Job 39:23
The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
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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.The quiver rattleth against him - The quiver was a case made for containing arrows. It was usually slung over the shoulder, so that it could be easily reached to draw out an arrow. Warriors on horseback, as well as on foot, fought with bows and arrows, as well as with swords and spears; and the idea here is, that the war-horse bore upon himself these instruments of war. The rattling of the quiver was caused by the fact that the arrows were thrown somewhat loosely into the case or the quiver, and that in the rapid motion of the warrior they were shaken against each other. Thus, Virgil, Aeneid ix. 660:

- pharetramque fuga sensere sonantem.

Silius, L. 12:

Plena tenet et resonante pharetra.

And again:

Turba ruunt stridentque sagittiferi coryti.

So Homer ("Iliad, a."), when speaking of Apollo:

Τόξ ὤμοισιν ἔχων, ἀμφηρεφέα τε φαρέτρην

Ἔκλαγξαν δ ̓ ἄῤ ὀΐστοὶ ἐπ ̓ ὤμων χωομένοιο.

Tox́ ōmoisin echōn, amfērefea te faretrēn

Eklangxan d' aŕ oistoi ep' ōmōn chōmenoio.

See Seheutzer's "Phys. Sac., in loc."

23. quiver—for the arrows, which they contain, and which are directed "against him."

glittering spear—literally, "glittering of the spear," like "lightning of the spear" (Hab 3:11).

shield—rather, "lance."

The quiver; or although the quiver &c. So this comes in as an aggravation of his courage, notwithstanding the just causes of fear which are mentioned in this verse. And the quiver is here put for the arrows contained in it, by a metonymy, very usual in this very case, and in all sorts of authors, which being shot against the horse and rider, make this rattling noise here mentioned.

The glittering spear and the shield; or rather, the lance or javelin. For that this was not a defensive, but an offensive weapon, seems plain, both from this place, where it is mentioned among such, and as an object of fear, which the shield is not, and from Joshua 8:18 1 Samuel 17:45, where it is so used.

The quiver rattleth against him,.... The quiver is what arrows are put into and carried in, and seems here to be put for arrows, which being shot by the enemy come whizzing about him, but do not intimidate him; unless this is to be understood of arrows rattling in the quiver when carried by the rider "upon him", so some render the last word; and thus Homer (w) and Virgil (x) speak of the rattling quiver and sounding arrows in it, as carried on the back or shoulder; but the first sense seems best, in which another poet uses it (y);

the glittering spear and the shield; the lance or javelin, as Mr. Broughton renders it, and others; that is, he does not turn back from these, nor is he frightened at them when they are pointed to him or flung at him; so Aelianus (z) speaks of the Persians training their horses and getting them used to noises, that in battle they might not be frightened at the clashing of arms, of swords and shields against each other; in like manner as our war horses are trained, not to start at the firing of a gun, or the explosion of a cannon.

(w) Iliad. 1. v. 4. (x) "Pharetramqne sonantem". Aeneid. 9. v. 666. (y) "----audito sonitu per inane pharetrae". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 6. v. 230. (z) De Animal. l. 16. c. 25.

The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
23. rattleth against him] Rather perhaps, upon him. The quiver is that of his rider, the clang of which excites him.

the shield] Rather, the javelin, or, lance. The Poet does not seek to describe the actual conflict; it is a picture of the horse that he gives, and the moment before the conflict is that at which the animal’s extraordinary attributes are most strongly exhibited. “Although docile as a lamb, and requiring no other guide than the halter, when the Arab mare hears the war-cry of the tribe (cf. Job 39:25), and sees the quivering spear of her rider (cf. Job 39:23), her eyes glitter with fire, her blood-red nostrils open wide, her neck is nobly arched, and her tail and mane are raised and spread out to the wind (cf. Job 39:19). A Bedouin proverb says, that a high-bred mare when at full speed should hide her rider between her neck and her tail” (Layard, Discoveries, p. 330).

Verse 23. - The quiver rattleth against him. In the Aasyrian sculptures the quiver of mounted archers is often hung at the side, instead of at the back. In this position it would rattle against the neck of the war-horse (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2 p. 25). The glittering spear and the shield would occasionally strike against his neck or his shoulders. Job 39:23The motion of the horse, which is intended by תרעישׁנּוּ (רעשׁ, Arab. r‛s, r‛š, tremere, trepidare), is determined according to the comparison with the grasshopper: what is intended is a curved motion forwards in leaps, now to the right, now to the left, which is called the caracol, a word used in horsemanship, borrowed from the Arab. hargala-l-farasu (comp. חרגּל), by means of the Moorish Spanish; moreover, Arab. r‛s is used of the run of the ostrich and the flight of the dove in such "successive lateral and oblique motions" (Carey). nachar, Job 39:20, is not the neighing of the horse, but its snorting through the nostrils (comp. Arab. nachı̂r, snoring, a rattling in the throat), Greek φρύαγμα, Lat. fremitus (comp. Aeschylus, Septem c. Th. 374, according to the text of Hermann: ἵππος χαλινῶν δ ̓ ὡς κατασθμαίνων βρέμει); הוד, however, might signify pomp (his pompous snorting), but perhaps has its radical signification, according to which it corresponds to the Arab. hawı̂d, and signifies a loud strong sound, as the peal of thunder (hawı̂d er-ra‛d),' the howling of the stormy wind (hawı̂d er-rijâh), and the like.

(Note: A verse of a poem of Ibn-Dchi in honour of Dkn ibn-Gendel runs: Before the crowding (lekdata) of Taijr the horses fled repulsed, And thou mightest hear the sound of the bell-carriers (hawı̂da mubershemât) of the warriors (el-menâir, prop. one who thrusts with the lance). Here hawı̂d signifies the sound of the bells which those who wish to announce themselves as warriors hang about their horses, to draw the attention of the enemy to them. Mubershemât are the mares that carry the burêshimân, i.e., the bells. The meaning therefore is: thou couldst hear this sound, which ought only to be heard in the fray, in flight, when the warriors consecrated to death fled as cowards. Taijr (Têjâr) is Slih the son of Cana'an (died about 1815), mentioned in p. 456, note 1, a great warrior of the wandering tribe of the 'Aneze. - Wetzst.)

The substantival clause is intended to affirm that its dull-toned snort causes or spreads terror. In Job 39:21 the plur. alternates with the sing., since, as it appears, the representation of the many pawing hoofs is blended with that of the pawing horse, according to the well-known line,

Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum

(Virgil, Aen. viii. 596);

or, since this is said of the galloping horse, according to the likewise Virgilian line,


Tellurem, et solido graviter sonat ungula cornu

(Georg. iii. 87 f).

חפר is, as the Arab. hâfir, hoof, shows, the proper word for the horse's impatient pawing of the ground (whence it then, as in Job 39:29, signifies rimari, scrutari). עמק is the plain as the place of contest; for the description, as now becomes still more evident, refers to the war-horse. The verb שׂישׂ (שׂוּשׂ) has its radical signification exsultare (comp. Arab. s]ts, skirta'n, of the foetus) here; and since בּכח, not בּכּח, is added to it, it is not to be translated: it rejoices in its strength, but: it prances or is joyous with strength, lxx γαυριᾷ ἐν Ἰσχύΐ. The difference between the two renderings is, however, scarcely perceptible. נשׁק, armament, Job 39:21, is meton. the armed host of the enemy; אשׁפּה, "the quiver," is, however, not used metonymically for the arrows of the enemy whizzing about the horse (Schult.), but Job 39:23 is the concluding description of the horse that rushes on fearlessly, proudly, and impetuously in pursuit, under the rattle and glare of the equipment of its rider (Schlottm. and others). רנה (cogn. of רנן), of the rattling of the quiver, as Arab. ranna, ranima, of the whirring of the bow when the arrow is despatched; to point it תּרנּה (Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:3), instead of תּרנה, would be to deprive the language of a word supported by the dialects (vid., Ges. Thes.). On Job 39:24 we may compare the Arab. iltahama-l-farasu-l-arda, the horse swallows up the ground, whence lahimm, lahı̂m, a swallower equals swift-runner; so here: with boisterous fierceness and angry impatience (בּרעשׁ ורגז) it swallows up the ground, i.e., passes so swiftly over it that long pieces vanish so rapidly before it, as though it greedily sucked them up (גּמּא intensive of גּמא, whence גּמא, the water-sucking papyrus); a somewhat differently applied figure is nahab-el-arda, i.e., according to Silius' expression, rapuit campum. The meaning of Job 39:24 is, as in Virgil, Georg. iii.:83f.:

Tum si qua sonum procul arma dedere,

Stare loco nescit;

and in Aeschylus, Septem, 375: ὅστις βοὴν σάλπιγγος ὁρμαίνει (Hermann, ὀργαίνεἰ μένων (impatiently awaiting the call of the trumpet). האמין signifies here to show stability (vid., Genesis, S. 367f.) in the first physical sense (Bochart, Rosenm., and others): it does not stand still, i.e., will not be held, when (כּי, quum) the sound of the war-trumpet, i.e., when it sounds. שׁופר is the signal-trumpet when the army was called together, e.g., Judges 3:27; to gather the army that is in pursuit of the enemy, 2 Samuel 2:28; when the people rebelled, 2 Samuel 20:1; when the army was dismissed at the end of the war, 2 Samuel 20:22; when forming for defence and for assault, e.g., Amos 3:6; and in general the signal of war, Jeremiah 4:19. As often as this is heard (בּדי, in sufficiency, i.e., happening at any time equals quotiescunque), it makes known its lust of war by a joyous neigh, even from afar, before the collision has taken place; it scents (praesagit according to Pliny's expression) the approaching conflict, (scents even in anticipation) the thundering command of the chiefs that may soon be heard, and the cry of battle giving loose to the assault. "Although," says Layard (New Discoveries, p. 330), "docile as a lamb, and requiring no other guide than the halter, when the Arab mare hears the war-cry of the tribe, and sees the quivering spear of her rider, her eyes glitter with fire, her blood-red nostrils open wide, her neck is nobly arched, and her tail and mane are raised and spread out to the wind. The Bedouin proverb says, that a high-bred mare when at full speed should hide her rider between her neck and her tail."

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