on [556]Job 39:13) [Maurer]. "Mane" in Greek also is from a root meaning "fear." English Version is more sublime.

Strength; either strength of body; or rather, courage and generous confidence, for which the horse is highly commended.

With thunder, i.e. with snorting and neighing; in the making of which nereid the neck, in regard of the throat, which is within it, and a part of it, is a principal instrument; which noise may not unfitly be called thunder, because of the great vehemency and rage wherewith it is attended, and the great terror which it causeth, especially in war and battle, of which see Jeremiah 8:16; and compare 1 Samuel 12:17,18, where this very term of thundering is ascribed to a far lower and less terrible noise. Nor is this, as some allege, an improper speech, because this thunder or neighing is rather clothed with the neck, as being within it, than the neck with it; for nothing is more common in Scripture than to say that men are clothed with righteousness, humility, and other graces, which yet are in strictness of speech within the man, and not he within them. But because this word in this form is not elsewhere extant, some render it otherwise, with a mane, with a thick, and full and deep mane, as the phrase of being clothed with it implies; for this is mentioned by all writers of horses as a notable mark of a generous horse; which therefore they conceive would not be omitted here, where so many several properties and excellencies are described. And the verb raam, whence this comes, in the Syriac language signifies not only to thunder, but also to be high or lofty; which fitly agrees to the mane, which is in the highest part of the horse. Hast thou given the horse strength?.... Not only to bear burdens and draw carriages, but for war; for it is the war horse that is here spoken of, as what follows shows, and his strength denotes; not strength of body only, but fortitude and courage; for which, as well as the other, the horse is eminent, and both are the gift of God, and not of men;

hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? or with strength, as the Targum; the horse having particularly great strength in its neck, as well as in other parts; or with strength of voice, as Ben Gersom explains it; and it has been generally understood of the neighing of horses, which comes through and out of their neck, and makes a vehement sound: some render it, "with a mane" (p); and could it be made to appear that the word is so used in any other place, or in any other writings, or in any of the dialects, it would afford a very good sense, since a fine large mane to a horse is a great ornament and recommendation: the Septuagint render it by "fear", and Jarchi interprets it of "terror"; and refers to the sense of, he word in Ezekiel 27:35; and it may signify such a tremor as thunder makes, from whence that has its name; and it may be observed that between the neck and shoulder bone of an horse there is a tremulous and quavering motion; and which is more vehement in battle, not from any fearfulness of it, but rather through eagerness to engage in it; and therefore Schultens translates the words, "hast thou clothed his neck with a cheerful tremor?"

(p) Bochart, Bootius, &c.

Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with {m} thunder?

(m) That is, given him courage? which is meant by neighing and shaking his neck.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19, 20. The verbs are better put in the present.

19.  Dost thou give strength to the horse?

Dost thou clothe his neck with trembling?

20.  Dost thou make him leap like the locust?

The glory of his snorting is terrible.

19. The word “trembling” hardly refers to the mane alone, but rather describes the quivering of the neck, when the animal is roused, which erects the mane.

19–25. The war horse.Verse 19. - Hast thou given the horse strength? (comp. Psalm 147:10). Geburah means, however, more than "strength." It includes courage and all martial excellence. Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Many objections have been taken to this expression; and endeavours have been made to show that the word used (דַעְמָה) does not mean "thunder," but" a tremulous motion," "quivering muscles and a tossing mane," or else "scorn," "indignation." But as רַעַם always means "thunder" (Job 26:14; Job 39:25; Psalm 77:19: 81:8; 145:7; Isaiah 29:6), it seems unlikely that רעמה means anything else. To the objection that the metaphor is "incongruous" (Professor Lee), it would appear to be enough to reply that one of our greatest prose-poets has seen in it peculiar fitness. So true every way" says Carlyle, on the passage: "true eyesight and vision for all things; material things, not less than spiritual; "the horse - Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?" ('Lectures on Heroes,' p. 78). 13 The wing of the ostrich vibrates joyously,

Is she pious, wing and feather?

14 No, she leaveth her eggs in the earth

And broodeth over the dust,

15 Forgetting that a foot may crush them,

And the beast of the field trample them.

16 She treateth her young ones harshly as if they were not hers;

In vain is her labour, without her being distressed.

17 For Eloah hath caused her to forget wisdom,

And gave her no share of understanding.

18 At the time when she lasheth herself aloft,

She derideth the horse and horseman.

As the wild ass and the ox-like oryx cannot be tamed by man, and employed in his service like the domestic ass and ox, so the ostrich, although resembling the stork in its stilt-like structure, the colour of its feathers, and its gregarious life, still has characteristics totally different from those one ought to look for according to this similarity. רננים, a wail, prop. a tremulous shrill sound (vid., Job 39:23), is a name of the female ostrich, whose peculiar cry is called in Arabic zimâr (זמר). נעלס (from עלס, which in comparison with עלץ, עלז, rarely occurs) signifies to make gestures of joy. אם, Job 39:13, is an interrogative an; חסידה, pia, is a play upon the name of the stork, which is so called: pia instar ciconiae (on this figure of speech, comp. Mehren's Rehtorik der Araber, S. 178). כּי, Job 39:14, establishes the negation implied in the question, as e.g., Isaiah 28:28. The idea is not that the hen-ostrich abandons the hatching of her eggs to the earth (עזב ל as Psalm 16:10), and makes them "glow over the dust" (Schlottm.), for the maturing energy compensating for the sitting of the parent bird proceeds from the sun's heat, which ought to have been mentioned; one would also expect a Hiph. instead of the Piel תּחמּם, which can be understood only of hatching by her own warmth. The hen-ostrich also really broods herself, although from time to time she abandons the חמּם to the sun.

(Note: It does, however, as it appears, actually occur, that the female leaves the work of hatching to the sun by day, and to the male at night, and does not sit at all herself; vid., Funke's Naturgeschichte, revised by Taschenberg (1864), S. 243f.)

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