Then were the horse hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)By the means of the pransings.—Rather, the stampings. In crossing the Kishon after moderate rains, I had an opportunity of observing by personal experience how easily a horse might be hopelessly disabled in the muddy morass formed by the river. The word is forcibly repeated by the figure known as anadiplosis.
Their mighty ones.—The great lords in their iron chariots, trying to goad their frightened steeds through the flood. There is a scathing taunt in the words. Their “might” was exhibited in valiantly running away. It may, however, mean the strong steeds themselves (comp. Jeremiah 8:15; Jeremiah 51:11). Vandevelde speaks of the Kishon as being the most dangerous river of the land, from its quicksands.Jdg 5:22. Then were the horse-hoofs broken — This verse finely expresses, and gives us the strongest image of, the confusion and rapidity of the flight of Sisera’s captains and great men, as well as of the multitude, from God and Israel; which was such that the very hoofs of their horses were broken by their swift and violent running over the stony ground. Prancings — Or, because of their fierce or swift courses. The word דהר, dahar, here rendered prancings, is used also Nahum 3:2, where, from the word it is joined with, says Dr. Dodd, it must mean the clattering of the horse on full speed. The marginal reading, tramplings, or plungings, he thinks preferable to the text, and observes, that the meaning of it cannot perhaps be better expressed than by the well-known line of Virgil:
Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum.
“‘They shake with horny hoofs the solid ground.”
Dr. Waterland proposes that אביריו, abiraiv, here rendered their mighty ones, should be translated their mighty horses, an interpretation which the word will easily bear, and which increases the force and beauty of the passage, as they were doubtless “not common horses, but their best and strongest, whose hoofs were broken on this occasion.” The reader will observe that it was not the custom to shoe their horses in these ancient times, and indeed, according to Tavernier, Montfaucon, and others, they have at present excellent horses in Arabia and Tartary which are never shod. See Dodd.Judges 4:15 note).
By the means of the pransings; or, because of their fierce or swift courses. Of their mighty ones; either, first, Of their strong and valiant riders, who forced their horses to run away as fast as they could. Or, secondly, Of their horses, as this word signifies, Jeremiah 8:16 47:3 50:42, i.e. of themselves; the antecedent for the relative.
the pransings of the mighty ones; either their riders, princes, and great personages, who made them prance, leap, and run with great speed and force; or horses strong and mighty, being such as were selected for this purpose, and trained to war.Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. did … stamp] or hammered (i.e. the earth); the same verb as in Jdg 5:26. In the next line the Hebrew words imitate the gallop of horses in precipitate flight. Cf. Nahum 3:2. Their strong ones are the enemy’s steeds; cf. Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 47:3.
Part iii. Jdg 5:23-31 a. The death of Sisera. The four-lined Jdg 5:23 forms a prelude; cf. the opening of Part ii.Verse 22. - Their mighty ones. Applied to bulls, Psalm 22:12, etc.; and to horses (A.V., his strong ones), Jeremiah 8:16; his strong horses, Jeremiah 47:3. 2 Samuel 1:21, and Ewald, 289, b.). עם, which is used to denote an outward equality, as in 1 Samuel 17:42, and is substantially the same as the כּן which follows ("just as"), is construed without כּ in the first clause, as in Psalm 48:6. בּעמק: into the valley of Jezreel, the plain of Kishon. בּרגליו שׁלּח, as in Job 18:8, to be sent off, i.e., incessantly impelled, through his feet; here it is applied to an irresistible force of enthusiasm for the battle. The nominative to שׁלּח is Issachar and Barak.
15b At the brooks of Reuben were great resolutions of heart.
16 Why remainest thou between the hurdles,
To hear the piping of the flocks?
At the brooks of Reuben were great projects of heart.
17 Gilead rests on the other side of the Jordan;
And Dan ... why tarries he by ships?
Asher sits on the shore of the sea,
And by his bays he reposes.
18 Zebulun, a people that despises its soul even to death,
And Naphtali upon the heights of the field.
In this strophe Deborah first of all mentions the tribes which took no part in the conflict (Judges 5:15-17), and then returns in Judges 5:18 to the Zebulunites, who staked their life along with Naphtali for the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of the enemy. The enumeration of the tribes who remained at a distance from the conflict commences with Reuben (Judges 5:15 and Judges 5:16). In this tribe there did arise a lively sympathy with the national elevation. They held meetings, passed great resolutions, but it led to no practical result; and at length they preferred to remain quietly at home in their own comfortable pastoral life. The meaning brooks for פּלגּות is well established by Job 20:17, and there is no reason whatever for explaining the word as equivalent to פּלגּות, מפלגּות, divisions (2 Chronicles 35:5, 2 Chronicles 35:12; Ezra 6:18). The territory of Reuben, which was celebrated for its splendid pastures, must have abounded in brooks. The question, Why satest thou, or remainedst thou sitting between the hurdles? i.e., in the comfortable repose of a shepherd's life, is an utterance of amazement; and the irony is very apparent in the next clause, to hear the bleating of the flocks, i.e., the piping of the shepherds, instead of the blast of the war-trumpets.
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