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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
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.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Horse'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/h/horse.html. 1909.