Job 39:24
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
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(24) Neither believeth hei.e., he disregardeth the summons of the trumpet, as though he did not believe that it gave the call to war.

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.He swalloweth the ground - He seems as if he would absorb the earth. That is, he strikes his feet into it with such fierceness, and raises up the dust in his prancing, as if he would devour it. This figure is unusual with us, but it is common in the Arabic. See Schultens, "in loc.," and Bochart, "Hieroz," P. i. L. ii. c. viii. pp. 143-145. So Statius:

Stare loco nescit, pereunt vestigia mille

Ante fugam, absentemque ferit gravis ungula campum.

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.


Neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet - This translation by no means conveys the meaning of the original. The true sense is probably expressed by Umbreit. "He standeth not still when the trumpet soundeth; "that is, he becomes impatient; he no longer confides in the voice of the rider and remains submissive, but he becomes excited by the martial clangor, and rushes into the midst of the battle. The Hebrew word which is employed (יאמין ya'âmiyn) means properly "to prop, stay, support"; then "to believe, to be firm, stable"; and is that which is commonly used to denote an act of "faith," or as meaning "believing." But the original sense of the word is here to be retained, and then it refers to the fact that the impatient horse no longer stands still when the trumpet begins to sound for battle.

24. swalloweth—Fretting with impatience, he draws the ground towards him with his hoof, as if he would swallow it. The parallelism shows this to be the sense; not as Maurer, "scours over it."

neither believeth—for joy. Rather, "he will not stand still, when the note of the trumpet (soundeth)."

The sense is either,

1. He is so earnest and eager upon the battle, that he rusheth into it with all speed; and runs over the ground so swiftly, that he might seem to have swallowed it tap. Or,

2. He is so full of war-like rage and fury, that he not only champs his bridle, but is ready to tear and devour the very ground on which he goes. And the phrase here used is not unusual, both in Arabic and in other authors; of which see my Latin Synopsis on this place.

He is so pleased with the approach of the battle, and the sound of the trumpet calling to it, that he could scarce believe his cars for gladness: compare Genesis 45:26 Luke 24:41. Or thus, he cannot stand still, or firm, (as this verb and Hie derivative from it is used, not only in the Chaldee and Syriac dialect, but also in the Hebrew, as Deu 28:59 1 Samuel 2:35) when the trumpet soundeth; his rider can hardly keep him still, but he strives and longs to run to the fight.

He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage,.... Being so eager for the battle, and so full of fierceness and rage, he bounds the plain with such swiftness that he seems rather to swallow up the ground than to run upon it;

neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet; for joy at hearing it; or he will not trust to his ears, but will see with his eyes whether the battle is ready, and therefore pushes forward. Mr. Broughton and others read it, "he will not stand still at the noise of the trumpet"; and the word signifies firm and stable, as well as to believe; when he hears the trumpet sound, the alarm of war, as a preparation for the battle, he knows not how to (a) stand; there is scarce any holding him in, but he rushes into the battle at once, Jeremiah 8:6.

(a) "Stare loco nescit". Virgil. Georgic. l. 3. v. 84. "Ut fremit acer equus", &c. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 3. Fab. 10. v. 704.

He {o} swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

(o) He so rides the ground that it seems nothing under him.

24. neither believeth he] That is, most probably, he hardly trusts his ears for gladness.

Verse 24. - He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and. rage. This is a common metaphor to denote the rapidity with which the horse covers the space that lies before him. Virgil has, "Corripiuut spatia" ('AEnid,' 5:316); Silius ltalions, "Campum volatu rapucre" (3:308); Shakespeare, "He seemed in running to devour the way." Arab poets have similar expressions (see Bochart, ' Hieroz.,' pt. 1. bk. 2. o. 8). Neither beiieveth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. (So Schultens, Canon Cook, and our Revisers.) But most recent critics prefer to render, "He standeth not still when the trumpet soundeth," and compare Virgil's "Stare loco nescit" ('Georg.,' 3:84). Job 39:24The 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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