From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

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 horses."

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 ( Psalms 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 "horsemen".)

 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. Palestine (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.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

In the NT, as in the OT, the horse is always the war-horse, never the gentle, domesticated creature beloved by the modern Arab. Asses, mules, and camels were the beasts used by the Jews in common life, both for riding and burden-bearing.

(1) When Christian art depicts the conversion of St. Paul, it usually represents him as falling from an affrighted horse to the earth. The narrative in Acts does not state that he was riding at all, but it seems probable that as the emissary of the High Priest, engaged on important and urgent business ( Acts 9:1 f.), he would not make a journey of 150 miles on foot. His task and his spirit were warlike-he was breathing threatening and slaughter-and he may have taken a small troop of horsemen with him. Strict Pharisees, however, never rode on horseback, and it is at least as likely that he and his companions were mounted on asses or mules.

(2) When St. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, and had to be taken beyond the reach of conspirators, he was escorted to Caesarea by a company of 70 horsemen ( Acts 23:23;  Acts 23:32). These cavalry, which had been temporarily assisting the Roman garrison in Judaea , had their headquarters at Caesarea. Josephus makes repeated reference to an ala of Sebastian and Caesarean horsemen that was attached to the auxiliary cohorts (see Schürer, History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] i. ii. [1890] 52). The single cohort which was stationed in Jerusalem all the year round was apparently re-inforced at the time of the Passover by cavalry and infantry from Caesarea.

(3) St. James ( James 3:2 f.) uses the bridling of the horse, whose ‘whole body’ is thereby turned at the rider’s pleasure, to illustrate the complete self-control which a man achieves by merely bridling his lips. It is generally true that if the tongue does not utter the angry word, the hand does not grasp the sword, the feet do not run to evil and make haste to shed blood.

(4) The horse is conspicuous in the symbolism of the Apocalypse (15 references). Like the fiery steed in Job ( Job 39:19-25), he goes forth to meet the armed men, and smells the battle from afar. Whether he belongs to the Church militant, or to some worldly power, or to the under world, he is always the war-horse-always ‘prepared unto battle’ or ‘running to battle’ ( Revelation 9:7;  Revelation 9:9). He is familiar with ‘the sounds of chariots’ ( Revelation 9:9). When he appears, we expect to see the rider’s drawn sword ( Revelation 19:21); we are not surprised at the sight of blood; and in one gruesome scene the deep pools of gore come up to the horses’ bridles ( Revelation 14:20). A white horse represents victory, a red horse carnage, a black horse famine, and a pale horse death ( Revelation 6:2-8). One victorious trooper carries a bow ( Revelation 6:2); he is the light-armed Parthian, whose shafts were so dreaded by the Romans-‘fidentemque fuga Parthum versisque sagittis’ (Virg. Georg. iii. 31). A host of fiendish mounted horses, 200,000,000 strong, armed with breastplates of red, blue, and yellow (of fire and hyacinth and brimstone,  Revelation 9:17), are more like the steeds of those heavy-armed Parthians who appeared at Carrhae ‘with their helmets and breastplates flashing with flame … and the horses equipped with mail of brass and iron’ (Plut. Crassus , 24). But these fiend-horses are monsters, which have the heads of lions, and breathe fire and smoke and brimstone (cf.  Wisdom of Solomon 11:18; Virg. aen . vii. 281). Against the armies of earth and Hades Christ comes forth from the opened heavens sitting on a white horse, and all His followers ride on white horses and are clad in white uniform ( Revelation 19:11;  Revelation 19:14). The combined forces of evil make war in vain against this Rider and His horsemen ( Revelation 19:19), who are, in the phrase of a later time, Knights of the Holy Ghost.

James Strahan.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

סוס . Horses were very rare among the Hebrews in the early ages. The patriarchs had none; and after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, God expressly forbade their ruler to procure them: "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, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way,"  Deuteronomy 17:16 . As horses appear to have been generally furnished by Egypt, God prohibits these,

1. Lest there should be such commerce with Egypt as might lead to idolatry.

2. Lest the people might depend on a well appointed cavalry, as a means of security, and so cease from trusting in the promised aid and protection of Jehovah.

3. That they might not be tempted to extend their dominion by means of cavalry, and so get scattered among the surrounding idolatrous nations, and thus cease in process of time, to be that distinct and separate people which God intended they should be, and without which the prophecies relative to the Messiah could not be known to have their due and full accomplishment. In the time of the Judges we find horses and war chariots among the Canaanites, but still the Israelites had none; and hence they were generally too timid to venture down into the plains, confining their conquests to the mountainous parts of the country. In the reign of Saul, it would appear, that horse breeding had not yet been introduced into Arabia; for, in a war with some of the Arabian nations, the Israelites got plunder in camels, sheep, and asses, but no horses. David's enemies brought against him a strong force of cavalry into the field; and in the book of Psalms the horse commonly appears only on the side of the enemies of the people of God; and so entirely unaccustomed to the management of this animal had the Israelites still continued, that, after a battle, in which they took a considerable body of cavalry prisoners,   2 Samuel 8:4 , David caused most of the horses to be cut down, because he did not know what use to make of them. Solomon was the first who established a cavalry force.

Under these circumstances, it is not wonderful that the Mosaic law should take no notice of an animal which we hold in such high estimation. To Moses, educated as he was in Egypt, and, with his people, at last chased out by Pharaoh's cavalry, the use of the horse for war and for travelling was well known; but as it was his object to establish a nation of husbandmen, and not of soldiers for the conquest of foreign lands, and as Palestine, from its situation, required not the defence of cavalry, he might very well decline introducing among his people the yet unusual art of horse breeding. Solomon, having married a daughter of Pharaoh, procured a breed of horses from Egypt; and so greatly did he multiply them, that he had four hundred stables, forty thousand stalls, and twelve thousand horsemen,  1 Kings 4:26;  2 Chronicles 9:25 . It seems that the Egyptian horses were in high repute, and were much used in war. When the Israelites were disposed to place too implicit confidence in the assistance of cavalry, the prophet remonstrated in these terms: "The Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses are flesh, not spirit,"

 Isaiah 31:3 .

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( n.) Horseplay; tomfoolery.

(2): ( v. t.) To place on the back of another, or on a wooden horse, etc., to be flogged; to subject to such punishment.

(3): ( n.) A mass of earthy matter, or rock of the same character as the wall rock, occurring in the course of a vein, as of coal or ore; hence, to take horse - said of a vein - is to divide into branches for a distance.

(4): ( n.) See Footrope, a.

(5): ( a.) A breastband for a leadsman.

(6): ( a.) An iron bar for a sheet traveler to slide upon.

(7): ( a.) A jackstay.

(8): ( n.) A hoofed quadruped of the genus Equus; especially, the domestic horse (E. caballus), which was domesticated in Egypt and Asia at a very early period. It has six broad molars, on each side of each jaw, with six incisors, and two canine teeth, both above and below. The mares usually have the canine teeth rudimentary or wanting. The horse differs from the true asses, in having a long, flowing mane, and the tail bushy to the base. Unlike the asses it has callosities, or chestnuts, on all its legs. The horse excels in strength, speed, docility, courage, and nobleness of character, and is used for drawing, carrying, bearing a rider, and like purposes.

(9): ( n.) The male of the genus horse, in distinction from the female or male; usually, a castrated male.

(10): ( v. t.) To provide with a horse, or with horses; to mount on, or as on, a horse.

(11): ( v. t.) To sit astride of; to bestride.

(12): ( v. t.) To cover, as a mare; - said of the male.

(13): ( v. t.) To take or carry on the back; as, the keeper, horsing a deer.

(14): ( n.) Anything, actual or figurative, on which one rides as on a horse; a hobby.

(15): ( v. i.) To get on horseback.

(16): ( n.) Mounted soldiery; cavalry; - used without the plural termination; as, a regiment of horse; - distinguished from foot.

(17): ( n.) A frame with legs, used to support something; as, a clotheshorse, a sawhorse, etc.

(18): ( n.) A frame of timber, shaped like a horse, on which soldiers were made to ride for punishment.

(19): ( n.) A translation or other illegitimate aid in study or examination; - called also trot, pony, Dobbin.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Horse . The Israelites must have been acquainted with horses in Egypt (  Genesis 47:17 ), and it is evident, too, from the Tell el-Amarna correspondence that horses were familiar animals in Palestine at an early period; but it would appear that the children of Israel were slow in adopting them. Throughout the OT up to the Exile they appear only as war-horses; the ass, the mule, and the camel were the beasts for riding and burden-bearing. Even for warlike purposes horses were only slowly adopted, the mountainous regions held by the Israelites being unsuitable for chariot warfare. David commenced acquiring chariots (  2 Samuel 8:4 ), and Solomon greatly added to their numbers, obtaining horses for them from Musri [not Mizraim , ‘Egypt’] in N. Syria and Kue , in Cilicia (  1 Kings 10:28 ,   2 Chronicles 1:16 [amending the text]). Horses were obtained also from Egypt (  Isaiah 31:1;   Isaiah 31:3 ,   Ezekiel 17:15 ). Some of the references may be to hired horsemen. The kings of Israel were warned against multiplying horses (  Deuteronomy 17:16 ). Trust in horses is put in antithesis to trust in the Lord (  Isaiah 30:16 ,   Psalms 20:7;   Psalms 33:17 ). Before the reforms of Josiah, horses sacred to the sun were kept in the Temple (  2 Kings 23:11; cf.   2 Kings 11:16 ). The appearance of the war-horse seems to have made a deep impression (  Job 39:19-25 ,   Jeremiah 47:3 ,   Nahum 3:2 etc.). After the Exile horses were much more common: the returning Jews brought 736 horses with them (  Nehemiah 7:68 ). Horses were fed on barley and tibn (chopped straw) in Solomon’s time as in Palestine to-day (  1 Kings 4:28 ). Although the breeding of horses has become so intimately associated with our ideas of the Arabs, it would seem that during the whole OT period horses were unknown, or at least scarce, in Arabia. The equipment of horses is mentioned in the Bible the bit and bridle (  Psalms 32:9 ,   Proverbs 26:3 ), bells of the horses (  Zechariah 14:20 ), and ‘precious clothes for chariots’ (  Ezekiel 27:20 ). In OT times they were apparently unshod (  Isaiah 5:28 ).

E. W. G. Masterman.

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Exodus 14-15

David captured chariots from the Syrians and destroyed most of them, but reserved one hundred ( 2 Samuel 8:3-4 ). In so doing, he disobeyed God and introduced their use to Israel. David's son, Solomon, multiplied their numbers to strengthen the defense of his country, building chariot cities ( 1 Kings 9:19 ). In Megiddo what appears to be stalls and feeding troughs from King Ahab's time have been discovered. These were sufficient for about 450 horses.

The horse was used for war by Syrians ( 1 Kings 20:20 ), the Philistines ( 2 Samuel 1:6 ), the Medes and Persians ( Jeremiah 50:42 ), and the Romans ( Acts 23:23 ,Acts 23:23, 23:32 ). By contrast, and as a sign of the peacefulness of the Messiah's kingdom, Jesus rode into Jerusalem upon an ass, not a horse ( John 12:12-15 ).

Considerable opposition to the horse arose in Israel, seeing horses as symbols of pagan luxury and dependence on physical power for defense. Prophets condemned trusting in horses rather than the Lord for victory ( Isaiah 31:1;  Ezekiel 17:15 ). Yet, horses became so common in Jerusalem that a royal palace near the city had a special horse gate ( 2 Chronicles 23:15 ) and a gate of the city was also called the Horse Gate ( Jeremiah 31:40;  Nehemiah 3:28 ).

Horses are often used as symbols of swiftness ( Jeremiah 4:13 ), strength ( Job 39:19 ), and sure-footedness ( Isaiah 63:13 ). The most detailed description of a horse is found in  Job 39:19-25 . In prophecy horses also play an important role as in  Joel 2:4-5 and   Revelation 6:1-8 where four horses of different colors are associated with different tragedies. See Animals; Megiddo .

C. Dale Hill

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Horse. 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  Isaiah 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,  Judges 1:19, and partly in consequence to the prohibition in  Deuteronomy 17:16 which would be held to apply at all periods.

David first established a force of cavalry and chariots,  2 Samuel 8:4, but the great supply of horses was subsequently effected by Solomon through his connection with Egypt.  1 Kings 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,  Isaiah 30:28, and a bit or curb is also mentioned.  2 Kings 19:28;  Psalms 32:9;  Proverbs 26:3;  Isaiah 37:29. In the Authorized Version, it is incorrectly given "bridle," with the exception of  Psalms 32:1. Saddles were not used until a late period. The horses were not shod, and, therefore, hoofs as hard "as flint,"  Isaiah 5:28, were regarded as a great merit. The chariot-horses were covered with embroidered trappings  Ezekiel 27:20. Horses and chariots were used also in idolatrous processions, as noticed in regard to the sun.  2 Kings 23:11.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [8]

 Psalm 32:9 (a) This is a warning that the believer should use good judgment, think for himself, and not be just as an animal that must be guided by another.

 Psalm 33:17 (b) This is a type of any human resource in which people trust for deliverance instead of in the living GOD.

 Jeremiah 12:5 (c) This is a peculiar type - the footmen represent ordinary Christians living ordinary Christian lives. They make the unsaved man weary and he wishes to get away from their influence and company. The horses represent Christians who have come to full growth even perhaps those who have already been taken to Heaven. If the weak Christian wearies the sinner, how much more will those Christians who have been made like Christ and have been brought into perfect manhood and full stature for GOD? The sinner would not be able to stand their presence at all.

The horses in  Zechariah 1,6 probably represent great movements wrought by GOD in dealing with men.

 Zechariah 6:2 (b) The red horse - a type of the destructive power of war. (See also  Revelation 6:4).

 Zechariah 6:3 (b) The black horse - represents world-wide famine which naturally follows great wars both international and internal. (See also  Revelation 6:5). Each person receives his food by weight.

 Zechariah 6:3 (b) Bay horse - probably represents the scourge of pestilence and disease which follows upon the famine that follows the war. (See also  Revelation 6:8).

 Zechariah 6:3 (b) The white horse - probably represents a man-made peace which will be forced upon the world by the antichrist under the guise of religion and righteousness. It will be a false peace which will not stand. (See also  Revelation 6:2).

 Revelation 19:11 (b) The white horse - typical of the great power which the Lord Jesus will exhibit in righteousness and justice when He comes forth from Heaven as the Almighty Conqueror.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

The horse was used among the Israelites only for war, either in chariots or for what is now called cavalry; but its use betokened failure in confidence on the Lord: see  Hosea 14:3 . They had been forbidden to multiply horses,  Deuteronomy 17:16; and at first they hamstrung the horses, and burnt the chariots of the Canaanites.  Joshua 11:6,9 . David, however, after the defeat of Hadadezer, reserved 100 horses for chariots.  2 Samuel 8:4 . (See a description of the war-horse in  Job 39:19-25 .) Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen.  1 Kings 4:26 .

Symbolically the horse represents careering imperial power, in general providentially controlled. In the early part of Zechariah the prophet had visions of horses of different colours, they are called spirits of the heavens, and as such they acted in the four great Gentile empires described by Daniel. When these are further spoken of, the red horses are not named, for the Chaldean empire had passed away when Zechariah saw the vision.  Zechariah 1:8;  Zechariah 6:1-7 .

In the Revelation also there are horses and riders thereon, representing the powers engaged in the providential course of God's dealings.  Revelation 6:1-8; cf.  Revelation 9:7,9,17 . In  Revelation 19 the Lord Jesus, the Faithful and True, comes forth on a white horse, to make war in righteousness.   Revelation 19:11-21 . See Revelation

King James Dictionary [10]

HORSE, n. hors.

1. A species of quadrupeds of the genus Equus, having six erect and parallel fore-teeth in the upper jaw, and six somewhat prominent in the under jaw the dog teeth are solitary, and the feet consist of an undivided hoof. The horse is a beautiful animal, and of great use for draught or conveyance on his back. Horse, in English, is of common gender, and may comprehend the male and female. 2. A constellation. 3. Cavalry a body of troops serving on horseback. In this sense, it has no plural termination. We say, a thousand horse, a regiment of horse. 4. A machine by which something is supported usually a wooden frame with legs. Various machines used in the arts are thus called. 5. A wooden machine on which soldiers ride by way of punishment sometimes called a timber-mare. 6. In seamen's language, a rope extending from the middle of a yard to its extremity, to support the sailors while they loose, reef or furl the sails, also, a thick rope extended near the mast for hoisting a yard or extending a sail on it.

To take horse to set out to ride on horseback.

1. To be covered, as a mare.

HORSE, To mount on a horse.

1. To carry on the back.

The keeper, horsing a deer.

2. To ride astride as ridges horsed. 3. To cover a mare, as the male.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [11]

Sûs ( סוּס , Strong'S #5483), “horse.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Egyptian, and Syriac. It appears in biblical Hebrew about 138 times and in all periods. The first biblical appearance of sûs is in Gen. 47:17: “And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses.…” In the second quarter of the second millennium the chariot became a major military weapon and “horses” a very desirable commodity. This was the time of Joseph. It was not until the end of the second millennium that a rudimentary cavalry appeared on the battlefield. In the period of the eighth-century prophets and following, “horses” became a sign of luxury and apostasy (Isa. 2:7; Amos 4:10) inasmuch as Israel’s hope for freedom and security was to be the Lord: “But he [the king] shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to … multiply horses …” (Deut. 17:16).

The “horses” of God are the storm clouds with which he treads upon the sea (Hab. 3:15).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [12]

1: Ἵππος (Strong'S #2462 — Noun Masculine — hippos — hip'-pos )

apart from the fifteen occurrences in the Apocalypse, occurs only in  James 3:3; in the Apocalypse "horses" are seen in visions in  Revelation 6:2,4,5,8;  9:7,9,17 (twice); 14:20; 19:11,14,19,21; otherwise in   Revelation 18:13;  19:18 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [13]

Horse. This most valuable animal was first domesticated in the East, and was probably brought by those who emigrated westward from Asia into Arabia and Egypt. No mention is made of horses as forming any part of the possessions of the patriarchs; nor are any noticed among the presents Abraham received from the kings of Egypt and Gerar.  Genesis 12:16;  Genesis 20:14. The horse was probably not in those early times used except for military purposes; indeed we find scarcely an allusion in Scripture to its employment for the farm or any ordinary domestic service. Once the horse is said to tread out some species of corn,  Isaiah 28:28; but it is a war-horse, strong and fierce, that is poetically described in  Job 39:19-25.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [14]

 Isaiah 28:28 Job 39:19-25 Deuteronomy 17:16 2 Samuel 8:4 1 Kings 4:26 10:26,29 1 Kings 22:4 2 Kings 3:7 9:21,33 11:16 Isaiah 30:28 Psalm 32:9

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Horse'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

hôrs  :

1. Names

The common names are (1) סוּס , ṣūṣ , and (2) ἵππος , hı́ppos ̌ . (3) The word פרשׁ , pārāsh , "horseman," occurs often, and in several cases is translated "horse" or "warhorse" (  Isaiah 28:28;  Ezekiel 27:14;  Joel 2:4 the Revised Version, margin); also in 2 Sam 16, where the "horsemen" of English Versions of the Bible is בּעלי הפרשׁים , ba‛ălē ha - pārāshı̄m , "owners of horses"; compare Arabic fâris , "horseman," and faras , "horse". (4) The feminine form סוּסה , ṣūṣāh , occurs in  Song of Solomon 1:9 , and is rendered as follows: Septuagint ἡ ἵππος , hē hı́ppos  ; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 ad) 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 אבּרים , 'abbirı̄m , "strong ones," is used for horses in  Judges 5:22;  Jeremiah 8:16;  Jeremiah 47:3;  Jeremiah 50:11 (the King James Version "bulls"). In   Psalm 22:12 the same word is translated "strong bulls" (of Bashan). (6) For רכשׁ , rekhesh (compare Arabic rakaḍ , "to run"), in  1 Kings 4:28;  Esther 8:10 ,  Esther 8:14;  Micah 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 כּרכּרות , kirkārōth ( Isaiah 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 σκιάδια , skiádia , perhaps "covered carriages." In  Esther 8:10 ,  Esther 8:14 we find the doubtful words (8) אחשׁתּרנים , 'ăḥashterānı̄m , and (9) בּני הרמּכים , benē hā - rammākhı̄m , 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." See Camel .

2. Origin

The Hebrew and Egyptian names for the horse are alike akin to the Assyrian. The Jews may have obtained horses from Egypt ( Deuteronomy 17:16 ), but the Canaanites before them had horses ( Joshua 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 Asia.

3. Uses

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  Isaiah 28:28 . Horses are among the property which the Egyptians gave to Joseph in exchange for grain ( Genesis 47:17 ). In  Deuteronomy 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 in 1 Ki 4, and the se‛ı̄rı̄m and tebhen of  1 Kings 4:28 (  1 Kings 5:8 ) are identical with the sha‛ı̂r ("barley") and tibn ("straw") with which the arab feeds his horse today. In war, horses were ridden and were driven in chariots ( Exodus 14:9;  Joshua 11:4;  2 Samuel 15:1 , etc.).

4. Figurative and Descriptive

The horse is referred to figuratively chiefly in Zechariah and Revelation. A chariot and horses of fire take Elijah up to heaven (  2 Kings 2:11 f). In   Psalm 20:7;  Psalm 33:17; and  Psalm 76:6 , the great strength of the horse is recalled as a reminder of the greater strength of God. In  James 3:3 , the small bridle by which the horse can be managed is compared to the tongue (compare  Psalm 32:9 ). In  Job 39:19-25 we have a magnificent description of a spirited war-horse.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

Horse (;;; , and in many other places;; , etc.). It appears to be substantiated that the horse was derived from High Asia, and was not indigenous in Arabia, Syria, or Egypt. They are not mentioned among the presents which Pharaoh bestowed upon Abraham, and occur in Scripture for the first time when the patriarch Joseph receives them from the Egyptians in exchange for bread , evidently as valuable animals, disposed of singly, and not in droves or flocks, like cattle and asses. They were still sufficiently important to be expressly mentioned in the funeral procession which accompanied the body of Jacob to his sepulcher in Canaan and for centuries after it does not appear that, under the domestic management of the Egyptians, unless the murrain had greatly reduced them, horses had multiplied as they would have done in a land more congenial to their habits, since only six hundred chariots appear to have pursued Israel even admitting that there were other chariots and horsemen not included in that number. In the sculptured battle-scenes, which are believed to represent victories of Sesostris, or of Thothmes II and III, over nations of Central Asia, it is evident that the enemy's armies, as well as the foreign allies of Egypt, are abundantly supplied with horses, both for chariots and for riders; and in triumphal processions they are shown as presents or tribute, proving that they were portions of the national wealth of conquered states sufficiently valuable to be prized in Egypt. At a later period the books of Deuteronomy (, for the future kings of Israel are forbidden to possess many) and Joshua furnish similar evidence of abundance of horses in the plains of Syria; and in Job occurs a description of a perfect war-horse couched in the bold figurative language of inspiration, such as remains unequalled by any other poet, ancient or modern. Though the Israelites had chariots and horsemen opposed to them in the plain country from their first entrance into the land of promise—as in , where we find Sisera with his chariots of war defeated at the foot of Mount Tabor—yet not being intended to make military conquests beyond the mountain basin and the adjacent territory assigned them, they long remained without cavalry or chariots themselves : they obeyed the divine injunction to abstain from possessing horses, and, to the time of David, hamstrung such as they captured from their enemies. It appears, however, that a small cavalry force was raised by him; and as in all the military operations of Western Asia, there was a tendency to increase the mounted force and neglect the infantry, on the full establishment of royalty, when the Hebrew government acquired a more political structure, the reign of Solomon displayed a military system which embraced a regular body of horse and of chariots, evidently become the more necessary, since the limits of his sway were extended to the shores of the Arabian Gulf, and far into the Syrian desert . Solomon likewise acted with commercial views in the monopolizing spirit which Eastern sovereigns have been prone to exercise in all ages. He bought chariots and teams of horses in Egypt, and probably in Armenia, 'in all lands,' and had them brought into his dominions in strings, in the same manner as horses are still conducted to and from fairs: for this interpretation, as offered by Mr. Charles Taylor, appears to convey the natural and true meaning of the text, and not 'strings of linen yarn,' which here seem to be out of place (;; ).

The Tyrians purchased these objects from Solomon; but in the time of Ezekiel they imported horses themselves from Togarmah or Armenia. On returning from the Babylonish captivity, the common possession of horses in Palestine was no longer opposed; for Nehemiah numbers seven hundred and thirty six belonging to the liberated Hebrews .

All the great original varieties or races of horses were then known in Western Asia, and the Hebrew prophets themselves have not infrequented distinguished the nations they had in view, by means of the predominant colors of their horses, and that more correctly than commentators have surmised. Taking Bochart's application of the Hebrew names, the bay race emphatically belonged to Egypt and Arabia Felix; the white to the regions above the Euxine Sea, Asia Minor, and northern High Asia; the dun, or cream-colored, to the Medes; the spotted piebald, or skewbald, to the Macedonians, the Parthians, and later Tahtars; and the black to the Romans; but the chesnuts do not belong to any known historical race .

Bay or red horses occur most frequently on Egyptian painted monuments, this being the primitive color of the Arabian stock; but white horses are also common, and in a few instances black, the last probably only to relieve the paler color of the one beside it in the picture. There is also, we understand, an instance of a spotted pair, tending to show that the valley of the Nile was originally supplied with horses from foreign sources and distinct regions, as indeed the tribute pictures further attest. The spotted, if not real, but painted horses, indicate the antiquity of a practice still in vogue; for staining the hair of riding animals with spots of various colors, and dyeing their limbs and tails crimson, is a practice of common occurrence in the East [ASS].

On the natural history of the horse there is no occasion to enter in this place; but it may be proper to notice that the riding bridle was long a mere slip-knot, passed round the under jaw into the mouth, thus furnishing only one rein; and that a rod was commonly added to guide the animal with more facility. The bridle, however, and the reins of chariot-horses were, at a very early age, exceedingly perfect; as the monuments of Egypt, Etruria, and Greece, amply prove. Saddles were not used, the rider sitting on the bare back, or using a cloth or mat girded on the animal. The Romans, no doubt copying the Persian Cataphractæ, first used pad-saddles, and from the northern nations adopted stimuli or spurs. Stirrups were unknown. Avicenna first mentions the rikiab, or Arabian stirrup, perhaps the most ancient; although in the tumuli of Central Asia, Tahtar horse skeletons, bridles, and stirrup-saddles, have been found along with idols; which proves the tombs to be more ancient than the introduction of Islam. With regard to horseshoeing, Bishop Lowth and Bracy Clark were mistaken in believing that the Roman horse or mule shoe was fastened on without nails driven through the horny part of the hoof, as at present. A contrary conclusion may be inferred from several passages in the poets: and the figure of a horse in the Pompeii battle mosaic, shod in the same manner as is now the practice, leaves little doubt on the question.