Judges 5:22
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)
(22) 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.5:12-23 Deborah called on her own soul to be in earnest. He that will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. Praising God is a work we should awake to, and awake ourselves unto. She notices who fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Who fought against them. They were obstinate enemies to God's people, therefore the more dangerous. Who fought for them. The several tribes that helped are here spoken of with honour; for though God is above all to be glorified, those who are employed must have their due praise, to encourage others. But the whole creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy. The river of Kishon fought against their enemies. At most times it was shallow, yet now, probably by the great rain that fell, it was so swelled, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass, were drowned. Deborah's own soul fought against them. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us. She observes who kept away, and did not side with Israel, as might have been expected. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantage. Narrow, selfish spirits care not what becomes of God's church, so that they can but get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, Php 2:21. A little will serve those for a pretence to stay at home, who have no mind to engage in needful services, because there is difficulty and danger in them. But we cannot keep away from the contest between the Lord and his enemies; and if we do not actively endeavour to promote his cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse against the workers of iniquity. Though He needs no human help, yet he is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance his cause. He requires every man to do so.Probably an allusion to the frantic efforts of the chariot-horses to disengage themselves from the morass (Judges 4:15 note).

Mighty ones - Applied to bulls Psalm 22:12 and horses Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 47:3; Jeremiah 50:11; elsewhere, as probably here, to men.

22. Then were the horse hoofs broken by the means of the prancings—Anciently, as in many parts of the East still, horses were not shod. The breaking of the hoofs denotes the hot haste and heavy irregular tramp of the routed foe. Their horses, in which they put most confidence, had their hoofs, which is their support and strength, broken, either by dreadful hailstones, or rather, by their swift and violent running over the stony grounds, when they fled away with all possible speed from God and from Israel.

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. Then were the horse hoofs broken by means of the pransings,.... Either through the force of the waters of the river, where they pranced and plunged, and could have no standing; or through the swift haste they made to run away, striking the earth so quick, and with such force and vehemence, that their hoofs were broken thereby, especially on stony ground, and so their speed retarded:

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. שׂרי, "my princes," does not furnish any appropriate meaning, as neither Deborah nor Barak was of the tribe of Issachar, and it is not stated anywhere that the Issacharites gathered round Deborah as their leaders. The reading שׂרי (stat. constr.), adopted by the old versions, must be taken as the correct one, and the introduction of the preposition בּ does not preclude this (compare בגּלבּע הרי, 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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