Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 39:20

"Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - God;   Horse;   Locust;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Beasts;   Horse, the;   Insects;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Horses;   Nose;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Glory;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Horse;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Caterpillar;   Horse;   Insects;   Transportation and Travel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Horse;   Knowledge;   Locust;   Nature;   Nose, Nostrils;   World;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Horse;   Locust;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Glory;   Horse;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Greyhound;   Horse;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Locust;   Neesing;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Horse;   Locust;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? - Or, rather, “as a locust” - כארבה kā'arbeh This is the word which is commonly applied to the locust considered as gregarious, or as appearing in great numbers (from רבה râbâh “to be multiplied”). On the variety of the species of locusts, see Bochart “Hieroz.” P. ii. Lib. iv. c. 1ff The Hebrew word here rendered “make afraid” (רעשׁ râ‛ash ) means properly “to be moved, to be shaken,” and hence, to tremble, to be afraid. In the Hiphil, the form used here, it means to cause to tremble, to shake; and then “to cause to leap,” as a horse; and the idea here is, Canst thou cause the horse, an animal so large and powerful, to leap with the agility of a locust? See Gesenius, “Lex.” The allusion here is to the leaping or moving of the locusts as they advance in the appearance of squadrons or troops; but the comparison is not so much that of a single horse to a single locust, as of cavalry or a company of war-horses to an army of locusts; and the point of comparison turns on the elasticity or agility of the motion of cavalry advancing to the field of battle.

The sense is, that God could cause that rapid and beautiful movement in animals so large and powerful as the horse, but that it was wholly beyond the power of man to effect it. It is quite common in the East to compare a horse with a locust, and travelers have spoken of the remarkable resemblance between the heads of the two. This comparison occurs also in the Bible; see Joel 2:4, “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen so shall they run;” Revelation 9:7. The Italians, from this resemblance, call the locust “cavaletta,” or little horse. Sir W. Ouseley says, “Zakaria Cavini divides the locusts into two classes, like horsemen and footmen, ‹mounted and pedestrian.‘ “Niebuhr says that he heard from a Bedouin near Bassorah, a particular comparison of the locust with other animals; but he thought it a mere fancy of the Arabs, until he heard it repeated at Bagdad. He compared the head of a locust to that of a horse, the breast to that of a lion, the feet to those of a camel, the belly with that of a serpent, the tail with that of a scorpion, and the feelers with the hair of a virgin; see the Pictorial Bible on Joel 2:4.

The glory of his nostrils is terrible - Margin, as in Hebrew, “terrors.” That is, it is fitted to inspire terror or awe. The reference is to the wide-extended and fiery looking nostrils of the horse when animated, and impatient, for action. So Lucretius, L. v.:

Et fremitum patulis sub naribus edit ad arma.

So Virgil, “Georg.” iii. 87:

Collectumque premens voluit sub naribus ignem.

Claudian, in iv. “Consulatu Honorii:”

Ignescunt patulae nares.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-39.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?.... Which is frightened at every noise, and at any approach of men; but not so the horse; or canst thou move him, or cause him to skip and jump, or rather leap like a grasshopper? that is, hast thou given, or canst thou give him the faculty of leaping over hedges and ditches, for which the horse is famous? so Neptune's war horses are saidF17Homeri Iliad. 13. v. 31. to be ευσκαρθμοι, good leapers;

the glory of his nostrils is terrible: which may be understood of his sneezing, snorting, pawing, and neighing, when his nostrils are broad, spread, and enlarged; and especially when enraged and in battle, when he foams and fumes, and his breath comes out of his nostrils like smokeF18"Iguescunt patulae nares". Claudian. in 4. Consul. Honor. , and is very terrible.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-39.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

afraid — rather, “canst thou (as I do) make him spring as the locust?” So in Joel 2:4, the comparison is between locusts and war-horses. The heads of the two are so similar that the Italians call the locusts cavaletta, “little horse.”

nostrils — snorting furiously.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-39.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 39:20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils [is] terrible.

Ver. 20. Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?] Which soon flincheth and flieth with the least noise. But the horse is more like that formidable army of locusts described Joel 2:1-32, that bare down all before them, and shook all places wherever they came.

The glory of his nostrils is terrible] Heb. Terrors; his snorting and sneezing strikes terror into people. The more wonderful is God’s goodness in subduing to weak man so lusty a creature, to be ridden and ruled at his pleasure. He trains him to the great saddle, and teacheth him to obey his hand and spur, to bound in the air, to observe his measures, to show that docility, dexterity, and vigour, which none but God hath given him, and be every way so serviceable and useful, both in war and peace. Joannes Bodin hath observed (Theat. Nat. 405), That whereas lions, wolves, and other ravenous creatures have a gall and choler, whereby they are easily stirred up to anger and revenge; not so horses, asses, camels, elephants, and other creatures made for man’s help; these have neither gall nor horns, wherein appeareth summa Opifieis sapientia, the great wisdom and goodness of the Creator.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 39:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-39.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As a grasshopper; which is easily affrighted, and chased away by the least noise of a man. Or, as divers others render the place, Didst thou make him to move like a grasshopper, skipping and leaping as he goes? So he describes the posture of a gallant and generous horse, who curvets, and pranceth, and as it were danceth as he walks.

The glory of his nostrils; that snorting, or sound, and smoke which cometh out of his nostrils, especially when he is enraged and engaged in battle, which is another note of a generous horse, and strikes a terror into his adversary. Or, the vehemency, or majesty, or magnificence of his snorting, or snoring, as this word is rendered, Jeremiah 8:16.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 39:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-39.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Make him afraid — Make him bound or spring, like the locust. Comp. Joel 2:4. It is a common saying among the Arabs, that “the horse acts the locust,” i.e., he leaps from place to place like the locust. The head of the latter so much resembles that of the horse that the Italians call him cavaletta, little horse.

Nostrils — Literally, snorting. Compare Jeremiah 8:16.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-39.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Up. Hebrew, "frighten," (Haydock) or "make him leap." (Bochart) (Calmet) --- Nostrils. Septuagint, "of his chest, or shoulders, is boldness." (Haydock) --- This inspires the rider with courage, and the enemy with fear. But the Vulgate is more followed. (Calmet) -----Frænoque teneri

Impatiens crebros expirat naribus ignes. (Silius vi.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-39.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

afraid = leap.

grasshopper = locust.

nostrils = snorting.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-39.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.

Make ... afraid - rather, 'canst thou (as I do) make him spring as the locust [ raa`ash (Hebrew #7493) unites the meaning of tremble and spring up (Umbreit)]. So in Joel 2:4 the comparison is between locusts and war horses. The heads of the two are so like that the Italians call the locusts cavaletta, 'little horse.'

Nostrils - snorting furiously.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-39.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?—Rather, Hast thou made him to leap as a locust?

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-39.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.
the glory
41:20,21; Jeremiah 8:16
terrible
Heb. terrors.
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 39:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-39.html.