Job 39:25
He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
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(25) He saith among the trumpets—Literally, when there are plenty of trumpets: 1 e., as often as the trumpet soundeth.

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 saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha - That is," When the trumpet sounds, his voice is heard "as if" he said, Aha - or said that he heard the sound calling him to the battle." The reference is to the impatient neighing of the war horse about to rush into the conflict.

And he smelleth the battle afar off - That is, he snuffs, as it were, for the slaughter. The reference is to the effect of an approaching army upon a spirited war-horse, as if he perceived the approach by the sense of smelling, and longed to be in the midst of the battle.

The thunder of the captains - literally, "the war-cry of the princes." The reference is to the loud voices of the leaders of the army commanding the hosts under them. In regard to the whole of this magnificent description of the war-horse, the reader may consult Bochart, "Hieroz." P. i. L. ii. c. viii., where the phrases used are considered and illustrated at length. The leading idea. here is, that the war-horse evinced the wisdom and the power of God. His majesty, energy, strength, impatience for the battle, and spirit, were proofs of the greatness of Him who had made him, and might be appealed to as illustrating His perfections. Much as people admire the noble horse, and much as they take pains to train him for the turf or for battle, yet how seldom do they refer to it as illustrating the power and greatness of the Creator; and, it may be added, how seldom do they use the horse as if he were one of the grand and noble works of God!

25. saith—poetically applied to his mettlesome neighing, whereby he shows his love of the battle.

smelleth—snuffeth; discerneth (Isa 11:3, Margin).

thunder—thundering voice.

Ha, ha; an expression of joy and alacrity, declared by his proud neighings; whereby he doth in some sort answer the sound of the trumpets, in way of scorn and challenge.

He smelleth, i.e. he perceiveth, as this phrase is used, Judges 16:9.

Afar off; at some distance, either of place, or rather of time, as the word is most frequently used. He perceives by the motion of the soldiers, and the clattering of the arms, that the battle is at hand, which is very welcome to him.

The thunder of the captains; by which he understands, either the military orations which the captains make and deliver with a loud voice to animate their soldiers to the battle; or rather the loud and joyful clamour begun by the commanders, and followed by the soldiers, when they are ready to join battle, that thereby they may both daunt their enemies, and encourage themselves.

He saith among the trumpets, ha, ha,.... As pleased with the sound of them, rejoicing thereat, and which he signifies by neighing;

and he smelleth the battle afar off; which respects not so much the distance of place as of time; he perceives beforehand that it is near, by the preparations making for it, and particularly by what follows; so Pliny (b) says of horses, they presage a fight. The thunder of the captains, and the shouting; they understand an engagement is just about to start by the loud and thundering voice of the captains, exhorting and spiralling up their men, and giving them the word of command; and by the clamorous shout of the soldiers echoing to the speech of their captains; and which are given forth upon an onset, both to animate one another, and intimidate the enemy. Bootius (c) observes, that Virgil (d) and Oppianus (e) say most of the same things in praise of the horse which are here said, and seem to have taken them from hence; and some (f) give the horse the preference to the lion, which, when it departs from a fight, never returns, whereas the horse will. This is an emblem both of good men, Zechariah 10:3; and of bad men, Jeremiah 8:6.

(b) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 42. (c) Animadvers. Sacr. l. 3. c. 6. s. 1.((d) Georgic. l. 3.((e) Cyneget. l. 1.((f) Horus Aegypt. apud Steeb. Coelum Sephirot. Heb. c. 6. s. 1. p. 106.

He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
25. he saith among the trumpets] Rather, as oft as the trumpet soundeth he saith, Ha, ha! The “thunder” of the captains is the roar of command; and the “shouting” is the battle-cry of the soldiery.

Has Job created this wonder of beauty and fierceness and endowed him with his extraordinary qualities, which make him mingle in the conflicts of men with a fury and lust of battle greater even than their own?

Verse 25. - He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! literally, at the trumpet; i.e. at the sound of the trumpet. The utterance, "Ha, ha!" (heakh)' is an imitation of the horse's snort or neigh. And he smelleth the battle afar off. Not merely presages it, as Pliny Bye ("Equi praesagiunt pugnam, 'Hist. Nat,' 8:42), or perceives it. but seems to scent it. The open and quivering nostrils raise this idea. The thunder of the captains, and the shouting. On the great noise made by advancing armies in ancient times, see 2 Kings 7:6; Isaiah 5:28-30: Jeremiah 8:16, etc. Job 39:25The 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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