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; Eze 27:14; Joe 2:4 the Revised Version, margin); also in 2Sa 16:1-23, 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 Jg 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 1Ki 4:28; Es 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 Es 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 (De 17:16), but the Canaanites before them had horses (Jos 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.
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 (Ge 47:17). In De 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 1Ki 4:1-34, and the se`irim and tebhen of 1Ki 4:28 (1Ki 5:8) are identical with the sha`ir ("barley") and tibn ("straw") with which the arab feeds his horse today. In war, horses were ridden and were driven in chariots (Ex 14:9; Jos 11:4; 2Sa 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 (2Ki 2:11 f). In Ps 20:7; 33:17; and Ps 76:6, the great strength of the horse is recalled as a reminder of the greater strength of God. In Jas 3:3, the small bridle by which the horse can be managed is compared to the tongue (compare Ps 32:9). In Job 39:19-25 we have a magnificent description of a spirited war-horse.
Alfred Ely Day