Manners & Customs: Horses
Horses in the Ancient World
Description of ancient chariots. There have been numbers of pictorial representations of ancient chariots discovered by archaeologists. These give a fair idea of what they were like.
These implements so often used in warfare were very simple in style and yet very uncomfortable for the occupants. "They were semicircular boxes on wheels and of very small size. They were hung very low, so that the occupants could step in and out without trouble."
There were no springs, but the floor was made of a network of rope stretched so as to be elastic and thus overcome some of the effects of the jolting. Often two horses pulled one chariot. In battle it was customary to have two men in each chariot, one to drive the horses, and the other to do the fighting. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Caring for Horses
Care of horses. In Old Testament days the horse was cared for much as it is by the Arab today. In addition to the use of grass in grazing, the horses were fed barley and cut straw.
Thus both "barley also and straw for the horses"" (I Kings 4:28), were in use in King Solomon's time. The Psalmist indicates the use of bit and bridle: "Be ye not as the horse . . . whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle"" (Psalm 32:9). And the Book of Proverbs speaks of "a whip for the horse" (Proverbs 26:3).
Horses and chariots used in Egypt from early times. Joseph rode in "the second chariot" which King Pharaoh had (Genesis 41:43). When the Israelites made their escape from the bondage of Egypt, they were pursued by "all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army" (Exodus 14:9). In later years, Egypt was the main source for the supply of horses used by the kings of Israel (I Kings 10:28, 29).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
David and Horses
King David's use of horses. David made some use of horses in battle. On the occasion of his victory over Hadadezer, King of Zobah, "David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots" (II Samuel 8:3, 4). Doubtless he wanted these chariots and their horses for battle use on the Hat ground of his country. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Horse in Easton's Bible Dictionary
always referred to in the Bible in connection with warlike
operations, except Isa. 28:28. The war-horse is
39:19-25. For a long period after their settlement in
Israelites made no use of horses, according to the
Deut. 17:16. David was the first to form a force of
Sam. 8:4). But Solomon, from his connection with
multiplied their number (1 Kings 4:26; 10:26, 29).
horses were freely used in Israel (1 Kings 22:4; 2
9:21, 33; 11:16). The furniture of the horse consisted
a bridle (Isa. 30:28) and a curb (Ps. 32:9).
Horse in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
In Scripture used for war-like purposes, not agriculture
(except in treading out grain for threshing, Isaiah 28:28,
where for "horsemen" translated "horses".) Job's magnificent
description refers to the war horse (Isaiah 39:19-25), "hast
thou clothed his neck with thunder?" i.e. with the power of
inspiring terror. Rather "with majesty" (Umbreit), "with
quivering mane" (Maurer). The Greek connection between mane
(fobee) and terror (fobos) favors A.V. which is more poetic.
"Canst thou make him afraid (rather 'make him spring') as a
grasshopper?" So in Joel 2:4 war horses are compared to
locusts. Their heads are so like that the Italian for
"locust" is cavaletta, "little horse." "The glory of his
nostrils is terrible: he paweth in the valley and rejoiceth
in strength, he goeth on," etc.; "he swalloweth the ground
with fierceness," i.e. draws it in fierce impatience toward
him with his hoof, as if he would "swallow" it.
"Neither believeth he (for joy) that it is the sound
of the trumpet," rather "he will not stand still at the
sound." "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha!" his
mettlesome neighing expressing his eagerness for battle,
which "he smelleth," snuffeth, i.e. discerneth, "the thunder
(i.e. thundering voice) of the captains." (See CHARIOT.) The
donkey is the emblem of peace. The bride is compared to "a
company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots" (Song of Solomon
1:9), namely, in ardor and beauty (Song of Solomon 1:4,
"run"; Song of Solomon 1:5, "comely"), and in forming "a
company" militant, orderly, and numerous (Revelation 19:7;
Revelation 19:14). The qualities which seemed preeminent in
the enemy Pharaoh's hosts at the Red Sea really belonged to
Israel. Maurer translated "I compare thee to my mare in
chariots of (i.e. received from) Pharaoh," but the plural
"chariots" requires the collective sense "a company of
The "cutting off of the horse from Jerusalem"
prophetically symbolizes the cessation of war (Zechariah
9:10). Not the horse's speed or utility but his "strength"
is his characteristic in Scripture (Psalm 33:17). Two names
are used in Hebrew, both Persian in origin: sus from Susa,
and parash from Pares. The sus was of stronger make, used
for the war chariot; the parash more for riding. Perhaps in
Exodus 14:9 "horsemen" mean "chariot riders." Certainly no
Egyptian monument represents horsemen. Translated in 1 Kings
4:26, "forty (rather 'four,' a copyist's error, as 2
Chronicles 9:25 proves. Also 1400 chariots suit 4000 horses,
two horses for each chariot and a reserve horse: 2
Chronicles 1:14; 1 Kings 10:26) thousand chariot horses and
twelve thousand riding (i.e. cavalry) horses"; Ezekiel
27:14, "with (chariot) horses and riding horses" (KJV
Isaiah 21:7, "a chariot with a couple of horsemen";
rather "a cavalcade of horsemen riding in pairs." In 1 Kings
4:28; Esther 8:14; Micah 1:13, rekesh "dromedary"; rather "a
courser," a "racehorse," for such purposes as the royal
post. In 1 Kings 10:28-29, the sense seems that the
Egyptians regularly brought horses to a mart in S. Israel
(Septuagint and Vulgate name the mart in their translation),
of the Hebrew Koa. In A. V. Mi-Kveh is translated "linen
yarn") and handed them to the king's dealers at a fixed
price, 150 shekels for one horse, 600 for a chariot,
including its two draught horses and one reserve horse. In
Genesis 12:15 horses are not mentioned among the possessions
which Abram acquired during his sojourn in Egypt. But in
Genesis 47:17 they stand foremost among the Egyptians'
possessions. In later times, the greater contact of Egypt
with Canaanite and Arab nomads' accounts for the
introduction of horses.
The camel, one of Abram's possessions in Egypt, is
not mentioned in Joseph's time nor on the Egyptian
monuments. Their early possession of the desert of Sinai
makes it certain they knew and must have used the camel
there, "the ship of the desert," but they avoid mentioning
it as being unclean. Saddles were not used until a late
period. Horses' hoofs hard "as flint" were a good point in
days when shoeing was unknown (Isaiah 5:28). White horses
were emblematic of victory (Revelation 6:2; Revelation
19:11; Revelation 19:14). Horses were consecrated to the
sun, since that luminary was supposed to drive a fiery
chariot through the sky (2 Kings 23:11). They were driven in
procession to meet the rising sun.
Horse in Naves Topical Bible
Swifter than eagles
Snorting and neighing of
Isa 5:28; Jer 8:16
A vain thing for safety
Ps 33:17; Pr 21:31
-Used by the Egyptians in war
Ex 14:9; 15:19
-Used by the Israelites
-Used for cavalry
2Ki 18:23; Jer 47:3; 51:21
-Egypt famous for
-Forbidden to the kings of Israel
-Israel reproved for keeping
Isa 2:7; 31:1; Eze 17:15; Ho 14:3
1Ki 10:28,29; 2Ch 9:25,28
Ezr 2:66; Ne 7:68
-See EXPORTED, above
-Dedicated to religious uses
Zec 1:8; Re 6:2-8; 9:17; 19:11-21
Horse in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The most striking feature in the biblical notices of the
horse is the exclusive application of it to warlike
operations; in no instance is that useful animal employed
for the purposes of ordinary locomotion or agriculture, if
we except Isa 28:28 The animated description of the horse in
Job 39:19-25 applies solely to the war-horse. The Hebrews in
the patriarchal age, as a pastoral race, did not stand in
need of the services Of the horse, and for a long period
after their settlement in Canaan they dispensed with it,
partly in consequence of the hilly nature of the country,
which only admitted of the use of chariots in certain
localities, Jud 1:19 and partly in consequence to the
prohibition in De 17:16 which would be held to apply at all
periods. David first established a force of cavalry and
chariots, 2Sa 8:4 but the great supply of horses was
subsequently effected by Solomon through his connection with
Egypt. 1Ki 4:26 Solomon also established a very active trade
in horses, which were brought by dealers out of Egypt and
resold, at a profit, to the Hittites. With regard to the
trappings and management of the horse we have little
information. The bridle was placed over the horse's nose,
Isa 30:28 and a bit or curb is also mentioned. 2Ki 19:28; Ps
32:9; Pr 26:3; Isa 37:29 In the Authorized Version it is
incorrectly given "bridle," with the exception of Ps 32:1
... Saddles were not used until a late period. The horses
were not shod, and therefore hoofs are hard "as flint," Isa
5:28 were regarded as a great merit. The chariot-horses were
covered with embroidered trappings Eze 27:20 Horses and
chariots were used also in idolatrous processions, as
noticed in regard to the sun. 2Ki 23:11
Horse in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
The common names are (1) cuc, and (2) hippos. (3) The word
parash, "horseman," occurs often, and in several cases is
translated "horse" or "warhorse" (Isa 28:28; Ezek 27:14;
Joel 2:4 the Revised Version, margin); also in 2 Sam 16,
where the "horsemen" of English Versions of the Bible is
ba`ale ha-parashim, "owners of horses"; compare Arabic
faris, "horseman," and faras, "horse". (4) The feminine form
cucah, occurs in Song 1:9, and is rendered as follows:
Septuagint he hippos; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405
A.D.) equitatum; the King James Version "company of horses,"
the Revised Version (British and American) "steed." It is
not clear why English Versions of the Bible does not have
"mare." (5) The word 'abbirim, "strong ones," is used for
horses in Jdg 5:22; Jer 8:16; 47:3; 50:11 (the King James
Version "bulls"). In Ps 22:12 the same word is translated
"strong bulls" (of Bashan). (6) For [~rekhesh (compare
Arabic rakad, "to run"), in 1 Ki 4:28; Est 8:10,14; Mic
1:13, the Revised Version (British and American) has "swift
steeds," while the King James Version gives "dromedaries" in
1 Ki and "mules" in Est. (7) For kirkaroth (Isa 66:20), the
King James Version and the English Revised Version have
"swift beasts"; the English Revised Version margin and the
American Standard Revised Version "dromedaries"; Septuagint
skiddia, perhaps "covered carriages." In Est 8:10,14 we find
the doubtful words (8) 'achashteranim, and (9) bene ha-
rammakim, which have been variously translated. the King
James Version has respectively "camels" and "young
dromedaries," the Revised Version (British and American)
"used in the king's service" and "bred of the stud," the
Revised Version margin "mules" and "young dromedaries."
The Hebrew and Egyptian names for the horse are alike akin
to the Assyrian. The Jews may have obtained horses from
Egypt (Dt 17:16), but the Canaanites before them had horses
(Josh 17:16), and in looking toward the Northeast for the
origin of the horse, philologists are in agreement with
zoologists who consider that the plains of Central Asia, and
also of Europe, were the original home of the horse. At
least one species of wild horse is still found in Central
The horses of the Bible are almost exclusively war-horses,
or at least the property of kings and not of the common
people. A doubtful reference to the use of horses in
threshing grain is found in Isa 28:28. Horses are among the
property which the Egyptians gave to Joseph in exchange for
grain (Gen 47:17). In Dt 17:16 it is enjoined that the king
"shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people
to return to Egypt, to the end that he may multiply horses."
This and other injunctions failed to prevent the Jews from
borrowing from the neighboring civilizations their customs,
idolatries, and vices. Solomon's horses are enumerated...
Horse Scripture - 1 Kings 10:29
And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred
[shekels] of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty:
and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of
Syria, did they bring [them] out by their means.
Horse Scripture - 2 Chronicles 1:17
And they fetched up, and brought forth out of Egypt a chariot
for six hundred [shekels] of silver, and an horse for an
hundred and fifty: and so brought they out [horses] for all
the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, by
Horse Scripture - Esther 6:10
Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, [and] take the
apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to
Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing
fail of all that thou hast spoken.
Horse Scripture - Esther 6:8
Let the royal apparel be brought which the king [useth] to
wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown
royal which is set upon his head:
Horse Scripture - Exodus 15:1
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the
LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he
hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he
thrown into the sea.
Horse Scripture - Jeremiah 51:21
And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider;
and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his
Horse Scripture - Job 39:19
Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck
Horse Scripture - Revelation 6:8
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat
on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was
given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill
with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the
beasts of the earth.
Horse Scripture - Zechariah 10:3
Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished
the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the
house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the
Horses and Chariots
Use of horse and chariot impractical in much of Canaan. This was due to the mountainous character of much of the country. This was especially true of most of Judea and Samaria, except on the main roads through this territory. This is the reason for their absence in the battles that took place there.
Horses and chariots not used in conquest of Canaan. Joshua did not make use of them in his conquest of Canaan. There is no record that he made use of either cavalry or of chariots in his warfare. But Moses had predicted that Israel would have to face enemies that did have their horses and chariots. "When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 20:1). When Joshua went against such foes and conquered them, he was commanded by GOD to cut the hamstrings of captured horses and to burn the chariots thus secured. The Bible records his obedience to this command (Joshua 1:1:6,9).
War chariots used by Israel's enemies in the days of the Judges. When the Canaanites oppressed Israel in those days "the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he [i.e., the Canaanitish king] had nine hundred chariots of iron" (Judges 4:3). But the LORD gave Israel victory over these chariots without the Hebrews themselves using such implements of warfare.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Horses and Chariots in Times of Peace
Use of horses and chariots in time of peace. It was mainly kings or men of wealth or position who used chariots drawn by horses in times of peace. As prince, Absalom rode in a chariot, and King Rehoboam and King Ahab had their chariots in which they rode in state (II Samuel 15:1, Absalom; I Kings 12:18, Rehoboam; I Kings 18:44, Ahab).
And Jeremiah made this prophecy concerning the city of Jerusalem: "Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes" (Jeremiah 17:25).
In New Testament times the use of chariots was also limited to men of prominence. The Ethiopian eunuch of Queen Candace rode in a chariot when Philip joined him and won him to CHRIST (Acts 8:28f). In the Revelation, the noise of the judgment locusts is compared to "the sound of chariots of many horses" (Revelation 9:9).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Horses in Bible Times
Bible time horse same as Arab horse today. Assyrian and Egyptian sculpture would indicate that the horse of Bible times was the same as the Arabs use today. In those days the horse was used mainly for war purposes, although Isaiah, in connection with threshing, speaks of the use of horses (Isaiah 28:28), thus indicating that to a limited degree at least, horses were used in agriculture. But today the Arabs make much use of horses for riding. The horse is looked upon as part of the Arab's family. Although it is heavily bitted, the reins are rarely used, It is controlled by the rider's voice.
When the camp or oasis is reached, the horses are unsaddled or unharnessed and allowed to roam free. They will graze around the place and always come when called. Hoofs of the Arab horses are never shod, this practice being made useless by the hot climate.
In ancient days the same thing was true. In Scripture the quality of a horse was judged partially by the hardness of its hoofs. Isaiah said: "Their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint" (Isaiah 5:28). Micah wrote: "I will make thy hoofs brass" (Micah 4:13). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Horses in the Law of Moses
Regulation in the law of Moses concerning horses. The Book of Deuteronomy was explicit about the use of horses by future kings of Israel. Concerning a ruler it was said: "But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he
should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way"" (Deuteronomy 17:16).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Kings of Israel and Horses
Use of horses and chariots by kings of Judah and Israel. Following the example of Solomon, the kings that followed during the history of the divided kingdom, made use of horses and chariots. King Ahab died in his battle chariot in war with the Syrians (I Kings 22:35). And the prophet Isaiah warned the kings of his day against going down to Egypt for help in securing horses for the day of battle. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and
trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 31:1).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Modes of Travel
Methods of travel. Traveling is sometimes done on foot, but more often on the backs of horses, mules, or donkeys, and when traveling in the desert, camels are mostly used. In order to avoid the intense heat, and to escape detection by robber tribes, traveling is often done by night. The guide will get his direction from the stars. Summer is the usual time for traveling in order to avoid the many inconveniences connected with the winter months. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Solomon and Horses
King Solomon's excessive use of horses. He disregarded the Law of Moses, and began to import great numbers of horses and chariots from the land of Egypt. "And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt . . . and a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty" (I Kings 10:28, 29). He had many stalls made for his large number of chariot horses and cavalry. These animals were stationed in chariot cities where the stalls were constructed (I Kings 4:26; II Chronicles l:14; 9:25). Archaeologists have uncovered the ancient city of Megiddo, which was one of Solomon's chariot cities, and there in the southeast comer of the tell (ancient mound) was discovered that which gives every evidence of being the stables of Solomon.
Between four and five hundred of these stables were laid bare with nearby quarters for the grooms who cared for the horses. A manger was located in front of each horse. Massive stone hitching posts remain with holes in them for inserting the halter-shanks. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Symbolism of Horses and Chariots
Figurative use of chariots and white horses. Chariots and white horses were often used as figures of speech in the Bible. Chariots are referred to as symbols of power. Thus GOD "maketh the clouds his chariots" (Psalm 104:3). The LORD is said to have his army of angels and many chariots: "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels" (Psalm 68:17).
And concerning the coming of the LORD, Isaiah prophesied: "The Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind" (Isaiah 66:15). The coming of CHRIST to fight the battle of Armageddon is predicted to be on a white horse, and the armies that follow him from Heaven will be upon white horses (Revelation 19:11, 14).
Generals of armies have usually been known to ride upon white horses, and so as General of a great army, CHRIST will ride such an animal; and since His saints share with Him in the victory, it is appropriate that they too shall ride upon white horses.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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