סוּס,sias, ἵππος, of frequent occurrence; other less usual or proper terms and epithets are סוּסָהּ, susah', a mnare, rendered "company of horses," i.e. cavalry, Song of Solomon 1, 9; פָּרָשׁ, parash', Ahorse for riding, "horseman," of frequent occurrence; רֶכֶב or רָכִב, re'keb or Raakab,' a beast of burden, also a chariot, charioteer, or chariot-horse, especially a team, variously rendered, and of frequent occurrence; אִבַּיר, abbir', "strong," as an epithet of the horse, only in Jeremiah, as Jer 8:16; Jer 47:3; Jer 1; Jer 11; רֶכֶּשׁ, re'kesh, a horse of a nobler breed, a courser, rendered "dromedary" in 1Ki 4:8; "mule," Es 8:10,14; "swift beast," Mic 1:13; רִמָּך, ramm-ak', a mare, rendered "dromedary," Es 8:10. The origin of the first two of these terms is not satisfactorily made out; Pott (E'tym. Forsch. 1, 60) connects them respectively with Susa and Pares, or Persia, as the countries whence the horse was derived; and it is worthy of remark that sus was also employed in Egypt for a — marme, showing that it was a foreign term there, if not also in Palestine. There is a marked distinction between the sus and the parash; the former were horses for driving in the war-chariot, of a heavy build, the latter were for riding, and particularly for cavalry. This distinction is not observed in the A.V. from the circumstance that parash also signifies horseman; the correct sense is essential in the following passages 1Ki 4:26, "forty- thousand chariot-horses and twelve thousand cavalry-horses;" Eze 27:14, "driving-horses and riding-horses;" Joe 2:4, "as riding-horses, so shall they run;" and Isa 21:7, "a train of horses in couples." 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, where we learn that horses (A.V. "horsemen") were employed in threshing, not, however, in that case put in the gears, but simply driven about wildly over the strewed grain. This remark will be found to be borne out by the historical passages hereafter quoted, but it is equally striking in the poetical parts of Scripture. The animated description of the horse in Job 39:19-25, applies solely to the war-horse; the mane streaming in the breeze (A.V. "thunder") which "clothes his neck;" his lofty bounds as a grasshopper;" his hoofs "digging in the valley" with excitement; his terrible snorting are brought before us, and his ardor for the strife. The following is a close rendering of this fine description of the war-horse: Canst thou give to the horse prowess?
Canst thou clothe his neck [with] a shuddering [mane]? Canst thou make him prance like the locust? The grandeur of his snorting [is] formidable. They will [eagerly] paw in the valley, And [each] rejoice in vigor; He will go forth to meet [the] weapon: He will laugh at dread, Nor will he cower, Nor' retreat from before [the] sword: Against him may rattle quiver, Flaming lance or dart [in vain]. With prancing and restlessness he will absorb [the earth [by fleetness]; Nor can he stand still when the sound of the trumpet [is heard]: As oft [as the] trumpet [sounds], he will say, "Aha!" For from afar he can scent [the battle], The thunder of the captains and shouting.
So, again, the bride advances with her charms to an immediate conquest "as a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots" (Song 1:9); and when the prophet Zechariah wishes to convey the idea of perfect peace, he represents the horse, no more mixing in the fray as before (Song of Solomon 9:10), but bearing on his bell (which was intended to strike terror into the foe) the peaceable inscription, "Holiness unto the Lord" (Song of Solomon 14:20). Lastly, the characteristic of the horse is not so much his speed or his utility, but his strength (Ps 33:17; Ps 147:10), as shown in the special application of the term abbir (אִבַּיר), i.e. strong, as an equivalent for a horse (Jer 8:16; Jer 47:3; Jer 1; Jer 11). Hence the horse becomes the symbol of war, or of a campaign (Zec 10:3; comp.
Ps 45:5; De 32:13; Ps 56:12; Isa 58:14, where horsemanship is made typical of conquest), especially of speedy conquest (Jer 4:13), or rapid execution of any purpose (Revelation 6).
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 (Jg 1:19), and partly in consequence of the prohibition in De 17:16, which would be held to apply at all periods. Accordingly they hamstrung the horses of the Canaanites (Jos 11:6,9). David first established a force of cavalry and chariots after the defeat of Hadadezer (2Sa 8:4), when he reserved a hundred chariots, and, as we may infer, all the horses; for the rendering "houghed all the chariot-horses" is manifestly incorrect. Shortly after this Absalom was possessed of some (2Sa 15:1). But the great supply of horses was subsequently effected by Solomon through his connection with Egypt; he is reported to have had "40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 cavalry-horses" (1Ki 4:26), and it is worthy of notice that these forces are mentioned parenthetically to account for the great security of life and property noticed in the preceding verse. There is probably an error in the former of these numbers; for the number of chariots is given in 1Ki 10:26; 2Ch 1:14, as 1400, and consequently, if we allow three horses for each chariot, two in use and one as a reserve, as was usual in some countries (Xenoph. Cyrop. 6, 1, § 27), the number required would be 4200, or, in round numbers, 4000, which is probably the correct reading. 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, who lived between Palestine and the Euphrates. The passage in which this commerce is described (1Ki 10:28-29) is unfortunately obscure; the tenor of verse 28 seems to be that there was a regularly established traffic, the Egyptians bringing the horses to a mart in the south of Palestine, and handing them over to the Hebrew dealers at a fixed tariff. The price of a horse was fixed at 150 shekels of silver, and that of a chariot at 600; in the latter we must include the horses (for an Egyptian war-chariot was of no great value), and conceive, as before, that three horses accompanied each chariot, leaving the value of the chariot itself at 150 shekels. In addition to this source of supply, Solomon received horses by way of tribute (1Ki 10:25). He bought chariots and teams of horses in Egypt (1Ki 10:28), 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 professor Paxton, appears to convey the natural and true meaning of the text; and not "strings of linen yam," which here seem to be out of place (2Ch 1:16-17; 2Ch 9:25,28). The cavalry force was maintained by the succeeding kings, and frequent notices occur both of riding-horses and chariots (2Ki 9:21,33; 2Ki 11:16), and particularly of war-chariots (1Ki 22:4; 2Ki 3:7; Isa 2:7). The force seems to have failed in the time of Hezekiah (2Ki 18:23) in Judah, as it had previously in Israel under Jehoahaz (2Ki 13:7). Josiah took away the horses, which the kings of Judah, his predecessors, had consecrated to the sun (2Ki 23:11). SEE SUN. The number of horses belonging to the Jews on their return, from Babylon is stated at 736 (Ne 7:68).
In the countries adjacent to Palestine the use of the horse was much more frequent. It was introduced into Egypt probably by the Hyksos, as it is not represented on the monuments before the 18th dynasty (Wilkinson, 1, 386, abridgm.). Yet these animals are not mentioned among the presents which Abraham received from Pharaoh (Ge 12:16), and occur first in Scripture among the valuables paid by the Egyptians to Joseph in exchange for grain (Ge 47:17). They were still sufficiently important to be expressly mentioned in the funeral procession, which accompanied the body of Jacob to his sepulcher in Canaan (Ge 1:9). At the period of the Exodus horses were abundant in Egypt (Ex 9:3; Ex 14:9,23; De 17:17), and subsequently, as we have already seen, they were able to supply the nations of Western Asia. The Tyrians purchased these animals from Solomon, and in the time of Ezekiel imported horses themselves from Togarmah or Armenia (Eze 27:14). The Jewish kings sought the assistance of the Egyptians against the Assyrians in this respect (Isa 31:1; Isa 36:8; Eze 17:15). The Canaanites were possessed of them (Dent. 20:1; Jos 11:4; Jg 4:3; Jg 5:22,28), and likewise the Syrians (2Sa 8:4; 1Ki 20:1; 2Ki 6:14; 2Ki 7:7,10) notices, which are confirmed by the pictorial representations on Egyptian monuments (Wilkinson, 1, 393, 397, 401), and by the Assyrian inscriptions relating to Syrian expeditions. But the cavalry of the Assyrians themselves and other Eastern nations was regarded as most formidable; the horses themselves were highly bred, as the Assyrian sculptures still testify, and fully merited the praise bestowed on them by Habakkuk (Hab 1:8)," swifter than leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves;" their riders "clothed in blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men" (Eze 23:6), armed with "the bright sword and glittering spear" (Na 3:3), made a deep impression on the Jews, who, plainly clad, went on foot; as also did their regular array as they proceeded in couples, contrasting with the disorderly troops of asses and camels which followed with the baggage (Isa 21:7, rekeb in this passage signifying rather a train than a single chariot). The number employed by the Eastern potentates was very great, Holofernes possessing not less than 12.000 (Judith 2:15). At a later period we have frequent notices of the cavalry of the Graeco-Syrian monarchs (1 Macc. 1, 18; 3:39, etc.).
The above notices of the use of the horse by the ancient Egyptians derives abundant illustration from their monuments. 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, were 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. That the Assyrians and Babylonians were equally well supplied with this valuable animal is likewise attested by the martial scenes depicted on the sculptures discovered among the ruins of Nineveh and the vicinity. They are represented in almost every variety of position and employment, such as the chase, and for other purposes of pleasure; but chiefly in war, for which the Assyrians used them both with the saddle and in the: chariot. According to Mr. Layard (Nineveh, 1st series, 1, 275 sq.), the horses of the Assyrians were well formed and of noble blood, as appears from the figures no doubt faithfully copied on the sculptures. Cavalry formed an important part of the Assyrian army. The horsemen carried the bow and spear, and wore coats of mail, high greaves, and the pointed helmet. Their horses also were covered, and even, it would seem, with a kind of leather armor, from the head to the tail, to protect them from the arrows of the enemy. It consisted of several pieces fastened together by buttons or loops. Over it was thrown an ornamented saddlecloth, or a leopard's skin, upon which the rider sat. Under the head of the horse was hung a bell (comp. Zec 14:20) or a tassel. The reins appear to have been tightened round the neck of the horse by a sliding button, and then dropped as the war Tior was engaged in fight. Between the horse's ears was an arched crest, and the different parts of the harness were richly embroidered, and ornamented with rosettes (Layard's Nin. 2nd ser. p. 456). SEE HORSEMAN.
With regard to the trappings and management of the horse among the Hebrews and adjoining nations, we (have little information; the bridle (resen) was placed over the horse's nose (Isa 30:28), and a bit or curb (metheg) is also noticed (2Ki 19:28; Ps 32:9; Pr 26:3; Isa 37:29; in the A.V. it is incorrectly given "bridle," with the exception of Psalm 32). The harness of the Assyrian horses was profusely decorated, the bits being gilt (1 Esdr. 3:6), and the bridles adorned with tassels; on the neck was a collar terminating in a bell, as described by Zechariah (Zec 14:20). Saddles were not used until a late period; only one is represented on the Assyrian sculptures (Layard, 2, 357). The horses were not shod, and therefore hoofs as hard "as flint" (Isa 5:28) were regarded as a great merit. The chariot- horses were covered with embroidered trappings-the "precious clothes" manufactured at Dedan (Eze 27:20) these were fastened by straps and buckles, and to this perhaps reference is made in Pr 30:31, in the term zarzir, "one girded about the loins" (A.V. "greyhound"). Thus adorned, Mordecai rode in state through the streets of Shushan (Es 6:9). White horses were more particularly appropriate to such occasions as being significant of victory (Re 6:2; Re 19:11,14). Horses and chariots were used also in idolatrous processions, as noticed in regard to the sun (2Ki 23:11). As to kinds of harness, etc., by means of which the services of the horse were anciently made available by other nations, it may be well 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 Cataphractae, 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. The principal use of horses anciently was for the chariot, especially in war; to this they were attached by means of a pole and yoke like oxen, a practice which continued down to the times of the Romans. (See Bible Animals, p. 248 sq.) SEE CHARIOT; SEE BRIDLE.
It appears that the horse was derived from High Asia, and was not indigenous in Arabia, Syria, or Egypt (Jardine's Naturalist's Library, vol. 12), where his congeners the zebra, quagga, and ass are still found in primitive freedom, although the horse is found in all parts of the world free, it is true, but only as a wild descendant of a once domesticated stock. (See Schlieben, Die Pferde des Alterthums, Neuwied. 1867; Abd el Kader, Horses of the Desert, trans. by Daumas, London, 1863.) All the great original varieties or races of horses were then known in Western Asia, and the Hebrew prophets themselves have not infrequently 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 (Hieroz. 1, 31 sq.) of the Hebrew names, the bay race, אָדוֹם, adom., emphatically belonged to Egypt and Arabia Felix; the white, לבֹנַים, lebonim, to the regions above the Euxine Sea, Asia Minor, and northern High Asia; the dun, or cream-colored, שׂרֻקַּים, serukkim, to the Medes; the spotted piebald, or skewbald, בּרֻדַּים, beruddim, to the Macedonians, the Parthians, and later Tahtars; and the black, שָׁחוֹרַים, shachorim, to the Romans; but the chestnut, אִמוֹוֹ ,am, otz, does not belong to any known historical race (Zec 1:8; Zec 6:2). SEE ASS; SEE MULE; SEE DROMEDARY. 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. These colors are typical, in some passages of Scripture, of various qualities, e.g. the white of victory, the black of defeat and calamity, the red of bloodshed, etc. (compare Rev. 6). SEE COLOR.